Universal Studios Orlando
Where Movies Come to Life
If you're a fan of the movies like we are, then Universal Studios Orlando is the place to be! At Universal Studios you will experience the movies in a way that you've never experienced before.
My Family at Universal Studios Orlando
Click here for a brief description
of each of the Back Lot sets
From the moment you cross the bridge leading to the front gate and pass the Universal globe (a perfect photo opportunity by the way), you know you're in for something special. I'll give you a brief rundown here on what to expect.
As you approach the front gate, you will likely be greeted by a Universal Cast member who is ready, willing and able to snap your family photo at the gate. There is never an obligation to purchase the photo, or any photos for that matter taken by Cast Members as you explore Universal Studios Orlando. So if you are looking for a professional quality photo to preserve the wonderful memory of a fantastic vacation then I highly recommend you have your photo taken at every opportunity. Remember, there is no obligation to purchase. You will be presented with a ticket which you will present at the "On Location" Store just inside the front gate to view all the photographs taken by Universal cast members throughout the day.
Men In Black Alien Attack and Classic Cars at Mel's Drive-In
The photos are usually 8" x 10" and cost in the area of $15 to $18 each with a basic cardboard frame. Packages are available if you select multiple photos to keep the cost of preserving your memories
to a minimum. Personally I would wait until you're ready to exit Universal Studios Orlando to view and purchase your photos as the "On Location" store is just before you exit the park. Why? Because there is no shortage of photo taking at Universal Studios. Pictures will be taken throughout the park as well as on almost every ride that you experience. The cost can get quite high if you purchase everything. So by viewing all the pictures taken (except those taken on rides) throughout the day at the same time you'll be able to choose your photo memories wisely and perhaps put together a little photo package for yourself
After you enter the front gate, be prepared to have any bags inspected by Universal Security officers. After the inspection, you are finally in Universal Studios. Oh ya!
First things first. Make sure you get a Universal Studio Guide from the kiosk when you enter the park. It serves as a map of Universal Studios Orlando and lists all the times of the various shows throughout the day. In fact grab two or three. We usually grab a few so that everyone has one and we always keep a good one for a souvenir. The kids especially like having there own map so that they can check it all out for themselves and make sure dad is heading in the right direction. The Universal Studio Guide also lists ride heights and restrictions for all the various rides and attractions to help you when you are planning your day.
GARY'S SIDE STORY
Picking up a Universal Studios Guide may seem a bit obvious but it's amazing to me how many people don't do this. On one of our visits we were waiting in line for Revenge of the Mummy. My wife and I struck up a conversation with a mother and daughter from Costa Rica. They said to us that they had been to Shrek 4-D, Twister and now Revenge of the Mummy. She then asked us "what kind of ride is this?" and "what else is there to do here?". I thought, "yikes all the way from Costa Rica and you're wondering what there is to do at Universal Studios". I mean, call me thrifty, but if I'm spending my hard earned money I want to know what I'm spending it on before I get there. Nonetheless, we were quite happy to help her out and we laid it all out for her. We recommended several rides and highly recommended that she get herself a Studio Guide which would help her plan the rest of their day.
Universal Studios Orlando is divided into 7 distinctly themed areas that are dressed to represent movie sets. When you enter the gate, you enter into the Front Lot. Here you'll find restrooms, lockers, stroller and wheelchair rentals, an ATM, Lost and Found, guest services, first aid, a few eateries and some shopping. You'll find the Universal Studios Store here but I'd save that to the end as there are lots of opportunities to purchase Universal souvenirs throughout the park. There is also a discount store called That's a Wrap just by the exit in the Front Lot where you can pick up some great deals on Universal merchandise. Universal also offers a free service where you can shop anywhere in the park and have your purchases waiting for you at the exit inside That's A Wrap. It certainly keeps the load a little lighter.
The six remaining themed sets are referred to as the Back Lot. They are:
- Production Central
- New York
- San Francisco/Amity
- World Expo
- Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone
Click here for a brief description
of each of the Back Lot sets
After you leave the Front Lot, the Back Lot of Universal Studios is more or less laid out in a circular pattern. This makes it easy to navigate. However, deciding which way to go first is another challenge. Being somewhat of a methodical person (my wife might use another word), I tend to move clockwise throughout the park. This works well for us because the rides, shows and attractions along this way are perfect for our interests. If you have younger children you may want to go counter-clockwise as this will get you quicker to Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone which is geared towards the little ones.
Whichever way you decide to go, I highly recommend that you proceed directly straight ahead from the Front Lot down the Plaza of the Stars and see Shrek-4D and Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast. Shrek 4-D is one of the busier shows so try to do it first. When you exit Shrek 4-D, turn left and go to Jimmy Neutron. After exiting Jimmy Neutron turn left to go to New York and proceed in a clockwise direction or turn right to go to Hollywood and proceed in a counter-clockwise direction.
After deciding which way to proceed, simply go to the various rides and attractions as you come across them. Rides are continuous, so pick them up as you go along. Shows however operate according to scheduled times. Consult your Universal Studio Guide for the show times of the shows that you would like to see and plan accordingly. Try to avoid criss-crossing the park. There is a lot to see at Universal Studios Orlando and you'll waste a lot of time (and energy) criss-crossing back and forth.
Click Here to go to the Universal Studios Orlando Back Lot