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More Construction Walls removed at Jurassic World VelociCoaster giving first-look inside paddock area

Construction walls have been removed near the “paddock area” of the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, giving us our first glimpses of all the twists and turns, foliage, and the launch section of the track.

Lining up with the Raptor Encounter entrance, the launch will send guests up to 70 mph and more than 150 feet in the air.

The viewing fence offers some great views of the coaster, which should add a kinetic feel to the Jurassic Park area of the park.

More details about the coaster will be revealed in the months ahead, including an official opening date.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest on the new coaster and other news around the Universal Parks & Resorts.

 

Jurassic World VelociCoaster merchandise released at Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando has released their line-up of Jurassic World VelociCoaster merchandise throughout the resort as we get closer to the coaster’s opening.

Shirts, hoodies, pins, socks, buttons, mugs, and more are available at the present time. Official “Grand Opening” merchandise was sold temporarily but has since been removed until a later time.

Shirts range from $24-$30. Mugs are $12.

Many of the items feature the tagline, “What could go wrong?” – hinting that the coaster will most likely feature the attraction trope of an experience going wrong. Other taglines include “Must Go Faster” and “Chaos Happens”.

Merchandise is currently available at Jurassic Outfitters, a Jurassic Park merch kiosk near the VelociCoaster, and at the IOA Trading Company.

The coaster will catapult guests up to 70 mph and more than 150 feet in the air. The vehicle was designed for speed and engineered “for the hunt”, the coaster’s revolutionary ride vehicle will send riders twisting and soaring across 4,700 feet of track as they encounter near-misses, launches, 12 heart-pounding seconds of airtime, and more – with just a lap bar restraint holding them in place.

Lanyards available for $12

More details about the coaster will be revealed in the months ahead, including an official opening date.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest on the new coaster and other news around the Universal Parks & Resorts.

 

Photo Update: February 21, 2021 – Universal Studios Hollywood

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It’s time for February’s photo update around CityWalk Hollywood! This month, as we near the one-year mark since Universal Studios Hollywood began its temporary closure, we highlight a few additional venue reopenings, as well as the implementation of some revised rules for outdoor dining.

Let’s get started!

Park Update Index

» Super Nintendo World
» CityWalk Reopenings
» A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That


Super Nintendo World

While Universal Studios Japan recently held a handful of guest previews of their Super Nintendo World, here on the other side of the globe, work continues on the construction of Universal Studios Hollywood’s own iteration of the themed land. The green hills framing the landscape of the area have expanded farther out since our most recent update, though we did not notice any other significant changes during our visit.


CityWalk Reopenings

Since our most recent update, Vivo Italian Kitchen has reopened for outdoor dining and takeout.

Starbucks has also once again returned to business as usual for the first time in months, following the removal of Los Angeles County restrictions that temporarily banned the consumption of food and beverages on property.


A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

With the return of outdoor dining, new signs have appeared across CityWalk clarifying to guests that they are only permitted to eat and drink in Designated Outdoor Dining Areas, including restaurant patios, 5 Towers, and CityFood.

Additional racks of park merchandise have appeared in Production Central at the heavy discount of 50% off the lowest ticketed price.

The Habit Burger Grill appears to be preparing to open for business soon.

Voodoo Doughnut is still offering a limited-time assortment of doughnuts inspired by Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year.

Construction has also been slowly progressing on the empty lots located toward the bottom and off to the side of Universal Hollywood Dr, as well as in the former location of the Fung Lum Chinese restaurant, respectively.

For those curious about crowd levels, when we visited around 1:30 PM on a Sunday, we found that CityWalk was moderately busy, but particularly crowded at restaurants offering outdoor dining. As always, we recommend that you visit at CityWalk opening (12:00 PM daily) or on a weekday to experience the smallest crowds.

Though the park entrance and its surrounding area were blocked off during our visit due to filming, we recently noticed the appearance of black walls hiding any views of the inside of the theme park. Water has also returned to the fountain surrounding the iconic Universal Studios globe.


That’ll do it for this month’s photo update. As always, we wish you well and thank you for following our continuing coverage of Universal Parks and Resorts.

