Universal Studios Florida

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Universal Studios Florida
UniversalStudiosOrlandologo2017.png
USF Entrance.jpg
Entrance to the theme park
LocationUniversal Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Coordinates28°28′31″N 81°28′01″W / 28.4752°N 81.4670°W / 28.4752; -81.4670Coordinates: 28°28′31″N 81°28′01″W / 28.4752°N 81.4670°W / 28.4752; -81.4670
ThemeShow business and Universal entertainment
SloganLet Yourself Woah
(as Universal Orlando Resort)
OwnerNBCUniversal
(Comcast)[1]
Operated byUniversal Parks & Resorts
OpenedJune 7, 1990; 31 years ago (1990-06-07)
Operating seasonYear-round
Attractions
Total18
Roller coasters4
WebsiteOfficial website

Universal Studios Florida (also known as Universal Studios, Studios (inside the Universal Orlando Resort), or USF) is a theme park located in Orlando, Florida. Primarily themed to movies, television, and other aspects of the entertainment industry, the park opened to the public on June 7, 1990. It is owned and operated by NBCUniversal and features numerous rides, attractions, and live shows. Universal Studios Florida was the first component of the larger Universal Orlando Resort to open, and it ranked eleventh in the world and sixth in North America for attendance among amusement parks in 2019, hosting approximately 10.9 million visitors.

In addition to the theme park aspect, early design focused on providing guests with a behind-the-scenes look at film and television, with a significant portion of the park operating as an active production studio. As producers and filmmakers showed a lack of interest in filming on site in Orlando, Universal's approach evolved, transitioning to a first-person perspective for its heavily themed rides, areas, and attractions. The resort eventually expanded with the introduction of two additional theme parks, Universal's Islands of Adventure in 1999 and Volcano Bay in 2017, as well as the restaurant and retail epicenter Universal CityWalk that also opened in 1999.

History[edit]

The original entrance to the theme park

In 1982, Universal contemplated the idea of opening an amusement park in Florida to compete with Disney.[2][3] They considered building a larger, more immersive version of their Studio Tour tram ride located in Hollywood, retaining the studio backlot tour theme to set it apart from what Disney was offering at Disney World.[2] However, Universal abandoned the idea after attempts to partner with a skeptical Paramount Pictures failed to materialize.[2] They continued to focus on their Universal Studios location in Los Angeles, planning an upgrade to Studio Tour with a new, massive scene based on the 1976 film King Kong.[2] It opened in 1986 as King Kong Encounter and became an instant hit with guests, which prompted Universal to revisit the notion of building a Florida theme park.[2]

That same year, former Disney Imagineer Peter Alexander, who worked on the life-size King Kong animatronic and was now an executive at Universal Creative, met with his friend and renowned director Steven Spielberg to discuss the creation of a Back to the Future simulator ride.[2][3] Star Wars creator George Lucas, who recently helped Disney design the well-received Star Tours attraction at Disneyland, had previously boasted to Spielberg that Universal was incapable of building such a ride.[2][3] Spielberg and Alexander gladly accepted the challenge and began working on the ride's concept.[2][3] Universal was already working on the design for its backlot tram tour attraction in Florida, which would include multiple scenes depicted at the Hollywood location.[4]

Logo of Universal Studios Florida, 1989

In 1987, Disney CEO Michael Eisner, previously the CEO at Paramount when Universal pitched their Florida park idea several years earlier, announced intentions to create their own studio backlot tour at Walt Disney World.[2][4] The new area, to be called Disney-MGM Studios, was a preemptive move to counter Universal's planned introduction into the Orlando market.[2][4] Although Universal publicly announced their Florida park intentions prior to Eisner's announcement, Disney was in a better position to fast-track construction and open sooner.[4] This forced Universal to rethink their approach and abandon the tram tour concept.[4] Instead, they opted to build standalone attractions while retaining the overall studio backlot theme.[4] Their projected opening day lineup would include Kongfrontation, Jaws, and the Speilberg and Alexander collaborative project, Back to the Future: The Ride. A large theme park with separate attractions was a new concept for Universal, and their creative team ran into multiple obstacles during development and testing.[3] Among the casualties from the early troubles was the Back to the Future ride, which had its opening delayed by nearly a year.[3]

