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Universal Studios Florida trip report – early January 2012 (and some CityWalk stuff too!)


January 2, 2012

Amity walkthrough on the final day of JAWS (January 2, 2012).
Amity walkthrough on the final day of JAWS (January 2, 2012).


January 3, 2012

Amity walkthrough the day after JAWS closed (January 3, 2012).
Amity walkthrough the day after JAWS closed (January 3, 2012).

Yes, the JAWS attraction and its home, Amity, have been shuttered at Universal Studios Florida. No more skippers and no more boat tours.

I was able to visit on both January 2, its final day, and January 3. Needless to say, it was quite a transformation. Here is my walkthrough video of what is now the unknown land between Universal Studios’ San Francisco and World Expo:


Life goes on at Universal Studios, and so must we. But if you’d like to learn everything there ever was to know about the JAWS ride, you will definitely want to see the video by USF ADDICTS that I posted in the OI Forum.

So the big question is, what’s going to replace JAWS and Amity? Well, if the closing of one of Universal’s iconic rides wasn’t enough big news to come out over the last week, we also had this incredible headline from Theme Park Insider:

Plans for Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida revealed

According to Mr. Niles of Theme Park Insider, “The plans occupy the space between the Fear Factor Live theater and the Disaster! show building on the northwest corner of the Universal Studios Florida property – basically all the land now occupied by the JAWS attraction and surrounding Amity carnival games and shops.” He goes on to detail the new area as well as its signature attraction, a Gringotts ride.

It is really rather difficult to know if any of what he reported will come to pass. Many people seem to be just as convinced that Potterland 2.0 will take over the somewhat unpopular Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure. I personally would prefer to see Harry stay at IOA. However, given the enormous crowds I saw Monday and Tuesday at WWoHP, perhaps it would be best if all the Harry fans were split between two parks. Stay tuned for my blog post about the WWoHP crowds.

If you’d like to see the full report on Potterland 2.0 from Theme Park Insider, click here. Please note that Universal has made no official announcement about their plans for the area.

One last note about JAWS and the Amity area: As you can see from my photos and video, the huge JAWS photo op was placed behind the gray construction walls the day after JAWS closed. However, several people today are saying that it has been moved back out to the public space, so guests can still take pictures.


So, what else is happening at Universal Studios Florida?

As if all that wasn’t enough for breaking news, there are a few more tidbits. I finally got a few snapshots of the reconstructed barges for the new nighttime show rumored to be coming to Universal Studios Florida:

The barges for Universal's new nighttime show at USF.
The barges for Universal's new nighttime show at USF.

No official announcement yet about the new show. But, in my opinion, pretty much anything will be better than the old Universal 360 Spectacular. There is speculation that the new show will somehow tie in to the 100-year anniversary that Universal (the whole company, not just the Orlando theme park) is celebrating in 2012. Ron Meyer, the President of Universal, was quoted on as saying:

Universal will mark its 100th Anniversary in 2012. This is a proud and exciting moment for our company, which celebrates the studio’s rich history and cultural impact. In January, we’re going to be unveiling an extensive year-long campaign that includes a significant restoration commitment for some of our most beloved films, fan engagement through special events, a home entertainment offering, theme park activities, promotions, and fun social media and web outreaches.

The last new item I spotted at Universal Studios earlier this week is The Lorex. In anticipation of the movie release, this Seuss character is now featured in the meet and greet spot right next to the Horror Make-Up Show theater. Here’s a quick video with my wife and daughter that I shot and uploaded while we were there:


Looking for news about Despicable Me? There is nothing new to report, and the exterior of the building has looked practically the same for the last month. You can visit this page for more information and my construction photo gallery.

(Can you believe that Mardi Gras 2011 is only about a month away? The first parade and concert night is February 11. Universal should be announcing the full band line up any day now. Visit our Mard Gras 2011 page for more info.)


Universal CityWalk

Two small items of interest from Universal CityWalk. There is a new Saturday Night Live merchandise kiosk, which you pass after taking a right toward Universal Studios:

Saturday Night Live kiosk at Universal CityWalk.
Saturday Night Live kiosk at Universal CityWalk.

See the photo gallery below for a three more pictures.

And the Hard Rock Cafe & Hard Rock Live concert venue got a new coat of paint:

Hard Rock Cafe gets a new coat of paint.
Hard Rock Cafe gets a new coat of paint.


So much news! And I haven’t even gotten to all the stuff I need to update you on at Islands of Adventure and the Wizarding World. Stay tuned.

Before you go, be sure to check out the photo gallery below for more images of everything discussed in this post.

Universal Studios & CityWalk trip report – photo gallery

Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right to advance through the gallery. If several thumbnails are missing, try reloading this page in your browser.

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About Taylor Strickland

Taylor Strickland is the owner of Orlando Informer, the internationally awarded independent resource for guests visiting Orlando. In this position, he leads the website's overall direction and day-to-day operations, working with a team of writers, editors, developers, and producers.

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