Universal Orlando started 2012 claiming this was the “Year To Be Here” and the Orlando theme park was right on the money with that one as they ushered in new rides, shows, experiences and fun that guest’s couldn’t get enough of. As we begin our wrap of 2012 let’s take a look back at Universal and their “Year To Be Here.”

Blue Man Group – Universal kicked off the “Year To Be Here” campaign in February with a revamped Blue Man Group show. Similar to the original, the show added new props including oversized iPads and a new finale that let the “blue men” pelt audiences with inflatable balls.

Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf – Also in February, CityWalk added a 36-hole mini golf course inspired by the classic drive-in movie era and 1950’s B-movies. Guests are able to putt their way through two 18-hole courses including “The Haunting of Ghostly Greens” based on the horror genre and “Invaders From Planet Putt,” which offers a glimpse into the sci-fi movie genre.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – Just a month later in March, Universal Studios re-opened the reanimated 4K version of the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. The new ride now features sophisticated 3D projection systems, a new music score and 3D “Spider-Vision” glasses that offer amazing color and clarity. They also let guests experience the hundreds of new details like the stitching on Spider-Man’s gloves.

Universal’s Superstar Parade – The park’s new daytime parade debuted in the Spring and offers floats based on Universal’s popular TV series and movies including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Despicable Me and Hop. The parade cruises through the streets of Universal, stopping occasionally for choreographed “show stop” street performances where more characters dance and interact with fans.

Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular – 100 Years of Movie Memories – Debuting around the same time as the Superstar Parade, this nightly show also pays tribute to Universal’s 100-year film career with clips from Universal’s most iconic films displayed on waterfall screens around the park’s lagoon. During Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, the show portrayed Universal’s most sinister movies to give guests an even greater scare with the fantastic light and water show.

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – “Despicable Me” fans got the ride of their lives this summer when the new 3D ride “Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem” opened at Universal Studios. Guests can now take a wild and wacky ride with Gru and his daughters, where you’ll be transformed into a Minion and forced to participate in a minion dance party!

Blastaway Beach – Wet ‘N Wild – This summer Wet ‘N Wild opened the largest family water play area in all of Florida. Blastaway Beach has its signature 60-foot sandcastle with loads of interactive fun, 15 slides, and two pools.  In short, it’s a lot of splashy fun in the sun!

Halloween Horror Nights – Beginning in September, Universal haunted guests with their annual Halloween Horror Nights. For the first time in history, the nation’s “best Halloween event” included haunted houses from popular TV series “The Walking Dead,” and video games and movies, “Silent Hill.” The scare fest also did away with “scare zones” leaving no place to hide from the vampires, beasts, warriors, prisoners, ghosts and goblins that roamed Universal’s streets.

What will Universal do in 2013? This year they already announced that Transformers the Ride 3D will be open by Summer 2013. You can find discounted tickets right here on Best of Orlando to find out for yourself what 2013 will bring!

Orlando, FL – 12/26/12