The park was built for an estimated $630 million, with 50% ownership in the hands of MCA Universal and 50% belonging to leisure company The Rank Organisation.[5] While under the ownership of Seagram, MCA Universal would again partner with The Rank Group (corporate successor to The Rank Organisation) a decade later in the $2.5 billion major expansion of Universal Studios Florida.[6] The expansion included the addition of Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal CityWalk, and several hotels.[6] In 2000, The Rank Group sold its 50% stake to Blackstone Capital Partners for $275 million,[7] who in turn sold it to NBCUniversal for $3.165 billion, giving the company 100% ownership of the resort.[8]

For a brief time, Universal Studios Florida originally featured a tram ride attraction, also called Studio Tour, that visited the production set facilities that were once in use at the park for television shows. It was discontinued in 1995.[citation needed]

Development[edit]

Many of the attractions over the years were developed in close collaboration with directors, producers, and actors from the film they were based on. In many cases, actors reprise their roles, contributing new dialogue and footage to fill pre-show queues and action sequences within the attraction itself. Examples include Rip Torn and Will Smith for Men in Black: Alien Attack, Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo for Revenge of the Mummy, and multiple members of The Simpsons cast for The Simpsons Ride. Steven Spielberg assisted with the development of E.T. Adventure and was a creative consultant for Back to the Future: The Ride, Twister...Ride it Out, An American Tail Theatre, Jaws, Men in Black: Alien Attack and Transformers: The Ride.[9]

Production facilities[edit]

Universal Studios Florida was originally designed to function as both a theme park and working production studio. Several movies, television series, commercials, music videos, and other forms of media have been produced on site throughout its history. Nickelodeon Studios was one of the early pillars behind the working studio concept, and it was featured in various locations throughout the park in the form of soundstages.[10] Popular kids' shows such as Double Dare were produced on location, and guests could tour the facilities for a behind-the-scenes experience.[10] Film production also occurred on site, and various sets could be explored by guests riding the park's Production Studio Tour.[10] Psycho IV: The Beginning was the first film to be produced at the Florida park location while it was open to the public,[10] and visitors during the park's first month of operation were able to get a glimpse of live production.[11] In 1991, John Landis was forced to move from Universal Studios Hollywood to Universal Studios Florida to finish filming the comedy film Oscar, after a disgruntled employee set fire that destroyed most of the set at the Hollywood location.[11]

Soundstages 18 and 19 at the park, previously home to Nickelodeon Studios.

Disney heavily invested in the same working studio concept, but shortly after Universal Studios Florida opened, filming at the parks and even in the state was becoming less attractive to producers concerned about the logistics, expenses, and limited available resources.[10] Consequently, Universal ended the Production Studio Tour only five years into the park's history in 1995, and Nickelodeon's TV production moved to California in 2005.[10] Smaller shows and commercials continued to be produced, but the backlot studio concept was becoming less of a draw for visitors.[10] Universal gradually moved away from the fourth wall convention in the design of new attractions, with cast and crew directly addressing guests. Instead of witnessing how a film was made, the experience was increasingly being designed to transport guests into the middle of the action.[10] The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with the completion of Hogsmeade in 2010 and Diagon Alley in 2014, accelerated this transition and reflects the park's modern strategy and approach.[10]

Despite the evolution and growing emphasis being placed on the theme park aspect, some soundstages at Universal Studios Florida remained active. Wheel of Fortune was relocated to the park in 1999 to help promote the upcoming debut of Islands of Adventure.[citation needed] Nickelodeon returned temporarily in 2008 for the shooting of My Family's Got Guts. The 2010–11 season of RTL Group's Family Feud was filmed on site, coinciding with the show's debut of new host Steve Harvey – although the show would relocate in 2011 to Atlanta, Georgia. The revival of Howie Mandel's Deal or No Deal in 2018 was filmed in Soundstage 21 for CNBC.[12] Local and national commercials were also being shot at various soundstages.[citation needed]

