What's next for the Universal Orlando Resort after the debut of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley in 2014?
When Comcast bought a controlling stake in NBCUniversal back in 2011, it was widely expected that one of the company's first actions would be to offload the theme park division. Instead, almost the total opposite has happened. Buoyed by the success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal has gone on an unprecedented spending spree. The beneficiaries? Theme park guests, who can look forward to a host of innovative attractions over the next few years.
While Universal Studios Hollywood is getting its own $1.6 billion makeover, it's at Universal Orlando that the most exciting changes are taking place. A second Harry Potter land will open at Universal Studios Florida in 2014, linked to the original at Islands of Adventure by the innovative Hogwarts Express train. And there's much more to come.
Universal Orlando is yet to confirm what's coming after Potter, but has made clear that the spending will continue. Here are three exciting new attractions that are rumored to be on their way to the resort.
1. Jurassic World (Islands of Adventure)
It has been widely rumored for months that Universal is planning to expand the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure with a major new attraction. Now that a fourth Jurassic Park film - Jurassic World - has been confirmed for 2015, an eventual addition to he area seems almost nailed-on.
Suggestions have included an on-rails jeep ride similar to that seen in the original film (although this is probably too close in plot to the existing Jurassic Park River Adventure to get the go-ahead), a roller coaster set in an amber mine and an indoor, movie-style attraction.
Update: There are signs of upcoming construction in the Jurassic Park area. Orlando Parks News recently spotted survey flags in the area, as well as trees wrapped with red and white ribbons.
2. The Lorax (Islands of Adventure)
One criticism levelled at Universal Orlando, despite its recent successes, is that it offers very little for families with younger children. One exception is the Seuss Landing area of Islands of Adventure - although those with toddlers will find that even the tame attractions located there are off-limits for tiny ones.
Reports suggest that Universal is to expand Seuss Landing's line-up with a high-tech attraction based on The Lorax, the 1971 book that was given the movie treatment in 2012. If rumor-reporter HateToFly is to be believed, the attraction will feature scooters that sit on a motion base, along with a mix of 3D effects and physical sets. The ride is said to be on-schedule to open in time for Christmas 2015.
Update: The latest (completely unconfirmed) rumors suggest that the Lorax ride has been put on hold for now.
3. King Kong (Universal Studios Florida OR Islands of Adventure)
In October, we covered rumors that a new ride themed around Skull Island (the home of King Kong) is on its way to Islands of Adventure, sitting close to Jurassic Park River Adventure. The rumors are that the headline ride will not be a simple recreation of King Kong 360 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood. Instead, it could be a major dark ride with outdoor sections featuring high-capacity, safari-style vehicles.
Will Universal really look to add both a Jurassic World ride and a King Kong attraction to the same area of Island of Adventure, though? Or are alternative rumors that the tired Disaster! is on its way out of Universal Studios Florida to be replaced by a Kong attraction more likely to be on-the-mark? Either way, it seems likely that King Kong will be on his way to Universal Orlando in one form or other.
Update: Those survey flags in the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure seem to be indicative of the Kong project moving ahead. Also, permits have been filed (as revealed by Parkscope) that go by the vague name of "Project 340" - which has been tossed around as the code name for the King Kong project.
If we were gamblers, we'd put our money on Kong arriving at Islands of Adventure. Given the construction timescales involved, probably in 2016.
What are you most excited about?
It's a great time to be a Universal Orlando fan. Aside from Diagon Alley, what are you most excited about seeing come to the resort?
You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.