March Updates for The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2021

Volcano Bay entrance featured

The changes never end at the Universal Orlando Resort, so we’re bringing you this March installment in our monthly series of updates to The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2021.

Volcano Bay
The reopening of Volcano Bay leads our latest updates to The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2021. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Since The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2021 went to press, there have been a number of new closures, changes, and other adjustments to operations at Universal Orlando’s theme parks. You can find pages archiving all these updates at theunofficialguides.com/universal-orlando-updates and touringplans.com/unofficial-guide/universal-orlando-updates.

INTRODUCTION

As of March 3, 2021, construction has resumed on Epic Universe; an updated completion date has not been officially announced, but sources expect it to open in early 2025.

COVID-19 AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

Volcano Bay reopened on February 27, 2021, and it is currently operating daily.


The Bourne Stuntacular has resumed leaving every other row empty. Two empty seats (instead of 3) are now being left unoccupied between each unrelated party.

PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME

We welcome Coaster101.com to our list of recommended podcasts.

During Rope Drop at Volcano Bay, only guests eligible for Early Park Admission are allowed through the turnstiles when early entry begins; all others are held outside the entrance until the regular opening time. The queues can become chaotic prior to park opening, so ask a Team Member exactly which turnstiles will be opening.

The show inside Ollivanders Wand Shop is no longer available during Early Park Admission. Interactive windows are still active during early entry, and wands are available for purchase.

Additional batches of Virtual Line return times are now being released around 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., for eligible attractions (when available).

ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

Divers coming from I-4 West can now take Exit 75AB (Kirkman Road/International Drive) and bear left onto Kirkman Road southbound; then turn right onto International Drive, and right again onto Universal Boulevard, to reach the Universal Orlando Resort parking garage.

When leaving Universal Orlando Resort, if you exit the north garage onto Universal Boulevard, you can reach I-4 East via a new entrance ramp by turning right onto Major Boulevard, and then right onto Kirkman Road.

ESSENTIALS

UNIVERSAL PAY is a new feature inside the free Universal Orlando smartphone app’s wallet that allows guests to charge purchases around the resort to a credit card simply by scanning a secure QR code. You can set up individual spending limits for each member of your party, and transactions are quicker than using a physical card or even tap-to-pay. The only catch is that it only works at Universal-owned locations, and not third-party vendors.


163 WiFi coverage inside Volcano Bay has greatly improved, but cell service (especially AT&T) is still extremely poor inside the park.

Volcano Bay WiFi Test
Volcano Bay AT&T LTE Test

DINING & SHOPPING

Souvenir cups and non-activated Freestyle cups can still be filled with soft drinks at most quick-service dining locations and snack stands for $1.50-$1.59 per one-time refill. However, this offer is being phased out and may not be available during your visit.

Haagen-Dazs brand ice cream has replaced Ben & Jerry’s at Schwab’s Pharmacy and across the Universal Orlando Resort.

Dippin’ Dots are no longer available at Circus McGurgus, or anywhere else at Universal Orlando. Similar Mini Melts frozen desserts can be found in Pier 8 Market at Endless Summer Resort Dockside Inn and Suites.

Kohola Reef at Volcano Bay no longer serves breakfast.

Bread Box sandwiches no longer include french fries or potato barrels; sides now cost $2.50 extra.

The menu at Hot Dog Hall of Fame, which was simplified during the pandemic, has been restored with Vienna, Kayem, Koegel, and Hebrew National sausages available again. A vegan field dog comes topped with roasted corn and chiles. Platters include french fries for $1 more.

Most Universal Orlando table service restaurants, including BigFire, Bob Marley’s, The Cowfish, and VIVO, are again operating 7 days a week; exact hours are still subject to change.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA

The side entrance to Universal Studios Florida is currently closed, while the Blue Man Group is being removed from its former theater.

VOLCANO BAY

Volcano Bay is currently operating 7 days a week. However, some food and merchandise locations are closed, and select attractions—including Taniwha Tubes and the Kopiko Wai lazy river—may not open until one hour after regular park opening.

For all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

2 Comments

  1. Momaw Nadon March 5, 2021Reply

    In reference to the new Universal Pay feature, about how many third-party vendors are there resort-wide? Do they tend to be mostly in one area?

    • Seth Kubersky March 5, 2021Reply

      There aren’t too many, and they are mostly in CityWalk.

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