Movies have always been one of my favorite escapes. For a few hours, you can disappear into the screen and forget anything else exists. I think we’ve all wished we could literally escape into our favorite movies…That’s where Universal’s Great Movie Escape at Universal CityWalk comes in.
At this uniquely interactive experience, you can choose from two separately ticketed, hour-long adventures: Jurassic World: Escape and Back to the Future: OUTATIME. As you solve clues, you’ll be a part of the story of two of the most iconic movie franchises. And that’s exactly what TJ Mannarino, Vice President, Entertainment Art & Design had in mind when designing the experience: “In both escape experiences a lot of the graphics and audio segments are pulled right from the films. We were able to get objects that were actually used in the movies and create a story around them.”
It doesn’t get more authentic than that!
Nate Stevenson, Show Director, Entertainment Art & Design, and also part of the talented team behind this attraction, adds that it was all about teamwork. “We have incredible partners at Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment who allowed us to create new characters within the canon of their stories and weave them into the challenges of the escape adventure plot.”
Now the question is: Which escape experience do you do first? (Spoiler Alert: you’ll want to do both!) Read on to find out all the details.
PRO TIP: While you don’t have to be a “Back to the Future” or “Jurassic World” expert to enjoy this experience, you’ll get the most out of it if you watch/rewatch both trilogies.
THE ENTRANCE AND LOBBY
If you’re into art deco, you’ll love the blue and gold marquee outside this attraction. In fact, the whole lobby pays tribute to the beginnings of Hollywood, hearkening back to the dawn of Universal Pictures more than a century ago. All of the artwork you’ll see on the walls is directly from Universal Pictures’ archives. Speaking of movies, if you’re a film-history buff you’ll want to test your knowledge with trivia questions projected on a screen within a proscenium-style stage frame, another nod to old Hollywood.
PRO TIP: Pay attention to the music. Throughout the lobby, you’ll hear period music from the turn of the 20th century. And then when you go to each escape experience, you’ll be immediately transported by the unforgettable soundtracks for “Back to the Future” and “Jurassic World.” Nothing sets the scene like music!
If you arrive early to everything like me or if you want to relive the incredible adventure you just had, there is exclusive Universal’s Great Movie Escape merchandise for you to take home. There are also two bars to hang out at, one on the first floor where you walk in and another on the second floor. Both have themed drinks, including cocktails and nonalcoholic beverages. If you’re craving a snack, they’ve got packaged goodies like candy and nuts. And you don’t need to purchase the experience to enjoy the drinks and bar atmosphere!
PRO TIP: Enjoy your drink or snack on the balcony to get a fantastic view of CityWalk. It’s a prime people-watching spot!
And because we know how time traveling and escaping dinosaurs can work up an appetite, you can head to one of the restaurants in CityWalk before calling it a night. I recommend Bigfire, Vivo, or Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Kitchen. But make sure you have reservations!
JURASSIC WORLD: ESCAPE
As a pint-sized dinosaur nerd who knew how to spell names like pachycephalosaurus and deinonychus from an early age, I immediately fell in love with “Jurassic Park.”
So, imagine my delight when I found out about Jurassic World: Escape. The experience takes place during the first “Jurassic World” movie inside a secret Ingen lab on Isla Nublar. You’re a newly promoted geneticist being trained for your first day as you take on challenges involving bioengineering and dinosaur nutrition. “Our entire experience runs beat for beat with the first film, but then, of course, as things start to go wrong in the film, they start to go wrong in the room”, shares Nate Stevenson. Suddenly alarms start blaring, alerting you that one of the lab’s big, scaly experiments has escaped. You might say the dinosaur dung is about to hit the fan.
If you think you can make a quick getaway, think again. You’ll have to take charge of the control room to help guests who are trying to escape from an island full of giant, rampaging dinosaurs while you’re being stalked by one of the fiercest predators to ever live. I know, that’s a lot to ask for on your first day at Ingen!
PRO TIP: You’ll not only be helping guests out, but also rescuing dinosaur embryos. The dinosaurs you’ll be saving will be different each experience.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: OUTATIME
I’ve always been a huge fan of anything involving time travel and have lost track of how many times I’ve watched the “Back to the Future” trilogy. I also have fond childhood memories of going with my family on the now-retired Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios Florida.
Now your first question is probably: What year does this take place? Seeing as time travel is involved, there’s no simple answer. But you’ll start off in 1993, after the events of the “Back to the Future I–III.” You’re about to visit a new wing of the Institute of Future Technology, a museum dedicated to Doc Brown’s chronological innovations. But one of his newest inventions, the Portable Flux Emitter, that enables you to time-travel instantly, has been stolen by none other than Biff Tannen, who’s out to sabotage the timeline for his own benefit. Again. And you know that when Biff is involved, times are definitely not changing for the better! Now it’s up to you to search the museum displays to find the flux emitter prototype and chase Biff through the past, present and future before you’re outatime. Great Scott! “We definitely captured a lot of the three films, especially the aspect of how time can change by the smallest kind of adjustments,” says TJ Mannarino.
PRO TIP: Keep your eye out for easter eggs from the films throughout the museum and let us know in the comments below which ones you find!
FUN FOR EVERYONE
Gurgling babies and antsy toddlers aside, kids and adults alike can have a blast uncovering clues and moving the story forward at Universal’s Great Movie Escape. “Every scene has something for those who like the more complicated part of the puzzle and for a kid or somebody who doesn’t really want to participate in the heady stuff,” says TJ Mannarino.
WHY YOU’LL WANT TO ESCAPE AGAIN AND AGAIN
At Universal’s Great Movie Escape, the experience is different every time you go. “We randomized the experience and we also have different stages to our challenges,” describes Nate Stevenson. “Every stage that you unlock marks a new part of the story, and sometimes even unlocks new challenges that you haven’t seen before.” So, when you tell your friends and family how much fun you had, and then inevitably they’ll want to do it too, you can still join them for a fresh adventure. It’s also an incredible way to bond. “Even though you might be doing different aspects of the activity, you’re doing it together and you’re sharing in the ultimate goal,” says Nate. “At the end you find that you really have an experience that you want to talk about.”
Get yourself over to Universal’s Great Movie Escape ASAP and let us know in the comments below what your favorite part is!