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Universal Orlando Snapshot: Current ride closures, park promotions, & special events

On this page, you’ll find our totally up-to-date one-stop-shop for everything that is currently happening at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and all of Universal Orlando Resort! (Yeah, this is a good page to bookmark.)

By the way, we’re very happy to let you know that this is just one page out of over 200 we have in our next-generation encyclopedia of obsessively-updated Universal Orlando vacation-planning info.

Want even more updates? Sign up for our free newsletter, join our community on our Facebook group,  or join us on any of these social networks:

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Last Updated: December 13, 2018

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Live tweeting and Facebook live-streaming from Universal Orlando

We visit Universal multiple times every month to bring our fans live in-park photo updates direct from Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay! To see all of our photo updates as they happen, we invite you to follow us on Twitter.

We also do Facebook live-streaming from in-park as well from our Facebook page and Facebook community page.  To be a part of these live streams, like our Facebook page here and join our private Facebook community here.

 

Current promotions and resort-wide changes

Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration
July 16 was the official premiere of Universal’s newest – and best! – lagoon show at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration. You can find all the vacation-planning info you need to know over at our guide page, and then read all about its in-depth contents in our full breakdown. (And make sure to leave a reader review once you see it!)

The Bellhop Bar
Loews Hotels has unveiled a new, limited-time bar that currently graces three of Universal’s on-site hotels: Portofino Bay Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, and its sister property, Sapphire Falls Resort. Themed like a retrofitted steamer trunk, the pop-up bar will be on hand until January 13 and will be open from 5:00 to 7:00 pm daily. See our full article for more.

Dive-in movies
Dive-in movies are back at Universal Orlando’s six on-site hotels! Screening nightly (weather permitting), these allow you to catch a family-friendly flick while hanging out in or around the pool – and the program has been newly expanded, increasing the library of titles the hotels can pull from.

Universal Orlando ticket pricing-structure changes
Capping off a whole year of changes on this front, Universal has in December 2018 added one final change to the way it sells its theme-park admission. Did we say “change”? We actually meant “remission.”

Back in 2016, when the company first switched to a season-based pricing system (in which the time of year and the expected crowd levels determined the cost of a one-day pass), it had initially set up three different levels: Value, Regular, and Anytime Pricing. By the end of that year, however, Universal had decided that it only needed the first two tiers and had dropped the third completely – until now, that is.

When guests go to buy their single-day admission to the theme parks for the end of 2018 and beyond, they will once again face the three different categories, with as much as $25 separating the lowest (Value) from the highest (Anytime) prices. We’ve included an example calendar for you:

Universal Orlando sample pricing calendar for single-day admission
Universal Orlando sample pricing calendar for single-day admission

Universal Orlando lockers price increase
Universal has been busy replacing and updating the lockers at several of its attractions, including Revenge of the Mummy (which you can read about further on down this page), with part of this process including the addition of larger-size lockers. While the company kept all of these free for guests while they jumped on the corresponding rides, this was changed the first week of December 2018 – now, the larger lockers cost $2.

You can check out our lockers page for everything you ever cared to know about the subject.

Universal Orlando parking price increase
The latter half of October saw yet another price hike at Universal Orlando Resort, this time for parking. Here is what the new prices look like:

  • General parking – $25
  • Prime parking – $40
  • VIP parking – $50 and up

You can find a full rundown on all the numbers and everything else parking-related in our complete guide.

Universal Orlando annual pass price increase
On October 4, Universal increased the prices of its various annual passes anywhere from two to seven percent. You can see all the new rates – plus some other changed info for next year, such as blackout dates – in our complete guide to annual passes.

Perhaps in a move to help soften the blow, the company is also offering an additional few months to your pass for free. Here are the details: if you purchase a new AP or renew a pre-existing one before April 4, 2019, you get three extra months for the lower two levels (those would be the Seasonal and Power Passes) and an extra six months for the upper two tiers (Preferred and Premier Passes). There’s one important catch, however – you’ll need to also activate your AP (that is to say, use it at the parks’ front gates) before that April 4 deadline, as well.

