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Universal Studios Florida
UniversalFlorida.png
Location Orlando, Florida, United States United States
Website Universal Studios Florida Homepage
Owner NBC Universal, The Blackstone Group
Opened June 7, 1990
Operating season Year-round
Area Universal Orlando Resort
Rides 12 total
  • 3 roller coasters
Slogan See the Stars. Ride the Movies. (1990 - 1998)
Ride the Movies (1998 - 2008)
Jump into the Action (2008 - present)
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Globe.JPG
Theme parks

Universal Studios Florida
Islands of Adventure
CityWalk Orlando
Wet 'n Wild Orlando

Resort hotels

Hard Rock Hotel
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios Florida is an American amusement park located in Orlando, Florida. Opened on June 7, 1990, the park's theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television. Universal Studios Florida inspires its guests to "ride the movies," and it features numerous attractions and live shows. The park is one component of the larger Universal Orlando Resort.

In 2008, the park hosted an estimated 6.23 million guests, ranking it the fifth-most visited theme park in the United States, and #7 in the world.[1]

Contents

Park history and design

The entrance to the theme park features a model of the famous Universal Studios globe

Unlike its sister facility, Universal Studios Hollywood, which 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. It was also the first time that Universal Studios had constructed an amusement park "from the ground up."

The archway entrance to the theme park.

A major component of the original park in Hollywood is its studio tour, which featured several special-effects exhibits and encounters built into the tour, such as an attack by the great white shark from the film "Jaws". For its Florida park, Universal Studios took the concepts of the Hollywood tour scenes and developed them into larger, stand-alone attractions. As an example, in Hollywood, the studio tour trams travel close to a shoreline and are "attacked" by Jaws before they travel to the next part of the tour. In Florida, guests enter the "Jaws" attraction and board a boat touring the fictitious Amity Harbor, where they encounter the shark, then exit back into the park at the conclusion of the attraction. Universal Studios Florida originally had a Studio Tour attraction that visited the production facilities, but that tour has since been discontinued.

The original entrance to the theme park, circa 1993.

Over the years, Universal Studios Florida has not limited itself to attractions based on its own vast film library. It has occasionally licensed popular characters from other rival studios, many of whom did not operate theme parks themselves. Some examples include the Ghostbusters and the Men in Black (from Sony's Columbia Pictures), Jimmy Neutron (from Viacom's Nickelodeon), The Simpsons (20th Century Fox), and Shrek (from DreamWorks Animation).

Many of the park's past and present attractions were developed with the actual creators of the films they were based on, and feature the original stars as part of the experience. Steven Spielberg, a VIP for the park, helped create E.T. Adventure and was a creative consultant for Back to the Future: The Ride, Twister...Ride it Out, An American Tail Theatre, Jaws and Men in Black: Alien Attack. Many of the original stars reprised their film roles including Christopher Lloyd and Thomas F. Wilson in Back to the Future: The Ride, Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in Twister...Ride it Out, Rip Torn and Will Smith in Men in Black: Alien Attack, Brendan Fraser for Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Christopher Walken and Dwayne Johnson in Disaster!, the cast from Shrek returned for Shrek 4-D, various Nicktoons voice actors reprised their roles in Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, Roy Scheider recorded a voice over for the conclusion of Jaws, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera made appearances in The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera while Hanna-Barbera voice actors reprised their roles in the same ride, Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Perkins appeared in Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Edward Furlong and Linda Hamilton reprised their roles for Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time and even Charlton Heston made an appearance in the pre-show for Earthquake: The Big One.

Production facilities

Soundstage 4-D at the park (previously soundstage 40) houses the Shrek 4-D attraction.

Universal Studios Florida is also a working production studio. It has been used for several movies, television series, commercials, music videos, and other events throughout its history. It was also the home of Nickelodeon Studios, the production location for Nickelodeon from 1990 until 2005. In September 2008, Nickelodeon returned to Universal Studios Florida for the production of "My Family's Got GUTS." Currently, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling films its television programs at the studio. In January 2009, the Powerball lottery drawings moved from Iowa; they are conducted and filmed at Universal Studios Florida, coinciding with the Florida Lottery's entry into the Powerball game.

Soundstages 18 and 19 at the park were home to Nickelodeon Studios prior to the debut of the Blue Man Group show.

