Theme Park News

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will officially open April 6, 2017, but if you're lucky you may get a chance to experience this new 3D simulator attraction during "soft openings," which are going on now! Soft opening, or "Technical Rehearsal" as Universal calls it, is like a practice run for the attraction. Some effects or elements may not be working, some things may change as they work the kinks out, and most importantly, there's no guarantee that the attraction will be open at all during this time and may close down at any given moment. Lately the ride has been operating in the afternoon each day, and over time that should move to be all day for most days. Check with the ride attendant out from in the morning to see if they know anything, and check back throughout the day for your chance to ride during a soft open.

This brand new attraction features a unique queue-less design, giving guests the chance to explore the Tonight Show museum, relax in the 30 Rock Lounge, and see some live entertainment while they wait. I was very impressed with the entire experience all around. If this were simply just the four minute ride I don't think I would've liked it as much as I did. This park needs more long experiences now that Twister, Beetlejuice, and Disaster have closed, and you can easily spend 30 minutes in this attraction just soaking in the queue areas and fun entertainment.

The ride will utilize a Virtual Line reservation system after it officially opens next month. This will allow you to reserve a time to come back, either through the Universal mobile app or one of the new kiosks near the ride entrance. You will still need to wait a short period once you enter, but that time is spent enjoying the museum and live entertainment, and should be considered part of the attraction overall. They've even included comfy chairs with mobile device charging stations, which is not too shabby a way to wait for a ride.

See the video for the latest construction update, full queue experience and live entertainment, and check out the photo report below for more information as well as more of my thoughts on the attraction! And stay tuned for more theme park news and updates coming soon.

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It was a fun run, but this was the final weekend for the first annual Epcot Festival of the Arts, (see my review and full coverage here.) In just a little over a week we'll be jumping right into Epcot's next big event, the Flower & Garden Festival! Gardens, topiaries and many food booths are already starting to show up all around Future World and World Showcase. Plus, a couple children's playgrounds are being constructed as well. Flower & Garden starts March 1, 2017, see my previous article for complete food menus and event information.

Also going on in the park, you can now purchase prints of all of the fantastic paintings featuring Figment from the "Brush with the Masters" scavenger hunt at the arts festival. Prints can be ordered through the Disney Art of Animation On Demand kiosks at Epcot and Disney Springs. You can choose an optional frame and your artwork is delivered to your home within a couple weeks. And finally, we check in on the construction of Choza Tequila, the new food stand opening soon at Mexico in World Showcase. Once open, you'll be able to get hand-crafted margaritas and classic Mexican cuisine like tacos, empanadas, chips and fresh guacamole. Check out the video and photo report below and stay tuned for more theme park updates!

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Hulk-Marquee-Reopening3-1170x731The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure has been completely refreshed and is now open for guests! We've witnessed the entire track being replaced piece by piece, the queue building get new paint, signage, and storyline, the whole area receiving beautiful nighttime lighting effects, and a gorgeous new entrance created with a realistic full-size Hulk statue standing tall. But now we finally get to see what the queue looks like inside, how the launch tunnel has improved, and what the on-board music sounds like on the ride! It's wonderful to see such a classic attraction like the Hulk receive some much-needed TLC. I love the new area music around the Hulk courtyard, (hear it in the video below just after a minute in.) It has a military feel, and is very cinematic, perfectly punctuating the new area theming as a secret military base and scientific lab. Check out the video for your area update plus the images below of the updated ride, queue, and grand opening ceremony. Stay tuned for more theme park updates coming soon!

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CnQOiNZUMAAaUhAUniversal's newest attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure is now officially open! The announcement was made during the Today Show with Al Roker and Tamron Hall earlier today. It has also been tweeted by Universal Orlando with them saying "Skull Island: #ReignOfKong is now open at #IslandsOfAdventure!" The attraction has been in soft open, or 'technical rehearsals' as Universal calls it, for a full month, but as of now will be officially listed as open in the Universal Orlando app and map, and will (hopefully) be open all day along with the rest of the park (starting tomorrow). You can see the official opening ceremony from earlier this morning below along with some more images as well. Check out our extensive coverage of the construction of Kong since the beginning here, and stay tuned for more theme park news and updates coming soon!

