Universal Studios 101: Your Complete Guide: Universal Studios Florida opened on June 7, 1990. It is the original theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort and was originally meant to be a blend of a working production studio and a theme park. For anyone who watched many of the popular shows on Nickelodeon in the 1990s, you may remember that many were filmed at the studio at Universal Orlando.

However, the theme park has grown significantly over the years. The biggest expansion has been the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an immersive land that spans both theme parks and helps guests relive their favorite movie moments.

This park still has the feel of a movie backlot but is ever-changing and evolving.

Production Central

This is the entrance to the park, meant to recreate the backstage area of a movie set. There are several great attractions located in this area, as well as shops and dining options.

Attractions and Rides

  • Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Shrek 4-D
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3-D

Dining

  • Bone Chillin’ (Quick Service)
  • Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Cafe
  • TODAY Cafe (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • Betty Boop Store
  • It’s A Wrap
  • On Location
  • Shrek’s Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe
  • Studio Sweets
  • Super Silly Stuff
  • Supply Vault
  • Universal Studios Store
  • Williams of Hollywood

New York

Universal Studios Florida

The theme in this part of the park is meant to take guests back to classic NYC. The architecture is on point and there are some great shops and restaurants located here. Personally, this is one of my favorite places to be during the holiday season with the giant Christmas tree and the recreation of the Macy’s department store.

Attractions and Rides

  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • The Blues Brothers Show

Dining

  • Louie’s Italian Restaurant (Quick Service)
  • Häagen-Dazs®
  • Finnegan’s Bar and Grill (Table Service)
  • Starbucks (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • Amazing Pictures
  • Park Plaza Holiday Shop
  • Rosie’s Irish Shop
  • Sahara Traders
  • The Film Vault

San Francisco

Lombard's Seafood Universal Studios Florida

The San Francisco section of the park is a relaxing area along the water. Although there is only one attraction located here, there is plenty of seating and a few dining options. It’s a great place to take a break for a bit but don’t forget to grab a few photos, especially with Bruce the shark!

Attractions and Rides

  • Fast and Furious – Supercharged

Dining

  • Chez Alcatraz (Quick Service)
  • Lombard’s Seafood Grille (Table Service)
  • Richter’s Burger Co. (Quick Service)
  • San Francisco Pastry Company (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • Custom Gear
  • San Francisco Candy Factory

Hollywood

Universal Studios Florida

In the Hollywood area of the park, guests can feel as though they are walking through the iconic film town. Be on the lookout for characters and make sure to stop by the great shows located here.

Attractions and Rides

  • The Bourne Stuntacular
  • Universal Orlando’s Horror Makeup Show

Dining

  • Mel’s Drive-In (Quick Service)
  • Schwab’s Pharmacy (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • The Dark Room

World Expo

Universal Studios Florida

This is a small area of the park and is home to the MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack™ attraction. The theme is meant to represent the World’s Fair Park in New York.

Attractions and Rides

  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack™

Shopping

  • MIB Gear

Springfield: Home of the Simpsons

Universal Studios Florida

Guests can visit the world of the Simpsons when they walk through this land. The theming here makes you feel as though you have joined the cartoon world, with giant statues and buildings right out of the popular show. The Simpsons Ride is the main attraction here but there are also several quick-service options.

Attractions and Rides

  • Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • The Simpsons Ride™

Dining

  • Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck (Quick Service)
  • Cletus’ Chicken Shack (Quick Service)
  • Duff Brewery (Quick Service)
  • Flaming Moe’s (Quick Service)
  • Krusty Burger (Quick Service)
  • Lard Lad Donts (Quick Service)
  • Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror (Quick Service)
  • Luigi’s Pizza (Quick Service)
  • Moe’s Tavern (Quick Service)
  • The Frying Dutchman (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • Kwik-E-Mart

Woody Woodpecker’s Kids Zone

Universal Studios Florida

In this land, the theming is aimed to please the youngest visitors. Here, you will find a play area – Fievel’s Playland – and some attractions that are kid-friendly. The newest addition is a fun character experience, complete with a dance party and great interactions. There is also a quick service dining location and one of the original attractions at the park – the E.T. Adventure.

