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YMMV / Universal Studios

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  • Americans Hate Tingle: Though Universal Studios Japan later on achieved great success as mentioned below, there were several behind-the-scenes-based attractions that upon opening with the park in 2001, failed to get a following with Japanese audiences. Said attractions included Motion Picture Magic, which was a show hosted by Steven Spielberg that detailed the history of the studio, Television Production Tour, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and Monster Make-Up, a Japanese version of Universal's Horror Make-Up Show. These shows were incredibly short-lived, as unlike the visitors to the American Universal parks, people in Japan had little interest in seeing how Hollywood productions were made and wanted a more straightforward theme park experience. Motion Picture Magic was replaced with Shrek 4-D and Sesame Street 4-D, Monster Make-Up went through several temporary replacements before becoming Sing On Tour in 2019, and Television Production Tour became a location for a wide variety of special event offerings.
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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Many people within the industry, particularly Disney, were highly skeptical that Universal would find success in the Disney-dominated market of Central Florida. Said skeptics were proven wrong when Universal Studios Florida became a solid success in the '90s, and while they struggled throughout the 2000s, Universal Orlando would then become a massive success with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the 2010s.
  • Author's Saving Throw: As mentioned below, the Universal Studios park's heavy reliance on screen-based attractions has led to something of a Broken Base among fans, so Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure was warmly received for being almost entirely animatronics-based and not having a single screen outside of the queue line.
  • Broken Base:
    • In some ways, the current direction of the parks is a case of this. Many fans are upset that Universal has tossed out more timeless franchises like Jaws, Back to the Future, and The Terminator in favor of focusing on "what's hot" in terms of properties, as they feel this isn't a good long term strategy considering that what's popular now may not be so in a couple of years. This has proven to be true to an extent, with one particular example being Revenge of the Mummy, which is based off of a franchise that has now long since fallen out of relevance. Fans also tend to point towards Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon as another example, saying that the ride will become dated very quickly the moment Jimmy Fallon leaves The Tonight Show. Other fans, however, think that it's good that the parks are keeping up with the times and introducing new franchises to the parks.
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    • Going by the translated comments on this video, there is some division among Universal fans in Japan over how Universal Studios Japan is now very strongly focused on animated properties instead of Hollywood movies like it once was. Some fans hate that the park has abandoned its original mission statement, while other fans feel that it was naturally the direction the park had to take, as Universal's movies have an extremely varying degree of popularity in Japan, whereas things like Hello Kitty, Peanuts, and the Cool Japan event properties are mega-popular in the country.
    • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit tends to be a source of heavy fan division, as many feel that it's a tacky coaster that ruins a lot of the park's atmosphere, while others highly enjoy it and think that its theming intrusions is no big deal.
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    • The parks' usage of screens and motion-simulation rather than actual motion leaves fans divided as well. At Universal Studios Florida, as of 2018, seven out of the park's 13 attractions are entirely screen-based attractions (and an eighth, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringots is a combination of screen-based and dark-ride). This leaves some fans deriding the park for its overusage (see It's the Same, Now It Sucks!, below), while others laud it for its use of modern day technology.
  • Critical Research Failure: 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.
  • Dork Age:
    • Universal Orlando enthusiasts deem the period during and after the 1999 resort redesign as this. During this period, many of Universal Studios Florida's classic attractions, such as Ghostbusters Spooktacular, Kongfrontation, Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies, Stage 54, The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, The Wild Wild West Stunt Show, and Back to the Future: The Ride were closed in an attempt to "modernize" the theme park in order to keep it competitive with Disney. The enthusiasts' reactions to most of the replacements for these rides ranged from extremely polarizing to heavy backlash. The only rides that didn't have any backlash against them were Men in Black: Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, and The Simpsons Ride, and even the latter two had something of a Broken Base due to them having replaced Kongfrontation and Back to the Future: The Ride, respectively. It also didn't help that during this time, Universal scrapped plans for building a second resort just a few miles away for economic reasons, with nearly disastrous consequences.
