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Trivia / Universal Studios

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What Could Have Been: An island themed around Batman instead of the Marvel Superheroes at Islands of Adventure.

  • Adored by the Network: Ever since its opening, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has dominated the marketing for all the Universal resorts. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem also gets this treatment to an extent, especially in Universal Studios Japan, where Minion merchandise manages to outsell even the merchandise for Potter.
  • All-Star Cast: Most of the movie-based attractions incorporate the original actors to varying degrees; since the movies are extremely popular & have very famous stars
  • Content Leak: Information about almost all of Universal's upcoming attractions tend to get leaked onto the internet way before they get officially announced. The upcoming Universal Studios Beijing in particular had its entire park layout leaked along with its themed lands and most of its attractions.
  • Development Hell:
    • Universal Studios Florida was a project that Universal had been trying to get done throughout the entirety of the '80s, but due to a variety of circumstances, including quarrels with Disney, the park wouldn't open until 1990.
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    • Plans for Universal Studios Japan went all the way back to the late '80s, but for reasons unknown, it took the park until 2001 to finally materialize.
    • The third theme park in Universal Orlando Resort. It was first thought of during the expansion of the resort in 1998, and they even bought the land to build the park. But the economic fallout of the September 11th attacks along with the initial financial failure of Islands of Adventure made the project less viable and the land was sold off a few years later. Eventually, with the success of the Harry Potter rides and the purchase of NBCUniversal by Comcast, the land was bought back by the end of 2015 for $130 million, leading to many, including local news outlets, to speculate that the third theme parknote  will finally be coming within the next few years. These speculations were confirmed in 2019 when the third park was finally announced as Universal's Epic Universe.
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    • Universal Orlando had been trying to develop its own water park throughout the '2000s, but like the idea of a third theme park, it was put on hold due to the financial issues they were facing at the time. The water park finally came to be in 2017, under the name Volcano Bay.
    • The High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! did not open until seven years after the rest of Islands of Adventure opened, despite the fact that the track, loading station, and queue line had been at the park since opening day. This is because the ride was built improperly by its original manufacturer, leading to Universal delaying its opening until they could get the money to hire a new manufacturer to properly redo the attraction, something that wouldn't happen until the mid '2000s.
  • Dueling Products:
    • With the U.S. Disney Theme Parks, primarily.
    • Averted in Japan, as Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disneyland are far enough away from one another that they don't really compete and instead serve their own markets. The closest thing USJ had to a competitor was Nara Dreamland, which went bankrupt and closed largely as a result of all the business Universal had snatched away.
    • Also averted with Universal Studios Singapore, which isn't located anywhere remotely close to the Asian Disney parks.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Sort of, at least. You will usually hear fans refer to Islands of Adventure by its acronym, IoA, than say the full title.
    • The hidden alleyway in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida tends to be referred to as "Sting Alley", as it was visually inspired by the film, The Sting.
  • Fandom Nod: Universal tends to leave many references to their past attractions around throughout the park, such as a hieroglyphic and golden statue of King Kong in Revenge of the Mummy as well as the Back to the Future and JAWS props still on display in the park.
  • Follow the Leader: During the earlier years of Universal Studios Japan, the park constantly went out of its way to mimic Tokyo Disneyland. Firstly, they put a large amount of focus on making people view Woody Woodpecker as Universal's equivalent of Mickey Mouse, and secondly they featured several fairy tale-based attractions, including a nighttime show for Peter Pan and a nighttime parade that showcased numerous fairy tales such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In 2006, the park took it even further by adding an entire land for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that contained a shortened version of Wicked, a show centered around Toto, and a carousel. When the '2010s came along, the park began to find its own identity and has since removed all traces of fairy tales, though it still continues to emphasize Woody Woodpecker as a mascot to an extent, at least far more than any of the other Universal parks.
