Universal Buy’s More Land And Clears The Way For A New Theme Park

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It’s a good time to be associated with Universal Orlando Resort, as an employee told me yesterday

It’s great to work for a company doing things

And its hard to disagree! Universal are currently at the forefront of everything theme park related so much so that rivals have been accused of straight up copying.

So the news coming from Florida that Universal yesterday not only purchased 100’s of acres of additional land but also the deed of restrictions that would have blocked Universal’s master plan probably wasn’t welcomed.

According to the Orlando Sentinel,  deeds filed with Orange County on Thursday showed the transfer of land from Georgia businessman Stan Thomas to Universal’s subsidiary, SLRC Holdings LLC. How much Universal paid for the additional land and the exact acreage haven’t been confirmed but by the looks of the map below it’s a lot.

Pic credit: (Adelaide Chen/Orlando Sentinel)

An email sent by Universal SpokesmanTom Schroder stated;

We are excited about our plans for this area, and we are looking forward to sharing more at the right time. We also look forward to working with our neighbors in the area and our partners in the community as we move forward.

Universal now have access to 500+ acres of land and are free (local government permitting) to do whatever they like with it. For me I think its pretty clear that Universal are build a resort the introduction of 1 or even 2 new parks would make them much more of a match for Disney.

I believe its pretty certain that one will have a large Nintendo presence or could just be a dedicated park. If this is the case the next big battle could be for more IP.

What would you want to see at a new Universal park?

Smiles included…

Jamie

Take A Sneak Peak At Fast & Furious Supercharged

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Fast & Furious Supercharged is set to open this Spring at Universal Studios and although we don’t have a firm opening date confirmed today’s images seem to imply that our wait is almost over…

Here’s what Universal had to say;

From the moment you enter the attraction, you’ll become immersed in the storyline. You’ll encounter Dom’s iconic car parked out front of the new home base of operations for the Fast & Furious family.

Once inside, you’ll get to explore familiar scenes from the films like Tej’s high-tech War Room, where you learn more about your mission.


And of course, garages filled with supped up cars designed by Dennis McCarthy, the man behind the vehicles created for the films. Several of the cars you’ll see are from the Fast & Furious movies. You’ll even come across an all-new vehicledesigned exclusive for the attraction – Letty’s Turbo Truck!

If you’re a car fanatic, keep your eye out for modifications that only a true fan would recognize. I’m not what you would call “car savvy”, but it was pretty cool to walk through and see it all.

Keep checking our blog and facebook page for more information about the release date of this highly anticipated attraction.

Smiles included…

Jamie

STRANGER THINGS is finally coming to Halloween Horror Nights!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It’s all system’s go for Halloween Horror Nights 28 and we couldn’t be happier. Here at OAT towers a HHN28 release is like Christmas, Easter and someone else’s birthday all rolled into one!

Last week we had a brand new ticket hit the streets with the introduction of the Halloween Horror Nights 2nd night free ticket we then had full confirmation of the HHN dates and today we’ve had the first house reveal!!!

And what a reveal! Prepare to enter the upside down…

Stranger Things is finally coming to HHN! It was a no brainer really…

The first season of Stranger Things was released in 2016 and just kept growing and growing in popularity and lucky for us Universal have answered our prayers for a Stranger Things house and we couldn’t be more thankful..  The house is expected to take guests to early-‘80s Hawkins, Indiana and will give guests an immersive experience into the Stranger Things world as they will recreate some of the most iconic sceneted from the shows. Universal have a ‘#RIPBarb’ in their blog so are we going to see a corpse Barb??

You’ll faithfully follow the storyline, starting off on Mirkwood and then quickly moving to inside Hawkins National Laboratory where things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.

I can’t wait to see ‘real life’ Demogorgoms and to see what the team at Universal do with this concept.

Now not blowing our own trumpet or anything but Abby did predict this would be a house in her annual HHN predictions she believes this now makes her Queen of Halloween.

HHN28 is set to be the best year yet and you can be there with our scarily cheap Halloween Horror Nights 2nd Night Free ticket at just £59 per person.

Screams included…

Jamie

What’s Happening This Christmas At Universal Orlando Resort

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Is it ever to early to talk about Christmas?

Last year Universal knocked Christmas out of the park and this year is going to be no different. Today Universal confirmed that many of last years favourites are making a return and the festivities will officially begin on November 17, 2018, until January 6, 2019.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Last year saw the very first projection mapping experience on Hogwarts Castle and it was AMAZING. This amazing experience will be returning and that’s not all at the Wizarding World. At Hogsmeade you can take in the festive décor, listen to the Frog Choir sing holiday themed songs and grab a Hot Butterbeer.

