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The four theme park complexes owned and operated by NBC Universal, famous for combining thrilling rides with state-of-the-art technology. Most of the rides are based on movies, a large part of them not from Universal's own libary. The studio tour dates all the way back to 1912, and the theme park dates to 1964. They are very big competitors with the Disney Theme Parks, and is often regarded as the only theme park group close to it in terms of quality.
The theme parks include:
- Universal Studios Hollywood: The original park, which opened in 1964. It started as a reimagining of their old studio tour, but soon grew to a giant theme park. It opened a shopping complex, called CityWalk, in May 1993.
- Universal Orlando Resort: The largest and most popular resort, which is split into two theme parks:
- Universal Studios Florida: Opened June 17, 1990, it was created so Universal could compete with the Walt Disney World resort. Disney, however, opened Disney-MGM (now Hollywood) Studios in 1989 in order to compete. Florida, unlike Hollywood, opened as a theme park (although there is a studio complex on-site and some of the streetscapes can easily be converted to sets as needed), exchanging a studio tour for attractions where the guests could "Ride the Movies". It also houses many behind-the-scenes shows about what goes on in show business.
- Universal's Islands of Adventure: Opened on May 28, 1999, along with a CityWalk and a massive parking structure, it is the only Universal park to not have a studio theme. It opened with five islands (Marvel Superhero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing), each featuring some of the most technologically advanced rides ever built, including the award-winning The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. On June 18, 2010, a sixth island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, opened to tons of excitement from both fanbases.
- Universal Studios Japan: Universal's first park outside the U.S., it opened on March 31, 2001 with another CityWalk. It follows a very similar layout to Universal Studios Florida, but has some unique-to-Japan attractions based on such properties as Peanuts, Sesame Street, and Hello Kitty.
- Universal Studios Singapore: Universal's newest park still keeps the studios theme, but tries to feel like Islands of Adventure. It opened within Resorts World Sentosa, which is not owned by Universal, on May 28, 2011 after over a year of soft openings.
Two more parks are expected to be built in Dubai and South Korea within this decade. Not to be confused with the actual Universal Studios.
Halloween Horror Nights, an annual event in the U.S. theme parks, has its own page.
Tropes used in the parks include
- 3D Movie: Terminator 2: 3D and Shrek 4D are these. Japan also has a Sesame Street-themed 3D show and another called Animation Celebration 3D. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure) and Transformers: The Ride (Singapore and Hollywood) combine 3D film with a moving ride vehicle and full-scale sets.
- Affectionate Parody: The Simpsons Ride and its Krusyland setting, which parody not only the Disney Theme Parks but Sea World, Six Flags and themselves.
- All-Star Cast: Most of the movie-based attractions incorporate the original performers from the films to varying degrees, and since said movies are generally extremely popular and have very famous stars...
- All There in the Manual: Even more than at Disney parks, breezing through the queues for most of the continuously-loading big-league rides (as opposed to film-based attractions, like the 3D movies and The Simpsons Ride, where preshows are mandatory) means missing a lot of information that is required to understand them, as well as a lot of jokes and even boarding/safety instructions.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: At Islands of Adventure, Seuss Landing and to a lesser extent Toon Lagoon for the Disney Theme Parks' Toontown areas.
- Ancient Tomb: The setting of Revenge of the Mummy. In the Florida version, it's supposed to be a film set, but...
- The Artifact: There is a large amphitheater in Toon Lagoon (Islands of Adventure), that was only used the first few years of operation and around the opening of the Harry Potter pavillion. It sits empty today.
- BFG: The tour guide of the Jaws ride conveniently happens to be carrying a grenade launcher.
- Blue Man Group: In Orlando, a permanent production serves as stand-alone entertainment at CityWalk; this is Universal's answer to Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney complex hosting Cirque Du Soleil's La Nouba.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Rides that use this principle on its vehicles include Men in Black Alien Attack, The Cat in the Hat, and Storm Force Accellatron (the latter two are Islands of Adventure attractions).
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Every Universal park has their own Jurassic Park ride or section. Universal Studios Florida has A Day in the Park with Barney as well.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: The now sadly closed ride JAWS main antagonist was well....a shark.
- Expanded Universe: Many attractions qualify as this to their source material. Shrek 4D is canon, explaining how Shrek and Fiona made it to the honeymoon hotel.
- Mouse World: An American Tail's use of this trope is the basis for a playground at Universal Studios Florida—the park visitors are the "mice" sliding down a "sewer pipe" (waterslide), scampering under a giant ten-gallon hat, etc.
- Public Domain Character: The Lost Continent is notable as the only area of Islands of Adventure to be based around these, drawing on Classical Mythology (Poseidon's Fury!) and the Arabian Nights (The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad). Originally, a key section of this land was "Merlinwood", inspired by the King Arthur mythos, but this was subsequently incorporated into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its two roller coasters were rethemed (Dueling Dragons to Dragon Challenge and The Flying Unicorn to Flight of the Hippogriff).
- The Rival: To the Disney Theme Parks.
- Scenery Porn: A key element of Islands of Adventure, from the general lush landscaping to tons of small visual details in shops, restaurants, and ride queues.
- Title: the Adaptation: Back to the Future—The Ride, Transformers: The Ride, etc.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Played for Laughs with Shrek's Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe.