We are one week closer to the opening of Phase 2 of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We will take you into both parks today to look at how each one is rapidly reaching the end of major construction, and we will talk about some of the challenges to get this open on time for the big summer crowds. Then we take a stroll around the resort to check in on some other projects.
Honeyduke Expansion Opens
This past week, the expanded Honeydukes store opened at Islands of Adventure, expanding into the former Zonko’s location. Currently, the Zonkos facade has remained and from all indications, it appears that it will be staying for the time being. Inside, the registers have been moved to the the far end of the shop, allowing guests better access to the store, removing a once painful bottle neck, and overall improving the guest experience.
Hogsmead Hogwarts Express Station
This week we ventured into the Sinbad Theater to look at the Hogwarts Express station from another point of view. When you are at the bottom of the theater, you get a real sense of scale for how large this structure is. Guests will enter on the first floor, and make their way to the second floor where they will board the train.
Outside, work is continuing on the new entrance area along with the outdoor queue portion of this experience.
Giant Wall in Hogsmeade
Across from the new station entrance, Universal has erected a large wooden wall where the Lost Continent games used to be. It was shared with us that trees and other foliage will be planted to hide the wall. But right now, guests can just see a giant fence.
As we venture over to the Studios, we can quickly see that that the new berm is now almost complete, with full trees and foliage now hiding the backstage areas. While the London facade is mostly complete, work is furiously happening behind the facade to get every nook and cranny of this new Wizarding World in tip top shape! Over night crews, sleepless nights, continual ride and system tests are going on as Universal Creative and their vendors work tirelessly to open this attraction on time (which is the last two weeks of June). Universal has yet to announce a date, because they want to make sure that once they pick a date, that they can deliver.
Outside the parks, the CityWalk Update continues to press ahead at a dizzying pace.
The expanded porch of indecision has opened, and is now serving guests, with fans, misters and outside air. They have doubled the capacity for the porch so now guests shouldn’t experience as long of waits at night as they are exiting the parks.
Cowfish and Vivo
Major work continues downstairs in Vivo, as it will be the next venue to open, and upstairs work is moving forward on Cowfish, as they push this unique burger/sushi fusion restaurant to be ready by the time Diagon Alley debuts.
Universal Studio Store
Next door to Vivo is the Universal Studio Store, where work is progressing much more visually this past week. Soon this flagship store will reopen and the pop-up store can removed.
That wraps up this week’s update. We have a lot to look forward to as the Universal resort gets ready for this summer! With 2014 looking like another banner year for the Universal Orlando Resort, we can’t help but let our gaze drift towards 2015, 2016 and 2017 where amazing things are being planned for guests traveling to Orlando. While there are lots of projects moving their way through development, we here at MiceChat are going to be savoring the summer 2014 attractions before we turn our eyes too far forward. Because at the Universal Orlando Resort every year seems to be bringing a massive slate of new offerings.