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You go in the Back to the Future DeLorean and then there's volcanoes and shit, and then you're ridin' the bike with E.T. and then the--the truck comes and almost hits ya, and then you're on the waterfall, and then th-th-the T. rex comes out and then—then fuckin' Jaws is jumpin' out of the water and King Kong is shakin' the tram, and then there's earthquakes and there's other movies (you don't even know what the fuck they are, nobody cares)! It was awesome.
The Angry Video Game Nerd describing attractions in the early years of Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida during his review of the Universal Studios Theme Park Adventurenote  Licensed Game for Nintendo GameCube

Universal Destinations & Experiencesnote  is a chain of five theme park resorts owned/licensed and operated by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. Their first attraction, the Studio Tour, dates back to 1915 (just three years after Universal Pictures' founding in 1912), and the first theme park started in 1964. They are the largest competitors to the Disney Theme Parks, and often regarded as the only theme park group close to its quality. Compared to Disney attractions, Universal attractions tend to appeal more to thrill-seekers than families of all ages, and thus are considered more "extreme." Most of the rides at Universal parks are centered around movies and television shows; unlike Disney, a good number of them are not from Universal's own library.

The idea of Universal's theme parks surfaced in 1962, following MCA's takeover of Universal Pictures. The idea began as a suggestion by executives to refresh the Studio Tour, which led to the inclusion of staged events during the tour. This plan was ultimately realized two years later, leading to the birth of Universal theme parks.

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 its own theme park. It opened a shopping complex, called CityWalk, in May 1993. It also has its own Metro stop.
  • Universal Orlando Resort: The largest and most popular resort, which consists of two theme parks, a water park, CityWalk, and seven hotels. It was originally just titled Universal Studios Florida, but upon its massive 1999 expansion, it was rebranded as Universal Studios Escape. Due to the massive marketing confusion the title caused, it was swiftly changed again to its current name in 2000. The resort's parks include:
    • Universal Studios Florida: Opened June 7, 1990, it was created so Universal could compete with the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney, however, opened Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) in 1989 in retaliation. Florida, unlike Hollywood, opened as a theme parknote , exchanging a studio tour for attractions where the guests could "Ride the Movies".
    • Universal's Islands of Adventure: Opened on May 28, 1999, along with a CityWalk and a massive parking structure. 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 (which replaced most of The Lost Continent), opened to tons of excitement from both fanbases and proved so popular that it was expanded into the Studio park in 2014, with the Hogwarts Express connecting the two parks. (The Islands section encompasses the Hogwarts and Hogsmeade locales, while the Studio section features Diagon Alley.) A seventh island later opened in 2016, themed around King Kong's Skull Island.
    • Universal's Volcano Bay: A water park that opened on May 25, 2017, and considered by Universal to be their "third" park. It is centered around a large volcano called "Krakatau", and is notably the only Universal park to not feature any sort of intellectual properties.
    • Universal's Epic Universe: The third theme park of Universal Orlando (fourth counting Volcano Bay, which Universal does), located some miles south of the main resort area. It is currently slated to open in 2024 or 2025. Details are scarce, but it is known that the Orlando port of Super Nintendo World will be located here.
  • 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. For a long time, the park was not fully owned by Universal (though they were of course involved in its development); instead, the park was owned by a multitude of different companies, most notably Goldman Sachs. That all changed in 2017 when Comcast acquired all of the park's shares, giving them full ownership. The park is by far the most successful of all the Universal resorts, having attracted 14.3 million visitors in 2018 note , which makes it the fifth most-attended theme park in the world and the #1 most-attended non-Disney park in the world.
  • Universal Studios Singapore: Universal's second venture into Asia still keeps the studios theme, but tries to feel like Islands of Adventure. It opened within Resorts World Sentosa on May 28, 2011 after over a year of soft openings. Similar to what used to be the case for Universal Studios Japan, the entire park itself is not fully owned by Universal; it is instead owned by the Genting Group.
  • Universal Studios Beijing: Universal's newest park, which is also its third location in Asia. It largely functions as a "greatest hits" of Universal's attractions from the past decade, with lands focusing on contemporary properties such as Jurassic World, Despicable Me, Transformers, Harry Potter and Kung Fu Panda. It had its grand opening on September 20, 2021. Under current plans, major expansions which would turn Beijing into a full Florida-style resort will be built, with a second theme park and a water park in the works.
  • Unnamed Frisco, Texas park: Universal's first theme park in Texas and the third location in North America. In contrast to the Californian and Floridian parks, the park is planned to be small in size and is specifically aimed towards families with younger children unlike the other Universal parks, which are aimed at all ages. The park is also planned to be joined by a 300-room hotel. No opening timeframe has been set, though the terms of the land purchase indicate that it is expected to be open by 2027.

