Travel Tools from The Unofficial Guide™ Team  -  See Our Books Here!
  • Background Image

    Unofficial Guide Book Updates 2024

Subscribe Now: 1 Full Year of UOR For Only $10.97!

Get full access to the UOR Crowd Calendar, Lines Mobile App, Touring Plans and More!

topsub_examplefamily

"Our TouringPlans subscription was a lifesaver on our trip. One of the busiest days of the year, and we never waited longer than 20 minutes!"

- Smith Family, KY

Subscription Type:

1 Year UOR Subscription ($10.97)

Payment Method:

Pay With Your Credit Card
Pay With Your PayPal Account
Click here to close the subscription form


For Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World book updates go to https://touringplans.com/unofficial-guide/walt-disney-world-updates



For Unofficial Guide to Disneyland book updates go to https://touringplans.com/disneyland-updates



For previous Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2023 book updates go to https://touringplans.com/unofficial-guide/universal-orlando-updates-2023

Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2024 Updates (as 2/10/2024)

INTRODUCTION

10 NBCUniversal’s theme park division reported $2.3 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2023 (an increase of 12.2%), and its highest adjusted EBITDA on record.

20 Reservations are now open for the Stella Nova hotel near Epic Universe, which will open January 22, 2025; its twin Terra Luna opens February 25, 2025. Both are “prime value” properties with a starting nightly rate of $189, discounted to $119 on longer stays.

PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

24 Universal no longer offers printed park maps or show schedules; use the free smartphone app.

27 Volcano Bay is closed on select weekdays during the fall and winter off-season.

30 During off-peak seasons, the portion of USF from Central Park through World Expo (including the E.T., Simpsons, and MIB rides) may be blocked off from guest access until 10 a.m.

33 Volcano Bay is closed on select weekdays during the fall and winter off-season, typically Tuesdays & Wednesdays or Wednesdays & Thursdays.

35 Universal Orlando ticket prices increased in October 2023. 1 Day single park tickets are $119-$179. 1 Day Park-to-park tickets are $174-$234. 2 day single park tickets cost $233-339. 2 day park-to-park tickets are $293-$409. (Prices are for online purchases before tax.)

37-38 In 2024, all Universal Orlando Passholders receive 10% off VIP tours, and 15% regular or private tickets at Universal’s Great Movie Escape. All passholders get 10% off food and nonalcoholic drinks; not valid for special events or holidays. Discounts on merchandise at Universal-operated hotel stores are valid for Preferred (10% off) and Premier (15% off) passholders only. Premier passholders save 10%-15% off food and merchandise at select CityWalk locations.

39 Starting in 2025, Premier Passholders will need to make an advance online reservation to use their free Halloween Horror Nights ticket.

42 In 2024, eligible military service members can purchase a Military Freedom Pass Promotional Ticket, which is valid for admission through December 20, 2024, with two weeks of block-outs around Christmas and Easter; the pass starts at $210 for 2-park access, with 3-park upgrades available.

53 Universal has deployed new turnstiles that use “photo validation” (a.k.a. Facial recognition) instead of finger biometrics at both USF and IOA. Guests scan their passes, then look into a screen-mounted camera until their image is identified. The process takes about two seconds, (far quicker than Disney’s MagicBands) but guests can opt out and choose to display photo IDs instead. This technology will be deployed at the upcoming Epic Universe to provide a more frictionless entry experience.

53 On days when USF does not offer EPA, the gates will usually open 10 minutes before the official time. Guests can enter the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts queue before official opening, rides may not begin running until park opening on non-EPA mornings. Rip Ride Rockit may not start running until 15 minutes after park opening, and the entire south side of the lagoon (including DreamWorks, Simpsons, and Men In Black is inaccessible until 10 a.m. during the off-season.

57 Two-Park Early Park Admission was offered only from December 26-30, 2023.

65 Remove Despicable Me Minion Mayhem from the Single Rider list.

PART 2 ACCOMMODATIONS

78-79 Parking rates at onsite hotels have increased. Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, Royal Pacific, and Sapphire Falls charge a $33-per-night self-parking fee ($43 for valet) for registered guests; day guests pay $51 for self-parking and $48 for valet. Cabana Bay and Aventura charge $22 for overnight guests (self-parking only) and Endless Summer charges $18; all three bill $51 per day for day visitors. Royal Pacific is the only on-site hotel that accommodates overnight RV parking for $80.

