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April 4, 2013

Construction Roundup at Universal

I've said it before -- the momentum right now is with Universal -- and a whole host of construction is underway throughout the resort. Let's take you on a tour of projects both announced and not confirmed.

Let's start at the heart of the Studios -- where Transformers: The Ride -3D could start soft-openings ( ride tests with actual guests) in days, not weeks.  The gift shop is open -- and the Transformers are posing for pictures with guests.


That is quite a large building -- and many Universal fans say it feels out of place - -and dominates the area. I think people will get used to it -- especially because the ride has gotten rave reviews in Singapore and Hollywood.  Also opening soon --



Yes -- that's the Simpson's ride building. What's hard to see from Sky 6 is that Universal is transforming the area around it into a mini Springfield.



Here's a recent picture of the area from the ground. Universal has yet to confirm what is going in here -- but for fans of the show -- it is obvious what this wing will be soon.
 


Yep. It's a dead ringer for Moe's. Probably a safe bet Universal's chef is trying to whip up a "Flaming Moe."  It appears there will also be a Krusty Burger and one other eatery next to the Kwik-E Mart.

Then there is  the ginormous construction zone that insiders say is  a second land based on Harry Potter -- this one much larger and at Universal Studios.
Take a look at this wide shot.



On the left -- the giant show building for the main new ride -- a wild ride through Gringott's bank in Diagon Alley.  On the right -- other buildings including what is believed to be the station for  a Hogwarts Express train ride linking the two parks -- and the two "Wizarding Worlds"
 


That's a closer look at the train area... One more shot from Sky 6 below shows what MAY be Steel arches to recreate the King's Crossing station.


Here's the other end of the ride -- a new train station is going up in the area between the Dragon's Challenge coaster and the Lost Continent area.


When will all of this open? Strong rumors say next year. Probably NOT coincidentally -- the Harry Potter fan convention "Leaky Con" is coming back to Orlando next year.
We should hear something soon.


The other ANNOUNCED project is rising fast. This is a wide shot of Universal's Cabana Bay Resort -- a tribute to 50's-style motor lodges with one giant courtyard in the middle


One unique feature you can't see -- bowling alleys -- not to mention an enormous pool.



While it is a "value" resort compared to the Portofino Bay, Hard Rock & Royal Pacific based on the concept art -- it looks classier than, say, Disney's All-Stars.




And -- just in -- Universal's hotel partner - -Loews Hotels & Resorts -- just announced it has finished major renovations of all 750 rooms at Portofino Bay.
According to their press release,  The $4 million renovations " took more than 5,000 gallons of paint, nearly 45,000 total work hours and more than 35,000 yards of carpeting to complete.  A special time-lapse video captured the transformation of one room from start to finish. "



"The new rooms celebrate the charm, romance and glamour of Portofino, Italy's grand vacation villas and hotels," says Karen Daroff of Daroff Design.  "A refined palette in soft neutral cream colors, paired with sun-baked shades of aqua are complemented by rich, terra cotta-colored marble and custom-designed, white-washed furnishings."

Sounds pretty. Loews is offering up to a 30% Discount for stays of three or more nights.  Click here to learn more.
 
That's it for today!

Here's a link to yesterday's Theme World on changes at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

And here's a link to other recent Theme World entries.

Feel free to keep emailing me your tips, questions and feedback. Always happy to hear from you.