Published: September 4, 2013 at 1:58 PMThey need to build Space Fantasy: The Ride, from Universal Osaka! Over there, it replaced ET.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 1:59 PMFor T2, I would keep the 70mm projection system, as it is of a significantly higher picture and color quality than 4K (and even 8K) digital projection. Definitely update the preshow to include better representations of future technology, and order new, clean 70mm film prints (if not restore the current prints) for the main show.
As for E.T. Adventure, Universal should make significant upgrades to every aspect of this classic instead of replacing it with a ride based on a lackluster adaptation of a classic cartoon.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 2:01 PMI love how Universal is continuing to dump money in Orlando. Sounds like they have a bunch of options on what they'll do next and I'm willing to bet that it will be awesome.
I totally forgot about Fear Factor Live, it's always overlooked on my visits and I'm sure the same goes for other visitors. It definitely has to go.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 2:23 PMThis is what I would love to see Universal management do:
* Make all of the remaining Lost Continent into more Harry Potter areas. I think they could do A LOT with the Forbidden Forest, Shrieking Shack, Malfoy Manor, and the locations from Deathly Hallows in this area. It would be a spooky "land" that would really put the focus on all the scary areas in the Harry Potter world. I think the whole area could be called the Forbidden Forest....with Shrieking Shack being Universal's version of Haunted Mansion...and Malfoy Manor could be a restaurant and also a theater for some kind of show. I also think they could do either a coaster or a dark ride featuring the zombies-in-the-cave and other spooky things Harry encountered in the last book when he was looking for the horcruxes in Deathly Hallows.
* Find a way to keep the paint looking bright in the Dr.Seuss area. I know, that's not great advice because it's probably impossible...but the paint looks so run-down and dingy so fast after it's painted. Can't they use auto body paint or something because cars never seem to fade like this? I also think they should build the Mount Grinch ride I heard rumored long ago...themed to the Grinch's mountain over Who-Ville. The mountain can be used to block out sight lines in the park.
* I'm making this its own bullet point because Universal has a lot of sight line problems in both parks. I also wish they would do something to hide the steel structures for the coasters. There's that architect who does fan-designs of rides at IdealBuildOut and a while back he did a drawing of how easy it would be for Universal to hide the steel of the Dragon Challenge and Hippogriff rides by just making the supports look like either stone or wood, and building some fake mountains around the rides so that it would really look like you are in Harry Potter's world. Right now, you need some imagination to ignore the steel of the coasters and to block out the views of other areas of the park. I wish they would spend the extra money and truly make it all immersive and eliminate ALL sight line issues everywhere.
* I think in general, Universal should do what Disney did to Buena Vista Street at DCA. They took a very cheap-looking and generic area and made it gorgeous by adding lots of great details. Right now, 80% of Universal's parks look cheap to me. Still better than Six Flags, but still cheap. In fairness, I think Disney has the same problem in Dinoland USA and in parts of DHS too...and DCA was a disaster at first. But I'd love Universal to reskin all its buildings, especially the ones that just look like giant boxes. This would be like going from a solid-B to becoming an A+ park in my book.
I know some people rave about Portofino Bay, but I think it looks cheap too. It looks like a step below what you'd find in Las Vegas...and I guess what I am wishing for is for the bar to be set higher than Vegas.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 2:34 PMPoseidon has one of the most impressive and photogenic ride buildings in any land anywhere, and when it was new, had some absolutely jaw dropping effects (the illusion of suddenly being transported back to the "magic door" room from the bottom of the sea in an instant was, literally, dumbfounding)
Now the whole thing is cluttered with Indiana Jones skeletons and claptrap. It's a little like the World of Imagination fiasco- a ride that was charming and coherent "fixed" to the brink of pointlessness.
I still think there is a spectacular attraction in there.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 2:44 PMI love the E.T. ride. The fact that I can take my wheelchair into the ride is pretty great. I loved the movie (sorry Robert), and I am from the generation x, so E.T. was a huge influence for me. I would hate to see that ride go.
