The newest editions of the Unofficial Guides have only been out for about a month, but the changes never take a holiday at the Universal Orlando Resort, so we’re kicking off the New Year with the first installment in our regular series of updates to The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2022.
Since The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2022 went to press in late 2021, there have already been a number of new closures, changes, and other adjustments to operations at Universal Orlando’s theme parks. You can find pages archiving all of these updates at theunofficialguides.com/universal-orlando-updates and touringplans.com/unofficial-guide/universal-orlando-updates.
INTRODUCTION and SPECIAL COVID-19 INFORMATION
As of December 24, 2021, face masks are again mandatory indoors, and while in all attractions and queues, for all guests regardless of vaccination status. No other social distancing restrictions have been reimposed.
PART 1 PLANNING BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
Prices for the Universal Orlando Premier Annual Pass have increased by $40 to $664.99 for the 2-park pass and to $854.99 for the 3-park pass.
The UOAP lounge is now open on a permanent basis. During peak seasons, operations may be extended from park opening until closing.
Eligible military service members can purchase a 2022 Military Freedom Pass Promotional Ticket now through December 27, 2022, which is valid for admission every day through December 31, 2022, without blackouts; the pass starts at $199.99 for 2-park access, with 3-park upgrades available.
As of January 3, 2022, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will not be offered during Early Park Admission at Islands of Adventure; EPA guests may join the queue for the ride, which typically begins running 15-30 minutes before regular park opening. Jurassic World VelociCoaster is now officially included in Early Park Admission.
When EPA is offered at IOA, eligible guests may head to Hogsmeade and the VelociCoaster as soon as the gates open, walking clockwise through Seuss Landing and Lost Continent. Guests without EPA privileges can still enter early but will be held in the Port of Entry and Seuss Landing. Marvel Super Hero Island’s attractions may open to all guests up to 15 minutes before the official park opening time. Read this report from EPA at IOA for more information.
Free behind-the-scenes tours are also offered (when staffing is available) at Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts and Fast & Furious: Supercharged at USF, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Jurassic World VelociCoaster at IOA.
PART 2 ACCOMMODATIONS
The Pets Unleashed program at Hard Rock Hotel costs $150 for stays of up to one week and includes a “sWAG bag” with a shirt for your pet and customized “pet tracks” Spotify playlists available on Spotify; a percentage of the pet fee is donated to local animal shelters. There is a maximum of two pets (up to 50 lbs. total) per guest room.
PART 3 ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND
E-Z Pass is now known in Florida as Uni; visit GoWithUni.com to purchase a transponder.
PART 4 ESSENTIALS
Universal Orlando’s partnership with American Express has ended; AmEx card members no longer receive special discounts, and the American Express VIP Lounge has permanently closed.
PART 5 UNIVERSAL & KIDS
Guests can meet and greet Global Discovery Group archaeologists outside Poseidon’s Fury in Lost Continent.
PART 6 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA
Shrek 4-D is permanently closed as of January 10, 2022. No replacement has been officially announced yet, but Universal has hinted at an interactive walk-through Minions attraction themed to Villain-Con.
Fear Factor Live has permanently closed. No replacement has been officially announced, but a virtual reality Harry Potter attraction is rumored.
Curious George Goes to Town has fully reopened to guests.
PART 7 ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
In 2021, the Grinchmas show was presented inside the former Blue Man Group theater between IOA and USF; access to the venue is via a pathway behind Circus McGurkus. The large theater provides ample comfortable seating with good sightlines, but arrive early if you want to ensure a seat up front.
PART 9 DINING & SHOPPING
When using Mobile Ordering, talk to a team member as soon as you pay for your meal and verify that you are at the dining location; don’t wait for the app to alert you that your food is ready.
Universal Classic Monsters Café has Mobile Ordering. Smoked brisket is back on the menu, but it’s dry and under-seasoned; skip it and order double sausage instead.
The Burger Digs herbivore portobello mushroom sandwich with tempeh bacon replaced the previous vegan burger.
Circus McGurkus no longer serves pasta.
Comic Strip Cafe has an expanded and greatly improved menu, replacing the dire “stir fry” with Asian noodle bowls and Latin American cornmeal arepas stuffed with meat or cheese, alongside the same below-average burgers and pizza. Try the char sui ramen with pork belly in unctuous tonkotsu bone broth, but skip the egg rolls, which are still sub-par.
Voodoo Doughnut mobile order pickup is now located at a booth across the walkway from the shop entrance.
Mythos Restaurant was voted world’s best theme park restaurant by visitors to the website Theme Park Insider—an honor it has earned 10 times, most recently in 2022.
The Coin Mint in Lost Continent has closed and is now a stall selling colorful clothing.
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.