Universal Orlando introduces new ‘Universal Pay’ option on mobile devices

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Universal Orlando has pushed out a new update to their mobile app, introducing Universal Pay – a new feature that allows contactless payments for guests while in the parks with the use of their smartphone.

Universal Pay uses a credit or debit card in the app’s virtual wallet and will create a unique QR code for each purchase for team members to scan. The feature also allows guests to control the spending limits of their party; setting it up for either full charging privileges, a set spending limit, or no spending whatsoever.

Universal Pay is only accepted at Universal-owned stores and is currently not valid at third-party retail locations.

The Universal Orlando app is available for download on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest on Universal Parks & Resorts.

The Inside Universal Podcast: 1-on-1 with Seth Kubersky

We are joined by Seth Kubersky of the Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando to discuss the latest edition of his guide; how it deals with the ongoing pandemic, and his thoughts in general on the Universal Orlando Resort, as well as Mardi Gras 2021.

 

Direct Download and iTunes

You may download this episode directly here. You may also subscribe to the Inside Universal Podcast on iTunes. In addition, you can also follow us on Spotify to listen to podcast episodes on their app.

REVIEW: Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Orlando has kicked off another year of Mardi Gras. Last year’s event was in the middle of a memorable run, celebrating 25 years of food, music, and fun until everything changed in March with the shutdown of the parks for the better part of 2 months. This year’s event returns in a much more different form, being held daily through Sunday, March 28. While most of what we love about Mardi Gras is present, it goes without saying that there are some noticeable changes due to the ongoing pandemic.

Gone are the nightly parade and weekend concerts; with Universal now shifting the focus on the food festival aspects of the event. Universal has continually made adjustments to their offerings over the past year in the midst of the pandemic, and this pivot is probably their smartest.

Before this year, most of the event was essentially restricted down Production Central and New York, which could cause some serious traffic jams during busier times, especially in the French Quarter Courtyard. With the need to space out crowds this year, Universal has now expanded the event to encompass the entirety of the park – now allowing for that party atmosphere to be felt throughout Universal Studios.

Guests can sample more than 70 dishes and beverages from 13 locations around the globe – highlighting the countries and regions that hold Mardi Gras/Carnival celebrations. With so much food to try, the best way is to purchase a tasting lanyard. It truly is a great value and a great way to experience the festival. For $55, guests can get 10 uses to use, for both food & booze. Annual Passholders have the option to get a 15-sample lanyard for $65, which just furthers the value even more. The good news is that if you purchased a lanyard last year and have unused redemptions, they are valid for use this year.

While we didn’t try EVERY dish, we tried to sample some of the classic and interesting dishes, enjoying most of what we ate. It should also be said that Universal’s samples are decently portioned, with some being close to full meals – so prepare your stomachs. Here’s the quick rundown:

  • Jerk Chicken from the Bahamas
    (Gluten-Free) Jerked marinated chicken, rice & peas, scotch bonnet salsa
    Really good flavor but the scotch bonnet salsa really adds some kick. It wasn’t hot enough where we needed to get water, but it would’ve been nice.
  • Pernil & Mofongo from Puerto Rico
    (Gluten-Free) Roasted pork, smashed plantains, onion mojo
    The favorite of the day; loved the onion and garlicky flavors. Puerto Rico consistently had the longest lines, so plan accordingly.
  • Quesitos from Puerto Rico
    (Vegetarian) Guava and cream cheese-filled fried pastry
    Our lunch dessert. Classic pastry from latin countries, that balances the sweet from guava and the salty with the cheese, with some good crunch from the fried dough.
  • Pork Schnitzel Sliders from Germany
    Fried pork cutlet, spicy mustard, braised red cabbage, gruyere cheese
    The pork cutlet was massive, where it was more schnitzel than a slider – in the best ways. Loved the combo of the cheese and the fried pork.
  • Shrimp Boil from New Orleans
    (Gluten-Free) Mix bag of shrimp, andouille, red bliss potatoes, corn on the cob
    Get ready to get your hands dirty as the shrimp is Peel’n’Eat (as is tradition). This classic was our last dish of the night and was extremely filling. We opted to get beignets for dessert, and we recommend you do the same.
  • Brussels Frites from Belgium
    (Gluten-Free & Vegan) Crispy seasoned fries with 3 dipping sauces
    Our least favorite. They were good fries, but nothing special. We did enjoy the joppiesaus dipping sauce, which is like a “curry-mayo-mustard” hybrid; but outside of that – skip.
  • Arancini from Italy
    (Vegetarian) Fried risotto, wild mushrooms, truffle, parmesan cheese
    A good, small bite. Had more earthy tastes, than the creaminess you expect from a risotto – obviously due to the mushrooms and truffle, but it didn’t overpower the marinara or cheeses. All the flavors melded very nicely.
  • Paella Mixta from Spain
    (Gluten-Free) Saffron yellow rice, chorizo, squid, mussels, shrimp
    Another decently portioned dish; a good taste of the sea (in a good way). The squid had a good chew, but not rubbery. The chorizo added a nice spice to the dish. We decided to go with the Don Olegurio Albarino white wine for something different than water and it made for a nice pairing.

