Wizarding World of Harry Potter projects are getting pretty exciting with signage going up on Kingscross Station and London facades finishing up their final details. But that’s certainly not all that’s new at the Universal Orlando Resort. Starbucks has opened inside Islands of Adventure, construction is going fast and furious at Citywalk, plus projects and photos galore.

Universal Studios

Diagon Alley Update

With every passing day, more details are being added to Diagon Alley.  The entire London area continues to get elegant enhancements as we head towards the Summer 2014 opening.




















Mardi Gras

Starting February 8th and continuing on through the end of May, Universal Orlando will be holding their annual Mardi Gras celebration, where after the sun goes down Universal Orlando is turned into a giant party with a parade, gumbo and top musical acts.  Universal has the Mardi Gras village set up now in the New York area.



The beginning of the year is always a great time for refurbishments. Twister has currently gone into rehab, as has the facade from “Annie.”





Islands of Adventure

Starbucks Now Open

The old Funnel Cake location that closed a few months ago, has now reopened as a beautiful Starbucks.  This location is modern chic, and pays homage to the Port of Entry theme outside.










Lost Continent Games Closed and Hogwarts Express Station

The games at Lost Continent have now closed as they get ready to rework the entrance to Hogsmeade and complete the construction of the Hogwarts Express Station.






Ripsaw Falls

Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls re-opened this past week with fresh paint and cleaned up show scenes.




Popeye’s Closed for Refurbishment

After Dudley’s reopened, Popeye’s Bilge-rat Barges closed down for its annual refurbishment.









Antojitos has soft opened for dinner as Universal puts the new staff through their paces.  On February 5th, Universal will be holding a preview for the restaurant and then it will be officially opened to the public.




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Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery

The Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery are progressing at the frantic pace that we have grown accustom to.






Team Member Parking Garage

Backstage at Universal Orlando the new Team Member Parking Garage has gone vertical at an incredible pace.  This will help alleviate some of the massive parking issues Team Members have been having.





That wraps up this week’s update.  Now please click play below to enjoy an extra special Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast episode with special guest Mike Ailleo.

iTunes | Direct Download | Stitcher 

  • Great update Eric. The Diagon Alley construction really looks like it’s wrapping up. So exciting!!! Wonderful to see the signs going up already.

    Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the look of Starbucks. It doesn’t match the area at all. It looks like the new Starbucks concept which just went into an outlet mall in San Diego. Lots of wood and very modern. But doesn’t fit the Port of Entry. Why couldn’t they have something which was completely themed out as a Port of Entry coffee trader, which still sort of had that water world-esque aesthetic to it? Disappointed.

    Still, the pace of change, construction and refurbishment at Universal is breathtaking and a great example for the entire theme park industry.

  • DuckyDelite

    Thanks for another great update. Do we know what is going in to the Lost Continent gaming area? The new train station will be on the other side of that walkway, correct?

  • cruise

    If we’re going to hold Uni to the same standard as Disney, then the Starbucks is a major major miss. There was SO MUCH opportunity with respect to building a coffee shop that matched the Port of Entry… think a place with a rustic coffee trader vibe. Instead we get a modern generic interior. What was the rationale for this? Disney’s Starbucks additions have managed to have interiors moderately themed to their environments.

    Granted not many of the Port of Entry shops’ interiors match their exterior theme, but I still would have expected more.

    • Malin


    • BradyNBradleysMom

      I think Universal is going to be shocked that it’s being held to a standard now, after the HarryPotter projects. Universal has always been the “good enough” park, where they never had a standard to be held to. Now they do, and it’s going to be Diagon Alley. Anything they do that is not as well-themed as that is going to stick out like a sore thumb. This is an interesting situation for them. Not sure how they are going to handle it going forward, but when they go below the theming standard of Potter I think people will call them out for it. They aren’t used to being held to a standard like Disney.

      • martinjbell1986


      • CaptainAction

        Actually, everyone is holding Universal to a higher standard and they are still proving themselves daily to more and more who have given up on WDW.
        It’s actually WDW that is being held to a lower standard now.
        Little Mermaid Ride, years between new attractions, no E ticket attractions in YEARS, closed dormant attractions, scheduled days at parks and rides and restaurant reservations weeks before vacations, etc, etc
        WDW is given a free pass for poorer quality while Universal has to try harder and Universal is rising to the standard while WDW is relaxing in a hammock.

