* Prices may differ from that shown
I have just returned from 2 magical weeks in Orlando, Florida. During our stay we visited many theme parks, including Universal Studios. There are 2 Universal Studios parks in Orlando - the original Universal Studios (which first opened in 1990) and the newer Universal Studios Islands Of Adventure (which first opened in 1999). This review will focus on the original Universal Studios park. We caught a taxi from our hotel and back again. There is a taxi rank right outside the parks and we didn't have to wait for a taxi. Car parking is also available for $15.00 per vehicle, per day. Universal Studios is nearby all the other main theme parks in Orlando and is only roughly a 20 minute drive from Walt Disney World. When you arrive you have to pass through Universal Citywalk which is full of bars, clubs, shops, restaurants and general entertainment (mini golf, cinema etc). We didn't stop at Universal Citywalk (only for photos) but it did seem quite lively in the evening. You don't need a ticket to enter Universal Citywalk. This is where you decide what park to choose - right for Universal Studios and left for Universal Studios Islands Of Adventure. The entrance to Universal Studios has a big archway and huge iconic Universal Studios globe statue, which spins around and looks great lit up in the evening! We bought our tickets at the gate, you can also buy them online. One day park tickets cost $88.00 for adults (these can be used in either Universal Parks but not both) and children cost $82.00. One day park tickets to BOTH parks cost $123.00 ($117.00 for children), although you will certainly need more than one day to cover both parks. We wanted to visit both Universal Parks, so we purchased the most sensible and cost effective tickets - 2 day park-to-park. These tickets cost a whopping $139.99 for adults ($129.99 for children) and allow you in to both parks, for 2 separate days. Tickets are very expensive but if you want to visit both Universal parks I would definitely advise paying an extra $16.99 for a 2 day park-to-park ticket. Park hours vary between 8am - 10pm. Park hours during our visit were 9pm - 8pm and we spent the whole day there. As the name suggests Universal Studios is owned and run by the American movie production company Universal. Universal are behind some of the best and highest grossing films ever made (some of which include E.T, Jaws and Jurassic Park). The park is centred around movies. All of the rides, shows and characters have something to do with Universal movies. There is movie memorabilia scattered around the park (such as the car from Back To The Future) and parts of the park are set up to look like you're on a movie set. Anybody with a keen interest in films will really enjoy this park. We had children in our group ranging from 4-8 years. The 4 year old got on most rides (except the roller coasters of course) but children any younger many struggle to meet some height requirements. Be sure to bring an autograph book because there are lots of characters to meet! We visited on a weekday and although the park was quite busy, we didn't have to queue very much for rides which was excellent and allowed us to cover most of the park. Avoid weekends and American holidays if possible! We started our day with the E.T ride. There was absolutely no queue and we were given a 'space passport' (whilst also giving our names to a staff member) before entering the ride. The queue line is set up to look like you're in the forest that E.T visits in the film. It's really enjoyable. Each person sits on a bike with a safety bar over your lap and handle bars on top to hold on to. The bikes are all stuck to a platform so nobody actually has to pedal! You ride in groups of 12 (4 rows of 4) and each group has a basket on the front of their bikes with E.T inside! You start by riding through the forest to escape the 'bad guys' who are trying to catch E.T, you then begin to fly until you reach E.T's home planet where there are lots of funny looking aliens that are very pleased to see that E.T has returned home. The ride ends with E.T saying goodbye to each individual person on the ride (that's what you needed the space passport for) which is a nice touch. There is also an E.T gift shop at the exit, for all of your E.T needs! In my opinion this is a classic Universal ride, it's a little bit dated but it's still very enjoyable. It's nostalgic for adults and good fun for children. Next to the E.T ride is an area called 'Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone' which is designed especially for little ones. There's a short but sweet roller coaster called Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster which our kids enjoyed and 2 exciting play areas ('Fievel's Playland' and 'Curious George Goes To Town'). There are also 2 shows - Animal Actors on Location and A Day in The Park with Barney. Unfortunately we missed both of these shows but I think our kids would have been too old to enjoy Barney anyway. We met a number of characters around this area which included lots of Spongebob Squarepants characters, characters from Hop, Scooby Doo and friends, Curious George and Woody Woodpecker. There is also a Spongebob Squarepants store, which is situated inside a pineapple! Next up was The Simpsons Ride. The ride looks great from the outside and even has a Kwik-E-Mart! You can also meet Bart and Lisa. This was the ride we queued the longest for but it only took about 20-25 minutes. The Back to the Future ride was (sadly) replaced with The Simpsons ride a few years ago, but the ride still has a similar set up. It is a simulator ride in which each group (of up to about 8) sit in individual carts and the ride takes place in front of a giant screen. You ride and crash around Krustyland theme park, whilst also trying to escape from a psychotic Sideshow Bob! It's a really fun and thrilling ride, and is maybe one of the best simulator rides that I've been on. Although there were other carts riding at the same time, you couldn't really see them so it felt as though you were the only people on the ride! Everybody in our group enjoyed it and I would say it's definitely worth doing if you're visiting Universal Studios. Visually it looked great (and somehow realistic!), even though it was a cartoon and wasn't in 3D. Men In Black Alien Attack is the nearest ride to The Simpsons. You are required to put your bags and possessions in to a free locker. But be careful because these 'free' lockers are only free for half an hour. Anything over half an hour will result in you will be charged at least $6.00 to get your locker open! The lockers work on a unique fingerprint system. I liked the queue line for this ride as it looked like you were really in the MIB headquarters! You sit in cars of 6 (2 rows of 3) and each person has their own gun. It's set up like MIB agent training and as you ride (and spin, lots!) through the city you have to blast aliens. Each person has their own individual score, so everybody can get competitive! We all enjoyed this ride, although I don't think it was anybody's 'favourite' ride. It lacked something that could have made it great, but I still think it's definitely worth doing. Next to Men In Black Alien Attack is Fear Factor Live which sounded pretty good ('Put yourself to the test at the most extreme audience participation show ever') but unfortunately we never got round to doing it. The centre of the park is simply called 'Hollywood'. Among the glitz and the glamour, you will walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame and may even see the odd celebrity - we met Marilyn Monroe! Here you will also find Universal Orlando Horror Make-Up Show which sounded good but we avoided as we didn't think it would be very suitable for children. 'Lucy - A Tribute' is an excellent attraction for fans of I love Lucy and Lucille Ball. It contains tons of Lucy memorabilia and has a lovely gift shop too. Terminator 2 3D is a mix of 3D show and live action. We were all rather stunned as 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' drove out of the 3D screen and on to the stage in front of us! I don't really know how the kids felt about this one (other than a bit stunned and confused!) and I thought the pre-show was a bit long, however the adults loved it. It was a bit dated but the film is a bit dated now too, so why not! Next we moved on to 'Production Central' which is home to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Shrek 4D. We all loved Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which is a new ride and which we managed to get complimentary Universal Express tickets for (long story). I was relieved we managed to jump the queue for this ride as it seemed to be the most popular ride in the park. It's a simulator ride, much like The Simpsons ride (but in 3D). Although slightly less intimate than The Simpsons, as you can clearly see that you are in a room full of people. Experience the thrills and spills of being a little yellow minion! Although this ride is probably aimed more at children I would recommend it to everybody (all ages), especially if you're a fan of the movie. At the exit is a dance floor (with big screen to see yourself) and a fantastic gift shop. You can also meet Despicable Me characters throughout the day outside of the ride. I found Shrek 4D a little disappointing. It had a long and drawn out pre-show and it wasn't a ride or show, it was a short 3D movie. The plot was that Shrek had to save Fiona from Lord Farquaad's ghost. The kids didn't seem too keen on the ghost aspect and I thought the movie was a little bit long. There few a few fun 4D aspects but nothing that we hadn't already experienced in other 4D attractions. It's not a terrible attraction but it just wasn't as good as I'd hoped. The last ride in Production Central is Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and it's not one for the faint hearted! This is one of the best roller coasters that I experienced in Orlando and it seemed to last longer than most roller coasters. At the start of the ride you are able to choose what music to listen to for the duration of the ride and you are secured in to your seat by a plastic bar which sits across your middle (it looked very insecure and dodgy!). It has all the makings of a great roller coaster - twists, turns and drops aplenty! For me the scariest part was going up the vertical drop at the beginning (coming down actually wasn't so bad!). You also get filmed on board this ride, so beware! The next section of the park is 'New York' which includes Twister (Ride It Out) and The Revenge Of The Mummy. Twister had a really long pre-show, it set the scene nicely but it was just a little drawn out and Bill Paxton just made me cringe. No offence Bill but you are incredibly cheesy! You are then led through to a big room and in front of you is a live scene of part of a small town (with house, car, petrol pump, trees etc). A hurricane is simulated which involves lots of wind, rain (you don't get wet), fire and explosions. The roof that you're under rips away and the floor shakes beneath you, there's even a flying cow! Overall this was a good attraction but not amazing. It maybe needs a little bit of updating and it definitely needs more wind. It's a good idea and is enjoyable enough, not my favourite attraction but it's definitely one to do if there's no queue (which there wasn't during our visit). The Revenge Of The Mummy is a roller coaster. It isn't as extreme as Rip Ride Rockit (it doesn't go upside down) but still isn't one for the faint hearted! The ride is set in the dark and is full of surprises which include drops, riding backwards, scary ancient Egyptians and lots of fire! There is a surprisingly good gift shop at the exit. Something which I'm really disappointed about is that we missed The Blues Brothers Show. I've seen them before and they are brilliant! Jake and Elwood put on an entertaining outdoor show, full of great music that appears to appeal to everybody of all ages. At the back of the park is 'San Francisco' which is home to BeetleJuice's Graveyard Revue. I wasn't sure if it would be suitable for children but it turns out it is, in fact they loved it! It's a fun, all singing, all dancing, rock 'n' roll show which lasts about 20 minutes. Beetlejuice is joined by Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Dracula and The Bride of Frankenstein. The guy who played Beetlejuice was very convincing - he had the same voice, mannerisms and looked similar. He had some great (or terrible) gags too! In my opinion this is one to do, especially if you're a fan of Beetlejuice, classic horrors and enjoy a good sing along! The other attraction in San Francisco is Disaster. Disaster had a very long pre-show (in fact there were 3 pre-shows!) but the attraction itself was a good idea. You are invited to take part in a major movie picture and the star is YOU! Members of the public volunteered to be part of the attraction whilst everybody else watched on. They were put in to different scenarios and filmed. Afterwards everybody went on a tram ride and we were thrown in to a disaster of our own as the underground station we arrive at experiences an earthquake which involves fire, water and a lot of tram