We still have a lot of uses left on our sampler, so we’re looking to go back and try some of the countries we didn’t hit yet (Colombia, we’re looking right at you). Universal has also provided an ample amount of areas to eat and drink safely, so you shouldn’t have to resort to using a trash can as a table.

The other big attraction at Mardi Gras is the Tribute Store, which marks its 2nd year at the event; with this year’s version focusing a bit on the history of New Orleans – from its love of Jazz to famed pirate, Jean Lafitte. Keep a lookout in the nautical cemetery for some clever nods to Earl the Squirrel and President & COO, Bill Davis. The store features loads of Mardi Gras merch, with the last room full of treats and snacks; including King Cake, Mardi Gras Cakes & Cookies, and more. There’s even Mardi Gras-inspired candy, including a huge chocolate coin.

As far as the rest of the event – with the parade gone, the parade floats now are scattered through the park with performers aboard each float interacting with guests, trying to encourage the guests to party along (in a safe way). During our visit on Saturday, there weren’t a lot of characters to be found, especially later in the night – which put a damper on that experience; but we think that was a product of opening day kinks and the rainy weather forecast as our experience on a Tuesday morning was different as there were a lot more interactions.

With the Zydeco music now heard throughout the park, guests can interact with other performers on socially distant stages and props that set up around the lagoon so they can get some good photos of their experience this year. Occasionally, jazz bands will parade down the streets of Universal playing music, or you can catch them playing on floats from time to time.

Universal is also continuing the popular scavenger hunt from previous events, this time with Krewe Crawl. For $7.95 you get a “treasure map” that will help you find all the Krewe skeletons. Guests must collect stamps at each location in order to complete the challenge, where beads await you as your prize.

Even though the event was altered by the necessity for safety, it was a good step in the evolution of Mardi Gras. It’s only a matter of time before we return to normal, and we hope Universal plans on keeping the Food Festival aspect of this year with the eventual return of parades, concerts, and dancing in the streets of Universal Studios Florida. In the meantime, this year’s event is a definite must-do, especially for the foodies out there.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for more on Mardi Gras and Universal Parks & Resorts.

Universal’s Volcano Bay set to reopen February 27

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Universal Orlando has announced that Volcano Bay will reopen from its seasonal closure on February 27, 2021.

The water park closed in November due to expected lower demand in the cooler winter months, especially as the Resort navigated its way through the pandemic. During the closure, Universal performed annual maintenance around the park.

Universal will still restrict capacity when the park reopens and is advising guests to check hours of operation or to call the capacity hotline at 1-407-817-8317.

A Day at the Park with Barney permanently closes at Universal Studios Florida

The Purple Dinosaur has gone extinct as Universal Orlando has officially closed A Day in the Park with Barney. The show originally closed “temporarily” last August as Universal made operational adjustments during the pandemic – but that has now changed to a permanent closure.

Despite the show’s temporary closure last year, the characters from the show would still meet guests out in KidZone – but they haven’t been since the new year began, leading to speculation of the show’s permanent closure.

