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Universal Studios Florida Photo Update: Mardi Gras, Furious 7, and Garden of Allah

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Spring break is shifting into high gear at all theme parks right now, and Universal Orlando is no exception. If you don’t feel like struggling through the crowds, come take a virtual tour with me in today’s Universal Studios Florida photo update, featuring a look at construction on Garden of Allah Villas, the new Furious 7 car display, and last weekend’s Mardi Gras concert.

Garden of Allah Villas Construction

The Garden of Allah Villas complex between Hollywood and KidZone is still behind construction walls, behind which is what permit filings describe as a “NBCUniversal Media Lab.” Leave your thoughts in the comments as to what exactly that means.

The only thing we do know for certain is that the walkway though this area is being walled off. Pour one out for the secret shortcut to E.T….

As always, all construction photos are taken from guest-accessible areas.


Furious 7 Car Display

The seventh installment of Universal’s Fast and the Furious film franchise hits theaters on Friday, April 3, which must mean it’s time for another prop vehicle photo op at USF.

This time around, you’ll find a Furious 7 car display featuring screen-used automobiles at the entrance to KidZone, just outside the Animal Actors stadium.


Mardi Gras Concert

While I’m ordinarily allergic to the types of crowd’s Universal’s big Mardi Gras concerts draw, last Saturday night I stayed late enough to catch the Styx show that followed the parade.

I’d hoped to start my evening by grabbing some pre-show gumbo, but a lot of other folks had the same idea…

That’s fine, because it left The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley wide open. The kid’s cottage pie makes for a perfect light meal (especially when paired with a Dragon Scale beer).

While many guests stood for hours before the concert in USF’s Music Plaza, I was busy getting zero-wait rides through Gringotts‘ singles queue until 10 minutes before showtime. Then I walked up and found a spot between Twister’s gift shop and the concession stand within seconds of the first song starting.

I had a clear view of the video screen, and what would have been a decent view of the stage if not for a partially obstructing palm tree. Most importantly, I could hear everything perfectly.

I saw Styx in concert back in the 1990s when original singer Dennis DeYoung was still with the band, so I didn’t feel like I was missing a bucket list moment with my mediocre view of the Mardi Gras concert.

Even so, they played a solid 90 minute set with a surprising amount of energy, and recreated most of their big hits from “Lady” and “Come Sail Away” to “Renegade” and “Grand Illusion.” The only conspicuous omission was Mr. Roboto; maybe they were afraid of Optimus and Megatron rushing the stage?

Guests began trickling out after about 30 minutes, so I probably could have worked my way closer, but I had enough elbow room to be comfortable where I was.

Between the main set and the encore, we moved closer to the exit and watched the final number on this screen from outside Shrek. If you don’t mind not seeing the stage directly, this is a good spot for making a swift post-show escape.

USF Miscellaneous March Updates

Here are some random shots of a few small refurbishments around the park:

This windows in Hollywood displayed some terrifyingly dated fake foods.

TNA Impact Wrestling recently tape the last show of their current schedule at USF.

The Blues Brothers stage has temporarily relocated around the corner while Doc’s Candy Store is being refurbished.

Did you know that you can buy healthy snacks like hummus and salads at Moe’s Tavern without waiting in the Fast Food Boulevard queue?

Finally, a snacking savings tip: souvenir popcorn buckets can be refilled with caramel corn or cheese-flavored popcorn for $2.99.

What updates at Universal Orlando are you most excited to hear more about? Let us know in the comments below!

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Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

One thought on “Universal Studios Florida Photo Update: Mardi Gras, Furious 7, and Garden of Allah

  • I thought the plan was to build an museum of the parks 25th anniversary.
    Besides what will the E.T. entrance look like going in that construction.


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