    • Universal Studios Hollywood had it even worse than Orlando. Most of the park's attractions from the late 80's all the way up to the early 2010's got replaced left and right just to keep the park competitive to Disneyland, and even then most people just visited the park just to ride the iconic Studio Tour.note  The most negatively received of the newer attractions at the time was Spider Man Rocks, a live stage show that replaced Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue. It was frequently mocked by almost everyone who watched it, and it made Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark look like a Tony Award-winning musical by Bob Fosse. It ended up being the only Marvel-related attraction Universal Studios Hollywood had; it closed in 2004 to be replaced by Fear Factor Live (which didn't fare much better reputation-wise), and Marvel regained the California theme park rights for their characters in 2008, which fell into Disney's hands the following year when they bought Marvel. Only with the opening of Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Springfield areas, along with Super Silly Fun Land seemed to signal the age was starting to die down.
      • To underscore just how turbulent Universal's Dork Ages were, there's an infamous part in Universal's adaptation of The Cat in the Hat where, during the Ms. Kwan ride near the end, the Cat suddenly stops the film and holds up two pamphlets advertising the Universal theme parks before winking at the audience and resuming the movie. Judging by how blatant this form of product placement is, it's doubtful that most executives who worked at Universal during the film's production are still employed.
    • As of now, some enthusiasts have come to see Universal Orlando as having fallen into another Dork Age. In particular, they cite a perceived over-reliance on motion simulator rides at the expense of more traditional rides and stage shows, especially now that, with both the original Studios park and Islands of Adventure mostly filled in, Universal had to close old attractions to make way for these new rides. While the replacement of Twister...Ride it Out with Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon wasn't too bad (Twister was a polarizing attraction to begin with, so replacing it with an equally polarizing one didn't change much), replacing the well-received Disaster! (one of the few remaining attractions at the park to date back to its 1990 opening, albeit in the form of Earthquake: The Big One) with Fast & Furious: Supercharged, which met a scathing reception even from casual park guests, wasn't. Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando's third theme park (and first water park), also received very mixed reviews on opening day in 2017 for being an Obvious Beta, with complaints about the rides breaking down frequently, the wireless TapuTapu wristbands used for the virtual lines being glitchy, and said virtual lines being several hours long, such that Universal was forced to cap ticket sales in order to prevent overcrowding (leading to guests being turned away from the gate as early as noon). It's possible that this age has come to an end with the opening of the universally acclaimed Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure along with the announcement of the highly promising Epic Universe theme park, which is slated to feature the long waited Super Nintendo World.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Lost Continent is easily the least advertised and most overlooked part of Islands of Adventure, and ever since the closure of Dueling Dragons and The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, it retains only a single attraction, but it retains a strong fan following thanks to its unique aesthetic, the talking fountain, the Mythos restaurant, and the numerous shops. It also helps it is right next to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which attracts a lot of fantasy fans.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Universal and Disney Theme Parks fans have an interesting love-hate relationship; they can flip back and forth between this and Friendly Fandoms seemingly on a whim. It largely depends on the context, but most people agree that the two resorts specialize in different strengths and weaknesses.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Universal Studios Japan is extremely popular with Japanese audiences. In 2017, it attracted 14.94 million visitors (with only 2 million of those visitors being foreign tourists), making it the fourth most-visited theme park in the world. To compare, Universal Studios Florida attracted 10.20 million visitors that same year, which just barely puts it into the Top 10 of most-visited parks. Due to those numbers, the attractions at USJ tend to receive far longer wait times than their U.S. counterparts. In particular, wait times for both Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem on average weekends usually end up being over three hours.
  • Growing the Beard: Universal Studios Hollywood has gone through this in the eyes of many. For a long time, it had the perception of being more of a tacky tourist trap than a real theme park, but said perception changed in the 2010s when the park began to take a far stronger focus on creating immersive themed areas, with the entrance to the park receiving an elaborate and aesthetically-pleasing retheming, the addition of the Springfield area in 2015, and biggest of all, the addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2016.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Marvel attractions and The Simpsons Ride are some of the biggest draws the Florida park has against the competing Walt Disney World. The fact that Disney now owns both franchises leaves both parks in a very awkward spot — Universal Orlando because it's now promoting its competitor's properties (though it is also admittedly profiting off of them), and Disney World because, thanks to Universal's contract with Marvel and Fox, it is extremely limited when it comes to even referencing some of its parent company's biggest hit franchises.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: A common complaint among theme park goers is Universal's continued over-reliance on motion simulator or screen-based attractions, which Universal began to utilize more aggressively post-Harry Potter. This worried many said fans that it would lead to a creative rut within Universal, believing that every major attraction they design in the future will end up having a form of motion simulator elements within them.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • There are several Harry Potter fans out there that have admitted that the only reason they own annual passes to Universal Orlando is because of the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley areas, and couldn't care less about anything else in the parks.