At Diagon Alley you’ll be able to immerse yourself in stunning holiday decoration and witness s the talented Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees sing their holiday hits.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is returning to the streets of Universal Studios Florida. This colourful parade fills the streets with music, confetti, and some of your favourite characters, including the Despicable Me Minions, Shrek and Fiona, King Julien, the Penguins of Madagascar, and more!

And, of course, there’s a visit from Santa as he rides high in the sky on a beautiful float, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.

Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Aso making a return is Grinchmas. Hear the tale of the Grinch and help the Whos down in Whoville save Christmas during a wonderful live stage show. Sing along to all your favourite songs and get into the Grinchmas spirit.

Seuss Landing will also be decked out for Christmas by the bustling Whos as they get their final preparations in order for Christmas.

Mannheim Steamroller

Fan-favourite the Mannheim Steamroller will also be returning to perform live on the Music Plaza Stage. Their performances will take place on select night during the months of November and December.

Christmas is only 279 days away so you better start planning 😉

Smiles included…

Jamie

 

Abby’s Annual Halloween Horror Night Predictions

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Yep its that time again where I try to guess what this years Halloween Horror Nights houses will have in store for us. Last year I got 3/6 correct which I was pretty happy about to be honest.

Last year I had the privilege of attending HHN for the first time and it was INCREDIBLE. I feel as though it has also given me an advantage for this blog.  This year I’m confident of beating my previous score and if I’m correct HHN28 is going to be awesome.

Stranger Things

We thought this might make an appearance at HHN27 after Universal big cheese, Mike Aiello, expressed his love for the show on twitter, however due to time constraints (they start working on the following years Halloween horror nights as soon the latest one starts) we feel this might make an appearance this year.

With 2 seasons under its belt and no sign of viewer fatigue we’re guessing that a Stranger Things house will cover the events on season 1 & 2, so expect Demogorgans and a girl with a nosebleed. 

Likelihood: 8/10

IT

One of 2017 most anticipated remakes and although it split audiences it still raked in $700 Million  on a budget of just $35 Million proving that there is definitely a strong fan base there.

IT feels like a very obvious choice for me, the theming is right up Universal’s alley and I can see the house moving from scene to scene easily. Also last year we didn’t see a house with a resident clown so maybe it’s time to step up the clown antics at HHN or could the recent uproar of working clowns vs scary clowns affect this?

Likelihood: 9/10

American Horror Story 

One of the highest rated houses from HHN27 and HHN26 (and my personal favourite) could well return, American Horror Story season 8 is rumoured to be hitting TV’s in the Autumn and will centred around either lust or violence (following the 9 circles of hell.) In 2016 the house featured Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel. Last year it featured Asylum, Coven and Roanoke with their biggest floor plan of the year (you can hear me screaming my way through the 4+ minute house here. ) I think it’s obvious that we would see Cult featured this year!

Universal obviously have a working relationship with FX and the creators of AMS and as Walking Dead’s popularity falls I think American Horror Story is in a good position to become a HHN regular.

Likelihood: 8/10

Five Nights at Freddy’s 

Now this one’s a bit of a hail Mary but bear (excuse the pun) with me. For those who don’t know Five Nights at Freddy’s is a computer game about a security guard looking after a Pizzeria at night, during the night the animatronics come to life and are hell bent on killing stuff.

Here’s the reason we think this could have a chance. Chris Columbus of Harry Potter, Home Alone  and The Goonies fame has signed on to direct a film based on the computer game. The Studio making the film? Friends of Universal, Blumhouse. Who you might remember had a house last year based solely on their horror franchise.

The only thing that makes us doubt ourselves is the timing, the announcement that a film was in the pipeline only happened a few days ago. So perhaps we’re looking at HHN29?

Likelihood: 3/10

Titans of Terror

In Hollywood last year they were blessed with the Titans of Terror, yep Jason, Freddy and Leatherface. We’re thinking that perhaps these classic horror icons might make the trip east to appear at HHN28.

Here’s what Hollywood said about the house;

Fall victim to the silver screen’s most deplorable killers, whose affinity for bladed weapons, redefined the horror movie genre as slasher films: Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) wielding his iconic chainsaw, Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) brandishing his relentless machete, and Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) swiping his trademark glove armed with razor blades.
The new maze will be an assault on your sensibilities as you descend into the forbidden realms of these iconic horror monsters and discover the place where these depraved legacies were born.

Likelihood: 6/10

The Purge

Okay, bear with me on this one. I know that the Purge franchise is very popular and featured as a scare zone in 2014, a house in 2015, didn’t feature in 2016 and was back as a scare zone in 2017. It works extremely well in a scare zone  BUT there’s a new Purge film set to be released this year called ‘The First Purge’ (also known as Purge: The Island) which will be a prequel that will focus on the events that lead up to the very first Purge event. So with all loose ends tied up, a beginning, middle and end it could be upgraded to its own house again.. I hope so anyway!

