Theme parks are constantly changing, improving and evolving and the Universal Orlando Resort is no exception. Every year it seems like a ride or attraction is closed to make way for something new and even more amazing.
Attraction designers are constantly raising the bar with new attractions, combining old school thrills with the latest in technological advancement to keep the crowds coming back for more. And this is most evident by the two most recent roller coasters at Universal which include the Jurassic World VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
Following is a list of our favorite rides, shows and attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort that are gone but not forgotten.
Closed Rides, Shows & Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort
- Shrek 4D
- Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue
- Back to the Future The Ride
- Dragon Challenge
- Jimmy Neturon’s Nicktoon Blast
- The Blue Man Group
- TWISTER…Ride it Out
- The Eight Voyage of Sinbad
- Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular
Shrek 4D is the most recent closure which happened in spring 2022 to make way for a rumored attraction that will be themed after the Despicable Me movie franchise featuring Gru and his Minions.
The attraction allowed guests to team up with Shrek and Donkey to save the captured Princess Fiona from Lord Farquaad. The 4D technology was cutting edge when it first opened back in 2003 and it immersed the guests into the story. The story ends when Shrek, Donkey & Fiona are saved by the Dragon – then they are transported to the “Honeymoon Hotel”.
We will miss Shrek 4D but with the popularity of Despicable Me (and the lengthy wait times of existing Despicable Me attraction), we understand why Universal closed this attraction.
Guests got to be part of the action in Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride…Starring You! Along with Director Frank Kincaid (played by Christopher Walken) and Assistant Director Lonnie (who is a live Team Member), guests learn the behind the scenes of making movies.
The final act of the attraction is a subway train ride where guests are being movie extras as part of a scene of an actual earthquake. The subway roof collapses and a gasoline tanker truck falls before bursting into flames – the scene concludes with a flash flood which rushes down the station stairs.
While a little campy, Disaster! was a fun and enjoyable attraction for all age groups.
Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue
Every time the Endless Summer family sees Beetlejuice roaming Universal Studios Florida we tell him to bring back his show. Closed back in 2016, Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue was one of our favorite shows of any theme park in Orlando.
This live show featured your favorite classic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein and more) as well as plenty of 80’s mashup songs that included:
- Let’s Go Crazy – Price and the Revolution
- Walk Like and Egyptian – The Bangles
- Welcome to the Jungle – Guns & Roses
- Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurhythmics
The theater was demolished to make way for the Fast & Furious – Supercharged attraction. However, many of us long time Universal fans would prefer to have kept the existing attractions in place.
Back to the Future – The Ride
One of our favorite not retired rides is Back to the Future – The Ride. Unfortunately Mary, Doc and Biff were closed back in 2007 to make way for The Simpsons Ride and the entire theming of the Springfield area.
Similar to the current Simpsons Ride, Back to the Future – The Ride was a motion simulator which is a mini-sequel to the movie Back to the Future Part III. Guests board the “time machine” and accelerate to 88 miles to hour on an adventure to prevent Biff from causing havoc on the “space-time continuum”.
There are several places where guests can still find references to Back to the Future including the DeLorean and the Railroad Train. And Doc Brown even is found to roam the area at certain times – and he’s fun to talk with.
JAWS also originally opened back in 1990 and closed on January 2, 2012 to make way for Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This attraction was a fan favorite where guests board a tour boat for a scenic cruise in Amity Harbor when they find another tour boat that’s sinking, which is followed by a sharks fin emerges in the water.
The tour takes guests into the boathouse for cover when Jaws finally appears. After some pyrotechnics, Jaws meets his demise as he ends up biting a high voltage power line.
There are plenty of Jaws Easter eggs hidden throughout Universal include some recent additions in the all new Tribute Store that opened in May 2022. Make sure you check out it out.
One of the best roller coasters at Universal’s Islands of Adventure (IOA) was the Dragon Challenge. The Dragon Challenge was an inverted roller coaster (which means your feet hang down) which was formerly known as Dueling Dragons where two separate tracks, red and blue, ran at the same time.
This amazing coaster reached speeds of up to 60 miles per hour with a ride time of approximately two and one-half minutes. There were five inversions on each coaster with drops of 95 and 115 feet.
Dragon Challenge was one of the original attractions to open at IOA in 1999 and finally closed on September 4, 2017 to make way for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
Jimmy Neturon’s Nicktoon Blast
One of the early simulator rides was Jimmy Neturon’s Nicktoon Blast which, in fact, replaced the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera in 2003.
The attraction was based on the 2001 movie Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and it’s storyline takes place after the events shown in the film. Jimmy and his friends take the guests on a wild ride to prevent King Goobot from enslaving the earth by using Jimmy’s rocket creation, “The Mark IV”.
Jimmy Neturon’s was closed in August 2011 to make way for Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which is now one of the most popular rides at Universal Studios Florida.
Kongfrontation was part of Universal’s grand opening back in 1990 as one of the original park attractions. The ride takes guests on a tram car through Manhattan where they run into 39 foot tall Kong.
While it was replaced by the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster (one of our favorites at Universal), an all new Kong ride called Skull Island: Reign of Kong, opened back in 2016 with a modern day version to the reboot of the King Kong franchise movies.
Blue Man Group
Another of our favorite things to do when visiting the Universal Orlando Resort was to see the Blue Man Group. Located in Universal’s CityWalk, guests did not need a theme park ticket if they wanted to see the show.
Unfortunately after 14 straight years and more than 6,000 shows, the Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando closed in 2021 having never reopened after the pandemic. Fans will have to visiting them in Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and Boston to see their show.
At this time the theater remains vacant so hopefully Universal has grand plans for the 1,000 seat venue.
TWISTER…Ride it Out
Prior to the Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was TWISTER…Ride It Out. Based on the 1996 hit movie Twister, it replaced the former Ghostbuster Spooktacular in 1998 and ran for approximately 17 years.
In this fully indoor special effects attraction, guests feel like what is to be a storm chaser and get up close and personal with a simulated tornado (and a flying cow as well).
The Eight Voyage of Sinbad
Although the massive theater remains, The Eight Voyage of Sinbad closed back in 2018. There are a number of rumors of Universal’s plans for the site as it abuts the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, but nothing has been announced as of May 2022.
In this funny and zany live action stunt show, our hero Sinbad and his sidekick Kabob fight the evil witch Miseria and her ghouls to save Princess Amoura.
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular was one of our favorite nighttime shows with special effects including fireworks, fountains, lasers/lighting and clip of some of the best Universal movies. Replacing Universal 360: A Cinesphere Spectacular, this amazing show ran from 2021 to 2017 and was replaced by Universal’s Cinematic Celebration.
Narrated by actor Morgan Freeman, a number of Universal’s best movies are featured in the show including: E.T., Jaws, Apollo 13, Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, King Kong, Gladiator, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, American Pie, The Mummy, The Fast and the Furious, The Blues Brothers, Animal House, Field of Dreams and many, many more.
For us, the two best parts are the Minions from Despicable Me and Russell Crowe from Gladiator – “What we do in life, echoes in eternity”.