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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Vivo

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

Beetlejuice Refurb

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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