Rumor round-up for June 28, 2013: HHN 23, KidZone makeover & the third Universal Orlando park

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Editor’s note: We are happy to introduce Marc N. Kleinhenz, a longtime contributor to the Orlando Informer blog, as the new author of our rumor round-ups. I personally look forward to sharing his experience, insights, and research with all of our readers — and his first RRU post is an awfully good one. Enjoy!

 

“Japan has a perfect record… We’re number two. We try harder.”

The first haunted house for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 23 was revealed this week, and it’s a doozy: The Cabin in the Woods, the 2012 horror/comedy mash-up written by Joss Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard (okay, he co-wrote it, too).

Cabin in the Wood - Halloween Horror Nights 2013.
Cabin in the Wood – Halloween Horror Nights 2013.

The almost-indie film has more than enough material to draw from, seeing as how it features nearly every horror creature/villain/trope imaginable, from zombies to demons to mermen/mermaids. This gives Universal arguably its biggest haunted house yet, at least in terms of sheer potential; given just how spectacularly Universal Creative has been faring with the Harry Potter and Simpsons licenses, this can really be the chance for them to knock yet another one out of the park and seal a grand slam.

Let’s just hope that the unicorn makes an appearance, in all her bloody glory.

Visit the HHN 2013 page in the OI Universal Center for the latest info and advice.

 

Transformers, Simpsons, Harry Potter… and Woody Woodpecker?

As we’ve reported before, it looks like the Smurfs are coming to Universal Studios Florida, although we weren’t too sure with what kind of attraction and in which area of the park. Now, however, Screamscape seems to have the answer.

According to the site, once the current round of expansions/renovations in Production Central, World Expo, and Amity/Diagon Alley are finally complete next summer, the construction crews will just roll right on over to Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, where they’ll almost completely gut the area and replace it with a slew of brand new attractions. Curious George, Barney the Dinosaur, and Fievel are all said to be headed for the extinction pile, along with E.T. Adventure, the last of the original rides still standing from USF’s 1990 grand opening.

What will replace them, you ask? The Smurfs seem to be the main focus, with a dark ride going in the E.T. show building – supposedly even using the same ride track and featuring a talking Papa Smurf that says goodbye to riders by name, like E.T. currently does – and Smurf Village replacing either Fieval’s Playland or Curious George Goes to Town (or both).

The Smurfs 2 coming to theaters July 31, 2013.
The Smurfs 2 coming to theaters July 31, 2013.

The initial reception to this possible development has not been positive, with many Universal fans concerned that Smurfs simply don’t have the cache to create a more appealing experience than E.T. and the current cast of KidZone characters.

What else will be moving in is unknown at this time, but we do have a pretty good hunch that Woody Woodpecker himself will still stick around (since his name’s on the sign and all, and — did you know this? — he is the official mascot of Universal Orlando Resort).

If anyone is interested, you can visit the official Smurfs movie site smurfhappens.com for more info about that.

 

The third Universal Orlando park is… Wet n’ Wild?

For the past few years there has been many a rumor about Universal attempting to more fully integrate a waterpark into its Orlando resort property. Most of these stories were about Wet ‘n Wild — which the company has owned for the past 15 years — but some sources went so far as to suggest that Uni would build a long-delayed fourth hotel that would double as a mini-water playground.

Wet n' Wild Orlando aerial view.
Wet n’ Wild Orlando aerial view. Source

Cut to the present day and this week’s news that Universal has purchased a great deal of land both underneath and around Wet ‘n Wild (previously, it leased the land from Southwest Land Co. of Newport Beach, California). It’s a total of 52 acres, including parking lots, administration buildings, warehouses, and even a few parcels of undeveloped land, all for a grand total of $30.9 million. That’s a pretty hefty investment, but neither Universal nor its parent company, Comcast – which has been responsible for the great number of new construction projects in and around UOR – will say whether it’s for an expansion of Wet ‘n Wild or for something else.

And that something else could be the holy grail of all theme park resorts: a new theme park. Back in April, Orlando Theme Park News reported on the possibility of a third gate opening in Universal Orlando, featuring a bevy of new E-ticket attractions. Just where Uni could find room to squeeze in an entire extra park was completely unknown, but this latest waterpark development just may be the final piece to the puzzle.

Then again, it just might be the development of a fabled fifth hotel, which was originally called for back in 1999 when the transition was made from “one-park” Universal Studios Florida to “multi-park” Universal Orlando Resort. As Orlando Sentinel points out in its piece, Comcast would ultimately like to have somewhere around 10,000 hotel rooms on its property – about double the amount available once Cabana Bay opens its doors early next year.

Either way, expect Universal to be making a huge push for Disney-sized offerings – and Disney-sized audiences – over the course of the next decade.

 

Thank you again to Marc for stepping up his contributions to a weekly basis and helping us track all the incredible developments happening with Orlando’s theme parks. If you are not familiar with Marc’s previous work on our site, I strongly encourage you to visit his archive to see some of the most thought-provoking articles on our site. Oh, and be sure to check out his other independent works too!

 

[sws_author_bio user=”msunyata@yahoo.com” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Marc” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

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bbbx
bbbx
June 28, 2013 12:47 pm

What?! Nooooo. They can’t get of the Kid’s Zone! It’s perfect the way it is now! And if they do, they should NOT replace it with the Smurfs. That’s not something I see having a last impact on Universal. I’ve never met a kid that actually likes the Smurfs. How stupid.

