Review of "Universal Studios"

published 25/10/2012 | dkm1981
Member since : 17/02/2009
Reviews : 478
Members who trust : 63
About me :
A very active twelve month old means less reviews from mum, but so many toys to review!
Pro Big name characters, very clean, fun, good themes
Cons Expensive tickets, not as good as Islands of Adventure next door!
very helpful
Is it worth visiting?
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"Big Names Galore At Universal Studios!"

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

There are two parks in the Universal, Orlando resort; Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. To be honest I much preferred Islands of Adventure because it seemed to appeal more to my tastes, but that is not to say that there isn't a lot to like about the Universal Studios park, what with such big names as The Simpsons, Shrek and Men in Black to keep you entertained. The rides seem to be much more about special effects and demonstrating what can be done in the world of movies as well. There are five areas to the park, each with a unique theme, which makes it much easier to walk around.

Production Central

Once you have walked through the rather grand gates of Universal Studios, you immediately arrive at Production Central. I thought the name meant that this area would be where all the special effects type rides would be, but it is not the case. I think there are actually studios here just behind the rides, which may be the reason for the name, but these aren't publically accessible.

There are three rides in this area of the park. The first is the brand new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride. Not so much a ride as a 3-D experience. I had never heard of Despicable Me before visiting this ride, but from what I can gather it is a children's film complete with lovable characters and fun storylines. It doesn't matter if you haven't seen the film - it won't spoil your enjoyment of the ride. I loved it and thought it was very clever and a lot of fun. The only thing I will say is that you should try and get a seat in the centre of the auditorium because we found that the 3-D aspect worked at its best from a direct angle. The second ride is another 3-D adventure, well actually 4-D, Shrek. The ride starts off from where the first film finished, but again you don't need to have seen the film to enjoy the ride. We were a bit disappointed in this one because the 4-D aspect means that your seats move to increase the interaction with the film, but we found that the seats made such a noise that it took away from the film. These two rides are both suitable for children and I think that they'll enjoy both of them, although Despicable Me is only for people over 40 inches tall.

The last ride in this area is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, which is a full on white knuckle roller coaster. I am much too much of a wimp to go on such a ridiculous ride as this, but my husband went on it and couldn't decide what was worse - the vertical climb up to the first big drop, the sheer length and number of turns and loops, or the fact that you don't have over the should straps! I personally loved the fact that you are recorded during the ride and you can watch the video back afterwards, it certainly made for hilarious viewing for me! You can buy the video if you want. There are also free to use lockers at the ride entrance to store loose items. If you a single rider - definitely mention it as you join the queue because quite often you are able to skip to the front.

There are a couple of restaurants and bars in this area, but none really of note - they are more places that you can grab a quick snack. This is also the area where the parade starts and finishes and that you can meet your favourite characters throughout the day, including the Simpsons and Shrek.

New York

As you leave Production Central you go straight into New York, which is actually visually quite impressive. It does indeed look like the set from a movie though, complete with the sky scrapers and the narrow streets - you can even stop for a quick break on the benches of Central park. In fact we enjoyed wandering around the area as much as anything else.

There are two rides here though; Twister . . .Ride It Out and Revenge of the Mummy. The Twister Ride is a special effects show type ride which is quite good, although there is an awful lot of build-up that isn't quite rewarded with the mega ending you are anticipating. It is good though and worth a visit. There are no height restrictions on the ride, although it is very loud and may be frightening for younger visitors. The mummy ride is an indoor roller coaster which takes places mostly in the dark. My wimpishness doesn't extend to rides that I can't see so I happily went on this one (I know it doesn't make sense, but there you go). It is quite thrilling although there are no loops in it, but there are things that you don't expect, which adds to the thrill. If you can, get a seat at the front of the carriage as it is slightly more adrenaline pumping and much more fun. The ride is only suitable for those over 48 inches in height and you'll have to put loose articles in one of the lockers before riding.

There are a couple of shows that round off the available entertainment in New York. The first is the Blues Brothers Show, which is mildly entertaining and takes place on one of the street corners in the area. It is usually quite popular and you can stay for as long or as little as you like. The other one is the Delancey Street Preview Centre. This is a bit hit and miss because it is a place where you can go and watch a show under network consideration and rate it. There were none playing whilst we were there, but you have to qualify to be able to take part though.
San Francisco

Like New York, this area is as much about the theme as anything else and it is pretty good. I have been to San Francisco and all the local things are there - Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli's Chocolate shop, a street car track. There are none of the big sites like Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge, but the things that are there make it seem more genuine in an odd way. There is a 'harbour' which sits on the Universal lakeside and is a great place from which to watch the nightly firework show. There is also a giant shark hanging overhead which you obviously have to stick your head in the mouth of and have a picture taken!

There is only one ride here and it is Disaster, which is billed as 'A Major Motion Picture Ride . . . Starring YOU!'. It is quite good, although there is a lot of preamble. This is made bearable by the amusing man who presents it. It is suitable for everybody and you may be chosen to take a starring roll or (if you do what I did and hide behind a really tall man) you can just be one of the extras. The end product is quite amusing and the whole thing probably lasts about 25 minutes.

The other thing to do here is watch Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, which is a rock and roll monster show. Cue lots of cheesy jokes, popular songs and even a few fireworks. It is actually pretty good, and a perfect way to have a nice sit down without missing out on anything. Shows are at regular intervals throughout the day and last about 30 minutes each.

