Universal Creative

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Universal Creative
Division
IndustryEngineering, architecture, design
HeadquartersOrlando, Florida, United States
Key people
Mark Woodbury, President
Thierry Coup, Senior Vice President
ProductsTheme parks, resorts, attractions
ParentUniversal Parks & Resorts
Websitejobs.universalparks.com/universal-creative/ Edit this on Wikidata

Universal Creative designs, develops, and delivers themed attractions, rides, resorts, and parks globally for Universal Parks & Resorts, a division of NBCUniversal, whose parent company is Comcast.[1] Its divisions include master planning, creative development, design, engineering, project management, and research and development. The Universal Creative team is composed of artists, architects, engineers, designers, producers, builders, writers and more who conceive, design and build all of the themed entertainment experiences for Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Singapore, and Universal Beijing Resort.[2] [3]

It is best known for its design of immersive experiences based on NBCUniversal and third-party intellectual property. Notable classic and modern licensed properties used by Universal Creative include Harry Potter works and films, Dr. Seuss properties, The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Transformers, Despicable Me, and Nintendo franchises. [4] [5]

The company, headquartered in Orlando, operates at Universal Parks & Resorts locations around the world in the United States, Singapore, Japan, and China.[6]

History[edit]

In December 1958, MCA, Inc. purchased the Universal City Studio Lot in California. After MCA and Universal merged in 1962, MCA-Universal expanded into recreation. [7] In 1964, MCA-Universal officially opened Universal Studios Hollywood. [8] As the park grew, Universal Creative was founded in 1968 under the name MCA Planning and Development as part of MCA-Universal's recreation division. [9]

Universal Creative continued to operate through 1996 as MCA Planning and Development, opening Universal Studios Florida in 1990 and creating attractions such as Jaws and E.T. Adventure. [10] In 1996, MCA was sold to Seagram, which changed the company name to Universal Studios, Inc. In 1997, MCA Planning and Development was renamed to Universal Creative. Two years later, Universal Creative opened Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort.

The company moved to Universal Orlando Resort in 2001, the same year it opened Universal Studios Japan. [11] In 2011, Comcast purchased NBCUniversal, incorporating Universal Parks & Resorts and Universal Creative into its portfolio. [12] Universal Studios Singapore, a joint venture with Resort World Sentosa on Sentosa Island, was opened by Universal Creative in the same year. Its next major park projects are Universal Beijing Resort and Universal Orlando's Epic Universe. Universal Creative currently has offices in Hollywood, Orlando, Osaka, and Beijing. [6]

Executive Leadership[edit]

  • Mark Woodbury: President, Universal Creative and Vice Chairman, Universal Parks and Resorts [13]
  • Steve Blum: Senior Vice President, Ride Safety & Engineering [14]
  • Thierry Coup: Senior Vice President, Creative Studio [15]
  • Charlie Gundacker: Senior Vice President, Attraction Development [16]
  • Mike Hightower: Senior Vice President, Executive Project Director [17]
  • Brawner Greer: Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs [18]
  • Daniel Memis: Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration [19]
  • Russ Dagon: Senior Vice President, Resort Development [20]
  • Caryl Lucarelli: Vice President, Human Resources [21]
  • Gene Dobrzyn: Senior Vice President,Project Management Office [22]
  • Modesto Alcala: Senior Vice President, Global Restaurant Development [23]

Patents[edit]

Universal Creative files numerous patents for new technologies with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In 2019, Universal Creative filed 43 patents. [24] Some notable patents include the SCOOP ride vehicle designed for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man in Universal Orlando Resort, interactive wand technology for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and moving portraits for the queue of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. [25] [26] "We actually had to create the technology which was used to make those portraits look like moving paintings," said Thierry Coup, Senior Vice President of Universal Creative's Creative Studio. "There's a whole portfolio of patents that Universal filed just with the creation of this attraction." [27]

Projects[edit]

Universal Creative designs, develops, and delivers attractions, resorts, and restaurants for Universal Parks & Resorts globally.

