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Universal Studios Florida – What To Expect

Universal Studios Florida uses the “back lot” as its organizing metaphor. The back lot is where a studio keeps permanent and semi-permanent outdoor sets that can be “dressed” to stand in for multiple locations. USF consists of six such sets — Hollywood, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, World Expo, San Francisco/Amity, New York, and Production Central — in addition to the Front Lot. You will find a helpful map of the layout of the sets in the 2-Park Map brochure, which you can pick up at the entrance gates or in many of the shops throughout the park. Each set will be discussed in detail in the sections that follow.

It will also help to have a basic idea of the different types of rides, shows, and attractions Universal Studios Florida has to offer. Each type of attraction has its own peculiarities and dictates a different viewing pattern.

Rides. As the term indicates, these attractions involve getting into a vehicle and going somewhere. Some, like E.T. Adventure, are the descendants of the so-called “dark rides” of old-fashioned amusement parks; you ride through a darkened tunnel environment lined with things to look at. Men In Black adds exciting elements of interactivity to the old formula, while Revenge of the Mummy takes this concept to the cutting edge and beyond!

Rides are the first major attractions to open in the morning and should be your first priority. Rides have a limited seating capacity, at least compared to the theater shows. They don’t last long either; most at Universal are no longer than five minutes. They tend to be the most popular attractions because of the thrills they promise (and deliver). The result: Lines form early and grow longer as the day wears on and more people pack the park.

Theater Shows. Whereas the rides offer thrills, theater shows offer entertainment and, occasionally, education as well. Theater shows can be live (like the Horror Make-Up show), on film (like Shrek), or a combination of both (like Terminator). They occur indoors, out of the heat and sun, in comfortable theaters. They last about 25 minutes on average. Most film shows start running soon after opening time and run continuously. Live shows start about midday and have their show times listed in the 2-Park Map.

Because they seat 250 to 700 people at a time, a long line outside a theater show may be deceptive. Many times you can get in line as the next group is entering and still make the show. This is not always true during the busier times, however. Ask an attendant if getting in line now will guarantee a seat at the next show.

Amphitheater Shows. These shows differ from theater shows in that they take place in larger semi-open auditoriums that do not offer the luxury of air conditioning. They start about midday, with show times listed in the 2-Park Map brochure.

Outdoor Shows. These are small-scale shows involving a few entertainers. They occur on the streets at set times announced in the 2-Park Map.

Displays and Interactive Areas. These two different types of attractions are similar in that you can simply walk into them at will and stay as long as you wish. That’s not to say you won’t find a line, but, with the exception of Fievel’s Playland, lines are rare at these attractions.

All the Rest. There’s a great deal of enjoyment to be derived from simply walking around in Universal Studios Florida. The imaginative and beautifully executed sets make wonderful photo backdrops and, when things get too hectic, you can even find a grassy knoll on which to stretch out, rest, and survey the passing scene.

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Universal Orlando 2011


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