Theme park wayback machine: Universal Studios Florida brochure from 1990

April 11, 2012, 9:40 PM · Let's fire up the wayback machine, set your time circuits, and get on the bus with Ms. Frizzle. It's time to take a theme park trip into the past.

How about we set our sights 22 years in the past, and pay a visit to the corner of Kirkman Road and Major Boulevard in Orlando, Florida? A new theme park just opened up in Central Florida, and we're among the first to go in.

Here's a copy of the park brochure we can pick up at the front gate. This guide map is a tri-fold: The front cover is the right third and the back cover is the middle third. The left third appears when you open the map. (Click on each of the images for larger versions.)

Cover of the 1990 Universal Studios Florida theme park guide map

Unfold that page and you can see the full park map inside. Count the number of attractions!

Inside of the 1990 USF theme park guide map

That's right. On this particular "sneak preview" soft-open day in May 1990, Universal Studios Florida offered just three attractions - the Animal Actors show, the Horror Make-up Show, and the Murder, She Wrote post-production show. You can find the day's showtimes on this handy insert:

Daily show times insert for the 1990 USF theme park guide map

Note the last paragraph. That was the "studio tour," a guided walk-through the empty soundstages that would eventually become the Florida home to Nickelodeon Studios, and eventually make way for the Blue Man Group's theater.

Hope you had fun on your day at Universal Studios Florida. No matter whether you did or not through, no worries - because every day you visit all this summer the park will give you a free one-day ticket to come back another day, when more rides are operating.

How good a deal is that?

Got some old theme park goodies you'd like to show off? Send a scan to Theme Park Insider editor Robert Niles, and we'll feature it on the site.

Replies (12)

April 12, 2012 at 2:36 AM · I´m still wondering if they ever will put something in the former ´Murder, She Wrote´ building. It´s the deadest place in the park. I was not a fan of the attraction but would like to see that street be to good use. Maybe extend it and make it a transformer ride?
April 12, 2012 at 6:08 AM · Robert: Nice feature. You need to do this often.
April 12, 2012 at 6:28 AM · I remember dreaming of going to Palisades Park to use all of the free ride coupons that were in comics back then - usually two per issue.

Sorry to be off subject, I got inspired to write from the linked column @USF.

April 12, 2012 at 6:32 AM · There was a MURDER SHE WROTE attraction in Orlando!?! Learn something goofy and new every day.
April 12, 2012 at 7:03 AM · i still have the complimentary tickets they gave out because half the rides were not working somewhere haven't been used either, also i remember when they changed the murder she wrote to hercules and xena man i'm getting old. I'll need to check out the attic i'm sure i've got old park guides from the early 90s somewhere :). Great story
April 12, 2012 at 7:39 AM · This is great. I and two college buddies went to Universal in the summer of 1990. It was a huge disappointment. Very few of the rides completely worked. The only two I remembered that worked as advertised were the Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera and E.T. The rest were in various stages of disrepair. There was no Kongfrontation that day. (Broke down.) There was only half of Earthquake working. (The ride portion was broken.) And Jaws (the first version) worked sporadically and had extremely long lines. However, we did get to ride and it was pretty cool. I clearly remember when the fat rubber shark bit down on our pontoon boat and spun us around. It was a very cool effect, one I wished they had kept when Jaws was rebuilt.

- Brian

April 12, 2012 at 7:48 AM · Wow looks like there was'nt much going on when it first opened. My first visit was a few years after this it was totally diffrent than it is today, no resorts, no citywalk, no parking garage, no IOA. I enjoyed 90's MGM studios more than 90's USO.
April 12, 2012 at 8:27 AM · I love Murder, She Wrote. Wish I got to see that.
April 12, 2012 at 8:41 AM · Great article. Love these flashbacks. It's neat to see how much things have changed. Maybe this could be a weekly article? ;)
April 12, 2012 at 9:10 AM · "Murder she wrote" was great. Remember when we all had to chant "No! Absolutely not" at every stage of the presentation? I still have fond memories of my Mum taking part in the show by walking through a box of gravel to create a sound effect (that will make perfect sense if you've seen the show- if not, it'll come across as the ramblings of a mad woman!) :)
April 12, 2012 at 3:30 PM · What was the admission price for these three attractions in 1990?
April 12, 2012 at 4:38 PM · Universal's official opening day was a disaster.... They refunded admission to anyone who asked. Steven Spielberg and his family were stuck in the Jaws lagoon for hours when the ride broke down.

Surpisingly, all of this info is on Universal's own website.

Opening day of WWOHP looked like this from a news helicopter. IOA is way off the left and out of view.

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