Universal Islands of Adventure was so much fun that I could have easily stayed there for an entire day. However, I didn’t have an entire day. So, we bolted to catch a few hours inside of Universal Studios Florida. One thing that I do like about the Universal theme parks in Florida is that they are so close to each other. It’s like park hopping at the Disneyland Resort!. So, we made our way out of Universal’s Islands of Adventure and walked back past the Hard Rock Cafe again to the entrance of Universal Studios Florida. While I’m way more impressed with the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood…
I was more impressed with Universal Studios Florida as a theme park. It’s clear from visiting all of the North America Universal theme parks that the ones in Florida are designed to be theme parks. The theme park out here is something that was added to a working film studio as a way of generating extra cash.
The entrance of Universal Studios Florida is nothing worth taking pictures of. However, I did like the Universal Studios Store! The good thing is that the entrance area isn’t very large. Before you know it, I was at something really fun…
Yep. We were at Gru’s house from the Despicable Me movies! Too cool!
And, it’s located on Minion Way. I love me some Minions.
Imagine my delight to find out I could…
When i was at Universal Studios Hollywood, I noticed that they are bringing this attraction out west this year!
I LOVED this sign! Universal is getting almost as good with their theming as Disney. I loved the play on words…Minionize your wait vs. Minimize your wait. Well done Universal!
Good to know I was tall enough to go on the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction!
So was Brooke!
Right across from Despicable Me Minion Mayhem was a familiar attraction…Shrek 4-D. I love this 4-D movie out west. Since time was limited, we couldn’t check it out here.
The signage was cool!
I love me some Disney Animated films. However, the Shrek and Despicable Me films are also awesome! For a person like myself who is a fan of both movies, placing their attractions right across from each other made me very happy!
Of course, there has to be a souvenier shop…right?
A little further up the road, we found Optimus Prime!
So, of course, we had to stop for a quick picture! What was a bit of a bummer is that we couldn’t get very close to Optimus Prime. At Universal Studios Hollywood, they let you get much closer to the Transformers characters.
They brought the Transformers ride out here. It did originate in Hollywood. I’m not sure which park has the better entrance. I mean the huge, larger than life, Optimus Prime is super cool!
However, the mural at Universal Studios Hollywood is also cool in its own way. Time limitations would keep me from comparing the actual ride. This was a trip where I seriously wish someone could have stopped time for a few hours every now and then.
Right past Optimus Prime was this re-creation of Mel’s Drive-In from Hollywood, California. I must admit that this is a better looking place than the one in Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s more faithful to the original restaurant in Hollywood. I loved that they had old school cars out front as well to give it a true diner image! It would have been fun to eat dinner here. However, I completely lost track of time and didn’t make it back. The Mel’s Drive-In is the start of the Hollywood/Southern California section of the park.
The Pantages Theatre was represented. They even had a show inside. I saw Wicked at the real Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.
There’s even a Walk of Fame!
Brooke and I love some Minions. Can you tell?
Just like back home, Beverly Hills is right down the block from the Pantages Theatre…not! Gotta love being at a theme park!
Look. the Train time machine from Back to the Future III!
Of course, right next to it was the original time machine from the Back to the Future movies.
Right across from the Back to the Future props was the sign that welcomed us to Springfield! I really like the Simpson’s theming at Universal Studios Hollywood. Blessed with more space, they have done this area of Universal Studios Florida right. I loved this part of the park!
It would have been great to eat something at Krusty Burger.
However, by the time we got there, they were closed. Oh well.
I did run into this guy.
Moe’s was also closed.
But, I did get to say hello to the Duff beer guy!
Now, this is what they do have in Universal Studios Hollywood. Although, the carnival games on the outside would make a nice addition to what we have out west.
The one things that I didn’t like about Universal Studios Florida is that it closed at 7pm on this Friday. Shouldn’t they stay open later on a weekend? Oh well, We just had to continue looking around.
