Universal Studios Hollywood // © 2016 Universal Parks & Resorts
Feature image (above): The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride Flight of the Hippogriff is Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor coaster. // © 2016 Universal Parks & Resorts
Building on the momentum of several years of incredible growth, Universal Orlando in Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles are introducing great new guest experiences in both parks this summer. We’ve got the scoop on the latest updates.
One of the biggest things — literally — coming to Universal Orlando in 2016 is Skull Island: Reign of Kong. This massive, multidimensional experience occupies an entirely new island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and features a powerful storyline, 3-D experiences and technologically revolutionary vehicles, resulting in one of the longest Universal rides ever created.
“For an attraction as big and immersive as Skull Island: Reign of Kong, we needed a new way to put park guests right in the middle of the action,” said Mike West, executive producer for Universal Creative, the research and development group that designs attractions for Universal Parks & Resorts.
Forty-foot-long trackless expedition vehicles will accommodate up to 72 guests at once and use a sophisticated positioning system to independently navigate the attraction’s jungle road through unpredictable terrain.
Universal Orlando’s fifth on-site hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, will also open this summer. The 1,000-room Caribbean-themed property has two white-sand beaches and a 16,000-square-foot pool, the largest at Universal Orlando.
“We’re known for immersive vacation experiences, not just in our theme parks and Universal CityWalk, but at our on-site hotels,” said Vince LaRuffa, vice president of resort sales and marketing for Universal Orlando Resort.
Travel agents who book clients at the resort through UniversalTravelAgents.com for four or more nights by May 31 can take advantage of a special offer that gives clients a $150 hotel dining credit.
Universal Orlando has also announced The Toothsome Chocolate Factory & Savory Feast Emporium, a new dining concept coming to CityWalk later this year. The 19th-century-inspired Steampunk-era chocolate factory will feature a wide variety of savory dishes and inventive desserts such as s’more sundaes and bacon brittle artisan milkshakes.
Universal Studios Hollywood
It’s no secret that everyone’s favorite wizard will be appearing at Universal Studios Hollywood this spring. With him will come the park’s first outdoor coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff, as well as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s signature attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, located inside the iconic Hogwarts castle.
But another exciting attraction set to debut at the park this summer is a permanent version of Halloween Horror Nights’ “The Walking Dead” maze, based on the AMC horror-drama television series. The attraction will be located inside a new, custom-built structure.
“We’ve shared a successful three-year partnership with Universal Studios Hollywood at Halloween Horror Nights and now, this permanent walk-through attraction takes the fan experience to the next level,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC and SundanceTV.
To create a living version of the popular show, the park is partnering with “The Walking Dead” creative team, which will significantly intensify any version of the attraction parkgoers have previously seen. Due to the nature of the experience, it is not recommended for guests under the age of 13.
One thing’s for sure: There’s plenty of movie magic to entertain guests all summer long.