Attractions[edit]

Universal Creative attractions are known for their use of classic and popular culture intellectual properties, in addition to their incorporation of new technology.[28]

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure[edit]

Universal Creative's Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is considered to be the world's first "story coaster". The Creative team's coaster broke multiple records by being the first coaster in the U.S. to have a free-fall vertical drop (17 feet), catapulting guests 65 feet in the air at more than a 70 degree angle then immediately dropping them back down in one movement, having the most launches of any coaster in the world (7 total), and containing the longest coaster track in Florida, measuring approximately a mile in length. The construction of this attraction also included planting a forest of 1,200 trees. [29]

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure won the Thea Award from the Themed Entertainment Association for outstanding achievement, the Best New Roller Coaster Award from Theme Park Insider, and was named "best new attraction installation of 2019" from the 2019 Golden Ticket Awards. [30] [31] [32]

Transformers: The Ride - 3D[edit]

Universal Creative, in partnership with Oceaneering International and Industrial Light & Magic, created Transformers: The Ride - 3D to be featured at Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Orlando Resort. In this dark ride, riders board a 12-person vehicle designed to look like a Transformer and go on a chase from the top-secret NEST agency. The attraction blends computer-generated action with reality through the use of 14 screens and a variety of physical props. [33] Universal Creative first opened this attraction in Singapore in 2011 and Hollywood in 2012, followed by Orlando in 2013. Its biggest challenge was real-estate space, which prompted it to be designed as a vertical, two-story experience. [34] Transformers: The Ride - 3D has won numerous awards, including the Thea Award for outstanding achievement, the International 3D Society Lumiere Award, and was named "best new attraction" from Theme Park Insider. [35]

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man[edit]

Universal Creative's The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a dark ride using advanced audio, with the sound accurate to ​15 of a video frame.[36] "All of your visceral, aural and visual input has to be in perfect sync," says Steve Blum, Senior Vice President of Ride Safety and Engineering. "Humans are very sensitive to anomalies in their environment: If you don't give them the right input, they detect right away that it's not real." [37] Universal Creative partnered with Oceaneering International to create a 12-passenger motion-base simulator pod capable of six degrees of freedom (heave, sway, surge, yaw, pitch, and roll) and 360-degree rotation (achieved with a ring and pinion gear system), all contained in an angled shell to direct riders' view. Universal Creative's Phil Hettema and William Mason received inventor credits on the ride system patent, known as the SCOOP.[36]

Universal Creative employees Scott Trowbridge and Thierry Coup storyboarded a scene-by-scene breakdown of the ride that would be projected onto thirteen 30-foot tall projection screens integrated with physical sets. Because guests would be moving toward, away from, or past these 3D screens, animators had to consider the perspective shift that viewers would actually encounter if these really. They developed a new process they called "squinching", used to account for a viewer's moving sightline and distorting the animation to match.[36]

Created for the Islands of Adventure theme park that opened on May 28, 1999, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man won Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for Best Dark Ride for twelve consecutive years from 1999 through to 2010. It has since placed second in that category, after fellow Islands of Adventure attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, took the top spot in 2011. In 2000, the ride won a Thea Award from the Themed Entertainment Association for outstanding themed entertainment and experience design. It has also won numerous public-voted Theme Park Insider Awards and Screamscape Ultimate Awards. The ride has been duplicated at Universal Studios Japan, which opened in January 2004.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey[edit]

Exterior Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey opened in June 2010 as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. It features robotic arms as a ride vehicle which are mounted on a track, to travel through the attraction while performing their movements in synchronization with the ride's show elements (animated props, projection surfaces, and so on).[38] In Amusement Today's annual Golden Ticket Awards, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey debuted as the best new ride of 2010. It won the Best Dark Ride category for five consecutive years from 2011 to 2015.[38] Due to the massive popularity of the ride, it was duplicated at Universal Studios Japan (which opened on July 18, 2014) and Universal Studios Hollywood (which opened on April 7, 2016).

