Photo Update: A look at what’s new and interesting at Universal Orlando – January 2012

We spent a couple of days at Universal Orlando this past week and saw many new and interesting things at both parks and in CityWalk. Here’s what caught our eye.

As you enter CityWalk, you’ll notice construction of the mini-golf courses is coming along well. Check out our full miniature golf photo update here.

In CityWalk they’ve updated their merchandise stands and added a few. You’ll find stands with Cat in the Hat, Angry Birds and Saturday Night Live merchandise, among others.

The Hard Rock Cafe in CityWalk is undergoing some exterior changes. First the car that was suspended in the rocks outside was removed, now they’re doing some painting. We heard they’re trying to update to a new look.

If it’s your birthday, you can stop by guest relations at either park and pick up one of these free buttons. You’ll get many team members wishing you a happy birthday throughout the day and maybe even some surprises.

Now let’s head to Universal Studios first.

Here’s a look at the current state of the new Despicable Me attraction that is supposed to open sometime this year. Universal is expected to set an opening date during an announcement next Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. Check our blog around 11 a.m. that day.

Also expected to be announced next Wednesday is a new nighttime fountain show. That’s what these barges in the lagoon are for. It’s rumored that Morgan Freeman will narrate the show dedicated to Universal’s 100 years in movies.

Maybe the Music Plaza area should be renamed “Relaxation Park”. Many use it as a place to lay on the fake grass during the day.

The walls around the Amity and Jaws area are lined with Universal movie posters from their 100-year history. This one seems to mock us that the ride is gone… But hopefully better things are coming, although Universal said the future of this area won’t be a part of their announcement next week.

At first he was covered up, but they moved the walls back so guests can still get their photo with Jaws. Let’s hope they always keep Jaws somewhere in the park for photos.

Also still available in the Amity area is a photo booth where you can get a Jaws background. Surprisingly, you can also still get this background.

Our ride vehicle scored really well on the Men in Black: Alien Attack. It’s been so long since we scored the highest level that we forgot about the part where an alien shows you the MIB suit you’ve earned. They also have a special photo background for the high score at the photo location after the ride.

Just before the park closed, they started setting up for a special party in the street by the Mummy ride. We heard that Steven Speilberg was at Universal yesterday, as well as some of the “Top Chefs”, and MSNBC was broadcasting from CityWalk, but we’re not sure if the party was for any of them.

Now let’s head over to Islands of Adventure:

Universal recently started selling gift cards. Here’s a look at some of the cards and a special offer with them.

A look at one of the new video screen tip boards that have been added throughout the parks.

The back section of the main store in Islands of Adventure has been remodeled to allow even more Wizarding World merchandise and displays.

One of these Spider-Mans is not like the other. One is a store display and the other is the “actual” Spider-Man. Many guests are surprised when the “display” starts talking to them.

Now that the holidays (or Wholidays) are over, the cartoon version of the Grinch is back meeting guests instead of the movie version.

Inside the Circus McGurkus restaurant in Seuss Landing you can see a show with characters many times a day. Newly added to the story-telling is The Lorax, right. A new Lorax movie is coming out March 2, 2012.

I recently noticed this pineapple dessert for sale just outside the Wizarding World. Looks like Universal’s answer to Disney’s Dole Whip. They’ve also recently added Coke Freestyle machines in The Lost Continent land.

Just this week the Dudley Do-Right ride reopened and the Jurassic Park River Adventure closed for refurbishment. I guess they’re cleaning up after yet another escaped raptor disaster. (Joke via @MPAndrew on Twitter)

Here’s a look at the ride’s drop area without water. We’ve heard the ride should reopen in early February.

We’ll end our update with a look at Popeye and Olive Oyl who were meeting guests in Toon lagoon. Olive had a new look with her makeup and nose that we hadn’t seen before.


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  1. I was just at Universal this past summer and it amazes me how quickly they are able to make changes in such a short period of time! I’m glad they are adding a mini-golf course at City Walk. I found City Walk to be a dull experience overall with mostly uninteresting stores. The biggest disappointment was the Universal store, which offered nothing unique. WHy doesn’t Universal embrace its film legacy and sell things like actual movie posters, autographs, film props, etc? It seems like a missed opportunity.

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