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Florida Guide > Universal Parks

Universal..........a history.

The Universal Studios theme park opened its gates to the public in 1990 aftre 8 long years of meticulous planning.

Of course, there already was a Universal Studios theme park in Hollywood that had grown out of studio tours.

The rivalry between Disney and Uuniversal goes back way before the start of the theme parks. In 1921, Universal managed to wrest control of Oswald the Rabbit from Walt and he never forgot it. You will see how Disney managed to trump Universal later.

Michael Eisner had been involved in the original planning for Universal when he worked for Paramount. Paramount had been asked to help fund this park. Some time later he moved over to Disney and he quickly planned a spoiler in the opening of M. G. M. Studios (Disneys third park)

Not only did he succesfully carry this out but he also had it completed a full year before the opening of Universal. Disney have some advantages when it comes to planning permission.

It has to be said that Universal was not the immediate hit that the Disney parks had been. The 2 main attractions were Jaws and Kongfrontation but these were bedevilled by breakdowns and many of the early visitors were given compensation as they felt they had been shortchanged on their day out.

6 years later it was decided that it needed a complete shake up and in came thrilling new rides and the building of on site hotels was planned.

The great Steven Speilberg worked on some of these rides. E. T. of course but also Back to the Future and Twister, ride it out.

City Walk trounced Disneys own Pleasure Island and quickly became a success with tourists and locals alike. You have to walk through City Walk to get in and out of the theme parks so it does raise its profile and it is more appealing to the younger age groups.

Nowadays Universal is a runaway success with enough attractions to encourage visitors to buy multi day tickets.

The introduction of Islands of Adventure (their 2nd theme park) and particularly the addition of the Harry Potter area has sealed their success. In my time as a visitor to Orlando I have never seen anything that has raised more interest than Harry Potter!

As a foot note; let us pay tribute to the attractions that have closed (some mayI venture to say before their time)

Kongfrontation, Back to the Future, Nickleodean Studios, Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera, Earthquake the big one and The Boneyard. . . . gone, but not forgotten. Particularly by parents whose childrens earlies memories are populated by these rides.

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Page added on: 20 March 2011
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