Universal Studios Travel Guide
  • Photo: Hattanas Kumchai / Shutterstock

Universal Studios

Inspired by the California original and opened in Orlando in 1990 (when the city assumed it would become "Hollywood East"), Universal Studios was meant to celebrate the movies. Like the back-lot sets at a film studio, the park is a jumble of areas and attractions that can make navigating a challenge, but the payoff is the opportunity to immerse yourself in this highly creative take on motion picture magic.

The first area past the entrance is Production Central, where large soundstages house attractions based on TV programs and films like Shrek, Despicable Me, and The Transformers. Because it’s right near the entrance, it can be the park's most crowded area.

Past Production Central is New York. Nearly every studio has its own Big Apple sets, and Universal is no exception. A cleverly constructed collection of sparkling public buildings, well-worn neighborhoods, and back alleys is the next-best thing to Manhattan itself (but not even NYC has Revenge of the Mummy or a Jimmy Fallon virtual reality ride).

Subtle changes in architecture and design tell you you're entering San Francisco, home of the new-in-2018 attraction Fast & Furious: Supercharged. A nice spot to pause for a bite, the area offers places for burgers, pastries, and candy, as well as table-service meals at the waterfront Lombard's Seafood Grille.

You’ll next reach the land adored by wizards and muggles alike—the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. What the books describe and what filmmakers created, Universal has replicated in great detail, immersing you in this fantastic world.

Just ahead, World Expo features a single attraction—MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack, a futuristic experience that's the polar opposite of neighboring Springfield: Home of the Simpsons, which is perhaps the park's most visually dynamic area. Its next door neighbor, Woody Woodpecker's KidZone, offers colorful attractions designed for toddlers and the under-10 crowd with diversions that include a junior-sized roller coaster, a mini–water park, and a chance to meet E.T. and Barney the dinosaur.

Although the quiet parks, theme restaurants, and facades of flashy Rodeo Drive are truly appealing, Hollywood also has a few standout attractions, including Universal Orlando's Horror Make Up Show. By the time you've circled the park, you really will feel that Universal has put you in the movies.

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