First look: Universal Orlando's Mega Movie Parade

July 4, 2024, 1:11 PM · Universal Orlando yesterday previewed its new Universal Mega Movie Parade at Universal Studios Florida.

The new parade originally was scheduled for its official debut yesterday, but Universal declared it a "technical rehearsal" instead, so it's now performing on a soft-open basis.

The 20-minute show currently offers nine units featuring popular Universal movie franchises:

Some of these are firsts for Universal theme park parades. (I can't remember seeing E.T. in a parade before, can anyone else?) I wasn't able to get back out to Florida for the debut, but by all accounts Universal Mega Movie Parade saves its best for last, with an impressive T-Rex animatronic stop the parade-concluding Jurassic World float.

Here is a full show video from some our friends in Orlando.

Universal is holding a press event for the parade on July 9, so pending any further announcements from the park, I am going to assume that's the new official start date for the parade. However, it is being offered daily - weather permitting, of course - on a soft-open basis until then.

If you're thinking about a Universal Orlando visit, our partner is offering a two-days-free promo ticket that is good for visits through April of next year. You can get the details and buy (which helps support Theme Park Insider), though their Universal Orlando tickets page.

To keep up to date with more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

Replies (31)

July 4, 2024 at 1:14 PM

Speaking of that press event, I could use a Florida-based Theme Park Insider reader who is willing to step up to cover that and a couple of other press events in Central Florida this month. If you have contributed to the site in any way before (articles, discussions or even just comments) and are willing and able to write and record video for us, email me via the Contact link at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

July 4, 2024 at 3:59 PM

Looks like its the park's greatest hits...

July 4, 2024 at 8:00 PM

"I can't remember seeing E.T. in a parade before, can anyone else?"

E.T. appeared in Universal Studios Japan's Hollywood Premiere Parade in the early 2000's.

July 5, 2024 at 8:44 AM

This is an exceptionally impressive parade, and Universal has put some real effort and talent into this. They've even hired actors who stay in character throughout the course as they interact with guests - not just scripted dialogue or pre-choreographed moves that you see from Disney parades.

I hope guests really appreciate it and support efforts like this from UC, because it's touches like this that will keep Universal parks competitive with Disney.

July 5, 2024 at 3:35 PM

@ Russell: Um "competitive with Disney"? Please. The dead-eyed performers look bored. Just wait until parade number 60 or 70. Those floats would've been better as meet and greet backdrops. This is what UC plans to use as a means to prevent Epic from devouring USF and IOA's attendance -- let alone the Disney parks?

July 5, 2024 at 3:59 PM

Watching on YouTube ... This is horrible! How do you have a float with dancing Minions and static Minion statues? And the Minions are teathered (despite having guardrails) so they can't get closer to guests. This is a disaster. The floats move too slow. A static Stay-Puft? Really? Whomever at UC has the courage to stand up and say "shut it down" deserves a raise. Where's a theme park Liz Lemon when you need her?

July 6, 2024 at 2:33 AM

The stark contrast of an objective observer and a Disney fanboy is staggering...

Looks like Epic Universe is taking it's toll on their psyche.

Guess we need more Darth Vader and Stormtroopers doing the running man. Maybe dragons that self immolate.

July 6, 2024 at 9:24 AM

Hulk and VelociCoaster are two of my all-time favorite coasters/attractions. Ape animatronic at the end of Skull Island is a miracle. Forbidden Journey and Gringotts are phenomenal innovations -- two of the best dark ride experiences in Orlando. Connecting the two parks via the Hogwart's express was brilliant. The western stunt show and Bourne were/are both more entertaining than the tired Indiana Jones show at DHS.

In the past (at TPI) I have written "Seriously, there is no denying that the team at Universal Creative has consistently outpaced WDI since the opening of Islands of Adventure. Universal Creative is the GOLD STANDARD for innovation in theme park design. 'The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman', 'Men in Black: Alien Attack', 'Revenge of the Mummy, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. There is not a single WDW attraction that is anywhere near as innovative." Even Twister demonstrates how Universal Creative is more committed to take an extraordinary risk at creating the (apparently) impossible theme park experience."

But if USF's entertainment team has what appears to be a guy in his twenties portraying a 10 year-old Elliot Taylor from E.T. ... well, when it comes to maintaining attendance, USF should be just as worried about Epic Universe as any competing Orlando park operator.

July 6, 2024 at 12:14 PM

The new parade and night show will keep guests longer in the park, driving up food and merch sales.


July 6, 2024 at 5:11 PM

A parade? Really? Hey Universal ... You want to impress me ... Put me in a room with a six story Godzilla ... That's balls out, next level themed entertainment ... A parade?! Oh la dee frickn' dah ... How on earth can this weak soup be regarded as next level? A cosplay Marty McFly? That's humiliating by any reasonable standard.

July 6, 2024 at 5:38 PM

Yeah, with the caveat that this is still in technical rehearsals this looks pretty disappointing. The float design is lacking and the performance is very low energy. Fun to see these films in this form but I think this is a miss, especially compared to the very good fountain show.

July 6, 2024 at 7:31 PM

I guess we can now all wait until the totally objective NB launches on Jacob Sundstrom ... My God did Comcast get a discount on the Solid Gold dancers wardrobe?

July 6, 2024 at 9:42 PM

Don’t you wish that evil on me haha

July 6, 2024 at 9:59 PM

Watching live was really fun. They have a variety of dancers from disco skaters, BMX, ballroom, hip hop, and ninjas... I thought the performers and characters were the highlight. It's just great to see kinetic energy. This would have been so cool fifteen years ago. I don't get the complaints of it being slow. Ten floats are alot and there's alot to look at.

Festival of Fantasy is ten years old now. Magic needs a night time parade. And at least UO is trying. Disney just sits on their laurels.

July 7, 2024 at 12:58 AM

Disney just added a new night show to Epcot in addition to a free one at Disney Springs. How is that sitting on their laurels?

July 7, 2024 at 6:44 AM

Epcot refurbished to a sad shopping mall, cheap splash redesign, significant cuts to food and entertainment, and no new e ticket for the next five years probably. It took 7 years for tron to be built when announced, and it a clone ride. 5 years to create a Ramada Inn hotel lobby.

Disney knows they fans will still come based on their brand. It's so unpleasant trying to get a spot to see Happily Ever After. There used to be 2 firework shows a night instead of one. Magic used to have main street electrical parade and spectromagic too.

Free drone show is nice the one in UO is obviously better and you can get a nice spot ten minutes before the show at central park. Luminous is also great, but also just a reskin of things they had before.

July 7, 2024 at 8:09 AM

@Json Son: Great points! And don't forget all the new e-ticket attractions currently under construction at USF and IOA! Let's list them, shall we?

(Insert the sound of crickets chirping).

July 7, 2024 at 8:44 AM

@TH Creative
That's disingenuous when they are building a new theme park with about 4 new e tickets ready to go on opening day next year!

July 7, 2024 at 9:09 AM

@Daniel: No it's not. While they built IOA they also built Men in Black at USF. Why couldn't they replicate that effort? If they can build minor attractions like the Minions thing and DreamWorks area, why didn't they build a genuine gate crasher at either IOA or USF?

July 7, 2024 at 12:07 PM

The anger and hostility directed toward this parade by some is baffling. Protect the mouse at all costs... oy vey.

I love when someone doubles down on their rhetoric.

July 7, 2024 at 12:38 PM

Didn't you just double down on your own rhetoric?

July 8, 2024 at 4:46 AM

Grateful that Universal are continuing to invest and raising the bar in Orlando. They didn't need to do this, but looks excellent. That T Rex looks comparable to the Asian Universal parades. The speed, quality and quantity of new investments really is impressive. Exciting times

July 8, 2024 at 10:11 AM

Ouch! I didn't expect such hostility for a parade! I think it looks great so far and judging by the amount of "regular" people dancing and pointing at the floats I would say its a huge success already!

I do wish they were building a next level ride to be ready a bit after Epic opens but they didn't have too because the only way that we will be able to visit Epic Universe is by buying a combo ticket which will include the other parks anyways. This will guarantee that the other parks don't flatline which is clever but also annoying. I also very much doubt you will be able to buy season passes or add Epic to your existing pass for the first couple of years.

July 8, 2024 at 2:09 PM

Francis 24 - Universal Creative has a plan, they want to keep the focus on the new park until it opens.

When you look at what this theme park has done since acquiring the rights to Harry Potter and building Hogsmeade, it is simply staggering.

Epic Universe (4 new coasters and new dark rides), Volcano Bay (19 total attractions and areas), Diagon Alley, Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, Hagrids Motorbike Adventure, Transformers, Reign of Kong, Fast & Furious, Despicable Me, Jimmy Fallon, Dreamworks Land, Villian-Con, VeliciCoaster...

