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Universal Studios Orlando Live Shows And Entertainment

Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue

Universal Studios Orlando Shows

Beetlejuice's Rock n Roll Graveyard Review takes place in a large outdoor amphitheater in the San Francisco section of Universal Studios. The show runs about four times throughout the day and lasts for about 20 minutes or so. As implied by its name, it's a musical review with monsters as performers.

Folks with a Universal Express Pass (Universal's equivalent of Disney's Fast Pass) are seated starting 30 minutes before show time while other visitors are allowed in 15 minutes before the show starts. Music with monster and horror themes plays during this preshow period. During my December visit the music was "horror takes on Christmas" and was absolutely awesome. Had the soundtrack been available I would have purchased it on the spot. I particularly liked the dry humor of "We Wish You'd Bury the Missus."

The show proper begins with a mummy in a sarcophagus giving an introduction. The mummy actually performs in sign language as well as verbally which is pretty cool. In addition, some of the shows have a sign language interpreter sitting just in front of the stage.

After the introduction, Beetlejuice appears and acts almost like a late night talk show host performing a monologue. He's a bit raunchy and tells a lot of bad jokes, but he also herds other characters around, prods for audience reactions, and even sings an infrequent line or two.

The main performers are Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, and "backup babes" Hip and Hop. They appear on stage one at a time, but once they make their first appearance remain on stage for the rest of the show. Most numbers involve most of the cast with one or two characters taking the lead role in each song and the others acting as backup singers.

The show starts a little slowly but gets very good very quickly. Most of the music consists of new versions or parodies of hit songs from the late 70s or early 80s. The songs include "Jump", "BJ" ("Mickey"), "Frankie's Girl" ("Jessie's Girl"), "It's Raining Men", "I Will Survive", and "Dancing in the Dark" among others. The costuming is fun and reasonably appropriate for the characters involved; they're sexed up a bit but still true to the personalities and traits we associate with vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein. The choreography is also fun but the Wolfman seemed a lot looser and less professional than others. At first I wasn't sure if that was because the actor wasn't as good or if actor seemed not as good because of poor choreography or both. When I returned for another show on a different day and had a different cast, I determined the choreography was mainly at fault. The second Wolfman was better but still exhibited many of the problems I had with the first.

The cast appears to rotate on a daily basis. In general, the first cast I saw was better than the second. That Dracula had a great voice and great moves. The Bride of Frankenstein was excellent in "I Will Survive." I still enjoyed the second cast, but the first show was much better. In addition to the cast differences, there were also minor changes between the different shows. I guess cast members have a little leeway in how they perform the acts.

Although there are a few weak moments in the show, it's one of the better live shows I've seen. I really enjoyed the theatrics and the loud rock music. The atmosphere is fun and there's lots of seating. Beetlejuice can go over the top at times and the show differs from day to day which means you can't know exactly what to expect, but these are minor problems. The bigger problem is that the show only runs a few times a day so you really have to plan to catch one. That's a common problem at Universal Studios, but still irritating. This show is worth the effort, though.

The Blues Brothers® Show

A walk down Delancy Street in the New York section of Universal Orlando may yield one of the most enjoyable live shows you'll find in any theme park.

The Blues Brothers Show

Growing up together in a Rock Island City orphanage, Jake and Elwood learned the blues at a young age from their friend Curtis, the friendly orphanage janitor. He taught Jake to belt out the tunes while Elwood learned to play a mean blues harp.


Now Jake and Elwood – wearing their trademark dark suits, porkpie hats and matching sunglasses – take the stage every day at Universal Studios®, accompanied by the vocal talents of Mabel the waitress and her sax-playing lesser half, Jazz. The Blues Brothers may have left the Windy City behind, but they've brought with them the high energy music and attitude that is distinctively "Chicago."
The Blues Brothers perform regularly throughout the day, covering the songs made popular by the original "Jake and Elwood" (John Belushi and Dan Akroyd). And while the two lead performers do a great job, the real showstopper is the warm up act.
Growing up together in a Rock Island City orphanage, Jake and Elwood learned the blues at a young age from their friend Curtis, the friendly orphanage janitor. He taught Jake to belt out the tunes while Elwood learned to play a mean blues harp.

A Day in the Park with Barney

Join the world's most popular purple dino-star, Barney, in his Super-Dee-Duper™ attraction — A Day in the Park with Barney.

A Day in the Park with Barney

According to the publicity, Universal’s Barney attraction is the only place in the United States where you can see Barney “live.” For some people, that may be one place too many. But for his legions of adoring wee fans and the parents who love them, this show will prove an irresistible draw. Even old curmudgeons will grudgingly have to admit that the show’s pretty sweet.

The first tip-off that this is a kiddie show is the fact that it’s the only attraction at Universal with its own stroller parking lot. And it’s usually full. After the young guests have availed themselves of Mom and Dad’s valet parking service, they enter through a gate into Barney’s park, complete with a bronze Barney cavorting in an Italianate fountain.

When the show begins, we are all ushered into a stand-up pre-show area where Mr. Peekaboo and his gaudy bird friend Bartholomew put on a singing, dancing warm-up act that wouldn’t be complete unless the audience got splashed. Then, using our imaginations, we pass through a misty cave entrance sprinkled with star dust to enter the main theater.