The company's former parks include:

  • PortAventura: A theme park resort located in Spain that Universal purchased the shares for in 1997 and eventually rebranded as Universal Mediterranea for a time. They sold their shares for the resort in 2004 to the Criteria company, who continue to run it to this day. Although Universal no longer runs the resort, there are currently still several remnants of its ownership in place, such as the resort's continued use of Woody Woodpecker (via a licensing deal).
  • Wet 'n Wild Orlando: A water park that opened on March 13, 1977, founded by SeaWorld creator George Millay, and considered the first modern water park. Universal acquired the lease for the park in 1998, and in 2013 they purchased all of the land surrounding the location. The park was permanently closed on December 31, 2016, and its former site is now the location of a hotel called Universal's Endless Summer Resort, which opened in summer of 2019. Volcano Bay, which was built closer to the resort, is the water park's Spiritual Successor.

As previously stated, a good number of attractions at Universal parks tend to feature franchises licensed from other media companies, and not from Universal's library. The most common license Universal had was for Nickelodeon characters, as the park was the home to the production facility Nickelodeon Studios. Although the facilities closed in 2005, Universal continues to possess the rights to select Nickelodeon characters (SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer) at the parks in both California and Florida. Other licensees include Dr. Seuss characters, Marvel Comics (in Florida and Japan only), King Features Syndicate, Nintendo, and Sanrio. DreamWorks Animation and Jay Ward Productions (whose Bullwinkle Studios venture partner Classic Media was absorbed by DreamWorks in 2012) used to be licensees, but after Comcast bought out DreamWorks Animation in 2016, Universal now owns the DWA licensees outright. While Ward Productions continued to license their characters to Universal thanks to an existing deal that was in effect since 1991.note 

Aside from this, they have also licensed individual franchises to base attractions upon: examples include the aforementioned Harry Potter franchise, Transformers, The Simpsons, Peanuts (in Japan only), Sesame Street (in Japan and Singapore only), and Pokémon (in Japan only). There were also former attractions based on Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, Barney & Friends, Terminator, I Love Lucy, Twister, and Hanna-Barbera cartoonsnote ; some of these properties (in the latter case, only Scooby-Doo) are still licensed to the park for meet-and-greets and merchandise.

For certain times of the year, the parks hold their own special seasonal events:

  • Lunar New Year (Hollywood): A Chinese New Year-centered event that primarily focuses on the characters from Kung Fu Panda.
  • Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's (Florida): A Christmas parade that utilizes large balloon floats and features characters from Despicable Me, Shrek, and Madagascar. The parade used to feature some of the actual balloons and floats used in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but this aspect was done away with in 2017.
  • Mardi Gras (Florida): Held through February to April, this event includes a parade and several music performances.

Not to be confused with Universal Pictures, the film studio that operates the theme parks.

    Attractions with their own pages 
Parks in bold are locations where the attraction is still operating or in the process of being added. Locations not in bold indicate that the attraction has been retired there.

(See the Halloween Horror Nights page for pages relating to HHN attractions)

