Universal Studios

Universal Studios

Ride The Movies At Universal

Universal Studios opened in 1990 as an alternative to Disney World. When I was younger, this was the place I always wanted to visit someday. I was more desperate to get to Universal Studios than I was to see Disney World. The rides of Back to The Future, Jurassic Park and Jaws were the big attractions to me. Some of those rides have long since retired and Universal Studios is now an even bigger draw due to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter.

The first time we visited Orlando this was the first place we visited and we have loved it ever since. The park isn’t ideal for really young children because of the amount of grown up rides. There are a few rides for Little Brit’s but not as many as Disney World.

Remember! To Download the Universal Resort App and get Universal Orlando Theme Park Tips read my Universal Orlando Resort page. If you skipped ahead in the guide and just came straight to this page, try to read every page in this Orlando Guide.

The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Universal Studios is home to Diagon Alley and the Escape from Gringotts ride. Islands Of Adventure is home to Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey ride. You can travel to either park on the Hogwarts Express but you must have a 2 park ticket. The Wizarding World is too popular to just be part of this Universal Studios review so I have created its own section. Visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter page to find out about the shops, restaurants and rides.

Great For Rainy Days

Due to the amount of indoor rides at Universal Studios, this park is an ideal destination when it is bucketing down. If the weather looks bad, don’t just sit and watch the telly. Grab some ponchos and head over to Universal Studios for a brilliant day out.

Universal Studios Characters

Meet The Characters

There are many opportunities to meet the characters in Universal Studios. The Simpsons, Shrek and Donkey and The Transformers regularly make an appearance. You may also be lucky enough to meet Doc Emmett Brown, Beetlejuice or even Shaggy and Scooby Doo. Movie characters are always hanging around the Hollywood Blvd area so hang out there to get some great photos.

Meet The Transformers…

…in between the Transformers Ride and Mel’s Drive-In. You could meet BumbleBee, Optimus Prime or Megatron when they appear through the shutter doors. They are all-singing and all-dancing Transformers (especially BumbleBee) and they will pose for photos with you. You may even receive some verbal abuse from that lovely Decepticon – Megatron.

Meet Shrek, Donkey and Fiona…

…when you leave the Shrek Show. You will pass through the gift shop on your way out (standard theme park practice) and straight to Donkey’s stable. Shrek, Donkey and Fiona make appearances here all day. Sometimes it is just Donkey but he is the star of the show.

This is one of the must see spectacles of Universal Studios. Donkey is sat in his stable and he will talk to visitors passing by and he is really funny. It is created by hi-tech robotics with the help of an Eddie Murphy impersonator. You must experience this so if his stable is closed, make sure you look again each time you are in that area because it really is fun.

For the Little Brit’s

If you have “little ones” the main area of the park for them would be Feivels Playland and the Curious George area. This area has many fun things to keep them happy and the E.T ride is also here.

Universal Studios Water Buckets

Wanna get really soaked?

Keep your wits about you in the Curious George water area. This is a great place for the bigger kids but if you get too close, you could get the shock of your life. If you hear an alarm sounding, look up to the buckets on the roofs of the main two buildings and see what happens.

My two kids played in this area years ago and it was really hard to persuade them to leave. We wanted to see more of the park but they didn’t want to budge. On this day, this great play area was the highlight of their visit. If you hang around long enough you will see unsuspecting people getting caught out when they get totally soaked through.

The Rides of Universal Studios

For the Harry Potter rides of Universal Studios, visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Despicable Me – Minion Mayhem

The Despicable Me ride can get very busy so you may have a long wait if you don’t have a Universal Express. It is the first ride you come to in the park and it is one of the few rides aimed at younger children. The indoor queue area is better than some areas and the time flies while you are looking at Gru’s ornaments and collectibles.

The Pre-Show

The pre-show is really fun and there are some fart jokes to make the kids and the Dads giggle. Gru may pick your group out from the crowd and embarrass you a little bit so be ready for that. The pre-show sets up the storyline for the ride, which is the anniversary of when Gru adopted the girls.

The ride

Once the doors open for the main ride you have to take a seat in the row you are allocated. You cannot always stay with your party as you may end up being split into different sections of the row. You should have 3D glasses at this point so make sure you wear them because it won’t look great if you forget (my Dad usually forgets) Lap bars will keep you in your seat and then the whole audience will ride as one.

You are travelling through Gru’s workshops and laboratories trying to save a gift that is meant for Gru. As it is a motion simulator it can get a little bit rough to be honest but it is aimed at younger children so nothing to be scared of. Once the day is saved and the ride is over you head off through the doors and into a Minion disco on your way out. Have a good boogie and watch yourself on the big screen.

