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Universal Orlando Rumor Tour with HateToFly

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Universal Orlando rumor tour with HateToFly

Regular readers of my PotterWatch blog series know that many of the juiciest details leaked about the under-construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida have come to us through HateToFly, a prolific poster on the Orlando United web forums. Over the weekend, I took a stroll through both Universal Orlando theme parks with the pseudonymous spy himself, and got the latest lowdown on the future of the resort. So grab a grain of salt and settle in for some of the hottest Universal Orlando rumors anywhere on the Internet.

Islands of Adventure

We began our walk at the lovely Sweethaven waterside, which is hidden in the back of Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure.

Conversations have recently reignited (after flaring up and sputtering out a year ago) about Universal acquiring the theme park rights to The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit from the Tolkein estate, which has been notoriously difficult to negotiate with. More than one source has speculated that the Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges whitewater rafting ride could be converted into the barrel escape from the most recent Hobbit film.

Moving on to Jurassic Park, the King Kong project is advancing towards an anticipated late 2014 groundbreaking.

This photo op is on the eventual site of the entry path to King Kong.

HateToFly pointed out some survey markers near Thunder Falls Terrace indicating trees scheduled for removal in order to make way for the big ape’s return.

More markers can be spotted around the former Triceratops Encounter, where a Gravity Group family wooden roller coaster is expected to be installed in synergy with Jurassic World‘s theatrical release. The new film will tie into other changes around the island, including a new menu at Thunder Falls Terrace, and possibly a re-routed path past the backside of Hogwarts Castle.

Moving along to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Hogsmeade train station is advancing rapidly, and the structure at the head of the path leading towards it is finally taking form.

The train stations and Gringotts are being built with Universal Express entrances (like Forbidden Journey was), but Express will not be available for at least the first year of operations.

The carnival games in Lost Continent are scheduled to be demolished at the end of January. The space will be used as merchandise storage and an employee break room.

Finally, plans for a Lorax attraction have officially been set aside, but a new family dark ride (most likely based on Illumination Entertainment’s upcoming CGI Grinch reboot) is still in the long-term plans for Seuss Landing.


Universal Studios Florida

Moving over to the other park, I have good and bad news for Transformers fans. The bad news is that following last month’s test of the interactive Transformers meet & greet for executive Bill Davis, the “lipstick” cameras installed to allow the hidden voice actors to interact with guests have been removed. The interactive robots have been a big hit in Hollywood, but Orlando’s higher percentage of non-English-speaking guests may have made management balk at the daily operating cost (reported as $6,000 per day).

The good news is that the Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Cafe may soon transform into a Cybertron-themed eatery. If that happens, look for the adjacent Bone Chillin’ kiosk to begin selling Energon, an exclusive beverage (not unlike the Flaming Moe) served at Universal Studios Hollywood. However, any online reports of spinning Optimus Prime and Megatron statues being installed atop the structure are simply fan speculation.

A panoramic shot from the center of the London Waterfront.

Finally, we took a look at the progress on Harry Potter’s London Waterfront, where some of the scaffolding has started to be removed.

The main entrance and exit to Diagon Alley are on the other side of this fence.

Construction on both headliner attractions in Diagon Alley are advancing despite some snags. Attraction builder Intamin has come in to help Hogwarts Express synchronize the vehicle movement system with the bus bar that powers the in-car special effects.

The facade of Kings Cross is now mostly exposed.
The black rectangular hole between the windows will hold an audio speaker.

And a late-in-the-project decision to use a spinning tire launch system (like the Hulk) instead of a linear induction accelerator (like Revenge of the Mummy) is reportedly causing headaches at Gringotts.

A unique element of the Gringotts queue will be a photo opportunity staffed by “bank security guards.” You will be able to have your image captured while waiting for the ride, and purchase a personalized “security badge” in the gift show afterwards.

Check back on this blog soon for an exclusive report on HateToFly’s Top 5 Future Universal Additions!

Subscribe to our Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar to get the best Universal Orlando wait-time data and touring plans, and check back soon for the next Wizarding World of Harry Potter construction update!

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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.

8 thoughts on “Universal Orlando Rumor Tour with HateToFly

  • Normal Greg

    Kong in Jurassic Park? Does that mean Skull island taking over part of JP area? Will it be visible by the water or more towards the back? Does this mean disaster is sticking around longer at the Studios?

    • It looks like Kong is going in the expansion pad between Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park, behind Thunder Falls Terrance. It will not be visible from the lagoon. Disaster is getting a minor refurb right now but will be staying more or less the same.

  • The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit stuff will NEVER happen. Christopher Tolkien has vowed never to license another word of his father’s to another entity.

    The only way I can see it is if New Line Cinema finds some technicality in the film licensing agreement to use the characters in other ways. But then they might open themselves to lawsuits fromt he Tolkien estate.

    Otherwise, no way, no how. Not gonna happen.

    • That’s what I would have said 6 months ago, but there has been movement lately. Never say never…

    • tadala

      CT is also nearly 90 years old. He will not be the holder of the rights forever. And younger generations may care more about cashing out than “protecting” the Tolkien properties.


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