How to decode the hints in Universal Orlando's new year's tease

January 2, 2018, 10:56 AM · The Universal Orlando Resort this morning dropped some teases for announcements it says it will be making in 2018 about new attractions. But why settles for teases when we can piece together the clues and deduce what those new attraction announcements will be?

Let's decode the clues Universal has provided and combine that with what we already know about Universal's plans. Here is what the resort said it will be announcing this year:

  • The previously-announced ride replacing Dragon Challenge in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
  • An additional projection mapping experience at Hogwarts castle
  • Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular being replaced
  • Something new going in where Terminator 2: 3D was
  • A new venue coming to Universal CityWalk where Element was
  • Our expanding hotel collection
  • 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.

Of those teases, only the announcement of an additional projection show on Hogwarts Castle is new. But it doesn't take much imagination to speculate that Islands of Adventure will get a version of the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show that Universal Studios Hollywood ran last summer. Now that Orlando has installed the mapping projectors that Hollywood already had, it can run as many different shows as Universal Creative cares to program. Hollywood and Japan (which had the public projection mapping shows on Hogwarts first) already have run summer shows, so it makes sense for Orlando to get one, too.

Universal previously said that the Dragon Challenge replacement would be a "coaster experience", but nothing substantial has leaked beyond that. Everyone seems to think that the setting of the new ride will be the Forbidden Forest, so let's spitball a couple of ideas: How about a terrain coaster themed to Aragog and the spiders? Or a ride with the centaur herd? We will find out more this year. Whatever it is, we know that the new ride will open in 2019.

The T2 replacement is supposed to be a live-action show based on a "high energy" Universal franchise, which should have ruled out the baseless online speculation about a James Bond show in that space. (Bond is a Sony franchise now.) "Live-action" and the reference to "Universal" seem to rule out any of the Illumination franchises, such as Sing and Secret Life of Pets (though the whole Louis C.K. thing probably has buried that franchise for now.) So what about Jason Bourne? Pitch Perfect? Or The Voice?

Universal's already spilled a lot about the new budget-priced hotels it will be building on the old Wet n' Wild site, and perhaps we just will be getting the names and opening dates for those. But at some point, Insiders suspect Universal will make a new play for the ultra-luxury hotel market, too.

Finally, the Nintendo tease suggests that this will be the year that Universal Orlando officially announces the development of its version of Super Nintendo World. Universal has said that it will build Nintendo attractions in Orlando and Hollywood as well as in Japan, but hasn't yet provided any sites, dates, or details for those projects as it has for the Japan land. But we know from public documents filed by Universal that it plans to build Orlando's Nintendo land on the current site of the Woody Woodpecker KidZone in Universal Studios Florida. Given a three-year development, perhaps this means a 2021 open for that land?

Those are our conclusions about what's next at the Universal Orlando Resort. What would you like to see the resort announce this year?

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Replies (8)

January 2, 2018 at 12:57 PM


January 2, 2018 at 3:52 PM

Interesting, but I've not heard any mention of screens in the new Potter coaster experience. The T2 replacement is live action. Cinematic's replacement will be another lights-and-imagery-and-pyro lagoon show. And it's widely tipped that Nintendo will be almost all practical experiences. So, perhaps Universal is taking the message to heart and moving away from screen-based attractions after 2018.

January 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM

For the Potter Coaster, I feel it will be themed around "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them". Have the story be that Hagrid is teaching the muggle visitors about magical creatures and then they escape and you have to chase them through the Forbidden Forest and also that Lake from goblet of Fire (magic will allow you to breath). Have the characters from the movie show up as paintings since they'd be dead by the time the theme park land takes place.

January 3, 2018 at 8:09 PM

Even if it's a coaster, something tells me it may still be in the dark, being that they already have a coaster on the area. Don't know about what though. I hope it's more like the Mummy attraction.
About Nintndo Land, I'm still holding hope on those rumors of IP's scattered throughout the parks, whith Pokemon, Mario and Zelda all separated.

January 3, 2018 at 5:38 AM

Some cool announcements coming this year.

Seems as though Universal is conceding the "King of the Ring" title to Disney for 2018-2020 when they make their big splash with Pixar and Star Wars. Smart play, since it would be hard to complete. Come back big with Nintendo after the hype settles down in early 2020's.

Meanwhile in other news, SeaWorld ... poor SeaWorld.

January 3, 2018 at 11:57 AM

Perhaps "Come to SeaWorld, where we sleep with the fishes!" wasn't the best marketing slogan... :^)

January 4, 2018 at 4:06 AM

Disney have destroyed Universal since 2010. It is becoming embarrassing.

January 6, 2018 at 1:38 PM

Just a correction that James Bond isn't a Sony franchise. It's owned by MGM and EON and is currently without a distributor as the deal with Sony ended with Spectre. It's entirely possible Universal could pick it up, although it's believed the front-runner is Warner Bros.

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