Despicable Me has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

This unique coaster is brilliant!!! The first climb is completely vertical and you feel like you are about to slip out of the seat. There is nothin (much) to worry about because you are totally strapped in. When you get strapped in you have a small touch screen where you select a music genre and a song that will play throughout your ride. The music comes from the head rest of your seat. I picked a Black Eyed Peas number and it made the whole ride extra special having my own theme tune to it.

The ride

The ride is really smooth and although the climb and drop looks very scary, the drop isn’t really that big. One good thing is you have a one in 6 chance of getting a front row view. There are only 6 rows to each train. This is my favourite rollercoaster in the Universal Orlando Resort.

This coaster lasts a lot longer than your average coaster and while you are screaming “oh my God” throughout the ride, you are being filmed for your very own ride video. When the ride first launched you could buy the DVD of your ride for a whopping $34.95. To be honest I don’t know if they have scrapped the DVD  and gone for a lower cost download. This would make sense for everyone. I ride the ride every year but I take no notice of what the current cost is for the video. On my next trip I will update this section with the current prices and options.

Rip, Ride Rockit has a height requirement of 51″ or 130cm.

Transformers: The Ride-3D

The Transformers ride is another $100million hi-tech ride that will wow you whatever your age. If you are a fan of the Transformer films you will love this ride and even if you haven’t seen the films, you will still love it. As you work your way through the queue you will be able to follow the story via the TV’s in each room. You will get to see the AllSpark in a secured area while you are queueing and other Transformer parts and treasures.

A desperate situation has evolved at N.E.S.T and people are fleeing for their lives. The Decepticons are looking for the AllSpark and they don’t care who gets squashed in the process. Optimus Prime has a plan to get the AllSpark out of N.E.S.T.

The ride

The ride car is just like the Spider-Man ride car at Islands of Adventure. Your Autobot ride is called Evac and his job is to take the AllSpark to a place of safety. You and your fellow riders help Evac get the AllSpark away from the Decepticons but things are never straight forward. Crashing through buildings, falling off buildings and being sucked through a Decepticon are all part of this action packed journey.

Megatron is the pain in the butt all the way through the ride and some of the fight scenes are amazing. The very last act of the ride is great when good old BumbleBee drops by to save the day. Check out the ceiling at the end of the ride when Optimus Prime signs off.

Transformers has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.

Revenge Of The Mummy

Mrs Brit’s favourite ride in Universal Orlando Resort. This ride is another big budget thrill ride from Universal Studios. Revenge Of The Mummy is a fast paced indoor roller coaster with brilliant robotics and special effects.

As with many Orlando theme park rides and shows, there is always something to keep you entertained in the ride queue. The detail of The Mummy waiting area is astounding. Actual film props from the actual movie are scattered everywhere. If you are a film buff like me you will recognise props from the Mummy movies. Every now and then an attendant will do ‘a shift’ in the queue to help rattle a few nerves before the ride begins. I won’t say anymore but if you don’t like being scared, let someone else go in front while walking through.

The ride

The ride sets off nice and slow, passing through tombs and treasure filled rooms. All of a sudden Imhotep bursts out from a coffin and lets you know that your soul now belongs to him. This is when the fun begins. The ride really livens up with fire, scarab beetles and fast roller coaster action. You are sent backwards, then straight up a steep track right into the mouth of Imhotep.

If you like the thrill rides, you will love Revenge Of The Mummy. Myself and Mrs Brit were lucky enough to have a week on our own in Orlando a few years ago. We rode The Mummy, then ran back to the entrance and rode it again and again like two little kids. Check out how real The Mummy looks when he bursts out from his coffin.

Revenge Of The Mummy has a height requirement of 48″ or 122cm.

Universal Studios Kwik-E-Mart

The Simpsons Ride

The Simpsons Ride was opened in Spring 2008 and it replaced the similar Back To The Future ride. If you have ever rode the old BTTF ride, you will basically know what to expect.

The Simpsons Ride was put together in collaboration with the producers of The Simpsons. The ride uses computer generated 3D animation and state of the art technology. The old BTTF projector has been replaced with a brand new projection system and hydraulics.

Once the outside queue progresses indoors, it gets more interesting. Apu and Groundskeeper Willie entertain you while you wait for your allocated room. Once you are taken to a room you will get to watch a health and safety video which is really fun the first time you watch it.

