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Universal Studios


Getting There Rides Shows Other Activities

Given the outrageous success Disney World has had since 1971, it was inevitable that someone else would eventually build a rival park. And so now we have Universal Studios. Universal does not have the budget or land Disney does, so they will never become equal. However, Universal is a major company with talented executives, designers and engineers. Within their tight land constraints, they have created a very competitive park. Universal has a rich library of hit films on which to base restaurants, rides, shows and theming. Most of their attractions appeal to a teenage or adult crowd. Like Disney, they've built up hotels, shops and restaurants in and around the park. We think Universal Studios is definitely worth one day of your vacation (and Islands of Adventure a second day). From your Disney resort, it is only a 30 minute drive to the massive parking structure and another 20 minutes to pass through City Walk and enter the park itself. The park does close at dinnertime, so you'll need to eat either along City Walk or back at Disney.

Rides Magic Kingdom Hollywood Studios Animal Kingdom Epcot Typhoon Lagoon Blizzard Beach Islands of Adventure

Revenge of the Mummy is a hairy indoor roller coaster. The coaster itself hits speeds of 45 mph and some pretty steep drops in total darkness. Instead of lift hills, you're launched three times by linear induction motors. There are no inversions but numerous 80 degree banked turns, 50 degree descents, a backward segment, and a grand finale spiralling helix in pitch darkness. You achieve repeated air time. The track is 2200 ft. long and the ride lasts three minutes. The thrills come because Universal has done an incredible job of recreating special effects from the movie. You find yourself dodging Scarab Beetles, Mummies, Imhotep (the evil character from the movie), Skeleton Warriors, the Fires of Hell and other threats. The entrance is wonderfully themed as a gigantic museum. At the end you pass through a gift shop where you can buy various Mummy souvenirs. The ride is so intense Universal has coined a new phrase : psychological thriller. Revenge of the Mummy is not quite as mind blowing as Spiderman or Forbidden Journey, but it's close, and it is very definitely worth a ride.

Twister places you in a tornado. This is not so much a ride as a show. You enter an observation deck looking out on a small Kansas town. A tornado appears in the distance and as it approaches wind picks up, rain intensifies, things begin flying through the air, lightning strikes disturbingly close, fire erupts, snapped wires give off sparks, and the noise intensifies. Highlights are the flying cow, the Diner sign being ripped off and the feeling of electricity in the air. By the time the tornado has passed, the roof over you lifts off, the platform collapses, your hair is windblown and you're wet from rain. It gets pretty intense and people have been known to leave partway through. This is a tremendous opportunity to see how the movie was made, what it would be like to be in a real tornado for those who have never had that experience, and to learn some scientific background about weather, which is presented as you enter.
Men in Black is America's greatest indoor laser gun ride. The theming is amazing, and the pace is intense and exciting. The aliens come in all shapes and sizes and during the first phase you'll concentrate on hitting as many as possible and running up your score, just as in all the other rides out there. But this one throws you a few more scenarios. For one, the aliens start firing back. If they hit your car, it spins out of control, so you have to either steer it to avoid their fire, while of course firing at them, or you have to bring it back under control to avoid crashing. Then you learn that there is another car full of aliens disguised as human beings like you, and you enter a huge space in which your two cars fight a duel. Finally, you confront the Giant Cockroach. Your puny laser guns are not strong enough, so you have to use your car's Subatomic Thermonuclear Disruptor. If you vaporize the roach, you'll earn so many points you'll win the game, and you proceed to the victory lane. If you fail, you'll be eaten by the bug and tumble through its intestines in a maze of fog, strobe lights and spinning. You have to ride this at least twice. We recommend the first time to just observe and appreciate all the animatronics (watch particularly for the bug with Steven Spielberg's head) and scenes like the one shown at left, and a second time to man the guns and see how high a score you can run up. It takes at least three rides to get a decent score.

E.T. is Universal's version of Disney's Peter Pan ride. They've rearranged the story somewhat so you ride through the entire plot on your bicycle. In a clever design move, your "vehicle" really is a kind of bicycle, with the handlebars doubling as a safety bar and E.T. riding ahead of you in the basket. But the highlight comes when, once again, E.T. sprinkles cosmic dust on everyone and you lift off, cruising above the police cars, houses and trees. The ride lasts an impressive five minutes. Probably the neatest moment comes at the end when E.T. confronts you personally and addresses you by your own name. This is clearly a children's ride. There's no reason for an adult to go on it except to take a child with them. That said, it's well done and one of the best kiddie rides out there. If you have anyone with you 10 or younger this is a must. The bikes don't have quite the magic or mystery of the small ships in Peter Pan, but all the elements of the film are here, so for kids who are big fans of E.T. this may be their favorite ride in the whole park.







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