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts[edit]

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a steel roller coaster that opened on July 8, 2014 in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. The attraction was a part of Universal Creative's goal to "create Diagon Alley exactly how people might have imagined it in the books." [39] It encompasses motion-based vehicles, detailed sets, physical effects, and 3D projection screens similar to those found on Transformers: The Ride 3D and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. The ride takes guests through the vaults of Gringotts, where they meet several characters from the Harry Potter films and have a face-to-face encounter with Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange In Amusement Today's annual Golden Ticket Awards, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts has made it into the Top Five Dark Rides since it opened in 2014.

Resorts[edit]

The Universal Creative Resort Development team designs and develops resort, hotel, restaurant, and retail experiences for Universal Parks & Resorts. Universal Orlando Resort's long-standing partnership with Loews Hotels led to the development of Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal's Aventura Hotel, Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Surfside, and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside. [40] Future Universal Creative resorts include The Universal Studios Grand Hotel and the NUO Resort Hotel – Universal Beijing Resort at Universal Beijing Resort. [41]

Restaurants[edit]

Universal Creative designs and develops the restaurants within Universal Parks & Resorts. Award-winning restaurants within the parks include Mythos Restaurant, The Leaky Cauldron, and The Three Broomsticks at Universal Orlando Resort. [42] [43] Award-winning restaurants in Universal CityWalk Orlando include The Cowfish and Vivo Italian Kitchen. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen, currently located only in Universal CityWalk Orlando, is expected to replace the Hard Rock Café In Universal CityWalk Hollywood in 2021. This is the latest addition to Universal Studios Hollywood to align with Universal Orlando Resort's CityWalk dining options. Other shared restaurants are Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Bubba Gump, and Voodoo Doughnut. [44]

Theme park and resort projects[edit]

Current projects[edit]

Universal Creative is in the process of developing two new parks—Universal Beijing Resort and Epic Universe. Universal Beijing Resort is expected to open in 2021 with seven highly themed lands. These lands include: Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, Transformers: Metrobase, Minion Land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World Isla Nublar, Hollywood, and WaterWorld. [45]

Epic Universe, the fourth park to be added to the Universal Orlando Resort portfolio, was announced in August 2019. It will feature an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more. It is expected to be located within a larger 750-acre site that will nearly double Universal's total available acreage in Central Florida. No opening date has been announced. Brian Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Corporation, said the following regarding Epic Universe:

Project Park/Resort Opening Date
The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! Universal Studios Hollywood 2020
Super Nintendo World[46] Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Hollywood TBA
Universal's Epic Universe Universal Orlando 2024
Universal Beijing Resort Universal Beijing Resort Spring 2021

Past projects[edit]

Film-based attractions[edit]

Project Park/Resort Opening Date Notes
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Hanna-Barbera Productions, Rhythm and Hues, Sullivan Bluth Studios, Landmark Entertainment Group, and Ride Trade
Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies Universal Studios Florida 1990
Back to the Future: The Ride Universal Studios Florida 1991 Co-produced with Amblin Entertainment, Berkshire Ridefilm
Universal Studios Hollywood 1993
Universal Studios Japan 2001
Terminator 2: 3D - Battle Across Time Universal Studios Florida 1996 Co-produced with Landmark Entertainment and Digital Domain
Universal Studios Hollywood 1999
Universal Studios Japan 2001
Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast Universal Studios Florida 2003 Co-produced with Nick Digital and Ride Trade
Shrek 4-D Universal Studios Hollywood 2003 Co-produced with DreamWorks Animation
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Singapore 2010
The Simpsons Ride Universal Studios Florida 2008 Co-produced with 20th Century Fox Television, Gracie Films, Reel FX Creative Studios and Blur Studio
Universal Studios Hollywood
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Islands of Adventure 2010 Co-produced with Warner Bros. Recreation Group
Universal Studios Japan 2014
Universal Studios Hollywood 2016
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Universal Studios Florida 2012 Co-produced with Illumination Entertainment and Ride Trade
Universal Studios Hollywood 2014
Universal Studios Japan 2017
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Universal Studios Florida 2017 Effects by Industrial Light & Magic
Fast & Furious Supercharged[47] Universal Studios Hollywood 2015 Seen on the Studio Tour.
Universal Studios Florida 2018
The Bourne Stuntacular Universal Studios Florida 2020