The ride

Riders are introduced to a cartoon theme park called Krustyland built by Krusty the Clown. Sideshow Bob is loose from prison and he wants to get revenge on Krusty and the Simpson family. Your party will be selected to follow the Simpsons on a fast and furious ride, jumping from one place to another in this great simulator adventure.

For hardcore Simpsons fans there is a Springfield town centre featuring Mo’s bar and Kwik-E-Mart just outside the ride. The Kwik-E-Mart has some great Simpsons merchandise. There are many products in the store that feature regularly in Simpsons cartoons. Fans would be advised to save some holiday spending money for a Kwik-E-Mart shopping spree.

The Simpsons has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.

Universal Men In Black Ride

Men In Black – Alien Attack

Who doesn’t like blasting a load of aliens without risking yourself at the same time. This ride is a fun ride, not “over thrilling” but a nice fun ride. It makes a change from the bigger thrillers of this park and the sort of ride where you can have a good laugh with your kids. Keep your eyes out for the little mischievous aliens in the kitchen whilst queueing. They look real and throw comments your way as you walk past.

The ride

Each rider gets a laser gun and for every alien you hit on your journey, you earn points. Little Brit is a teenager now and he whoops me every time we ride Alien Attack. He knows how to get a massive amount of bonus points near the end but he won’t tell me how!!! Try not to hit the humans or you will lose points for this. Will Smith will be there at the end to tell you who won and then erase your memory. All in all, a good family ride that the kids will love.

Men In Black Alien Attack has a height requirement of 42″ or 107cm.

Race Through New York – Starring Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon isn’t as well known in the UK as he is in the USA but he is really funny. The ride is a simulator ride through the streets of New York and you are racing Jimmy throughout. Before the race starts you get the best health and safety rap warning in the history of rides so listen out for that.

A lot of the jokes might go over your head because they are based around characters from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. It is fun nonetheless and the ride is also quite good. It isn’t a thrill ride in any sense of the word so it is ideal for anyone tall enough to ride. Some movements of the ride are very realistic and Jimmy makes you laugh throughout.

Race Through New York is one of the first rides you will come across when you enter the park. You can reserve a slot by using the Virtual Line on the Universal Resort App.

The Race Through New York has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.

Universal Studios E.T ride

E.T Adventure

If you are a fan of E.T then you will love this ride. It’s not at all scary and it is a great ride for kids from 3 years old and upwards. The queueing area inside the building has been created to look like the woods from the film and it is very impressive. Take a look at how tall the trees are while you are waiting, it is a great optical illusion. When I was young E.T was my favourite film so the detail of the queue area impressed me immensely.

The ride

The ride takes you through the final parts of the movie and beyond. You have E.T in the front basket of your bike and you are trying to escape from the police and other baddies. They are all trying to get their hands on your lovely little alien friend. You might remember the scenes from the film where the trucks are coming out from the bushes to trap E.T. Scenes like this are re-created throughout this ride.

Eventually you escape the baddies and take E.T home to his planet which is inhabited by fun looking and wondrous creatures. Listen out for your personalised E.T thank you at the end of the ride. I rate this ride as a fun family ride so don’t expect too much excitement from the E.T ride.

The E.T Ride has a height requirement of 34″ or 86cm.

Fast & Furious Ride

Fast & Furious – Supercharged

What can I say about one of Universal Studios newest attractions…….it is rubbish!

Make the most of the photo above. This vintage Ford Escort is the best part of the show and you only walk past it while you are queueing. It doesn’t actually do anything but looking at it is a more thrilling experience than the actual Fast & Furious ride.

Honestly it is really bad and a waste of precious time in this amazing theme park. If you are a massive fan of the Fast & Furious movies and you love terrible rides, this will be right up your street. For the rest of us it will be the worst attraction in the park….by a mile.

You can get quick access to this ride using the Virtual Line feature on the Universal Resort App. Personally I wouldn’t waste the 15 seconds it will take you to book this ride on the app. It supposed to be about car chases but at one point in the ride/show Vin Diesel gets airlifted by a small drone and that was the last straw for me. It is so far fetched and the gags are also terrible.

Fast & Furious has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.

The Shows of Universal Studios

Shrek 4-D

Shrek 4-D

The Universal Studios Shrek show is great fun for all ages and definitely worth queueing for. The ride is visible as soon as you walk through the park gates. The main show lasts around 12 minutes and the story is set in between the first 2 Shrek movies.

The Pre-Show

When the first set of doors open, you are asked by the attendant to go as far to the front of the queue as possible. Ignore this person and try to stand around the middle of the room. The pre-show is about to start so if you get too close to the front, you will not have a good view of the show.

