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Universal and Disney

Universal and Disney are intense rivals in the theme park industry - but that hasn't stopped Universal from referencing some of Disney's most famous rides in its own attractions.

Disney, for the most part, takes the "high ground" - refusing to acknowledge the existence of Universal in its own rides and shows, even those that are satirical in nature. But Universal has included jabs at Disney in a variety of attractions over the years. The next time you are at Universal Orlando or Universal Studios Hollywood, keep an eye out for these subtle (and not-so-subtle) Disney spoofs.

14. An unfortunate fairy (Shrek 4-D)

Tinkerbell has long been a fixture at Disney's theme parks, flying in at the end of fireworks displays and appearing on parade floats. Guests even have the chance to meet the charming little fairy. She's treated a little differently by Universal. The opening scene of Shrek 4-D sees a frog attempting to EATTinkerbell, who subsequently smashes into the theater wall.

13. The chase scene (Shrek 4-D)

Shrek 4-D (2)
Image © Universal Orlando Resort

Another scene in Shrek 4-D pays tribute to Star Tours - a classic Disney ride that Universal has itself attempted to one-up. Where Disney had collaborated with George Lucas, Universal paired up with Steven Spielberg to create its own motion simulator ride - Back to the Future: The Ride. The scene in question is a dragon chase through a narrow canyon, echoing Star Wars'famous Death Star attack.

12. The posters (Shrek 4-D)

Shrek 4-D

Image © Universal Orlando Resort

Look out for more Disney jibes in the posters outside Shrek 4-D, which poke fun at the Enchanted Tiki Room and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

11. The World's Fair pavilion (Men in Black: Alien Attack)

 Alien AttackDespite taking place on the opposite side of the country from Disneyland, the New York World's Fair in 1964/65 was a major event in Disney theme park history. Walt Disney produced four attractions for various different sponsors. These moved theme park technology forward, with innovations including a high capacity boat ride system (It's a Small World), audio-animatronics (Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Carousel of Progress) and the basis of a new transportation system (the Ford Magical Skyway). They provided new attractions for Disneyland, and also proved that East Coast audiences were keen on Disney's style of entertainment - laying the foundations for Walt Disney World. So, it's funny to see a mock pavilion from that very same World's Fair located at Universal Studios Florida. It houses Men in Black: Alien Attack, which is themed around a mock attraction dubbed "The Universe and You". Of course, this is also primarily a reference to an important location from the movie.

10. The Universe and You (Men in Black: Alien Attack)

The music that accompanies The Universe and You in Men in Black: Alien Attack's pre-show may sound a little familiar. That's because it's a very deliberate parody of the music that in-house Disney composer Buddy Baker composed for Tomorrowland in the 1950s. Universal Creative even went as far as to hire one of Baker's former protégés to help write it.

9. The Disneyland-style posters (Men in Black: Alien Attack)

 Alien Attack

There's another Disney reference in the queue line for Men in Black: Alien Attack. The posters are deliberate rip-offs of Disneyland posters from the 1950s. For example, the poster for the Sky Lounge is very similar to the poster for Disneyland's Skyway, while the poster for The Universe and You parodies that of former Tomorrowland attraction Space Station X-1.

8. A parody too far (Men in Black: Alien Attack)

It's a Small World

Image © Disney

When devising the concepts that eventually became The Universe and You, Universal Creative had originally proposed an even more direct spoof of a Disney attraction. This was to be dubbed "It's a Small Universe After All" - a not-very-discreet jab at It's a Small World. Universal's legal department, though, felt that this was a little to close for comfort. The idea was dropped, but you can still see a partially-obscured piece of concept art for "It's a Small Universe After All" on a bulletin board in the coffee room in the Men in Black: Alien Attack queue line.

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Comments

You missed some blatent Disney paraphrases in the queue at Jurrasic Park River Adventure where we "bioengineer" the magic. And in the words of our founder John Hammond "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing, that it all started with a mosquito"

I think it's during the "Sinbad" show; isn't there the sound of a cricket, who one of the characters fires a gun at (where the sound is coming from), and says something like, "I told you to shut up Jiminy."

In reply to by carlbarry (not verified)

That would be the Beetlejuice show, but that's definitely in there!

Beetlejuice? Oh, OK. I would have sworn Sinbad, with all those bad jokes.

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