Throughout each month of every year, the creative talent at Universal Orlando work to create seasonal entertainment aimed to impress theme park goers. This endless cycle happens behind the scenes to produce fan favorites such as Halloween Horror Nights, Mardi Gras, and Macy’s Holiday Parade. Now for one full year, the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando has partnered with Universal for its second exhibit, this time following their day-to-day activities with the goal of inspiring today’s youth to become tomorrow’s artists.
The exhibit is called “A Year in the Life: Backstage to Onstage at Universal Orlando Resort,” now open through January 5, 2014. Beginning with a trip “backstage,” the exhibit takes visitors through a bit of history of how Universal Orlando helped shape the creative scene of Central Florida followed by a closer look at the 3-step process that Universal follows in making each of these annual special events come to life.
TJ Mannarino, Director of Art & Design for Universal Orlando Resort, offers an overview of the exhibit in the video below.
Video: Walkthrough of “A Year in the Life: Backstage to Onstage at Universal Orlando Resort”
The exhibit begins with a hallway collage displaying decades of Universal Orlando history dating back to the groundbreaking of both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure and continuing through the creation of each of the seasonal events. Video guides help introduce each section of the exhibit.
Highlights of the behind-the-scenes portions of the exhibit include walls lined with drawings, blueprints, and conceptual art from years of haunted house designs, show costumes, parade floats, and other scenic elements. Each offers a glimpse at how these varied forms of entertainment moves from paper to the parks across a year’s timeline.
Among the Halloween Horror Nights exhibits is an in-depth look at a “Psycho”-based maze from 1999, the event’s ninth year, including a design book to flip through and boards showing the layout, lighting, and special effects setup:
Though Halloween Horror Nights is an event intended for adults, the artwork behind it fascinates and inspires even young children, requiring talents from many different disciplines, from drawing to sculpting to painting to construction. With this in mind the new History Center exhibit concludes with a wall featuring a sampling of the many jobs that are available at Universal Orlando, providing kids with ideas for their futures.
One of the last rooms of the exhibit will change with the seasons, currently showcasing costumes from Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration but will later feature elements from summer events, Halloween Horror Nights, and Christmas time.
The exhibit will switch to summer mode in May, featuring elements from Universal’s Superstar Parade and Cinematic Spectacular, followed by a closer look at Halloween Horror Nights when summer ends and Macy’s Holiday Parade after Halloween is over.
The History Center will also be hosting a Mardi Gras Celebration this Saturday, February 2, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., offering opportunities to see the exhibit and create your own mask and jester hat to take home.
And the popular Entertainment Designer Forum will return to the History Center on March 8, bringing together creative talents from Universal Orlando as well as Disney, Busch Gardens, and more for two Q&A sessions and a silent auction of artwork and theme park memorabilia:
More information about the Entertainment Designer Forum will be available on their Facebook page in the coming weeks.
The “Backstage to Onstage” exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center is included with daily admission.
More photos from “A Year in the Life: Backstage to Onstage at Universal Orlando Resort”: