Universal Orlando Feature
- Places to Explore
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For two decades or so Universal and Disney have been going head to head. While Disney creates a fantasy world for people—especially young children—who love fairy tales, Universal Orlando is geared to older kids, adults, and anyone who enjoys high-energy thrills, pop culture, and the movies.
Where Disney may roll out a new land or retrofit an old ride once a decade, Universal knows that guests expect something different each time they visit. And the park delivers. In recent years Univeral Studios alone has replaced Alfred Hitchcock with Shrek, Hanna-Barbera with Jimmy Neutron, King Kong with The Mummy, Back to the Future with the virtual-reality Simpsons ride, and Earthquake with Disaster! And in 2009 they launched Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit—an interactive roller coaster with a customized soundtrack.
Thanks to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, things haven't been static at Islands of Adventure (IOA), or at the CityWalk shopping/nightlife complex. When they seemed to be flagging, a well-intentioned but less-than-successful jazz club became a karaoke stage, a Motown restaurant became the Red Coconut Lounge, and a series of stores were switched out to give the complex a new look. In addition, Universal created a wonderful theater specifically for the Blue Man Group.
A few miles away, on the tourist strip known as International Drive, is Wet 'n Wild—owned by Universal since 1998 and believed to be America's first water park. Wet 'n Wild does with aquatics what Universal does with theatrics: provide over-the-top entertainment, albeit in the form of super waterslides and fantastic plunges. (To wit: Bomb Bay, which drops you 76 nearly vertical feet down a slide and into the pool. Spooky, splashy fun.)
Despite the adrenaline-charging attractions at Wet 'n Wild, it's not hard to chill out lazing about the park's beaches and pools. And at Universal you can slow down with some leisurely shopping at CityWalk, a concert at Hard Rock Live, and a languorous, elegant dinner at Emeril's.
Universal never seems to stop reinventing itself. On every visit you're likely to find fresh attractions based on new cartoon characters and revamped stunt shows and spectaculars inspired by current TV faves or movies.
For instance, 2012 sees the departure of Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast at Universal Studios and the arrival of Despicable Me 3-D, honoring one of Universal Picture's most successful films by making it the first of the studio's animated flicks to be made into a ride.
Cutting-edge technology is embraced here as well At Islands of Adventure (IOA), 2012 also sees the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man beign given new digital animation that both adds details and employs the highest high-definition resolution on the market. As if Spidey wasn't popular enough already!
But the attractions that still receive the most attention are in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This 35-acre land, which opened in 2010 at IOA, is a visual masterpiece and a dream come true for fans of the Harry Potter books and films.
And stay tuned for more changes. That's the magic of Universal—you never know what they'll have planned for you next!
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