Hello Kitty Begins Meeting Guests at Universal Orlando

The Hello Kitty store is officially open now in Universal Studios Florida. The shop has been open now for a few weeks, selling a wide array of Hello Kitty merchandise and treats like cupcakes and fudge. Today marks the first time you can meet Hello Kitty at the store in a new meet and greet. If you meet her, don't forget to ask, once and for all, if she is really a cat or not.

Skull Island: Reign Of Kong's Story Revealed

Skull Island: Reign Of Kong's Story Revealed

Universal revealed the official story for their 2016 attraction, Skull Island: Reign Of Kong. The tale revolves around the 8th Wonder Expedition Company. A research effort to uncover the island's gigantic secrets. 

You'll begin by attempting to make your way to the ruins, then to the 8th Wonder basecamp, being lead by the radio transmissions of the explorers ahead of you. You'll hear the first signs of life as native drums begin to get louder as you make your way toward the heart of the island. Your group will then be met by the massive temple that dominates the land. Inside are a labyrinth of caves. Once you escape you'll be right in the middle of a T-rex fight, and that's were Kong comes in.

The ride sounds about what we expected. Universal released a new video with a few new pieces of concept art and another look at the T-rex that will be in the screen portion of the ride. It still looks identical to 2005's Peter Jackson King Kong film, bright and saturated. As much as I liked Jackson's Kong film, I don't think that aesthetic fits with everything else we've seen thus far.

I also don't know how they are going to trick guests into thinking the large temple that dominates the land's skyline is deep in the heart of the island when you can clearly see it from well outside the land. I am loving the red glowing lights that will illuminate the temple at night.

The first episode of Myth Explorer (the viral marketing videos for the ride) is out now. Some great production value went into this campaign. I find it a little too meta that this fictional show know and talks about Universal's Skull Island attraction. What do you think of the new Reign of Kong news?

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Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Coming to Universal Orlando in 2017

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Coming to Universal Orlando in 2017

Universal Orlando has announced yet another new attraction for 2017. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will feature the Tonight Show host on an adventure through New York City. The new attraction will replace Twister... Ride it Out, which will close November 2nd. 

Not many details were given on how the ride will be presented. Considering Jimmy Fallon will be hosting the attraction we can assume lots of screens will come into play, in classic Universal fashion. The show building for Twister is just slightly smaller than Transformers'. Will it be a ride that advanced? Probably not. I'm betting on a large theater experience like Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. 

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Universal Officially Announces NBC Sports Grill & Brew

Smell that folks? That's the smell of corporate synergy! Universal Orlando and parent company NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, have announced a new dining experience going coming to CityWalk this fall. The NBC Sports Grill & Brew will be the the first location in what sounds like more to come around the country.

The NBC Sports Grill & Brew will be taking over the former NASCAR Sports Grille location that has been vacant for about a year. The location will feature over 90 TVs, and promises an impressive menu of over 75 items. In addition to traditional sports grill fair, there will be unique items like the crab scotch egg. If the action on the TVs isn't to your liking you could also view the action happening in the huge open kitchen as the chefs prepare your meal on custom open fire grills. Over 100 beers, including an exclusive draft, will be served inside and out in the beer garden.

Not really being a sports fan myself I can't say that this new venue is terribly exciting. Even if I was, there isn't anything all that unique about it that I've come to expect from other recent CityWalk expansions like The Cowfish. It does seem like they are trying some interesting things with the menu so that could be a big draw.

Universal Announces 'Volcano Bay' Water Park

Today Universal has announced their first original water park, Volcano Bay. The tropical island themed park will have a massive volcano at its center with something in the park for every member of the family.

Volcano Bay will include water park mainstays, such as a wave pool, lazy river and of course water slides. But Universal also promises an experience to "completely redefine the water park experience for our guests." Those are some pretty lofty claims but something Universal has a recent track record of making possible.

What would such an experience be?  My guess is a dark ride inside of the central volcano. You can see in the concept art (above) there is an observation deck near the very top of the volcano and an elevated walkway winding through the base of the structure. So it appears the creative team will be making a lot of practical use from the volcano as well it being the park's center piece.

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I could imagine a tube ride winding its way in and out of the volcano with some show scenes and possibly some effects like fire, smoke and water being sprayed at riders. This would be a great opportunity for Universal Creative to show off their ability to create original stories.

Volcano Bay will be located directly south of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest resort on property. The plot of land is relatively small but I'm sure there will be plenty of creative uses for the space. Construction is already underway and Volcano Bay is scheduled to open in 2017.