    • Similarly, the announcement of Nintendo properties coming to the parks has gotten Universal much attention from Nintendo fans that wouldn't have given it otherwise.
    • The properties featured in the Universal Cool Japan event has gotten Anime fans very much allured to the Japan park.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Bill Paxton's ultra-dramatic narration in the former Twister...Ride it Out pre-shows.
      "You start believing the twister is not just a weather condition. It takes on a life of its own, becoming an entity. A demon spirit, a devouring colossus bent on destruction. By the end, there's only one thing you can do: hold on for your life."
    • Similarly, most of the dialogue in the Orlando version of Revenge of the Mummy, but especially Brendan Fraser's performance at the ride's conclusion:
      "Hey, welcome back. Hope you enjoyed your ride. I would've enjoyed this interview a lot more if I had GOTTEN MY CUP OF COFFEE!"
    • The smell of the E.T. Adventure queue line.
    • A clip of a costumed Squidward dabbing during a SpongeBob float for the Universal's Superstar Parade became a viral and memetic sensation, to the point the Orlando attendants tell patrons not to ask their characters to dab.
  • Misaimed Marketing: Sold exclusively at Islands of Adventure are cutesified plushies of various Marvel heroes. What was one of the characters they decided to make into a cutesy plush? The Punisher. It appears that Universal themselves eventually realized this, as the plushie is no longer being sold.
  • Network Decay: Given that Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida continue to be working film studios and are keeping their general focus on movies and shows intact (or, more broadly, the mass media overall), Universal Studios theme parks have done a fair job staying away from this territory, which is more than can be said for Florida competitor Disney's Hollywood Studios. That being said, a couple of Florida's areas are bumpy in this territory:
    • The New York City area of the park. The original major attractions in the land that opened with the park were Kongfrontation and Ghostbusters Spooktacular, both of which take place in New York City. By 1998, Ghostbusters was gone and replaced with Twister...Ride it Out, based on the film Twister, but the subject of tornadoes had nothing to do with the culture or society of New York, a city where tornadoes are almost completely unheard of. Then, by 2004, Kongfrontation was replaced with Revenge of the Mummy, which, like Twister, has nothing to do with New York City whatsoever; only the exterior of the attraction, resembling the entrance to a museum (which New York does have a ton of), can arguably be seen as fitting the theming. The most shameless part about it was that the area remained under this state for over a decade. With Comcast taking over NBCUniversal and trying to improve the image of the theme parks, however, the Twister ride was shuttered to make room for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, which, regardless of what you think about that, is a much better fit as the show is taped in New York. Whether or not Revenge of the Mummy will be removed to something more New York-y once again remains unknown.
    • To a lesser extent, the San Francisco area had Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, a concert show featuring the Universal Monsters and Beetlejuice. Again, what did the show have to do with San Francisco? Nobody really minded, however, as the show proved to be very popular that it remained in the park until it, along with Disaster! (the replacement for Earthquake: The Big One), was shuttered to make room for Fast & Furious: Supercharged, which was designed to be set in San Francisco, therefore fixing this issue.
    • The opening of Nintendo attractions in the Studios parks is this to some, as it strays away from the park's focus on movies and television shows and more on video games. There's a Broken Base with this example, though, since some consider video games to be in the same entertainment field as films and shows, meaning that the parks would retain their focus on the latter two mediums, but expand the scope with the former medium as well.
    • Over the years, Universal Studios Japan has moved away from the theme of "The Power of Hollywood" in favor of filling the park with animated properties and soon video game properties. Whether or not this is for better or worse varies among Universal's Japanese fanbase.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Fans of Back to the Future: The Ride didn't have nice things to say about The Simpsons Ride, though the backlash seems to have cooled off now.