      • mainejeff

        The thing is……they AREN’T Disney…….and that’s refreshing!

    • FarFromHome

      I could honestly care less about what the inside of a Starbucks looks like. I’d rather they focus on more important things, like exteriors and rides.

  • FarFromHome

    Silly question, but can you see the dragon yet? I thought I read that it’s gonna be there, and not just some art embellishment.

  • Malin

    London is like a second home to me and I visit the Capital all the time. So seeing it being re created at Universal in such realistic detail is very underwhelming for me. The image of Leicester Square Tube Station fills me with dread. And it’s not even featured in the movie as a location is it? I certainly hope the inside of Diagon Alley will have a much more fantasy like setting because right now I could save the added cost and just visit London instead of Universal this year.

    I agree with Dusty about Starbucks. Outside is fine but the inside looks like it was designed by Starbucks. At least with Disney it has much more control on the theming.

    • martinjbell1986

      Agreed, so far I’ve been underwhelmed by the exterior of the London facade. I hope the inside of Diagon alley is much better. To me it looks like Universal only knows how to create movie set backgrounds with no real depth. (Just my opinion though)

    • CaptainAction

      Guess you are really down on Epcot then aren’t you?
      Oh, that’s right, they are Disney so they are off the hook for criticism from you.

    • Ravjay12

      When I visited London, I was very disappointed not to find Diagon Alley there! I could of saved the cost of visiting London and visited Universal Studios! Just messing with you-
      London was one of my favorite cities to visit when we lived in Germany. No theme park can ever recreate such a beautiful and vibrant city. Most people who go to Universal Studios will never get to experience what we did and will accept Universal’s facades as what London is really like and that’s really sad.

  • fnord

    Is the signage for Uni kings cross like the real station?
    I don’t love it, but if it’s authentic my opinion doesn’t
    much matter!

    • Trumpet

      Where the signage is positioned is unauthentic, but the writing itself is correct. The station has undergone major work to restore to its former glory. Where the writing was has now been demolished. It looks like they are showing an idolised versian of London. As a British resident, it looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see the inside.

      What they are trying to show is the muggle and boring London, and then enter the majestic and magic Diagon Alley

      • Mr. Disney

        Exaclty!!! This is what I got as well… I just came back from spending 3 weeks in London and this looks so accurate!! I love that there’s a tube station (I wonder how they’ll handle that).

        Now if they could only manage to get a Pret-A-Manger in there…

  • Country Bear

    Everything looks great to me. The breakneck speed that they are doing these things at is mind boggling. I know Universal has used the word “authentic” over and over to describe Diagon Alley and London, so I imagine it will have that look.

    Does anyone know where is the new cast parking garage located on the property? I’m trying to picture where this is in the resort (on Google Maps).

    Thanks for the great report and pictures Eric!

    • Tielo

      The cast parking garage is build right behind the Potter expansion and is going to be huge.

      Great photo’s! Love what Universal is doing and I’m sure to spent my vacation there the end of this year. Maybe if the Dwarf mine coaster gets awesome reviews I’ll visit MK for 1 day but for now there is nothing I care about more then spending 14 days at my favourite resort at Universal.

  • Will Sullivan

    Great update, Eric? I do have a question though, you said that tomorrow there will be a “preview”. Who is the preview for media, annual passholders, random guests, or a combination?

    • Will Sullivan

      That’s supposed to be a period at the end of that first sentence. It’s late.

      • Will Sullivan

        For the restaurant, I mean. It really is late.

  • fnord

    that’s my problem with world showcase. none of the
    pavilions of countries I’ve visited particularly remind of
    being in that country.
    this is better, because once we pass the humdrum world
    london facade, hopefully the magic begins.

  • Lee Mallaby

    Having only visited Hogsmeadw for the first time last August and it blowing me away, I believe that Universal are now the theme park leaders in immersion, theming and experiential areas. They will knock thus one out of the park, hopefully having learned from the experience of opening the WWoHP. That’s not to say I don’t have concerns, how you get in to Diagon Alley is a concern of mine, the through put of the Hogwarts Express is another and also the fallout from having to buy a two park ticket to ride it. But, I have every faith in the UOR team to make it an enjoyable experience to everyone.
    Thanks for all you do Eric.

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