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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.

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Last Updated: November 18, 2017

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Skip to: Promotions | Events | USF | IOA | 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

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

Express Passes
A facial-recognition test is currently being held at certain attractions located in both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure; guests will need to have their photo taken when using their Express Passes for the first time at these. Learn more in our complete guide to Express Passes.


Upcoming annual events and special celebrations

Holidays celebration at Universal Orlando Resort

The holidays are officially here! The biggest Christmas celebration at Universal Orlando yet includes two brand-new elements: Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Read about them both – and so much more – in our complete guide.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Jake’s Beer Festival is returning for the second time in 2017! Guests can enjoy more than 50 craft and specialty beers, creative and tasty foods expertly prepared by the hotel’s award-winning chefs, and live entertainment under the outdoor Wantilan Pavilion. You can see the complete list of menu items and beers here. Note that you must be at least 21 years of age in order to attend.

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, after the November 29 showing, Caribbean Carnaval will be moving from Wednesdays to Fridays.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

The hotel will be hosting its annual food and wine event, Harbor Nights, on October 13 and Holiday Harbor Nights on November 24. There will be unlimited samplings of over a dozen wines and sparkling wines for guests to enjoy. There will also be gourmet food and desserts that will be prepared by the hotel’s award-winning culinary team. The event will also feature live music and a special performance by Portofino’s own opera singers.

Tickets for the event are $50. There is a limited amount of VIP tickets available for $85, which are only available online and include all of the regular offerings of Harbor Nights plus reserved seating in a special area with a private wine station and hors d’oeuvres. Both regular and VIP tickets include complimentary self-parking or discounted valet parking for $5. This event is for adults 21 and up only.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Harbor Nights, click here.

Hard Rock Hotel

The hotel will be hosting the Wine Riffs Event that features food, wine, and – of course – music.  The event will also feature Wayne Raborn telling stories of the Chateau Montelena Winery.

Wine Riffs is held throughout the year at Hard Rock Hotel, so be sure to visit the official events calendar here to see when the next one is scheduled for.

Wine Riffs includes a five-course dinner and wine pairing for $125 per person. The event is for adults 21 and up. You can call 407-503-2405 for reservations.

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 will hold its final seating on Saturday, November 11 in preparation for an all-new character dining experience that’ll debut in 2018!

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

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

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

Element closed – this store has closed and a Voodoo Doughnuts location is rumored to replace it. You can read the full rumor on the OI Blog.

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium – one of CityWalk’s very first tenants, NBA City, closed its doors on August 16, 2015. Its replacement offers unique sweets and is set in a 19th-century-inspired Steampunk chocolate emporium. To see hundreds of pictures, details, and the menu at this new restaurant, click here.

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.)

Eight new venues in 2014 – resort officials completed the largest expansion in CityWalk history in 2014, which included the addition of eight new venues: The Cowfish (burgers and sushi), Antojitos (Mexican), VIVO (Italian), Hot Dog Hall of Fame (hot dogs), Red Oven (pizza), Bread Box (sandwiches), Cold Stone (ice cream), and Menchies (frozen yogurt).

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 will be closing for good on December 31, 2017, with a “new and exciting” concept replacing it. Emeril’s Orlando, meanwhile, will remain 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.

The restaurant will maintain its regular hours of operation (lunch from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, dinner from 5:00 to 10:00 pm, and happy hour from 5:00 to 8:00 pm) until December 31, 2017. Guests may continue making reservations by calling (407) 503-2467 or heading online.

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






Insider’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Annual events at Universal Orlando


Universal Orlando touring plans


Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park – complete guide and history (now open!)

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


Islands of Adventure – the full tour


Universal CityWalk


On-site hotels at Universal Orlando (general information)


Off-site hotels around Universal Orlando