Physical attractions[edit]

Project Park/Resort Opening Date Notes
Universal Pictures Backlot Tour Universal Studios Hollywood 1968 Co-produced with Totally Fun Company, Ride & Show Engineering and Weta Digital
Kongfrontation Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Totally Fun Company
Earthquake: The Big One Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Ride & Show Engineering and Totally Fun Company
Jaws Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Ride & Show Engineering, Landmark Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment and Totally Fun Company
Universal Studios Japan 2001
E.T. Adventure Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Amblin Entertainment and Sally Corporation
Universal Studios Hollywood 1991
Universal Studios Japan 2001
Back to the Future: The Ride Universal Studios Florida 1991 Closed in 2007
Universal Studios Hollywood 1993
Backdraft Universal Studios Hollywood 1991
Universal Studios Japan 2001
Jurassic Park: The Ride Universal Studios Hollywood 1996 Co-produced with Amblin Entertainment
Islands of Adventure 1999
Universal Studios Japan 2001
Twister...Ride it Out Universal Studios Florida 1998 Co-produced with Warner Bros. Recreation Group and Amblin Entertainment
Men in Black: Alien Attack Universal Studios Florida 2000 Co-produced with Columbia Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Landmark Entertainment
Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You! Universal Studios Florida 2008
Transformers: The Ride 3D Universal Studios Singapore 2011 Co-produced with Paramount Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Digital Domain
Universal Studios Hollywood 2012
Universal Studios Florida 2013
Silly Swirly Fun Ride Universal Studios Hollywood 2014
Freeze Ray Sliders Universal Studios Japan 2018
Jurassic World - The Ride Universal Studios Hollywood 2019

Shows[edit]

Project Park/Resort Opening Date Notes
The Land of a Thousand Faces Universal Studios Hollywood 1975
The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show Universal Studios Hollywood 1980 Co-produced with Landmark Entertainment
Universal Studios Florida 1991
Universal Studios Japan 2001
Nickelodeon Studios Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Nickelodeon
Murder, She Wrote Mystery Theatre Universal Studios Florida 1990
Ghostbusters Spooktacular Universal Studios Florida 1990 Co-produced with Columbia Pictures, Landmark Entertainment
An American Tail Theatre Universal Studios Florida 1990
Animal Actors Universal Studios Florida 1990
Universal's Horror Make-Up Show Universal Studios Florida 1990
The Boneyard Universal Studios Florida 1990 Closed in 2008
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera Universal Studios Florida 1990 Closed in 2002
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Show Universal Studios Florida 1992 Closed in 1993
Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies Universal Studios Florida 1990 Closed in 2003
A Day in the Park with Barney Universal Studios Florida 1995
The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Islands of Adventure 1999
Fear Factor Live Universal Studios Florida 2005
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular Universal Studios Florida 2006
Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical Universal Studios Hollywood 2009 Co-produced with Broadway Attractions
Special Effects Stage Universal Studios Hollywood 2010
Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg Universal Studios Singapore 2010
Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories Universal Studios Florida 2012
Sing On Tour Universal Studios Japan 2019

Roller coasters[edit]

Project Park/Resort Opening Date Notes
Dragon Challenge Islands of Adventure 1999, 2010 Previously known as Dueling Dragons, co-produced with Warner Bros. Recreation Group
The Incredible Hulk Coaster Islands of Adventure 1999 Co-produced with Marvel Entertainment
Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster Universal Studios Florida 1999
Flight of the Hippogriff Islands of Adventure 2000, 2010 Previously known as The Flying Unicorn, co-produced with Warner Bros. Recreation Group
Universal Studios Japan 2014
Universal Studios Hollywood 2016
Revenge of the Mummy Universal Studios Florida 2004 Co-production with Alphaville
Universal Studios Hollywood 2004
Universal Studios Singapore 2010
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Universal Studios Florida 2009 Ride manufacturer Maurer Sohne
Hollywood Dream – The Ride Universal Studios Japan 2007 Ride manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard
Space Fantasy – The Ride Universal Studios Japan 2010 Ride manufacturer Mack Rides
Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Islands of Adventure 2019