Universal Studios provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Acronym Confusion: Referring to Universal Studios Florida as "USF" around Floridians will often result in a lot of confusion, as the University of South Florida in Tampa also uses "USF" as an abbreviation.
  • Adaptation Expansion: A few attractions qualify as this to their source material, though most of them appear to be set in an Alternate Continuity.
  • Adventure Towns: Islands of Adventure is themed around traveling to several different islands, each completely different from one another.
  • Adventurer Outfit: Port of Entry used to have a Woody Woodpecker meet and greet where he could be found wearing explorer gear.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • SpongeBob SquarePants used to be featured in some of Universal Orlando's billboards, even though the presence of the show is limited to just a store and a parade float.
    • Universal Orlando has a whole line of buses themed around The Secret Life of Pets, even though, just like SpongeBob, the movie is only present in the resort via a parade float and merchandise.
    • Among the emphasized characters on 2019 merchandise for Universal Orlando is Po from Kung Fu Panda, despite his presence there being limited to a meet-and-greet and a brief appearance in the Universal's Cinematic Celebration show. This is likely due to the fact that the merchandise is shared with Universal Studios Hollywood, where Kung Fu Panda has its own dedicated attraction.
    • A similar situation has happened with the Trolls franchise. Poppy and Branch have appeared in a handful of advertisements, merchandise is abundant, and they were even going to be the focus of the Spring 2020 RUN Universal marathon. However, their only real presence in the parks is a meet-and-greet, and a segment in the Universal's Cinematic Spectacular show. It appears based on promotional art that Trolls will finally get a dedicated land at the Frisco park.
  • Affectionate Parody: Being their main rival, numerous attractions and aspects of the parks in general poke fun at the Disney Theme Parks.
  • 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.
    • Volcano Bay has a fully laid out Backstory, which can be read on the Universal Orlando blog.
    • Almost literally for the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium restaurant, as you can find the entire backstory for the establishment on the first page of the menu.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • At Islands of Adventure, Seuss Landing and to a lesser extent Toon Lagoon for the Disney Theme Parks' Toontown areas.
    • Islands of Adventure was meant to be this for Disney World's Magic Kingdom, as was CityWalk for Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs). However, Islands of Adventure in particular is now somewhat closer to Disney's Animal Kingdom, what with the area themed around prehistoric animals, a thrill ride with a giant ape at its center, an entry village not themed to anything in particular, a layout that involves having to cross bridges to reach different lands, a train that actually takes its riders to another location, and a highly-themed area based around fantastical creatures.
    • CityWalk Orlando had Blue Man Group (in part of the former Nickelodeon Studios complex; the other parts are now taken up by Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports), Universal's answer to Walt Disney World's Disney Springs complex hosting Cirque du Soleil. However, in The New '10s Blue Man Group came under the ownership of Cirque du Soleil, so it no longer qualifies as this.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Just before exiting Islands of Adventure, guests pass under a stonework bridge with carved letters reading "The Adventure Lives On" (as opposed to "The Adventure Begins" on the other side, which is what people entering the park see).
  • Art Deco: Several parts of the "studio" parks carry this kind of style, most notably on the big archway that stands at the entrances to them.
  • The Artifact: Universal tends to hold on to outdated attractions longer than Disney. Some examples:
    • There is a large amphitheater in Toon Lagoon (Islands of Adventure) that has consistently failed at maintaining any kind of show in it. After Pandemonium Cartoon Circus ran for a few years, it was followed by a Mat Hoffman stunt show, then served as 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. It was then cancelled altogether, leaving the empty amphitheater shut year-round.
    • The entirety of Woody Woodpecker's KidZone, until the announcement of its closure in January 2023. While the attractions still drew decent crowds, most of the characters the attractions were based on became unrecognizable to the target audience over the course of 20 years. E.T. Adventure is the lone exception, due to its ties to the park's history and the fact that E.T. is a certified classic family film on a par with The Wizard of Oz. Beyond that, An American Tail has become more obscure over the years, the Curious George franchise never exactly became a huge hit for Universal, and Woody Woodpecker only lives as the park mascot these days. Up until its closure, very little of it was removed, with the only major additions to the area since the '90s being a store themed to SpongeBob SquarePants (replacing the former store themed to the animations of Walter Lantz) and a temporary Dreamworks Animation meet and greet area replacing A Day in the Park with Barney (the latter of which lasted until 2020).
    • Relatedly, E.T. Adventure and Universal's Horror Make-Up Show are the last two attractions at Universal Studios Florida that were there when the park originally opened in 1990. It's been rumored that the only reason why E.T. hasn't been replaced is due to the personal intervention of Steven Spielberg, who was reportedly furious when the ride was removed from the Hollywood and Japan parks and threatened to end his working relationship with Universal Parks & Resorts if the Orlando E.T. ride were ever to be closed. Even when the KidZone was shut down, E.T. Adventure remained, and it is still given a fair amount of attention in maintenance and merchandising.