rocking! There are cameras installed on every tram and you are instructed to do different things during the disaster ('scream, call for help, cover your ears, shield you eyes'). At the end you are shown your movie trailer on a overhead television. It combines edited footage from the earlier volunteers, along with snippets of everybody in their trams! The first half of this attraction is really quite boring but the second half (filming the volunteers and the tram) is really fun. Everybody was laughing at the movie trailer that we had made at the end and everybody seemed to really enjoy it. During the middle of the day there was a parade. It was a children's parade which included all of the characters from Dispicable Me, Spongebob Squarepants, Hop, Dora and Diego. It was nice and great for the kids to see new characters (not Disney characters), but it was quite short and not quite as spectacular as the Disney parades. Still worth checking out if you have young kids though. There is a lake in the middle of the park. In the evenings they put on a fireworks show, which I didn't see but some of my group did. They said it was good but again, not half as good at Disney! Universal Studios will also be unveiling their newest ride in the summer of 2013. It's a Transformers ride (which looks like it's going to be amazing) and you can meet the Transformers outside of the ride! In 2012 Universal Studios shut their Jaws ride. This was my favourite ride and I think it's a big loss to the park. However there's still a photo opportunity with the rather iconic Universal Studios Jaw shark (nearby Disaster). There are plenty of places to eat in Universal Studios. There are restaurants and kiosks dotted all over the park. We grabbed lunch at Mel's Drive In which is a fast food restaurant themed like a 50's diner. It has beautiful classic American cars outside (great photo opportunity) and the food wasn't bad either. The vegetarian burger was particularly enjoyable! Two veggie burgers and chips cost us $17.00 (no drinks as we already had some. Bottles of soft drinks cost $3.00 each and are larger than UK bottles, of course!). Shops and eating places are quite expensive but I suppose that's to be expected in these places. All of the staff were all really friendly and welcoming too. Overall we had a great day out at Universal Studios. To summarise the negatives I would say that some of the attractions are slightly dated (although I don't think that's such a bad thing on rides such as E.T). If you're looking for bigger rides and better technology, then head over to Universal Studios Islands Of Adventures (the Harry Potter and Spiderman rides are excellent and use really advanced technology). Another slight negative is that they seem to focus quite heavily on 3D, which was ground breaking about 10+ years ago, but not so much nowadays. I also found that most of the rides had pre-shows, many of which I found to be too drawn out (especially when you can't sit down and you have children with you). To summarise the positives I would say that the park is a good size - it's quite large but not too large. Even though there are lots to see and do, we managed to do most of them. It was set out in a good way too, so you didn't have to keep going back on yourselves. I love movies so I enjoyed the theme of the park and thought it was really well done. Universal Studios can be enjoyed by all ages, there's plenty for both adults and children to enjoy. The things I enjoyed most were E.T, The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Lucy - A Tribute, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, The Revenge Of The Mummy, Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue and seeing all the different characters. I give Universal Studios 4.5 stars out of 5 - If you're in Orlando, I definitely recommend a visit.
There are two parks in the Universal, Orlando resort; Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. To be honest I much preferred Islands of Adventure because it seemed to appeal more to my tastes, but that is not to say that there isn't a lot to like about the Universal Studios park, what with such big names as The Simpsons, Shrek and Men in Black to keep you entertained. The rides seem to be much more about special effects and demonstrating what can be done in the world of movies as well. There are five areas to the park, each with a unique theme, which makes it much easier to walk around. ===Production Central=== Once you have walked through the rather grand gates of Universal Studios, you immediately arrive at Production Central. I thought the name meant that this area would be where all the special effects type rides would be, but it is not the case. I think there are actually studios here just behind the rides, which may be the reason for the name, but these aren't publically accessible. There are three rides in this area of the park. The first is the brand new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride. Not so much a ride as a 3-D experience. I had never heard of Despicable Me before visiting this ride, but from what I can gather it is a children's film complete with lovable characters and fun storylines. It doesn't matter if you haven't seen the film - it won't spoil your enjoyment of the ride. I loved it and thought it was very clever and a lot of fun. The only thing I will say is that you should try and get a seat in the centre of the auditorium because we found that the 3-D aspect worked at its best from a direct angle. The second ride is another 3-D adventure, well actually 4-D, Shrek. The ride starts off from where the first film finished, but again you don't need to have seen the film to enjoy the ride. We were a bit disappointed in this one because the 4-D aspect means that your seats move to increase the interaction with the film, but we found that the seats made such a noise that it took away from the film. These two rides are both suitable for children and I think that they'll enjoy both of them, although Despicable Me is only for people over 40 inches tall. The last ride in this area is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, which is a full on white knuckle roller coaster. I am much too much of a wimp to go on such a ridiculous ride as this, but my husband went on it and couldn't decide what was worse - the vertical climb up to the first big drop, the sheer length and number of turns and loops, or the fact that you don't have over the should straps! I personally loved the fact that you are recorded during the ride and you can watch the video back afterwards, it certainly made for hilarious viewing for me! You can buy the video if you want. There are also free to use lockers at the ride entrance to store loose items. If you a single rider - definitely mention it as you join the queue because quite often you are able to skip to the front. There are a couple of restaurants and bars in this area, but none really of note - they are more places that you can grab a quick snack. This is also the area where the parade starts and finishes and that you can meet your favourite characters throughout the day, including the Simpsons and Shrek. ===New York=== As you leave Production Central you go straight into New York, which is actually visually quite impressive. It does indeed look like the set from a movie though, complete with the sky scrapers and the narrow streets - you can even stop for a quick break on the benches of Central park. In fact we enjoyed wandering around the area as much as anything else. There are two rides here though; Twister . . .Ride It Out and Revenge of the Mummy. The Twister Ride is a special effects show type ride which is quite good, although there is an awful lot of build-up that isn't quite rewarded with the mega ending you are anticipating. It is good though and worth a visit. There are no height restrictions on the ride, although it is very loud and may be frightening for younger visitors. The mummy ride is an indoor roller coaster which takes places mostly in the dark. My wimpishness doesn't extend to rides that I can't see so I happily went on this one (I know it doesn't make sense, but there you go). It is quite thrilling although there are no loops in it, but there are things that you don't expect, which adds to the thrill. If you can, get a seat at the front of the carriage as it is slightly more adrenaline pumping and much more fun. The ride is only suitable for those over 48 inches in height and you'll have to put loose articles in one of the lockers before riding. There are a couple of shows that round off the available entertainment in New York. The first is the Blues Brothers Show, which is mildly entertaining and takes place on one of the street corners in the area. It is usually quite popular and you can stay for as long or as little as you like. The other one is the Delancey Street Preview Centre. This is a bit hit and miss because it is a place where you can go and watch a show under network consideration and rate it. There were none playing whilst we were there, but you have to qualify to be able to take part though. ===San Francisco=== Like New York, this area is as much about the theme as anything else and it is pretty good. I have been to San Francisco and all the local things are there - Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli's Chocolate shop, a street car track. There are none of the big sites like Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge, but the things that are there make it seem more genuine in an odd way. There is a 'harbour' which sits on the Universal lakeside and is a great place from which to watch the nightly firework show. There is also a giant shark hanging overhead which you obviously have to stick your head in the mouth of and have a picture taken! There is only one ride here and it is Disaster, which is billed as 'A Major Motion Picture Ride . . . Starring YOU!'. It is quite good, although there is a lot of preamble. This is made bearable by the amusing man who presents it. It is suitable for everybody and you may be chosen to take a starring roll or (if you do what I did and hide behind a really tall man) you can just be one of the extras. The end product is quite amusing and the whole thing probably lasts about 25 minutes. The other thing to do here is watch Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, which is a rock and roll monster show. Cue lots of cheesy jokes, popular songs and even a few fireworks. It is actually pretty good, and a perfect way to have a nice sit down without missing out on anything. Shows are at regular intervals throughout the day and last about 30 minutes each. This area is also sort of half way around the park so it is a great place to stop for lunch. The designers have obviously also considered this as there are plenty of places to get something to eat. There is a huge pizza restaurant that does pizza by the (rather large) slice for a few dollars and there are various sweet shops and food stands selling everything from sodas to giant turkey legs (which seemed to be very popular). ===World Expo=== There are only two rides in this part of the park, but they are two of the most popular I would say in the form of The Simpson Ride and Men in Black Alien Attack. You can expect a queue for both, but there is plenty to look at in the queuing system so it isn't too painful. In the queue for The Simpsons Ride, they actually play episode of the show, which makes the time go remarkably quickly! The Simpsons ide is a kind of simulator where you are in a roller coaster carriage and you swoop and soar over Krustyland. It is very good and quite clever. It also feels a bit different from your usual run of the mill simulator which is good. If you are small, sit on the front row though so your view isn't obscured. The second ride here is the Men In Black one which is fully interactive because you even get a gun to zap baddies and you compete against other players in your cart. It is worth paying attention as you walk around the queuing area as there are instructions on what to do once you are onboard and there are even special hints and tips for what to do to get bonus points. It is fun although they seemed to be having problems when we visited and the ride actually broke down whilst we were in it. Not a problem and these things happen, but it did annoy me (and it was very out of character for the Universal folks in general) that they didn't apologise or give an explanation, instead just leaving us there until it was fixed. TheWorld Expo area has a sort of carnival feel to it, especially near The Simpsons Ride, where there are lots of little games to play (for a price of course), such as whack-a-mole, catch a duck and throwing a ball through a hoop. The games aren't too expensive (around $3 a go each) and there are lots of Simpsons themed prizes to win, although you might want to avoid it if you have already blown the budget! ===Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone=== There are lots of rides throughout Universal Studios that are suitable for kids and that they will love, but this area, as you would expect is entirely geared towards younger visitors. There are things that will appeal to all ages of children and the characters featured here include