Universal Studios Florida trip report – April 2013 (construction updates, Megatron, Sledge Homer & free wifi)
I was able to visit Universal Studios Florida this past weekend. The weather was almost perfect with temperatures in the 80’s. The crowds were moderate during the time I was at the park. I was not able to stay for the Mardi Gras celebration and concert when the crowds are typically much larger (more on that later).
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As I walked into the park that morning, I noticed the Mardi Gras sign was no longer hanging at the entrance even though the celebration continues through April 20. The rest of the park, however, was still decorated with the Mardi Gras theme throughout.
Just inside the entrance in Production Central, Despicable Me was temporarily closed for mechanical issues but re-opened later in the day. Near the exit to the Shrek 4D attraction, Shrek and Donkey’s meet-and-greet area was open, and they were entertaining guests while posing for pictures. I always enjoy taking a few minutes and listening to Donkey interact with park guests. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit queue line construction is finished and the attraction now accepts the Express Pass.
I was excited to see that Transformers: The Ride 3D was on the park map, making me feel it is very close to soft openings for this new attraction (by the end of May hopefully!). The Transformers meet-and-greet area is not on the map yet. Its location has slightly changed since last month: it was on the opposite side of the street this trip. The addition of Megatron to the lineup of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime was very exciting. Megatron is very intimidating seen in person from just a few feet away…
Finishing touches to the Transformers queue were being made on the side of the building closest to Monster’s Café, but otherwise the building looks completely finished.
Editor’s note: On Monday the first of the signage was installed.
Walking through the New York section of the park, the Revenge of the Mummy attraction standby line was only a 15 minute posted wait time. The always entertaining Blues Brothers show and the gripping Twister attraction are also located here in New York section.
Because I read about it here first on OrlandoInformer.com, I tried out the free WiFi with my son’s iPod touch around Richter’s Burger Company in the San Francisco section of the park. The signal worked well for me when using common apps like Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook. Because the iPod Touch I was using didn’t have a device with a camera, I was unable to use the new Universal Screenplay app that incorporated the posters with 3D imagery along the construction walls in this area.
I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the construction of the rumored Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion past the Disaster! attraction and Lombard’s Seafood Grille.
The steel framing is taking shape and becoming very distinctive, especially the supposed King’s Cross Station. I was able to spot the entrance to the suspected Gringotts attraction with yellow scaffolding toward the back of the construction lot. I spent a lot of time here just absorbing the scenery and trying to study the building shapes reflecting on the Harry Potter books and movies and imagining what it will look like when completed. For avid Harry Potter fans like me, anticipating this new section of the Wizarding World is as exciting as waiting for the next book in the series when the books were first published.
Moving along into World Expo, the out-of-this-world attraction MEN IN BLACK had a posted wait time of 30 minutes for the standby line. The Simpsons expansion area has increased along the lagoon and Sledge Homer carnival game is now open across from the enjoyable and unique Simpsons Ride.
The carnival games definitely enhance the fun atmosphere of this area. Work has been progressing in this area during the last month, especially along the lagoon. There are construction walls blocking one of the exits to the Simpsons Ride. These walls blocked my favorite photo spot for taking pictures of the WWoHP expansion area across the lagoon from a higher point than ground level.
Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone is a great section for the entire family to enjoy. I noticed in front of Animal Actors on Location stadium more tables and seating have been added to the covered picnic area, making this area a pleasant place to take a break out of the sun. I had not seen the Animal Actors on Location show in several months so I decided to watch it this trip. This show was very entertaining and fun for the entire family, and I wished it would last longer. I also found a new spot in the Animal Actors stadium to take good photos of the WWoHP expansion area across the lagoon, but this photo location is only accessible during the Animal Actors shows.
E.T. and Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster were popular attractions in the KidZone. The Curious George water play area was starting to get busy and so was Fievel’s Playland.
Walking down the street in the Hollywood section of USF, I passed Mel’s Drive-In and the Horror Make-Up Show. Scooby Doo and Shaggy were out on the street meeting and greeting guests. I wasn’t able to catch the Character Party Zone performances this trip but I always enjoy them when I do. The Character Party Zone is where characters from the Superstar Parade perform in the street, then they meet and greet guests at select times prior to the parade.
With several stages of “transformation” occurring throughout the park, it is an exciting time to visit Universal Studios Florida. Each visit to the park guarantees that I will see something new or that progress is happening toward exciting adventures in the future. I look forward to the next time I visit the park and hope you get to experience Universal Studios Florida soon.
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UPDATE: While I left USF well before the Mardi Gras festivities began, I did follow up on Universal’s Facebook page the next day because I knew it was going to be busy. Heed this warning: If you plan on attending one of Universal’s “free” concerts as part of Mardi Gras or the upcoming Summer Concert Series, you need to know that really popular acts will bring in really big crowds — beyond the comfort level of many guests. Consider reading the comments posted on Universal’s Facebook album for the Pitbull show.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – photo gallery
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