About Disaster, they could change it for King Kong 360. Instead of Christopher Walken, you could have Peter Jackson giving a briefing. The room before the ride could be themed as a jungle. I loved that attraction (the best part of the Studio Tour), and it should come to Orlando. Kong looks better in HD than the animatronic version.
Great article Robert.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 2:55 PMFast and Furious is such an obvious choice I don't understand why they haven't done anything with it yet (except for that dumb car dance in Hollywood's backlot tour)
Another obvious choice is to bring and expand the Resident Evil attraction from Japan. It sounds great from reviews I read
A crazy and very unlikely to happen idea would be to buy the 007 James Bond license. How awesome would it be to have an attraction with the ultimate action hero in the T2 theater? Or a recreation of classic scenes in the Fear Factor space (like Indy in Disney Studios)? This could be huge...
Ok. Let's bring that idea down to Earth and to a franchise they already own: Jason Bourne. Definitely not the same appeal but would work as well
If Shrek's to go soon, how about a Hellboy 4D movie? I'm sure Guillermo del Toro would go absolutely wild with that idea...
Not to mention Lord of the Rings: that's everyone's dream...
Published: September 4, 2013 at 3:00 PMThanks, Robert, for this very thought-provoking take on which IP would/should stay and which should go. I agree with almost all of your thoughts. I know that you don't like E.T., but I think a solution to the kidsZone area should not get rid of that attraction, because it is the closest thing that Universal has to a Snow White or Peter Pan-level timeless property. Jaws was like that, but is no more.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 3:05 PMThe Lost Continent has some of the most impressive theming in any theme park, so I really hope it doesn't get replaced, but rather plussed. I wouldn't mind seeing Toon Lagoon go, though. Popeye, the Dudley-Do Right facade and the Sweet Haven area are the only three redeeming things about this dying land.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 3:19 PM^Oops, forgot to log in.
I don't get the "Universal looks cheap" comment and that it's just a little bit better than Six Flags... Posted by the anonymous poster.
IOA's Port of Entry, Seuss Landing, Lost Continent, WWoHP and Jurassic Park are enough to make any theme park fan wet their pants. Those lands are absolutely gorgeous and not cheap. I can possibly see argument for the poor transition from MSHI to TL, and the "cut-outs" in Marvel Super Hero Island (which I personally don't mind, but I know it bothers some other people...)
Published: September 4, 2013 at 3:27 PMMy thought for LOTR expansion is similar to those already mentioned with a twist.
Retheming Toon Lagoon for the Shire, The Prancing Pony and Rivendale
Then build a tunnel underneath Adventure Way (the tunnel themed for the dwarfs mines)
The Tunnel would travel under Adventure Way and to the parcel of land between Royal Pacific and Cabana Bay
When you exit the tunnel on the other side is Long Lake, Mordor and the rest.
This would allow the park to actually expand its acreage also
Published: September 4, 2013 at 6:03 PMRobert said: "..the old Charlton Heston Earthquake movie no one under age 50 remembers."
Heyyyy! I'm under 50 (OK, barely) and I saw and loved Earthquake multiple times in theaters on its original run..in Sensurround, no less. It stands as the film that first allowed the world to see Victoria Principal's talents...and that tight t-shirt didn't hurt, either.
Trivia...what were the other two films to be released in Sensurround? (Hint..one is very appropriate for this forum)
Published: September 4, 2013 at 7:36 PMIts funny, I remember going to Universal Orlando with wife as part of our honeymoon in Florida. And we still have the video we did when they inserted you into a Star Trek movie. And I always think that is one of those IPs that they had in the park at one point and then lost. But Star Trek has a following on par with Star Wars over at Disney and Harry Potter. If they could get that license back and do something with that, they would have another strong anchor.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 8:33 PMUnder "Likely to be replaced", you can't be serious. You cited so many animated/cartoon characters. That is the whole basis of the theme parks, which is to appeal to kids who begin at 2 years old. Disney hardly ever replaces their cartoon characters. They get updated instead. See Mickey Mouse and Brave (for example). Anyways, my four year old loves Shrek. She clearly enjoyed the Shrek 4D movie. What needs to happen is an updated Shrek ride. Change the movie into a ride.