I'd say they are doing everything right. How dare they not build a new E-ticket at Universal / IOA while constructing the new park? You can bet a second waterpark and expansion is already planned for the next 10 years, and they scooped up even more land in the meantime.

You won't find that info here, however, but I heard the new country bears are a huge gatecrasher for the mouse.

July 8, 2024 at 2:19 PM

"Francis 24 - Universal Creative has a plan, they want to keep the focus on the new park until it opens."

If that's the case, then why are they going to force guests to spend at least 2 days of admission to the existing parks just to get 1 day in the new park? To me, that seems like a strategy to goose attendance at USF, IOA, and VB without having to invest any money into new attractions to organically draw guests to the legacy parks.

As TH often points out, Universal explicitly built MIB in USF to balance demand at the resort when IOA opened. It seems this time around Universal is instead utilizing administrative tactics to more or less FORCE guests to go to IOA and USF if they want to spend just a day in Epic Universe.

July 8, 2024 at 2:23 PM

Russell, has the ticketing / package info been released?

July 8, 2024 at 3:28 PM

They obviously do have a plan in the works and I think the next investment will be the Lost Continent replacement followed by Springfield replacement at UO. I just wish they would start now so that its ready by 2026 but I get why they haven't. Epic is costing enough I'm sure.

If the rumours are correct though and you do need to buy a multi-day pass in order to see Epic I wonder what that means for current pass holders of UO/IOA.

July 8, 2024 at 3:49 PM

@NB - Officially to the public, no, but all of the official resellers received information from Universal about their plan to not initially allow single day admission to Epic Universe. Whether that leak/release/whatever you want to call it was done to test the market or represents precisely how Universal plans sell admissions to the new park (or how long that policy will last) is unclear right now.

However, it's no secret that Universal is planning to use some unique and innovative strategies to manage crowds at Epic Universe, including limiting guests from freely roaming between portals. There's a reason why the park is designed with portals and how there are no direct connections between each individual IP-themed land, even if they're physically right next to each other.

July 9, 2024 at 12:09 PM

@TH Creative
"Why couldn't they replicate that effort?"

You're assumption is based on equivocating IOA and EU. For example IOA didn't come with 3 new hotels, one of which is in the theme park. So Universals effort here is a subjective term. And we haven't also considered the size and technical complexity of the paks which I would think EU is substantially greater in both aspects, given what we know about the E tickets and also the high interactivity of recent openings like SNW Hollywood.

July 9, 2024 at 12:50 PM

That's true Danial, but it seems that instead of making sure the legacy parks are still organically appealing to guests wanting to visit Epic Universe with at least 1-2 new attractions for those that haven't been to the resort in a few years, Universal is essentially BLACKMAILING guests to visit IOA, USF, and VB by forcing them to buy admission to those parks just to get into Epic Universe for a day. I don't necessarily begrudge them trying to leverage the interest/demand for the new park to generate revenue, but to skimp on continuing to develop their existing properties knowing that they can goose attendance simply by mandating guests visit them in order to get into Epic is very much a 00's Disney approach to park management.

Now, the hope would be that all the extra cash that Universal rakes in from Epic will also be used to continue to improve USF, IOA, and VB (which hasn't opened a new attraction since it opened 7 years ago BTW) as well as continue to tweak and build out Epic (there's reportedly ample space in the Master Plan for a 5th IP portal and well as expansion pads within the current portals and Celestial Park), but there's no guarantee, particularly with Universal eyeing projects outside of their current markets, including in the UK. Perhaps they'll make some announcements of additions to the legacy parks when they finalize the opening date for Epic, but as we sit right now, any major additions to IOA or USF would not open until at least 2026. That means IOA will have gone 5 years since its last major addition (Velocicoaster) and USF will have gone 2 years since its last addition and 6 years since its last major one (assuming you don't consider Dreamworks and VillainCon "major" since the Bourne Stuntacular opened in 2020).

July 9, 2024 at 2:26 PM

I watched the parade yesterday (8th) and it’s very good. No ET float, but still in technical rehearsals, so obviously a few more wrinkles to iron-out. Performers were good, but not as good as those at Disney. Plenty of time to improve though, so all in all an excellent parade. Sometime soon I’ll stay and watch the drone show.

As for the Epic Universe ticket rumor mill …. If true, they are going to royally piss off a huge section of their pass holders.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive