Top 10 BEST Movies to Watch for Your Universal Studios Trip

If you’re here, you’re probably wondering: What are the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure?

You’ve booked the Universal Hotel and bought your park tickets.

Now you got your ThemeParkHipster guide downloaded and researched everything there is to know about the food, rides and more.

Heck you even splurged on an Express Pass!

Now there is really only one thing left to do.

Enter the movies…

Universal Orlando Resort is known for allowing its guests to step into some of its most famous and popular films and franchises through its attractions.

If you are a first time visitor, you would want to get a feel for what you’re about to step into, look no further than the movies.

Today, I will be exploring some of the films that one could watch as they get ready to head to Universal Orlando Resort!

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What to Expect on This Guide TODAY: show

1. Shrek

Somebody once told me, that Shrek was one of the best animated films of all time!

Christmas at Universal Orlando Holiday Parade featuring Macy's Shrek and Fiona

But no seriously, despite Universal Orlando closing Shrek 4-D’s untimely demise earlier this year, it continues to be one of the most beloved film franchises.

Shrek 4D Universal Studios Photos Orlando Tips. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Former Shrek Attraction

Plus, you’ll be able to see the characters in the new Dreamworks Land opening this summer!

Storyline of Shrek

Based on the 1990 picture book by William Steig, it follows a green ogre named Shrek and his unwanted companion, Donkey, on a quest to rescue a princess locked away in a tower protected by a fire breathing dragon.

Former Shrek Attraction with construction showing Minions at Universal Studios Orlando. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Former Shrek Attraction

Simplistic enough of a fairytale?

Shrek!
  • Audible Audiobook
  • William Steig (Author) – Stanley Tucci (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/01/2009 (Publication Date) – Macmillan Audio (Publisher)

Might I add that the ogre is rescuing this princess for Lord Farquaad, ruler of Duloc, in exchange for clearing his home of unwanted fairytale creatures.

Christmas at Universal Orlando Holiday Parade featuring Macy's Donkey Dragon from Shrek

I should also add that Lord Farquaad despises fairytale creatures?

Why We Recommend Watching Shrek Before Going to Universal Studios

This 2001 film has been beloved by adults and children alike, starring Michael Myers and Eddie Murphy, an excellent comedic duo.

Transformers the Ride 3D back area near Donkey and Shrek. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Former Donkey Meet-and-Greet Area next to the Shrek Attraction

The film is filled with jokes for adults and children.

Plus, the film was praised for its cultural references, animation, memorable soundtrack, phenomenal voice acting and writing.

Shrek – 20th Anniversary Edition 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital [4K UHD]
  • Eddie Murphy, Vincent Cassel (Actors)
  • Andrew Adamson (Director) – Ted Elliott (Writer) – John H. Williams (Producer)
  • Spanish, French, English (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

It earned several award nominations and was the fourth highest grossing film of its year, putting Dreamworks animation on the map as a competitor to Pixar.

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk Shrek souvenir. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Former Shrek Attraction Prop from the Pre-Show

In 2020, it was the first non-Disney film to be placed in the National Film Registry and has spawned several films, tv shows and video games.

It is uncertain if there will be more representation for the film will be included in Universal Orlando.

Universal Studios Hollywood California with Donkey from Shrek. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
NikkyJ Meeting Donkey from Shrek

You can still meet Shrek, Fiona and the other characters at their meet and greet location next to the new Dreamworks area.

Get Your Universal Orlando Resort Tickets Today! CLICK HERE.

2. Transformers

In 2007, Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg presented upon the world a science fiction film based on the extremely popular toy franchise, Transformers.

Transformers the ride entrance. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Starring Shia Lebeouf as the lead along with Megan Fox and Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving voicing Optimus Prime and Megatron.

Storyline of Transformers

It tells the story of a centuries old war between the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, led by the villainous Megatron for the Allspark.

These aliens can take the shape of everyday human machinery, but usually vehicles.

Transformers the Ride Universal Studios Grand Opening Day with Optimus Prime Truck and Bumble Bee Car. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Opening Day Celebration

The Allspark found its way onto earth and the Autobots wish to use it to rebuild their home, planet of Cybertron, and end the war.