Woody himself, Curious George, ET and Barney. As seems to be the theme in this park, there are a couple shows you can watch, the first one features animal actors although we didn't watch it because there were only four show times on the days that we were there and none of them suited our timetable. I imagine that there are more shows in the busier summer months. There is also a Barney show but since it is advertised as a sing along, clap along walk in the park we decided that we were probably a little too old for it. We did have a go on Woody's Nuthouse Coaster, mainly because there was no queue. It has only a 36 inch height restriction, which tells you just how tame it is. Young daredevils will love it though and there are puzzles and things to complete in the queue which is quite good. We also went on the ET ride which basically involves you sitting on a flying bike and helping ET get home. Again it is a fairly tame ride with 34 inch height restriction, but it is very pleasant and you wait in line in the forest which is pretty funky. Finally in this zone there are a couple of themed play areas featuring Curious George and a character called Fievel, who is a mouse that I have never heard of! The whole zone has been planned for children very thoughtfully and it is lovely and bright and very engaging. To complete the theme, there are plenty of places to get brightly coloured sweets and drinks or a souvenir featuring your little ones' favourite characters. ===Other Information=== Lots of the rides in this park are wheelchair accessible and many of the show type rides have assistive listening or sign language interpreted shows, so that everyone can enjoy them. Just pick up one of the maps as you enter the park because they have details on them of which rides offer extra assistance and you just speak to the ride operator at the entrance. It is also always worth mentioning if you are a single rider at the queue entrance because you tend to be able to jump to the front of the queue if you are. It is worth picking up one of the maps anyway because it is much the best way of planning your day so that you get the most out of it. They are really handy to have and give all the information you need about the rides themselves (height restrictions, locker availability, opening times) and the other things in the park (food/drink, toilets, cash machines etc). The park is predominantly non-smoking, however there are designated smoking areas throughout the park. There are seven of these areas in total and they all have plenty of ash trays and seating and are well sign posted. It's a great idea and I strongly recommend you stick to them because you will be told off otherwise. The parks are exceptionally clean. I was amazed at how so to be honest, because you'd think with that many people, there'd be some rubbish somewhere, but no. There are always bins everywhere and you often see part of what must be an army of cleaners picking up bits of rubbish here and there. It makes it such a lovely place to wander around. There are plenty of places to get something to eat and it caters for all kinds of things from snacks and quick bites to full blown meals. I didn't think the prices were that bad to be honest - certainly much less than I thought they were going to be. You are free to bring in your own food though if your budget doesn't extend to theme park prices, although expect to have your bag checked when you enter the park and to have to wait in line to do so. In terms of ticket prices for getting in to the parks, it is an absolute minefield depending on what you want. You can get tickets for just Universal Studios, which are about £50 for one day, although the daily price does go down the more days that you book. The best value if you are staying for a week or more is to get a pass that allows you unlimited entries into a number of parks. This is particularly good because I don't think you need more than one day to see everything in Universal Studios to be honest, so you'd be better combining your ticket with something else. We paid about £150 each for a fortnight long ticket that got us into Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Wet n' Wild water park. There are also untold numbers of places you can get tickets from but I would add that it tends to be cheaper if you buy them in advance. For any more information, the Universal website is excellent; www.universalorlando.co.uk
I'll begin by excusing my absence in the world of reviewing over the past few months. Much of it was spent working dreaded sixty hour weeks in order to fund the 'trip of a life time' for my boyfriend and me. And when I wasn't working my arse off I was spending whatever precious free time I had left over planning for said trip... A visit to Universal Studios, Florida had long been an ambition of mine ever since my gran went there in the 90s. She had told me at length about some of the rides. One in particular caught my imagination: 'The E.T Adventure'. She said that when she entered the attraction she was asked her name by one of the ride assistants. 'Roberta', the man repeated back to her, 'That's a very SCAT-ish name' (Oh, I do love it when Americans treat us Scots like a novelty). She told me that the ride itself involved sitting on a bike and flying through the night sky, just as Elliott does in the film, over tree tops and teenie tiny little buildings. She described her astonishment as the ride neared its end and a life-sized E.T thanked her and each rider individually by name (hence why she was asked her name before she went on the ride). It all sounded very fantastical to my nine year old self. I would just have to go to this place one day... Back in the summer of 2009 I worked at a Girl Scout camp in Ohio. Well, I would hardly call it work. It was a hell of a lot of fun, I made some new friends and when I was done being camp counsellor I spent two weeks touring the east coast with Trek America. On this trek stayed over in Orlando for a night but we were only given enough time to visit Disney before heading down to the Florida Keys. I never did get to visit Universal. However, fast forward to this year and I was attending the wedding of one of the lovely girls I met at summer camp. After the wedding in Ohio my boyfriend and I both headed down to Florida and I made a personal point of going to Universal not just for one day, but for two days. Universal Studios, you see, is made up of two different parks - the original Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure. If you really want to make the most of your time there it really is best to get a two day ticket and visit both parks separately on two different days. I wouldn't even bother trying to visit both on the same day - it's one or the other... *~A VERY UN-SCOTTISH HOGSMEADE: HOGWARTS IN 100 FAHRENHEIT HEAT~* On our first day to Universal Studios, there was no question about which park we would visit first. I have always been a massive Harry Potter fan (yes, I know, just like everyone else) and I was desperate to go to the 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter'. So off to the Islands of Adventure we went. We had barely stopped in the park for ten minutes before I had whisked Daz, my boyfriend off to Hogsmeade. And what a sight. It's very strange but rather brilliant to find something quite so British bang in the middle of Florida. Entering the gates of Hogsmeade you are politely reminded to 'Respect the Spell Limits' and are greeted by the strange sight of a snow-topped village in the heat of the Floridian sunshine. Look to your right, and there's a wonderful replica of the Hogwarts Express. Look straight ahead and you'll see a whole host of shops recognisable from the books: Honeydukes, Zonkos, Ollivanders and many more. On a summer day like this one you will also no doubt be faced by throngs and masses of people. Damn Muggles, you were not meant to be there. Shoo! Back from whence you came... If you can ignore the peculiar heat, then the streets of Hogsmeade seem like they have been lifted right from the pages of a Potter novel. As delighted as I was by this, I still felt a little unsettled by the idea of it all. It was like when I went to see a Queen and Paul Rodgers gig back in 2008. I applauded Rodger's gravelly vocals and watched in awe as Brian May delved into his signature guitar solos just feet away from me. However, the whole time I was there I thought this sad, unpleasant thought: 'Ach, I want Freddie. It's not the same without him.' It was the same with Universal's Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. As much as I enjoyed my butterbeer and the fake snow on the rustic-style buildings, it all felt wrong in the 100 degree fahrenheit heat. I wanted the real Hogwarts in its Northern Scottish setting and its British eccentricities. I wanted a few more magical-looking people wandering about in long capes, maybe the odd individual rushing home as if they had just remembered they had left the cauldron on. Yes, you are probably thinking - You can't have that Sarah. Freddie is long gone and Hogwarts is a fictional place which sprung up from the recesses of J.K Rowling's fabulous imagination. Don't remind me. I'm still waiting on my letter from Hogwarts... Ach well, a girl can dream and whilst I was in Hogsmeade I found myself spending a lot of time visiting the shops, admiring the Potter-themed goodies but not admiring the prices (see rant later in this write-up if you want to know about the prices). I bought myself a frozen Butterbeer in a souvenir mug and it was much tastier than expected. It is a very sweet drink with a foamy top which is quite difficult to describe. Probably the closest description came from an American friend who described as being like a combination of root beer or cream soda with butterscotch. I really didn't think I would like it. Even with my sweet tooth, I thought it would be too sickly and that I wouldn't have been able to manage more than a few gulps before downing some water. However, it is surprisingly refreshing and delicious. Not too sweet at all. Whoever crafted this recipe is worthy of an award from the Ministry of Magic itself. As for the rides, the Dragon Challenge rollercoaster and Flight of the Hippogriff are great for a bit of a thrill but it is the 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey' that is the crowning jewel - not only of this park but of the whole of Universal Studios. It is a long wait but when you get inside the Hogwarts castle there is lots to see. Portraits move and talk to you. You bypass Godric Gryffindor, Rowena Ravenclaw, Helga Hufflepuff and Salazar Slytherin deep in conversation and well, argument (I was especially thrilled to hear Rowena's Scottish accent). You get to walk through Dumbledore's office, a replica of the film set and are addressed by the man himself. You even come across Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. At one point Ron even casts a spell which misfires causing a real amount of magical fluff to fall upon the waiting crowds. Hermione of course fixes this for him and it is not long before the trio disappear again underneath their invisibility cloak. The ride itself is stunning. It is the finest simulation ride I have ever been through. It takes you through Harry Potter's world, playing Quidditch and soaring above Hogwarts castle. I don't think I could even do justice describing it. You really have to experience it. As a fan I found it to be jaw-droppingly astonishing in the way that it immerses you in the Harry Potter world. I can even unashamedly admit I felt a little bit teary by the end I enjoyed it so much. Even my boyfriend, who has very little to do with Harry Potter thought that it was the best ride in the park. Absolutely magical. *~EXPLORING THE REST OF THE ISLAND OF ADVENTURE~* It took me a few hours before I could tear myself away from Hogsmeade to explore other parts of the park. We pretty much bypassed the Dr Seuss themed area of the park. I have absolutely no interest in it whatsoever. I much prefer British children's fiction such as Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl. I tried to read some Dr Seuss when I was a kid but it just wasn't my thing and I found the'Cat in the Hat' film quite ghastly. There are four other parts of the park that we did set to explore: The Marvel Superhero Island, the Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park and the Lost Continent. Superhero Island was a lot of fun particularly as I have been a fan of superhero films and TV series since I was a little girl, spending many afternoons watching the dodgy 90s Spiderman animations on Fox Cartoons. This part of the park looks like it was lifted right from one of the older Marvel comic books. There is none of the gloss and stylish panache of some of the newer superhero creations (think Nolan's 'Dark Knight' and Andrew Garfield's Spiderman). The sets look like they were lifted straight from an 1960s comic book and when you do come across some individuals dressed up like characters from the X-men they all look a little bit silly. Let's say that Wolverine is no Hugh Jackman. It is all big, bold and cheesy primary colours. The true American comic book hero. For the thrill seekers on Superhero Island, there is the Incredible Hulk Coaster and Doctor Doom's Fearfall. As a bit of an adrenalin junkie, I really wanted to go on the Hulk Coaster but I am unfortunate to have a boyfriend who I can lovingly refer to as a bit of a wuss. He still hasn't forgiven me for dragging him on all the rides at Alton Towers (although I would have blamed his queasiness on the Naga curry he had the night before). I therefore settled myself with the Spiderman ride which was pretty fun. Universal are very good at simulation rides and 3D shows and in this 3D simulation ride you find yourself following Spiderman round New York as he fights various super-villains. The rest of this park is pretty ho-hum in comparison to the Harry Potter and superhero part of the parks but still rather fun. My complaint about Jurassic Park was that there just wasn't enough animatronic dinosaurs and not enough rides. However, after being soaked in Bluto's Barges in Toon Town we did miss out on the Jurassic Park River Adventure for fear of being soaked again. In hindsight, I really wish we had gone on it as I think it may have given us the additional serving of the animatronic dinosaurs that I so desired. After going around all the parks, we found ourselves heading back to Hogsmeade as it began to approach nightfall. I had to see Hogwarts at night and couldn't resist going back on the Forbidden Journey ride again. For us, the Islands of Adventure would have been nothing without this part of the park and I am really glad I didn't go to Universal in 2009 as it wouldn't quite have been worth my money without the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I even think they should expand it, build upon it and make it even bigger and more magical. Just as Cinderella's Castle has its own night show and fireworks display, I think that Hogwarts Castle should get its own one day.... *~15 years of anticipation: Was the Original Universal Studios all it was cracked up to be?