Universal Studios recently unveiled a few new rides, which we’ll talk about here because they are still relatively new, and we’ll talk about some new rides and events that are going to open during 2017.
First, some rides that have already opened, but may be new to you if you haven’t visited Universal Studios Orlando in the last 12 months.
Rides That Opened (or re-opened) in 2016
The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster made its debut in 1999. It underwent refurbishment in late 2015, and re-opened in 2016. The “queue experience” was redesigned with a new backstory, in which guests are part of an experiment where they’ll be subjected to gamma radiation. The ride then commences to the accompaniment of music written by rock musician Patrick Stump. The track layout is still the same, with riders being subjected to a zero-g roll, a drop of over a hundred feet, a cobra roll, a vertical loop, and a corkscrew and finally a helix.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Skull Island: Reign of Kong, located in the Islands of Adventure theme park, opened on July 13, 2016. The “queue experience” features guests on a 1930’s scientific expedition to explore Skull Island. They pass beneath a giant sculpture of King Kong in order to enter a temple. After learning the back story and being provided with 3D glasses, the guests board an expedition truck and begin the adventure. It’s not a roller coaster, but rather a story told via animatronics and narrative.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Definitely one of the most sought after attractions at Universal Orlando, Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on April 7, 2016. The whole experience takes place at two of Universal’s theme parks. Hogwarts is situated in the Islands of Adventure theme park, and Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios. A park-to-park ticket is needed to visit both parts of the Harry Potter world.
Coming Attractions in 2017
Universal’s former water park, Wet ‘n’ Wild, closed in 2016, and Volcano Bay replaces it, albeit in a different location.
The water park’s signature event is the volcano Krakatau™, which will awe guests with streaming waterfalls during the day. At night, lava effects will flow down its sides.
Rides include the Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster, the Ko’oikuri Body Plunge, the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, and the Punga Racers which will take riders zooming through underwater sea caves, riding on mats in the shape of manta rays.
There are three village, Wava Village, River Village, and Rainforest Village, each with its own scenery, rides and experiences.
Volcano Bay is scheduled to open in Summer 2017.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
This ride, scheduled to open in April, features the riders racing in cars along a track against Jimmy Fallon, in adventures that take place throughout New York City, from its skyscrapers to it subways.
Jimmy Fallon has been the host of the Tonight Show since 2014. Prior to that he was part of the ensemble cast of Saturday Night Live. He’s also appeared in movies and guest-starred on TV shows, usually as himself.
Younger guests who are unfamiliar with who Fallon is will nevertheless enjoy the views of New York and the TV memorabilia that will be on display.
Fast & Furious: Supercharged
This ride isn’t scheduled to open until 2018, and it is eagerly awaited. The ride is based on the Fast & Furious movie series with Vin Diesel, and will feature a simulacrum of underground racing.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is the fifth hotel to be opened on the site of Universal Studios. It has a Caribbean theme, with an extremely large, serpentine pool that looks like a lake, complete with sandy beaches, running through the grounds. This Orlando hotel has 1,000 rooms, of which 83 are suites. Guests can choose between three separate views in the standard rooms, a “standard” view, a view of the lagoon, or a view of the pool. There are also four restaurants located inside the hotel, a fitness center, and a game room, as well as a Universal Studios store. Guests can take a shuttle or walk to the Universal theme parks, or take a water taxi.
Universal’s Aventura Hotel
Universal’s Aventura Hotel will open in 2018. The Aventura will feature the latest in hotel designs and will consist of a gleaming tower of glass. The Aventura will have 600 rooms, and in addition to that 13 kid’s suites. The rooms have floor to ceiling windows so those on the higher floors will be able to get incredible views of their surroundings.
Guests will be able to dine at the rooftop bar and grill, and there will also be a “food hall” with five restaurants. The Aventura will be located right next to Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, and guests will be able to take advantage of early theme park admissions.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen™ was also newly opened in 2016. As the name implies, it features gourmet chocolate fare, as well as steaks and seafood. The design of the restaurant is 19th century steampunk with a smokestack faced and plenty of gadgetry inside.
The backstory of the restaurant is that Professor Doctor Penelope Tribeaux-Tinker Toothsome traveled the world collecting a variety of recipes for dishes of all kinds, which are improved by the addition of a bit of chocolate.