Looks like you’ve stumbled through the Mouse Hole into enemy territory!


Have a look around that “other resort”…just don’t tell Walt.

July 29, 1981: Executives from MCA Inc., the one-time parent company of Universal Studios in Hollywood, hold a meeting with Paramount Pictures leadership to showcase plans for a proposed movie-studio attraction in Central Florida and possibly broker a partnership in the endeavor. In attendance is Paramount president Michael Eisner, who announces five years later as Walt Disney Company Chairman (in his very first meeting with stockholders) his intentions of building a similar attraction. He is immediately accused of stealing the majority of MCA’s conceptual plans and crafting a hasty initiative to “one up” the competition. The accusations are made public in 1989 as Disney readies for the opening of Disney-MGM Studios, but the damage has already been done. Disney opens their attraction thirteen months ahead of Universal Studios Florida, igniting a “Cold War” of sorts in the theme-park hotbed of Orlando that persists to this day.

December 9, 1986: MCA Inc. formally announces at a press conference in Orlando their decision to move forward with revised plans for a movie-studio attraction in Florida, despite Disney’s “head start.”

December 1989: Universal Studios Florida’s end-of-year opening date gets bumped back to May of the following year, and then again to June, due to construction delays.

Pre-opening informational brochures

Pre-Opening Supplement

Advertising supplement to the Sunday, June 3, 1990 edition of The Orlando Sentinel, celebrating the opening of Universal Studios

June 7, 1990: Universal Studios Florida opens to the public with the following thirteen attractions:

  • Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies
  • Animal Actors Stage
  • Dynamite Nights Stunt Spectacular
  • Earthquake: The Big One
  • E.T. Adventure
  • The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera
  • Ghostbusters Spooktacular
  • Jaws
  • Kongfrontation
  • The Phantom of the Opera Horror Make-Up Show
  • Murder She Wrote Mystery Theatre
  • Nickelodeon Studios
  • Production Tour

All opening-day attractions as advertised in park informational brochures

May 2, 1991: Back to the Future: The Ride opens in the Expo Center area of the park.


The hit attraction as it appeared in a 1991 informational brochure

“Save the Clock Tower” flyer hand-signed by Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells)

BTTF Press Photo

Original Back to the Future press photo featuring one of the most iconic scenes of the film

July 4, 1991: The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show comes to town (Amity, to be specific).

October 1991: The first-ever Halloween Horror Nights is held.

Souvenirs from the park’s first year of operation: (left-to-right) guidebook; notepad/stationery; Kongfrontation attraction photo folder

May 1992: Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue debuts in place of An American Tail Theater in the San Francisco section of the park, while a few streets over in Hollywood, Lucy: A Tribute opens its doors to guests.

April 27, 1996: T2-3D: Battle Across Time opens in the Hollywood section of the park.


1996 park ticket

May 4, 1998: Twister…Ride It Out replaces New York’s Ghostbusters Spookatcular.


Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt (and a flying cow or two) arrive on the streets of New York

March 13, 1999: With the arrival of Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, the surrounding family-friendly attractions (Fievel’s Playland, A Day in the Park with Barney, Curious George Goes to Town) are re-branded as Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone.

May 28, 1999: Universal’s Islands of Adventure opens as the resort’s second theme park with six themed islands (Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing), home to the following twenty attractions:

  • Island Skipper Tours
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Pandemonium Cartoon Circus
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Me Ship, The Olive
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
  • Camp Jurassic
  • Pteranodon Flyers
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Jurassic Park Discovery Center
  • Triceratops Encounter
  • Dueling Dragons
  • Poseidon’s Fury: Escape from the Lost City
  • The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • The Cat In The Hat
  • If I Ran The Zoo
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

The attractions of Universal’s newest park, as advertised by an early promotional brochure

Opening-day “Adventure Guide”

Islands of Adventure Comic Book

Special-release comic book to celebrate the opening of Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park: three origin stories for each of the area’s three Marvel Universe attractions

Adventure Guides featuring the stars of Marvel Super Hero Island

May 28, 1999: The resort’s shopping and dining district, known as CityWalk, also debuts adjacent to the two theme parks. The expansion prompts a name-change to the resort, Universal Studios Escape, which is discarded two years later for Universal Orlando Resort.

