While 2021 was still a year of largely “getting back to normal” in the theme park world, it was still a pretty good year for Universal Parks and Resorts, setting up a strong 2022. Overseas Universal opened up an entirely new theme park in Beijing, China and also opened the first of several Super Nintendo Lands in Japan. Closer to home Universal Studios Hollywood reopened in 2021 with the Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash dark ride while Universal Orlando Resort absolutely blew people away with the epic Jurassic World themed Velocicoaster.
It’s going to be quite hard for Universal to even try to outdo 2021 in 2022, but the show must go on and while we’re not expecting any massive new attractions at Universal's North American theme parks this year, everything planned in 2022 at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort should make theme park fans consider a trip, or perhaps more than one, to check it all out.
Rock the Universe (Jan. 28-30) - Universal Orlando Resort
Rock the Universe is billed as Florida’s biggest Christian Music Festival. It’s taken place at Universal Orlando Resort for more than 20 years and has always been a crowd pleaser. This is an after hours event that requires a separate ticket than the standard theme park access. This also means smaller crowds in the parks and there are ticket packages that include standard theme park access and Express Pass options. If Christian music is your thing, and you also like theme parks, then this event is absolutely perfect.
Universal’s Mardi Gras (Feb. 5 – April 24) – Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort’s Mardi Gras party did take place in 2021, but it did so without the big concerts and parades that are usually a centerpiece of the events, and instead had a greater focus on food. Even in this modified format last year's Mardi Gras celebration was fantastic. 2022 Will see the full return of Universal’s Mardi Gras, with concerts and parades back, but all the absolutely delicious food will be back as well. Bringing it all together, this will likely be the biggest Mardi Gras party outside of New Orleans.
Revenge Of The Mummy Update (Summer) - Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Studios Florida's Revenge of the Mummy is one of the park's most popular attractions, but it will be unavailable for most of the year. It closed down early in January and is not expected to reopen until late summer. While every ride needs maintenance now and then, the length of this refurbishment has indicated there might be more going on. The ride will almost certainly return, but it may do so with significant changes. It's possible Brenden Fraser's iconic line delivery and other elements of the current ride theme may not survive the refurbishment,
Halloween Horror Nights (September - October) - Orlando & Hollywood
There is no bad time to visit a Universal theme park but most would agree that the absolute best time to visit a Universal park is in October. This is when both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida put on Halloween Horror Nights. A number of mazes, often called “houses,” are constructed with a different theme, based on some terrifying movie or television show, and guests buy tickets to a special after hours event to experience them all. Some of these creations are legitimately terrifying so if you’re looking for a Halloween experience that truly scares, this is it. Not every house at the two parks are the same and Universal Studios Hollywood also turns the Backlot Tour into the Terror Tram, which is a unique experience in itself. The exact dates for this year’s event have not been confirmed but Halloween Horror Nights will take place on multiple nights, likely in September and October.
Universal’s Christmas Celebration (November -December) - Orlando & Hollywood
There’s nothing like Christmas at a theme park, and both Universal parks in Orlando and Hollywood will celebrate them again this year. Highlights in past years that we would expect to return include a special projection show on Hogwarts Castle inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as the Dr. Seuss themed Grinchmas experience. And of course they’ll be delicious food and drink to enjoy as well. Hot Butterbeer can be purchased any time of year now, but it just tastes better surrounded by Christmas decorations.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen (TBA) - Universal Studios Hollywood
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and have ever found yourself in the Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort, then you’ve probably wandered over to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. The location has its own theme and story, with a cool steampunk aesthetic and delicious food and drink (and it’s not all chocolate). A second location opening in the CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood was planned to open in 2021 but construction delays pushed it back. We now expect the California location to open later this year.
Super Nintendo Land (Maybe) (TBA)- Universal Studios Hollywood
The first Super Nintendo Land opened in Japan in 2021, but the new land is planned for both U.S. Universal parks as well. With Epic Universe, the new Orlando theme park, currently set to open in 2025, Florida won’t be getting its Nintendo themed area for several years, but a smaller version of the land is currently under construction at Universal Studios Hollywood. At this point no opening date has been announced, so we don’t know when this land will open, but seeing it open sometime in 2022 isn’t impossible. If not, we can all but be certain this land will open in 2023.
There’s a lot to look forward to for theme park fans in 2022. In addition to everything happening at Universal parks in California and Florida, there’s everything announced for Disneyland in 2022 and everything that we know is on the way at Walt Disney World in 2022. There are so many great parks to enjoy and no reason to limit yourself to just one. And it’s still very early in the year. There are likely plans coming in 2022 that we don’t even know about yet, so keep checking back here and we’ll keep you updated on what Universal Parks and Resorts has planned this year.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.