We’ve survived the “Orlando blizzard” of 2014.  Even with record lows, strong winds and rain, construction at Universal continues forward on projects inside and outside the parks. CityWalk is gearing up for another record summer as multiple eateries are in different stages of construction.  We even catch a quick Antojitos preview.  While the Beetlejuice show is refurbished, and hopefully rewritten, Starbucks is spreading their reach in the parks.  We also have the wonderful news that Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls is down for a well deserved refurbishment.  Let’s get started.


CityWalk’s redevelopment is moving forward quickly with more venues now behind walls, and other venues ending the last stages of their redevelopment. Here’s what we can tell you at the moment:

Antojitos Sneak Peek Taste Test

The Orlando ParkHopper team was invited to take a taste test of the food and tequila that will be served in this new venue. It’s a big step up from the previous restaurant in this spot, Latin Quarter.

We ventured forth and with hopes that the new food and atmosphere would be an improvement.  From what we experienced, we were not disappointed.  After sampling two appetizers, two entrees, a desert, and 5 different tequilas, We found that Universal has elevated their food offerings to a whole new level.  While this isn’t a full review of the restaurant (since it still not open), we are hopeful that this new restaurant will be one of the best Mexican food options in Orlando.



The exterior of Antojitos is still be worked on with additional decorative elements coming soon.  A VW Bus will be parked out front and will be serving drinks.  Street vendors will be out front selling menu items as grab and go. This will be particularly popular after a night of dancing and drinking in CityWalk.


They are waiting on the last few finishing touches before this restaurant is ready for the public.

Starbucks and Coldstone

The work on Starbucks and Coldstone is also quickly coming along. We should see the exterior closed off soon.





This past week, Pastamore finally closed and a name has finally been given to the resident – Vivo! We’ll soon see a lot of construction on the first floor for Vivo and for CowFish on the 2nd story.




World’s Greatest Hot Dogs

Directly across from Antojiots, walls have now gone up for what will become the World’s Greatest Hot Dogs.  Soon there will be an awning, jumbotron, stadium seating and a gazebo.


Pop-Up Universal Studio Store

While the Universal Studio Store is being remodeled, a pop-up Studio store has been opened for guests to quickly grab the Universal Swag they need before they head out of the resort.



The Universal Studio Store sign is being disassembled and will be soon replaced by the much simpler marquee that will look a bit more appropriate with this redevelopment.



Beetlejuice Refurb

Over at the Studios, BeetleJuice has already been taken down for refurbishment as this show is replaced by a newer, hipper version.


Islands of Adventure

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

Hopping over to Islands of Adventure, Ripsaw Falls has gone down for it’s annual refurbishment.  While this is always welcome, we do hope for greater changes to come to this attraction.  Fully developed show scenes and refurbished animatronics would be a great place to start. We aren’t saying that they are coming this time around . . . but PLEASE Universal, finish off this half completed attraction.







Hogwarts Express

The structure for The Hogwarts Express Station station in Hogsmeade continues to evolve. It isn’t as far along as its counterpart in the Studios park, but it should still open in time.







Starbucks in IOA

Starbucks seem to be all the rage in theme parks these days, but Universal has had them for years now.  The Starbucks at the entrance to Islands of Adventure hasn’t seen any visible progress in a few weeks until recently.   We can now see some new awnings being installed, along with some paint on the exterior.






That wraps up this update.  We will be bringing you more coverage next week.  We will leave you with the latest episode of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast with your hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren and Hunter as they discuss all the latest news, rumors and stories about the Universal Parks from around the globe.

Direct Download | iTunes | Stitcher Radio

  • fnord

    What about Diagon Alley?

    • Hmmmm. We have a chunk of the article missing. We’ll contact Eric and see if he has a magical fix for us.

    • Update. I checked with Eric and Fishbulb. They edited out the Diagon Alley photos because they were taken at night and you really couldn’t see anything. But, they forgot to change the title of the article. I’ve changed it to avoid any further confusion. Sorry about that!

