Universal Studios Florida Opens a Superstar Parade and Cinematic Spectacular

The “Year to be Here” at Universal
Article and Photos by Kevin Yee

In a year that’s seen a revised Spider-Man, a new Blue Man Group show, and a new mini-golf open at CityWalk, the Universal Orlando Resort is having a banner year.  And now Universal Studios Florida is adding two new entertainment offerings, both of them major: the lagoon show Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories and a parade called Universal’s Superstar Parade.  Continue reading for more impressions and photos of the new show and parade.

Editor’s Note: “Adventures by Daddy” is pleased to welcome author, blogger, and father Kevin Yee to the site.  This is his first post for “Adventures by Daddy,” and hopefully not the last.  Please see his bio below.

The Cinematic Spectacular celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Universal movie studio, and it plays on the central lagoon of the park.  The central features are twin “waterfall screens” that spray a steady surface of water onto which high-quality film can be projected, just like a regular movie screen.  It’s startling how crisp the images are on the waterfall screens—much more so than on water screens you may know from other lagoon shows, where water is sprayed upward in a fan shape.

At its core, the show is a montage of movies.  It’s divided up into sections like heroes, horror, comedy, and good vs. evil.  The always-reliable Morgan Freeman delivers the narration, and the show uses familiar movie music (E.T., Back to the Future, Jurassic Park) to hit some emotional highs.

In addition to the screens, there are colored spotlights, a “regular” water screen, and a long row of high-tech fountains that can dance to the music or change color, courtesy of multicolored lighting in the water.

It’s not a fireworks-heavy show, but there are fireworks at a few key moments during the show, especially at the finale.  The entire show is a big improvement over Universal’s last effort in this lagoon, the Universal 360 show.

The other major entertainment offering for 2012, Universal’s Superstar Parade, represents Universal’s entry into the parade market.  They’ve long done the Macy’s parade (which they don’t create in-house, of course) and they’ve long had the Mardi Gras parade on Saturday nights in the winter/spring, but they lacked a daytime parade heavy on family-friendly features, like characters.  That’s changed now; this new parade will please both old and young alike with its high energy and dual focus on characters and action.

The parade takes 400 people to staff, supervise, drive, and maintain—it’s a big parade!  There are floats dedicated to kids fare such as Despicable Me, Hop, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dora and Diego.  Each float has a platoon of performers that jump, dance, and skate around the float.  The brilliance of this approach is that kids have something to watch (the characters) and so do the adults (the acrobatic, gymnastic, and otherwise kinetic performers).

While the parade will cruise down the usual parade route in the park, it will also have two “stop” zones where the floats come to a halt so the performers can do a show for those massed in the area.  These zones are the New York street and the Hollywood street themed areas, since they can handle the most crowds.  The show is high energy and just the right length—it knows not to overstay its welcome.

With these two new entertainment options, Universal feels all the more like a world-class resort.  Big splashy productions like these give a theme park a certain rhythm to a day spent here, which has been missing until now.  Both of them are intended to make memories for their visitors for years to come.

Disclosure: Kevin Yee was given press access to a private party celebrating this event, featuring free food and drinks.  His family was also invited.

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida.  He spent more than a decade working at Disneyland and cultivating a never-ending fascination with that park’s rich traditions and history.  Now relocated to Orlando, Kevin enjoys the Disney offerings on both sides of the country.  He is an author of numerous books about Disney theme parks around the world.

Thanks to Kevin Yee for his review.  So do you think this new parade and nighttime show is a good addition to the Universal Orlando Resort?  Please leave a comment below.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

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