Universal Orlando has branded this year as the "Year to Be Here" which they officially kicked off with the new Blue Man Group show and Spiderman 4K makeover earlier this year. Now they have added two more daily shows to Universal Studios Florida.
The first is Universal's Superstar Parade, which runs in the late afternoon/early evening each day. (The parade can run both in daylight and after sundown.) The parade features four big extravagantly detailed floats themed to different cartoons, dozens of dancer and performers, and of course the favorite characters of each cartoon.
The first of which will come your way is Despicable Me. Creatively made to look very industrial like Gru's creations in the movie. Minions are all over the place including on a big LED screen that can be seen from both sides of the float.
The second float to round the corner is Spongebob Square Pants. Themed entirely to Bikini Bottom the float is the famous pineapple under the sea. Look to the top of the pineapple house and you will find Gary the snail making his way back and forth. Spongebob,, his friends Patrick and Squidward, as well as a bunch of Bikini Bottom resident fish are all there to greet you.
Next to make it's way into view is the third float themed to the Universal hit movie HOP. E.B. and his friends have a party and truly bring the beat. There are lots and lots of drums all around and it's a very up beat and colorful float.
Last but not least is the fourth and final float themed to Dora The Explorer. The setting is in the Jungle with a tree house in the back of the float. Dora brought out her friend Diego and many jungle monkeys. The monkeys on the float swing back and forth out over the edge of the float making funny faces at everyone around.
The parade has two stopping points inside Universal Studios, one in the Hollywood section of the park and the other in the New York section of the park. At both stopping points all the characters break out into a giant choreographed dance party. During the stop, there are a total of 14 different mini shows in one with each float having it's own mini shows. The idea behind this is to encourage guests to come back to see the parade not just once or twice but maybe three or four times from different vantage points to see the different mini shows.
Characters will also break out into dance with instrumental versions of songs ranging from Boom Boom Pow to a remix of the Spongebob Square Pants theme music. Unfortunately the way the parade stops and all the little mini shows and dancing going on all up and down the street, depending on where you are standing, you will be awkwardly stuck with whatever is right in front of you. At least until the parade starts to move again but then all the dancing and choreography is already over and you only got to see one small little section of it.
At least throughout the day, the floats will also come out on an individual basis and parade down the streets to a certain preset area where they will perform a mini show and then have a meet and greet session. The times for each of these will be listed in the daily park guide map. I would encourage people to visit those individual meet and greet mini shows throughout the day as the parades stop does not allow you to see what is going on at the other end of the street.
Here's a full parade video from the Grand Opening:
Once the parade has gone by and the dance party is over, Universal is inviting guests to stay for it's new lagoon show: Cinematic Spectacular – 100 Years of Movie Memories. This new show is in show director and designer Mike Aiello's words, "A love letter to Universal films." It's a tribute to Universal celebrating its centennial anniversary. The show idea started off as just another update to the old Universal 360 lagoon show, but quickly turned into a completely resigned experience. I am calling it an experience because pictures and video don't do it justice and you truly have to be there in person to appreciate it to it's fullest (which can be said of other nighttime shows as well).
With the help of an amazing piece of new technology Universal is using a waterfall screen to project not just a crystal clear HD image onto the water, but is also using this new waterfall screen to add special effects during the show like making the waterfall like a film reel and in the preshow creating some recognizable logos like Jurassic Park, E.T., and others. The show features over 200 film clips in several different themes ranging from Heroes and Good vs. Evil, to Laughter and touching on Universal's roots in Horror.
Throughout the show, water fountains, fireworks, and moving lights fill in the space between the screens and act as an extension to what is on the screens. The entire show lasts 17 minutes and is narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman. The Cinematic Spectacular is a wonderfully orchestrated experience that you just have to see in person. It does exactly what it was designed as, which is a tribute to the legacy that is Universal films. I have to congratulate show designer Mike Aiello and the creative team for a job well done. Now some may want to compare the Cinematic Spectacular to other nighttime shows but you just can't do that. Some may say, well it is no World of Color, or Reflections of the Earth, and definitely no Magic, Memories, and You and it definitely is none of those. The only thing that these shows truly all have in common is they were created to be seen at nighttime. The Cinematic Spectacular is not a fountain show; it's not a fireworks show, but a tribute to 100 years of Universal films. To which I can well say it is an absolutely fantastic tribute and truly makes me want to go back and watch several of these films.
Here's a full show video from the grand opening:
Both the Cinematic Spectacular and the Superstar Parade will run year-round at Universal Studios Florida except during annual and special events. If you want to see more pictures of both experiences follow this link to flickr.Tweet
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