Branding[edit]

Slogans marketed by Universal Studios Florida over the years include: See the Stars. Ride the Movies. (1990–1998); No one makes believe like we do! (1990–1998); Ride the Movies (1998–2008); Jump into the Action (2008–2012); Experience The Movies (2012–2015). The current slogan is Vacation Like You Mean It (2013–present; along with Islands of Adventure as Universal Orlando Resort).

Park timeline of events[edit]

Universal Studios Orlando Timeline
Year Event Description
1986 Land clearing takes place on the swamp land purchased by MCA/Universal that would hold the park. Universal Studios Florida is announced at a press conference on the Hollywood property, with a planned opening date of December 1989.
1988 The popular kids network Nickelodeon bought part of Universal Studios Florida to make their very first studio dedicated to their productions. They have access to Sound Stages 17, 18, 19 and 21. This means that Universal Studios Florida's opening date is delayed from December 1989 to May 1, 1990. Shortly following, MCA/Universal releases a video detailing the future park, which stars Christopher Lloyd as the Universal character Doc Brown interacting with the various attractions at the Florida park.[13] Universal Studios allows guests to witness the production of television shows and motion pictures in the Florida park's soundstages in middle 1988, while the rest of the studio/park is still under construction.[14]
1989 MCA/Universal Studios claims that The Walt Disney Company and its CEO, Michael Eisner copied several concepts of the Universal Studios Florida park, and integrated them into Disney's recently opened Disney-MGM Studios park.[15]
1990 On January 31, Universal Studios Florida's opening date is again delayed from May 1, 1990 to June 7, 1990.[16] Universal Studios Florida begins soft openings for the general public in late May.[17] Many of the park's attractions are not yet open at the time, and still under testing. Universal Studios Florida is officially opened with a grand opening style ceremony on June 7.[18] The park opens with five themed areas: The Front Lot (entrance area), Production Central, New York, San Francisco/Amity, Expo Center, Hollywood as well as a Lagoon located in the center of the park. The Front Lot and Production Central areas are referred to as "In Production", the New York section is referred to as "Now Shooting", the San Francisco and Amity sections are referred to as "On Location" and the Expo Center area is referred to as "The World of CineMagic Center". Nickelodeon Studios opens on the same day and there is a grand opening ceremony hosted by Marc Summers that was broadcast live on Nickelodeon. Due to massive technical problems with the original Kongfrontation, Earthquake: The Big One and Jaws attractions, Universal begins a temporary voucher service to allow guests to re-visit the studio/park when the attractions are operating.[18] Jaws is temporarily closed by Universal on September 30 due to persistent major technical problems. During the shut-down, Universal sues the original designer of the Jaws attraction,[19] Ride & Show Engineering, and hires Totally Fun Company to create a re-designed version of most of the ride. On October 27, Nickelodeon unveiled their Slime Geyser that first erupted that day.
1991 Universal adds four new attractions to the park: The Blues Brothers Show, StreetBusters, The Screen Test Home Video Adventure and How to Make a Mega Movie Deal.[20] Back to the Future: The Ride officially opens in the World Expo Center area of the park, in a grand opening ceremony.[21] The ride is considered to be a success, and receives positive reception from theme park critics.[22] Fright Nights debuts at the park. In 1992, it is renamed to Halloween Horror Nights.
1992 Nickelodeon Studios gets rid of their Audition Room and the "Touch Screen" Surveys at the end of the 40 min walking tour and replaces them with the Game Lab. Nickelodeon also have a time capsule buried there on April 30. Fievel's Playland opens in the World Expo area.
1993 Jaws is re-opened, with many scenes altered. MCA/Universal announces plans to expand Universal Studios Florida into the Universal City, Florida resort complex, including a second theme park and multiple hotels.[23]
1995 Universal Studios Florida celebrates its 5th anniversary. A Day in the Park with Barney opens in the World Expo area. The Production Studio Tour is closed due to a dwindle in the studios' recent Film/TV production. Nickelodeon Studios's red & white pillars change to green. This is also the last year Nickelodeon uses Stage 21.
1996 Ghostbusters Spooktacular closes on November 8. T2-3D: Battle Across Time opens in the Hollywood area.[24]
