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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: January 19, 2018

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

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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

Portofino Bay Hotel

Harbor Nights Romantico will be held on Friday, February 16, at 6:30 pm. It might be two days after Valentine’s Day, but the “enchanting” evening should still be romantic enough: select and sparkling wines will be pared with “decadent gourmet selections” from each of Portofino’s restaurants. When combined with live music by the Johnny Cool Swing Band and the Mediterranean views under the twinkling lights of the picturesque Harbor Piazza, love will certainly be in the air.

You can view the menu here and order tickets here. Please note that all attendees have to be 21 years of age and up.

Hard Rock Hotel

January’s Velvet Session will feature Everclear. They’ll play from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm on January 26; you can order tickets here (purchasing online saves you $5 and enables you early entry by half an hour).

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). A Velvet Sessions ticket includes free specialty drinks, finger foods, and valet parking. A VIP ticket is also available, which throws a special viewing area with a private bar into the mix.

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

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 Caribbean Carnaval now takes place on Fridays (previously Wednesdays).

New in January 2018, Sapphire Falls also hosts a Despicable Me Character Breakfast every Saturday. Located in Cayman Court, just like the Caribbean Carnaval, guests can enjoy traditional breakfast food and meet Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and the Minions. One free digital photo is included with the breakfast, which costs $34.99 for ages 10 and up and $20.99 for ages three to nine. Theme park admission and hotel reservations aren’t required; however, reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. The breakfast runs from 9:00 am to 11:30 am. Guests 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.

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.

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – this attraction will be closed for refurbishment from January 3 through the 25.

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

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.

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.

NBC Sports Grill & Brew – help NBC Sports Grill & Brew celebrate the Super Bowl being on NBC this year by participating in fun entertainment, giveaways, authentic NFL helmet displays, and more. The festivities will be held on game day, Sunday, February 4, 2018.

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 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.

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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