Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 years of Movie Memories
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular – 100 years of Movie Magic Image ©Universal

Tuesday night saw the official premiere of Universal Studios Florida’s newest nighttime lagoon show, the Universal Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories. Being relatively new to the Universal Orlando Resort parks, I had not seen past nighttime shows, but when I first heard about Cinematic Spectacular, I was excited to see it.

After two years of planning and executing, the Universal team, led by Show Director and writer Mike Aiello, have brought the movies to life. They found a new technology in Aqua Graphic Curtains, which provide a crystal clear backdrop for the movie projections. The images are viewable the same on both sides of the curtain – not in reverse. There are several of these curtains spread across the lagoon, flanked by fountains, which provide an additional canvas in some scenes, and color accents in others. Top it all off with Morgan Freeman narration, original movie soundtracks, and fireworks, and you’ve got a pretty good movie show. In fact, fans of Disney parks will probably feel like this the ending of the Great Movie Ride, on steroids. It was fun to spot favorite movies in the mix, and the scenes are up to date, with Battleship and Snow White and the Hunstman clips included. This is definitely a show you can see over and over and see something new each time. I love how you can stand at various points across the edge of the lagoon and see virtually the same show; you aren’t missing anything.

Let’s hear a bit more from Mike Aiello and see the Cinematic Spectacular from the Battery Park area of Universal Studios Florida:


I will admit that the E.T. part brought a tear to my eye, it’s hard to compete with those iconic scenes and swells of John Williams score. Overall, this show does what it says, celebrates 100 years of movie memories. It leaves you pumped about the history of movie-making, and Universal Pictures roll in that history. There were quite a few times I looked over to my husband as our favorite movies popped up, and over to my children as well, as their favorites appeared. Movies truly do unite us all and this show was a satisfying way to affirm that.

Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 years of Movie Memories
Overview of the lagoon with the various aqua screens. Image © Universal Studios


So many people rush to compare Disney Parks to Universal, and as someone that’s grown up going to Walt Disney World, I understand. However, after having visited the Universal Orlando Resort several times over the past months, I realize that there really is no comparison. Sure, they are competing for our tourist dollars and guest revenue, but Universal is a completely different experience, and stands on its own, with no “but Disney…” needed. Since all of my visits to the parks have been as invited media, I haven’t even gotten to experience all the attractions the parks have to offer, but I do know that I love looking at the authentic architecture in the New York and Hollywood sections of Universal Studios Florida, and the theming in Islands of Adventure is wonderful too. I look forward to when I can experience the rest of the parks but until then, I love the entertainment options I’ve seen so far. They are completely different than what Disney does daily – and that’s okay.

Be sure to check out the Cinematic Spectacular on your next visit and check out video from the new Superstar Parade before you visit too. Thanks to Universal for providing dinner and exclusive viewing of both shows for my family and me. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own – we loved both shows!