Here we are back at the Universal Orlando Resort for a check on their progress as they prepare to open massive new projects in time for summer. In this update, we take you to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort project which is set to open at the end of this month. We then look at CityWalk Construction and the new venues set to open soon. And we finish with park updates and another great episode of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

On March 31st, 2014, the Universal Orlando Resort is going to start opening this hotel in phases. It’s the first new hotel since their big expansion 15 years ago.  This resort is themed after the the bygone era of family Road Trips in your station wagon, and driving down the Florida A1A highway.


Cabana Bay has beautiful architectural features, that harken back to an idealized 50’s, but with a modern flair.  The signage out front is clever and animated, and really gives you a sense of time and place.













The hotel will open initially with the family suites, where they can accommodate up to 6 guests, with a kitchenette, and a sliding partition for privacy.  This hotel is accepting reservations, and the family suites are priced considerably lower than the Disney’s All Star Resort, making this new property a steal when you think of the additional amenities families will enjoy like the Lazy River, Bowling, Food Court, and walking Distance to both Universal Parks.  We can’t wait to experience this hotel at the end of March! And look forward to its full opening in June, when most of the key features will be available.


ColdStone Creamer

On Monday, Universal opened ColdStone Creamery to the public.  Guests can now get their favorite flavored Ice Cream with the mixings of their choice, while being sung to by a happy and energized team!






Next door Starbucks is getting ready to open, and while we were able to take a peek inside, we were not allowed to take any photos.  The interior is very Industrial Chic, and the benches have all been built with plugs at the base, so if you need to recharge anytime during the day, or before you head out, Starbucks will be the perfect place to grab a drink, sit down, and literally recharge.



Team Member Parking Garage

We are beginning to enter the final stretch on the new Team Member Parking Garage that has gone up at an incredible pace. Team Members are currently parking on the first floor of the Guest Parking Structure and being shuttled to the back of the parks, for them, the new structure cannot open soon enough.


Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley construction continues to press forward at a magical pace. Universal is paying for a massive amount of around the clock manpower to ensure a summer opening.  Recently, at the Entertainment Designer Forum, a member of Universal Creative said that what will be incredible about this experience is that when you are in Hogsmeade it is all you see, and you are completely immersed, then when you get onto the train and travel to Diagon Alley it will be all you see, so you will be transported from one immersive world to another.  We can’t wait to have that experience this summer!














Hogsmeade Station

The main entrance to Hogsmeade has opened back up, however, we can expect it to close a few more times as the main entry to the Wizarding World is reworked to include the Hogwarts Express.







Toon Lagoon Sidewalks

Over in Toon Lagoo some much needed sidewalk work is happening. The colorful sidewalks have been ripped up, and are being fixed and replaced.  Hopefully this will be a great solutions that can be used throughout Toon Lagoon and Seuss Landing where the sidewalks need help.



That wraps up this weeks update, and we will leave you with new episode from the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast, with your hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren and Hunter as they talk about Antojitos, News and more!

iTunes | Direct Download | Stitcher

  • CaptainAction

    I read that Universal has applied for construction to begin between Jurassic Island and Toon Laggon for what is rumored to be Skull Island from King Kong.
    The E Ticket attraction will be a scary adventure riding through the animatronic bugs and some encounter w Kong.
    Funny, if you are a WDW can do no wrong type, then when you read this you are bummed because you want Universal to stop building because it just keeps making WDW look lazy.
    The answer isn’t for Universal to stop making WDW look fat, lazy, and greedy; the answer is for WDW to wake up and build a few E Ticket, not C Ticket in 2-3 years, attractions at each of their parks.

    • martinjbell1986

      True, WDW needs every one of it’s parks to be a multi-day experience.

    • mainejeff

      Disney’s big announcements these days are for price increases. I guess that someone has to pay for “those” bracelets!

  • Malin

    Eric you know I have huge respect for you and this article but can you add a comment to the Cabana Bay section letting people know that the Lazy River Courtyard, Hideaway Bar and Grill, Tower Family Suites and Standard Rooms will not be available until 6/16/2014. Some people might be misled into thinking some of these exciting new amenities will be opening up later this month along with the family suites.

  • I’m getting so excited for the opening of Diagon Alley. I ALWAYS stay at the WDW resort on my trips, but I’m thinking about staying at Cabana Bay on my next trip just to try things out. Sounds like a great value.

    • stevek

      I would strongly consider the same thing. The hotel looks very cool and as you say, appears to be a great value financially. I still find it mind boggling how quickly they are building Diagon Alley and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train still isn’t completed/running for guests.

      • redrhino54

        They broke ground on D.A. long before it was announced. It only appears to seem quicker. It will be nice to see it finished, but im not that excited about a big fancy mall, one ride, and a train with videos. Sorry, just don’t understand how the phase 2 of H.P. gets no slack for coming up short. USO needs to add more rides. BTW, that new hotel looks tacky, and cheaply built. If Disney built something that looked that bad, you Universal freaky would be all over them with your jelous hatred rants.

