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Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2021

February 2021 Updates

SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Page 28 Some shows are again seating guests in every row, with empty seats still left between unrelated parties. (2/2/21)

Page 29 The extra-cost climbing wall at Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park has reopened; the one in New York remains closed. (2/2/21)

PART 2 ACCOMODATIONS

Page 86 Sapphire Falls Resort is scheduled to reopen on May 18, 2021.(2/2/21)

Page 93-97 The Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay reopened as of December 1, 2020. (2/2/21)

PART 3 ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

Page 140 Cash is no longer accepted for tolls on the Florida Turnpike north of Orlando; transponder or pay-by-plate is required. (2/2/21)

PART 4 ESSENTIALS

Page 160 Delete “If you don’t have an AmEx card, you can stop by its membership center (next to security in the parking hub) to receive a $150 bonus statement credit, plus cash back on eligible in-park purchases, in exchange for filling out a card application.” (AmEx kiosk in parking hub has been removed.) (2/2/21)

Page 170 New outdoor lockers at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey reduce overcrowding. (2/2/21)

PART 5 UNIVERSAL AND KIDS

Page 207 The Barney characters no longer appear in Kidzone. (2/3/21)

PART 6 DINING & SHOPPING

Page 212 Most restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort now accept dining reservations 180 days out. (2/2/21)

Page 223 Souvenir Cup Drink Packages at Endless Summer Resort now cost $9 each for 1 day; $12 for 2 days; $15 for 3 days; $18 for 4 days; and $3 for each additional day. (2/2/21)

Page 231 Ben & Jerry’s next to the Starbucks in New York has closed. (2/2/21)

Page 234 Green Eggs and Ham Cafe: Brisket Philly Tots (with onions, peppers, and cheese) has been added to the menu. S’mores are no longer available. (2/2/21)

PART 7 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 292 Free same-day reservations are no longer available for Ollivanders; the show is now standby-only. (2/2/21)

Page 301 A Day in the Park with Barney has permanently closed.

Page 306 The Horror Make-Up Show’s lobby exhibits have reopened to guests. (2/2/21)

Page 309 In 2021, Universal Orlando will present a modified version of their Mardi Gras celebration from February 6 through March 28. The big-name concerts and nightly parades have been canceled. Parade floats will become static displays around the park, and stiltwalkers and street musicians will perform intermittently. International food and drink will be sold from booths around the park, and a Mardi Gras Tribute Store will be located in the New York area. Visit https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/events/mardi-gras for more details. (2/2/21)

PART 8 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Page 349-350 Free same-day reservations are no longer available for Ollivanders; the show is now standby-only. (2/2/21)

PART 10 CITYWALK

Page 376-377 Blue Man Group has permanently closed at Universal Orlando. (2/2/21)

March 2021 Updates

INTRODUCTION

Page 19 As of March 3, 2021, construction has resumed on Epic Universe; an updated completion date has not been officially announced.

SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Page 24 Volcano Bay reopened on February 27, 2021, and is currently operating daily.

Page 28 The Bourne Stuntacular has resumed leaving every other row empty. Two empty seats (instead of 3) are now being left unoccupied between each unrelated party.

PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

Page 36 Add “Coaster101.com” to our list of recommended podcasts.

Page 65 During Rope Drop at Volcano Bay, only guests eligible for Early Park Admission are allowed through the turnstiles when early entry begins; all others are held outside the entrance until the regular opening time. The queues can become chaotic prior to park opening, so ask a Team Member exactly which turnstiles will be opening.

Page 66-68 The show inside Ollivanders Wand Shop is no longer available during Early Park Admission. Interactive windows are active, and wands are available for purchase.

Page 76-77 On peak attendance days, Virtual Line passes are first distributed approximately 20–30 minutes before the park’s scheduled opening time, with the first return windows beginning 5 or 10 minutes before the official opening. On less busy days, Virtual Line passes may not be available until standby wait times build later in the day. Not all of the day’s allocated Virtual Line passes are available at once; additional batches of return times are released around 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m..

PART 3 ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

Page 142 Take Exit 75AB (Kirkman Road/International Drive) from I-4 West and bear left to Kirkman Road southbound; then turn right onto International Drive, and right again onto Universal Boulevard, to reach the Universal Orlando Resort parking garage. Page 158 When leaving Universal Orlando Resort, if you exit the north garage onto Universal Boulevard, you can reach I-4 East via a new entrance ramp by turning right onto Major Boulevard, and then right onto Kirkman Road.

PART 4 ESSENTIALS

Page 160 UNIVERSAL PAY is a new feature inside the free Universal Orlando smartphone app’s wallet that allows guests to charge purchases around the resort to a credit card simply by scanning a secure QR code. You can set up individual spending limits for each member of your party, and transactions are quicker than using a physical card or even tap-to-pay. The only catch is that it only works at Universal-owned locations, and not third-party vendors. 163 WiFi coverage inside Volcano Bay has greatly improved, but cell service (especially AT&T) is especially poor inside the park.

