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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: February 23, 2018

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Skip to: Promotions | Events | USF | IOA | VB | CityWalk | On-site hotels

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 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) increased by 3.6%, to $284.99; a three-day three-park ticket (meaning Volcano Bay is also thrown into the mix) went up by 7.9%, to $339.99. (And just for completeness’s sake, a three-day one-park-per-day pass is now $279.99, a 7.7% hike).

It should be noted that one-day admission to Volcano Bay remains the same.

Florida-resident limited-time offers
Universal has a new promotion it’s running for all those guests who live in the state of Florida: if you obtain a relevant UPC code from a Coca-Cola product, you can get three extra months tacked onto your annual pass for free. There are two restrictions, however: all sales must be completed by April 24, 2018, and the offer’s not eligible for what the company calls a seasonal pass (the lowest of the four AP levels, which you can read all about in our complete guide).

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

Portofino Bay Hotel

Harbor Nights Primavera will be held on Friday, April 20, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Guests will be able to enjoy more than 20 wines, “expertly-prepared” gourmet foods, and live music by The Buzzcatz. It’s one of the best ways to celebrate spring!

Tickets will go on sale soon. In the meantime, please note that all attendees have to be 21 years of age and up.

Hard Rock Hotel

March will see another edition of Velvet Unplugged, which is exactly what it sounds like – an acoustic-only performance. Tall Heights will be performing this session; described as a progressive-folk group, the duo consists of singer/guitarist Tim Harrington and singer/cellist Paul Wright.

A table for two costs $40; for four, $60. Either ticket includes a complementary round of house drinks (just one, we should note) and valet parking both. Standing-room-only admission is free, but it doesn’t include any additional perks (and guests must have a pass in hand in order to gain entry to the show).

Velvet Unplugged will be held on Friday, March 2 at 7:00 pm. You can secure your tickets here.

 

Not familiar with Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions? They’re special rock-‘n-roll cocktail parties and lobby concerts, usually held the last Friday of the month (January through October). The normal Velvet Sessions (which are different from the Unplugged incarnation) typically include free specialty drinks, finger foods, and valet parking with admission. A VIP ticket is also available, which throws a special viewing area with a private bar into the mix.

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

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Sapphire Falls Resort hosts a Caribbean Carnaval event weekly at its hotel, 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 Wednesdays).

Sapphire Falls also hosts a Despicable Me Character Breakfast every Saturday. Located in Cayman Court, just like the Caribbean Carnaval, 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). Theme-park admission and hotel reservations aren’t 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: 7:30, 9:00, and 10:30.

You can book on this page.

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

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

Fievel’s Playland – this children’s play area will be closed from February 26 through the 28th for seasonal maintenance.

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 here 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 – 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 opening in 2018. 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 Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – sad that The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle has ended? Don’t be! We’re getting a (more or less) year-round projection-mapping show to replace it. Find the full details on our guide page.

Jurassic Park: River Adventure – the famed water ride will be down for its annual maintenance from January 30 to February 15.

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges – this attraction will be closed for refurbishment from February 20 to March 9.

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 blog.

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

Early Park Admission – half of the park will now only be eligible for Early Park Admission. For the complete scoop, please check out our complete guide to EPA.

Also, Volcano Bay’s hours of operation have changed. For the month of December, it opens at 10:00 am (with EPA at 9:00) and closes at 5:00 pm every day (save for Saturdays, which have a 7:00 pm closing time). We expect this schedule to switch to every day, including Saturdays, starting in January and running on through May.

Seasonal maintenanceMaku Puihi Round Raft Rides are closed from February 1 through the 12th, while Honu ika Moana is closed from February 13 through the 28th.

Weight limit changesKala and Tai Nui, two of the three drop-door slides, have had their weight limit changed for the third time. The limit for these two water slides is now 230 pounds.

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

Voodoo Doughnut – Universal has gone ahead and made it official – the quirky, delicious West Coast start-up is landing east of the Mississippi for the very first time! Voodoo Doughnut will open this spring, replacing the former Element store. You can find our full coverage starting here.

Blue Man Group – Florida residents can get discounted tickets to CityWalk’s resident show from February 9 through April 8. Adult tickets start at $49 (instead of the usual $60), while children’s start at $29 (instead of $30).

NBC Sports Grill & Brew – patrons can watch the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics from February 9 through 25 both inside and outside, on the 100-foot HD stadium screen. Additionally, a specially-created menu, filled with Olympic food and drinks, will be available at the outdoor viewing area.

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

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Expansion400 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.

Universal’s Aventura Hotel – opening in August 2018, this is another prime value on-site hotel coming to Universal Orlando. Learn more here.

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 the 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.

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Insider’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

Annual events at Universal Orlando

 

Universal Orlando touring plans

 

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

 

Universal Studios Florida – complete guide and history

Universal’s Superstar Parade

 

Universal’s Islands of Adventure – the full tour

Marvel Character Dinner

 

Universal CityWalk

 

On-site hotels at Universal Orlando (general information)

 

Off-site hotels around Universal Orlando

 

The Prop Graveyard: TOURING THE EXTINCT ATTRACTIONS