Welcome back to the the second edition of “Around the Universe”, your weekly look into the happenings of the Universal Orlando Resort. This week we’ll start of with the visible construction on Hotel Five and the rumored water park near Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Then we’ll check up on the much anticipated Pedestrian Garden Bridge, connecting Cabana Bay with the rest of the resort. We’ll also head in to CityWalk to see the progress on CowFish, before heading into Islands of Adventure. There we’ll take a look at the mysterious barges in the middle of the lagoon, as well as the dirt work over at the Kongstruction site. Then it’s over to Universal Studios where the Delancey Street Preview has been transformed into a new gift shop, before finishing our tour with some of the hidden details on the London Waterfront.
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Out tour today begins at Universal’s newest on site hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort! Word on the street is, the hotel has been doing great, consistently beating occupancy expectations.
Since we’re onsite early, a trip to the Cabana Bay Starbucks was in order.
It’s got a pretty simple design, but the fact that it’s in one of the resort hotels is awesome!
I went with my usual, a Venti White Mocha Iced Coffee. We call this “32oz of Liquid Crack”
Here’s a look of a future area of expansion, that’s rumored to be the site for Universal’s future water park.
To the east of Cabana Bay is another plot that is rumored to be land for more hotel expansions. Rumors have been picking up that a 5th hotel may be on the way soon!
The new Pedestrian Bridge is finally coming along. Guest access to the bridge begins here, by the Family Suite towers.
The bridge itself has an interesting wavy design.
The entire bridge appears to be ADA accessible.
There’s a second ramp that leads up from the sidewalk on Hollywood Way.
Moving into CityWalk, the side of Cowfish above Red Oven, has been fully painted.
The former Starbucks building has been covered with some sort of paneling.
The backside of the building looks pretty similar to last week.
The awning, we saw the construction workers building last week is still not done.
The one view into the building on the Rising Star side, has been covered up with plastic sheeting.
The structure above Vivo has begun to receive it’s circular shape.
Both of the decals above the window on the front of the buidling have been finished.
We’re getting there!
Over at Islands, a mixture of blue skies, and dark ominous clouds cut the park in half.
The rain held off, but lighting had many attractions shuttered.
Twitter lit up this week with the appearance of these fireworks barges in the Islands lagoon.
Our very own HateToFly reports that they’re for a corporate event, not lagoon show testing as everyone hoped.
Not only does this area at the end of Port of Entry have a great view of the lagoon, it also gives guest a great view of Marvel Super Hero Island, where The Incredible Hulk looked great against a bright blue sky. It was at this time that rides began to open back up.
It’s a truly breathtaking ride!
Those that venture to the area also find a great view of Suess Landing and The High in the Sky Suess Trolley Train Ride as well.
Heading over into Seuss Landing, we pass this great bit of storytelling. The submarine is tied up, just out of the lagoon.
Not much happening in this island, but Universal has done a great job of keeping the paint looking fresh, something many complained about for years!
Over near Cat in the Hat, the Grinch was out meeting guests just in time for, uhh… August I guess?
Heading into Lost Continent, I spotted this turtle just chilling in an offshoot of the Lagoon.
With the Wiazarding World taking over so much of Lost Continent, I think it’s pretty clear that the island’s days are numbered. It’s a shame as the exterior themeing is second to none!
On the way into the Wizarding World, I noticed the small queue near the ticket scanners had been set back up. It was missing last week.
Taken about 4:30.
This was a quick visit to the island, just enough time to grab a Pear Cider from the Three Broomsticks. This was the first time I’d tried the drink, but it certainly won’t be the last!
On the bridge to Jurassic Park you’ll find a very regal view of Hogwarts.
Separating the two islands is the remaining, and in my opinion better looking, Jurassic Park archway.
Over in Camp Jurassic, it was time for this weeks Kongstruction check up.
Still just a lot of dirt, but hopefully we’ll see some concrete poured in the coming months.
Looking down from my Kongstruction perch, I couldn’t help but yell out, “Don’t Cross the Streams!”
Entering Toon Lagoon from Jurassic Park is very surreal without the transitional archway.
Back in Lost Continent, I stopped into Croissant Moon Bakery for a snack.
These S’mores Cupcakes looked incredible, and at only $1.99, I almost went for it.
I almost went for the Key Lime Cheesecake, but instead I opted for…
…An absolutely delicious Peanut Butter Diamond! Seriously, this might’ve been the best $2.49 I’ve spent at any park in Orlando. I can’t recommend highly enough.
And with my sweet tooth sastisfied, it was time to leave Islands.
On the way to the Studios, there’s this completely unnecessary sign. Three out of the four places listed are visible from where I was standing…
Inside the park, this weeks big news is the transformation of the Delancey Street Preview Center into a new Classic Universal movie store.
The Delancey Street window decals are gone and have been replaced by merchandise.
The store features tons of classic Universal movie T-Shirts.
I have a feeling these Proton (Back)Packs are gonna be mighty popular.
The store features a lot of different Pop Vinyl, including these Ghostbusters figures.
I thought this Stay Puft figure was neat. You can see here how much bigger it is than the normal figures.
Across the street, Transformers is still drawing in the crowds, even with Gringotts pulling people into Diagon. 75 minutes is normal for midday.
The line stretched all the way to the extended queue next to Monsters Cafe.
On the other side of the building, I caught Megatron out meeting guests.
Over at Kings Cross, the wait was pretty similar to Hogsmeade Station.
Crap, looks I’m late for my train. Oh well, maybe next time.
On the waterfront, the phone booth is still blocked of..
The dialer is still broken. Shame.
Came back later to see that the chain in front of the door obviously didn’t mean anything to these guests. At least they put the stanchions back when they left…
And now lets take a look at the easter eggs hidden in the records in the window the London Record Shop. First we’ve got this great Jaws reference.
Then this one up a little higher that riffs on JK Rowling and her stubbornness when it came to designing the original Wizarding World.
This is an Universal Creative inside joke, in reference to whether or not they’d take the themeing all the way to the ceilings.
In the corner of the Jaws record, the silhouette of the Universal Creative logo is hidden
Over at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, Kreacher keeps an eye on the Muggles below.
And across the street is one of the two Cabman’s Shelters.
It features a small menu of hot dogs, and specialty baked potatoes.
A quick peak at the wait time boards before we go shows how much better the Studios does during inclement weather.
Only four total attractions had to be shut down.
And with that Lew R. Wasserman bids us adieu. Hit me up on twitter at @triggernel and we’ll see you guys next week! -Tryg