Today we finally saw the building permits for Halloween Horror Nights 23 filed with the City of Orlando. While these permits don’t tell us much yet, they do provide confirmation of this year’s house locations:
Parade Building (B79)
SS21 (likely two houses)
A recent filing with the SFWMD for a “Project 609 Addition” calls for a new 1,044 square foot building located between Mel’s Dine-In and Shrek 4D, next to Transformers: The Ride – 3D. This location also happens to be directly across from the current outdoor meet and greet for the Transformers characters.
The Orange County Property Appraiser has updated their aerial imagery of Orange County with new high resolution images taken in late January 2013. These images give us some excellent glimpses into the various construction projects that are currently underway at Universal Orlando. The images are a few weeks old, so there has definitely been a lot of progress since they were taken, but they’re still very interesting to look at.
We’ll start our aerial tour behind the Men in Black building, on the large, vacant plot of land being used as a staging area for Project 722. Laid out here are several pieces of the black roller coaster track and supports for the rumored Gringotts attraction.
A lot has changed since we first reported on “Project 609” being the codename for the attraction replacing Building 44. For starters, it seems the address for the staging area for 609 was incorrectly recorded, placing it on the wrong side of the road. The staging area for 609 is actually located on the same side of the road as “Project 3429” which is the staging area for the IOA side of “Project 722”. Here’s an updated map showing both staging areas as well as the updated permit with the correct address:
In other news, the first building permit for the foundation and sitework for “Project 609” is well into its review process by the City of Orlando, and as usual, has revealed a few very interesting details about the building and ride within. The most telling of those details was posted today, saying:
“Provide the maximum travel distance to the nearest exit for this occupancy in the ride areas for the 1st and 2nd floor ride areas.”
This clearly confirms that the attraction being built where Building 44 once stood will be a two story ride, very much like Transformers in both Hollywood and Singapore. Not only that, but another note from the review process revealed the ride would feature lifts within the building:
“More information required on the type of waste (oily waste?) discharging into maintenance pit drains and Ride Lift Pit drains.”
Again, the Transformers rides in both Hollywood and Singapore feature elevator lifts to carry ride vehicles to and from the second floor ride areas.
So based on these new details, it’s looking more and more likely that “Project 609” is indeed a clone of the Transformers attraction from Hollywood/Singapore. With the construction still moving at an incredibly quick pace, an official announcement can’t be too far off.
While we’ve all been busy following the construction in the former Amity area of Universal Studios, new permits have been filed for the demolition of the long vacant Building 44 near the front of the park. The building initially housed the Murder She Wrote show, and later, the Hercules and Xena show. It has since sat empty, only briefly used for a haunted house in 2004. But it looks like it won’t be around much longer, thanks to some new permits filed this past week.
A demolition permit was filed with the City of Orlando on June 15th to: “demolish pre-cast 1 story building” “Universal Studios BLDG 44”. A Notice of Commencement was also filed last week for “Demolition, New Foundations, Building Shell, Interior Build-Out”. The work is being carried out by Hensel Phelps, and by the sounds of the Notice of Commencement, they will be taking care of every step of the construction process, from the demolition to the construction of the new facility.
An interesting thing to note about the Notice of Commencement is that the contract is being carried out by Universal Creative. Typically, Universal Creative only handles contracts that deal with new attractions or large additions to the resort. Other improvements or additions have their contracts carried out by Universal Studios. For example, the demolition of the Old Hard Rock Cafe, the construction of Halloween Horror Nights haunted houses, and miscellaneous work, like the replacement of fire sprinklers, all have their contracts carried out by Universal Studios, not Universal Creative:
So what does this all mean? Well, since the demolition permit has already been approved and issued by the City of Orlando, and the building itself is surrounded by construction walls as of June 16th, I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire building was leveled within the next two weeks. This likely means that whatever they plan on replacing it with has a very aggressive construction schedule, and since the contract is being carried out by Universal Creative, I think it’s a pretty safe bet it’s some kind of new attraction, likely scheduled to open before the Harry Potter expansion.
Thanks to the measuring tool available on the Orange County Property Appraiser’s website, we know that 44 and its surrounding sidewalks occupy roughly 30,000 square feet of area. For the sake of comparison, the Despicable Me building is roughly 15,000 square feet, Shrek is roughly 22,000 square feet, and Cat in the Hat is roughly 32,000 square feet. We also can’t forget that the new Transformers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood made great use of space by utilizing a 2-story show building and an elevator system for its ride vehicles, so perhaps they could do something similar with this space?
Whatever the case may be, this is definitely an exciting time for Universal Studios Florida. The parks are getting more new additions than ever before, and the next few years look to be very exciting times. Be sure to leave you comments or speculation in the comment section below, or on our forums!
The Orange County Property Appraiser website has updated their aerial imagery for 2012. The images were taken sometime between January 20th and 27th, so while they’re not the most recent images, they still provide an excellent overview of the resort, showing off views of the new additions from 2011 and coming in 2012.
We’ll start off in CityWalk, where the Hollywood Drive-In Golf course is set to open by the end of this month. You can see how much this is changing the area underneath the moving walkways into CityWalk in these comparison photos from 2011 and 2012.
Heading into the Studios now, we get a nice view of the work going on at the new 2012 attraction, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. You can clearly see the metal framed structure going up to create a facade in front of the sound stage, a structure that’s very likely to become Gru’s house from the movie. Eagle-eyed poster hatetofly over at the OrlandoUnited message boards even managed to get some pictures of the facade’s roof pieces sitting in the large field behind Men in Black: Alien Attack.
Also new for 2012 is Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories. They’ve been hard at work prepping the lagoon for the last several months, and this aerial image offers a nice view of the three barges set in the middle of the lagoon, as well as the plethora of water jets visible just below the surface of the water:
Moving towards the back of the studios, we come to Jaws. These aerial photos were taken just before the demolition of the attraction kicked into high gear, so we’re able to get one final view of the attraction fully drained of water and still mostly-intact:
Our last stop in the Studios is over by the Parade Building and former Hard Rock Cafe site. We saw permits filed for the addition of a Float Canopy Building late last year, and made mention of it in our “What is Project 3.15?” article. We now know that Universal plans on adding a new daytime parade for 2012, the Universal Superstar Parade, and that the building was added to provide extra space for float storage. They also demolished the old Hard Rock Cafe building in late 2011, likely as a way to open up that back stage road, allowing easier transport of the floats from the park to storage These comparison images show off the location of the new float canopy building, right across from the old Parade Building as well as the area the old Hard Rock Cafe used to occupy:
Venturing over to Islands of Adventure now, we’ll start back in Jurassic Park, where we get to see something quite interesting. Since these aerial photos were taken during Jurassic Park River Adventure’s annual refurbishment period, we get a rare look at the attraction without any water:
Meanwhile, over in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new portion of queue was added to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in late 2011. This new queue aimed to help alleviate the crowding problems within Hogsmeade caused by the seemingly never ending line that backed up well beyond the Hogwarts gates during the morning hours. The new queue is highlighted in yellow in the aerial image below, and a comparison shot from early 2011 is included:
And that about wraps it up for this post. We hope you enjoyed these views of the parks as much as us. If there’s anything else you’d like to see aerial images of, or anything we forgot, let us know in the comments!
A recent Notice of Commencement filed with Orange County says “Ride System Improvements” are on their way to a Universal Studios Florida attraction. The company contracted to carry out these improvements is KumbaK – The Amusement Engineers.…