Universal Studios Florida is home to six soundstages that are available for a variety of purposes. A seventh soundstage, Stage 18, was one of the former Nickelodeon Studios soundstages; it was redesigned in 2007 as the Sharp Aquos Theatre, where the Blue Man Group has performed since June 2007. The soundstage and the core production facility were made a permanent part of Universal CityWalk. Soundstage 21 has been used since June 2004 for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) which has produced its weekly television program, TNA iMPACT! from there, and has aired its pay-per-view events from this location since November 2004; it is referred to as the "iMPACT! Zone" for this reason. The remaining soundstages are available for rent by other production companies. During Halloween Horror Nights, the soundstages are occasionally used for the event's haunted houses. A wide range of productions have been filmed in the soundstages during the studio's history, including many local and national commercials. Television shows include SeaQuest DSV (from its second season forward) and Superboy (second-fourth seasons). The Ellen DeGeneres Show films a week-long series of episodes at the resort in the spring.[2] Sports-entertainment shows World Championship Wrestling and roller derby series "RollerJam!" were filmed at the studios. The studios have hosted numerous game shows, including national tours of Wheel of Fortune, Fear Factor (portions of episodes from 2004-2005) and the Florida Lottery's Flamingo Fortune. Since 2009, the Powerball drawing originates from the facilities. Major scenes of the movie Parenthood were filmed at the studios prior to the park's opening to the public in 1990. The film Psycho IV: The Beginning as well as the TV series Swamp Thing were also filmed at the theme park shortly following its grand opening. Most recently, the films Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective, Beethoven's Big Break and The Final Destination were filmed at the studio.

During the 1990s when Nickelodeon's main home was at Universal Studios, the soundstages were used to film almost all Nickelodeon's original live action programming including: Get the Picture, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Family Double Dare, All That and many others. While Stage 18 is now used as the Sharp Aquos Theatre for the Blue Man Group, Soundstage 19 and the core production facility are home to Sun Sports and FSN.

Other soundstages located throughout the park (whilst primarily in the Production Central area) house the attractions Blue Man Group Sharp Aquos Theatre (in CityWalk) Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, Shrek 4-D, Donkey's Photo Finish, Twister...Ride it Out, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Men in Black: Alien Attack and E.T. Adventure.

Park sections

The park's current guide map features an advertisement for The Simpsons Ride

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.

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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. A section of this area holding soundstages 18 and 19 was formerly used for production of Nickelodeon shows, but following the closure of Nickelodeon Studios, this area was annexed into CityWalk with the opening of Blue Man Group Sharp Aquos Theatre.

Attractions

Dining

  • Beverly Hills Boulangerie
  • Universal Studios' Classic Monsters Cafe

Shopping

Character appearances

Hollywood

The entrance to the Hollywood area during the 2007 holiday season

Along 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. In August 2008, a section of the pre-show lobby was included to contain material from Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando) which includes some concept art, and a timeline of Halloween Horror Nights made up of map covers dating from its debut year in 1991 as Fright Nights. 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

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. Inspired by Twister.Opened: 1998.
  • The Blues Brothers Live is a live outdoor show with classic rock and soul songs performed by The Blues Brothers. Opened: 1991.
  • Delancey Street Preview Center allows visitors to preview an upcoming film or television show created by Universal. This allows the company to receive feedback from a wide range of sources. Opened: 2006

Dining

Shopping

Character appearances

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 Burger Company
  • 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!)

Character appearances

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
Logo for The Simpsons Ride attraction

Dining

  • International Food and Film Festival

Shopping

Character appearances

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: July 10, 1995.
  • Fievel's Playland, a children's playground [3][4]. Opened: 1992.
  • 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

Character appearances

  • Woody Woodpecker and Winnie Woodpecker
  • Barney, Baby Bop, and BJ
  • Curious George and Ted, 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.

Annual events

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.

Universal Express Plus

Universal Studios Florida allow guests to utilize the "Universal Express Plus" Pass on selected attractions. This pass admits users to a separate line for the attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. Universal Express Plus is not a virtual queuing service, where users receive a specific time to return to the priority line. Instead, passholders may enter the Express Plus line whenever they wish.

Universal Express Plus is not included in park admission. There are a limited number of passes available each day and they are often sold out in advance.[5] 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.

Purchasers of the Express Plus pass may use the shorter priority line once per enabled attraction. Guests of Universal's three on-site resorts—the Royal Pacific Resort, the Hard Rock Hotel and the Portofino Bay Hotel—may show their room keys for unlimited uses of the faster line for each ride. Also, guests who hold Universal Orlando's Premier Annual Pass receive the same privilege extended to hotel guests, though only after 4pm, and are limited to one time through each attraction per day.[6]

Previous attractions

Like all theme parks, attractions are sometimes closed due to age and replaced with more contemporary attractions. Universal has seen this action used a great deal of times, with many attraction closures such as Kongfrontation, Back to the Future: The Ride, Earthquake: The Big One, and The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. The most recent closures which occurred were Back to the Future: The Ride, which has been replaced by The Simpsons Ride, Earthquake: The Big One, which has been replaced by Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You!, Kongfrontation, which has been replaced by Revenge Of The Mummy: The Ride, and The Boneyard, which was replaced The Hollywood Bowl Theater. Some closures, such as those of Kongfrontation and Back to the Future: The Ride, have proven drastic to longtime visitors and have been given homages by the park.

In 2008, Universal announced plans to release the ride films of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera and Back to the Future: The Ride on special edition DVD re-releases of Back to the Future and The Jetsons planned for 2009.[7][8]

See also

References

External links

28°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


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