    • Tielo

      Just a reminder the Cabana Bay resort guests WON’T get front in line passes. It would unbalance the flow for regular guests. However they WILL get early access to the Harry Potter areas (both don’t take front in line passes anyway). So you can enjoy these popular parts of the park before the crowds get into the parks. They also offer great breakfasts there,
      The Cabana Bay sure looks beautiful and good value for money.

  • a-mad

    I appreciate the fact that Universal is going for a retro “family road trip” 50’s theme for Cabana Bay… but those pictures off the highway make it look less than aesthetically appealing. Perhaps its the unfinished landscaping between the hotel and the highway that gives it a ghetto vibe… but that’s another area that WDW has Universal beat. Universal has limited land to work with, so its difficult to create magic when you’re 100 feet from I-4. I’m sure the rest of the resort will be nice – and the other pictures (with the entrance, etc.) look great.

    Similarly, the pics of Diagon Alley are truly stunning – the level of detail is impressive. Too bad large sections of that huge show building for Gringott’s are going to be exposed over by Fear Factor. Perhaps it would not be economically permissive to expect theming around the entire building… but it does take away a bit of the magic.

    • blondiemouse72

      I still find it somewhat surprising that so many give them a free pass on the large grey building stuck on the side of Hogwarts castle.I didn’t see that in the movies and in fact having also visited the studio tour in London didn’t see a large grey building stuck next to the castle model either

      • mainejeff

        And then you step inside that “large grey building” and realize that Disney has NOTHING like this………and this is probably the best ride in any theme park to date.

    • Imagineer2B

      I don’t find it any more odd than at AK where you can see the unfinished back side of Expedition Everest from the parking lot. Bad show!

      • blondiemouse72

        Surely Temple Of The Forbidden Eye is probably the best ride in any theme park to date

    • Tielo

      The area isn’t ready so it’s a bit early to judge but you have to remember Universal Studios Resort is a movie park resort. When you are ON set, that location looks camera perfect. As soon as you get from that location you’ll see that it’s all make believe.
      Again look at the London façade. They didn’t build a bit of London, they build movie sets representing different locations in London who normally are not next to each other. When you enter it you will be transported onto the most immersive 360 degree set but when you get out and move on you will see show buildings.
      Disney decided to have everything a guest can see is ON SET (and when you look well there are many places the illusion is broken) but that is not Universal’s philosophy.
      But again the area is not ready. There is a wall of earth being build now and it’s rumoured there will be big trees on there to block the building a bit. The same goes for IOA’s train station.

  • Awe_inspired

    What’s all this about?!!! 🙂

  • FarFromHome

    New details about the Hogwarts Express coming Friday

  • disneygeek24

    Going to Orlando in September and looking really forward to checking out Universal and its addition of Diagon Alley. Im from California and have visited WDW 3 times in the past 5 years. We will be visiting WDW of course but I am starting to grow more excited about Universal. Wish WDW would get there stuff together and open something note-worthy. Although Avatar themed land should be pretty cool!

  • themur

    What, a Starbucks!!!! What is Universal doing this is horrible how can there be a Starbucks?

  • Big D

    Wow, hard to believe that Potter 2.0 is almost done. I’ve been following the construction online for so long you almost forget that it’s actually going to open one day.

    So far not impressed with Cabana Bay when compared to their other three absolutely AMAZING hotels (I’ll take Portofino Bay over any WDW hotel any day), but if it’s a super low price, then I guess that’s fine. Is it supposed to be reminicent of a Howard Johnson?

  • Aurora

    Does anyone else find it funny that the ends of the Cabana Bay buildings have things that look like Mickey ears on them? Hidden Mickeys at Universal!

    • Awe_inspired

      Aurora…look at my link my comment above. You’re right!!

  • Country Bear

    Great update Eric, thank you.

    Cabana Bay has really come along since we last saw it. But I guess it had better be with parts of it opening in a few weeks. It looks very nostalgic and I can’t wait to see it in person.

    Looks like those sidewalks in Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon are always an issue with wear and tear. I wonder if they have tried a plastic based coating on them for durability? It’s good to see that they are keeping them looking fresh as much as possible.

    The excitement builds for Diagon Alley!

  • Disneymike

    I don’t get the contempt for Cabana Bay. It looks fantastic even though it’s not finished, so retro looking. Blows any of the cheesy budget hotels at WDW away and at a better price point.

    • Country Bear

      I think you stated the key component here….it’s supposed to be a budget hotel.

      Universal is diversifying its accommodations for all budgets. I have stayed at several of the Disney All Star Resorts and they were fine for what they are. But it looks like you might get a little more bang for your buck at Cabana Bay. Universal doesn’t have the space that Disney does, so they will be limited in how many discount resorts they can put on their property. I think Cabana is a nice addition and certainly very competitive with pricing.

  • Imagineer2B

    I’m booked at Cabana Bay in July…looking forward to checking it out and Harry Potter 2.0. Still going over to WDW, but kicking off the trip at Universal. All I can say is “New” Fantasyland better be finished by July. Get those dwarfs moved in already!

  • manish

    Disney style homes are constructed in India also just for information.

  • fnord

    My all time fave is Pirates,
    but I think both Spiderman and Forbidden
    Journey are better overall than Indie.