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COLUMN

Live Active Cultures

Seth gets a sneak peek at Universal Studios' new nighttime spectacular

For the former show, my favorite vantage point was the waterside dock behind Richter's Burgers, but the orientation of the new water screens makes that spot less optimal. For the preview, I perched in Central Park on the opposite side of the lagoon. Since the show's writer-director, Mike Aiello, showed up to watch from the same spot, I suppose I chose wisely. There the shoreline's curvature produces a panoramic picture; other excellent angles are found in Battery Park and near the Simpsons ride.

Cinematic Spectacular is a serious step up from its predecessor, and a welcome reason to stick around USF until closing time. Your emotional mileage may vary, but more than a few of the featured flicks evoked strong memories for me; if you get teary over Oscar montages, you'll go ape over this. And though Universal's fireworks can't hold a Roman candle to the Magic Kingdom's (blame nearby neighborhoods), they are notably beefier and better paced than previously.

CineSpec is certainly no World of Color killer; anyone overwhelmed by the massive scale and scope of Disney California Adventure's signature spritzing show will be merely whelmed by this comparatively modest distant cousin. I also can't see tourists returning to it time and again, as they do with Illuminations or Fantasmic, Disney's nighttime fireworks and water show. But taken on its own terms, this show is a spectacular way to celebrate Universal Studio's centenary. Just mind the “splash zone” signs if you go on a breezy night. And if it's a blockbuster success that draws masses away from Hogwarts next door, so much the better for me to ride.

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