  • Production Nickname: Although this is no longer done, many of the attractions Universal had done in the past had project titles during their development. For example, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was known as "Project Strongarm" (referring to the ride vehicles using the KUKA Arm technology), and The Simpsons Ride was known as "Project Fish" (referring to Blinky the three-eyed fish).
  • Production Throwback: The Simpsons Ride includes a reference to a (bankrupt) Dr. Brown in its queue as a homage to the former occupant of the site, Back to the Future: The Ride.
  • Release Date Change: The opening date for Universal Studios Florida changed a few times. The park was at one point slated to open as soon as 1984, but when it was decided to give the park's plans a massive overhaul, the opening date was eventually pushed back to 1989, and later finally to 1990.
  • Role Reprisal: Thanks to Universal's deep pockets, many rides based on licensed properties manage to bring in the original cast.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers:
    • Thanks to a licensing agreement SeaWorld entered with DreamWorks Classics (owner of the classic 1964 special) and The Rudolph Company in November 2015, it is unlikely Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will appear in Universal's Hollywood and Florida parks for a while as long as the agreement stands despite NBCUniversal acquiring the rights to the namesake special and DreamWorks Classics's parent company DreamWorks Animation in 2016. However, Universal is free to build Rudolph attractions, provided that they receive blessings from The Rudolph Company of course, in their Japan and Singapore parks.
    • This almost happened to the Madagascar series as well, since SeaWorld had a stage show in several of their parks. But SeaWorld Entertainment gave the theme park rights back to DreamWorks Animation in 2015... one year before Universal purchased the studio. No word yet on what happened to that SeaWorld board member who gave the go-ahead to that.
  • Sleeper Hit: Universal Studios Florida was essentially this when it first opened. It was a project that was openly mocked by all those at Disney, who predicted that it was doomed to fail. However, the park opened to modest numbers and received generally positive reviews (once the kinks of its disastrous opening got worked out, at least), whereas Disney-MGM Studios received more mixed reviews upon opening.
  • Troubled Production:
    • When MCA-Universal announced that they were building in Florida, Michael Eisner over at Disney was furious. He attempted to get them to back down through various means, including proposing a second Disney-MGM Studios park to be built near the Burbank studios, which would've hurt Universal Studios Hollywood's business. It is even believed by many that the original Disney-MGM Studios park was built solely in an attempt to "beat Universal at their own game," though Eisner has repeatedly denied this, as the concept for Disney-MGM Studios was born out of an idea for a Movie Pavilion at Epcot.
    • At the Hollywood park, the Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical show abruptly closed after just a few months due to a phenomenal case of bad luck: a fire breaking out during the Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure show for Halloween Horror Nights in 2009. While nobody was hurt, the fire exposed numerous code violations in the building, forcing them to close it for several months' worth of renovations. The show had trouble connecting with park visitors to begin with, but the fire and the subsequent closure only made the problem worse. It eventually made way for a new version of the Special Effects Stage in 2010.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time, 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 preshow now 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! This was fixed for Orlando's version in 2015, as the pre-show was altered to do away with some of the more dated elements; however, it was ultimately too little, too late, since the ride closed two years later.
    • The E.T. Adventure ride does show its age, with its 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 high-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 its continued popularity (which still stops the ride from being The Artifact, as E.T. merchandise is still sold there).
    • Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast first opened in 2003, meaning that it represented the Nickelodeon of that time, with the likes of Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys, and the classic Nickelodeon splat logo being in it. Therefore, the ride started becoming this as early as 2006 when Jimmy Neutron's show was cancelled, and it really became this by the time it closed in 2011.
  • Un-person: The closure of Nickelodeon Studios led to Unviersal trying to scratch out any history of the network they could find, although YouTube user adamthewoo revealed some remnants were missed.
  • Viral Marketing:
    • Done with Transformers in Florida. One of the buildings in Downtown Orlando had been temporarily made to look like a Decepticon just crashed right through it. Plus an internet video was made to look like an amateur video of someone suddenly filming the appearance of the Decepticon through the building.