1997 Universal announces that Ghostbusters Spooktacular will be replaced by Twister...Ride it Out, with a planned opening date of Spring 1998[25] Universal Studios announces that the sole Studio park will be expanded into the Universal Studios Escape, including the Islands of Adventure park, Universal CityWalk Orlando and multiple hotels. The Preview Center opens in the New York area, replacing The Screen Test Home Video Adventure. It is meant to give guests a preview of the up-coming Islands of Adventure park, as well as expansion of the Studio park into the Universal Studios Escape resort.
1998 The expansion begins as the original open parking lot for Universal Studios Florida is demolished and replaced by CityWalk and a parking garage complex.[26] Universal delays the opening of Twister...Ride it Out from March 1998 to May 4, 1998 out of respect for the 42 deaths caused by a recent El Nino outbreak of tornadoes in the central Florida area. Twister...Ride it Out opens in the New York area, replacing Ghostbusters Spooktacular.[27] A new area of the park, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone, is officially opened, holding the attractions Curious George Goes to Town, StarToons and the previously opened Fievel's Playland, E.T. Adventure, Animal Actors Stage and A Day in the Park with Barney; CityWalk opens outside of the park.
1999 Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster opens in the Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone area. Islands of Adventure opens next door to Universal Studios Florida.[28]
2000 Dynamite Nights Stunt Spectacular ends. Men in Black: Alien Attack opens in the World Expo area, on the former site of The Swamp Thing Set. Universal Studios Florida's 10th-anniversary celebration.
2001 Animal Planet Live opens, replacing Animal Actors Stage. Macy's Holiday Parade debuts at the park.
2002 Universal Studios Escape is renamed Universal Orlando Resort. Kongfrontation closes in a closing ceremony. Halloween Horror Nights is moved to Islands of Adventure. The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera closes on October 20.
2003 Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast opens, replacing The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.[29] Shrek 4-D opens with Donkey's Photo Finish, replacing Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies and Stage 54 respectively.[30]
2004 Revenge of the Mummy opens, replacing Kongfrontation.[31] Halloween Horror Nights takes place in both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Nickelodeon Studios' last show is taped.
2005 Universal Express Plus is introduced, replacing Universal Express. Nickelodeon Studios closes on April 30 after nearly 15 years. Fear Factor Live opens, replacing The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show. Universal Studios Florida celebrates its 15th anniversary.
2006 Delancey Street Preview Center opens in the New York area. Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular opens, replacing Dynamite Nights Stunt Spectacular. Animal Planet Live closes and is replaced by Animal Actors on Location. Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Studios Florida for its "Sweet 16".
2007 Back to the Future: The Ride closes on March 30.[32] Blue Man Group Sharp Aquos Theatre opens in CityWalk, replacing Nickelodeon Studios. Earthquake: The Big One closes in the San Francisco area on November 5.
2008 Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You! opens, replacing Earthquake: The Big One.[33] Universal announces Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, with a planned opening of Spring 2009. The Simpsons Ride opens, replacing Back to the Future: The Ride.[34]
2009 The Universal Music Plaza Stage opens, replacing The Boneyard. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit opens.
2010 20th anniversaries of Universal Studios Florida in June, as well as Halloween Horror Nights in October. Family Feud Live opens
2011 Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast closes on August 18. Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular closes. 10th anniversary of Macy's Holiday Parade.[35] On December 2, Universal announced the closure of Jaws and the surrounding Amity themed area for a January 2, 2012 closure. Family Feud Live closes
2012 Jaws and the surrounding Amity themed area closes on January 2.[36] Universal announces the additions of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories and Universal's Superstar Parade to the park, with openings on May 8, 2012.[37] Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, opens replacing Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast; as announced on March 14, 2011 as "...one of many exciting things planned for the next couple of years".[38] Universal Orlando Resort announced Transformers: The Ride 3D will officially open in summer 2013, replacing Soundstage 44, which was demolished on June 24, 2012.[39] SpongeBob StorePants, a gift shop themed after SpongeBob SquarePants opened in Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone replacing the Universal Cartoon Store.
