January 2012: Universal Studios Orlando released new information about rides, shows and even parade upgrades debuting this year. Overall, it shows a clear push to boost attendance at the Universal Studios park rather than Islands of Adventure, where a boy wizard named Harry Potter continues to draw in tourists. The lineup also reflects a shift in strategy, with a nighttime event and parade designed to keep crowds inside the parks longer.
List of Universal Orlando announcements
• Blue Man Group upgrade. It’s not easy to explain what Blue Man Group does because it mixes music, comedy, technology, and paint in a new way; consequently, it’s just as hard to describe what the Blue Man Group will do after the upgrade, though it can be assumed that it will be better music, comedy, technology, and paint. Opens in February.
• The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. In 2012, Spiderman feels dated for only one reason: The 3-D technology in most neighborhood theaters is sharper than the ride. In this year’s upgrade, Universal fixes that, and the 3-D experience while in a moving car isn’t replicated anywhere else in Orlando. The park also promises, however, some lighting and audio upgrades.
• Superstar Parade. Disney has long relied on parades to draw crowds, but Universal Studios hasn’t offered much beyond Mardi Gras. That changes in spring 2012. The info released so far is largely hype – “larger-than-life floats, state-of-the-art technology and hundreds of energetic street performers” – but it will showcase Universal’s favorite characters. (Islands of Adventure remains parade-less.)
• Evening show. Universal’s “Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories” also opens in the spring inside Universal Studios. It will highlight moments from Universal films as Morgan Freeman narrates, with movie clips shown on “cutting-edge waterfall screens,” a version of which Disney’s Hollywood Studios also uses in Fantasmic. While the show operates every night during the summer, visitors in the non-peak season may have to check the schedule as Universal offers it only on “select nights.”
• Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. This ride just inside the gate at Universal Studios changes its cartoon theme as the years pass, but the motion simulator-movie is also adding 3-D technology in 2012. It opens in summer.
• Miniature Golf. Universal finally gets its own miniature golf course, and its location guarantees high demand. Located under and alongside the main walkway to CityWalk and the parks, every guest gets a bird’s eye view of the course on the way in. Called “Hollywood Drive-In Golf,” the links have a Sci-Fi theme with a hint of Scooby-Do thrown in.