Universal Orlando ticket price increase
On Friday, February 16, Universal increased the price of admission to its theme parks. A three-day, two-park ticket (meaning you can visit either Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure) went up by 3.6%, to $284.99; a three-day, three-park pass (meaning Volcano Bay is also thrown into the mix) increased by 7.9%, to $339.99. (And just for completeness’s sake, a three-day, one-park-per-day ticket is now $279.99, a 7.7% hike).

In the weeks after the theme-park increase, Universal also upped the price of Volcano Bay-only admission – expect to pay $80 now for a one-day ticket, or 19.4% more.

Early Park Admission
The Universal Studios Florida attraction that opens up alongside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for Early Park Admission is now Fast & Furious – Supercharged (at previous times this year, it was either Revenge of the Mummy or Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem).

Additionally, over at Volcano Bay, there are now six slides that greet EPA goers. You can find the whole list over at our complete guide to EPA.

My Universal Photos
Universal’s Photo Connect program has been rebranded to My Universal Photos, and our guide has been updated.

 

Upcoming annual events and special celebrations

Universal’s Holidays celebration
Christmas is here at Universal Orlando! From November 17 through January 6, yuletide festivities will rage all across the resort, from the theme parks to the on-site hotels (the only place where guests can meet-and-greet with the man of the hour himself, Santa Claus). You can get the full rundown in our comprehensive insider’s guide.

New Year’s Eve 2018
Decide how you’re going to party away 2018 in our New Year’s Eve guide.

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2019
This Harry Potter-centric annual event, which has been a mainstay at the resort for the past five years, has been cut from next year’s schedule. It’s currently unknown whether this is just a temporary or a permanent move, though we should – of course – find out by the end of 2019.

You can relive the past wizarding glories in our complete guide, which we’ll still keep up.

Rock the Universe 2019
In something of another surprise development, Universal has moved next year’s annual Christian rockfest from its typical September date to February 1 and 2. You can find out more on our guide page.

Mardi Gras 2019
On August 10, Universal went ahead and announced the dates for next year’s annual party: Saturday, February 9 to Thursday, April 4 (which is approximately nine days shorter than last year’s event). You can find more info in our complete guide.

Hard Rock Hotel
December’s Velvet Session (well, technically, Velvet Unplugged) will feature Carl Dixon, formerly of The Guess Who. He’ll play solo from 8:00 pm to 10:30 pm on December 14; tickets start at $50 ($15 for standing room-only), and you can order them here.

Not familiar with Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions? They’re special rock-‘n-roll cocktail parties and lobby concerts held the last Friday of the month (January through October [well, usually]). A Velvet Sessions ticket includes free specialty drinks, finger foods, and valet parking.

Please note Velvet Sessions are for guests aged 21 and older.

Also, starting on Sunday, December 2, Hard Rock will debut its brand-new weekly Acoustic Brunch in The Kitchen, which will have guests enjoying a (what else?) live acoustic performance while feasting on a brunch buffet. Expect a breakfast and salad bar, along with a carving station and salmon platter (among other goodies).

The hours are from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm every Sunday, and the price is $38 for adults, $17 for children aged 10 to 14, and $13 for children aged three to nine (adults can add on unlimited Bloody Marys, mimosas, and sangrias for an additional $10). You can view the full menu here.

Royal Pacific Resort
The next Jake’s Beer Dinner, which will be “the best of 2018,” is scheduled for Monday, December 31, at 7:00 pm in the private Clipper Room (inside of Jake’s American Bar). Five courses that feature favorite pairings from each Jake’s Beer Dinner throughout the year will be on hand; afterwards, guests will head over to the Tahitian room to enjoy the hotel’s New Year’s Eve dessert buffet and welcome in the new year. Tickets cost $65.

