Currently closed. Re-opening Saturday, May 21, 2016

Description And Comments

This is Universal Studios' big nighttime event, designed to cap off your day at the park. Shown on the lagoon in the middle of the park, the presentation runs through film clips and music from the first 100 years of Universal's biggest movies. The scenes are projected onto three enormous “screens” made by raining a curtain of water from a frame into the lagoon (similar to Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios). Fireworks, lasers, and colored lights are also used to good effect throughout the presentation, which is narrated by God himself (actually Morgan Freeman, but lots of people make that mistake). It's an enjoyable way to end your day at the park.

The show premiered in May 2012, with reviews generally either mixed or positive. This mother of two had a positive experience:

My family really enjoyed the show. It didn't have the same emotional impact as [Disney's] Wishes, but it was entertaining. There were so many great movies we hadn't thought about in ages! I wouldn't make a special trip to see it, but it was nice to have a night event to end the day. We'll definitely stay for the Cinematic Spectacular on our next trip.

If you’ve been experiencing USF attractions throughout the day, you’ve already been exposed to many of the characters and memorable scenes spotlighted in the nighttime show. Reliving them again so soon may seem redundant, though there are dozens of films referenced that aren't otherwise honored in the parks; sharp-eyed viewers will catch fleeting references to cult favorites like Mallrats and Army of Darkness.

The main complaint we have with Cinematic Spectacular, and for that matter with Disney's Fantasmic! and World of Color is that the "stirring movie montage" idea is now found in so many places that there's little difference between any studio's implementation. Every park's montage has the same predictable narrative arc: first show clips and witty dialog from your most memorable and recent movies. Transition to something sensitive to remind us we're all human. Then introduce an action sequence that covers the whole "good versus evil" battle. Show the good guys win amidst a bunch of pyrotechnics and roaring fountains. We're pretty sure that you could swap the film clips from Disney's Great Movie Ride with Universal's Cinematic Spectacular, and 90% of the audience wouldn't know or care.

Touring Tips

The best viewing spot is in Central Park directly across the lagoon from Richter's Burger Co., where the sidewalk makes a small protrusion into the water. Because acquiring a spot here can be difficult during peak season, we recommend arriving up to 45 minutes ahead of time; in slower seasons you can stroll up five or ten minutes prior. Other good spots found in the seating area behind Duff Brewery in World Expo, the dock behind Richter's Burger Co. in San Francisco, and the waterfront embankment in front of Diagon Alley. Wherever you plant yourself, make certain that you have a straight-on view of at least one water screen; they can be seen equally well from either side. The MEN IN BLACK end of the lagoon is not recommended for viewing, but the terraced area near Mel's Drive-In at the opposite end affords a good look at the lasers and fireworks.

Before the show begins, realize that not all of the movie clips may be suitable for young viewers. The horror montage, for example, mixes excerpts from hoary black-and-white monster movies with potentially fright-inducing clips from films like The Birds, Halloween, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, and Tales from the Crypt.

Finally, just as Disney does with Fantasmic!, Universal offers a dinner package for Cinematic Spectacular. As of now the only restaurant option is Lombard's Seafood Grille; the cost is $45 for adults and $13 for kids, including tax and tip. After the meal you'll have access to an special seating area to watch the show. It's a decent option if you're in the mood for seafood and were going to see the show anyway. Reservations are required and can be made online (here's the link) or by calling 407-224-7554 (7:30 am to 10 pm Eastern Monday through Saturday, and until 9 pm on Sunday).

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Touring Plans with Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 Years of Movie Memories

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