 

A Day in the Park with Barney originally opened in KidZone back in 1995 and was one of the longest-running shows in the park before its closure.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest on Universal Parks & Resorts.

Photo Update: January 31, 2021 – Universal Studios Hollywood

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Welcome back with January’s photo update around CityWalk Hollywood! This month, we take a look at the reopening of outdoor dining across the premises, as well as a look at construction progress on Super Nintendo World viewed from afar.

Let’s get started!

Park Update Index

» Super Nintendo World
» CityWalk Reopenings
» Merchandise Discounts
» A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That


Super Nintendo World

Much construction has been completed on the Super Nintendo World expansion of the Universal Studios Hollywood Lower Lot since our most recent update. Vibrant green hills similar to those found in the Nintendo video games can be seen from a distance, along with some nearby peaks that are beginning to form what looks to be the outside of Bowser’s castle – one of the central locations in the Super Mario games, for those who may be unfamiliar.

Nearby, around the former location of the Fung Lum Chinese restaurant, construction work continues for an unknown project.


CityWalk Reopenings

Following the recent revising of state and county safety guidelines, outdoor dining has returned to CityWalk Hollywood. Most restaurants still continue to offer take-out options for those who may be more cautious, including the recently reopened Antojitos Mexican Restaurant.

 

Chairs, benches, and tables across CityWalk are no longer blocked off, and consuming food and beverages is now permitted. Vivo Italian Kitchen still remains closed, and no new restaurants appear to have reopened as of this update. We also would like to caution that crowds were relatively heavy during our weekend visit, so we recommend visiting early on a weekday if possible.


Merchandise Discounts

Though we were unable to check the Universal Studio Store due to heavy crowds, we found a number of new discounts offered at Production Central, Cartooniversal, and Studio Souvenirs. Many included varying “50% off” discounts for certain similar products, including plushes and toys; keychains, pins, or magnets; and hats or tees, to name a few.

A few leftover items of Grinchmas merchandise are also available at Production Central for 70% off their marked price.

Some new Sanrio-Universal hybrid merchandise has arrived at Studio Souvenirs, including Jurassic Park, E.T., Jaws, and King Kong Hello Kitty items.

 


A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Voodoo Doughnut is now selling Valentine’s Day-inspired doughnuts through February 14.

Though their menu does not appear to have any new offerings, Mini Monster has also decorated for Valentine’s Day and even now sells bouquets of flowers for those interested.

We decided to try the honey milk tea with cotton candy during our visit and highly recommend that you do too!

As talk of this year’s potential Halloween Horror Nights event resumes among fans, it should be noted that the maze located in the WaterWorld queue has still not been taken down.

The giant Minion that is normally located in the front of the Universal Studio Store inside the park has been moved backstage.


That’ll do it for this month’s photo update. As always, we sincerely hope you are doing well and thank you for following our continuing coverage of Universal Parks and Resorts.

Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando officially closes

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The Blue Man Group has announced that after 14 years, they are ending their run at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk.

The Blue Man Group debuted at Universal Orlando on June 2007 – replacing the Nickelodeon Studios. The show blended comedy, music, and colors for an energetic family experience.

The show has remained closed due to the pandemic since March 2020, never having a proper send-off. No decision has been announced as to what will replace the Sharp Aquos Theatre.

Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest on Universal Parks & Resorts.

LATEST POSTS

More Construction Walls removed at Jurassic World VelociCoaster giving first-look inside paddock area

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Construction walls have been removed near the "paddock area" of the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, giving us our first glimpses of all the twists and...

Jurassic World VelociCoaster merchandise released at Universal Orlando

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Universal Orlando has released their line-up of Jurassic World VelociCoaster merchandise throughout the resort as we get closer to the coaster's opening. Shirts, hoodies, pins,...

Photo Update: February 21, 2021 – Universal Studios Hollywood

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It’s time for February’s photo update around CityWalk Hollywood! This month, as we near the one-year mark since Universal Studios Hollywood began its temporary...

Universal Orlando introduces new ‘Universal Pay’ option on mobile devices

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Universal Orlando has pushed out a new update to their mobile app, introducing Universal Pay - a new feature that allows contactless payments for...