    • This is partly why The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera was replaced by Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, and why the latter was also replaced in favor of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. When Hanna-Barbera closed in 2002, the licenses featured weren't very popular with kids anymore (with the lone exception of Scooby-Doo), and so they were replaced with popular Nickelodeon animated series from the early 2000s. When Jimmy Neutron closed in 2011, the only shows represented in the ride that were still airing were the long-running SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents!, and so they were replaced with a popular series of animated films from the early 2010s. (It helps that Universal actually owns the rights to Despicable Me, so they don't have to pay licensing fees to operate the ride.)
    • Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure, as explained in this article. Even after Disney bought Marvel Comics and its associated film studio, Universal's contract with Marvel gave them the exclusive rights in perpetuity to use the Marvel characters in parks east of the Mississippi (i.e. in Orlando), as long as they used them in good faith and didn't misrepresent them. This means that Universal will likely never add any new attractions to the area, as this would give free promotion to one of Universal's competitors as a film studio, but they'll never close any of them down either, lest they risk the rights reverting to their proper owner, who happen to also be their direct theme park rival. A side effect is that the area is themed after the comics as they existed in the late '90s, rather than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has come to define Marvel in popular culture far more than the comics — though the 2016 refurbishment of The Incredible Hulk Coaster does take aesthetic inspiration from the live-action films.note 
    • The original Hard Rock Café that was built next to E.T. Adventure was closed when a newer version of the restaurant opened with the CityWalk area in 1999; however, the old structure itself continued to sit untouched and abandoned for well over ten years, and was in clear sight of anyone walking through the KidZone area. It finally came down at the end of 2011, to make way for extra backstage facilities.
    • Men in Black: Alien Attack is the last remaining part of the World Expo area at the park. It was initially designed specially to fit in with the area and complement Back to the Future: The Ride by having it be themed as a World's Fair pavilion that secretly acted as a base for the MIB, but this all fell apart when BTTF was replaced by The Simpsons Ride, with the surrounding Expo theming eventually being converted into a Springfield area. Because of this, Alien Attack is now thematically-isolated.
    • The Simpsons Ride itself is an artifact now due to Disney acquiring Fox and its intellectual properties in 2019; similar to the Marvel characters above, Universal is now giving free promotion to a property owned by one of their biggest rivals. Universal's contract with Fox is expected to last until 2028.
    • Fear Factor Live in the Florida park remained for over a decade after the original series it was based on concluded. In California, it was replaced with Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical in 2009, which was swiftly cancelled and replaced with a Special Effects Show the very next year. Florida's version closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19; in October 2021, Universal confirmed that it wouldn't reopen.
    • The entirety of the Lost Continent, almost literally. With the re-theming of Dueling Dragons to fit with Hogsmeade (and its eventual closure to be replaced entirely by Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure), and the closure of Sinbad in late 2018, it was left the only area in the park with a single attraction and no licensed attractions. Poseidon's Fury was "temporarily" closed due to COVID-19 in 2020, and finally reopened in March of 2022 after an extensive refurbishment, seemingly indicating it isn't going anywhere soon.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: The Pteranodon-themed coaster that Universal Studios Japan added to its Jurassic Park area in 2016 is called The Flying Dinosaur, which is a fallacious title, as pterosaurs were not dinosaurs; they were flying reptiles.
  • Ascended Extra: Several characters in the parks originally made their debut as walkaround characters, but later received their own attractions due to their popularity. Examples include Shrek, Beetlejuice, Nicktoons, and Popeye.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Universal Studios Japan has Moppy, a Sesame Street Muppet character created exclusively for the park. Read more about him on Muppet fansite (who theorize he may be Universal's answer to Duffy the Disney Bear, a character created for Tokyo DisneySea who is massively popular over there).
    • Evac, the Autobot who serves as the protagonist of Transformers: The Ride, is completely original to the parks. He does share his name with an established character from Transformers: Cybertron, however.
    • Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time features the T-1000000, a Terminator resembling a giant mechanical spider that never appears in any of the films.
    • A Day in the Park with Barney featured Mr. Peek-A-Boo, a live character created exclusively for the attraction. However, Mr. Peek-A-Boo did manage to appear in a few Barney books not long after the attraction's opening. Come the late '90s, Barney's dialogue, "I'm so glad Mr. Peek-A-Boo made sure you all got here!", had the name shortened to just "Peek-A-Boo," allowing for actresses to portray the character as well.
  • Canon Immigrant: Hello Kitty started off as a brand that was exclusive to Universal Studios Japan since the park opened in 2001, but come the mid-2010s, the franchise managed to make its way into all the Universal parks, even getting its own dedicated store in Orlando and Hollywood.
  • Christmas Episode: In addition to the various Christmas events at the Orlando parks, A Day in the Park with Barney and The Blues Brothers Show get seasonal revamps featuring various holiday songs.
  • Christmas Special: Grinchmas, their sort-of Christmas counterpart to Halloween Horror Nights. They also have Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's, which features a few balloons and floats ported from the New York Macy's Parade, which happens a few days before the Holiday Parade starts up in early December (and which just so happens to be organized partly by NBC, Universal's sister company).
  • Content Warnings: Up until sometime in the '2010s, Universal Studios Florida used to give "PG-13" ratings to attractions they considered to be too intense or inappropriate for children. Attractions given this rating included Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time, Twister...Ride it Out, Universal's Horror Make-Up Show, Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, and Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies.