~* After our first day spent at the Islands of Adventure we decided to postpone our return to the original Universal Studios for another day, choosing to head over to the Kennedy Space Centre instead. That was the great thing about our 2 day pass. It didn't force us to visit the parks two days running and gave us the leisurely and more relaxing option of going to the Space Centre between visits. Refreshed after a days break, we headed over the Studios. After my years of waiting, I had high hopes for this park. Possibly a little too high... When I first got into the park I loved its focus on movie making and not just movie subject matter, which I suppose is something you would hope to expect from a studio theme park. The majority of the park looks like a classic film set and in some parts of the park you may expect some retro-looking 'broads' and 'gangsters' to step out on to the sidewalk. Sadly, this was not the case. One of the first things that I did see at the park was an 'I Love Lucy' exhibition. Now, I've heard about 'I Love Lucy' but I'm not overly familiar with the show. I think that most Brits are probably the same. Ask us about Dad's army and Only Fools and Horses and you'd get quite a reaction. Ask us about I Love Lucy and from most of us you'll probably just draw blank stares. Nevertheless, I found the exhibition very interesting and charming. I felt I was getting a small history lesson about one of America's popular culture heroes. As for the rides, it was a bit of a mixed bag. On one end of the spectrum, there is the brilliance of the more modern Simpsons, Men in Black, Mummy, Terminator and Shrek rides. I have already mentioned that Universal Studios excels in its simulation rides. The Simpsons ride was no exception. What I particularly loved about this simulation was the creativity and humour which reflects what you would find in an episode of the Simpsons. Another highlight of the park was the indoor Mummy ride which I found quite thrilling. Indoor roller coasters I particularly love as I enjoy the sense of the unexpected when you are plunged into darkness with unseen dips and jerks. On the other end of the spectrum, a few of the older rides really seem to be showing their age. In the Twister ride, for example, you can see a lot of strings amongst its very rickety special effects. A cow flying through the area looked like it was suspended on rope. I guess this could be part of the joke and also part of the charm. Is it really that wrong to hold on to a few beloved retro rides? I recall my gran telling me all about how she jumped out of her skin when she went on the Jaws ride. Others have said that Jaws was a bit crap and looked ridiculously plastic when it rose up out of the water. Whatever the case, there were quite a few people who missed that plastic shark when they got rid of it in January this year. It has long been deemed an iconic Universal ride. Like E.T, it was there since the park's inception. However, none of this sentiment will be able to diminish my disappointment at finally getting to ride the 'E.T. Adventure'. My boyfriend and I waited in the queue for quite a considerable time, we gave our names to the ride assistant who very impersonally touch typed it into a computer at the speed of light and we were given out 'Interplanetary Passports' (no friendly remarks upon my Scottishness). The room you enter before the ride was quite beautiful - a dark forest setting with various props from the film. Sadly, the ride was extremely underwhelming. I had hoped that you would get to rise up and swoop over towns as if you really were on a bike flying through the air. Instead it just felt you were driving through a rather pretty but not very remarkable set piece. To add insult to injury, I didn't hear E.T. saying my name. Maybe I wasn't listening hard enough. All I know is that after years of anticipation, I felt rather deflated. Other than the rides, there are a few shows that run in the main park. Being a fan of Tim Burton, I thought I would catch the Beetlejuice show. I really wish I hadn't. The idea is that Beetlejuice had summoned Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein and the Wolfman and has transformed them into all-singing, all-dancing versions of themselves. Such a cringeworthy spectacle of cheesy rock and pop tunes, it churned up more bile within me than watching a particularly sentimental episode of Glee. I did have to laugh, however, when they played some Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Daz hates them with a passion and I could see that he wanted a pair of ear plugs when they belted out those tunes. Being British we were too impolite to leave... Having entered the park at about 10 o'clock in the morning, we had had enough of the park by around 6 o'clock. A theme park really should make you want for more and encourage you to stay till closing time. This was not the case. We may have stayed for the Cinematic Spectacular show and firework display later in the evening had we not had to return a rental car... *~Dining in the Park~* I can't really provide much information on dining in the park as we really didn't eat much when we were there. The prices weren't too extravagant (about $11.99 for Fish and Chips at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade) but we made a decision that it would be better value to eat outside the park before and after we spent the day there. We did have one snack of chilli cheese fries on our second day at the park. It was probably priced over and above what we would have paid outside the park but it wasn't too expensive. Moreover, we filled up on a hearty portion of free salad and gherkins at the nearby burger salad bar... *~UNIVERSAL GIFTS FOR THE UNIVERSALLY RIPPED OFF~* Whilst the food wasn't too badly priced it was the gift pricing that really pissed me off. I had hoped to buy a few gifts and keepsakes from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but the prices were completely out of my budget. I know that theme parks inflate prices because park retailers fully expect people to buy the stuff but the prices at Universal Studios left me exceptionally disgusted. In the end, all I could really allow myself to buy was a frozen Butterbeer in a souvenir cup (just under $11), a Chocolate frog (just under $10) and several postcards for my friends (a dollar each). There's no denying that all of these items were rather special. The Butterbeer was very tasty. The chocolate frog was made of thick beautiful chocolate, came in beautiful packaging with a wizard card inside. All of the postcards I bought were stamped with a special owl post stamp outside the post office. The gifts on offer were terrific. However, when I wanted to buy myself a Marauders Map I had to draw the line as you were effectively spending twenty dollars on a piece of polythene wrapped illustrated paper. As tempting as the gifts may be for any Potter fan, if you don't have a great amount of money, you will probably balk at the prices... *~BUYING YOUR TICKETS: MAKE SURE YOU SHOP AROUND~* One thing that I would recommend doing when you purchase your tickets for Universal, is to shop around a bit. By no means, should you buy them from the Universal website. For example, you can get an adult 2 day pass for the park for $139.99 on the website but we paid around $20 less per ticket for our discounted tickets. We paid around £70 to £80 each for our tickets which, at around £30 to £40 per day you could argue is good value for a park as big and extravagant as Universal Studios. However, I do think we could have actually received an even better deal. Walking down International Drive we found several discount ticket booths and I got the sneaky and somewhat unpleasant suspicion that I could have purchased cheaper tickets there. Bottom line is, you really need to shop around at as many places as you can in places like International Drive and never settle for buying tickets from the website unless they suddenly start offering the deal of the century. *~UNIVERSALLY OVER-HYPED~* All in all, I ended my experience at Universal Studios with rather mixed feelings. I absolutely adored the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and thought it was one of the best attractions I have ever been to. I would rate it four stars and the reason it is one star short of five is because I wanted more of it. Here's to a bigger, better version of this in future incarnations of the park. The rest of the park, unfortunately, just left me feeling a touch disappointed. The rides and shows, on the whole, didn't live up to my expectations... I have considered that my slightly negative experience of Universal Studios could have been contributed to by the fact we visited during the height of summer. I had gone to the USA to attend my friend's wedding and I did wish that she hadn't chosen to schedule her wedding in the middle of July. As a couple without kids, we probably would have chosen a less popular and less expensive time to visit the States. By visiting in July we were probably visiting when the park was at its busiest. Had we visited during the off-peak season we may actually have been able to go on more rides and wouldn't have had to deal with queuing in the ridiculous Florida heat when a ride was busy. Deep down I know that I would have enjoyed it more in a month like February. Last time I was in Florida we visited Disney at the start of September and it was gloriously quiet. Had we visited Universal when it was quietest I am quite sure that we would have had a much more enjoyable time. We did have the option to buy an Express pass which costs from around twenty to fourty-odd dollars. However, I entirely resented the idea of paying additional money just so we could get on the rides more quickly. Disney have a free system where you can get a fast pass ticket and visit more popular rides at a later allocated time. At Universal they did away with this system to introduce a money-grabbing paid system. All this does is creates a sort of 'under class' of those who cannot afford to buy Express passes and those who grudge paying for them having already paid a lot for their park ticket. Whilst I was at Universal Studios I heard an enthusiastic employee mockingly refer to the park as the second happiest place on earth. With a ticketing system like that, I am not surprised. Disney clearly wins and I do know that I had a much more favourable experience visiting Disney back in 2009. Whether this was due to the timing of my visit or because the attractions are just superior, I am somewhat undecided. I fully realise that you should avoid theme parks during the summer holidays but I cannot hide my disappointment with a few of the rides and the ridiculous gift shop pricing. Had it not been for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it would have been easy to feel entirely disappointed with the trip. However, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts was a real treat and I would definitely go back just for that. I would just make sure there were a few less Muggles about... *~Thank you for reading my review. Nice to be reviewing again. You will also find this review on Ciao under Renza - August 2012~* Edited in September: I can't believe no one pointed out the massive editing mistakes I made e.g. bad spelling, duplicated paragraphs, etc. Oh dear....