    • Fear Factor Live, which opened in 2005 (replacing The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show in Orlando and Spider-Man Rocks in Hollywood), is the source of much ire in Universal fans. While the Hollywood attraction closed in 2008 to make way for Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical, it survives to this day in Orlando, long after the show itself was canceled.note  Universal fans are completely baffled as to how it's been able to stick around while virtually everything else in the park has been getting replaced.
    • Shrek 4-D which replaced Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies is also largely unpopular with Universal fans. It is often seen as a giant step backwards for Universal that's nowhere near as elaborate or impressive as its predecessor, due to it being a simple 3-D theatre show when Universal had previously taken 3-D to a whole new level with The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
    • When it was announced that Twister...Ride it Out in Orlando would close to make way for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, not many longtime fans were impressed due to the Broken Base Jimmy Fallon got as host of The Tonight Show. However, said fans were at least pleased over the attraction being set in New York, especially since the area it will sit in is part of the New York section of the park (see Network Decay above).
    • Kongfrontation's closure and subsequent replacement by Revenge of the Mummy got lots of flak from longtime Universal fans, especially since, unlike Kongfrontation, Revenge of the Mummy did not take place in New York despite being part of the New York section of the park. While Revenge of the Mummy was well-received, fans felt the park was empty without Kong. It wouldn't be until the next decade when Universal announced an attraction based off of Peter Jackson's King Kong for Islands of Adventure, to the rejoicing of many.
    • Fast & Furious: Supercharged at the Orlando park is widely regarded as possibly the worst "thrill ride" in any of the parks, thanks to a combination of several factors: 1) replacing two better-loved attractions, Disaster! and Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, 2) using the exact same ride video from the Hollywood version (and the exact same track and ride system from Skull Island: Reign of Kong next door) despite the opportunity to create something new in the massive custom showbuilding, 3) and for being the third screen-reliant ride in as many years, as well as just being mostly a boring ride experience in general.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: The CityWalk restaurant, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is essentially what would happen if the Wonka Factory got mixed with an explosion of steampunk.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Plenty of people were happy when Shrek 4-D closed at Hollywood in late 2017, although it being replaced by a mostly-similar Kung-Fu Panda 4D movie came as a disappointment to fans hoping for an entirely new ride in the space. A similar response seems to have occurred when it was announced that the Orlando version would close in 2022.
    • Virtually no one was sad to see The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad close at Islands of Adventure.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Among the many killed in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting was Luis Vielma, a Universal employee who worked for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction. Shortly after the tragedy, a small event was held in front of the ride where all those in attendance raised their wands up into the air in his memory. Here's a video of the ceremony, but be forewarned that it's not easy to watch.
    • On the night the Florida version of Shrek 4-D closed, many fans sang Hallelujah from the first movie in memoriam of the attraction. Watch it here.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • One of the biggest criticisms about the parks is that, unlike Disney, management frequently closes fan favorite attractions that are based on the studio's older properties so they can replace it with one based on whatever is currently popular. As of 2017, the only remaining opening day attraction at the Florida park is E.T. Adventure (mostly because it's rumored that Steven Spielberg was angered by the closing of the Hollywood version and threatened to never work with Universal again if they closed the Florida one too).
    • Many Nickelodeon fans' reaction when Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, where various comedies and game shows were produced, closed down in 2005, and later gave way to a theater hosting the Blue Man Group.
    • As previously mentioned above, Universal fans also feel this way towards Shrek 4-D replacing Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies, as well as Fear Factor Live! replacing The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show.
    • Speaking of Shrek 4-D, despite many being happy about the attraction's closure and feeling it was inevitable, many fans of the ogre were immensely disappointed by the rumors of a second Minions attraction seemingly being confirmed.
    • Similar to the Nickelodeon Studios example, many Barney fans felt this way when A Day in the Park with Barney was replaced by a Dreamworks meet and greet area.
  • Unexpected Character:
  • Vindicated by History: Many people would be surprised if you told them that upon opening, Islands of Adventure was a flop. It failed to get even half of its projected attendance in 1999, and as a result put all of Universal Orlando into a billion dollars in debt for over a decade. It wasn't until the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010 that the park at last became a financial success and gained recognition from people all around the world.