The four theme park complexes owned and operated by NBC Universal, famous for combining thrilling rides with state-of-the-art technology. Most of the rides are based on movies, a large part of them not from Universal's own library. The studio tour dates all the way back to 1912, and the theme park dates to 1964. They are verybig competitors with the Disney Theme Parks, and are often regarded as the only theme park group close to it in terms of quality.The theme parks include:
Universal Studios Hollywood: The original park, which opened in 1964. It started as a reimagining of their old studio tour, but soon grew to a giant theme park. It opened a shopping complex, called CityWalk, in May 1993.
Universal Orlando Resort: The largest and most popular resort, which is split into two theme parks:
Universal Studios Florida: Opened June 17, 1990, it was created so Universal could compete with the Walt Disney World resort. Disney, however, opened Disney-MGM (now Hollywood) Studios in 1989 in order to compete. Florida, unlike Hollywood, opened as a theme park (although there is a studio complex on-site and some of the streetscapes can easily be converted to sets as needed), exchanging a studio tour for attractions where the guests could "Ride the Movies". It also houses many behind-the-scenes shows about what goes on in show business.
Universal's Islands of Adventure: Opened on May 28, 1999, along with a CityWalk and a massive parking structure, it is the only Universal park to not have a studio theme. It opened with five islands (Marvel Superhero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing), each featuring some of the most technologically advanced rides ever built, including the award-winning The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. On June 18, 2010, a sixth island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opened to tons of excitement from both fanbases.
Universal Studios Japan: Universal's first park outside the U.S., it opened on March 31, 2001 with another CityWalk. It follows a very similar layout to Universal Studios Florida, but has some unique-to-Japan attractions based on such properties as Peanuts, Sesame Street, and Hello Kitty.
Universal Studios Singapore: Universal's newest park still keeps the studios theme, but tries to feel like Islands of Adventure. It opened within Resorts World Sentosa, which is not owned by Universal, on May 28, 2011 after over a year of soft openings.
Two more parks are expected to be built in Dubai and South Korea within this decade. Not to be confused with the actualUniversal Studios.Halloween Horror Nights, an annual event in the U.S. theme parks, has its own page.
Tropes used in the parks include:
3D Movie: Terminator 2: 3D and Shrek 4D are these. Japan also has a Sesame Street-themed 3D show and another called Animation Celebration 3D. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure) and Transformers: The Ride (Singapore and Hollywood, and eventually Orlando) combine 3D film with a moving ride vehicle and full-scale sets.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey uses a system similar to Transformers and Spider-Man, although the ride vehicle is upgraded to a robotic arm attached to a track, simulating a flying bench while the movie parts are in 2D.
The Shrek 4D rides have posters set up at the queue lines, parodying Disney attractions (The Enchanted Tick Room, anyone?) and some of Universal's own.
All Star Cast: Most of the movie-based attractions incorporate the original performers from the films to varying degrees, and since said movies are generally extremely popular and have very famous stars...
All There in the Manual: Even more than at Disney parks, breezing through the queues for most of the continuously-loading big-league rides (as opposed to film-based attractions, like the 3D movies and The Simpsons Ride, where preshows are mandatory) means missing a lot of information that is required to understand them, as well as a lot of jokes and even boarding/safety instructions.
Ancient Tomb: The setting of Revenge of the Mummy. In the Florida version, it's supposed to be a film set, but...
The Artifact: There is a large amphitheater in Toon Lagoon (Islands of Adventure) that has consistently failed at maintaining any kind of show in it. It held a cartoon circus show for a few years, then a Mat Hoffman stunt show, THEN the filming location for NBC's iVillage. After a few years of emptiness, Mat Hoffman's Aggro Circus began in March 2010....only to be made into a seasonal show, performing during spring break and the summer. The rest of the year, it's closed to the public.
Fievel's Playland is being treated like this more and more, given the total lack of promotion or merchandise An American Tail gets at the park now as opposed to the much newer Spongebob, Dora the Explorer and Dreamworks movies. It's amazing that it's still around. Woody Woodpecker's Nuthose Rollercoaster is a lesser example (you can still find Woody merchandise if you look hard enough, and he's still technically the park mascot, as hard as it is to tell these days).
The entirety of Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone is arguably this. While the attractions still draw decent crowds, a few of the characters the attractions are based off of aren't recognizable to the young audience Kidzone targets. E.T. Adventure being the obvious exception due to it's ties to the park's history. Aside from the aforementioned Fievel, the Curious George franchise never exactly became a huge hit for Universal, Barney may still be profitable but nowhere near as popular as it was when the attraction was added to the park and Woody Woodpecker only lives as the park mascot these days. It may averted soon enough, a SpongeBob store has been added to the area and rumors of a massive overhaul of the area in the next few years have made their way to the internet.
Awkward Silence: Don't bring up the fact that Disney now owns Marvel when you're in the Marvel area of Islands of Adventure. Especially don't bring it up to the park attendants.
BFG: The tour guide of the Jaws ride conveniently happened to be carrying a grenade launcher.
Blue Man Group: In Orlando, a permanent production serves as stand-alone entertainment at CityWalk; this is Universal's answer to Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney complex hosting Cirque Du Soleil's La Nouba.