Universal Studio's Florida is a theme park located in Orlando Florida and is part of the Universal Studios Resort. Originally opened in June 1990 it was designed to give themepark goers the Movie and entertainment industry experience, with rides and shows centered around the industry. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The park features 6 themed areas all situated around a large lagoon: ( I will review the rides if I had the pleasure of experiencing them ) 1 : Production Central: This area features such rides and experiences as: Shrek 4-D Donkey's Photo Finish Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoons bash Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit : This is a fairly new addition to the park and is a Steel Rollercoaster, it is unique in that each rider has their own sound system and before you begin the coaster you are able to select your own soundtrack using different genre's of music, I myself picked Limp Bizkit and had a blast, the coaster starts you directly vertical going up 167 feet before dropping you down along the 3800 feet of track, it was a thrilling ride and an excellent coaster, and the added bonus of the music definitely enhanced the experience. 2: New York : Designed to mimic the streets of New York it features such attractions as: Revenge of the Mummy, The Ride : This is an enclosed steel rollercoaster based upon the Mummy series of movies, it is a 2200 foot interior track that reaches a top speed of 45MPH, it gives you the feeling of being inside a mine car. Twister.....Ride it out : Delancey Street preview Center : Here you can actually volunteer to watch a pilot of an upcoming TV Show and give feedback, they even pay you for your time, we watched an upcoming buddy cop show called "Common Law" which was awful, but it paid for one of our tickets and only took up about 75 minutes !! The Blues Brothers Live: A live action roughly 15 minute set from the Blues Brothers, very entertaining and you can just sit outside on the street and watch. 3: San Francisco / Amity: This area is themed after a coastal city and also a seasonal tourist town in New England: Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You! : Its set on a soundstage of a fictitious movie company and puts you through the motions of starring in a movie, its unique in they actually pick people out of the audience and have them become cast members, although it is quite lengthy and does get quite boring after a while, before you get to the thrilling part at the end. Jaws : An iconic theme park ride where everyone knows whats going to happen, but is enjoyable nonetheless, you go on a boat ride through Amity harbour where you're attacked by Jaws. Fear Factor Live 4: World Expo : Takes its design theme after various international world expositions of the 20th century. Men In Black, Alien Attack The Simpsons Ride : Is a motion Simulator ride based around the TV Show of the same name, it follows Sideshow Bob trying to kill the simpsons family and the riders are along for the ride, it is an impressive ride with great effects and you really get a feel of motion during it. 5: Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone: An area centred around kids with none thrilling rides and areas designed to appeal to pre-teens, perfect if you want a slower pace Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster Fievel's Playland Curious George Goes to Town E.T. Adventure : Is one of the original rides when the park opened and is timeless, it follows you riding in your bike with elliott with ET, while not particularly thrilling it is a cute ride with alot of charm. 6: Hollywood: It recreates areas of Hollywood and makes you feel like you're on the streets of Tinseltown. Lucy: A Tribute Universal's Horror Make-Up Show Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time : A live 3D experience based upon the movie Terminator 2, it uses live cast members and also special effects to give the audience a thrilling experience, however it is long and in parts gets a little tedious. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Me and my wife visited Orlando the 1st week of May and it was perfect, the lines were manageable and the weather was great, it was mainly in the 80's - 90's in temperature and by the time we made it to Universal Studio's the park was pretty dead, we didn't cue up for a ride for longer than 20 minutes and managed to enjoy the park at our own pace, however out of the four parks we visited ( Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studio's ) I do think Universal Studio's florida is the weakest, some of the rides are thrilling ( the Rip, Ride Rock-It coaster was awesome ) but everything is much slower paced and some of the rides / experiences are a little dated ( ET and the Terminator 2 movies are both over 20 years old ). One thing me and my wife commented on about the difference between Disneyworld and Universal is that with Universal the rides are better ( Islands of Adventure particularly ) and its geared towards the more mature people, but the experience at Disney is much better, customer service at Disney is first class, however at Universal their "Crew Members" ( The opposite to Disney's Cast Members ) don't place as much emphasis on customer service. One thing Universal offer is Express Plus, for around $25 you can buy a ticket that gives you much quicker access to the rides, however you can only use it once per ride, while in the peak seasons I can imagine it gives you a good value, when we visited most of the lines for the rides were around 20 minutes or so anyway, even the Rip Ride Rock-it coaster was only around a 45 minute wait, which made the expense of the passes just not worth it, however if you're visiting in a peak time I would definitely recommend it as its a good way to experience all the rides and not feel like you missed out at the end. Overall we had a good time at Universal, however next time we visit Orlando we may give it a miss unless they update alot of the rides and the park itself
I have been to Florida in March/April of the last 2 years and am actually going again this year. one of the main reasons for this is Universal Studios Orlando. I actually prefer this to Disneyland, if you have never been I recommend it. We stayed on international Drive which provides a free shuttle to the resort. Universal Orlando is out of this World, its huge they actually have two parks, 1) the Islands of Adventure & 2) Universal Orlando. It also has Universal City walk which is like a nightlife area. There are a number of restaurants and food halls contained within the resort, you can actually buy an all you can eat voucher for £15 dollars which allows you to eat in any of these as much as you like all day!. There were times we got more meals than visited rides or exhibitions. The first year we went we really enjoyed the fantasitc Jaws, Men in Black, E.T, Shrek and Jimmy Newtron Rides. At that time they were still in the process of completing the Simpsons ride. Last year it was ready and we hardly left it!. It is fantastic and like no other ride I have ever been on. There is also a tribute to Lucile Ball (An American icon from the 60s). A special effects show and BeetleJuices Graveyard review which is very entertaining. I also enjoyed the twister ride. This year they have actually added a Harry Potter ride and I can't wait to see what that is like. Islands of adventure is something completely different they have a Jurassic Park themed park, a Toon Lagoon one (which features Popeye among other comic book favourites. The lost continent and My personal Favourite Marvel Super Hero Island. Which includes rides such as the Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, a 3-D simulator ride set in New York which is fantastic. Doctor Doom's Fearfall, and Storm Force Accelatron, They actually have actors patrolling the park dressed up as the characters throughout Universal so you can get a Pic with your favourite Hero!. Naturally there is a lot of merchandise sold throughout Universal and I confess to spending far too much money on the T-Shirts and Cuddly toys. But its all great Fun. For late on in the evening you can't beat City walk, which Boasts the Hard Rock Cafe, Jimmy Buffets, and The NBA Cafe. Universal actually do a Mardi Gras Festival as well as a Whole month of Halloween. How could you beat that. I was able to get our ticket for the last 2 years for £75 per person and that allows access to all the parks for 14 consecutive days. You can go open all the rides as much as you want. If you like you can also pay for a fast track pass, but sadly it only allows you go get in the fast lane once for each ride to beat the queue so its a bit of a rip at £25 -30 Dollars. I really can't wait to go to Florida next month for the sun the food but mostly for Universal Studios!. No matter what your interest you will be fully catered for, singing and dancing shows, pure entertainment, fantasy, adventure its all here. Highly recommend.
I thought it might be useful to write a review aimed at coaster phobes (I can't be the only one). I will do this review in 2 parts otherwise you might lose the will to live whilst reading it. A lot of reviews tend to concentrate on the big rides, but I'm going to tell you what I do when I'm at the parks. Firstly, out of all of the parks Universal is probably the best for you if you hate coasters as coasters are not the main attraction here. The other thing I need to mention is that though I am a coaster phobe I am fine with spinning things and bumpy attractions so bear this in mind. So here we go with what you can do! Shrek 4d- This is a what is called a 4d theatre experience. So as well as a 3d film you also have a physical experience too. For example you get a little bit wet when one of the characters in the film sneezes. Good family fun that only the very young or nervous might not enjoy. Men in black- This involves shooting aliens from a moving car which spins around quite regularly. Theres also a competitive edge as your scores are shown at the end along with the usual ride photo. Twister- This attraction is a film tie in with a short film about the making of the film to start, you then go into a stage set which reproduces what a tornado feels like. I will warn you though my 8 year old son was absolutely terrified which really surprised me as he rides coasters no problem. The simpsons- This is what used to be Back to the future revamped. I haven't actually been on this yet. I assume it is very much the same but with the simpsons. It is a simulator type ride on a grand scale and is very effective. It is also extremely bumpy, my husband complained he banged his shoulder. I was fine and enjoyed it. Jimmy Neutron blaster- This is themed around the kids cartoon and and basically it's another simulator type ride where your seats move about a fair bit. Fine for all the family. Jaws- One of the oldest attractions in the park but still well worth a look. This may be a bit too intense for younger visitors as it involves loud sound effects, smoke and fire and a large shark attacking your boat! Great fun. Disaster- Excuse me if I've got the name wrong on this but basically you get onto a subway train and there's an earthquake. Both times I've tried this ride it has broken down so I can't recommend it. Kids back from school now so part two later on when I can hear myself think!
