Though we’re certainly excited about the impending opening of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon next month at Universal Studios Florida and the 2018 debut of The Fast and the Furious: Supercharged, neither of these attractions are really a game changer for the resort. Like last year’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong, these new rides are fun for guests who make regular trips to Universal Orlando Resort, but they aren't exactly a huge draw on their own.
However, while it looks like Universal is just biding their time at the moment, coasting after the wild success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, recent rumors suggest that Universal is absolutely not resting on their laurels, and actually has some massive (and very exciting!) long-term projects in the works that could bring bigger crowds than ever to the resort. And interestingly, it may all kick off with a high-profile closure...
1. Dragon Challenge inches closer to demise
Last year we heard whispers that Universal was considering demolishing the Dragon Challenge ride, potentially using this valuable space inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to create a ride based on the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film series.
Though we haven’t heard many updates on this rumor in the months since it first surfaced, this whisper turned into a roar earlier this week when the Orlando Business Journal reported that an inside source has indicated that Universal is indeed working on a replacement for Dragon Challenge, and could be preparing to close this attraction sometime in the very near future.
The Orlando Business Journal's anonymous source goes on to say that the plan is to demolish this attraction soon and create an indoor/outdoor dark ride that “may have a portion as if you are in a forest — with part of the ride outside — and other parts indoor designed to make you feel like you're outside.” While we don't know for sure, this sounds a lot like the interactive wand ride that was patented last year, and could be an evolution of this concept.
While Universal has obviously declined comment on this development (you’ll remember they denied the existence of Skull Island: Reign of Kong until after it was half-built), it looks like some real work is going on behind the scenes to inject some new life into the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020 (which would, perhaps not coincidentally, be a perfect time to open a new attraction!).
However, though this development may still be several years off, there’s some more immediate plans that are beginning to take shape at Universal as well...
2. Permits filed for land formerly occupied by Wet ‘n Wild
Earlier this week Universal parent company Comcast filed documents with the city of Orlando confirming that the former Wet 'n Wild property will be redeveloped for new hotel use, with 4,000 rooms currently slated to be built at this site. And of course, this is on top of the currently under construction Aventura Hotel and Cabana Bay Towers.
While Universal has only added a few rides to its parks in the last several years, the resort is seemingly racing to build as much hotel inventory as possible. And with this new development it certainly looks like the resort will hit its goal of having over 10,000 rooms available onsite for guests before the end of the decade (as you might recall, with the opening of Sapphire Falls last year, the resort recently hit the 5,000 mark). So why is Universal looking to double the amount of hotel rooms it currently has available? We'll bet you already know the answer...