With the start of 2013 ahead of us, we’ve got plenty to be excited for as guests at the Universal Orlando Resort. Transformers: The Ride-3D, the hit attraction from Universal Studios Hollywood, is set to open later this year, and several unannounced construction projects have begun to take shape from the former home of Jaws to the area surrounding The Simpsons Ride. And while these options will surely give us further reason to return to the Universal parks when they are complete, there is plenty of recently added fun to enjoy here and now courtesy of 2012’s Year to Be Here campaign.
1. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem: Replacing Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast earlier last year, this new attraction managed to maintain the same simulator ride system from the former ride, while overlaying a undeniably cute and hilariously fun story-driven experience that’ll soften the hearts of any guest, no matter the age or attitude. Fans of the Despicable Me franchise, especially of the lovable Minions, will find plenty to love with an immersive queuing experience that places guests inside of Gru’s iconic home and laboratory, where they become a part of a new scheme in which riders will become Minions themselves in a wacky, wild, and sometimes wet ride through a heartfelt milestone for the Gru family. A fully themed experience from queue to gift shop, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem has become a guest favorite at Universal Studios, one that is perfect for families and fun-seekers alike. This one is a must do attraction during your next visit to Universal Studios Florida!
2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man: Fully remastered and refurbished, the groundbreaking attraction that opened with Islands of Adventure in 1999 has received a major facelift to bring it into the modern era. It sports fully reanimated video at 4K resolution, twice the resolution of that seen in most traditional movie theaters today. Thanks to this ultra realistic high definition, riders can see the individual threads on Spider-Man’s finger in the classic “most dangerous night of my life, AND YOURS!” sequence, and can spot Marvel comics legend Stan Lee three times throughout the journey. Slightly altered scenes produce an even better story flow, complemented by a tweaked ride profile that allows for guests to ride through each scene for a slightly longer period, lengthening the overall ride experience by roughly a half a minute. The SCOOP ride vehicles have been upgraded with sixteen channels of audio (up from their original nine channels) to support the ride’s new rock-inspired musical score and to add additional sound effects to further immerse riders in the expanded story. Some fans (including this one) argue that the upgrades to this classic attraction have reset the bar, once again putting this ride at the top of the list for best attraction at the Universal Orlando Resort, even over the insanely popular Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, also at Islands of Adventure.
3. Blue Man Group: After five years of entertaining guests at the Universal Orlando Resort, the Blue Man Group has refreshed its show by adding several new acts, including a radically different finale act that will have guests on their feet like never before. With a totally rebuilt stage and huge “GiPads” (ginormous iPads) at their disposal, the musically-inclined comedic trio has new tools of entertainment at their fingertips. But not to worry, the best acts from the previous version of the show are still included, such as the marshmallow paint art, the paint drumming, the classic Drumbone performance and much more!
4. Hollywood Drive-In Golf: Located at the entrance of Universal Orlando’s CityWalk, this sprawling 36-hole miniature golf experience is divided into two courses: The Haunting of Ghostly Greens and Invaders from Planet Putt. Heavily themed courses detail the B-movie invasion of the standard mini golf with over-the-top décor, including a giant space worm, a haunted house, and some little green men who would like to golf with you! You can experience 18 holes (one course) for $14 or all 36 for $28 if you’re in the mood to go all out. The Hollywood Drive-In Golf experience is ADA accessible, allowing guests to enjoy nine holes from each of the two courses for a full eighteen-hole experience.
5. Universal’s Superstar Parade: An ingenious new addition to Universal Studios Florida, this parade is really five shows in one! How, you ask? Throughout the day, each of the four floats and their respective characters come out to perform a mini-parade or show stop in the park, each with a unique set of music, dances, and fun for the whole family to enjoy. It features floats based on Despicable Me, Hop (the movie about E.B., the son of the Easter Bunny), Nickelodeon’s Dora and Diego, as well as SpongeBob Squarepants. After all four mini-shows have concluded for the day, a full blown parade will take place with all of the floats, offering a wildly energetic dance party for all ages. Despicable Me’s float features the lovable Minions, while Hop’s sports a live drumline that keeps the beat going throughout the show. Dora and Diego are surrounded by acrobatic monkeys jumping across trampolines, flipping on vines, and jumping to incredible heights with the help of some very bouncy shoes. Each section of the parade offers a totally unique experience worth going back to revisit again and again!
6. Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: The evolution of the former Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular show that used to be offered in the lagoon of Universal Studios Florida, this new show is the perfect end to a day at the Universal Orlando Resort. A huge tribute to the 100-year catalog of Universal Studios films, the show highlights 100 years of action, laughter, heroes, villains, horror, and good vs. evil, all through the use of notable clips from some of the studio’s most iconic films. Unique technology allows guests to see the projections from either side of the three screens in the lagoon without experiencing any mirror or double imagery from the other side. The screens, flanked by fountains and mist screens, create an overwhelming and powerful impression of visual overload that will leave Universal fans speechless. Complemented further with a stunning array of lasers and, of course, perfectly timed fireworks, the roughly 17-minute show will strike a chord with any movie fan by connecting guests with at least one of their favorite moments from Universal’s cinematic history. A grand musical score is employed, pulling the best music from Universal films, and narration is by Morgan Freeman. This stunning spectacular will have you coming back to see it again and again, if only to recognize more films from the packed collection of clips included in this amazing tribute.
2012 might have been the “Year to Be Here,” but with Transformers on the way and a huge list of recently added and refreshed options to be had, 2013 won’t be any less spectacular for guests of the Universal Orlando Resort!