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Universal Studios

This is the original Universal Studios Theme Park. The rides are based around movies from Universal Studios, although you don't need to have seen the film to enjoy the ride. It will take a very full day to cover the whole park, but as it is just next door to Islands of Adventure, you can walk between them both, so 3 days should be sufficient to cover both parks. Plan to spend a full day at each, with the final day shared between the two parks to recap the rides you enjoyed the best.

To make the most of your time, use the free Universal Express system. This is similar to the Fast Pass system used by Disney, and allows you to get a ticket which is printed with a time for you to return to the ride to join the express line which saves queueing for too long. You can only have one Express ticket running at a time, but once the time has expired, you can get another one, so if you're careful with your planning you can avoid queueing all day . If there are members of your party who do not want to go on a particular ride, you can even use their tickets to get a fast pass and ride it again!

Universal Studios has something for everyone. Most of the rides are more in the form of simulator rides and shows, so if you're looking for a white knuckle day, you might want to head next door to Islands of Adventure.

The main rides and shows include:

Terminator 2 Battle Across Time - you'll sit in a theatre to watch a 3D movie, but with live actors and special effects

Back to the Future - for anyone who ever wanted to own DeLorean Sports Car, you'll sit in one and go on a simulator journey into time. Watch if you sit in the back as you can bang your head.

Earthquake The Big One - Don't do this if you are claustrophobic. In outline you are travelling on a train when the station is hit by an earthquake. The special effects make this experience very real.

Twister - A special effects show showing how they put together some of the special effects used in films (although computer animation has probably replaced many of these techniques). Watch out for the flying cow.

Men in Black Alien Attack - A great ride (similar to Buzz Lightyear at Disney) in which you get to blast the aliens with your personal laser, and try to get the high score.

JAWS - The classic ride based on the jaws movie, although when the fibre glass shark lunges out of the water towrds your boat it isn't really realistic enough to scare today's savvy youngsters.

E.T. Adventure - a bike ride into the world of ET's home planet. It isn't scary, but I'm not sure that anyone who hasn't seen the film would understand why you would be riding a bicycle in the air with a small ugly alien

Animal Planet - a live show using trained animals to perform a variety of tricks

Shrek 4D - this is the newest ride and is a 3D film but with certain additional elements where the film "interacts" with the audience (hense the 4D). Great fun for all the family.

Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast - similar idea to Shrek 4D but based on the kid's cartoon character Jimmy Neutron. Although you sit in theatre style seats, they do bounce arround a bit, so if you suffer from a bad back or motion sickness, sit in the front row as these seats are stationary.

Finally, you can take a trip round the working set of Nickelodeon Studios where they make such cartoons as Jimmy Neutron and Sponge Bob Square Pants (don't worry if you don't know who they are, your kids will )

For details of opening times and special events, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

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