2013 The opening date for Transformers: The Ride 3D is announced for June 20. Details of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion are officially announced. Details for the new Simpsons Land are announced and expected to open in summer 2013. Transformers: The Ride 3D officially opens in the Production Central area, replacing Soundstage 44. Simpsons Fast Food Boulevard (renamed Springfield U.S.A.) concludes its expansion as it includes one new ride: Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl.
2014 A Celebration of Harry Potter, an annual three-day weekend event celebrated on the last weekend of January, debuts at both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on January 24. The opening date for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley is announced for July 8, 2014 amid the Diagon Alley preview red carpet premiere on June 18, 2014 with Domhnall Gleeson, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Matthew Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps, Tom Felton, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis and Helena Bonham Carter attending the premiere. King's Cross station opens on July 1, 2014 as well as the Hogwarts Express Hogsmeade station at Islands of Adventure, connecting park visitors to both Harry Potter-themed lands via a full scale working replica of the Hogwarts Express train that appears in the Harry Potter film series. Diagon Alley officially opens, replacing Jaws and the Amity section of the park.
2015 Universal Studios Florida celebrates its 25th anniversary. Universal announces a partnership with Nintendo to bring their characters to either Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure park.[40] Universal announced in August, that Fast & Furious: Supercharged is set to open in 2017 (this was later pushed back to 2018); it will replace Disaster!, set to close on September 8, and Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue, set to close early 2016. Disaster! closed on September 8. It was announced on October 27, the closing of Twister...Ride it Out for November 1, 2015 to be replaced by Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2017,[41]
2016 Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue closes on January 5. Construction begins for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.
2017 On the January 12, 2017 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, host Jimmy Fallon announced April 6 as the official opening date of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon[42] with tapings of the show taking place at the resort April 2–6. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon began soft openings on March 2 and opened on April 6. Jimmy Fallon attended the grand opening of the ride as well as announcer Steve Higgins, house band The Roots, Gary, Sara's stepdad and Hashtag the Panda. T2-3D: Battle Across Time closed on October 8 to make room for a new attraction opening in 2019.[43] Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories closed to make room for a new night show.[44]
2018 Fast & Furious: Supercharged opens on April 23, 2018, based on Fast & Furious film franchise; it replaced Disaster!, which closed on September 8, 2015. Universal Orlando Resort debuted its new night time lagoon show, Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration, On July 16.[45]
2019 Beverly Hills Boulangerie closed in early January to be re-themed to The Today Show and open in Spring as TODAY Cafe. A Celebration of Harry Potter was not celebrated as Universal focused on the construction of Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure. TODAY Cafe opened on May 16 with a grand opening attended by Al Roker and a live broadcast of The Today Show. On October 15, a stunt show based on the Jason Bourne film series, called The Bourne Stuntacular, was announced as the replacement of T2-3D: Battle Across Time, for a Spring 2020 opening date.[46]
2020 Universal Parks & Resorts announced the closure of the resort effective March 15 due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Florida, initially until the end of the month, later expanded to April 19, then May 31. On May 22, Universal announced the official reopening of the resort for June 5. The Bourne Stuntacular opens on May 25. Universal Orlando Resort reopens after almost three months since closing, due to the coronavirus, with safety guidelines implemented in order to prevent contagion. The Bourne Stuntacular, which replaced T2-3D: Battle Across Time, opened on June 30.[47]
2021 A Day in the Park with Barney officialy closes on February 3, six months after its final performance. It would be replaced with DreamWorks Destination later that year.

