4 Universal Updates You DEFINITELY Don’t Want to Miss

Though Universal made waves last month with its announcement of massive price hikes for single and multi-day tickets, food, and more, in recent days there have been some other, more low-key developments around the resort that you might have missed. From an interesting new test at one of the resort’s most popular hotels to potential soft openings at a new attraction, here are all the updates you need to know about!

1. Robot room service now testing at Cabana Bay resort

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Universal made a blink-and-you’ll-miss it announcement earlier this week on Twitter, confirming that a new type of automated room service is now being tested at Universal’s Cabana Bay Hotel that involves…robots! Guests who are staying at this hotel and order pre-packaged snacks, drinks, and other items that can be easily stowed may now receive their order delivered by a special “relay” robot (pictured above), that has an onboard touchscreen and cooler.

While this may sound like the beginning of a movie about the robot uprising (hey, Universal Studios Florida is home to Terminator 2 3-D, after all!), this development is actually pretty neat, and could be an effective way for Universal Orlando Resort to cut costs in a way that would not impact guests (and might even provide a neat experience as well!).

2. Soft openings for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will happen soon

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Though the new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction isn’t scheduled to officially open until next month on April 6th, it looks like this ride is basically ready to go, with Universal scheduling after-hours Team Member previews later this week. And as we’ve seen with other new attractions (like Skull Island: Reign of Kong, most recently), that likely means that official soft openings will happen soon as well, potentially in the next week or so.

While of course nothing is guaranteed, it is probably an especially good idea for Universal to test this attraction, not only because of the technical aspects of the ride itself, but also because Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is the first Universal attraction ever to be built with no stand-by line option at all. Guests must either use their phones or a special “check-in” kiosk to get a return time to ride, similar to Disney’s FastPass+ system.

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

However, since Universal parks (outside of Volcano Bay) don’t have their own version of MagicBands (yet), it will be interesting to see how Universal manages this queue-less system in early days. Several other tests have been going on at Shrek 4-D and Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem in recent weeks that have used the official Universal app to manage return times, and while we’d assume that this new attraction will do the same, Universal will of course have to scale this system up significantly to handle guest load for a full day (which is another reason why a soft opening here is definitely a good idea).

3. Universal provides full details for TapuTapu wearable devices

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Though Universal has given us some sneak peeks about how its new TapuTapu wearable will work, just a few days ago the resort released the above infographic that will hopefully answer all of guests’ questions about this new device. As mentioned previously, the TapuTapu system will be reusable, with guests checking one out a device at the beginning of their day, and then returning it as they exit.

In addition, Universal also shared a bit more about what guests can do with their wristband when they are not waiting to experience an attraction, as we’ve gotten some of the first details about the interactive “totems” that will be around the park. Guests who enjoy blasting others with water will be able to find water cannon totems at both the kiddie Tot Tiki Reef area as well as the Kopiko Wai Winding River. However, if you want to do a little more exploring, you can use your TapuTapu to illuminate images in the mysterious Krakatau volcano’s hidden caves.

You can learn a lot more about this new wearable by expanding the official infographic above.

4.  Full dates announced for 2017 Halloween Horror Nights


Image: Universal Orlando Resort

Through spring has just started, Universal Orlando Resort has already announced that its annual Halloween Horror Nights event is returning in 2017 for a record 34 nights this year, kicking off on September 15th and going all the way until November 4th with two event nights scheduled past Halloween. Here’s the full date breakdown:

  • Sept. 15-17, 21-24, 29-30
  • Oct. 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-31
  • Nov. 3-4
Guests who want to plan their visit early can purchase vacation packages as well as Flex Tickets to this event in advance here. However, if you’re looking for pricing for single day tickets, Florida resident tickets, annual passholder tickets, Frequent Fear, or Rush of Fear passes, you’ll have to wait, as none of these popular options have been announced yet.

Image: Universal Orlando Resort

While it might seem a little weird for this event to be announced so early (and last for several days past Halloween), in a weird way, guests can thank 2016’s hurricane Matthew for the latter development. As a way to “make up” for days that Halloween Horror Nights could not run last year, Universal extended the event past the traditional Halloween (or day after) cut off, and guests showed up to these late event nights in droves. With that in mind, it only made sense for Universal to extend this event out even further, even if by neighbor Walt Disney World is already preparing for its first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party during the final days of Universal’s Hallloween Horror Nights.
2017 is shaping up to be quite the critical year for Universal Orlando Resort, with the opening of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon next month, the Volcano Bay water park the month after, and the longest Halloween Horror Nights ever this fall. Will you be visiting the resort at all this year? What are you looking forward to checking out? Let us know in the comments below!
– Originally in Theme Park Tourist By , Thursday, March 2, 2017 04:26

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Don Korta
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