Inside is a completely circular space cheerfully decorated as a forest park at dusk. Low benches surround the raised central stage, but old fogies may want to make for the more comfortable park benches against the walls. The sight lines are excellent no matter where you sit, although Mr. Peekaboo reminds us that once we’ve chosen a seat we must stay there for the entire show.

The show is brief and cheery and almost entirely given over to sing-alongs that are already familiar to Barney’s little fans. Barney is soon joined by Baby Bop and B.J. and the merriment proceeds apace, complete with falling autumn leaves, a brief snowfall, and shooting streamers. By the end, the air is filled with love — literally.

One particularly amusing point is that the stage crew has little to clean up after the show. The kids are remarkably efficient in policing up the fallen leaves and streamers. Now if only we could get them to do that back home!

True star that he is, Barney stays behind after the show for a well-organized meet and greet session with his young admirers that lets each tyke have a special moment and a photo with the lovable guy. A few of the kids seem overawed to be so close to this giant vision in purple.

The theater audience empties out into Barney’s Backyard, which is the day-care center of your dreams. Here, beautifully executed by Universal scenic artists, is a collection of imaginative and involving activities for the very young, from making music to splashing in water, to drawing on the walls. For parents who are a bit on the slow side, there are signs to explain the significance of what their kids are up to. A sample: “Young children have a natural inclination towards music [which] encourages the release of stress through listening and dancing.” Duh!

Barney’s Backyard is where little kids get their revenge. Whereas many rides in the park bar younger children on the basis of height, here there are activities that are off limits to those over 48 inches or even 36 inches. Kids will love it. Grown-ups will wish there were more of it.

Tip: This wonderful space has a separate entrance and you don’t have to sit through the show to get in here. Keep this in mind if the family’s youngest member needs some special attention or a chance to unwind from the frustrations of being a little person in a big person’s amusement park.

Animal Actors On Location!

Animal Actors On Location!

There's no doubt about it, the world is going to the dogs (and cats and birds and pigs and orangutans) at Universal Studios. Animal Actors On Location! is your chance to see some of the most talented stars from movies and television perform without a script… which is not surprising, because animals can't read!


This awww-inspiring spectacle shows off the handiwork of Universal’s animal trainers and their furry and feathery charges. It’s all done with the droll good humor and audience participation that characterize all of Universal’s shows. Volunteers are pulled from the audience to serve as foils for several amusing routines


The show alternates between live action on stage and video footage on a large overhead screen showing clips of animal actors in a surprising variety of films, from comedies to horror flicks. In one especially fascinating segment, we learn how birds can be filmed in flight using a large fan and some trick camera work.

Just which animals you see will depend to some extent on which “stars” are available when you visit. But you can probably count on a display by a well-trained if slightly mercenary bird and a bit that uses a child volunteer from the audience. If you’re lucky, an orangutan will provide comic relief.

In between the fun and games, the show sneaks in a few points about the serious business of producing “behaviors” that can be put to use in films. Most interestingly, when an animal balks at performing a trick, the trainer doesn’t merely gloss over the rough spot and get on with the show. Instead, he works patiently with the animal until the behavior is performed correctly. We learn that what for us is light entertainment is serious business for the folks (both two- and four-legged) on the stage.

The best seats in the house. There really are no bad seats for this one. However, if you’d like a shot at serving as a landing strip for that mercenary bird, try sitting in the middle of the middle section.

Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show

Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show

Take a close-up look at what goes into – and oozes out of – some of Hollywood's strangest creatures

How to take something gory, gruesome, and downright disgusting and turn it into wholesome, funny family fare? Universal has solved the problem with this enjoyable (not to mention educational) foray into the ghastly art of make-up and special effects for the horror genre. The key is a horror make-up “expert” with a bizarre and goofy sense of humor who is interviewed in a studio make-up lab by an on-stage host and straight-man. During a laugh-filled 25 minutes, our expert leads us through a grisly show-and-tell of basic horror movie tricks and gimmicks. It’s a roaring success that many call “Universal Studios’ best-kept secret.”

source:youtube user:dolbymants

Tip: The subject matter is undeniably gross and the performers are given fairly wide latitude to ad-lib. Some people may find either the subject matter or the humor (or both) beyond the bounds of good taste. The easily offended, then, should give this show a miss. Universal rates it PG-13.

Using the inevitable volunteer from the audience (to very amusing effect), we learn how harmlessly dull knifes can be made to leave bloody trails on bare human flesh and, thanks to video projected onto two screens, we get a brief history of extreme makeup from Lon Chaney to modern masters Tom Savini and Rick Baker. Also on hand are mechanical werewolf heads like those used for the still stunning transformation scene in An American Werewolf in London. The show ends with a preview of a new, remotely controlled monster and yet another dirty trick played on a “volunteer.”

This show actually instructs while it entertains. Everyone will have a keener understanding of basic horror effects, and young children will be sternly warned about the importance of safety at all times. (“Don’t do this at home . . . Do it at a friend’s house!”)

The waiting area for this show is the lobby of the Pantages Theater, where you can peruse memorabilia displays from Universal’s horror-movie history while waiting for the show to begin.

This is the best show at Universal and it just seems to get better and better every year. The performers, all skilled improvisers, play off the audience, making every show slightly different and rewarding repeat visits.

The best seats in the house. If all you want to do is enjoy the show, the oft-repeated Universal refrain is absolutely true — every seat’s a good seat. Exhibitionists hoping to be selected as a volunteer should be aware that the performers have a predilection for young women seated in the middle, close to the stage.