Attractions and Rides

  • E.T. Adventure
  • Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
  • Animal Actors on Location

Dining

  • Kidzone Pizza Company (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • E.T.’s Toy Closet and Photo Spot
  • SpongeBob StorePants

London

Universal Studios - Complete Guide - King's Cross Station

Although this may be just a walk-through area of the park as you enter the Wizarding World, it is still worth mentioning. Like other parts of the Wizarding World, the attention to detail is just amazing, especially for those Harry Potter fans! As you approach the entrance to Diagon Alley, you have to walk through the London waterfront. Here, there are several “Easter eggs” so to speak.

The Knight Bus

Guests can peek inside and see all of the details or chat with the conductor and take pictures. Although you cannot go inside, it’s very cool to see the meticulous detail of the props including the chandelier from the movie.

King’s Cross Station

Here, guests can board the Hogwarts Express or return from Hogsmeade. Nearby, be on the lookout for the telephone booth where you can contact the Ministry of Magic!

Grimmauld Place

Universal Studios Complete Guide - Grimmauld Place

Sirius Black’s family home is located at 12 Grimmauld Place. If you look closely, Kreacher the house-elf looks out from the curtains occasionally. This is a great photo op for the Harry Potter fan.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Insider's Guide - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opened in July 2014. This land is completely immersive and the detail is truly amazing. Guests will have a truly magical experience from the time they walk through the hidden entrance, dine at the Leaky Cauldron, try to escape from Gringotts, or head to Ollivanders Wand Shop in search of their perfect wand. If you are feeling particularly brave, you may even head down Knockturn Alley and Borgin and Burkes.

Then, board the Hogwarts Express to head over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure to explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

Attractions and Rides

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™
  • Hogwarts Express
  • Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Dining

  • Leaky Cauldron
  • Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour (Quick Service)
  • The Fountain of Fair Fortune (Quick Service)
  • The Hopping Pot (Quick Service)

Shopping

  • Ollivanders Wand Shop
  • Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
  • Borgin and Burkes
  • Globus Mundi
  • Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions
  • Magical Menagerie
  • Quality Quidditch Supplies
  • Scribbulus
  • Shutterbutton’s
  • Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop
  • Wands by Gregorovitch
  • Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment

Characters, Special Events, and More

Halloween Horror Nights

At Universal Studios Florida, there is more to this park than just the rides. There are several terrific shows and events that take place throughout the year. Many of these events are included with your theme park admission.

In addition, you can find many of your favorite characters throughout the parks including the Minions, Trolls, and more. Plus, there is a nighttime show that takes you away to relive your favorite movie moments.

Halloween Horror Nights

Each fall, the spooky season takes over at Universal Studios Florida in the evenings. Halloween Horror Nights is an event at this theme park happening on select nights each September and October. This year, the 30th-anniversary celebration is set to be the best one yet! This is a separately ticketed event with unique experiences, haunted houses, and more. This event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13.

Mardi Gras

If you are looking for an authentic New Orleans celebration, you can head to Universal Studios Florida each spring to enjoy their version of Mardi Gras! The beads are flying everywhere and it is a family-friendly experience. With street performers, amazing floats, and fantastic food options, this celebration is a must!

Characters

Throughout the park, you will find many different characters. Currently, these experiences are modified but there is no shortage of characters for all ages! Some examples include Shrek and Donkey, the Transformers, Scooby-Doo and friends, and even Marilyn Monroe!

This spring, a new character experience debuted too. The “Dreamworks Destination” character experience is located in the KidZone area of Universal Studios Florida. Here, guests can dance and interact with some of their favorites from the DreamWorks Animation franchise including Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, and more.

Nighttime Show

Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration is a nighttime show that takes place at the park on select nights. The show brings to life some of your favorite cinematic moments combined with music, lights, water, and, of course, fireworks! The best viewing for this show is located in the Central Park area. Check the app for showtimes.

This theme park has evolved quite a bit over the years and the journey continues, no doubt! It’s the place to be taken away into the cinematic world, with everything from thrill rides to great food and fun for little ones!

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