81 Portofino Bay has self-service laundry machines on the second floor of the west wing. They cost $6 per load. 

PART 3 ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

133 Valet: Automated kiosks to the right of the valet windows can cut your wait to retrieve your car, when they are working. Scan your parking ticket and annual pass or credit card for priority vehicle retrieval; you can also charge a gratuity, if you don’t carry cash.

PART 4 ESSENTIALS

136 ATMs are marked in the app’s digital map. The ATM near USF’s Lost and Found has been relocated outside the nearby restrooms. The ATM in Springfield has been removed. The two ATMs in CityWalk are next to Guest Services, and Fat Tuesday. The ATMs in Marvel Super Hero Island and Lost Continent have been removed. 

137 Credit Cards: The Universal Rewards Plus Visa Signature card gives 4% back on purchases at Universal, 2% on other travel & dining purchases, and 1% on everything else. There is a $99 annual fee, but you get a $100 credit for spending $100 during your first billing cycle. It also includes 0% financing on Universal vacation packages, a free one-day/one-park park ticket each year if you spend $6000, and access to a new cardholder lounge inside Universal Studios. The Universal Rewards Visa has no annual fee, but you only get $50 first-statement credit and 2% back on Universal purchases (1% on everything else), and no lounge access or other perks. Visit https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/universal-rewards-visa to apply.

144 change “coin vendor” to “kebab house seating area”

147 Cross-body bags worn across the chest (rather than around the waist) cannot be taken on rides that require lockers.

151 The satellite Vacation Services booths around the parks can’t issue disability assistance passes; you must retrieve those at the main guest service locations.

156 Family restrooms and Service animal relief areas are marked in the app’s digital map; tap the magnifying glass icon in the lower right corner to search for them.

160 The website autismattheparks.com is no longer active.

162 Universal Orlando offers digital park maps in Spanish and Portuguese as PDF files. Paper maps are no longer available. Scan the QR codes posted near the park entrances to download. 

PART 5 UNIVERSAL AND KIDS

168 change “coin vendor” to “kebab house seating area”

184 IOA’s Citizens and Storytellers have been retired.

PART 6 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

186 USF’s “Front Lot” has been completely absorbed by Hollywood; replace all references.

191 Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: delete “single rider line available.” 

192 Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: delete “Note that the posted standby time is just the wait to enter the building; you’ll be watching preshows for an additional 10 minutes before you actually ride.”

192-193 move Motion Sickness Wuffo from Villain-Con Minion Blast to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

195 The Ragtime Gals only perform inside Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon during peak seasons.

202 Herminone’s voice has been updated on the Hogwarts Express and now sounds like Emma Watson (delete reader quote).

203 Hogwarts Express touring tips: When the queue swells, the wait for Express may be as long as ⅓ of the posted standby estimate.

216 Sing It! has ended its run at USF, and Drive-In and Dance will close after January 26, 2024. A cat-tastic interactive dance show with Gabby (from Gabby’s Dollhouse) was brielfly held in front of Mel’s (rated 2 ½ stars) and may return in DreamWorks Land.

217 Rock the Universe was held January 26-27, 2024. We The Kingdom, Dove, Casting Crowns, LECRAE, Phil Wickham, and Brandon Lake headlined. Individual single-night tickets start around $90, while two-night tickets cost about $133; groups get discounted rates, and can buy Rock Your Weekend tickets that combine both event nights with daytime park tickets. Three-park access Friday–Sunday goes for about $161 ($209 for park-to-park). Universal Express Passes run an additional $32 per night for one-time use per ride, or $43 for unlimited use. (Prices include tax.)