  • Creator Cameo: Seuss Landing has an animated caricature of Dr. Seuss that can be seen on top of one of the windows for the Mulberry Street store.
  • Daywalking Vampire: The walkaround Dracula character at Universal Studios Hollywood has no problem with being out in the sunlight.
  • Demographic-Dissonant Crossover: Islands Of Adventure is built this way. Being an amalgamation of lands based on the child-friendly worlds of Dr. Seuss and old newspaper comics, Greek myths and classical fables, the violent but teen-appealing worlds of Marvel Comics and Harry Potter, and the gory and terrifying worlds of Jurassic Park and King Kong, it's a bit hard to get a handle of who the park is exactly for. This doesn't seem to have stopped it from becoming one of Universal's most popular parks, though.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several characters featured in the parks that once starred or had a supporting role in an attraction would later have their presence limited to a meet and greet and/or in-park merchandise after said attraction was closed. Some of these characters include Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Scooby-Doo, I Love Lucy, Shrek, and SpongeBob SquarePants (which at least has its own store).
  • Developer's Foresight: So what happens when you actually "ask for Babs"? While Babs herself would not show up, apparently, Universal did used to offer an incentive to those who bothered to actually ask for her early on (what that incentive is though is not clear and would allegedly range from a free shirt to discounted tickets). However, after a couple of years, Universal would eventually stop offering any incentives to those who asked the phrase beginning in 1989, allegedly due to employees getting fed up with the phrase.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The Studio Tour was quite different in the first few decades from what it is now. Originally, it was more akin to a static show than an actual attraction, where you can watch films as they were being made from bleachers. The original version of the tour was closed in 1930 (due to the advent of sound) and it wouldn't be until 1964 that the more famous tram incarnation of the Studio Tour would open.
    • Because Universal City was close to farms in its early years, you could buy fresh produce in the studio early on.
    • For the first few years, the Studio Tour was the only key attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, with other attractions being smaller shows and exhibits than full attractions. It wouldn't be until its later years that it would introduce more proper attractions, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the park.
    • During Universal Studios Japan's first 10 years of operation, the park went out of its way to mimic Tokyo Disneyland by including several fairy tale-based attractions. This included a Peter Pan nighttime show, a nighttime parade highlighting fairy tales like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and a whole area dedicated to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the '2010s, the park began to find its own identity and has since removed all traces of fairy tales.
  • Easing into the Adventure: Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure. Guests enter through the calm and peaceful town that contains no attractions before finding themselves in the wackiness of places like Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon, the thrills of Marvel Super Hero Island and Jurassic Park, and the wonders of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Lost Continent.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Florida's New York area has a hidden alleyway that you can walk through, providing some nice intimate theming. At Universal Studios Japan, the alleyway is used as a Spider-Man-themed photo-op.
    • For a long time, The Garden of Allah area at USF had a secret shortcut to Woody Woodpecker's KidZone, but this pathway was later blocked off and made into a preview center for NBC.
    • Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure has many.
      • One of the windows on the buildings advertises a service called "Codiga Adventures", a nod to David Codiga, who was the former Executive Vice President of Universal Creative.
      • Some fun little details in the area include a "firehouse" with a message that it's being relocated closer to the lagoon, and a jailhouse that someone appears to have escaped from, inscribing "See ya!" on it.
      • References to the park's islands can be seen throughout the area, including various props in the Confisco Grille and messages on the buildings. However, these haven't been updated since the park's opening, meaning there are no references to Harry Potter and King Kong, and dated elements referring to the Merlinwood section that Potter annexed.
      • The Backwater Bar has an ad for Seagram's on its facade. Seagram's actually owned Universal for a time in the late '90s.
    • You can find actual working postal services in the Florida parks: there are postboxes near the entrance gates at both parks, and the Owl Post is present at Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.
    • Marvel Super Hero Island has speakers with buttons on them near Doctor Doom's Fearfall and the Captain America Diner. Push the button a few times, and you'll hear several messages from various Marvel characters. There also used to be one near The Incredible Hulk Coaster, but it was taken out following the 2016 refurbishment.
    • Also in Marvel, there's a pay phone in front of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. If you pick it up and listen, you'll be put on hold for a hotline company dealing in superhero incidents.
    • Hidden in Seuss Landing is the egg from Horton Hatches the Egg. The egg is even positioned in a way that allows guests to sit on it.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Universal Studios Japan has its own Christmas event during the holiday season, but unlike other Christmas events in Japan, where Christmas is usually celebrated agnostically, USJ has a nighttime Christmas show called The Gift of Angels III: The Voice of an Angel that heavily references Christianity full-on, something that not even the Christmas events at the Universal and Disney parks in the U.S. do.
