This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six MORE “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort. One of our favorite parts of both Universal and Walt Disney World are all the wonderful details that make these fully immersive theme parks stand out from everyone else. In our first look at Universal Easter eggs, we saw a pair of actual Mickey ears on Twister….Ride It Out!, the Jaws references in Diagon Alley, Dennis Nedry’s Barbasol can in Jurassic Park and more. Today we are going to look at six more details that even guests who has been to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure several times may not have noticed. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, keep your head on a swivel, and let’s start counting down…
# 6 – Back to the Future’s Doc Brown in The Simpsons Ride queue (USF)
There is absolutely nothing we like better in new attractions then when they pay tribute to the ones that they replaced. We love the hidden Nautilus in the rock work of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom, referencing the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride that was formerly in the area. Revenge of the Mummy in Universal Studios Florida has several images of King Kong during the ride, a tribute to Kongfrontation. In 2008, The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride, but it actually created a backstory for the change and put it inside the queue.
If you stand in line for The Simpsons Ride, you will notice televisions throughout playing classic clips from The Simpsons from episodes in which the family went to theme parks. But mixed in with the old videos are several pieces of new material, including one clip explaining how the Institute of Future Technology (the facade for Back to the Future: The Ride) became Krustyland (the facade for The Simpsons Ride.)
The story goes like this: Professor Frink (a science character on The Simpsons) wanted to know how the glorious Institute of Future Technology became a lowly theme park attraction, so jumped into the famous Delorean and headed into the past to find out. We then flash back to “two years ago,” and Doc Brown is about to get a small business loan to save the Institute. Unfortunately, Professor Frink arrives in the Delorean and runs over the bank executive before the deal can be signed, forcing Doc Brown to sell to Krusty the Clown.
The Simpsons Ride queue is one of the all time theme park greats. From larger than life theme park attraction posters spoofing Disney (including Captain Dinosaur’s Pirate Rip-Off: A ride so old it should be extinct!) and the new clips featuring the Simpsons (which hilariously take down subjects such as the high price of theme park food) and the two wonderful pre-shows inside the building, this is one queue you want to spend more time in, not less.
# 5 – Bumblebee (Generation One) in Transformers: The Ride 3-D (USF)
When Transformers: The Ride 3-D opened in 2013, it took the ride experience from The Amazing Adventures of Spdier-Man and brought it up to an “11.” But while we love its ingenious use of elevators and simulation of speed, one of our favorite parts of the entire ride is the small tribute to Bumblebee from Transformers Generation One (G1.) You see, while the Michael Bay version of Transformers may make a ton of money at the box office, many of us grew up and fell in love with the G1 Transformers. The good old days when Megatron transformed into a weird hand gun, Soundwave into a cassette player (Millennials world wide are scratching their heads) and Bumblebee into a Volkswagon Beetle. That’s right, at the end of the Transformers ride, keep your eyes open for the yellow Volkwagon Beetle with a cleverly placed piece of debris covering up where the Autobot symbol would have been.
# 4 – The Backside of Lockers for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (IOA)
With the entire Universal Orlando Resort being in a renaissance when it comes to food options right now (The Cowfish, Fast Food Blvd, Leaky Cauldron, Mythos, Tchoup Chop, and Red Oven just to start), it’s hard to justify a trip to Comic Strip Cafe in Toon Lagoon. However, this quick service location features one of the most fun details in either park. One of the walls of the restaurant faces the lockers used by guests for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and if you go in the restaurant you can see “inside” the lockers with several nods to Universal properties. Lockers for Woody Woodpecker (the official mascot for the Universal parks), the Blue Man Group, the Cat in the Hat, Beetle Bailey, and Spider-man can be seen, as well as one with more than a passing reference to Disney’s Finding Nemo.
# 3 – Characters from Star Wars, The Simpsons, The Office, 3rd Rock From the Sun, and more in MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack. (USF)
One article anyone planning a trip to Universal needs to read is our “Secrets” of the Universal Orlando Resort, and one of those secrets is a tour of the Immigration Room at MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack. Besides being able to explore what almost looks like the set of the original Men In Black film, you will also see many little details hidden in the room. One of the main plot points of the MIB movie is that aliens have been traveling to Earth for years, many of them hidden among us. You will see paperwork for several aliens including Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Kang from The Simpsons, Creed Bratton from NBC’s The Office, Dick Solomon from 3rd Rock From the Sun and more.
# 2 – A Giant Skeleton Hanging in the Islands Trading Post (IOA)
Talk about hiding in plain sight. Even though it seems impossible to miss a GIGANTIC skeleton of a mythical creature hanging from a ceiling, many guests to the Islands Trading Post (the main gift shop at the front of Islands of Adventure) do not notice it. Nor do they see the large plaque behind the registers explaining the species. This is just one of many unbelievable details inside Port of Entry, pound for pound the best “Main Street” inside any American theme park.
Believe it or not, that’s not the only humongous skeleton in Port of Entry. Inside Confisco Grill there is a Triceratops skull hanging from the ceiling. The backstory of Confisco Grill is that it houses items that were confiscated from travelers of all various “islands” in Islands of Adventure, so throughout the restaurant there are artifacts from each island in the park (Marvel Superhero Island, Toon Lagoon, Seuss Landing, the Lost Continent and the Wizarding World.) The triceratops skull came from, you guessed it, Jurassic Park.
# 1 – Louis Agassiz Statue in Richter’s Burger Co. (USF)
When Universal Studios Florida made its debut in 1990, one of the opening day attractions was Earthquake: The Big One. Over the years the ride has morphed into the Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride…. staring YOU! but originally the attraction was completely based around the 1974 film Earthquake starring Charlton Heston. Richter’s Burger Co. is the quick service restaurant located in the San Francisco area of USF, right near Disaster, and is themed to the great 1906 earthquake. That particular earthquake killed around 3,000 people and was estimated to destroy over 80% of San Francisco. One of the more visually striking results of the earthquake was the upside down statue of the geologist Louis Agassiz. The statue was originally on top of Stanford’s zoology building, but was toppled over and planted head-first into the ground. Richter’s has recreated the statue and placed it at the entrance to the restaurant, full size to boot!
There are several references to the actual statue in California on the walls of Richter’s Burger Co.
It is worth walking through Richter’s if only to see the era-appropriate theming on the walls (although it also contains a reference to Back to the Future’s Doc Brown, tying back to our original Easter egg.)
So there you have it: Six MORE “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort. What we love about this series is that it may never end. We still have wonderful details such as Matt Groening in Springfield USA, Steven Spielberg in MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack, and many mores surprises in future articles.
See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, master photo manipulator Matt Cleary, My Face on a Figure’s Brandon Balasco, and Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire country to get one of these articles done. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. PRE-ORDER this baby now! (For every copy sold, a percentage of the profits* go towards buying a DVD of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video.)