I visited Universal Studios in October of this year. I have previously visited the park in Holywood so assumed that this would be the same, however I was wrong. The Florida park has plenty of different features and attractions and whilst some are the same ride such as The Mummy and Jaws, these are made quite differently. There is also a large childrens area which my daughter really enjoyed and she also liked being able to enjoy some of the rides as at Islands of Adventure she was too small for the majority. Some rides are in need of updating or replacing such as the ET ride and Twister as I feel that these have run their course now and seem a bit boring compared to some of the other rides on offer. On of the newer attractions is the Simpsons ride, which replaces the old Back to the Future ride. This is a simulator ride and is very good. The queues are not however and despite being very quiet on the day I visited it certainly took a long time to get on the ride. The newest addition and the most popular is the new Rip Ride Rock It rollercoaster, though with a queue time of 2 hours I did not get chance to ride on this. Several other member of our party did though and said it was good, but not as good as it looked. As I didnt get to ride on this I am unable to confirm their reports. Overall I would definitely recommend this for a day out whilst on holiday in Florida. It is expensive to get in, but if you buy a 14 day ticket this allows you access to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Seaworld and Aquatica as many times as you like over the 2 week period which is a great idea.
Universal Studios in Orlando opened in 1990. It is located at the Northern end of International Drive and is on the same site as City walk and Islands of Adventure. I find this the most disjointed of all the Orlando theme parks but I would think that it has more teenage appeal than many in the area. The park is split into several areas but I didn't find them particularly distinctive and can't really remember why a certain attraction would be in a certain area. Entrance to the park is past the very photogenic Universal globe and then through the huge gateway. Bag searches and electronic turnstiles are the norm for this area and the queues move quite quickly. There are several attractions that are particularly popular so like all parks it is a good idea to plan what you really want to see. Shrek 4D is probably the first attraction you will spot. This is very popular and has a huge queuing area which leads you into a "pre-show" to get you up to speed on the story of Shrek (as if you didn't know!). This is followed by a 15 minute film with plenty of brilliant 4D effects and a good story although some younger children may find it a little scary. Jimmy Neutrons Nickletoon Blast is opposite and that is a part simulator and effects story that is also popular with youngsters. Sometimes Shrek and Donkey or Dora the Explorer will be in the area to sign autographs. The donkey is expertly done and is very witty, certainly makes the parents laugh! There is a larger children's area that houses Feels playground which is great and even has a little water ride in it. ETs adventure is located in the children's area. This always seems to have a huge queue, made worse by the fact that everyone is given a card and asked their names which is entered on a computer. After the rather gentle air ride you are welcomed back with your name but it is very hard to hear and I think it misses most people anyway. My favourite ride is Men in Black. This shoot-to-score ride takes you through rooms that look just like the film and then send you to defend the city from aliens. There is a huge alien at the end and if you know how to beat it you get a huge score which infuriates your family! (Guess who knows the secret?) As you progress around the lake you come to some of the older attractions that are starting to show their age. Jaws is not open everyday but is a boat ride that turns into a disaster. The boat pilots are the key to how much you will enjoy the ride. The models are not great but join in with the screaming and your kids will be terrified anyway. Twister and Disaster are based on the disaster movies that were popular in the late 70s. They are both long attractions so make sure you have planned enough time to visit them. Disaster takes you on a simulation of a San Francisco Subway during an earthquake and involves 65000 gallons of water. Make sure you are not at the end of the train as the effects are really much better in the middle. Twister is based on a tornado and most of it is rather boring so give it a miss if there is a big queue. The Revenge of the Mummy was the only coaster in the park when we visited (Hollywood Rip Ride Rockitt has just opened). It was an effective ride that is all enclosed with plenty of beetles and scary effects. It reaches good speeds and is quite exciting. The walk through the queuing area was very long so I would hate to think how much waiting occurs in high season. Terminator 2 3D is a fun presentation involving actors and pre-recorded films. I thought that this was very effective and quite exciting but again wouldn't be suitable for younger children. Universal Studios does have several other attractions. Unfortunately because we always visit in October several of them are shut as they are revamped for their Halloween night specials. This is quite irritating as there are stage make-up presentations and special effect features that I would like to see. Also, as the park is decorated for Halloween there are parts that look odd because they obviously will have features added to them at night so the park tends to look a bit derelict and unloved by day. There are plenty of shopping opportunities and places to eat. Photographs have to be collected at the guest services area and need to be viewed before you leave the park. Having visited several times I would have to say this is not my favourite park as I find that it certainly doesn't take up a whole day. Visiting in October has the disadvantage of Halloween but the advantage that we have hardly ever had to queue for more than about 10 minutes for any ride. Get a two-park ticket and visit Islands Of Adventure as well, especially if you like thrill rides.
Universal Studios Florida is a theme park in Orlando, Florida. The parked opened in June 1990 and now is part of Universal Orlando Resort. The park's was designed on the original park in Hollywood but taken to the next extreme. The park in Hollywood is a working film and television studio that became a tourist attraction and theme park, Universal Studios Florida was designed as both a theme park and a studio from the start. The original Hollywood park star attraction is its studio tour. This featured several special-effects exhibits and encounters built into the tour. The Florida park does not have this instead they took the short encounters etc... from the studio tour and made them into larger, stand-alone attractions. Many of the park's rides were developed with the actual creators of the films. Steven Spielberg helped create E.T. Adventure and was a creative consultant for Back to the Future: The Ride, Twister...Ride it Out, Jaws and Men in Black: Alien Attack. Universal Studios Florida is separated into seven different areas: Production Central, Hollywood, New York, San Francisco/Amity, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone and The Lagoon. Production Central Is the parks main entrance. Here you will find guest services shops and these rides: Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, Shrek 4-D, Donkey's Photo Finish, The Hollywood Bowl Theater and the new Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. Hollywood Hollywood Boulevard is not the best area and I think could be used better. This area is never busy because of this. But saying that they have am favourite show in the park Terminator. The rides in this area are: Universal's Horror Make-Up Show, Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time. New York This section of the park is named (Simply) because of the architectural styles and sets that resemble the New York. The rides here are: Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Twister...Ride it Out, The Blues Brothers Live San Francisco/Amity This section has two distinct themes; that of a mature coastal city and of a seasonal tourist town in New England and the town of Amity from the film of JAWS. The rides in this area are. Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You!, JAWS World Expo World Expo takes its inspiration from the international expositions of the 20th century. This area houses Men in Black and this area is in the film. The rides in this area are: Men in Black: Alien Attack, The Simpsons Ride Woody Woodpecker's KidZone Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone is the park's children's area. This area is great for kids and houses these rides: A Day in the Park with Barney, Fievel's Playland, Curious George, Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster, E.T. Adventure The Lagoon A large lake located in the middle of the park is home to the night time show Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular. The show is often shown during summer and other major holiday periods only. I my opinion it is not that good anyways. Not a patch on Disney's night time shows. This park in the slow season can be done in half a day. There seams to be a lot to do but to be honest there is not. The parks space could be used better but hopefully this will be done in the future.
No trip to Orlando would be complete without a visit to Universal's original Florida Theme Park. The Park was opened in 1990, the parks theme was the entertainment industry - particularly films and famous TV shows. The park allows its guests to "ride the movies". Originally Universal Orlando was just one theme park - Universal Studios. However in 1999 there was a major expansion of the resort which added an additional theme park, hotels and an entertainment complex. As a result you no longer enter directly into a park but walk through the resort to get to the theme parks you wish to visit. As you approach Universal Studios you get the opportunity to take your photograph by the world famous revolving Universal globe. I have been to Universal several times and most times I purchase tickets in advance - either on the internet or through a travel agent. However one time I did not do this and had to queue up - it may have just been bad luck on my part but it took me over an hour to get my tickets and get into the park. So I would definitely recommend purchasing in advance - you can usually get better deals this way too. The park is mostly set around a lake, the entrance is actually on the left hand side of the park so as you enter you can either go straight on or to the right. I always turn right and walk around the park that way as I find most people tend to go the other way. Heading in this direction the first attraction you come too is Terminator 3D. This is a 3D show based on the Terminator films. Whilst young children can go on this ride it can be quite jumpy/scary for young kids. Further round is an area designed for smaller children with attractions based on Woody the Woodpecker, Barney and an ET ride - my husband thinks ET is a really rubbish ride and wont go on it - but I think its quite fun. Next up you come to the newest attraction of the resort - The simpsons ride. For those of you who have been previously the Simpsons ride took over from the Back to the Future ride - I was originally disappointed in this as I thought back to the future was good - just needed modernising a little. However the new Simpsons ride is brilliant! I think its very well done - even the queuing area is quite fun! There is even a Quik-E-Mart shop! Walking further round you will come to another key attraction - Men in Black Alien Attack. This is another brilliant ride - your seated in a little car and are given guns. You travel through different scenes and you need to shoot the aliens - the person with the highest score wins. It might sound boring but it really is good fun - hard to describe really. Continue walking around and you will come to another of my favourite attractions - Jaws. The whole area is themed like the town from the film right down to the hanging shark in the centre and the carnival games. As you keep walking round you will come across several other brilliant attractions - Disaster, Twister and the Mummy. The mummy is a rollercoaster so this is not suitable for small children - the other two are shows so great for everyone. As you keep walking around you'll come to the final area of the park which has a Shrek 4D simulator ride - this is another excellent ride in my opinion - worth noting that the seats move in this so if your not keen on this idea you can ask for a stationary seat. Opposite this is Jimmy Nutrons Jet toon blast - this ride may look like its for Kids but I found it one of the most entertaining rides in the park! Very funny! This really is a park worth visiting! It is quite expensive but if you check on the Internet I have always been able to find good deals!