The Purge was by far my favourite Scare Zone of HHN27 and I could imagine it to be a very adrenaline pumping, high energy house that can now also tell a story.

Likelihood: 6/10

Now this one is not included in my predictions as such, it’s more of a wish.. and that is the idea that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter could be incorporated in HHN. How? I hear you ask… Let me explain..

Death Eaters Attack Diagon Alley.

This has already happened at the Japan park, what’s to stop it coming to Orlando?! In Japan guests saw Death Eaters attack Hogsmeade so for Studios if this were to ever happen it would have to take place in Diagon Alley as HHN only features in Universal Studios.

In Japan, as night fell the cheerful world of magic transformed into a world of darkness as the Death Eaters appeared wearing black hoods and masks enabling guests to come fact to face with the followers of Lord Voldermort

This is a very far-fetched idea and I’m pretty sure JK Rowling wouldn’t allow for the Wizarding World to be part of HHN but I think it would be amazing!

Likelihood: 0/10

So there you go, my predictions for Halloween Horror Nights 2018 are out there.. none of these have been confirmed by Universal.

What would you like to see come to HHN this year?

Screams included…

Abby

NEW Nighttime Light Show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I’m sure Gavin and I jinxed this. 🙁 The minute we finished OAT Live Universal announced a new nighttime Light show at Hogwarts Castle!

Grab your wands and robes because an all new projection mapping experience called The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is coming to Universal and will have guests celebrate all four houses in all their glory by transforming Hogwarts Castle with special effects, music, lights and much more.

Each of the four houses – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and HufflePuff will ‘wrap itself around the castle’ as they showcase their pride in their own unique ways in time with the moving music from the films. This will definitely give me goosebumps (maybe even a tear 😉 )

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is set to debut on Wednesday 31st January through to Monday the 5th February as well as from Wednesday the 7th February through to Monday 12th February. Universal have said that additional dates will be announced later so don’t fear if your holiday date isn’t above. Guests to A Celebration of Harry Potter (27th and 28th Jan) will get to see a preview too! (lucky Gavin!)

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Caste looked absolutely A-MA-ZING so if it is (and it will be) as fabulous as this then guests are in for a right treat! Just picture it now.. Hogwarts lit up in your house colour, wand in hand, soundtrack blaring, tear in your eye… Ahhh! 😀

Who’s going to Universal in Feb and will get to see this?!

Smiles Included

Abby

Universal Hint There’s More To Come In 2018

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Happy New Year!!!

2018 is expected to be another amazing year for theme parks in Orlando with Disney opening Toy Story Land, SeaWorld opening Infinity Falls and Aquatica introducing us to Ray Rush.

Today though Universal have dropped a little hint at what we can expect from them in 2018. On top of Fast & Furious Supercharged set to open in Spring 2018, they’ve stated we can expect information about;

The previously-announced ride replacing Dragon Challenge in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Yep with Dragon Challenge now totally gone from Islands we’ll be waited with baited breath about what Universal will be replacing it will.
An additional projection mapping experience at Hogsmeade castle

The Christmas spectacular was so popular it makes sense that Universal might be looking to add a permanent show.
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular being replaced

We knew this was happening but we’re yet to find out what will be replacing Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular.  Rumours state it could be a movie themed show.

Something new going in where Terminator 2: 3D was

Yep we knew this was being replaced, what it is we’re not sure. Rumours seem to suggest a high octane IP. Some are guessing Jason Bourne…

A new venue coming to Universal CityWalk where Element was

Nope, I know nothing about this one.

Our expanding hotel collection

2 hotels are expected to be built on the old Wet n’ Wild land. We’ll get confirmation soonish I’d imagine.

The continued global expansion of our partnership with Nintendo. Our sister park in Japan has already broken ground on Super Mario World; I’m sure you can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Pretty self explanatory… we just have to wait to see if we can get involved in a massive Mario Kart simulator (we think its a yes).

We’ll keep you posted when we learn more.

Smiles included…

Jamie

 

Are Universal Planning Two New Theme Parks?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

On Friday GrowthSpotter reported on the proposed foreclosure of various pockets of land located between International Drive and John Young Parkway owed by Georgia-based developer Stan Thomas. These pockets are located very close to land purchased by Universal since December 2015.

Depending on how proceedings develop Universal could be entitled to bid for these pockets of land that would help secure its presence and ability to build in Orlando.