  • Freddie Freelance

    I just cannot stand the outside of Antojitos. It looks like the ’80s threw up across the front elevation; the use of amorphous blobs of color sucks the details right off, making the building seem flat where it is finely detailed, and leaving the building looking like that Easter Egg where you spilled all the pastel colored dye leaving it a big smeary mess. If they had only added some complimentary or contrasting colors specifically to the details they would catch your eye, whereas right now your eye follows the edge of the color and slides across the details, like some garish form of camouflage where the building is trying to hide in a bin of “Miami Vice” cast-offs.

    On the other hand you are a handsome group, and I’d love some tasting notes on the food you tasted.

    • M69

      I agree wholeheartedly and hope what is to come makes more sense of what appears incredibly ugly at this stage. As it appears now, I would not dine at a restaurant with this aesthetic – even if the food, drinks and service reviews are positive.

      • tooncity

        If you have ever been to Tijuana, that truly is what the buildings look like. So I guess it truly is authentic Mexican food.

      • Baloo

        yes, tijuana is in Mexico but it is one of the ugliest cities in the country and if you ask most Mexicans we really do not like the rest of the country to be associated with the garish and dirty look of that city. Please do not compare the countries beauty with that ugly border city
        Those colors on restaurant in no way represent the beautiful architecture and yes sometimes bright colors found across the country. Never in any of my trips throughout the country have i ever seen such ugly paint scheme. Its almost insulting seeing it and thinking someone thought it would be apropriate

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      I think that building is hideous. Does not make me want to eat in there. I love Mexican food…but I bet any money that this building gets a new paint job within a year and they make it a more appetizing and appealing color scheme.

  • M69

    Thanks for the update! Look forward to seeing more as these two parks change. And Ripsaw – while one of the best log rides on the planet – would only be improved with the TLC you mention. Will never understand why IOA has never bothered to pamper it with just a bit more love.

    • Great queue and exterior looks but the ride itself suffers from a half-hearted attempt at theme. They just need to bite the bullet and complete the attraction as it was originally planned (before the budget cuts). This really could be IoA’s Splash Mountain.

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      This is a good example of how I feel about Universal in general. I’m so thrilled they are spending the money and going all out with the new Harry Potter area, but the rest of the Universal parks have a “good enough” feel to them. Disney value engineers (and it shows!) but a lot of Universal’s attractions feel slapped together to me, like they just did the bare minimum on them. That ugly Transformers building feels that way too. I wish Universal did everything in its parks on the Harry Potter level of quality.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Antojitos sounds like it’ll be an interesting place to visit. I love Mexican food so looking forward to trying them out sometime.

    As always, great update, Eric!

  • Country Bear

    Thanks for the update Eric. Looks like things are still moving along at a good pace.

    Regarding Antojitos, can anyone tell me how that is pronounced (phonics would be helpful here). I’m not that exposed to to the Spanish language so I’m just guessing at this point.

    • BradyNBradleysMom

      I think it’s pronounced Anne-Toe-Hee-Toes

      When you see a “j” like that in Spanish, it’s like an “h” sound.

    • HT77

      Hi there Country Bear!

      It’s Ann-toe-HEE-toes. The accent is on the hee. Not a hard one, just a slight pick up. Hope that helps!. 🙂

      Great update guys! Thanks!

  • danielz6

    Country bear…Ahn to hee tos.

    The word means “cravings ” in Spanish.

    And no…buildings are not painted that way any where in Latin America.

    • LoveStallion

      “Antojito” means “street food.” Craving would be “ansia” or something else.

  • danielz6

    Love stallion no. When someone says “Se me Antoja” …it means “I’m craving this”. Antojar means to crave. So antojitos means “Little cravings”. Not speaking literally it would be more equivalent to “comfort food” in English. And don’t forget this is Mexican lingo
    , not traditional Spanish.

  • Disney Analyst

    oh god I hope they fix the horse at the end of RipSaw Falls… all summer there was a hole in his neck with tape covering it…