September 1999: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel opens as the first guest accommodations on property.

April 14, 2000: Men in Black: Alien Attack opens in Universal Studios Florida’s World Expo.


“Here come the Men in Black”

May 28, 2000: Storm Force Accelatron opens in IoA’s Marvel Super Hero Island.

January 19, 2001: The Hard Rock Hotel becomes the second resort on Universal property.

June 2002: Loews Royal Pacific Resort opens.

April 11, 2003: Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast bids goodbye to The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.

June 12, 2003: Shrek 4-D replaces Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies.


Shrek 4-D guidemap cover

May 21, 2004: Revenge of the Mummy moves into Kong’s old neighborhood in Universal Studios Florida.


Guidemap cover reflecting USF’s newest addition

June 3, 2005: Fear Factor Live opens, replacing The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show.

June 22, 2006: Originally planned as an opening-day attraction, the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride finally debuts in IoA’s Seuss Landing.

July 1, 2006: Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular takes over for Dynamite Nights Stunt Spectacular as the nightly fireworks show.

May 31, 2007: Universal announces that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Islands of Adventure.Hogwarts Letter

Hogwarts Letter signed by renowned Harry Potter graphic-design team MinaLima

January 17, 2008: Disaster! replaces Earthquake in the San Francisco area of Universal Studios Florida.

May 15, 2008: The Simpsons Ride opens within the Springfield addition to World Expo in Universal Studios Florida.


Guidemap cover marking the Springfield expansion

August 19: 2009: The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit debuts in Universal Studios Florida.

June 18, 2010: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens in Islands of Adventure with three major attractions: the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the high-speed coaster Dragon Challenge, and the family coaster Flight of the Hippogriff.

Opening-day guidemap

December 6, 2011: Universal publicly confirms that a second phase of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to be constructed in Universal Studios Florida.

January 2, 2012: Jaws closes to make way for the new Harry Potter expansion.Jaws SignedJaws movie poster signed by “Chrissie” (actress Susan Backlinie), the shark’s first victim in the iconic film

May 8, 2012: Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Making Movies premieres in the park’s center lagoon, replacing Universal 360.

July 2, 2012: Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ousts Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast.

June 20, 2013: Transformers: The Ride takes over Soundstage 44, former home of the Murder She Wrote Mystery Theatre, and for a brief two-and-a-half year stint beginning in the summer of 1997, Hercules and Xena: Wizards of the Screen.

In the year’s after The Wizarding World’s opening, all new attractions were forced to share billing with the Boy Wizard 

August 11, 2013: Springfield welcomes Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl.

March 31, 2014: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort becomes the fourth on-site hotel.

Hotel map and dining brochure

July 8, 2014: The second phase of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter debuts in Universal Studio Florida with Diagon Alley. The area’s signature attraction is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s, while the new Hogwarts Express transports guests between King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade.

Opening-day guidemap

Wizarding World souvenirs: (left-to-right) Guidemaps for the interactive wand experiences in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley; The Quibbler; Gringotts Bank Note; Hogwarts Express tickets; Butterbeer cup sleeve; informational brochure

July 7, 2016: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort opens to the public as Universal’s fifth on-site hotel.

July 13, 2016: Skull Island: Reign of Kong opens as the centerpiece attraction of IoA’s second expansion island, bringing the park’s total up to eight.

Kong makes his triumphant return to the Universal Orlando Resort

April 6, 2017: Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon arrives in Universal Studios Florida, replacing Twister…Ride It Out.

Jimmy Fallon

The Tonight Show comes to USF

May 25, 2017: The resort’s first water park, Volcano Bay, begins operation.

April 23, 2018: Fast and Furious: Supercharged replaces Disaster! in Universal Studio Florida’s San Francisco section.


Guidemap cover celebrating the arrival of the park’s newest attraction

July 16, 2018: Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration debuts in Universal Studios Florida.

August 16, 2018: Universal’s Aventura Hotel begins welcoming guests.

June 13, 2019: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opens in Islands of Adventure, replacing Dragon Challenge.


Opening-day guidemap

June 27, 2019: Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites debuts as the property’s seventh hotel.

August 1, 2019: Universal’s Epic Universe is announced as the resort’s third gate at a press conference held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.