Awards[edit]

Thea Awards[48][edit]

Award Year(s) Received Project Park/Resort
Paragon Award 2015 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios Florida
Diagon Alley
Hogwarts Express
Diagon Alley Retail/Dining
Award for Outstanding Achievement 1996 Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular Universal Studios Hollywood
1997 Terminator 2:3D: The Battle Across Time Universal Studios Florida
2000 FiestAventura Universal Studios Port Aventura
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Islands of Adventure
2001 Men in Black: Alien Attack Universal Studios Florida
2002 Animal Celebration Universal Studios Japan
2002 Templo del Fuego Universal Studios Port Aventura
2005 Revenge of the Mummy Universal Studios Florida
2006 Fear Factor Live Universal Studios Florida
2008 Peter Pan's Neverland Universal Studios Japan
2009 The Simpsons Ride Universal Studios Florida
2009 Universal Studios Hollywood
2010 Disaster! Universal Studios Florida
2011 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Islands of Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Islands of Adventure
2012 Space Fantasy The Ride Universal Studios Japan
2013 Transformers: The Ride 3D Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Singapore
2014 The Song of An Angel Universal Studios Japan
2015 Harry Potter & The Escape from Gringotts Universal Studios Florida
2017 Springfield (Themed Food & Beverage Experience) Universal Studios Hollywood
2018 Universal's Volcano Bay Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Spectacle Night Parade – The Best of Hollywood Universal Studios Japan
Award for Technical Excellence 2015 Interactive Wands Universal Studios Florida
Classic Award 2002 Universal Studio's Tram Tour Universal Studios Hollywood
2017 WaterWorld: A Live Sea War Spectacular Universal Studios Hollywood

The Golden Ticket Awards presented by Amusement Today[49][edit]

Award Year(s) Received Project Park/Resort
Best Indoor Attraction 1998 Back to the Future: The Ride Universal Studios Florida
Best Simulated Interactive Ride
Best Dark Ride 1999 - 2010 The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Islands of Adventure
2011 - 2015 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Islands of Adventure
Best Water Ride 2001 - 2002, 2004, 2006 - 2014 Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls Islands of Adventure
Best Indoor Coaster 2008 - current Revenge of the Mummy Universal Studios Florida
Best New Attraction 2010 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Islands of Adventure
2019 Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Islands of Adventure
Golden Ticket Awards Legend 2019 Revenge of the Mummy Universal Studios Florida

Theme Park Insider Awards[50][edit]

Award Year(s) Received Project Park/Resort
Best Theme Park 2002 - 2004, 2010 - 2011 Islands of Adventure Islands of Adventure
Best Attraction 2002 - 2005 The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Islands of Adventure
Best Roller Coaster 2003 - 2004 The Incredible Hulk Islands of Adventure
Best Table Service Restaurant 2003 - 2008, 2019 Mythos Restaurant Islands of Adventure
Best New Attraction 2004 Revenge of the Mummy Universal Studios Florida
2008 The Simpsons Ride Universal Studios Florida
2010 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Islands of Adventure
2012 Transformers: The Ride Universal Studios Hollywood
Best New Family Attraction 2015 Hogwarts Express Universal Orlando Resort
Best Quick-Service Restaurant 2015, 2020 The Leaky Cauldron Universal Studios Florida
2016 - 2018 The Three Broomsticks Universal Studios Hollywood
Best New Theme Park 2017 Volcano Bay Volcano Bay
Best New Roller Coaster 2017 Krakatau Volcano Bay
2020 Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Islands of Adventure

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External links[edit]