You can view the menu here or get tickets here.

Please note Jake’s Beer Dinner is for guests aged 21 and older.

And as of Saturday, July 14, Royal Pacific Resort now hosts the Despicable Me Character Breakfast. Located in The Tahitian Room (what used to be Emeril’s Tchoup Chop until the end of 2017), guests can enjoy a buffet of “breakfast favorites” and visit with Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and the Minions. One free digital photo is included with the meet-‘n-greet, which costs $34.99 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $20.99 for children (ages three to nine). Neither theme-park admission nor a hotel stay is required; however, reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Each session lasts for an hour, features communal seating (meaning you’ll be making some new human friends alongside the Minion ones), and has three different morning time slots: 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 (that’s a half-hour later than they initially were).

(In case you were wondering, the Despicable Me Character Breakfast was originally held at Sapphire Falls Resort’s Cayman Court.)

You can book on this page.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Sapphire Falls Resort hosts a Caribbean Carnaval event weekly, where guests can celebrate the culture of various areas of the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. We reviewed the event on the Orlando Informer Blog.

Please be aware that Caribbean Carnaval now takes place on Fridays (previously, it was Wednesdays).

Hard Rock Live
Located at Universal CityWalk, Hard Rock Live is a multi-use performance center that features a variety of acts, from pop and rock artists to stand-up comedians to special events, both public and private. Because Hard Rock Live has dozens of events scheduled at any one time, we aren’t able to list them here – so be sure to check out its website to see if one of your favorite acts will be on-site when you’re there!

 

Universal Studios Florida

Annual passholder’s lounge – from now until January 31, 2019, Universal has a new hang-out spot exclusively for its annual passholders. You can find it in the Hollywood section of Universal Studios Florida, near Schwab’s Pharmacy, and it’ll be open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm every day.

Globus Mundi – the newest store in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opened on October 30, 2018. Our new guide page will make you want to travel the Floo Network straight away!

Universal’s Superstar Character Breakfast – this add-on dining option held its final seating on Saturday, November 11, 2017. Replacing it is the Marvel Character Dinner over at Islands of Adventure.

Revenge of the Mummy – the ride’s lockers have been moved from their position in front of the show building to within it, where the main entrance had been for the past several years. Many of the props and items that were in this room previously have been removed and are now on sale at Williams of Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida’s prop shop.

Terminator 2 3D: Battle across Time – this attraction closed on October 8, 2017 to make way for a new, unannounced show to open in 2019. You can read more about the announcement and history of T23D on the OI Blog.

Express additions – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express now accept Universal Express passes. You can learn more on our Orlando Informer Blog.

Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon – Twister… Ride It Out closed on November 2, 2015 to make way for Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, which is now open! Details can be found here.

Fast & Furious – Supercharged – in a surprise move, Universal announced first thing in the morning on Monday, April 23 that its newest attraction was now open! Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the ride – and leave your real guest review – on our Supercharged page.

Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride, Starring YOU closed on September 8, 2015 and Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue closed on January 5, 2016 to make way for this new attraction. Learn more.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – Jaws and its home on Amity Island were closed permanently on January 3, 2012 to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, which officially opened on July 8, 2014. This “London” portion of the Harry Potter story features new shops, a themed restaurant, and two new attractions: the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts simulator experience and a real Hogwarts Express running between London and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogsmeade, over at Islands of Adventure. Visit our insider’s guide to the Wizarding World to learn so, so much more.

The list above is only a summary of the current attraction refurbishments, openings, and closings at Universal Studios Florida. For a complete list of the park’s attractions, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.

 

Islands of Adventure

The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad – Islands of Adventure’s stunt show, which opened with the park on May 28, 1999, staged its last performance on Saturday, September 15, 2018. You can find out the reasons why over on the OI Blog.