You will notice the three pigs locked in individual boxes hanging from the ceiling. These pigs are part of the pre-show so if you are directly under them, you won’t see much. The pre-show is brilliant and it includes many great characters. Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, The Three Pigs and the ghost of Lord Farquaad all make an appearance.

There will be a Universal Studios employee trying to make you laugh on the microphone while you are waiting. If you get a good one, they will be really funny so try and listen to what they are saying.

The Main Show

Once the pre-show finishes, the main doors open to your left and you will take one of 500 seats. The seats will shake you about a bit so if you have back problems, opt for a motionless seat. Remember the small irritating Lord Farquaad, he was eaten by Dragon in the first movie? He is back to try and wreck the happiness of Shrek and Fiona. All of the original voice over actors have come together to make this special show. The talents of Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz make this show a real jewel in the crown of Universal Studios.

The show is a 3D show with a difference, the Ogre Vision 3D glasses make everything seem like it is really in front of you. Add this together with the motion seating and the random splashes of water and you have a great new 4-D experience that will keep you laughing and screaming all the way through the show.

If you enjoy the show, you can actually buy the DVD of this very show back home in the UK. You should get 4 pairs of 3D glasses with each copy. It does last just 10 minutes so the same running time as the Orlando show. If you click the Shrek image above it will take you to Amazon.co.uk. One final tip for the end of the show is keep your eyes on the fairy when she gets hit by the champagne cork. She flies from the screen and ends up in the auditorium.

Fear factor Live

The Fear Factor Live

This show is great to watch and really great to take part in. Contestants come in all shapes and sizes so you don’t have to be like Action Man to get through the auditions.

The show

If you are getting ready to take your seats in the audience and you are scared of creepy crawlies, DO NOT try and get the best seat in the house. Heading for the front row of the middle column may end up with you in tears. I will not tell you why as it will spoil the fun for you. Keep away from that area and have a laugh at the expense of whoever chooses those seats later in the show.

The show is a little bit like a series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here challenges. Contestants try to beat each other on a set of  trials and 2 people are booted off each round. Eventually there will be a winner who will take away some Universal Orlando prizes.

Audition for the show

I actually took part in the show at Universal Studios in Hollywood with my son John. John was 18 and he was in the armed forces at the time so he was as fit as a fiddle. We both lost in the first round. The challenge we lost in was the “hang from a bar” challenge. I thought I would be great at this because I was quite a big strong bloke at the time. The problem is, the heavier you are, the quicker you slide off. The bar is diagonal and not horizontal. The slightest bit of moisture on your hands makes you slide straight away. Both of our bars were already damp so I don’t know if there was a conspiracy in action #BadLoser

We were both gutted to fall at the first hurdle but it wasn’t all bad news. We didn’t have to eat the smoothie of worms and fish guts in the second round and we could also get out of the Lycra suits that we had to wear. The pre-show training and having a bit of banter with the other contestants (usually loud mouthed American types) was really good. There will be six people in each show and you would need to apply at the start of the day.

There are numerous shows through the day so there will be plenty of slots for a place in a show. The 2 people that make it to the final got free tickets (4 each if I remember correctly), with Universal Express passes. My advice is, even if you never do this sort of thing, push yourself and have a go. John and I laugh about it all of the time so it was well worth doing.

Animal Actors On Location

This show is scheduled numerous times throughout the day. It is a great family show suitable for all ages. The show has featured many famous Hollywood actors down the years but not the Mark Wahlberg or the Jennifer Anniston variety. These actors as the title of the show suggests, usually have more than 2 legs and are more often than not, covered in hair.

You could get to see the little pug dog that wears the suit in Men in Black or one of the many talented actors from Evan Almighty. It is a great way to chill out and be entertained whilst having a break from some of the more “risky rides” of the Universal Studios theme park.

Universal Horror Make Up Show

Horror Make up show

Just across the road from Mel’s Diner is the Hollywood make up show. Young children won’t be too impressed with the blood and gore of the show but it isn’t very scary for grown ups and it is more of a comedy show. Sit yourself near the front row and you may find yourself part of the show whether you like it or not.

The show demonstrates some Hollywood special effect secrets from classic horror movies through the years. Some of the tricks they use in special effects are brilliant. The part of the show where someone’s arm is being cut is really interesting. As with most of the Orlando theme park shows, the performers are great and will keep you entertained throughout the show with the odd joke here and there.

Before the show starts, the waiting area has a lot of photo opportunities with actual props from Hollywood blockbusters so remember to take a camera.