WDW_EPCOTCenter
WDW_EPCOTCenter
June 28, 2013 1:11 pm

OrlandoInformer that rumor is terrible. Smurfs ?? ET is a classic. Please no.

OliRage
OliRage
June 28, 2013 2:09 pm

OrlandoInformer UniversalORL Oh no! This could get ugly.

TiagoSeiler
TiagoSeiler
June 28, 2013 5:17 pm

Never stayed for too long at KidZone, but I think the ET ride has got to go. It’s just embarrassing to take people there. The ride system is old, the effects are laughable… Also, it’s spelled Fievel, not Fieval…

OrlandoInformer
OrlandoInformer
June 28, 2013 6:25 pm
Reply to  TiagoSeiler

TiagoSeiler Thanks for catching the misspelling — it’s been fixed.

LandonTombstoneTaylor
LandonTombstoneTaylor
June 28, 2013 8:04 pm

Smurfs is a bad idea. I’m not opposed to expansion and getting rid of ET or the KidZone. I don’t think Smurfs have the draw it once did in the 80s. There’s got to be something else they can do.

OrlandoInformer.com
OrlandoInformer.com
June 28, 2013 1:18 pm

If you can’t stand the idea of losing E.T. Adventure to the Smurfs, be sure to write a review of the E.T. attraction on our site and let the world know how you feel! https://orlandoinformer.com/wpold/universal/et-adventure/

Keith Humphries
Keith Humphries
June 28, 2013 1:43 pm

They need to get rid of the terminator ride to.also update men in black to the third movie.

Zeev Streisfeld
Zeev Streisfeld
June 28, 2013 3:22 pm

E.T. is one of my Top 5 attractions in all orlando theme parks
I will arrive to Universal in september 2014 and hate the thought I will not be able to ride the E.T. Adventure
🙁

Nikki Hurry
Nikki Hurry
June 28, 2013 4:11 pm

Same here will be very upset not to See ET again! This time round was so wanting to share the experience with my little girl 🙁 really hope it’s nothing but a rumour ;(

Jorge X. Arnoldson
Jorge X. Arnoldson
June 28, 2013 4:42 pm

The Smurfs was a horrible movie, so why close the final classic attraction at USF?

James Daniel
James Daniel
June 28, 2013 7:49 pm

I don’t mind if they renovate the KidZone area, and honestly could care less about E.T. (great movie, so-so ride). But the SMURFS? Really, Universal? That’s the best you could come up with? An old, tired franchise that they tried to revive, unsuccessfully. Not a good idea, Universal!

Helena Kanazawa
Helena Kanazawa
June 29, 2013 4:48 am

Rafael Kanazawa vamos treinar o inglês?

iamdollie
iamdollie
June 29, 2013 2:22 pm

It would make way more sense to do something with SpongeBob Square Pants!  My grandkids can’t get enough of him and we all end up watching the episodes.  It could be toned down a bit for the younger crowd, but I’ve not met a kid that didn’t like the character.  (My MIL calls him CheeseBob because she said he looks like a piece of cheese to her….)

Doodyspudding
Doodyspudding
July 6, 2013 11:35 am

OrlandoInformer UniversalORL can’t say I’m happy with that rumour! #loveE.T

ryanbmxguy
ryanbmxguy
July 6, 2013 11:53 am

OrlandoInformer UniversalORL replacing ET with the Smurfs is sacrilegious. #nosmurfs

mamachap27
mamachap27
July 6, 2013 1:00 pm

OrlandoInformer This would be a bad move for UniversalORL
If ET is not drawing crowds, give ride a makeover & make it “new” NO SMURFS!

EXPT628Ricky
EXPT628Ricky
July 6, 2013 1:08 pm

OrlandoInformer UniversalORL Smurfs replacing ET, not a rumor that I can get excited for

DdubIsAhottie
DdubIsAhottie
July 6, 2013 4:46 pm

OrlandoInformer they better not replace et with the crappy smurfs really upset bout that

ehbridgers
ehbridgers
July 6, 2013 11:18 pm

EeyoreMuppet and by boycott, I just mean until Diagon Alley opens. But I’ll still be super upset/peeved, like I am about Back to the Future

JohnnyNicholls
JohnnyNicholls
August 21, 2013 2:33 pm

im so glad all the good things disney and universal are doing and to all the people who dont like smurfs ….et is outdated and draws nobody to the park .and i would rather have a duff beer than ride Back to the future ..you guys need to let it go! all the fun you had when you rode all those classic rides was great but now its time for new rides to become classics its about our kids growing up in these parks and enjoying them not just us .so be happy their doing great things and be honest… Read more »

james mitchell Jp ranger
james mitchell Jp ranger
February 27, 2014 12:50 am

Steven Spielberg feels real strongly about E.T. and with Jaws long gone I serious doubt E.T. is going anywhere anytime soon and keep in mind Mr Spielberg is a creative consultant for universal.

exo
exo
July 14, 2014 8:30 am

People ought to read these things with a grain of salt.  Here we are over a year later and NOTHING has started in the Kiddie section of USF.
And anyone who looks at the box office numbers of smurfs 2 would be a clown if they thought universal would try to theme the entire area after them.

About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz’s first dream in life was to be an astronaut. His second was an Imagineer. While neither completely worked out, he's now the editor of Orlando Informer, along with being its podcast co-host. He’s also written for 33 other sites (including Screen Rant, IGN, The Escapist, and California Informer [OI's sister site]), has had his fiction featured in several publications, and has even taught English in Japan. Imagineering school won’t be too far behind.