Caught in the rather long shadow cast by Walt Disney World, Universal Studios has always been something of a scrappy younger sibling. To make comparisons even more pronounced, the similarly themed Disney's Hollywood Studios opened at the Mouse House around the same time. But Universal Studios offers some tremendous attractions and has its own, unique rhythm to compel vacationers through its turnstiles. Like its sister park, Islands of Adventure, nearly every major attraction features loud, kinetic, frantic action. It's one over-the-top moment after another.
The wonderfully themed lands are divided into Production Central (the front of the park, which includes the sound stages), New York (a very convincing 20th-century streetscape -- which inexplicably includes the Midwest-U.S.-themed Twister attraction), World Expo (the facade of the Men in Black attraction is actually modeled after a pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair), Springfield (home of The Simpsons), Hollywood (which features Terminator 2:3D), Woody Woodpecker's KidZone (home to E.T., Curious George, and--shudder!--Barney), and San Francisco (where earthquakes take place every few minutes for your pleasure).
With the addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley (see below under "What's New"), the park has undergone a radical transformation.
Park HighlightsWild, in-your-face, movie-themed attractions including:
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Terminator 2:3D
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- Shrek 4-D
- The Simpsons Ride
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
The park also offers the daily Universal's Superstar Parade, a colorful spectacle featuring characters from Despicable Me, SpongeBob SquarePants, and other animated movies and shows.
DiningThere are plenty of places to eat in the park and throughout the resort.
- Find out where you should be eating in the Best Universal Orlando Dining feature.
- The Top 10 Best Universal Orlando Table-Service Restaurants - Includes some Universal Studios Florida eateries.
- The Top 10 Best Universal Orlando Quick-Service Restaurants - Includes many Universal Studios Florida eateries.
New for 2014
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley- Read about the new land that expands The Wizarding World- Hogsmeade at sister park, Islands of Adventure.
- Photo gallery of Diagon Alley
- Hogwarts Express and London Photos
- Hogwarts Express train ride review
- What Kind of Ticket Would I Need to Ride the Hogwarts Express?
- Why the Hogwarts Express may change everything at Florida's theme parks. My editorial about the ride's likely impact.
New for 2013
Transformers: The Ride-3D- The audacious attraction will bring the movie franchise to life using a Spider-Man-style ride system.
- Review of Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Interview with Universal Creative's Thierry Coup about the Transformers ride
Also, you'll be able to eat a Krusty Burger, chug down a Flaming Moe, and try other Springfield delicacies made popular by The Simpsons when their land expands at the back of the park.
New for 2012
Universal is dubbing it "The Year to Be Here." It is unveiling a number of new attractions and features, including:
- The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride- Now open in all its despicableness! Check out my review of the motion simulator attraction based on the hit film, Despicable Me.
Universal's Superstar Parade
An all-new daily parade is now featured at the park.
Ticket, Hotel, and other General Info
For more info about when to visit, directions, other parks, CityWalk, and a general profile of the Universal resort, go to About.com's Universal Orlando Overview.