Universal Orlando 2023 Year in Review: From Kidzone Closures to Epic Universe Hotels

As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on all the excitement that took place at Universal Orlando. From new attractions and experiences to logo changes and closures, it was a year filled with highs and lows for the popular theme park. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and review the best and worst moments of 2023 at Universal Orlando.

Universal Orlando Woody Woodpecker KidZone closing
Credit: Orlando Park Stop

Farewell, Kidzone: The year started off with a bang as Universal bid farewell to one of its long-standing areas, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone. After 24 years of bringing joy to families, this section of the park closed down in January to make way for a new DreamWorks-themed land, set to open in 2024. While we’re sad to see some classic attractions like Woody Woodpecker’s Nut House Coaster go, we can’t wait to see what exciting experiences the new land will bring.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort Butterbeer
Courtesy of Universal Studios

Dairy-Free Butterbeer: In March, Universal made a major change to its iconic Butterbeer by introducing dairy-free and gluten-free options. This was a much-welcomed move for those with dietary restrictions and gave everyone the chance to enjoy this beloved treat. Whether you prefer the vegan or gluten-free version, one thing is for sure – Butterbeer is still just as delicious as ever.

Universal Studios Florida New Logo
Credit: Universal
Universal Islands of Adventure New Logo
Credit: Universal

New Logo Look: Another change that took place in March was the rebranding of Universal Parks and Resorts to Universal destinations and experiences. Along with this came updated logos for Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk. While these logos were met with mixed reactions from fans, they have now become a familiar sight around the parks.

UOAP Lounge Debut: Universal loves its loyal passholders, and they showed their appreciation by opening a brand new passholder lounge in May. This relaxing spot, located in the former Betty Boops store in Toon Lagoon, offers exclusive merchandise and a place for passholders to unwind and recharge during their visit. It’s just one of the many perks of being a Universal Orlando annual passholder.

Poseidon’s Fury Closes: Unfortunately, not all news was good news for Universal in 2023. In June, the beloved Poseidon’s Fury attraction closed its doors forever. This was a bittersweet moment for fans who had grown to love this iconic experience, but with the ever-evolving nature of theme parks, it was time for something new.

Jurassic Park 30th Anniversary Tribute Store opens at Universal Studios Florida

Jurassic Park Tribute Store: On a happier note, June also brought the opening of the Jurassic Park Tribute Store. This immersive shopping experience celebrates all things Jurassic Park and is a must-visit for fans of the franchise. From branded merchandise to themed treats, this store has something for everyone.

Universal Studios Minion Land Sign
Credit: Peter the Pirate

Minion Land Opens: Families with young children rejoiced in July when Minion Land opened at Universal Studios Florida. This colorful and fun area is based on the popular Despicable Me franchise and features rides, interactive experiences, and character meet and greets. It’s the perfect addition to the park for families looking for some Minion madness.

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Villain-Con Debuts: In August, Universal hosted its first-ever Villain-Con, a special event dedicated to all things evil. Guests were invited to dress up as their favorite Disney villains and enjoy exclusive experiences and merchandise. This unique event was a huge hit and will hopefully become a regular occurrence at Universal in the future.

Taste of Terror: As Halloween season approached, Universal offered guests a spooky sneak peek with “Taste of Terror.” This limited-time event featured some Halloween Horror Nights favorites like scare zones, haunted houses, and themed food and drinks. It was a great way to get into the Halloween spirit before the main event.

UOAP Nights: In October, annual passholders got to experience exclusive after-hours access to Universal Studios Florida during “UOAP Nights.” This event included ride closures, special food and drinks, and meet and greets with characters. It was a VIP experience for passholders that made them feel like true insiders.

Universal Orlando announces full lineup for Halloween Horror Nights 32

Halloween Horror Nights: No year at Universal Orlando is complete without Halloween Horror Nights, and 2023 was no exception. With 13 terrifying haunted houses and scare zones, this event was a hit with horror fans. From classic horror movie monsters to original creations, Halloween Horror Nights brought the scares once again.

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Universal Holidays: To close out the year, Universal Orlando embraced the holiday spirit with festive decorations, special shows, and an all-new nighttime parade. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was transformed into a winter wonderland, and Grinchmas returned with all its Whoville charm. It was the perfect way to end a year filled with excitement and new experiences at Universal.

Credit: bioconstruct & @ThemeParkStop on YT

Epic Universe Hotels: In November, Universal announced plans for two new hotels to be built near its upcoming theme park, Epic Universe. These hotels will offer a convenient way for guests to stay on-site and be close to all the action. With unique theming and immersive experiences, these hotels are sure to be a hit with guests.

Credit: bioconstruct & @ThemeParkStop on YT

What’s to Come in 2024: As we look forward to the new year, there’s already plenty to be excited about at Universal Orlando. Along with the highly anticipated opening of DreamWorks Land, there are rumors of a Universal Park opening in the UK as well as a permanent Halloween Horror Nights in Las Vegas. Who knows what other surprises Universal has in store for us in 2024?

As we say goodbye to 2023 and look forward to another exciting year at Universal Orlando, one thing is for sure – this popular theme park continues to bring joy and thrills to guests of all ages. So here’s to another year filled with magical moments, exciting attractions, and unforgettable experiences at Universal Orlando. Let us know in the comments what you want to see at Universal Orlando in 2024! See you in 2024!

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