Expanded Universe: Many attractions qualify as this to their source material. Shrek 4D is canon, revealing that Shrek and Fiona's ride to the honeymoon hotel seen at the beginning of Shrek 2 was extremely eventful.
Back To The Future: The Ride served as an alternate "mini-sequel" to the iconic film trilogy that guests could participate in. Countless references to Doc's previous travels are laden throughout the attraction.
Honest John's Dealership: The queue for Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges at Islands of Adventure sets up Bluto's barge rentals as being this.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The Dragon Challenge (formerly Dueling Dragons) roller coaster in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, where the two roller coasters are actually shaped like dragons.
Mascot: It was originally Woody Woodpecker, then it was Fievel for a few years in the early-90's, and then it became Woody again, who even now is rapidly losing focus.
Mouse World: An American Tail's use of this trope is the basis for a playground at Universal Studios Florida — the park visitors are the "mice" sliding down a "sewer pipe" (waterslide), scampering under a giant ten-gallon hat, etc.
Public Domain Character: The Lost Continent is notable as the only area of Islands of Adventure to be based around these, drawing on Classical Mythology (Poseidon's Fury!) and the Arabian Nights (The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad). Originally, a key section of this land was "Merlinwood", inspired by the King Arthur mythos, but this was subsequently incorporated into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its two roller coasters were rethemed (Dueling Dragons to Dragon Challenge and The Flying Unicorn to Flight of the Hippogriff).
Scenery Porn: A key element of Islands of Adventure, from the general lush landscaping to tons of small visual details in shops, restaurants, and ride queues.
Souvenir Land: Krustyland, the setting of The Simpsons Ride. Attractions include the Hall of Secretaries of the Interior, Captain Dinosaur's Pirate Rip-Off, and a log flume that is currently closed for a wedding.
Title: The Adaptation: Back to the Future: The Ride, Transformers: The Ride, Jurassic Park: The Ri- you get the idea.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Back To The Future: The Ride temporarily transported guests to a wondrous, zeerusty Hill Valley in the year 2015 as seen in Back To The Future Part II. As time would pass, this would've eventually placed the ride in an awkward and highly inaccurate Next Sunday A.D. situation, which was partially the reason for it's untimely closure in 2007. Though word on the street is, the ride is still operating in Japan.
Unintentional Period Piece: The T2 3-D: Battle Across Time performance, specifically the pre-show, which talks about all of the fascinating new technologies that Cyberdyne is working on. Problem is, it first opened in 1996, and has not been updated in the intervening years. Most people watching this pre-show probably have smartphones in their pockets and purses, and various gadgets in their homes, that can put to shame the "advanced" computers and robots on display. To say nothing of the cameo by Shaquille O'Neal.
The E.T. Adventure ride does show it's age, with it's dated animatronics, bizarre continued use of tickets to get in, and simple ride design that can be rather underwhelming to those spoiled by the more hi-tech rides. But it's miraculously survived the years intact in a park that unlike the Disney parks tends to value the new over the old regardless of it's continued popularity (which still stops the ride from being The Artifact, as E.T. merchandise is still sold there).
Up to Eleven: The Gamma Slider (for the Incredible Hulk ride) has a very powerful launch up hill early in the ride, accelerating the train to 40 miles per hour in two seconds. That's not what makes it this trope, however. In order to do so, the ride designers had to incorporate a series of capacitors to store the power necessary for the launcher. If they hadn't, they would have needed a whole substation dedicated to just that part of the ride, or risk browning out the local energy grid (i.e. all of the Islands of Adventure and most of Universal Studios) with every launch.
What the Hell, Hero?: Do really poorly in the Men In Black ride at Orlando, and Agent Jay will sputter at your performance, suggesting that you get back in line to try it again.
You Already Changed The Past: Featured in one of The Simpsons Ride's preshow videos to humorously pay tribute to its predecessor, Back To The Future: The Ride, complete with voiceover work from Christopher Lloyd. Professor Frink arrives looking for Doc Brown's Institute of Future Technology (the setting of that ride), only to find it replaced by the Krustyland theme park. He decides to stop it by going "back to the future, I mean past." He gets into a Delorean and accelerates into a time jump. Two years ago, a broker is telling Doc Brown that he'll be able to keep the Institute open for years to come. At that point, the Delorean materializes and runs over the broker! Frink jumps out and Brown yells at him "You ruined everything! Now I'll have to sell the Institute of Future Technology to that mercenary clown!" Krusty promptly pastes a Krustyland logo over the IFT logo on the front sign. Brown then shows Krusty to his limo, and Krusty tells him to tear tickets at the front gate after he gets a haircut (Brown's fine with this, as his Einstein Hair requires a lot of upkeep).
Your Princess Is In Another Castle: Near the end of the Florida version of Revenge of the Mummy, the car comes to a stop at a loading dock, and a ride attendant shadowed in the booth thanks you for riding. Then Imhotep sucks her soul out, sets the ceiling on fire, and drops the car into the highest drop in the ride.
Similarly, The Simpsons Ride seems to end with most of the family back on the couch at Evergreen Terrace — only for Kang and Kodos to reveal the couch is the ride vehicle of a climactic "Death Drop"!