Theme Park Insider

Time for Another Universal Orlando Construction Update

November 20, 2015, 9:28 PM · ORLANDO — While we are in Orlando, let's head over to the Universal Orlando Resort for a construction update.

Universal Studios Florida

Universal's been announcing new projects all over the resort, with the most recent announcements coming from Universal Studios Florida, so we will start there. The park just put up a new graffiti-art sign to announce the construction of "Fast & Furious - Supercharged" in the old Disaster! space.

Fast & Furious


But there's no sign (literally) of the new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction that is replacing Twister. In fact, some of Twister's old signage remains.

Jimmy Fallon

Lucy's been evicted from her long-time home on Rodeo Drive, but there's no hint yet that this will be the new home of Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty

Over at Islands of Adventure, the park's skyline has changed due to the demolition of the Incredible Hulk Coaster track. But the park promises that Hulk will return next summer, better than ever.

Missing Hulk track

Incredible Hulk Coaster

In the meantime, we are left to anticipate the opening next year of "Skull Island: Reign of Kong," thanks to an ever-more impressive facade we see taking shape next to Jurassic Park.

Skull Island

Outside the parks, the construction is even more intense. Here's a look at the current state of the Sapphire Falls Resort, also set to open next year.

Sapphire Falls

Sapphire Falls close-up

Sliding to the south, here is more of Sapphire Falls, along with the parking garage that will serve it.

Sapphire Falls parking garage

Finally, here is a look at the current state of the Volcano Bay water park, which will open in 2017. Remember that 2016 is the final summer for Wet 'n Wild, as Volcano Bay replaces it as Universal's water park in 2017.

Volcano Bay construction

Which of these projects are you looking forward to most?

Replies (25)

November 20, 2015 at 11:15 PM · Kind of sad to hear they're replacing the Lucy tribute with Hello Kitty.
November 21, 2015 at 1:29 AM · Skull island...looks set to be awesome. But I will miss Twister.
November 21, 2015 at 6:26 AM · Kong.
November 21, 2015 at 6:54 AM · The mighty Reign of Kong for sure.This family E ticket may well end up being the best attraction at Universal Orlando. A fantastic queue and a ride balanced with massive sets, AA's and thrilling screens will transport you into the 1930's world of Kong. And it's long six minute length will buck the recent four minute attraction trend.
November 21, 2015 at 8:42 AM · Kong looks amazing. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of scare rides and I'm concerned it's just going to be things jumping out of the dark. Hopefully, I'm very wrong about that as the facade alone makes me want to plan a trip.

I'm most looking forward to Volcano Bay if the rumors are true this is going to more than plastic tubes and towers of stairs. It'll be interesting how they price this. Will it be included with the park hopper or an upsell? Will it make the Orlando FlexTicket a better or worse deal?

November 21, 2015 at 8:45 AM · Most looking forward to the return of the Hulk coaster. There are too few "adrenaline" coasters in Orlando already - it is tough to have one of the best ones down for such a long time.
November 21, 2015 at 10:27 AM · How ironic that I just read the last article, about Rivers Of Light, that made happy that I'm getting a Disney AP for 2016, and now I'm reading this article and comments talking about Kong that's making me kinda regret that decision. Argh, I feel so torn! Hopefully I might be able to convince my parents to maybe, just for one day, swing over to IOA to ride Kong. But if I can't, as frustrated as I would be, I guess waiting another year or two wouldn't be that bad. I can build more anticipation for it. Plus, it wold allow for more time for the lines to die down a bit, and for Universal to work out any bugs. Escape From Gringotts, I love you, but your frequent breakdowns are really starting to get annoying.
November 21, 2015 at 10:58 AM · I absolutely love Universal's effort. They are rebuilding a coaster almost from scratch. Now that's maintenance. Imagine this at any other park except for Universal or Disney. You can't.
November 21, 2015 at 11:07 AM · @James Rao
I feel the only thing my local Six Flags (Great Adventure) and Cedar Fair (Dorney) do better than the Orlando parks are the "adrenaline" coasters.
November 21, 2015 at 2:23 PM · It's hard to pick one so for me I am going to say it's all of them, already planning my 2017 trip to ride and experience all that's new from universal, amazing how universal can do so much in half the time it takes Disney to build.
November 21, 2015 at 7:28 PM · @Jaiden With Mako coming to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa just down the road, the "greater" Orlando area is fairly well represented with thrill coasters. But not as much as Ohio (Cedar Point/Kings Island) or SoCal (Magic Mountain/Knotts Berry Farm) to be sure.

Don't get me wrong, I'll take a jaunt on Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean over just about any coaster, but it is nice to have a good mix of theme, thrills, and "big boy" coasters on a vacation.

Regarding Hulk, though, I actually pushed back my planned May 2016 Orlando trip to May 2017 mostly because Hulk would be closed (and because I am hearing rumors Disney's Avatar stuff might be opened by early 2017).

November 21, 2015 at 7:28 PM · Volcano Bay looks like it could be a real cool spot to just sit, relax, and take in the atmosphere. That's what I'd look forward to.
November 21, 2015 at 8:22 PM · James Rao: You're going to get a lot of bang for your buck waiting until 2017 for your Orlando vacation. Since your last trip you'll have Diagon/ Gringotts,Transformers, Springfield, New Fantasyland at MK, then all of the new stuff for 2016 & 2017 at Universal, WDW & Sea World & BG Tampa. Heck you could spend your entire vacation just doing the new stuff you never experienced. You're going to have a blast.
November 21, 2015 at 9:49 PM · You nailed it Rob... plus it gives me 365 more days to save, and I am gonna need it for all that action! Cha-ching cha-ching!
November 22, 2015 at 10:52 AM · These updates are great. So excited for Kong!
November 22, 2015 at 11:01 AM · I see the supports are down for the Hulk Hope they dont change up the ride layout too much.
November 22, 2015 at 1:13 PM · I've seen the construction for Kong and it's absolutely impressive! It gets my vote, for sure!
November 22, 2015 at 3:56 PM · "I actually pushed back my planned May 2016 trip to May 2017."

Lol, bet the kids weren't too happy when you made the announcement! (Well, if you have kids, that is.)

November 22, 2015 at 9:53 PM · ^I learned a long time ago to never announce plans until the ink is on the paper. Things change so often in this business there's just no point. However, May 2017 is looking better and better all the time.

Besides, instead of the Orlando trip in 2016, we're thinking about an eight park coaster tour including Cedar Point, Dollywood, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It'll be a lot of fun, and quite a bit cheaper than Orlando to be sure!

November 23, 2015 at 4:31 AM · James: June 2017 might be a safer date than May 2017 since Universal Orlando & sometimes WDW tend to open their new attractions in that month. That is, unless you get lucky & get a May soft opening for the newbies. But, unfortunately, June generally brings more rain than May.
November 23, 2015 at 6:00 AM · shame hulk will be down for a while. i think 1 or 2 new coasters should be built with the hulk. there are to few coasters but loads of simulators.
November 23, 2015 at 7:15 AM · Volcano Bay has me excited, our next vacation to Florida from a currently very cold and gloomy UK, is 2017 hopefully around September crossing fingers plenty of new attractions have opened and teethed by then :)
November 23, 2015 at 8:00 AM · I'm looking forward to everything. I am a huge theme park fanatic and live two blocks away from universal!
November 24, 2015 at 2:05 PM · KONG! KONG! KONG!
November 25, 2015 at 12:47 PM · Please keep the photo updates on both Universal and Disney coming!!! Those updates are one of the main reasons that I visit and LOVE this site.

- Dave from N.Carolina!!

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