Welcome to the first of hopefully many, weekly additions of “Around the Universe”, your look into what’s going on around the Universal Orlando Resort. This week we’ll take a look at the ongoing Phase One CityWalk expansion and the new paint job on the CowFish building. We’ll also check out the very first signs of life at the “KongStruction” site. Then we’ll head over to Universal, to see what kind of Horror Nights construction is visible, before finishing with a round at Moe’s Tavern.
Before even stepping off the moving platform into CityWalk, construction work is already visible between Hollywood Drive-In Golf and the AMC Theatre.
There’s a scrim on the ground level, and construction equipment above.
On the other side of the walkway, CowFish construction has really taken off.
The printed scrim was put up recently, while the paint went up quickly. The entire backside is painted, leaving only the former Starbucks location and a small tan section left to finish as of 7/31.
A crew installing an awning on the second level.
The back of the building and its new Sky Blue color.
The side facing Rising Stars is a striking orange with a large fish graphic. Artsy!
The area between the buildings has been done for a while and guests can once again take the stairs to the ground level.
Though the outside is getting pretty close to being done, there’s a lot of work left inside.
The last major exterior project is the space above the Vivo patio.
Most of it is covered by the scrim, but you can get a pretty good idea of the shape from one side.
Though the concept art isn’t exact, it shows how the two restaurants will fit together.
And now lets head over to Islands.
It’s obviously Summer, with both Popeye and Dudley reaching over an hour wait.
Jurrasic Park with a 45 minute longer wait than Forbidden Journey; must be hot out.
Spiderman was using just a bit of its outdoor queue. Thank god, because that area is a people roaster.
Over in Toon Lagoon, full boat after full boat came down the chute at Dudley-Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls.
The Jurrasic Park gate separating the land from Toon Lagoon was removed last week, and any sign of its footers has been planted over.
Two new bamboo construction fences have gone up for the rumored Kong attraction. The first next to the Churro stand.
The second is next to Thunder Falls, and wraps around the back of the eatery.
Like the Toon Lagoon rides, guests were taking full advantage of Jurassic Park River Adventure to beat the 90+ degree heat.
The size of the splash really is impressive!
Up top in Camp Jurassic, this view has changed dramatically in the last few months.
Gone are the many trees, as Universal starts to move earth for their newest attraction.
Not much to see yet, but keep checking Orlando United for the latest updates on #KongWatch
Moving along into Jurassic Park, last years new games area doesn’t seem to be quite as busy as Springfield’s.
The T-Rex photo-op that used to be found near Thunder Falls is now set up close to the Discovery Center. The automated photo kiosk is nowhere to be found.
Heading around back of the Discovery Center affords guests a great view of the other Islands at the park.
Hulk and Dr. Doom loom over the Lagoon.
Mythos looks just as beautiful from the back as it does from the front.
Up top, scaffolding can be seen. Not sure if this is always there, or if they’re doing some work on the roof.
Anyway, let’s head into the Discovery Center.
In my opinion, the only worthwhile exhibit inside is the Raptor Hatching.
I didn’t get to see a hatching when I was there, but I did notice that half of the egg scanner games were missing eggs. Kinda defeats the purpose… Hopefully they’ll be fixed soon.
On the other wall, the “Discovering Dinosaurs” exhibit is behind walls for refurbishment.
It’s good to see Universal taking care of the smaller attractions, even while building new headliners. Hopefully the raptor area is next!
Back outside, the Potter bypass bridge has been open a lot lately.
This is another spot that gives guests some great hidden views.
The seating area outside the Three Broomsticks is a great place to relax and catch some shade on a hot day!
Saw some carp in the strikingly teal water below the bridge.
The bridge lets guests out into Lost Continent, lessening the bottleneck in Hogsmeade.
In front of the Sindbad stunt show, the Mystic Fountain still draws a big crowd. These two ended up soaked after the fountain “cast” an Aguamenti spell.
Continuing on towards Hogsmeade, the small queue that was set up before the ticket scanners at the Hogsmeade station has been removed. I personally never saw it used.
Taken about 5:00
The station building itself is gorgeous! It’s simply done, but it looks great surrounded by trees.
The British style train water tower that was added to the corner of the Sindbad theatre, was a great way to tie in the two neighbors.
These carved stones that were added to the station side of the theatre are a great little touch!
The Thestral at the exit helps add a bit of themeing to the far less spectacular of the two stations.
Upon closer inspection, you can see that the wheels are actually stuck in the “mud”.
The main reason for visiting Hogsmeade was a to grab one of these at the Hog’s Head. It’s the Hogsmeade-exclusive, best drink in town, Pumpkin Fizz! The Carbonated Drink Sensation That’s Sweeping the Nation!
The Hog Head animatronic makes this my favorite bar on property!
And that’s gonna pretty much do it for Islands, but as they say, “The Adventure Lives On”
On my way out I saw this new banner over the exit turnstyles.
I used the side entrance to the Studios, but not before grabbing a quick shot of Rockit! At least they seem to be enjoying it.
Inside the park, I cut through the Transformers gift shop and stumbled upon this $2500 Megatron statue, standing two feet tall. This could be Universal’s version of the Epcot Cinderella Swarovski castle.
Right next door, it seems the Delancey Street Preview Center is on it’s way out.
The inside has been cleared. Not sure what the plan is for its replacement, but I’m definitely intrigued!
Over near Mummy is the well done, 42nd Street Climbing Wall. One of these days I’m gonna have to try it!
Right across the street I stopped to catch the Blue’s Brothers show. One of those things a lot of guest won’t see, but those that do end up loving it.
Over in San Francisco, in the Disaster extended queue, one of the Horror Nights’ houses appears to be finished!
King’s Cross wasn’t nearly as busy by the time I made it back to London, but it was at an hour at midday, the day before.
In front of the station, all of the gates and chains have been removed in front of London. Guests are free to enter the land from either side now.
The London phone booth is chained off while they work on fixing the phone inside.
The rotating dialer has been missing for about a week now.
Next to the Eros Fountain, the Knight Buss Conductor and Dre Head converse with some guests.
They really need a PhotoConnect Team Member taking pictures exactly where I was standing.
Not sure if this sign down near Number 12 Grimmauld Place is new, but I had not seen it before.
By this time, waits were much more manageable, with Gringotts only posting a two hour wait.
I’ve said it a million times, but what an achievement in Theme Park Design and Engineering! Kudos Universal!
On the other side of Men In Black, we’ve got a few months to go before this becomes the queue for a Horror Nights house.
In Springfield, I found some funny merchandise over at the Duff Brewery shop.
But then it was time for something cold and refreshing from Moe’s. First up was the Mr. Teeny pineapple lemonade. Always a favorite.
Next, the only drink that’s in the same league as Pumpkin Fizz, the Mt. Swartzwelder! It’s basically an apple flavored Arnold Palmer. Just about the most thirst-quenching drink out there, and the perfect way to end a hot and sweaty afternoon at Universal Orlando.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you all next week when hopefully Barney has finally finished his beer. -Tryg