I have been lucky and had the opportunity to go to Universal Studios in Florida many times, the most recent just last month! I have really been taken a blew with its magic atmosphere and just everything that it has to offer. It is also worth noting that the park really has seen quite a wide range of updates over the last year, so if you've been before and want somethign new, make sure you go there! I'll start off by saying that the only disadvantage possible for this place is the price, because entry and food etc are all expensive. There is a whole array of different rides to go on from the Horror Make Up show, The Mummy Ride or even Jaws the ride amongst many many more! There is just so much to do and the atmosphere is truly brilliant. I love how it brings the movies to life and the vibrance of the place is just incredible. I could not recommend it more for a family trip because there is something for everyone. It is situated just minutes away from Orlando 'Citywalk' which is also great! I hope this was useful and thank you very much for reading this!
Welcome to the home of the stars & the best theme park for Adults in Florida; Universal Studios. The Park is split into 5 sections which I will cover individually. I have been here twice. Once in March 2007 & once in March 2009 so I have been on most of the rides. You enter the Park through PRODUCTION CENTRAL. This is where the largest shop is. There is also a bakery with serves breakfast & lunch. I recommend the Ham, Egg & Cheese croissant. Good value & tasty. The 2 attractions that are in this area are: SHREK 4D; a 3D short film set in between Shrek 1 & Shrek 2. It is good, especially for younger ones. Plus the feelers are pretty funny. You might get a little damp. JIMMY NEUTRON'S NICKTOON BLAST; an attraction aimed at kids where you ride a rocket through Jimmy's world. NEW YORK is decorated to look like 1920's New York & is home to 3 attractions. REVENGE OF THE MUMMY THE RIDE is a fast moving Rollercoaster through the Mummy's tomb. You go both forward & backwards. I get travel sick so I'm not big on coasters but I did go on. There are no loop the loops so I wasn't sick thankfully! You do go forward & backwards & the ride is very atmospheric & looks great (although I did have my eyes shut for half of the ride). TWISTER RIDE IT OUT is a show based on the film twister. You line up stood side by side & watch a re-enactment of the Drive in scene on a set. There are no people but lots of bursts of fire & obviously heavy wind & rain. Stand at the front to get a little wet. THE BLUES BROTHERS is a show which takes place in the street. very apt if you've seen the film. Two guys arrive & sing live songs from the film & at one stage one of them comes of the little stage & starts dancing in the streets with the guests who are all encouraged to join in. My family would tell you that I'm the life & soul of the party & you can take me anywhere so I was straight in here. Lots of fun if you like the film or that type of music. HOLLYWOOD is a mock up of Bevery Hills & contains three attractions: TERMINATOR 2 3D is definetly one of my favourite 3D shows in the whole of Florida. Sarah Connor & John Connor take control of the Cyberdyne systems building that you are in & battle a Terminator in front of you. Live Actors run around the set, feelers try & scare you in your seat. Good for anyone. Fantastic for terminator fans. UNIVERSAL HORROR MAKE UP SHOW is as it sounds & to be fair I didn't see it so can't judge LUCY A TRIBUTE is a short film about the I Love Lucy TV show. More aimed at American's than Brits. I didn't see it although I did get a pic outside with Lucy & Marilyn Monroe WORLD EXPO is home to arguably the tow best rides in the park & is dressed up to look like each ride. THE SIMPSONS RIDE replaced the excellent BACK TO THE FUTURE ride in 2008. It is a simulator ride in which you sit in a car which moves about in front of a Giant Cinema screen. The plot is that you are riding Krusty's new rollercoaster in his theme park. The pre ride video is very funny as is the ride along with being a good ride. I really loved the BACK TO THE FUTURE ride but this is better. Also you can have your photo with Homer & Marge outside. MEN IN BLACK ALIEN ATTACK is my favourite ride in the park. You enter through the World Fair which is a mock up of a park in Queens New York. You enter a lift & are whisked into MIB headquarters which forms the queue area. Once you have made it to the front, you board your vehicle for up to 6 people & go through MIB training where you ride around shooting Aliens with your light gun. Fantastic fun. Very interactive. Cars go round in 2's & at one stage you even shoot the other cars. Bonus points on offer at the end if you aren't too lost in the ride to hear what to do! I loved it. SAN FRANSISCO / AMITY is a mock up of both a coastal carnaival & San Francisco & includes 4 attractions JAWS is a boat ride around Amity island in which you encounter the famous Great White from the movies. It's pretty chilled compared with some of the other rides although you can still get thrown around the boat a little. O enjoyed it & woud ride again. Only dissapointment is that they used to have a Jaws shark hanging outside for photo ops. In 2009 this wasn't there. Bring it back! FEAR FACTOR LIVE is a game show that actually takes place before your eyes. Competitors are park guests who all applied about an hour before the show starts & compete against each other in feats of strength & bravery for a chance to play the final game & win genuine prizes which are really good. I enjoyed the show & it's good if you want to have a rest & take the edge of your feet although you might want to spend your time on the rides. Better still, apply to enter yourself. If I go back, that's what I'll do. BEETLEJUICE'S GRAVEYARD REVUE is another show. This includes Beetlejuice alongside other famous horror characters singing & dancing around the stage to Rock n Roll Music. Good fun again if you enjoy the music. Funny in places. Bits of innuendo. I would say that the Blues Brothers is probably better because you get to join in & dance around yourself. Although if you're the kind of person who'd rather watch than join in. This is for you. DISASTER is a new ride Which has replaced EARTHQUAKE. It hasn't changed that much although where it has is fantastic. You are treated to a warm up intro that is funny where they ask for volunteers. Feel free if you game for a laugh. I did on both my visits (told you, can't take me anywhere). The volunteers are then filmed in various situations in a show which might be funny but I was always on stage. Then you all get on board a train which represents the San Francisco underground. You ride into a station & then the earthquake happens around you. The new addition is that cameras both film you & show you the film at the same time intercut with the clips of the volunteers. The story is that you are all extras in the movie. Great fun. Interactive again. Cue much pointing & shouting look it's us. The only dissapointment was that you couldn't buy the 5 minute film you took part in on DVD. Come on Universal. Cash in! WOODY WOODPECKER'S KIDZONE is the final area & dedicated to young children. I have no children so didn't spend much time in here although I did go on ET ADVENTURE. This is an ET ride where you take to your bycycle. Ride out from the city with ET & visit his homeworld. It's ok although the queue is very long because you all give your name so ET can read it at the end. Plus some of the ride seats don't get that good a view. Definetly one to leave for last unless you love the ET film. The park really is great fun for all the family but especially adults & teenagers. Lots of thrills to be had & memories to be made. No visit to Orlando is complete without a visit here.
INTRODUCTION Universal Studios in Orlando Florida is just one of the theme parks owned by the Anhauser Busch Group, brewers of Budweiser beer and the main rival for the Walt Disney World group of theme parks. We visited in January 2007 and went on a Saturday. In hindsight I would not go on a weekend day, and this applies to all Florida theme parks as they are just too packed because all the local people go too. The queues for all rides are a nightmare. We bought a 2 day 2 park ticket which cost us around £70 for the two at that time. The ticket can then be used for 1 day at this park and 1 day at Islands of Adventure. This is a good park for those who don't like roller coasters as many of the rides are simulator style ones that are accessible to all ages and abilities. SOME OF THE RIDES Jaws - this is a boat ride around Amity Island. The boats are quite big with bench style seating and the seats are already wet from the previous trip. The driver of the boat plays a part of sorts and gets a report over the radio that a great white shark has been spotted nearby; everyone in the boat is urged to be on the lookout for the predator. A huge animatronic shark then leaps up out of the water at various intervals to "attack" you. If you're sitting at the end of a row of seats rather than in the middle you will probably get soaked. This ride is very good; it's cleverly constructed and makes grown men scream (the ones I know anyway!). It is very loud though what with the shark bumping against the boat, the people screaming and the "driver" yelling at the shark and "shooting" it and therefore might be scary for little kids. My nephew who was only 4 at the time spent much of this ride with his hands over his ears. Men in Black Alien Attack - this ride is like the waltzers meets an arcade style shooting game. The cars hold about 6 people and each individual seat has a built in gun. The aim of the game is to shoot all the aliens while the car goes around on a track and spins you this way and that. To get a really high score you need the hit the actual target. I was useless at this as I'm no good at aiming anything at anything. My 4 and 7 year old nephews got much higher scores than me. This ride is all in the dark with lots of laser/strobe lighting so won't be suitable for all. ET - another gentle ride that can be enjoyed by all ages from little tiny kids to grandparents, even great grandparents. You sit in a sort of giant bike and each holds about 6-8 people. E.T. is seated on the handlebars of each bike in a basket. Then you 'fly' above miniature houses etc. Earthquake: The Big One - A magnitude 8.3 earthquake, complete with the sort of destruction such an event would cause. Jimmy Neutron - another simulator ride, another ride for all ages, another ride where you watch a big screen. I had some reservations about this as I thought it would be very babyish, however it's excellent and very very funny. LIVE SHOWS There are plenty of lives shows to enjoy as well as rides including: Fear Factor live The Blues Brothers Lucy - a tribute to Lucille Ball Animal Actors on Stage CHARACTERS We met plenty of characters here and had our photos taken with Scooby Doo, SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, Woody Woodpecker, the penguins from Madagascar, Marilyn Monroe and Laurel & Hardy. Unlike in the Disney parks, we didn't have to queue for hours on end to meet any of these characters. They just seemed to be there when we turned the corner. FOOD & DRINK There are plenty of places to eat, mostly fast food joints. We found a fish & chip shop and had that instead. It was lovely considering the States isn't known for fish and chips.
