Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013 (construction updates, Superstar Parade & Transformers merchandise)

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During my recent trip to Universal Orlando, the crowds were heavy, most likely due to the long Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Wait times for the major attractions at Universal Studios Florida on Saturday were at least 45 minutes and at one point, Despicable Me had a posted wait time of 80 minutes for the stand-by line.

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

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The lines for guest services, the food and drink kiosks and the counter service restaurants were another indication of the heavy crowds.  Most lines were 10 to 20 people deep throughout the day with about a 20 minute wait to get your items. I also noticed a price increase for refillable drinks and price increases for other snacks as well — full update on the price increase for Universal’s refillable cup programs now available in the OI Universal Center.

Construction continues at Universal Studios, including the Transformers: The Ride.  All of the outside walls and roofs appear to be completed, thus limiting the amount of visible progress except for the attraction entrance area. But with the building now fully enclosed, you can get a sense of just how big it is from the rails of Rip Ride Rockit:

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

You get a gold star for the day if you can name the double-towered hotel in the background of that photo. (Okay, maybe you only get a silver star since describing it as “double-towered” pretty much gives away the answer!)

Speaking of Rockit, the walkway at this attraction is under construction, and it affects the entrance and the flow of the queue.

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

At the Simpson’s ride, some of the construction walls near the right-hand side exit have been removed unveiling a newly landscaped area. Many of us suspected that this was going to be an overflow area for the ride’s queue, but we haven’t seen it used for that. Another suggestion is that it will be used as meet-and-greet space.

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

Simpsons expansion construction continues near the lagoon in this area and next to the Kwik E Mart.  Here’s a great shot of the lagoon work from The Simspons Ride queue:

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

Construction of the “alleged” Gringotts Bank coaster, part of the Harry Potter expansion at USF, is ongoing and can been seen fairly well from the third floor exit of The Simpsons Ride. Hopefully most of this construction at Universal Orlando will be completed in 2013 making it a great year for new experiences.

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

The Universal Superstar Parade is back to its 5:00 pm start time now that the holiday celebrations are over.  This parade is fun for the entire family, especially when the parade stops and the characters perform in the street.  In addition, throughout the day, each featured character has a street party and photo opportunity in front of Mel’s Dive-In. Check your park map for times. The characters are always friendly and willing to pose for pictures. In fact, after seeing how much our son was enjoying the skating fish from SpongeBob Square Pants show, one of the performers made a special effort to meet our son and posed for photos with him.

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

The attractions at Universal Studios are enjoyable for our family. MEN IN BLACK seemed to be more challenging and my husband said he scored a lower score compared to recent visits.  (Editor’s note: It IS harder to score now — Universal lowered the points earned when hitting targets in December!) The Simpsons Ride was great fun as we really enjoy the roller coaster feel of the attraction. My family also experienced Rip Ride Rockit several times along with Revenge of the Mummy, E.T., Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster and entertainment by the Blue’s Brothers.

As usual, we had a fantastic day at Universal Studios and look forward to our next visit to Universal Orlando!

Would you like to do more catching up? View all of our trip reports

 

Update 1

There is something amiss on the waterfront in Central Park. Is this just a refurb, or could we be getting some sort of VIP experience for Cinematic Spectacular?

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

 

Update 2

Transformers merchandise is now available at Universal Orlando. There are kiosks at CityWalk, Universal Studios Florida, and Islands of Adventure. Inside Universal Studios, the main kiosk selling Transformers gear — like the sweet mask you see below for $19.95 — is located on the edge of the Universal Music Plaza, just as you turn toward Rockit.

Universal Studios Florida trip report - January 2013.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013.

You can see 22 full-screen photos of the new merchandise on our Transformers page in the OI Universal Center.


Universal Studios Florida trip report – photo gallery

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[sws_author_bio user=”MaureenDeal” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Maureen” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

Maureen Maureen is married with a teenage son who has autism. Since she and her family moved to Orlando in 2007, they have visited Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld almost every weekend. Maureen recently created AutismAtTheParks.com to help vacationers who have a family member with a developmental disability to better navigate and enjoy the theme parks.

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