Universal Studios theme parks and attractions have been competing with those of Walt Disney World for quite some time now. While it is certainly debatable depending on who you consult which of the entertainment arenas are actually the most overall enjoyable, the fact that the two corporate giants are still fighting for the lead is apparent. Walt Disney World Resort is constantly coming up with new hotels, theme parks and shopping areas to attract tourists. It seems as though every time one gets the chance to actually memorize the name of the latest Walt Disney World theme park, another one pops up to entice us. As Walt Disney World seemed to have the monopoly of the Orlando entertainment market for years and years though, there is no doubt that Universal Studios Company is not too far behind. The corporate brand in itself is carrying its own coming up with new ways to entertain tourists and regular visitors alike. With all of these new theme parks being built, though, and the tantalizing promotions that go along with them, many people find it overwhelming when it comes to choosing which location to visit.
To cover all the parks and entertainment would take some time, but for starters, I have attempted to breakdown and simplify the various aspects and comparisons of the major theme parks belonging to Universal. There are two of them, known specifically as “Universal Studios Florida” and “Universal’s Islands Of Adventure”. While both parks focus their themes around popular icons of our past and current multimedia culture, they each seem to cater to their own specific niches to distinguish them.
Universal Studios Florida revolves around the world of television and movies, specifically the making of them; most of the attractions strive to take you into the world of creating such motion pictures and active set tours are not uncommon. Universal’s Islands of Adventure, on the other hand, places its emphasis mostly on the characters of our movies and various pop cultural traditions, such as comic book characters, children’s book heroes, and popular villains of many of our childhood memories.
Universal Studios Florida, known as the original Universal Studios Company theme park, was the first of the two established in Orlando, Florida as sort of an unannounced, but quite obvious in my opinion, attempt to compete with the Walt Disney brand of amusement parks. However, despite its original and still existing battle for traveling tourist sales with the magical entertainment “giant” it seems to successfully continue to hold its own.
The reason for this particular success is very likely the fact that Universal Studios Florida offers a type of educational enjoyment that the whole family need not simply tolerate and maybe sit through with a determined open mind (which may sometimes be the case for adults enduring Disney attractions designed for children alone), but it offers the type of interactive fun that encourages actual participation. Theme park attendees of all ages are welcome and accommodated for at Universal Studios Florida rides, attractions and shows.
The park seems to be expanding quite rapidly, as more and more attractions and exclusive promotional opportunities are becoming available for tourists to experience, but for the most part the original classic rides that helped define the Universal Studios Florida’s thrilling reputation are still around and just as popular as they always were.
Some of the famous attractions at Universal Studios Orlando include original classics like: the boat tour reenactment of the infamous life-size JAWS shark attack, the unforgettable E.T. adventure where you fly through space on a bicycle to accomplish your mission; the lifelike earthquake experience that throws you into the natural disaster of an 8.3 on the Richter scale simulation; and the absolutely terrifying (note: this is my own opinion interjected here) Men in Black Alien Encounter, a seated interactive yet passive thrill experience where you are strapped to a chair in a pitch black room bombarded with with side effects that influence every single one of your senses.
And then of course the park is constantly adding new attractions as the movie world creates more and more dramatic storylines with extreme and obscene side effects that we previously might have not even been able to fathom. All of the new attractions just like the original ones are interactive, great for the whole family, and successfully throw you immediately into the scenes of your favorite cinematic fantasies. Examples include a Fear Factor live show with audience participation, a roller coaster in honor of the speedy cartoon icon woody woodpecker, and an interactive 3-D film inspired by the classic action movie, the Terminator.
As for Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, on the other hand, this particular park is basically like the sequel to the original Ride the Movies amusement arena, Universal Studios Orlando. This theme park tends to be a little more thrilling in nature, however, with several intense roller coaster rides and many motion simulating virtual reality type attractions. The attractions, which are designed to create nostalgia for our pop culture’s classic heroes, villains and storybook characters, are categorized by theme into five islands. The theme islands include Seuss Landing, revolving around the Dr. Seuss children’s books; Marvel Super Hero Island, or comic book world; Toon Lagoon; The Lost Continent; and Jurassic Park. There is also a live interactive television show you can be a part of through NBC’s iVillage.
Some of the most desirable attractions at Islands of Adventure include the Incredible Hulk inspired thrilling roller coaster, another coaster known as the “Dueling Dragons”, a water adventure in the spirit of the classic TV icon, Popeye the Sailorman, the Jurassic Park River Adventure and Poseidon’s Fury, a unique sort of organized chaos styled presentation based on ancient mythology, the infamous and unforgettable Spiderman action simulator ride.
On top of those rides, there is the Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall, a personal favorite of mine, which involves you strapped to a chair that spontaneously shoots you at what seems like lighting speed so high into the air that you can view the entire theme park aerially and then just as you take the scenery in, the contraption instigates a sudden freefall, a feeling so intense (and so much better than the tower of terror at another park) that you lose all sense of gravity, you feel like you are flying and some kind of wonderful aura of invincibility comes over you as you observe the entire Orlando commercial landscape as you sporadically rise and fall. It is a quite a rejuvenating experience and a must for anyone who feels tempted to take part in bungee jumping one day but deep down knows they are a little too frightened to do so. The Fearfall is a less risky, and much more climactic version of that, I would presume; the sensation of elation happens again and again for a long lasting thrill ride. It is a grand adventure.
Both Universal Studios Orlando, Ride the Movies theme park and the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure roller coaster infused location have plenty of shopping and dining areas to satisfy your hunger, provide you with those emergency necessities you forgot such as ponchos, sunscreen, or the waterproof throw away camera, and satiate your irresistible affinity for cheesy novelty items and brand name unscripted souvenirs. All of these shops were also created to fit in appropriately with their particular theme area of the parks so not only should you be very easily able to find just the right gifts to bring home to your friends and family members, but the categorical arrangements make it a little easier to scope out the kind of food you deem suitable enough to snack on. Despite a plethora of the usual theme park junk food covered in grease, a hard enough look just may uncover for you a one of a kind type of delectable edible delight. Hint: Read the menus carefully in the Dr. Seuss Land area of Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. Trust me, the experience will be worth it. But it’s up to you to figure out what it is.
Either way, both parks are a ton of fun and I know that no matter which one you and your family or friends choose to experience, and especially if it is both of them, you will have the opportunity to create some unique memories that will instigate nostalgia and reinforce your group (or if a couple, romantic) bond in a way that, once its over you will never be able to hand design or create again. It’s a cheesy cliché marketing tagline, but amusement parks in Orlando really do make magical memories that last forever. Do your best to make the most of yours.