Universal Studios in florida is based on different movies. This park is really well done but is not much to look at as most of the rides are inside LARGE WAREHOUSE TYPE BUILDINGS WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS WHICH ARE WELL THEMED. This is an excellent park for movie buffs, but i have heard mixed reviews about whether or not take children as quite alot of the movies most of the children may well not have heard of or seen, for example the jaws ride, twister earthquake etc. but for adults this is well worth the money and if its inlcuded in the package then i dont see why you shouldn't go Best price option is the orlando flex ticket at £159 an gives acces to the flollwong parks Universal Studios - Universal's Islands of Adventure SeaWorld Aquatica Wet 'n Wild. A list of everything at the park (not my work!!!!!! just thought it might be useful) Production Central Production Central serves as the park's main entrance. The section is a cluster of motion picture soundstages, each of which houses attractions inspired by today's most popular films and television shows or actual film & television filming. Attractions *Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, a motion simulator ride featuring various Nickelodeon characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly Oddparents. Opened: April 2003. *Shrek 4-D, a 4-D film set between the events of the motion pictures Shrek and Shrek 2. Opened: June 2003. *Donkey's Photo Finish, is an interactive character meet and greet across from the exit of Shrek's Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe. Opened: 2003. Future attractions *Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, a new roller coaster experience complete with a custom soundtrack and the ability to upload a video of your experience to your webpage or video-sharing site, scheduled to open in the spring of 2009. The description provided in the announcement suggests the attraction will be built in this section of the park, but as the project takes shape it may be annexed into a different section. *The Hollywood Bowl Theater, a new ampitheatre styled alike to the Hollywood Bowl, scheduled to open in Spring, 2009. Dining *Beverly Hills Boulangerie *Universal Studios Classic Monsters' Cafe Shopping *Universal Studios Store *Studio Sweets *It's a Wrap! *Nick Stuff (Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast) *Shrek's Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe (Shrek 4-D) Character appearances *Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey (In front of Donkey's Photo Finish) *Nickelodeon characters (SpongeBob SquarePants and Jimmy Neutron ) *Hanna-Barbera characters (Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, The Flintstones and The Jetsons) Hollywood The entrance to the Hollywood area during the 2007 Christmas seasonAlong Hollywood Boulevard, guests will see recreations of some of its greatest monuments, such as Schwab's Drug Store and Mel's Drive-In. The real Schwab's Drug Store and Mel's Drive-In were located in Sherman, later known as West Hollywood and both on Sunset Boulevard, not Hollywood Boulevard. Attractions *Universal's Horror Make-Up Show is a live stage show that shows guests how horror film special effects are created. Features a pre-show walk-through of set pieces and props used in various horror movies. Originally featured an opening pre-show featuring an appearance by Lon Chaney, Sr.'s Phantom of the Opera. Pre-show currently houses a character appearance by Hellboy from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Opened: 1990. *Lucy: A Tribute, a walk-through museum featuring the best of "America's favorite redhead." Opened: 1990 *Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time is a live, 3D experience that combines a 3D film with an actual stage show based on the film Terminator 2. Opened: 1996. Dining *Cafe La Bamba (operates seasonally) *Schwab's Pharmacy *Mel's Drive In Shopping *Cyber Image (Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time) *Theatre Magic Character appearances *Marilyn Monroe *Lucy and Desi Arnaz *Beetlejuice *Betty Boop *Scooby Doo, Shaggy Rogers, Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, and Velma Dinkley *Popeye and Olive Oyl *The Simpsons Family: Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson, Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson *Woody and Winnie Woodpecker *Curious George *Trolly Host *Bullwinkle New York This section of the park is aptly named. Within its boundaries can be found architectural styles and sets that resemble the New York of yesterday or today. Attractions *Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride is an indoor roller coaster inspired by The Mummy and its sequels. Opened: May 2004. *Twister...Ride it Out is a live-action attraction that uses special effects to simulate a tornado. Opened: 1998. *The Blues Brothers Live is a live outdoor show with classic rock and soul songs performed by The Blues Brothers. Opened: 1991. Dining *Finnegan's Bar and Gril *Louie's Italian Restaurant *Starbucks Coffee *Ben & Jerry's Shopping *Aftermath (Twister...Ride it Out) *Sahara Traders (Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride) *Rosie's Irish Shop Character appearances *The Blues Brothers *The Mummy characters *Street Breaks San Francisco/Amity The entrance to the "Jaws" attraction is a popular photo spot in the park.This section has two distinct themes; that of a mature coastal city and of a seasonal tourist town in New England. Attractions *Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue is a live show featuring some of Universal's classic monsters, including Frankenstein, Dracula, the Bride of Frankenstein, and Wolfman. Opened: 1992. *Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You!, puts you in the middle of a new Disaster movie made by fictional company Disaster Studios. Opened: January 2008 *Fear Factor LIVE! is a live stunt show that puts real park guests into the action of the former NBC series, Fear Factor. Opened: 2005. *Jaws puts you aboard Captain Jake's Amity Boat Tours, where you'll journey around the island of Amity, hoping to avoid the menace known as JAWS. Opened: 1990. Dining *Richter's Burgers *Lombard's Landing Seafood Grille *Nathan's Hotdogs Shopping *San Francisco Candy Factory *Quint's Surf Shack (Jaws) *Disaster! Studios Gifts (Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You!) World Expo World Expo takes its inspiration from the international expositions of the 20th century. It combines ultra-modern architecture as seen from the 1960s and today. Themeing in the area includes various flags of world countries and of Simpsons characters, and a small Coca Cola themed drink stall titled Roboasis. Attractions *Men in Black: Alien Attack is an interactive dark ride adventure where you will join the ranks of the Men in Black to save New York City from a recent alien invasion. Opened: 2000 *The Simpsons Ride is a motion simulator ride which takes you through the world of Krustyland with The Simpsons Family. Opened: 2008 Dining *International Food and Film Festival Shopping *Fear Factor Gear (Fear Factor LIVE) *MIB Gear (Men In Black: Alien Attack) *Kwik-E-Mart (The Simpsons Ride) Character appearances *The Men In Black *Doc Brown & Marty McFly *The Simpsons Family: Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson, Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson Woody Woodpecker's KidZone Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone is the park's children's area, and is hosted by Woody Woodpecker, Universal Studios' mascot. The area was originally part of World Expo, but was divided into its own section with the opening of Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster in 1999. Attractions *A Day in the Park with Barney is a live stage show featuring Barney and his friends. Opened: 1995. *Fievel's Playland, a children's playground  . Opened: 1991. *Animal Actors On Location is a live stage show featuring trained animals. Opened: 2006. *Curious George Goes to Town is a play area featuring two large water troughs that dump 500 gallons of water on its visitors every few minutes, and a ball area where guests can shoot squishee balls out of cannons Opened: 1998 *Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster is a junior coaster aimed toward children and their parents. Opened: 1999. *E.T. Adventure, a dark ride based on the 1982 hit film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Opened: 1990. *StarToons: 80's Rewind, a live show featuring classic Universal cartoon characters performing to 1980's songs. It is the third version of the show to be held at the park, the previous two versions being StarToons, in the Production Central area, and StarToons Character Meet and Greet, also in the Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone area. Opened: 2008. Dining *Kidzone Pizza Company Shopping *E.T.'s Toy Closet (E.T. Adventure) *Universal Cartoon Store (Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster) Character appearances *Woody Woodpecker *Barney, Baby Bop, and BJ *Curious George and the Man in the Big Yellow Hat *Alex the Lion and the Penguins from "Madagascar" *Scooby-Doo and Shaggy The Lagoon A large lake located in the middle of the park. Attractions *Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular, a seasonal fireworks display that showcases scenes from various Universal films, featuring lasers, projectors and fireworks. The show is often shown during summer and other major holiday periods. Opened: 2006
I admit it - i am a theme park junkie - the scarier the ride, the happer I am. I have visited this park twice in recent years with my parents, brother and my partner. My mum, unlike me, does not enjoy scary rides at all. Universal has fa fewwer scary rides than it's sister across the lake, Island of Adventure. AS we were visiting both parks in one day however we all purchased a Universal Express Plus pass. There are a limited number of passes available each day and they are often sold out in advance. The cost of the pass varies based on what parks are selected and even what day is selected, with higher prices charged on peak operating days during the year. The passes provide the user with the ability to skip right to the front of the queues. Perfect when one of you doesn't want to ride but doesn't want to be left alone for the 2 hour wait that can entail on the bigger rides. The passes were also fantastic for water rides. Instead of the usual, go on, get soaked, dry off, go on another, get soaked... You could go on them all one after another meaning that you were only really wet the once. Universal queues, as previsouly mentioned, are notoriously long and unlike Disney parks, the queues are not well sheltered meaning you the wait can get quite hot and uncomfortable. Another advantage of the passes. The rides at the park are fantastic - my favourites included Shrek 4D, Terminator 2: 3D (my dad didn't realise this was 3D despite the name and got a big of a shock the first time on this one), revenge of the mummy, Men in Black Alien Attack (family fun all round) and ET where at the end ET will say your name!! The park was very clean, user friendly and has a wide variety of food and drink to be purchased (although this can get expensive - top tip freeze a bottle of water overnight and take this with you, you'll save a small fortune!). Merchandise can also be purchased with something for everyone! I would definately recommend this and it's sister park - Island of Adventure to anyone who enjoys fun!