Yes, we don't know the Toon Lagoon characters, but they are still whimsical. It is no different then not knowing the Roger Rabbit characters, but we still love the ride. Keep the characters, update the rides/attractions.
As for Twister and Disaster, why not keep them? They are fun rides. Thus, the only attraction that must be removed is "Fear Factor Live". I don't much care for the fascination with bugs and such. This one will be missed by no one.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 9:12 PMAlways love these stories. If I had a say...
1) Shrek is cute but can be replaced.
2) Twister is a waste of time.
3) The Mummy rules but could use some new effects.
4) You can't remove Beetlejuice. It's the only place to see the original Universal monsters (Clips in the Make-Up show don't count). Just need to change the songs every once in awhile. And make sure Don is always there!
5) Disaster is a disaster. Dump it and bring back Kong. Better yet, how about creating a Kong vs. Jaws attraction for all of us traditionalists!
6) Dump Fear Factor.
7) Upgrade Men In Black.
8) Dump Simpsons and bring back Back to the Future (I WISH!)
9) ET needs to upgrade.
10) Do not touch the Make-Up Show! (Anyone know what happened to the blonde guy with the pony tail that was there for years? Haven't seen him in an awhile. He was the best!)
1) New coat of paint to Seuss world.
2) Keep Poseidon at all costs but upgrade the video at the end. 3D would be tremendous.
3) Sinbad needs updating.
4) Love WWHP but with the new additions enough is enough. Don't overexpose the Golden Goose.
5) Can't wait for the JP upgrade.
6) No problem with rebranding Toon Lagoon but must keep Popeye and Dudley rides (change themes if necessary).
One last thing...expand HHN to IOA!
Published: September 4, 2013 at 9:45 PMI get what you're saying about the outdated cartoon characters, Robert, but part of me thinks Universal is playing "Wait and see" about Woody Woodpecker's presence in the parks. Remember that Illumination Entertainment is developing a Woody Woodpecker movie and if they hit it out of the park like Despicable Me and Lorax, I don't see why they wouldn't want to expand his presence on property. Plus they own him.
I've often wondered why they decided to use Dudley Do-Right for Ripsaw Falls and not Rocky and Bullwinkle. They're easily more famous and I can recall quite a few instances in which they went to a sawmill. Anyways, I think they should just re-do Toon Lagoon. Drop the useless comic strip stuff (and bulldoze the stadium), keep Popeye and swap Dudley for a more popular theme. Give us another major ride in Toon Lagoon and call it a day. Maybe some more kid friendly attractions. IOA and Universal really need more stuff for the little ones.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 10:23 PMObviously, any decision to revive old IP by the movie studio changes this analysis, as I alluded to with my comment about Poseidon. But that would apply to Woody Woodpecker or any other IP, too.
Disney brilliantly manages to keep its old animation IP fresh over the years (well, some of it, at least). Universal's not done well with that, and that limits the appeal of the Kidzone in USF. So Universal has a choice: Replace its current IP with IP it can keep fresh, or freshen what's now there.
IMHO, NBCUniversal needs to develop its Sprout network with its own characters, and bring them into the parks as a replacement for the current Kidzone, with Sprout branding.
Published: September 4, 2013 at 10:35 PMYes, to the first commenter. SPACE FANTASY X 1,000,000. I've been preaching this for years
Published: September 4, 2013 at 10:43 PMOnly slightly o-t: I also saw Earthquake multitimes in the theater. Scared the bejeebers outta me. I had to put my feet up on the next row of seats I KNEW if that concrete floor was also shaking...
Don't know the third movie in Senserround but Roller Coaster came after Earthquake. Bad choice. Didn't work very well. It would just move into the amplified noise and then back without any rhyme or reason.