PART 6 DINING & SHOPPING

Page 222 Souvenir cups and non-activated Freestyle cups can still be filled with soft drinks at most quick service dining locations and snack stands for $1.59 per one-time refill. However, this offer is being phased out and may not be available during your visit.

Page 231 Haagen-Dazs brand ice cream has replaced Ben & Jerry’s at Schwab’s Pharmacy and across the Universal Orlando Resort.

Page 233 Dippin’ Dots are no longer available at Circus McGurgus, or anywhere else at Universal Orlando Resort. Similar Mini Melts frozen desserts can be found in Pier 8 Market at Endless Summer Resort Dockside Inn and Suites.

Page 236 Kohola Reef at Volcano Bay no longer serves breakfast.

Page 237 Bread Box sandwiches no longer include french fries or potato barrels; sides now cost $2.50 extra.

Page 239 The menu at Hot Dog Hall of Fame, which was simplified during the pandemic, has been restored with Vienna, Kayem, Koegel, and Hebrew National sausages available again. A vegan field dog comes topped with roasted corn and chiles. Platters include french fries for $1 more.

Page 242 Most Universal Orlando table service restaurants, including BigFire, Bob Marley’s, The Cowfish, and VIVO, are again operating 7 days a week; exact hours are still subject to change.

PART 7 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 278 The side entrance to Universal Studios Florida is currently closed, while the Blue Man Group is being removed from its former theater.

PART 9 VOLCANO BAY

Page 359 Volcano Bay is currently operating 7 days a week. However, some food and merchandise locations are closed, and select attractions -- including Taniwha Tubes and the Kopiko Wai lazy river -- may not open until one hour after regular park opening.

April 2021 Updates

SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Page 25 after “a date-specific admission ticket does NOT guarantee admission if the maximum occupancy is reached.” add “On-site hotel guests, those with date-specific tickets, and re-entering guests are granted priority admission over multi-day ticket holders and annual passholders when the parks approach their capacity limit.”

Page 26-27 Universal has resumed loading guests in all rows of ride vehicles at Transformers and Spider-Man.

Page 29 Child swap rooms have reopened at Universal Orlando theme park attractions with minimum height restrictions.

PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

Page 45 Annual Pass prices have increased by $30-$80, depending on tier. Visit https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/annual-passes/promo for details.

Page 50 After “or to the left of Toothsome Chocolate Emporium outside IOA.” add “Annual passes cannot be retrieved from an automated kiosk, but must be picked up at a ticket booth, guest services window, or hotel vacation services desk.”

PART 3 ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

Page 155 Prime Self-Parking at Universal Orlando’s garages now costs $50. Preferred Passholders and guests with prepaid standard self-parking can upgrade to Prime for $24.

PART 4 ESSENTIALS

Page 167 A two-pack of FuelRods can be ordered from Amazon.com for $30.

PART 6 DINING & SHOPPING

Page 223 After “Freestyle machines are now found at nearly every quick-service restaurant, with more than a dozen dispensers in each theme park and a handful at Volcano Bay” add “and CityWalk”

Page 233 Circus McGurkus: Change “Dippin’ Dots sundaes and floats for dessert.” to “Brookie chocolate chip brownies for dessert.”

Page 269 Change “the Comic Book Shop has a good selection of current releases and trade paperback classics” to “the Comic Book Shop has a small selection of trade paperback classics”

Page 270 A new supersized Universal Studios Store has taken over a large swath of the retail space on the right side of CityWalk heading towards USF, offering one-stop shopping for all theme park souvenirs, including the best selection of Harry Potter products outside the parks. The previous Studios Store has been rebranded as the Universal Legacy Store, stocked with nostalgic throwback merchandise and museum-style displays of artifacts from extinct attractions.

PART 7 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 278 add “On peak attendance days, the side exit in Universal Studios Florida may be opened during select hours to provide direct pedestrian access to and from Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure.”

Page 309-310 Mardi Gras 2021 was extended to run from February 6 through April 11.

Page 311-312 Halloween Horror Nights 30 will take place on select nights from September 3 through October 31, 2021, with Beetlejuice as the featured headliner.

PART 8 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Page 339 Guests visiting the VelociCoaster can bring phones, wallets, and other loose objects into the queue; free small lockers can be accessed immediately before and after riding the attraction. Larger paid lockers are available inside the lower level of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center.

PART 7 CITYWALK

Page 371 Change “6. Dippin’ Dots” to “6. Fat Tuesday”

May 2021 (5/6/2021)

SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Page 22 As of May 6, Universal Orlando is no longer conducting temperature checks for arriving guests at the parking garages or hotels.

