Around The UniverseUniversal Orlando Resort

Around the Universe – Discounts and News for July 2023

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Wow, it is HOT outside! Beat the heat with some Halloween news, some cool discounts, and the inaugural “Joe’s Top Four” covering my favorite water rides at the resort. HERE WE GO!

The Last of Us at Halloween Horror Nights 32

Pittsburgh – my home full of french fries on sandwiches, black and gold, The Clarks, and Squirrel Hill Tunnel traffic. Now explore the Pittsburgh Quaratine Zone from the hit video game The Last of Us in a haunted house only at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights. Fans of the TV show and games will find themsevles among the Clickers and infected as they make their way through Pittsburgh avoiding Hunters to escape the city.

Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights September 1 through October 31.

Minion Cafe Opens

The new Minion Cafe is open! The Minions introduces unique food options to Universal Studios Florida. Minions took over the former Monsters Cafe location and brought along their chaotic contraptions to help prepare your meal.

Minion Cafe is the first restaurant focused on Mobile Ordering at Universal Orlando. Guests are seated at a table first and then order on the Universal Orlando app using their table number. Don’t worry, guests with technical issues or without smartphones can order at a counter once seated.

A full review will be incoming but until then check out our article on Minion Cafe.

Next door the new Pop-A-Nana, Freeze Ray Pops, and Bake My Day snack stands are also now open. Pop-A-Nana serves flavored popcorn, yes including banana flavored, and Freeze Ray Pops sell e-ticket popsicles themed to the franchise. Bake My Day not only sells freshly baked goods they also are a full snack shop with pre-packaged sweets and other items to go.

New UNIVRS Store Opens

Copyright Universal Orlando.

Find all your favorite NBCUniversal merchandise at the new UNIVRS store located in Universal Studios Florida. Located near the entrance across from the Today Cafe,  this is the second UNIVRS store with the first at Universal’s CityWalk in Hollywood. The clothing and items at UNIVRS are by streetwear artists and focus on unconventional prints and more expensive items.

This store has it all, from Felix the Cat to Jaws. If you normally dislike theme park merchandise then you will love this shop. UNIVRS is now open daily at Universal Studios Florida.

UOAP Appreciation Days + Get Three Months Free

UOAP Passholder Appreciation Days return from August 15 through September 30, 2023. Universal is mum on their plans, but we expect exclusive discounts, secret menu items, specialty merchandise, free magnets, and priority entrance lanes at the theme parks.

To sweeten the deal Universal is also throwing in three free months of admission when you review or purchase a new Annual Pass. This is a fantastic deal for anyone visiting multiple times a year.

Mel’s Drive-In Refurbishment

Mel’s Drive-In is closed for several weeks for a brief refurbishment. Rumors point to Universal replacing and rebuilding parts of the restaurant due to its age. We are expecting the restaurant to reopen in July or August. Until then head over to Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield: The Home of The Simpsons for your burger fix.

Joe’s Top Four Water Rides at Universal Orlando

With record-breaking temperatures across the south and the summer heat starting to hit, I started thinking of ways I could beat the heat this summer. What better way to cool off than on a water ride? Universal Studios Florida opened in 1990 with no water rides (unless you count some splashing on Jaws) but quickly rectified this in Islands of Adventure with not one, not two, but four water rides (plus some water play areas).

Here are my top four water rides at Universal:

  1. Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges – Arguably the gold standard of raft rides in North America, Popeye takes guests on a madcap adventure to rescue Olive Oly from the nefarious Bluto. Along their journey, guests will be blasted with water, hit rapids, and even come face-to-face with a huge octopus. Unlike most raft rides at other parks, the lift hill is in the middle of the rescue so the thrills start immediately. This is not just Universal’s best water ride, it’s one of the best water rides in the country and one of their best attractions ever.
  2. Krakatau Water Coaster – What is a water coaster? Imagine VelociCoaster, but instead of a roller coaster train launching it is water rafts propelled by magnets up hills. This unique water attraction is the highlight of anyone’s day at Volcano Bay.
  3. Jurassic Park River Adventure – The original classic Universal water ride, first opened in 1996 in Universal Studios Hollywood. River Adventure is a winding boat ride through dinosaur enclosures till Something Goes Wrong and we are diverted into the carnivore exhibits and an 85-foot drop.
  4. One Fish Two Fish – Ok ok hear me out! Sure Dudley is fun, but let me introduce you to this overlooked attraction. The Fishes is a spinner ride, like Dumbo, but with a fun song and statues that spit water at you. Follow the directions in the song to move your fish into the correct spot to avoid water, or not and get wet.

What are your favorite water rides at Universal? Leave them in the comments below!


  • FL Residents – Buy A Day, Get Two Days Free from now through September 29 (online only)
  • FL Residents – 40% off hotels based on availability
  • All Guests – 30% off 3-Park, 5-Night Vacation Packages
  • All Guests – Up to $695 Off Loews Portofino Bay Resort
  • All Guests – Buy Two Day Ticket, Get Three Days Free starting at $235 per adult plus tax
  • All Guests – 3 Additional Months on Annual Passes

For more deals, including discounts on vacation packages, visit the Universal Orlando website or book your Universal vacation with the TouringPlans Travel Agency.


The following attractions are closed for refurbishment:

  • The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle (Return TBA)

Contact the travel agents at TouringPlans Travel Agency who can book you a Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line vacation. All quotes are free, and if you decide to purchase through us, you will get a free year subscription to the TouringPlans Line app for Universal Orlando.

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Joseph Matt

Joe covers theme parks through the lens of his quality engineering day job. He has over five years of writing experience at Touring Plans and has gone on dozens of trips to Orlando over his life. When not at amusement parks you can find Joe at breweries, enjoying live theater, playing video games, and cooking.

One thought on “Around the Universe – Discounts and News for July 2023

  • Not sure how you can leave off dudley. Which is the best flume ride in the country…..


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