  • Excuse Plot: The rides and attractions typically have a story to go along with them. The stories don't ever make a whole lot of sense, and they rarely ever fit into the continuity of their affiliated franchises (especially when sequels come out), but they do help tie into the films they're based on without getting in the way of the Rule of Fun.
  • Game Show Appearance:
    • Quite a few game shows taped at the Florida park, most of which were Nickelodeon game shows taped at their complex; others included Secrets of the Cryptkeeper's Haunted House, the USA Gonzo Games (for the Universal-owned USA Network; this was Mark L. Walberg's first hosting gig), the 2002 PAX revival of Beat the Clock and Steve Harvey's first season of Family Feud. The Hollywood studios, meanwhile, had the final Lifetime-era season of Shop 'Til You Drop (Walberg announced that one) and the Michael Burger run of Family Challenge taped there.
    • Many, if not all episodes of the 2019 season of Deal Or No Deal were filmed at Universal Studios Florida.
    • The Jurassic Park Discovery Center has an interactive game called You Bet Jurassic!, which features a lot of parodies of typical game show tropes.
  • Gender-Inclusive Writing: When the ride staff/actors are communicating with pre-recorded characters on screens, the on-screen characters use gender-neutral names for flexibility in staffing.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: A very common plot element of the parks' attractions involve guests going on what's supposed to be a completely-normal experience until "something goes wrong".
  • Grandfather Clause: The main reason why the Marvel area of Islands of Adventure is still standing even after Disney's acquisition of Marvel, and why The Simpsons Ride is still running after Disney's acquisition of Fox. Universal's contract with Marvel states that they can keep the Marvel license in perpetuity as long as the characters are represented in good faith (meaning Universal has good reason to keep the area well-maintained) in parks east of the Mississippi river, which Islands of Adventure is. Universal's contract with Fox, meanwhile, is set to last for at least 20 years, regardless of Disney's buyout.
  • Halloween Special: As mentioned before, each of the locations around the world has Halloween Horror Nights, a nighttime event where the parks become host to a series of haunted houses, scarezones, and special shows.
  • Haunted House: As a way of promoting the Casper movie in 1995, the Universal parks in Florida and Hollywood featured a temporary walk-through attraction that had guests traveling through replicas of the film's sets and having multiple run-ins with Casper and the Ghostly Trio. More famously, Halloween Horror Nights features haunted houses themed around different properties and storylines that become more elaborate each year.
  • Hub Level: CityWalk at Universal Orlando features walkways that connects both of the theme parks and most of the surrounding hotels together.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover:
  • Long Title:
    • Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
    • At Seuss Landing, the The High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!. Even worse, it was originally going to be called Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines.
    • Universal's Horror Make-Up Show was for a while called, The Gory, Gruesome and Grotesque Horror Make-Up Show.
    • Universal Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories, a former nighttime show at the Florida park.
    • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
    • The CityWalk restaurant, The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen.
  • Malt Shop: Every single Universal Studios park has the Mel's Drive-In restaurant from American Graffiti, which captures the '50s diner aesthetic down to a T.
  • Mascot: The parks' mascot is technically Woody Woodpecker, as hard as he is to find these days. Fievel and E.T. were the unofficial mascots of the early '90s, and the Minions have currently taken up that mantle.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: One of the exhibits in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center allows guests to see what would be the result of their DNA being mixed with that of a dinosaur; the result basically being a dinosaur with the guest's face superimposed on it.
  • Mood Dissonance: This occurred unintentionally when A Day In The Park With Barney was opened, as to make a room for the show, the Bates Motel section of the Psycho IV: The Beginning set was demolished, whereas the Bates Mansion was left standing. As a result, families heading towards the show were treated to the sight of the old house eerily sitting off in the distance. This was later fixed a couple of years later when the Bates Mansion too came down to make way for the Curious George Goes to Town playground.
  • 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.
  • The Musical:
    • Universal Studios Hollywood once had Spider-Man Rocks!, which was essentially a musical version of the 2002 film. Due to terrible reviews, the show only lasted for about two years.
    • Later on, the Hollywood park added the Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical, which received even worse reviews, so horrendous that the show was pulled in less than a year and replaced with the Special Effects Stage.
  • Mythology Gag: Whenever a former attraction is replaced, there tend to be hidden references to the original ride hidden in the new one. Among the examples:
    • One of the first was a golden idol of King Kong or E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (depending on the park) hidden in Revenge of the Mummy.
    • Diagon Alley throws out references to Jaws, including the shrunken head barbershop singing "Show Me The Way to Go Home".
    • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon features hidden references to ghostbusting and twisters.
    • The Simpsons Ride's queue video includes a skit of Doc Brown selling the Institute of Future Technology to Krusty, who offers to make Doc a ticket-taker if he changes his haircut.
    • A pair of water slides at Volcano Bay are named "Maku Puihi". In Maori, "mākū" means wet, and "puihi" means wild, making these slides a tribute to Universal's former water park, "Wet 'n Wild".
    • Additionally, the cocktails sold at the Endless Summer resort hotels (located at the former site of Wet 'n Wild) are named after attractions at the old park.