Page 23 As of May 6, social distancing markers at Universal Orlando have been reduced from every 6 feet to every 3 feet throughout the resort.

Page 24 Universal is no longer leaving extra spaces between cars in the parking garages.

Page 26 As of May 6, all ride vehicles at Universal Orlando are being filled to maximum capacity.

Page 27 As of May 6, single rider queues are again available at Universal Orlando.

Page 29 Camp Jurassic and If I Ran the Zoo have reopened at Islands of Adventure; Curious George and Fievel playgrounds in Universal Studios Florida remain closed.

PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

Page 67 IOA EPA: Ollivanders in Hogsmeade does not operate during early park admission. Spider-Man may operate instead of Incredible Hulk during EPA seasonally.

Page 67-68 USF EPA: As of May 3, early park admission returned to Universal Studios Florida only. Olivanders in Diagon Alley does operate during EPA.

PART 2 ACCOMODATIONS

Page 108 Endless Summer Resort Surfside Inn and Suites is anticipated to reopen June 1, 2021.

PART 3 ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

Page 153 The pedestrian bridge over Kirkman Road at Major Boulevard is now officially open.

Page 155 Prime Self-Parking at Universal Orlando’s garages was lowered back to $40 (from $50) following the spring break season. The higher rate may be charged again during peak attendance periods.

PART 6 DINING & SHOPPING

Page 237-238 Fusion Bistro Sushi & Sake has permanently closed.

Page 268 The Hello Kitty and Betty Boop stores also stock a selection of Funko figurines and Loungefly bags representing various Universal-affiliated franchises.

Page 269 Marvel Super Hero Island’s Comic Book Shop is once again stocking a good selection of single issues.

PART 7 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 292 Ollivanders may distribute free return time reservations when the standby wait becomes excessive, which can all be claimed by mid-morning on busy days. Ask an employee at the attraction entrance for details.

Page 298 Kang & Kodos is no longer seasonal, and now opens daily at 10 a.m.

Page 309-310 Mardi Gras 2021 was extended to run through May 2.

PART 8 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Page 336 Camp Jurassic has reopened, but some portions of the playground (including the net climbs) are still off limits.

Page 338-339 The Jurassic World VelociCoaster officially opens in Jurassic Park on June 10. Previews for employees and selected annual passholders have completed, and intermittent technical rehearsal for the general public are expected in the weeks leading up to the grand opening. See our VelociCoaster review for more details.

Page 353 If I Ran the Zoo has reopened, but some elements of the playground (including the water features) are still disabled.

PART 10 CITYWALK

Page 370-371 The former Dippin’ Dots kiosk in CityWalk has become the Riverfront bar, serving craft cocktails and appetizers.

June 2021 (6/2/2021)

SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Page 20 As of May 29, most social distancing restrictions have been rescinded at Universal Orlando.

Page 22 Face masks are now optional for all guests while outdoors, and are optional indoors for fully vaccinated guests. Guests are not required to provide proof of vaccination.

Page 23 Most social distancing markers have been removed around the Universal Orlando Resort, although guests are still encouraged to maintain space between themselves and other parties.

Page 27 Single Rider queues have reopened at almost all attractions that offer them, with the exceptions of Reign of Kong, Jurassic Park River Adventure, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Page 28 All theater shows are now being filled to capacity, with no empty seats or rows to separate parties.

Page 29 Fievel’s Playland has reopened at Universal Studios Florida; Curious George’s playground is the only one that remains closed.

PART 2 ACCOMODATIONS

Page 88 Onsite hotel guests can use an online pre-check-in service to shorten their wait upon arrival.

Page 103 Aventura Hotel is scheduled to reopen on June 16, 2021

Page 107 Cabana Bay lazy river flotation rafts cost $12-$15 plus tax, and are provided unpackaged and pre-inflated; they can be exchanged for an uninflated packaged tube prior to departure (during pool operating hours).

Page 108 Endless Summer Resort Surfside Inn and Suites reopened on May 26, 2021.

PART 6 DINING & SHOPPING

Page 220 Hot butterbeer is now served year-round in the Wizarding Worlds.

Page 229 Kids’ meals are available through mobile ordering only at Three Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron.

PART 7 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 301 DreamWorks Destination, a dance party and photo opportunity with characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Trolls, and other DreamWorks films, has temporarily opened inside the former Barney theater.

Page 302 Fievel’s Playland has reopened, including the water slide. Some climbing elements remain off-limits.

PART 8 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Page 337 The interactive exhibits in the lower level of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center have reopened.

July 2021 (7/2/2021)

INTRODUCTION

Page 5 To contact the authors, email Info@theunofficialguides.com

SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Page 24 Valet parking has reopened at Universal Orlando; availability may be limited.

Page 26 Preshows are once again operating at most Universal Orlando attractions, including Escape from Gringotts, MEN IN BLACK, and Race through New York starring Jimmy Fallon.

