You Can “Ride the Movies” and More at the Universal Studios Theme Parks
Universal Studios is one of the largest movie companies in the world. They also own and operate theme parks across the globe that allow visitors to actually “ride the movies.”
The first Universal Studios theme park started in Los Angeles, and began simply as tours of the Universal back lots and soundstages where movies were made. The theme park side of the company has expanded far and wide from its humble Hollywood beginnings, and now there are Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando, Florida and Osaka, Japan. There are also plans in the works to open Universal Studios theme parks over the next several years in Singapore, Dubai and South Korea.
The Universal Orlando Resort is actually two separate theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – an entertainment complex, Universal CityWalk, and a water park, Wet ‘n Wild. Universal Studios Florida was the first Orlando park, and it opened in 1990. Universal began expanding its Orlando property in 1999 to include Islands of Adventure, Universal CityWalk and three on-site Loew’s hotels. Today the Universal Orlando is gigantic compared to the Hollywood park, and it has become major competition to Walt Disney World.
Halloween Horror Nights, the annual fright fest at Universal Studios Florida, is one of the biggest Halloween events in the entire country. It began in 1991 as a two-week party with several haunted houses. It has since boomed into the most popular annual event in Orlando and lasts over a month.
Universal Studios Japan is in Konohana-ku, Osaka, and it opened in March of 2001. The attractions at this park are very similar to those found at the Universal Orlando Resort. Universal has just a minority stake in this theme park.
Universal Studios Hollywood is touted as “The Entertainment Capital of L.A.” It is a combination theme park, entertainment complex and working movie studio, and only a short ride north of downtown Los Angeles. This is where it all began, with tours of the working film and TV studio back lots. Universal Studios Hollywood still gives those behind-the-scenes studio tours, but they are on a much bigger scale these days.
The California complex is known as Universal City, and it includes the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and the Studio Tour, which gives you a peak inside an active studio, and lets you ogle over Wisteria Lane and the set of CSI. If you want happening nightlife, delicious dining, a cinema and real California shopping, then CityWalk Hollywood is the perfect place for you.
Unlike in Orlando, Universal Hollywood is apparently not a Disney competitor. In fact, California vacationers can get the Southern California CityPass and visit five area parks including Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, SeaWorld San Diego and The San Diego Zoo or Wild Animal Park for one price.
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