Bumblebee & Transformers Ultimate 6-Movie Collection [Blu-ray + Digital]
  • Great product!
  • Nicola Peltz, Hailee Steinfeld, Mark Wahlberg (Actors)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

While the decepticons wish to overtake earth and use it to give life to all the machinery on the planet.

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Shia Lebeouf as Sam Whitnicky is caught in between these feuding aliens and teams up with Bumblebee, an autobot, to save the planet.

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Why Transformers is One of the Best Movies to Watch for Universal Studios

Transformers was nominated and won several awards that year, grossing $709.7 million at the box office.

Bumblebee & Transformers Ultimate 6-Movie Collection [Blu-ray + Digital]
  • Great product!
  • Nicola Peltz, Hailee Steinfeld, Mark Wahlberg (Actors)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Its combination of CGI and live action was generally praised but its usage of cars and special effects were slightly criticized when it came to marketing.

Universal Orlando Resort Megatron of Transformers Robot at Universal Studios. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Transformers the Ride 3D Area of Universal Studios

Nonetheless, the film was very successful and dawned many toys and five sequels, with the sixth debuting in 2023.

Universal Studios Orlando Florida Megatron Character Meet and Greet at Transformers the Ride 3D

The film’s success gave birth to Transformers: The Ride 3D at the Universal Studios theme parks.

It was the one of three and created by Universal Creative, Oceaneering International and Light and Magic.

Transformers the Ride 3-D Grand Opening Day. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Transformers: The Ride 3D replaced the Hercules and Xena attraction in June 2013.

It is a motion mounted platform-based attraction that utilizes 2,000 feet of track and screens as high as 60 feet to project 3D experiences and put you in the middle of the war between autobots and decepticons.

Universal Orlando Resort Transformers the Ride 3D at Universal Studios Florida

The attraction is located in Production Central near the lagoon and is about a four minute and thirty second experience overall.

Transformers The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Orlando. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

You can’t miss the giant Autobot at the front. Don’t forget to meet Optimus Prime and Megatron right next to the attraction too!

3. E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial

Almost every 1980s and 1990s child has taken the childhood mecca step of watching this film.

Universal Orlando Resort Summer 2022 Tribute Store at Universal Studios Florida ET Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Another project touched by Steven Spielberg.

This movie tells the tale of a young boy named Elliot who comes across an alien nicknamed E.T., for extraterrestrial, who was left behind on earth.

E.T. – The Alien [4k Ultra HD + Blu-Ray] (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spain Import, see details for languages)
  • E.T. – The Alien (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spain Import, see details for languages)
  • Castilian, Czech, Greek, Italian, Polish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

With assistance from friends and family, they help E.T to find his way back home. Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Why We Recommend Watching This Movie Before Going to Universal Studios

The film featured an all-star cast but was noted for its young stars, Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore.

Universal Orlando Resort ET Adventure Queue at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

This film recently celebrated its 40th anniversary on August 12, 2022 and during that time, has been considered a cultural phenomenon.

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk ET Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial film was added to the National Film Registry in 1994 and made $792.9 million at the box office.

E.T. – The Alien [4k Ultra HD + Blu-Ray] (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spain Import, see details for languages)
  • E.T. – The Alien (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spain Import, see details for languages)
  • Castilian, Czech, Greek, Italian, Polish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

Since its debut, the film has been called “heartwarming” and received universal acclaim by all.

It received many nominations and awards, most notably nine nominations at the 55th academy awards and going home with four, including best original score.

E.T. Adventure Ride at Universal Studios

Almost a decade after its 1982 debut, E.T. Adventure opened at Universal Orlando and has been known as the one Spielberg attraction that he will raise hell for if they ever even think about removing it.

Universal Orlando Resort ET Adventure Queue at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

It is the only version left at any Universal Studios park.

The suspended dark ride puts you in the seat of one of the most famous scenes of the film as you help E.T go home.

Universal Orlando Resort ET Adventure ride at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

But it goes one step further, taking you to E.T’s home world, the green planet, which was featured in the sequel novel.