The Burger Digs – during the week of September 16, Universal started testing a brand-new mobile ordering service. You can find all the details over on the OI Blog.

Pteranodon Flyers – this popular kids’ attraction will be closed from September 10 through 16, 2018 for seasonal maintenance. It’ll reopen on the 17th.

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – Universal has been continually adding on more dates to its new (more or less) year-round projection-mapping show (which replaced the seasonal Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle at the beginning of the year). Find the full details on our guide page.

Marvel Character Dinner – Spidey, Cap, and more are now dinning with a guest of honor – you! We’ve experienced the new Marvel Character Dinner for ourselves, and we tell you all about it in our complete guide.

Package pick-up – guests sending their packages to the front of Islands of Adventure to be picked up later now will have to stop by Port Provisions (instead of Ocean Trader Market) to do so.

Dragon Challenge – the 18-year-old ride’s final day of operation was on September 4, 2017. A new Harry Potter coaster will replace it, opening in 2019. More details can be found here on the OI Blog.

Express additions – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Hogwarts Express now accept Universal Express Passes. You can learn more on our Orlando Informer Bbllog.

Women’s Boutique in Marvel – a small women’s boutique with Marvel apparel has opened in Marvel Superhero Island. You can see a video of the store on our YouTube channel.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster – this headline attraction is now open! It features a new track, completely refreshed queue experience, and more. You can learn all about it by clicking here.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong – King Kong is now open at Universal Orlando Resort! This brand-new attraction is located in between Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park. You’ll navigate perilous jungles, explore ancient temple structures, and encounter hostile natives – and that’s only the beginning. Learn more.

The list above is only a summary of the current attraction refurbishments, openings, and closings at Islands of Adventure. For a complete list of the park’s attractions, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.

 

Volcano Bay

Express Pass changes – there are now two types of Express Passes that are available at Volcano Bay. The basic level covers seven rides (Krakatau Aqua Coaster, Punga Racers, Taniwha Tubes, and the two double-headers of Honu ika Moana and Maku Puihi), while the new premium version adds in four additional attractions (Ko’okiri Body Plunge, Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, and the double Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides).

Pricing depends on the day (such as $50 for basic and $80 for premium, as just one example), and the passes can only be obtained in the park. For more, see our Volcano Bay tickets and Express Pass pages.

Character appearance – King Julien from DreamWorks Animation will be on-hand at Volcano Bay to meet-‘n-greet with guests through Labor Day weekend!

Ride changes Taniwha Tubes has now been split up into two different attractions: Tonga of Taniwha Tubes (the green slides) and Raki of Taniwha Tubes (the blue ones).

Why make the change? Now, Universal has two different rides where before it only had one, helping to better process the summertime crowds that are already starting to inundate the shores of Volcano Bay.

Hours of operation changes – starting in June, Volcano Bay opens at 9:00 am (with EPA at 8:00) and typically closes at either 9:00 or 10:00 pm (though with some exceptions).

Weight limit changesKala and Tai Nui, two of the three drop-door slides at the park, have had their weight limit changed for the fifth time – they’re now up to 275 pounds after having been down (anywhere from 230 to 270) for a little while.

Height changes – more little ones can now enjoy Runamukka Reef, as its height restriction has been bumped down from 54″ to 48″.

Menu changes – Volcano Bay has removed over 20 items from the menus across the park. You can read the full details in our article.

Now open – the new water theme park is now open! You can see our full coverage here.

 

Universal CityWalk

CityWalk’s movie theater – AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX shut down on Friday, September 14 and reopened just a few days afterwards as Universal Cinemark, though the process to transition/upgrade each of the theater’s 20 auditoriums will continue on for the next several months. You can read more on our movie theater page.

Emeril’s Orlando – CityWalk’s original flagship eatery closed its doors for good on July 7, 2018. Worry not, however – the fine-dining establishment has been memorialized forever in our Prop Graveyard.

