I just returned from Universal Orlando and was extremely impressed by everything new at the parks! So the timing seems good for a post on what’s new, and what’s coming up later this year. Two of these technically opened in 2017, but if you haven’t been since the beginning of 2017 or earlier, then everything will be new for you!
Fast & Furious – Supercharged
I was in Orlando for the grand opening of Fast & Furious – Supercharged. Ride openings are always fun, and this one included four stars of the movies, including Vin Diesel, and an actual car chase with pyrotechnics. But you’re not going to be there for the opening – you’ll be there for the actual ride! Essentially it’s a moving motion simulator similar to Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure. It starts with a walk through the F&F garage – where the attention to detail is incredible – and has two stops, in the F&F Family Room, and then another in the War Room. You then get onto a party bus and, long story short, end up in the middle of a chase through San Francisco. It’s a fun ride and definitely worth a stop between The Mummy and Diagon Alley, my two favorite attractions at Universal Studios Florida. If you’re a fan of the F&F movies, enjoy the attention to details throughout, the Easter eggs thrown in by the developers, and cars from the films. If you’re not a fan, just enjoy the ride!
I had always heard of the legendary Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, which has slowly expanded to include a handful of locations, but had never tried any of its fried creations. With the opening of Voodoo Doughnut at Universal CityWalk Orlando, the first location east of the Mississippi, I finally had my chance. Highly recommended! The doughnuts are uniformly excellent – and creative – and they’re priced lower than I would have expected.
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
I was blown away last December with the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle – a light show that transforms Hogwarts for the holidays in a very creative way. Universal used the same technology to create a year-round nighttime show that focuses on the four houses of Hogwarts. It runs every 15 minutes or so when the park is dark. A great way to finish out the day!
I highly recommend staying onsite when you’re at the Universal parks. You get early park admission, some of the hotels come with free Express Passes, and you’re only 15 minutes or less from the entrances to the parks (by walking, taking a water taxi, or hopping on a bus, depending on the hotel). Universal has several new hotels coming, including Aventura, opening mid-August. Aventura is located next to Loews Sapphire Falls and will be on the budget end of the spectrum, so you’ll get low prices but no Express Passes. The hotel looks excellent – especially the Bar 17 Bistro rooftop bar/restaurant with an amazing view of the parks and the surrounding area. And it’s always nice for families to have another low-priced option that’s within walking distance of all three parks. My breakdown of all of the onsite hotels is HERE, and I’ll update it in August after I’ve stayed there.
Universal’s third theme park, Volcano Bay, opened in May 2017. I’ve now been four times, both with and without my kids, and I love it! We typically head over in the morning right when the park opens, ride/slide for a few hours, have lunch, go on a couple more slides, and then head back to the hotel to rest in the afternoon. Then we’ll spend some time at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure after dinner when there aren’t many people around.
Stranger Things at Halloween Horror Nights
I went to Halloween Horror Nights two years ago and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would given that I’m not a horror fan. I hadn’t really planned on returning, though, until Universal announced that one of the houses this year would be Stranger Things. Yes please!
Holidays at Universal Orlando
Last year was the first year that Universal transformed the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for Christmas, and it was worth waiting for! Plus the new holiday parade is a lot of fun. If you missed it last year, or even if you didn’t, be sure to head to the parks in November and December. And have a hot butterbeer for me!
What are you looking forward to the most?
Note: I’m a member of Universal Orlando Resort’s inaugural Blog Squad. Universal Orlando typically hosts us. This content is all mine though.