Areas and attractions[edit]

Universal Studios Florida features eight themed areas all situated around a large lagoon. In 2012, this lagoon became the site of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories, a thematic display that showcased scenes from various Universal films, featuring lasers, projectors and fountains, and pyrotechnics.

The eight surrounding themed areas, clockwise from the entrance, are Production Central, New York, San Francisco, London/Diagon Alley, World Expo, Springfield, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone and Hollywood. Each area features a combination of rides, shows, attractions, character appearances, dining outlets and merchandise stores. The newest area, based on Harry Potter's Diagon Alley, was added to the park in July 2014.

Production Central[edit]

Attraction Year opened Manufacturer Description
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 2012 Intamin A computer-animated simulator ride featuring the characters from Despicable Me movie franchise.
Shrek 4-D 2003 PDI/DreamWorks A 4-D film show featuring the characters of Shrek movie franchise. Set to permanently close January 2022.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit 2009 Maurer Söhne A steel music-themed roller coaster, featuring a loop and several helixes.
Universal Music Plaza Stage 2009 An amphitheater that is located next to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. It hosts 15-20 concerts per season and holds up to 8,000 people.
Transformers: The Ride 3D 2013 Oceaneering International A 3D dark ride based on the characters from the Transformers film franchise.
Universal's Superstar Parade 2012 Universal Orlando's Entertainment Division A parade based on the Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets, SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go! TV show series and the film franchise.

The area is also home to a variety of dining outlets and merchandise shops. Food and beverage items can be purchased from TODAY Cafe or Universal Studios' Classic Monsters Cafe while merchandise can be bought from a variety of themed stores including Universal Studios Store, Studio Sweets, It's a Wrap!, Super Silly Stuff, Shrek's Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe, and Transformers: Supply Vault.[48][49]

New York[edit]

Attraction Year opened Manufacturer Description
Revenge of the Mummy 2004 Premier Rides An indoor roller coaster ride based on The Mummy franchise.
The Blues Brothers Show 1991 A musical stage show featuring The Blues Brothers.
Delancey Street Preview Center 2006 An interactive attraction where guests could preview upcoming TV shows and films from Universal.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon 2017 Dynamic Attractions Based on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Fallon challenges guests on a wild race throughout New York City.

The New York section of the park features several dining outlets: Finnegan's Bar and Grill and Louie's Italian Restaurant which were designed for the park as well as Starbucks Coffee and Häagen-Dazs which are commercial franchises. There are also two merchandise shops: Sahara Traders and Rosie's Irish Shop. The first two feature merchandise related to attractions within this area.[48][50] Also located here is a statue of longtime MCA/Universal executive Lew Wasserman, honoring his achievements and history while head of Universal.

As Nickelodeon was headquartered in the park at the time, the opening credits for Roundhouse and All That (two of its shows) were filmed around this area of the park.

San Francisco[edit]

Attraction Year opened Manufacturer Description
Fast & Furious: Supercharged 2018 Oceaneering International A dark ride based on The Fast and the Furious franchise.

In August 2015, Universal announced that it would replace Disaster! with a new attraction based on the film franchise The Fast and the Furious. The company later revealed that this attraction would use Universal's new "Virtual Line" system, allowing guests to select a time frame in which they want to ride. Fast & Furious: Supercharged opened on April 23, 2018.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley/London[edit]

Diagon Alley is the second half of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Attraction Year opened Manufacturer Description
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts 2014 Intamin A dark indoor steel roller coaster featuring Harry Potter and his friends.
Hogwarts Express 2014 Doppelmayr Garaventa Group A train ride where guests can look outside the window at the scenes from the Harry Potter movies.