    • In "The Bourne Stuntacular," based off of the Jason Bourne film series, the titular character walks past "Connor's Cafe." This is a reference to Sarah and John Connor, characters from the Terminator franchise and Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time, which the Stuntacular replaced.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: In the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium restaurant, Professor Doctor Penelope has a robotic sidekick, named Robot Jacques.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Universal Studios Japan has a nighttime Christmas show that's titled, The Gift of Angels III: The Voice of an Angel. Also overlaps with Long Title.
  • Our Founder:
    • The New York area at the Universal parks in Florida and Japan has a statue and plaque of Lew R. Wasserman, a Hollywood executive that made a tremendous impact on MCA-Universal, doing things such as putting the marketing for Jaws into full-force, which helped make the movie a massive success and in turn began the blockbuster genre. Among many other things, he also served as a producer for films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park.
    • Parodied in the Simpsons area of the park, with a statue of Jebediah Springfield, the supposed founder of the Springfield where the series takes place.
  • Palette Swap: Several of the rides at the Universal parks feature identical track layouts and ride vehicle systems, differing only in the theming and decoration. Transformers: The Ride is one to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, and was expressly made so that Hollywood could have a counterpart to the ride without infringing on Disney's purchase of Marvel; Fast & Furious: Supercharged is one to Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which are both based on the Studio Tour trams from the Hollywood park.
  • Phony Psychic: The "psychic fountain" next to Poseidon's Fury is this, completely intentionally and Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Portmantitle:
  • Product Placement: Being theme parks dedicated to Universal, it naturally makes sense that they would contain promotions for some of the company's latest films and TV shows. The promotions over the years have varied from something as simple as a billboard to something more elaborate, such as exclusive merchandise and even temporary attractions.
  • Public Domain Character:
    • The Lost Continent is notable as the only area of Islands of Adventure to be based around these, drawing from 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 Arthurian Legend, 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).
    • Universal Studios Japan used to feature a few attractions based around public domain fairy tales, but these were taken out in the 2010s.
    • Among the walk-around characters that appear in the parks is Marilyn Monroe, whose likeness is in the public domain.
  • The Real Heroes: The Backdraft attraction that's at Japan and formerly at Hollywood dedicates a large amount of its pre-shows to discussing the horrors of what real-life firemen have to go through and why they deserve our respect.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music loop for the entrance to all the Universal Studios parks consists entirely of various movie soundtracks. Florida's for instance uses music from movies like Back to the Future, Liar Liar, Beetlejuice, Apollo 13, Casper, and more obscure picks like The Musketeer.
  • Ribcage Ridge: The Camp Jurassic playground at Islands of Adventure features a Tyrannosaurus skeleton among the other scenery.
  • The Rival: To the Disney Theme Parks.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: At Universal Studios Japan, a show called Animation Celebration featured Woody Woodpecker literally leaping off the pages and interacting with a live actor on stage, via technology that served as an early prototype for the "Musion" effect that would go on to be used in attractions like Disaster! and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. In 2018, the show was replaced with Playing with Curious George, which revolves around the exact same concept, just with Curious George instead of Woody Woodpecker.
  • 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. Even the streetscapes in the Studios parks are lovely and intimately-themed.
  • Screwball Squirrel: Earl the Squirrel, Universal Orlando's Christmas mascot that hides in the park's giant tree and runs a tacky Christmas tree lot that serves as the holiday store theme.
  • Short-Runners: Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical at Hollywood's park lasted less than a year due to terrible reviews.
  • Shout-Out: In a very stealthy-kind of Shout-Out, many of the buildings in the New York area at Florida and Japan are made up of loose-recreations of facades from many famous films. Examples include The Kit Kat Klub from Cabaret, Priscilla Hotel from Thoroughly Modern Millie, an alleyway from The Sting, Adrian's Pet Store from Rocky, Louie's Italian Restaurant from The Godfather, the Empire Hotel from Vertigo, the firehouse from Ghostbusters (1984), various facades from The Seven Year Itch as well as Citizen Kane, and even the orphanage from Annie (1982)
  • Slogans:
    • Universal Orlando Resort has gone through several, including, "Are you ready?", "A vacation from the ordinary", "Be extraordinary", "Vacation like you mean it", and "Vacation like this."
    • Universal Studios Florida: "Ride the movies." and "Jump into the action!"
    • Islands of Adventure: "Live the adventure."
    • Universal Studios Hollywood: "The entertainment capital of L.A."
    • Universal Studios Japan: "The Power of Hollywood"
  • Spiritual Antithesis: As the world's two biggest rivals in the theme park business, Universal Studios and Disney have long framed themselves as contrasting foils of one another. Disney parks have traditionally drawn most of their inspiration from Disney's animated films, and they're famous for their commitment to building immersive experiences that encourage guests to lose themselves in elaborate fantasies, to the point that park staff- ahem, "cast members" regularly engage in kayfabe; as a whole, the Disney parks often celebrate the innocence of childhood, with "magic" being a frequent buzzword. note  By contrast, Universal Studios parks have traditionally been a gleeful smorgasbord of pop culture (primarily American) from multiple companies and mediums, and they opt for the look and feel of a movie backlot, often celebrating the illusory nature of pop culture instead of trying to convince the audience to believe it; they're also much less shy about dipping into properties that don't necessarily target kids, with occasional moments of violence and horror to balance out the frivolity.