    • Was also done with King Kong 360 at Universal Studios Hollywood, with random videos and pictures being posted that depicted areas of Los Angeles looking as if Kong had stormed right through them.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Universal Studios Florida was supposed to identical to Universal Studios Hollywood, with the park placing an emphasis on the production backlot and having a tram tour as the main attraction. When the announcement of Disney-MGM Studios came with the Backlot Tour being mentioned as the main attraction, the entire project was retooled into placing emphasis on the theme park itself instead of the studio side, out of fear of Universal being accused of ripping off Disney's idea. In the end, this turned out to be a good thing for Universal, considering that the idea of making Central Florida into a "Hollywood East" never quite took off the way people were hoping.
    • In addition to Steven Spielberg, Universal Studios Japan was at one point going to have its development overseen by famous Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
    • Islands of Adventure was originally envisioned as a "Cartoon World" theme park note  , that would've included areas for DC Comics Superheroes, Looney Tunes and Dr. Seuss characters (the latter being the one that came to be). When Jurassic Park was released to great success, the creatives were pressured into adding an entire area based off of the movie into the park. As a result, the "cartoon" theme of the park was scrapped.
    • As mentioned previously, areas based off of DC Comics and Looney Tunes were originally planned instead of Marvel Superhero Island and Toon Lagoon, respectively. Both failed to materialize because of Warner Bros. asking for higher royalties to license the properties than Universal was willing to pay, opting to shop these two IPs to Six Flags in the end.
      • At one point, the DC Comics area was going to be just about Batman and Gotham City (pictured). It would've included things like a Batmobile ride, a Batwing coaster with the Penguin as the villain, a Joker-themed funhouse, a stunt show, a Riddler-themed drop ride, and a tea cup ride themed around Mr. Freeze.
    • After the Looney Tunes idea had fallen apart, many different ideas for what cartoons to have represented at Toon Lagoon were tossed around. Such ideas included a holiday stage show based around Peanuts, attractions for Casper the Friendly Ghost, Mr. Magoo (both now owned outright by Universal), and various Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and even attractions based around the "Big Five" Nicktoons of the time (The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats, Doug, Rocko's Modern Life, and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters) were considered (the latter likely because Nickelodeon Studios was already there). Ultimately, it was decided the area would be based around King Features Syndicate comic strips and Jay Ward cartoons.
    • A How to Train Your Dragon attraction was discussed, but scrapped due to failed negotiations between Universal and DreamWorks Animation. The ride could potentially be revisited now that Universal owns DWA, but nothing has been confirmed.
    • A ride based off of Casper the Friendly Ghost was first considered for the Studios park, but dropped after the 1995 film failed to meet Universal's expectations. Such a ride was later again considered, this time for the Toon Lagoon section of Islands of Adventure, but again failed to make it past the drawing boards.
    • In what was perhaps one of the stranger Universal concepts, a launched roller coaster based off of Apollo 13 was in very serious development in the '90s, but was scrapped because the budget for it ballooned out of control.
    • After the Apollo 13 concept fell through, Universal looked at doing a thrill ride based around the works of Stephen King, but was unable to get the license from him. Interestingly, Disney also wanted to make a Stephen King thrill ride for Disney-MGM Studios around the same time, but they too were met with rejection.
    • Yet another roller coaster concept that was developed in the '90s involved guests going into a studio dedicated to the disaster genre and being put right into the middle of a disaster movie shoot by a manic film director (that Universal considered getting Jim Carrey to play). Although the concept of it being a roller coaster was scrapped, the whole idea of the ride was later retooled a decade later into the Disaster! attraction, but with the manic director being played by Christopher Walken instead of Carrey.
    • A Van Helsing ride was under development for Islands of Adventure, but the underpeformance of the respective film ultimately proved to be its undoing. The space it was slated for later became the site for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which uses the same KUKA Arm technology the Van Helsing ride was originally planned to).