Opened on July 8, 2014, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley/London features two attractions, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express, which connects the area to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. Diagon Alley also features a restaurant The Leaky Cauldron and several "signature shops".[51] These include, Ollivanders Wand Shop, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Borgin and Burkes, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, and Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour.[52]

World Expo[edit]

Attraction Year opened Manufacturer Description
Men in Black: Alien Attack 2000 MTS Systems Corporation Based on the Men in Black film, this is a shooting dark ride where guests try to shoot as many aliens as possible.

Sometime after June 2005 the optical illusion of the Space Shuttle was removed from this part of the park. As you headed towards World Expo from San Francisco it was one of the many designated photo spots throughout the park. There was a hanging platform that you would place your camera on and take the picture. The Shuttle would look as though it was sitting on the top of Back to the Future: The Ride.

Springfield[edit]

Attraction Year opened Manufacturer Description
The Simpsons Ride 2008 Intamin Based on the long-running animated sitcom, guests are taken on a big adventure featuring all the Simpsons characters on this simulator ride.
Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl 2013 Zamperla A spinning ride resembling the title aliens (Kang and Kodos) on The Simpsons.

Springfield used to be classed as a part of the World Expo until 2017.

Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone[edit]

Attraction Opened Manufacturer Description
Animal Actors on Location 1990 A 20-minute live stage show featuring trained animals showcasing their talent. This was formerly Animal Planet Live.
Curious George Goes to Town 1998 A play area featuring two large water troughs that dump 500 gallons of water on its visitors every few minutes, and an interactive area where guests can shoot soft foam balls out of cannons.
DreamWorks Destination 2021 A stage show and character experience featuring various characters from DreamWorks Animation.
E.T. Adventure 1990 Universal Creative A dark ride based on the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, where guests ride on a suspended, bicycle-themed ride vehicle. The chase scene from the movie is reenacted, which transitions into scenes of E.T.'s homeworld, the Green Planet. Sally Corporation and Birket Engineering assisted with the design and manufacturing of the ride's animatronics.
Fievel's Playland 1992 A children's playground based on the animated film An American Tail, which includes a 30-foot (9.1 m) spider web climbing attraction and a 200-foot-long (61 m) water slide.
Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster 1999 Vekoma A Woody Woodpecker-themed family roller coaster manufactured by Vekoma.

Hollywood[edit]

Attraction Opened Description
Universal's Horror Make-Up Show 1990 A live stage show themed as a behind-the-scenes presentation of special effects used in horror films. A pre-show allows guests to walk through and view various set pieces and props from various films such as the Universal Classic Monsters series and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Marilyn and The Diamond Bellas 2020 A live-action musical show located outside near the Horror Make-Up Show theatre.
The Bourne Stuntacular 2020 A live action stunt show based on the Jason Bourne film series.

Hollywood's two dining outlets are recreations of actual Hollywood outlets. Schwab's Pharmacy and Mel's Drive-In offer guests a variety of food and beverage options. A third outlet, named Cafe La Bamba, operates seasonally. Guests can purchase magic-related items from Theatre Magic.[48][53]

Lagoon[edit]

Attraction Opened Description
Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration 2018 A nighttime lagoon show in Universal's Central Park accommodating up to 6,500 guests.[54] The show features 40-foot (12 m) panoramic water curtains used as projection screens, fireworks, projection mapping onto surrounding buildings, and over 120 water fountains.[54][55] Some of the scenes depicted include footage from film franchises such as Jurassic World, The Fast and the Furious, and Harry Potter.[54]

Retired attractions[edit]

Retired attractions include Kongfrontation, Back to the Future: The Ride, The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, Jaws and T2-3D: Battle Across Time. Universal Studios also housed other unique attractions that are now retired, like Nickelodeon Studios and the interactive film and live-action show Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies (attraction). The current location of Diagon Alley was once a section of the park named Amity Island, based on the fictional seaside town from Jaws, which contained the park's Jaws attraction. The area was completely demolished to make way for the Diagon Alley portion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. As an homage to the Jaws attraction and Amity section that was available to so many visitors over the years, references to both are sprinkled throughout Diagon Alley. One being a set of shark jawbones appearing behind the herbs and potions of Mr. Mulpepper's Apothecary. Nickelodeon Studios became a Blue Man Group attraction and live show in 2007. In 2021, the Blue Man Group show would also be retired, leaving the original Nickelodeon Studios building empty for the first time since opening [56]