Voodoo Doughnut – this quirky, delicious West Coast start-up is now officially open! To view its hours of operations, as well as see the rest of our full, in-depth coverage, visit our guide page.

Even better, the venue unveiled its Orlando-exclusive flavor on May 31: Universal Orangesicle. Stop by, give it a try, and leave a review on our Voodoo guide page.

NBC Sports Grill & Brew – this family-friendly sports-centric dining venue has one of the largest menus at Universal and plenty of TV screens. See our complete coverage (including the red-carpet grand opening), our top five mouthwatering recommendations, or the top five delectable desserts at the new restaurant. (Just be aware that the menu has changed a bit since its opening.)

Looking for CityWalk events? They are included in our events section near the top of the page — skip up there.

For more information about Universal CityWalk, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.

 

Loews on-site hotels

Aventura Hotel – Universal Orlando’s sixth on-site hotel opened on Thursday, August 16, 2018, and we have tons of coverage for you to peruse. It all starts on our main overview page!

Endless Summer Resort – Universal has announced the name of its upcoming hotel complex: Endless Summer Resort. It’ll consist of two properties  – the 750-room Surfside Inn and Suites and the 2,050-room Dockside Inn and Suites – and will be the very first entry in the value hotel category, with room rates that start at $73 a night (using certain promotions).

You can find out everything you’d ever want to know about Endless Summer in both our announcement article and our brand-new guide page.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – 400 new rooms have arrived at Universal’s prime value hotel. The new towers are now open and are located next to Universal’s water theme park, Volcano Bay.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – Universal Orlando’s fifth on-site hotel is now open! The new property, a paradise where blue waterfalls cascade across lush grounds, features 1,000 guest rooms geared towards families and convention attendees. Our complete guide has been updated, and it consists of 10 pages and hundreds of photos and videos!

Loews Royal Pacific ResortEmeril’s Tchoup Chop closed for good on December 31, 2017, with a “new and exciting” concept slated to replace it sometime in the future. Emeril’s Orlando, meanwhile, remains at Universal CityWalk. “With great gratitude to our loyal customers, hardworking staff, and colleagues at Loews Royal Pacific, it’s been an incredible 15 years,” said Emeril Lagasse.

Royal Pacific wrapped up a complete remodel of its rooms. The new rooms are a pretty substantial departure from the previous color scheme and design.

Looking for hotel events? They are included in our events section near the top of the page — skip up there.

The list above is only a summary of the current projects relating to the Loews on-site hotels at Universal Orlando. For complete details about these properties, including over 700 full-screen photos, check out the links below or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.

Do you have a question about the information on this page, would like to provide feedback, or did you spot an inaccuracy? Please let us know by posting in our Universal Community Facebook Group.

 

See everything else you’ve been missing

When we say that Orlando Informer is the world’s leading resource for Universal Orlando vacation planning, we’re not just blowin’ smoke. Start your journey through our knowledge by following any link below.

Read guest reviews of Universal or write your own

View our Daily Updates

12-month Universal Orlando crowd calendar

Best day of the week to visit Universal Orlando

 

The Script: TICKETS, PACKAGES, & PLANNING

 

The Set: MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR VACATION

 

Insider’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

Annual events at Universal Orlando

 

Universal Orlando touring plans

 

Universal Studios Florida – complete guide and history

Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration

Universal’s Superstar Parade

 

Universal’s Islands of Adventure – the full tour

Marvel Character Dinner

 

Universal’s Volcano Bay – complete guide and history

Volcano Bay’s TapuTapu – complete guide

Volcano Bay’s Cabana Rentals – complete guide

Volcano Bay Tickets – complete guide

Early Park Admission to Volcano Bay

 

Super Nintendo World (coming soon)

 

Universal CityWalk

On-site hotels at Universal Orlando (general information)

Off-site hotels around Universal Orlando

 

The Prop Graveyard: TOURING THE EXTINCT ATTRACTIONS