    • The King Kong section for Islands of Adventure between Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park was originally going to be put in the space Forbidden Journey now takes up.
    • There were plans in the 2010s for an elaborate ride based off of The Lorax, but apparently the Seuss family rejected Universal's ideas.
    • There is concept art depicting a playground next to the Cat in the Hat attraction known as "The Noisarium". Why it didn't come to be is unknown.
    • A Grinch roller coaster through Mt. Crumpit was one of the many concepts for Seuss Landing, but ultimately never came to be.
    • Jurassic Park: The Ride was originally planned to be built at the Universal Studios Florida park, where Men In Black: Alien Attack stands now. However, Steven Spielberg came in and successfully encouraged Universal to do something more elaborate for the franchise, resulting in the fully themed island area now at the sister park.
    • A Jeep Safari ride and a Helicopter tour simulator were in the plans for Jurassic Park, but cut due to budget.
    • Earthquake: The Big One was originally going to be themed as a trolley ride through a crumbling San Francisco, until the decision was made to duplicate the same Earthquake subway scene from the Hollywood Studio Tour. The only remnant of the original plan was the trolley house theming of the attraction's entrance.
    • Marvel Superhero Island was going to feature a dark ride shooter themed around the X-Men, but was also a victim of budgeting. The dark ride shooter concept would later become Men in Black: Alien Attack over at the other park.
    • After the X-Men ride was cut, a stunt show themed around either the X-Men or the Avengers was planned to be built in its place, but too fell to budgeting. A more cheaper stage show was ultimately built for Toon Lagoon.
    • Plans also called for there to be a "Villains' Club" restaurant, which ultimately became the "Kingpin's Arcade".
    • The Incredible Hulk Coaster was originally going to be themed around the Silver Surfer. The idea fell apart quickly when the creative team realized that they would need a chrome color for the coaster, which wouldn't do so well in the Florida sunlight.
    • The Madagascar boat ride at Universal Studios Singapore was originally going to feature a drop in a volcano-based finale and it was all actually built, but severe flaws in ride's infrastructure resulted in the drop having to be removed and the finale redesigned. The ride itself was at one point envisioned as a "Photo Safari" attraction, but was changed early in development.
    • At one point in the mid-90s, they were considering making a ride based around Crash Bandicoot, which Universal owned at the time; the theme park people even consulted with the Universal Interactive crew. Unfortunately, either this or the potential for rides based off Spyro the Dragon never happened; now, Crash and Spyro are owned by Activision, but Crash does make occasional appearances as a meet-and-greet character at the Florida park.
    • It's been alleged that the idea for the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium restaurant was born of out of Universal's failure to acquire the license for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and make it into a themed land that would've replaced the Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure.
    • Universal had tried to build a theme park in South Korea for a long time, but after repeated delays, the project was cancelled in the mid '2010s.
    • A Universal Studios park had been in development for the Dubailand complex and managed to get very far along in development, to the point that much of the construction site had been laid out and the Universal archway for it was built. However, the entire project was suddenly put on hold due to the major recession that had hit Dubai. After many years of silence regarding the park, Universal officially announced its cancellation in 2016.
    • A rather unique mostly-indoor Universal Studios park was being developed for Moscow, but was later scrapped for reasons unknown.
    • While Universal's Epic Universe was always the original name for the "fourth" Orlando park, Universal toyed around using the name Fantastic Worlds instead, as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Fantastic Beasts franchise that is rumored to have a themed area planned there. After a trademark infringement complaint from Warner Bros., Universal went back to the Epic Universe name.
  • Working Title:
    • Universal Orlando Resort was originally going to be called 'Universal City Florida'.
    • The CityWalk restaurant, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, was originally announced as Toothsome Chocolate Factory. The name was changed after several media outlets inaccurately reported that Universal was opening a Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory restaurant, and also to avoid making people think that the restaurant was a ride.


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