Character appearances[edit]

Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, Woody and Winnie Woodpecker were among the mascots of Universal Studios

Universal Studios Florida has a number of famous characters. The following is a list of characters that can be seen in the park:

Current characters[edit]

Seen in Production Central
Seen in New York
Seen in San Francisco
  • Bruce the Shark from Jaws
Seen in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley
Seen in World Expo
Seen in Springfield
Seen in Woody Woodpecker's KidZone
Seen in Hollywood

Former characters[edit]

Annual events[edit]

Universal Studios Florida features several seasonal events throughout its operating calendar. Some are included in the daily park admission, while others are separately-ticketed events.

Grad Bash and Gradventure[edit]

Grad Bash and Gradventure are two separate events held in April and May at the park. Grad Bash is an event for graduating high school senior classes who can gather for an exclusive, all-night party at Universal Orlando Resort featuring the 2 parks’ best attractions, live performances by some of the most popular musicians, dance parties with DJs, and pre-parties live at The Universal Music Plaza Stage in the Production Central area.[59] After Disney's retirement of Grad Nite, Grad Bash was held for five nights in 2012. Gradventure is similar, but is designed for junior high/middle school graduating students.[60]

Halloween Horror Nights[edit]

Halloween Horror Nights turns the park into a giant haunted playground, including scare zones, numerous haunted houses, and special themed shows. The event is run annually in late September, October, and early November.[61]

Macy's Holiday Parade[edit]

Macy's Holiday Parade brings some authentic balloons from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to Orlando in a month-long event in December that highlights the Christmas celebrations at the park.[62]

Mardi Gras[edit]

Generally in February through to April, a parade and concert series inspired by New Orleans' Fat Tuesday party is held at the park.[63] The parade takes place in the evening and consists of park employees and other appointed park guests throwing beads to other park guests.

Rock the Universe[edit]

Rock the Universe is the park's Christian music festival, featuring two days in January or February (as of 2019, prior years held this event in September. This was likely done in response to the cancellation of the event in 2017 due to Hurricane Irma.) of concerts with leading contemporary Christian, Christian rock, and Christian rap artists live at The Universal Music Plaza Stage in the Production Central.[64]

Summer Concert Series[edit]

Summer Concert Series occurs annually and features a variety of popular music acts performing live at The Universal Music Plaza Stage in the Production Central.[65]

A Celebration of Harry Potter[edit]

A Celebration of Harry Potter is an annual three-day weekend event held on the last weekend of January at both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, celebrating the fandom of the Harry Potter books authored by J. K. Rowling and the Wizarding World franchise (including the Harry Potter film series and Fantastic Beasts film series).

Universal Express[edit]

Universal offers an optional, pay-per-person pass known as Universal Express, which gives guests access to shorter lines at many attractions throughout its theme parks. The cost for Universal Express is in addition to the cost of park admission, and there are limited quantities available each day. Guests with Universal Express are given priority boarding status and enter a separate line queue at attractions that support it. The standard Universal Express pass allows guests to access the Universal Express line once per attraction, while the more expensive Universal Express Unlimited has no such restriction.[66]

Attendance[edit]

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Attendance 6,231,000[67] 5,530,000[68] 5,925,000[69] 6,044,000[70] 6,195,000[71] 7,062,000[72] 8,263,000[73] 9,585,000[74] 9,998,000[75] 10,198,000[76] 10,708,000[77] 10,922,000[78]
Worldwide rank 11th 13th 13th 14th 16th 16th 11th 10th 9th 10th 11th 11th

Closures[edit]

The park has had some unscheduled closures. These included:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]