Page 27 More Single Rider queues have reopened, including Reign of Kong and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

PART 1: PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

Page 36 Best Universal Social Media Feeds: Please follow @theunofficialguides on Instagram and Pinterest.

Page 68-69 2-Park Early Park Admission returned starting June 14, 2021, through the peak summer season. Olivanders is open during Early Park Admission at both parks. VelociCoaster is not officially included in EPA, but may open its queue to early guests and begin running about 30 minutes prior to regular park opening. Guests participating in EPA at Islands of Adventure walk clockwise through Marvel Super Hero Island to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; day guests may enter early but are held in Seuss Landing until regular opening time.

Page 74 Lanyards at Universal now cost $13-$15, plus $1-$3 for the ticket pouch.

Page 76 Some off-site hotels along Major Boulevard, such as the Best Western Plus Universal Inn, are inside the Virtual Line geofence.

Page 88 Cancellations: Guests purchasing packages directly from Universal Vacations can add travel protection for $44.95 per person (ages 3+), allowing them to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours prior to departure, and receive a full refund and/or air travel credit.

PART 2 ACCOMODATIONS

Page 103 Aventura Hotel reopened on June 16, 2021.

PART 3 ARRIVING AND GETTING AROUND

Page 154 Traffic at the toll booths tends to back up with idling cars as the free parking hour approaches, so avoid arriving shortly before 6 p.m.

PART 4 UNIVERSAL ESSENTIAL

Page 174 The Spider-Man meet and greet inside the Marvel Alterniverse store has reopened.

PART 6: DINING AND SHOPPING

Page 212 Some restaurant reservations do not appear inside Zomato’s app, but can be found using the links on tinyurl.com/unidinres. Reservations at in-park restaurants are only guaranteed for 7 minutes after you receive notification that your table is ready.

Page 214-215 Universal Orlando has suspended selling all Quick Service Dining Plans and Table Service Dining Plans. Guests who have already pre-purchased plans will still have them honored. No replacement for the dining plans has been announced yet.

Page 222 Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in Jurassic Park now offer “island nectar refresher,” a combination of strawberry, lemonade, orange and peach.

Page 229 Mobile Ordering is no longer available in Islands of Adventure or at most Universal Studios Florida venues; it may return in the future.

Page 237-28 Bend the Bao opened in CityWalk on June 15, replacing Fusion Bistro Sushi. It serves small Chinese steamed bun sandwiches stuffed with duck confit, pork belly, crab cakes, and fried chicken.

Page 238 Panda Express’ mobile app may be used to order food at the CityWalk location, allowing you to bypass the cashier queue (availability may vary).

Page 242 Aventura Hotel’s Urban Pantry has reopened, and is using robots to deliver dishes to diners.

Page 256-257 At Lombard’s, add PEI Mussels frites to our list of featured dishes. However, the chewy charred octopus appetizer is not recommended.

PART 7: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 292-293 Interactive wands now cost $59. Standard non-interactive wands cost $55, and limited edition collectible wands cost $75.

Page 298 If you enjoy playing the custom carnival games around The Simpsons Ride, or any of the other skill games found in Islands of Adventure or resort hotel arcades, invest in a Game Play card for $25, which saves you $1 per game on 5 plays; annual passholder get an extra play for free. Larger cards with deeper discounts are also available.

PART 9: VOLCANO BAY

Page 361 Guests renting Cabanas or Premium Seating lounge chairs get the ability to Mobile Order upscale appetizers (such as conch fritters and pork belly pizza) that aren’t offered on the regular menus.

August 2021 (8/2/2021)

PART 1 PLANNING

Page 34 The Universal Food Blog (uogrubhub.com) features dining reviews and handy links to all of the resort’s restaurants.

PART 3 ARRIVING AND GETTING AROUND

Page 146-148 FlyFlair (flyflair.com) now flies to Sanford International from 5 Canadian airports, including Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

PART 5 UNIVERSAL WITH KIDS

Page 207 New interactive explorer characters can be found in Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure.

PART 7 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

Page 303-304 Bourne Stuntatcular now accepts Universal Express.

PART 8 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Page 344-345 Universal is currently testing a new Virtual Line system for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which is accessed by visiting vltest.universalorlando.com in a web browser (instead of through the app). Guests must sign in with an email address and password, before selecting the number of people in their party. If there is room in the virtual queue, an estimated countdown until return will be displayed, which will update depending on the ride’s operation. When your virtual line time arrives, you will be permitted to enter the queue, and should have a short wait before boarding. The system is activated once the standby queue becomes full -- which may happen within minutes after opening -- with additional return times released periodically throughout the day, and users must still be on Universal Orlando property to claim a spot in the Virtual Line.

Last updated by Seth Kubersky on August 12, 2021

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