This area is also sort of half way around the park so it is a great place to stop for lunch. The designers have obviously also considered this as there are plenty of places to get something to eat. There is a huge pizza restaurant that does pizza by the (rather large) slice for a few dollars and there are various sweet shops and food stands selling everything from sodas to giant turkey legs (which seemed to be very popular).
World Expo

There are only two rides in this part of the park, but they are two of the most popular I would say in the form of The Simpson Ride and Men in Black Alien Attack. You can expect a queue for both, but there is plenty to look at in the queuing system so it isn't too painful. In the queue for The Simpsons Ride, they actually play episode of the show, which makes the time go remarkably quickly!

The Simpsons ide is a kind of simulator where you are in a roller coaster carriage and you swoop and soar over Krustyland. It is very good and quite clever. It also feels a bit different from your usual run of the mill simulator which is good. If you are small, sit on the front row though so your view isn't obscured.

The second ride here is the Men In Black one which is fully interactive because you even get a gun to zap baddies and you compete against other players in your cart. It is worth paying attention as you walk around the queuing area as there are instructions on what to do once you are onboard and there are even special hints and tips for what to do to get bonus points. It is fun although they seemed to be having problems when we visited and the ride actually broke down whilst we were in it. Not a problem and these things happen, but it did annoy me (and it was very out of character for the Universal folks in general) that they didn't apologise or give an explanation, instead just leaving us there until it was fixed.

TheWorld Expo area has a sort of carnival feel to it, especially near The Simpsons Ride, where there are lots of little games to play (for a price of course), such as whack-a-mole, catch a duck and throwing a ball through a hoop. The games aren't too expensive (around $3 a go each) and there are lots of Simpsons themed prizes to win, although you might want to avoid it if you have already blown the budget!
Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone

There are lots of rides throughout Universal Studios that are suitable for kids and that they will love, but this area, as you would expect is entirely geared towards younger visitors. There are things that will appeal to all ages of children and the characters featured here include Woody himself, Curious George, ET and Barney.

As seems to be the theme in this park, there are a couple shows you can watch, the first one features animal actors although we didn't watch it because there were only four show times on the days that we were there and none of them suited our timetable. I imagine that there are more shows in the busier summer months. There is also a Barney show but since it is advertised as a sing along, clap along walk in the park we decided that we were probably a little too old for it.

We did have a go on Woody's Nuthouse Coaster, mainly because there was no queue. It has only a 36 inch height restriction, which tells you just how tame it is. Young daredevils will love it though and there are puzzles and things to complete in the queue which is quite good.

We also went on the ET ride which basically involves you sitting on a flying bike and helping ET get home. Again it is a fairly tame ride with 34 inch height restriction, but it is very pleasant and you wait in line in the forest which is pretty funky.

Finally in this zone there are a couple of themed play areas featuring Curious George and a character called Fievel, who is a mouse that I have never heard of! The whole zone has been planned for children very thoughtfully and it is lovely and bright and very engaging.

To complete the theme, there are plenty of places to get brightly coloured sweets and drinks or a souvenir featuring your little ones' favourite characters.

Other Information

Lots of the rides in this park are wheelchair accessible and many of the show type rides have assistive listening or sign language interpreted shows, so that everyone can enjoy them. Just pick up one of the maps as you enter the park because they have details on them of which rides offer extra assistance and you just speak to the ride operator at the entrance.

It is also always worth mentioning if you are a single rider at the queue entrance because you tend to be able to jump to the front of the queue if you are.

It is worth picking up one of the maps anyway because it is much the best way of planning your day so that you get the most out of it. They are really handy to have and give all the information you need about the rides themselves (height restrictions, locker availability, opening times) and the other things in the park (food/drink, toilets, cash machines etc).

The park is predominantly non-smoking, however there are designated smoking areas throughout the park. There are seven of these areas in total and they all have plenty of ash trays and seating and are well sign posted. It's a great idea and I strongly recommend you stick to them because you will be told off otherwise.

The parks are exceptionally clean. I was amazed at how so to be honest, because you'd think with that many people, there'd be some rubbish somewhere, but no. There are always bins everywhere and you often see part of what must be an army of cleaners picking up bits of rubbish here and there. It makes it such a lovely place to wander around.

There are plenty of places to get something to eat and it caters for all kinds of things from snacks and quick bites to full blown meals. I didn't think the prices were that bad to be honest - certainly much less than I thought they were going to be. You are free to bring in your own food though if your budget doesn't extend to theme park prices, although expect to have your bag checked when you enter the park and to have to wait in line to do so.

In terms of ticket prices for getting in to the parks, it is an absolute minefield depending on what you want. You can get tickets for just Universal Studios, which are about £50 for one day, although the daily price does go down the more days that you book. The best value if you are staying for a week or more is to get a pass that allows you unlimited entries into a number of parks. This is particularly good because I don't think you need more than one day to see everything in Universal Studios to be honest, so you'd be better combining your ticket with something else. We paid about £150 each for a fortnight long ticket that got us into Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Wet n' Wild water park. There are also untold numbers of places you can get tickets from but I would add that it tends to be cheaper if you buy them in advance.

For any more information, the Universal website is excellent;

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Comments on this review

  • Gingerkitty published 29/10/2012
    Excellent stuff x
  • char2011 published 27/10/2012
    fab review x
  • hanmillie published 26/10/2012
    Excellent review!
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