Universal Orlando Resort always updates and upgrades its rides and attractions. So. what are the new rides at Universal Orlando Resort for 2023 and beyond?
Whether it is a brand-new attraction, a new themed area, or a brand-new theme park, change has remained constant at Universal Orlando Resort in recent years.
This resource will cover all the announced or anticipated new rides at Universal Orlando Resort. Keep reading for the full announcement of the new DreamWorks land!
Universal Orlando Resort Overview
Universal Orlando Resort consists of two theme parks, one water park, eight resort hotels, and CityWalk, an entertainment and dining complex. The theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure reside near CityWalk. Volcano Bay, the water park, is located directly next door to Cabana Bay Beach Resort, one of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels. In fact, almost all of Universal Orlando Resort is located in a small area of the city of Orlando.
However, unlike big brother over in Lake Buena Vista, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort announces new rides, attractions, lands, and anything as late as possible. However, since Universal Orlando Resort resides in the Orlando city limits, all building permits on Universal Orlando Resort property are public records. This fact usually forces Universal Orlando to make some announcements. This helps in the anticipation by theme park fans for upcoming attractions despite Universal Orlando being very silent about forthcoming attractions.
Universal Orlando Resort established a pattern of one new major attraction opening per year. We know, unofficially, this was the intended plan from NBCUniversal/Comcast, owners of Universal Orlando Resort, when they committed to the theme park business. For example, this is a list of significant attractions built at Universal Orlando since 2016:
- 2016 Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- 2017 Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- 2018 Fast & Furious – Supercharged
- 2019 Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- 2020 The Bourne Stuntacular
- 2021 Jurassic World Velocicoaster
Universal Orlando might claim the small addition of Universal’s Great Movie Escape, the Back to the Future, and Jurassic World “escape rooms” that opened in 2022 in Universal CityWalk Orlando. However, 2022 was the first year in a while that Universal Orlando did not open a significant attraction in a year.
For the next few years, Universal Orlando guests should expect more than just new attractions over the next few years. They will enjoy entirely new theme park lands.
DreamWorks Land Announced to Replace KidsZone
Our prior speculation was correct, it has been announced by Universal Orlando that a DreamWorks Land will officially be replacing the former KidZone area in Universal Studios Florida. As far as an opening date goes, the press release from Universal Orlando stated next year so this new land will debut sometime in 2024. Rumors are circulating that Universal Orlando is targeting a summer 2024 opening date which would be logical.
We do know that the entire area will not be replaced, the Animal Actors Stage show continues to take place and there is no indication the E.T. Adventure attraction will be removed.
Once work walls go up at Universal Orlando Resort, they like to leave gigantic clues explaining what is coming next. For example, the walls around the Minion Land area displayed Minions in all forms and fashions a few days after the walls went up. For KidZone, Universal Orlando Resort took less than 48 hours from closing KidZone permanently to placing every DreamWorks character you can imagine on the new construction walls. So this confirmation wasn’t too much of a surprise.
New Rides at Universal Orlando: DreamWorks Area
We know that Shrek, Trolls, and Kung Fu Panda will all be a part of this new Dreamworks area. Aside from that information, we do not know the full details of how these films will be incorporated into the land so anything past this is purely based on rumor and speculation.
The announcement from Universal also indicated we will see other characters in this land such as Gabby from Gabby’s Dollhouse so there will be plenty for young kids to enjoy in this area.
Kung Fu Panda
The Kung Fu Panda rumored attraction revolves around the idea of a new style of character interaction. The setting would most likely be set at Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop from the “Kung Fu Panda” movies. We do not know much about this, except guests should expect an upgrade in terms of character interaction and probably some new-style animated elements.
The Kung Fu Panda characters currently have a meet and greet in the Universal Islands of Adventure theme park. They also sometimes appear at Universal Studios Florida also.
Poor Donkey, from the “Shrek” movies, has no home. His character has had two different character interaction areas, and both have been placed behind walls leaving Donkey homeless at Universal Studios Florida.
From chatting with Shrek and Fiona at their current meet-and-greet location at Universal Studios Florida, we know that Donkey went on vacation. They told us he had flown away for a European vacation. Guess those flights cost less when you are married to a dragon.
We expect wise-cracking Donkey to be a part of this new Dreamworks area. Rumors indicate he will finally have a permanent home at Universal Studios Florida.
The name we keep hearing for this area is Shrek’s Swamp. We do not know much about it except that it will be an improvement over the temporary meet and greet area constructed in KidZone previously when Shrek 4-D closed.
The former Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster remains the primary thing still standing in KidZone. When Universal Orlando Resort announced the closing of the former KidZone, we expected the kiddie-style coaster to stay. From the beginning, we have heard that it would be rethemed to a “Trolls” coaster.
