Anticipating the many changes and new experiences at Universal Studios Florida (USF) this month, I was looking forward to my visit and could hardly contain my excitement as I pulled into the parking deck at Universal Orlando Resort (UOR).
[wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 57 images at the bottom of the post!
As I entered the park, the Studio Brass Band was performing entertaining music for park guests. The Universal Studios Store remodel appears to be almost complete. The remodel has significantly expanded the merchandise floor space. Instead of several different locations throughout the store, the cashiers are now located at one end.
In Production Central, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem had a posted standby line wait time of 60 minutes, 20 minutes for Shrek 4-D, and Rip Ride Rockit was 30 minutes. In front of the Super Silly Stuff gift shop are Despicable Me 2 photo kiosks, where guests can have a photo taken with a variety of characters from the Despicable Me movies for free. The photo is then sent to you via email. My family took one and the photo email was in my inbox when we returned home.
Knowing Transformers: The Ride has open for technical rehearsals, it was all I could do not to run to the attraction! New for me this visit, Optimus Prime was on top of the attraction entrance, giving an imposing and dramatic feel adding to the anticipation of the ride.
The street is painted, showing guests where to stand and take the best photo of Optimus Prime. A portable refreshment cart is now shrewdly located near the entrance.
The posted wait time for Transformers: The Ride was 45 minutes when we rode it. Later that afternoon, it had increased to 60 minutes after being closed several times due to technical issues. The NEST Team members were very animated and helped enhance the excitement of riding for the first time.
My short review: Transformers was similar to Spider-Man in regards to the ride vehicle, the 4D experience and the dramatic transition between scenes. However, the story-line, graphics and overall experience were amazing, and any fan of thrill rides or the Transformers movies should not miss this attraction. This ride was a great experience and met my long-awaited expectations.
Outside the Supply Vault gift shop, Transformers characters were greeting guests in a slightly different location than last month. Construction walls were across the street from the Transformers building, between the restrooms and Shrek 4-D gift shop.
This area is rumored to be an enclosed meet and greet for Transformers characters. It was also rumored to house an Energon station, the specialty drink associated with Transformers, but now the buzz is that Energon will not be introduced by the time of the Transformers grand opening on June 20. Stay tuned to Orlando Informer for updates on that.
Walking through the New York backlot of USF from Twister toward the Revenge of the Mummy, I noticed the cars used in the production of Fast and Furious 6 were still available for photo opportunities. The Revenge of the Mummy had a posted wait time of 10 minutes for the standby line. This attraction was a great place to spend time that afternoon when a fierce summer thunderstorm passed over Universal.
The restrooms between Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue and Disaster! are still closed and under construction in the San Francisco backlot of USF. The street has been painted to reflect the boundary of Salty’s Sketches Caricatures across from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley (WWOHP-DA) construction walls.
The construction continues at the massive WWOHP-DA area and appears to be moving along quickly. Visual details are tough to distinguish at this point, but more scaffolding is up on the lagoon side of the London buildings.
Free wifi is still available in this area. I checked in on the Foursquare app and became mayor of Diagon Alley! For an avid Harry Potter fan like me, it was a great moment.
Taking in the eye-catching view surrounding the lagoon, I walked to World Expo and the MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack attraction that had a posted wait time of 20 minutes for the standby line.
The official announcement of The Simpsons Springfield expansion occurred since my last visit to USF. I was looking forward to seeing the progress, and I was not disappointed. The construction along the lagoon is really taking shape. There is a structure in place for Duff Gardens that was not noticeable last month.
In addition, the Kang & Kodos Twirl ‘n Whirl attraction seems near completion. Current rumors say these whimsical attractions will be open by the end of June. Posted along the walkway construction walls are various Simpsons themed motifs and serve as great photo opportunities.
Here’s a video shot yesterday by Dan that gives you an overview of the construction work at Universal Studios Florida:
In a move that took nearly everyone by surprise, The Simpsons Fast Food Boulevard did indeed open on June 1. A variety of foods are now available from these indoor counter-service eateries including Lisa’s Teahouse of Horrors, Luigi’s, The Frying Dutchman, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Krusty Burger, and Flaming Moe’s. Also in Fast Food Boulevard there are several large dining areas decorated with Simpsons murals signed by Matt Groening. The dining areas are also equipped with multiple TV’s showing scenes from the Simpson’s TV Show. Even the napkins are themed!
For those interested, Dan was busy with his video camera yesterday and also published this complete five minute walkthrough tour of Fast Food Blvd. Note that his video starts just inside the Krusty Burger exterior facade where the first themed seating area can be found:
We purchased a Krusty Burger and a Flaming Moe (a specialty drink with dry ice and orange soda) along with one Lard Lad oversized donut. We enjoyed all of them. Moe’s Tavern is also open and connects to Fast Food Boulevard. You can purchase Duff Beer and other specialty drinks here, and you can sit at the bar or tables and enjoy your drinks, food and fun décor.
The restrooms next to Fast Food Boulevard and the Animal Actors Stadium are now open. Walking toward Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, the classic attraction E.T. had a posted wait time of 15 minutes for the standby line. Another fun family attraction, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, had a posted wait time of 10 minutes.
In the Hollywood backlot we were able to watch the performances by the Despicable Me characters and Hop characters in the Character Party Zone. They are very entertaining for the entire family with character photo opportunities after each performance.
Later in the afternoon, we experienced a severe thunderstorm that lasted almost an hour. Because of the amount of rain that fell in such a short time, several streets and walkways were flooded with ankle deep water and became impassable in parts. I noticed that a weather alert statement is printed on the park map explaining the outdoor attractions will close for the safety of guests if necessary.
Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush was scheduled for the Summer Concert Series that night. Many die-hard fans braved the weather to hear the popular group perform. Fans were already in line when we arrived around noon for the 8pm show.
I was excited to experience so many new things in addition to the already incredible attractions at Universal Studios Florida this trip. I hope you can experience the thrills and fun of USF soon.
NEW FEATURE! You can now read reviews of the individual attractions at Universal Orlando and share your own thoughts. This is brand new functionality, so OI hasn’t rolled it out across all pages yet. But it is live on the Transformers page, all the Simpsons Springfield pages, and these pages too:
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit | E.T. Adventure | Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges | Mythos restaurant | Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey | Horror Make-Up Show | MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack | The Blues Brothers Show | Revenge of The Mummy | Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
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Universal Studios Florida trip – photo gallery
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