We left Springfield and made our way around the lagoon. Universal Studios Florida’s web site is lacking with their show calendar. So, I was not expecting that they would have a showing of their newest night-time show…Universal Cinematic Spectacular…that evening. When I heard over the speakers that this show would be happening, I was super excited. Of course, that meant our dinner was going to have to be pushed back until after the show (which didn’t start until 7pm).
Ah, Springfield from across the lagoon.
We even found Fisherman’s Warf in Florida! Imagine that. There was also a sign for Ghiradeli. However, I couldn’t find a shop attached. As we walked around the San Francisco area, Brooke and I started looking for a place to watch the show. Unfortunately, since I didn’t know it would happen until I heard the announcement, I had no clue where a good spot to watch the show would be. I knew it was too cold out to want to be in the splash zone. The set up for the show had a few water screens set up. So, when I found a place that seemed to be good, we camped out.
At 7pm the show started. It’s kind of hard to describe. In some ways it resembles the World of Color show. They use the water screens and water fountains as part of the show. However, it’s not as grand with the water screens being much smaller than what you see at DCA and there are fewer fountains. However, it is essentially a film clip show, just like World of Color. The only thing I liked about this show better than the World of Color show is that there was a narrator, Morgan Freeman, who linked the parts of the show together. Of course, the World of Color: Winter Dreams show used Olaf in a similar fashion. Here are some videos I filmed from the Universal Cinematic Spectacular to give you an idea of what this show was like…
This was part of the intro sequence.
Of course, the comedy sequence. I loved the Minions at the end!
Lastly, the inspiring ending to the show! We sat towards the middle of the lagoon. I think a viewing location closer to Mel’s Drive-In would have been better. After all, from that location, you would have the water screen directly in front of you as well as the fireworks. Given the lateness of our looking for a place to watch, I didn’t think we’d be able to find a place to watch in that area. So, we settled in where we did. It wasn’t a bad place to watch the show. Especially, with the fireworks going off all around us. However, I just wanted to mention where I thought the viewing would have been better closer to Mel’s.
After the show, we made our way back to the front of the park to exit. Along the way, I got a few more pictures.
This must be their New York street.
Outside of the theme park, I just had to take a picture of the Universal Studios Florida globe at night. Since it was so crowded, we decided to avoid the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. Also, we wanted to avoid any place with a lengthy wait. Fortunately, Universal City Walk is on our way to the cabs. We ended up eating at Panda Express. Not the most inspired location to eat since we could eat at Panda Express any time we want back home. However, the line wasn’t too long and we were hungry.
After dinner, we made our way back to where the cabs were. If I ever get back to Universal Studios Florida, I might have to check out this cool miniature golf course we saw. Once we got back to the parking structure…
Our time at Universal Studios was over. We found a cab and made our way back to Disney property.
Welcome back! Overall, I loved BOTH Universal theme parks in Orlando. They are clearly designed to be theme parks. If we make it back and have the time to go to Universal Studios Florida again, hopefully, we will get to spend an entire day at each park. We were not able to take in very many attractions while we were in the parks. However, we made up for it by just taking in the scenery. Universal Studios Florida has a lot to see. I wasn’t as impressed with Universal City Walk in Florida as I was with the theme parks. The Universal City Walk in Hollywood is far and away better. If I lived in Orlando and had the choice of hanging out at Downtown Disney or Universal City Walk, it wouldn’t even be close. I’d choose Downtown Disney any day. Out here, while I love Downtown Disney in Anaheim, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm too much to get me to hang out at Universal City Walk in Hollywood.
In planning this race-cation, I had a decision to make. With only 3 days for theme park fun, I could have made all three days Disney theme parks or use one of them for a trip to Universal Studios Florida. I’m glad that I got to experience the Universal theme parks on this trip because it was a completely new experience. Brooke and I visited all 4 Disney theme parks on our honeymoon. So, the decision to see Universal wasn’t too hard. After all, one of the themes of this trip was to do some things we didn’t do on our honeymoon. What say you readers? When visiting Walt Disney World, would you take a day away from the Disney theme parks to visit the two Universal theme parks?