    Note that this has started to be downplayed in recent years, as the parks have gradually started learning from each other in certain areas. Case in point: Universal Studios now has The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is the sort of painstakingly detailed immersive attraction that Disney is better known for; and with Pandora – The World of Avatar and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Disney parks have shown a new willingness to embrace properties outside Disney's traditional oeuvre.note 
  • Stage Magician: The former Rugrats Magic Adventure show at Universal Studios Hollywood had Angelica in this role, as a Call-Back to the "Angelica the Magnificent" episode from the series.
  • Steampunk: The CityWalk restaurant, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is more-or-less a steampunk goldmine, being themed as a 19th century chocolate factory that carries a very Jules Verne-style to it.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Backdraft attraction is a pyrotechnics display simulating a warehouse going up in flames.
  • Sugar Bowl: Universal Studios Japan, keeping in line with the country's "cute culture", has a kids area called "Universal Wonderland", which consists of sections for Peanuts, Hello Kitty, and Sesame Street, that are all super colorful and vibrant in ways that perhaps not even an acid fantasy could recreate.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Penelope, the main character of the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium restaurant, insists that she be referred to as "Professor Doctor Penelope".
  • Title: The Adaptation: Back to the Future: The Ride, Transformers: The Ride, Jurassic World: The Ri— you get the idea.
  • Totally Radical:
    • The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster screams this, which is especially odd given its opening was in 2009.
    • Totally Nickelodeon, a show that used to be at Universal Studios Hollywood.
  • Video Arcade:
    • Universal Studios Florida has one next to Revenge of the Mummy, which features various modern games and claw grab machines.
    • Islands of Adventure has Kingpin's Arcade, which contains the same things as the above, but also features games that will give you tickets that you can trade in for prizes.
  • Water Guns and Balloons: Camp Jurassic at Islands of Adventure has a water gun battle area, with one side being themed to a pack of Dilophosaurus, and the other side being themed to Jurassic Park rangers.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Many attractions have been given the primary spotlight throughout the parks' history. In the '90s, it was Kongfrontation, Back to the Future: The Ride, and E.T. Adventure. In the 2000s, it was The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Shrek 4D. And currently, it's the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Harry Potter is the parks' big draw for most guests, especially international tourists, and you can expect to see many people dressed up in Hogwarts robes and carrying magic wands.
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: Inverted with Pteranodon Flyers at Islands of Adventure, as instead of it having a height requirement, it has a height limit. Due to the ride's extremely low capacity, guests taller than 56" cannot go on the coaster unless they are accompanied by a child that's below the limit. Only during private events are childless adults allowed on the ride.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Several of the park's past and present attractions include endings that trick guests into thinking the ride is over, including Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, and Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Universal, Universal Parks And Resorts, Universal Destinations And Experiences


The Simpsons Ride Ad

Bart and Lisa constantly ask this question to Homer while they're on their way to Universal Studios, much to his annoyance.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / AreWeThereYet

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