This isn’t the exciting bit…

But this could be…

Universal have obtained permission from Orange County for theme park use on the property northeast of Universal Boulevard although they do require further permissions from the master declarant however according to GrowthSpotter;

Universal representatives have told Orange County staff of a vision for two new theme parks on the land, but the company has not announced specific plans.

TWO PARKS (imagine fireworks and the like) yep Universal could be looking to become a 5 theme park destination adding to the already popular Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay…

Now you may need to curb your enthusiasm a tiny bit as building an entire park takes along time…. so two parks may take a tiny bit longer! But it does seem to suggest that competition for Orlando theme park dominance is only just getting started.

Smiles included…

Jamie

THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS AT HOGWARTS CASTLE

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Get your house scarves at the ready, our mate Mike Aiello has posted some more information over night about Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and in particular, Hogwarts Castle.

Earlier in the year Universal revealed loads of holiday fun coming to Diagon Alley and Hogsmede and now we have some more details about the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. Every night at Universal’s Islands of Adventure you will be able to see the latest projection-mapping technology in use as it brings Hogwarts castle to life. “A spell will be cast on Hogwarts Castle, illuminating it in festive décor, candlelight and moments inspired by the films.”

On top of the Hot Butterbeer, festive garlands, holiday food and new entertainment you can now witness the ghosts of Hogwarts singing carols, students riding broomsticks and creating snowmen and ‘many more surprises’

Mike has advised that the experience is available multiple times throughout the evenings and hints that later shows provide the best viewing experience.

Also in Hogsmeade, you will be able to see the Hogwarts Frog Choir perform, wearing their house scarves they will be singing a brand – new collection of carols

  • “Christmas at Hogwarts” – This wizarding carol casts a Christmas spell that echoes through the halls of Hogwarts.
  • “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – The choir will bring a new and festive life to this classic holiday song.
  • “The Most Magical Yule Ball of All” – Hosting the TriWizard Tournament also brings with it a magical event known as the Yule Ball. This song captures all the magic, elegance and wonder of this very special night.
  • “I Cast a Spell On Father Christmas” – This fun song is a cautionary tale asking young wizards to be sure of the incantation before casting a spell.

The music doesn’t stop there. Hop on the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley in Universal Studios to see the singing sorceress Celestina Warbeck and her Banshees. They’re conjuring four new tunes from her chart-topping holiday album, Nothin’ Like A Holiday Spell with hits like:

  • “Nothing Like a Holiday Spell” – There are many spells and charms in the wizarding world. But during this time of year, conjuring warm feelings of yuletide cheer is the most magical spell of all.
  • “Accio Christmas” – This calypso inspired song officially brings a Christmas rhythm of the islands to the British Isles.
  • “My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas” – Have you ever received a gift that wasn’t exactly what you were expecting? This song describes one such moment our singing sorceress experienced.
  • “A Witch and Wizard’s Wintry Wondrous Land” – This classic wizarding carol shows there’s nothing more lovely than sharing the Christmas season with family friends—and of course Celestina’s fans.

 

Its only a few days until the Holiday Celebrations at Universal kick off and i’m so excited! Who’s going to experience the Magic of Christmas this year?

Smiles Included,

Abby

Universal Purchase MORE Land

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Sooo Universal have just bought a further 101 acres of land on Sand Lake Road which makes the new total amount of land they now have a whopping 575 acres!

This would be more than enough room for a fourth theme park AND a new hotel. There is no word yet on what Universal are going to fill this space with.

Universal have already got 3 new hotels on the go – Aventura hotel and at least 2 more planned for the site of Wet ‘n Wild and I do think they will be planning to build another hotel on this land also.. they have enough room, so why not?!

We will be seeing a new park for sure and with more hotels comes more guests so maybe even a second City Walk. I’d love to see a new park or two, the amount of land they have is more than the other 3 Universal parks put together so the possibilities are pretty endless.  Of course the biggest speculation is around a whole Wizarding World of Harry Potter park and i’m totally all for that. I’ve been chatting to the other guys here at OAT towers to see what their ideas for new parks / attractions would be and i’ve created a list:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Nintendo Park
  • New Theatre
  • Jurassic Park / World
  • How to train your Dragon
  • Madagascar
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them
  • Convention Center

  • Although very unlikely I would LOVE to see a whole land dedicated to horror, perhaps a year round horror themed land.. Now that would be unlike any other park! (Maybe I just love Halloween Horror Nights too much)

The locations of the newly purchased land and current resort location has left us wondering how Universal plan to move guests to and from parks to hotels. There’s been a few rumours surrounding monorails or buses with dedicated lanes.

The above is purely rumours and speculation as there has been no word or confirmation from Universal surrounding it. What would you like to see built on the newly purchased land?!

Smiles Included

Abby