Universal Studios Florida trip report – July 2013 (construction updates for the Universal Store, Simpsons & Diagon Alley, plus Bumblebee Man’s Tacos)

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I recently visited Universal Studios Florida on a hot July day. I looked forward to experiencing the fun features of the park and also seeing any changes since my last trip!

After passing through the entry gates, I went to the Universal Studios Store. The remodeling looks complete, and I predominantly noticed the new floor. It turned out very nice and presents a modern feel to the store. Similar to the Islands of Adventure Port of Entry store, there is now an entire section at one end of the store dedicated to Harry Potter merchandise.

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

[wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 43 new images at the bottom of the post!
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Throughout the park I noticed the accessible ramps at all the sidewalks have recently been painted.

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

In Production Central, the very popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction had a posted wait time of 105 minutes, which is not uncommon during the summer. Shrek 4D’s standby line posted wait time was only 20 minutes. The intense Rip Ride Rockit had a posted wait time of 70 minutes for the standby line and the single rider line was 35 minutes.

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

Since my last trip report, and after much anticipation and excitement, Transformers: The Ride – 3D has officially opened. Surprisingly it had a posted wait time of just 60 minutes for the standby line this day. I decided to help protect the AllSpark and used the single rider line. My wait in this queue was around 20 minutes, and I felt like I didn’t miss anything during the queue experience.

Outside the attraction, a large shelter has been built to shade the queue for the standby line, helping to protect guests from the rain and strong sun.

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

The new immersive Transformers Character meet and greet area has been completed. In a very theatrical production, sirens sound, lights flash and the bunker door rolls up to reveal the Transformer character emerging for his meet and greet with humans.

This time I saw Bumblebee as he stood under the awning. A team member informed me that generally a character appears every 20 minutes (times for the Transformers characters still aren’t listed in Universal’s in-park guide map). Additionally, across from the character meet area is a new small building where guests purchase photos.

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

In the New York backlot, the unique cars from Fast and Furious 6 are no longer on display. The building next to Finnegan’s is completely wrapped and appears it will be refurbished soon. The posted wait time for the standby line at the thrilling Revenge of the Mummy ride was 30 minutes.

Walking into the San Francisco backlot area, I noticed that the Wharfside Cannery restrooms are now open after being closed for refurbishment the past few months. Part of the queue at the Disaster! attraction is behind construction drapes, allegedly being prepped for a gripping Halloween Horror Nights haunted house.

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

Walking toward the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley section, I was again impressed with the enormity of the buildings under construction. There is some progress on the buildings’ façades, but the construction seems to be at a point where it is difficult to determine progress of the structures’ details from the guests’ side of the fence. When looking for the Hogwarts Express train tracks from the Twister queue, it was difficult to see anything due to the flourishing wisteria growing on the fence.

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

Over in World Expo, the Fear Factor Live show — which was recently reclassified on Universal’s map from the San Fran backlot to the World Expo area — was starting while the posted wait time for MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack was 15 minutes.

I was able to take a photo of the cool MEN IN BLACK characters outside the attraction while they were meeting and greeting guests:

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

Walking over to the expanding Simpsons Springfield area, there was only a 20 minute posted wait time for The Simpsons Ride. Browsing through Kwik-E-Mart, I noticed some quirky Lard Lad mugs and t-shirts for sale.

Outside the store I was able to get a photo of the new and popular characters Sideshow Bob and Krusty the Clown as they greeted guests.

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

Along The Simpsons Springfield waterfront construction, Kang & Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl was going through test runs without passengers. The park map indicates this ride will be “opening soon.” The impressive Duff Gardens building construction has progressed significantly since my last visit and looks almost ready to open. I ate lunch in the new and well-liked Fast Food Boulevard, and I chose a Chicken & Waffle Sandwich with a side order of tater tots from Cletus’ Chicken Shack. It was a tasty meal and the portion was large.

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

(Looking for Bumblebee Man’s Tacos? Since the truck showed up at Universal Studios Florida after I originally submitted this report, an update has been added to the bottom of the post.)

Heading to the enjoyable Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, both the classic E.T. attraction and the exciting Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster had a posted wait time of only 10 minutes for the standby lines. On this very hot July afternoon many guests were taking advantage of the cooling water play area in Curious George Goes to Town.

Walking toward the Hollywood backlot I noticed the highly recommended Café La Bamba restaurant was open for lunch and will remain so though the end of the busy summer travel season. This restaurant is on my list of “must dos” in the near future!

Past the Horror Make-Up Show and along Hollywood Blvd, I saw several entertaining characters available for meet and greets including Scooby Do and Shaggy, Woody and Winnie Woodpecker, The Simpson, and Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat.

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

Marilyn Monroe was also riding down the street in her silver convertible waving to the guests as she passed by.

Even though it was hot and crowded, I enjoyed my day spent at the park. I hope you will have the opportunity soon to enjoy the thrills and fun times Universal Studios Florida has to offer!

QUICK UPDATE: After I wrote my trip report and submitted it, Bumblebee Man’s Taco truck showed up at Universal Studios Florida. We now have one more dining option to look forward to as part of The Simpsons Springfield expansion:

Bumblebee Man's Tacos at Universal Studios Florida.
Bumblebee Man’s Tacos at Universal Studios Florida.
Bumblebee Man's Tacos at Universal Studios Florida.
Bumblebee Man’s Tacos at Universal Studios Florida.
Bumblebee Man's Tacos at Universal Studios Florida.
Bumblebee Man’s Tacos at Universal Studios Florida.

Bumblebee Man’s Tacos is expected to open with the rest of the Simpsons Springfield expansion hopefully by the end of July!

 

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Universal Studios Florida trip – 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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2 Comments on "Universal Studios Florida trip report – July 2013 (construction updates for the Universal Store, Simpsons & Diagon Alley, plus Bumblebee Man’s Tacos)"

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Sharon Steward
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Hope to see more pics of diagon alley soon

OrlandoInformer.com
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Sharon Steward If you’re looking specifically for Diagon Alley pics, we posted a construction update on our main WWoHP Diagon Alley page last week with 20 new full-screen photos and a new HD video: http://bit.ly/oihpexpusf. (Just remember that you need to view our site using a desktop computer to view our full photo galleries.)

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