217 Mardi Gras will run from February 3 through April 7, 2024.

218 Mardi Gras tasting cards cost $65 for $75 worth of credit, UOAPs pay $120 for $150.

218-219 The 2024 Mardi Gras parade features an “elements” theme with  floats based on earth, wind, fire, water, and the sun and moon. The parade direction was reversed along its usual route, running counter-clockwise around the park, but is expected to resume its previous clockwise direction in 2025. Annual Passholder float riding spots sold out within an hour in 2023. If you purchase a Dine and Ride package, be sure to check in at Animal Actors at least an hour before the parade begins or you may lose your spot. There is no physical standby line for free same-day float riding spots; they are distributed through the app’s Virtual Line feature randomly throughout the day, with an additional distribution 60-90 minutes before the parade starts; hang around the Animal Actors check-in area to hear when availability is announced. 

220 2024 Mardi Gras concerts include The All-American Rejects, KC and The Sunshine Band, Barenaked Ladies, Queen Latifah, Luis Fonsi, and Zedd.

227 Holidays at Universal runs from November 17 through December 31, 2023.

PART 7 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

257 change “coin vendor” to “kebab house seating area”

260 Holidays at IOA runs from November 17 through December 31, 2023. The Grinch meet and greet does not use a Virtual Line, but has a standard standby queue that often exceeds three hours. If meeting the Grinch is a priority, get in line as soon as the park opens.

261 In 2023, the Grinchmas breakfast is a plated meal held inside Confisco Grille. It costs $63 (plus gratuity) for adults and $35 for kids age 9 and under.

PART 8 VOLCANO BAY

PART 9 DINING & SHOPPING

279 Cafe 4’s vegan eggplant parmesan was replaced by vegan fettuccine alfredo. Change “Vegan brownie (Front Lot Snack Stand” to “Vegan hand pie or brownie (Hollywood Snack Stand)”.

281 delete “(including potato barrels and curly fries)”

285 Bottled Butterbeer can be ordered for delivery in the USA from harrypottershop.com.

287 Leaky Cauldron, Hopping Pot, and Hog’s Head serve two additional beers, Dark Forest Ale (a traditional brown ale) and Daisyroot Ale (a Stella-style lighter ale). Dragon Scale is available in both Wizarding Worlds, but Hog’s Head Brew is exclusive to Hogsmeade.

293 Reader scores for Fast Food Boulevard have dropped significantly in recent surveys.

294 Hopping Pot now serves vegan pasties.

296 San Francisco Pastry Company has some new selections including grilled cheese with tomato soup, and chilled Asian noodle salads.

298 Circus McGurkus has reopened with an all-new menu featuring roast beast sandwiches (meatloaf and ribeye with cheddar and onions on a pretzel bun), garlic bread cones filled with pasta marinara and meatballs (real or Gardein), chicken tenders with hot honey biscuits, and burgers. Pescatarians can pick Red Fish Blue Fish Poke, with ahi tuna and edamame on blue glass noodles, or fried shrimp on popcorn; vegans can enjoy a colorful red quinoa salad with dragonfruit and raspberries, and baby spinach. For dessert, Green Eggs and Ham-inspired chocolate cheesecake or caramel popcorn cupcakes. This restaurant uses mandatory Mobile Order with table delivery, similar to Minion Cafe. Pickup orders are available from an exterior window to the right of the main entrance.

302 Bend the Bao: under Selections add “boba tea”

321 Lombard’s house specialties: replace shrimp cocktail and filet mignon with calamari and ribeye steak.

323 Minion Cafe: We also recommend the herbaceous grilled cheese sandwich, dipped in tart green tomato soup.

325 NBC Sports summary & comments: change “The grilled chicken wings are underwhelming” to “The slow-cooked birria-style chicken wings and cajun deviled eggs are both pleasingly piquante (but not excessively spicy)”

335 Custom Gear: change “personalized toy car” to “personalized driver’s license or dog tags”

335 Five and Dime now offers a Monster Makeover with a professional airbrush artist for $65 (half face) or $125 (full face), with 38 different horror-inspired looks to choose from. The experience is available through April 7; reservations are available at shop.universalorlando.com/sho/monster-makeover.

PART 10 CITYWALK

338 CityWalk’s Legacy Store has closed, and will become a preview center for Epic Universe.

346 The Cineplex’s automated kiosks are located inside the lobby.

Last updated by Seth Kubersky on February 12, 2024

Top