Universal Orlando celebrates 25 years

Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2015 8:43 AM | Contributed by Jeff

In the last 25 years, Universal Orlando has emerged from the shadow of its older sister park to forge its own identity celebrating the entertainment industry. It’s built thrilling roller coasters, incorporated the latest interactive technology into rides and in 2010 opened one of the most successful attractions in theme park history, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with a second Potter area added in 2014.

Read more from AP via The Tampa Tribune.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 8:48 AM

I still remember visiting during the soft opening in the summer of 1990. It literally had "new park smell." You weren't sure what was going to be open on any given day, which is probably why they were giving two-day tickets for the price of one. What was most remarkable for me, however, was not returning until 2001, after Islands of Adventure had opened. I couldn't believe that it was the same place. In fact, now with that perspective, it also makes you realize how little investment there was from 2000 to 2009. Vivendi in particular was a really terrible owner.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 10:01 AM

I actually started going when Vivendi owned it.I was sucked in by Buy 1 year annual pass get 2nd year free .I know they needed the money and by the time second year was up they did not own it anymore.I think the preferred was 169.00 (out of state) I bought 4 of them for my family.It was early 2000's, IOA was open but less than a year .

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 10:13 AM

I've only been there once, July 1996. Always wanted to go back, and probably wouldn't recognize the complex now.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:04 PM

I worked there for exactly one year in 2000/2001. It was an awesome place to work. Pretending fantasy was real was a huge part of the job. I plan on moving back to Orlando and working there after I retire.

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:04 PM
Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:48 PM

Then that would not be retiring...

Anyway, not too long after Universal opened we were down to Disney for a week and decided on one of our last evenings to drive down I Drive and we wound up in the Universal parking lot. We didn't go to the park but visited the original Hard Rock which I remember was in the shape of a huge guitar, with the bridge to the restaurant forming the neck. I also remember trying to see over the fence into the park. The Psycho house was very visible and looked so cool.

Fast forward to 2001 and a trip to Ft Lauderdale where I hit 400 bucks on one of those floating tuna boat Florida casinos. So I talked Jim into driving us up to Orlando for a day for our first visit to Islands of Adventure, my treat. I was shocked at how much the place had changed and to this day, try as I might, can't remember or place where any of that stuff that we saw on the first visit ever was. I know the Hard Rock building sat for a while there behind Curious George and E.T. but isnt it demolished now?

Once when flying out of Orlando I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a huge flying saucer on the ground. When we got closer I realized it was Universal's pedestrian hub, then recognized the walkways and the parking garages. Once again, the massiveness of it all was mind blowing.

So congratulations, Universal Orlando. As much as I love WDW, I love you too,... almost as much.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 8:17 AM

I do remember that original Hard Rock, and the crazy thing is that it's still there. The "neck" is gone (it would go into the Portofino parking lot), but you can see the building very obviously by the Woody Woodpecker coaster and E.T. It also served as a secondary entrance, which I recall entering through in 1990 when I walked over from our hotel. I want to say I saw the structure there that served as the entrance, but this was six years ago that I was looking there.

That time I walked over, Kongfrontation had been closed earlier in the day, and it just happened to open that night. I vividly remember that same entrance that now serves the Mummy, and the photo op where you could stand in Kong's hand. Oh, and the banana breath...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 11:21 AM

During my only visit, I had lunch at that Hard Rock restraunt, and remember its guitar shaped layout!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 3:45 PM

RCMAC said:

Then that would not be retiring...

I'm OK with the idea of retiring being "work as you want to" rather than "work because you need to."

Then again....

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 9:31 PM

I know plenty of retired people who work. My employer hires retired people for some positions. Universal and plenty of other amusement parks (like Dollywood, for example) hire retired people. I think it's just something some retired people have to do to make ends meet. Also, some people probably do it to alleviate loneliness.

I'm not going to be as lucky as some other people who got their crap together early in life. I'm probably going to have to work until the day I die. It's no biggie though. I'll probably enjoy it.

I'm saying that these people are retired from their careers, and they may want to work part-time somewhere to supliment their income, or to meet people and get out of the house.

Last edited by LostKause, Wednesday, December 30, 2015 9:32 PM
Thursday, December 31, 2015 9:21 AM

LostKause said:

I'm not going to be as lucky as some other people who got their crap together early in life.

I highly doubt most people who got their crap together early in life think that luck has anything to do with their quality of life post-retirement.

Friday, January 1, 2016 3:04 AM

Good point. And maybe that's part of my problem.

Friday, January 1, 2016 11:25 AM

Meh. Just to play the semantics game:
I'm in pretty good shape for retirement if I keep saving the way I am and anticipate being able to. Sure, part of that is discipline (not luck), but part of it is because my parents were able to get me through college without debt and help me out with the down payment on my first home (luck).

Friday, January 1, 2016 12:15 PM

College itself isn't a crushing debt problem forever... it just depends on when you went. I graduated in '95, with something like $18k in loans. And mind you, that was at the time one of the more expensive private schools in Ohio. My dad was able to help with a grand or two per year, but the rest was me. It was paid off in 2000. That said, my failing was in savings in general since that time, and then taking a bath on my first my house when I sold it a dozen years in. While you can't make up time, it's pretty striking what can you rack up quickly if your company has a 401k and you contribute as much as you can.

Friday, January 1, 2016 12:34 PM

And I still disagree greatly with Andy on what constitutes luck after all these years. :)

Friday, January 1, 2016 2:55 PM

I am lucky to have your wisdom.

Friday, January 1, 2016 3:27 PM

Who knows? My 401k is doing pretty well so far, and I'll have at least something for retirement. Even if it's enough for me to live well, I think I will want to work anyway though. I foresee that my elderly years may be potentially lonely. I really enjoy meeting new people everyday. That's my plans for now, even if I have enough to just sit around on the beach and do nothing.

As they say on CoasterBuzz, YMMV.


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