The “Trolls” meet and greets have been very popular with guests. Thus, this change should not be a surprise.
Whatever becomes the final product of this new DreamWorks KidZone, we should expect younger families to be the target audience for these new additions. Thus, combined with Minion Land, it shows an apparent attempt to cut into Walt Disney World’s prime demographic of young families.
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You’ll want to consider the Park-To-Park tickets because they are the only way you are able to experience the Hogwarts Express. Also, with a Park-To-Park ticket, you’ll be able to avoid starting the day in the park with the biggest crowd prediction and then switch over to experience more across both parks.
If you are a member of an organization that may qualify for discount tickets or are interested in the Annual Pass option, you should read our guide to discount Universal Studios Orlando ticket options.
New Rides at Universal Orlando: Minion Land on Illumination Avenue and Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast
Based on construction at Universal Studios Florida, 2023 will involve a whole new world. Sorry, that is the wrong theme park company.
2023 will involve a whole new land in the Universe. Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast has been announced to open this summer. This new attraction will be a new ride soon to open in the new Minion Land on Illumination Avenue. At the time of writing, Universal Orlando Resort made an update announcement about this attraction and the land itself.
Universal Orlando Resort shares some new details about Minion Land. In fairness, with a gigantic pink cupcake being seen over the construction walls, Universal Orlando needed to say something. They stated that Minion Land on Illumination Avenue would be opening this summer. Universal Orlando called it an immersive new area created in partnership between Universal’s creative team and the acclaimed filmmakers from Illumination. The new land expands upon the popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction already at Universal Studios Florida.
Universal Orlando Resort said that as soon as guests enter Minion Land, they’ll be greeted by a fun, photo-worthy “Minion Land” marquee featuring 22 Minions before embarking on the mischief that awaits along Illumination Ave.
New Rides at Universal Orlando: Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast
The Former Shrek 4-D Attraction at Universal Studios Florida closed permanently in January 2022. Since then, Universal Orlando Resort has been working on a new attraction for the front section of the theme park. Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast is that attraction.
In this attraction, guests can put their villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast. This all-new attraction allows guests to compete against each other in a fully interactive gaming experience.
The ride possesses a backstory, as all good theme park attractions should. Universal Orlando Resort says guests should imagine they have decided to attend Villain-Con, the world’s largest villain convention. Like in the movie “Minions,” the convention happens in Orlando. So, history’s most infamous supervillain groups, the Vicious 6 (you know them from Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru”), have set up a unique challenge at the convention to find their newest member. This could be your big break as a villain.
Join the Vicious 6
As guests walk into the attraction, they pick up an E-Liminator X blaster and glide along a moving walkway causing as much chaos and destruction as possible. The goal revolves around impressing the supervillains by scoring the most points. Along the moving path, guests will encounter members of the Vicious 6 and Minions. We must warn you that some may be purple Minions, so be careful since you do not have a jelly gun.
This attraction does not have a height requirement, so the whole family can experience it. Since the attraction utilizes a moving walkway system, kids must be able to stand on their own to experience Minion Blast fully.
This attraction also allows you to track your progress on a mobile app. and customize the blaster for subsequent rides. Minion Blast will be ideal for those with a competitive side based on its re-rideability. Maybe you will become the next member of the Vicious 6. Will they have to be the Vicious 7, then?
Illumination’s Minion Cafe
Universal Orlando Resort decided to give in to the Minions. The Minions will run loose in the kitchen and cause mischief in the dining area of the new Illumination’s Minion Café. Apparently, the Minions have devised some tasty menu items for Universal Studios Florida guests to try. Universal Orlando claims this new immersive eatery offers something for every palate in a highly entertaining dining experience that features three themed areas designed after beloved Minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto.
In the kitchen area, guests will get a glimpse of the equipment and gear the Minions have used to whip up the cafe’s menu.
In this room, guests enjoy the Minions’ break space. It includes various references to the “Minion” and “Despicable Me” movies, like some “Office Safety Tips” to a vending machine stocked with mischievous items.
The Dining Room
This vibrant space is adorned with colorful artwork courtesy of the Minions and more. Guests can also enjoy their meal on an outdoor patio that overlooks the fun of Minion Land.
Since Minion Café has not opened yet, we have no idea if the Minions make good chefs or not. However, in photos that Universal Orlando released, the food looks good. Universal Orlando Resort claims these culinary ideas display how Universal Orlando’s award-winning culinary team continues to raise the bar regarding theme park dining.
The Minion Café menu consists of almost 20 items for guests of all ages to enjoy. Many of these menu items drew inspiration from the memorable characters and staples from the “Minions” movie franchise. Some examples of this include eclectic “despica-bowls” such as Otto’s Noodle Bowl, Agnes’s Honeymoon Soup, and Carl’s Crispy Cauliflower, a vegan option. If you prefer a handheld sandwich, the Minions created the Steak & “Cheese Ray” Sandwich.