Published: September 5, 2013 at 6:09 AMI am really surprised that there are people defending the Poseidon attraction. IMHO it needs to go. The effects are dated and underwhelming, the upkeep is terrible and it takes up way too much space. I think the area should be split into a new HP attraction and a new Seuss attraction.
Published: September 5, 2013 at 7:41 AMMark, the other Sensurround film was a war movie called Midway. Earthquake was by far the most effective use of the technology (which was a very big deal back in the mid 1970's, before most people on here were even a glimmer in their parents' eyes. Now get off my lawn!)
Published: September 5, 2013 at 9:59 AMThere is no Turf War between Disney and Universal. Stop trying to stir up controversy when there is none. You sound like a fool continuing to say this when Universal has recently told the press that Marvel is staying.
The trains are not the problem with Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The track is the problem. This roller coaster is a turkey and Universal was being cheap when they selected Maurer Sohne to build this ride instead of Bolliger & Mabillard.
MIB: Alien Attack won't be touched. It's a capacity machine for busy days and arguably the best dark ride ever built.
Overall, this article contains just a bunch of nonsense.
Published: September 5, 2013 at 12:46 PMPoseidon? People actually still like this attraction? The decoration is pretty amazing, but the show itself is awful.
Published: September 5, 2013 at 4:37 PMAs much as I love the Lost Continent, it needs something. That could a major Poseidon update (Which is an incredible attraction, contrary to what many have posted) and a replacement for Sindbad; However, annexing half of the land to harry Potter and the other to Suess may be the best approach.
My opinion on Dragon Challenge: Tear it down or theme it like that guy at Ideal Build Out would do (He has some amazing ideas on his blog, check it out!).
As for Men in Black, I believe it is a good ride that deserves to stick around for a few more years, but it is not even close to the greatest dark rides out there. One could just as easily argue that Journey Into Imagination is the greatest dark ride ever.
Published: September 7, 2013 at 3:57 AMWhy not remove E.T. and put in a Harry Potter flying car simulator attraction like soarin'. Change the queue area into the forbidden forest. In this case instead of taking E.T. back to his planet you take harry back to Hogwarts because his friends are in danger. Instead guests will be passing through the death eaters, dementors, and other creatures.
Also change barney into a Simpsons live show and change curious george into a Nintendo interactive area. or maybe an apple store.
PLEASE UNIVERSAL REMOVE E.T. AND PUT IN SOMETHING NOT STUPID IT'S TIME FOR E.T. TO GO HOME!
Published: September 7, 2013 at 11:04 AMUSF
Published: September 7, 2013 at 7:01 PMThe Beetlejuice Theatre is too small to build a Waterworld arena.
they can't clone the Studio Tour because the Production facilities is not like the Hollywood Studio.
Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood movie studios still in use and the Studio Tour is signature ride of the park.
Universal Studios Florida is just a Theme park and is design to let guests walk around the movie sets.
Published: September 7, 2013 at 8:25 PMI think Universal still has a lot of room to improve but I love the parks as they are now. A few thoughts:
For IOA I would love to see the following:
Jurassic Park: Add a new ride with water dino's in there. I've seen some art from the new movie and this could be cool.
Toon Lagoon: This would make a wonderful Middle Earth. The Popeye ride could be the Hobbit barrel escape scene (for the upcoming films) and Duddly should go. The ride vehicles are a mess. They indeed could go under or over the road to expand the land.
Marvel: If Disney really want's it back and they bring a ton of money I would love to see it go. I don't care for man in tights and silly masks and capes. Let Disney build it's own omnimover ride trough super hero land. I would love a good Sci-fi franchise going in there. I love Battlestar Galactica (the new one) but I don't think most people are very fond of it. Maybe Star Trek or something original they thing up.
Suess: For paint they could use the stuff we painted our house with when we lived in Orlando. It's stuff they put on lighthouses.
I like the Lost Continent. The show and attraction could do with an update. If they want to extend Suess they can go to eat up some of the studio space behind it.