Around The UniverseUniversal Orlando Resort

Around the Universe – Discounts & News for September 2023

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After months of speculation and planning the time is finally here – water ride winter refurbishment dates are out! Oh, and Halloween Horror Nights starts tonight, too. Plus some recent changes to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, the latest construction at DreamWorks Land, and an Epic Update! Grab a Lacto Cooler, bite off some Twisted Tater, and let us roll this month’s Around the Universe.

Halloween Horror Nights 2023

The gates creek open yet again as Halloween Horror Nights stars tonight at Universal Studios Florida. This year guests find the mysterious Dr. Oddfellow’s taken-up shop and spread his terror throughout the event. Come face to face with Vecna in Stranger Things, the possessed in The Exorcist Believer, Clickers in The Last of Us, and way more across ten haunted houses and five scare zones.

We will have more from Halloween Horror Nights 2023 in the weeks to come, including a review soon. In the meantime check out our three-part series on this year’s event.

Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2023 Guide Part 1: Planning & Tickets

Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket Song List Changes

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit changed the song playlists that guests can choose from on the ride. Now only one option is available for each section, but the secret menu songs are still available. Here is the list:

  • Rock – Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance.
  • Dance – Waterloo by Abba
  • Country – Man! I Feel Like a Woman! by Shania Twain
  • Hip Hop – Humble by Kendrick Lamar
  • Electronic – Sandstorm by Darude

Winter Refurbishment Schedule

Seasonal refurbishments for several attractions are now on the schedule through Spring 2024.

First up is the green track for High in the Sky Seuss Trolly Ride is currently under refurbishment till mid-January. Next, the Hogwarts Express will close from December 10th through 16th for its seasonal maintenance and cable replacement. In February is Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges closes for its seasonal water ride refurbishment till March 8th. Finally we have The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle which are still closed for refurbishment.

We expect Universal to announce in the coming months closures for Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls in March and April for their seasonal water ride refurbishments.

Dreamworks Land Construction

Buildings are going up in the new DreamWorks Land which replaces the old KidZone’s Fievel and Curious George areas.

Pathways are now being laid out that will lead to new areas inspired by Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and Trolls. Speaking of Shrek, the steel-framed outlines of his house sprung up.

The Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster remains and will receive a Trolls-themed overlay into the “Trollercoaster”.

Dreamworks Land is expected to open in the summer of 2024.

Epic Update

Construction is in full swing at Epic Universe and we have a front-row (or 10,000-foot) view! First up is this fantastic overview of the whole park – the bottom of the image is the park entrance and going clockwise around the park is Super Nintendo World, Dark Universe, the Helios Grand Hotel, Harry Potter, and How to Train Your Dragon.

The middle of the park is the Celestial Park, think Central Park but more astrological, and the home to three attractions and several restaurants. The large crater with steps around it is for the nighttime show lagoon, rumored to be called The Oculus.

Behind the new fountain lagoon are the domes of the Constellation Carousel which will sit on the edge of a large lagoon.

The dueling and racing coaster Starfall Racers is also located in Celestial Park and features launches, several inversions, and many cool moments where the two competing cars dramatically pass by each other.

Large themed elements for what appears to be an astrolabe or a giant solar system.


Next up is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Parisian streets and courtyards that will make Diagon Alley look like a state carnival. The large building holds the Ministry of Magic and the Battle for the Ministry dark ride.

The Isle of Berk from How to Train Your Dragon is taking shape as smaller buildings, such as snack stands, are under construction. This overhead view shows how large this land will be.

Super Nintendo World has reached the maximum height of its vertical construction and appropriately placed a Jolly Roger flag on top as a nod to Bowser.

Foundations for waterfalls, ponds, meet and greets, and shops are poured for the Donkey Kong section. This area will feature a unique mine cart rollercoaster with an optical illusion that your cart is jumping over gaps in the mine cart track.

Over in the Dark Universe, the village of Darkmoore has planted trees around the Curse of the Werewolf coaster. Scaffolding is still up on the spectacular castle facade for the new thrill ride, Monsters Unchained, which is similar to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Epic Universe’s skyline is forming slowly, we cannot wait for this new park to open in 2025.

Finally, more color-changing panels are up on the pair of new, value hotels near the park. This hotel will look like nothing else in Orlando with how the colors and light will shift depending on your perspective.

Epic Universe is expected to open in the summer of 2025.


  • 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 $824 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:

  • High in the Sky Suess Trolly Ride (Green Side) – Now through January 15, 2024
  • Hogwarts Express – December 10 – 16, 2023
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges – February 5 – March 8, 2024
  • The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle (Return TBA)

Contact the travel agents at TouringPlans Travel Agency to assist you with planning and booking your next Universal Orlando vacation. All quotes are free, and if you decide to book through us we throw in a free year subscription to Touring Plans.

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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.

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