The cute Bob’s Teddy Bear Chocolate Cream Puff stands out for dessert. For kids or the “mini-Minions” in the family, Minion Café will serve items like the Mini Boss’ Mega Melt.
In addition, Minion Cafe will also feature an express window with a limited menu for those looking to satisfy their mischievous cravings quickly and return quickly to the mayhem in Minion Land.
The new Minion Land presents even more for visitors of Universal Studios Florida. Universal Orlando Resort has decided to turn the front area of Universal Studios Florida into an actually clearly themed area with Minion Land. This brings a significant change to that section of the theme park. It will be interesting to see how the Halloween Horror Nights event functions with an entire Minion Land near the entrance of Universal Studios Florida.
Bake My Day
As seen over the construction walls in the Minion Café area, a giant pink cupcake rises toward the sky. This massive pink cupcake, visible from anywhere in the land, sits above Bake My Day. Since Universal Beijing Resort already has a Bake My Day location, guests should expect the same quality here as guests mention about the location in China.
This whimsical retail location and bakery feature a selection of Minion-themed sweet treats, including cupcakes, macarons, and s’mores. Guests can also find exclusive Minion-inspired merchandise like apparel, plush, drinkware, accessories, keychains, and more.
Yes, Universal Orlando gave in to the Minions’ demands. They brought banana-flavored popcorn from their Asian theme parks to the United States. Yes, you read that correctly – banana popcorn.
We know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. What happens if you give a Minion some Banana Popcorn?
Pop-A-Nana, a walkup location, features sweet and savory popcorn inspired by the Minions’ love for bananas. Here, guests may also find an assortment of cute popcorn buckets, including the Minion Selfie bucket.
Freeze Ray Pops
Guests can cool off with a visit to Freeze Ray Pops, featuring a variety of colorful popsicles inspired by Gru, the Minions, and Vector – along with beverages. This walk-up food and beverage kiosk enhances the overall feel of Minion Land.
Illumination Theatre at Minion Land
Guests can meet, greet, and interact with beloved characters like the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, plus new additions at Universal Studios Florida from the film “Sing” – Rosita, Gunter, and Johnny – at an outdoor Illumination Theater facade.
Guests can also discover murals and photo ops throughout Minion Land, celebrating additional characters from popular Illumination films.
Minion Land will show how Universal Destinations & Experiences raises the bar on immersive storytelling for the entire family using beloved stories and franchises often seen in films.
Universal Orlando Resort wants to ensure we all know that this update in family entertainment comes after the big, announced plans to build a one-of-kind, original theme park for families with young children in Frisco, Texas. The Frisco, Texas project will be more of a regional theme park style but should display similar characteristics to Minion Land and our next new theme park land.
New Rides at Universal Orlando: What About at Universal Islands of Adventure?
At this point, we do not expect a significant project to start at Islands of Adventure soon. Universal Islands of Adventure added Hagrid’s’ Magic Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World Velocicoaster in recent years.
However, sadly, Universal Islands of Adventure has many formerly used areas that remain unused today. For example, the large theatres of Toon Lagoon Amphitheatre and the former “The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad” show theatre have not been used regularly in many years.
We mention this since the Poseidon’s Fury attraction closed permanently at the Islands of Adventure on May 10. Since way before the Universal and Nintendo partnership, rumors of a Zelda attraction taking over Poseidon’s Fury attraction area floated up often. if this Zelda rumor comes to fruition, the earliest expected time would be 2027.
With this attraction closing, those rumors have increased again. However, so have rumors of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expanding using that space also. Though either is possible, we do not expect much movement with the former Poseidon’s Fury attraction space while other construction projects take priority.
New Rides at Universal Orlando: Oh, One More Thing
Speaking of construction projects with priority, we have one more item to mention regarding rides and lands at Universal Orlando Resort. Despite Universal Orlando Resort being slow to announce new rides and attractions officially, they have announced one other thing. Okay, maybe this is the biggest news regarding Orlando area theme parks in decades. Universal’s Epis Universe opens in 2025.
This brand-new theme park will open in the summer of 2025. We have written an entire resource covering what we know so far about Epic Universe. Still, this brand-new state-of-the-art theme park will change the theme park industry in Florida.
From Universal Parks and Destinations, we know that a Super Nintendo World land will be a part of Epic Universe. In addition to three new on-site hotels, this theme park will have a “hub” area with shopping, dining, and entertainment. There might even be a theme park attraction (or two) in that area.
We expect three other themed lands at Epic Universe. Those will be Universal Classic Monsters, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and How to Train Your Dragon. Universal Orlando has confirmed none of those. However, all signs point to those intellectual properties being utilized.
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