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00858.MTS.Still034The Secret Life of Pets hit the ground running at theaters this weekend, raking in more than a hundred million dollars. Earlier this week the Pets got their own store in Toon Lagoon at Universal's Islands of Adventure. The Rocky & Bullwinkle themed 'Wossamotta U' store is now completely filled to the brim with Pets merch. There you can find countless plush toys, shirts, cups, mugs, books and more.

00858.MTS.Still010There's been talk of the Pets getting their own ride in Hollywood, and maybe in Orlando, but only if the film performs well. Given the success it's having at the box office so far, I'd say there's a pretty good chance we'll be seeing them come to Orlando. The rumored location for a new Secret Life of Pets ride is the barely used amphitheater in Toon Lagoon. Only used for special events a couple of times a year, this theater could be torn down to make way for a completely new family friendly trackless dark ride. Rumors say the ride could feature set-pieces from the film including Katie's apartment, cat's alley, and the flushed pets lair in the sewer, all with animatronic characters. Check out the video and images below to see all the merch and the rumored ride location and stay tuned for more Pets news!

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Toothsomes_Updated-RenderingRecently Universal re-named the upcoming dessert-focused CityWalk addition to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. Gone is the word factory, (and hopefully any comparisons to a certain Wonka). Universal is making quick work of converting the old NBA City restaurant into their steampunk creation and we have an update to show off some of the new features added to the facade. Also, Universal started looking for team members for their opening team, and they even put out a casting call for two all-original walk-around characters:

  • Penolope Toothsome - A female, 5'7" to 6' tall with a British accent, simply described as having traveling the globe to gain the knowledge of "all things chocolate".
  • Jaques - A male, 5'8" to 6'1" tall, described as a robot companion to Penelope who will wear a costume that will cover their entire body, including face, but still will be able to speak.

I guess now the Toothsome name makes sense. It's a character's name! Things are really starting to sound interesting for this unique dining experience. For a look at some of the featured menu items, check out my previous post. See the photo report below of construction progress and stay tuned for more updates!


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Volcano-Bay-Full-Reveal-4Universal Orlando has released incredible details about all of the attractions and features of the upcoming Volcano Bay water theme park. Firstly, they have said that tickets will be available to visit the new park as early as June 1, 2017. This won't be the official grand opening date, but the park itself will be open by then. In addition to information about the four themed areas of the new park and 18 different attractions, Universal is also touting how this will change the way you experience a water park as well. "Here, there’s no standing in long lines. No wrestling with tubes. No waiting for the fun to begin. Which means you spend more time drifting leisurely down a winding river, plummeting down a tropical volcano, catapulting into pools of blue water, and reconnecting with your family." See all the great details below along with some new amazing concept art and stay tuned for more theme park news!

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the-secret-life-of-pets-56378a2078351NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told analysts at an investor conference last week that Universal is working on an attraction based on the upcoming film, "The Secret Life of Pets". While there have been rumors of a family friendly dark ride featuring the characters from this upcoming film coming to both Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando, this is the first time we have had any confirmation on the matter at all. Burke did not say which theme park or parks would feature the attraction, but if rumors prove true we could see this new attraction appear at both coast's parks before the end of the decade.

Burke did go on to say "We are doing -- we have started a Pets attraction even before the film comes out, which if the film doesn't do as well as I think, it will be painful. But I think it will do very well." The Secret Life of Pets comes to theaters July 8. It was produced by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures, the same folks that brought us Despicable Me and Minions. I believe that SLoP, as I am calling it, will do wonderfully at the theaters, and like Despicable Me, will feature characters we'll be seeing plastered on every product imaginable for years to come.


Check out my recent park updates featuring new merchandise for The Secret Life of Pets that has shown up in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. And stay tuned for the official announcement and more information about a SLoP ride (hopefully) coming soon!

00852.MTS.Still008Williams of Hollywood is a shop at Universal Studios Florida where you can buy actual props from old rides, stores, events and more! While on my last visit I noticed some new items in the shop from the JAWS ride, Twister, Disaster and even a giant Woody Woodpecker figure too! Man, if I just had 2000 dollars lying around I would so pick up that shark from the old JAWS wait time sign. Really brings back memories. Check out the video or photo report below and stay tuned for more theme park updates.

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