Universal Orlando Resort ET Adventure ride at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
ET’s Home Planet

A special part of the ride is E.T thanking riders for helping him at the end of the ride by name and the distinct forest smell in the queue.

Universal Orlando Resort ET Adventure Queue at Universal Studios Florida Forest Scene. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Famous Forest Scene

It is a beloved attraction located in Kidzone at Universal Orlando and you can watch E.T on Peacock or rent it on Prime Video.

4. The Harry Potter Franchise

This next one on the list is a given. Universal Studios is known for its phenomenally accurate and successful Harry Potter lands.

Hogsmeade Village in Harry Potter World Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Working with J.K. Rowling, they worked to truly bring the wizarding world to life in every sense. If you are a fan of the books or films, everything you could hope for will be here.

Which Harry Potter movie should I watch before going to Universal Studios?

But in particular when it comes to the franchise, I would personally recommend watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Deathly Hallows Part 2.

new Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle with NIkkyJ and Deatheater. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
New Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle with NIkkyJ and Deatheater

These are the final two films in the series where we watch Harry journey with his friends to defeat Voldemort and ultimately save the wizarding world.

Universal Orlando Resort Fenrir Greyback poster in Knockturn Alley of Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

These two films, essentially give you an overall idea of what entails the wizarding world and will help you to better understand the “Escape from Gringotts” attraction, which takes place around the Deathly Hallows films.

Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection
  • Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint (Actors)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Other attractions include Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which takes you through the forbidden forest.

There’s also Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which takes you through the famous Hogwarts Castle.

Hogwarts in Harry Potter World Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Now if you want to dive into the full lore of the story to fully enjoy and immerse yourself in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, I would make a fun time of watching all the films and maybe some behind the scenes specials on HBOmax.

5. Men in Black

Based loosely on the marvel comic, the 1997 film “Men in Black” is known as one of Will Smith’s most commercial and famous roles.

Men in Black Alien Attack. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

We see the industrial light and magic team make a return as they helped with this, being praised for their makeup work and special effects, as well as winning and being nominated for several awards.

Men in Black Alien Attack Immigration Tour Universal Studios. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Men in Black stars Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K and Will Smith as Agent J.

Storyline of Men in Black

In this film, Jones plays a seasoned agent training smith to become a new agent in a top-secret organization that supervises extraterrestrial life on earth, while hiding their existence from humans.

Men In Black 4-Movie Collections [Blu-ray]
  • MEN IN BLACK (1997) – A sci-fi adventure comedy about two top secret agents (Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith) with the everyday mission of policing alien activities on planet Earth. The Men in Black’s current assignment: to stop an intergalactic terrorist from making Earth his next victim.
  • MEN IN BLACK II – Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are back in black as the scum-fighting super-agents Kay and Jay – regulators of all things alien on planet earth. Their latest mission: to save the world from a total intergalactic disaster!
  • MEN IN BLACK 3 – Agent Jay travels back in time to 1969, where he teams up with a younger version of Agent Kay to stop an evil alien from destroying the future.
  • MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL – The Men in Black tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.
  • Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Lara Flynn Boyle (Actors)

The film was praised overall for its comedy, soundtrack and effects making $589.3 million at the box office.

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Universal Orlando Resort Men in Black Immigration Tour at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

While not in the National Registry, it has made several AFI lists. It has spawned three sequels.

Why Men In Black is One of the Best Movies to Watch for Universal Studios

Today, Men in Black Alien Attack is located in World Expo area of the park and beloved for its amazing queue and story.

The entire project was overseen by the Universal Creative Team.

Universal Orlando Resort Men in Black Alien attack facade at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

It is one of the more popular attractions of the park to this very day and great fun if i do say so myself. A good tip, press the red button.

Men in Black Alien Attack. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

In a five-year process, Men in Black: Alien Attack would make its debut in April 2000.

The attraction is an interactive shooter dark ride that allows riders to enter in what is disguised as a World’s Fair, but actually the MiB Headquarters.

What to Expect on This Ride at Universal Studios

You will be recruited to test your skills and take down aliens throughout New York with laser guns, while racking up points!

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk Men in Black Alien Attack

At the time, it was the biggest dark ride ever built at a Universal Park with over 100 animatronics. Eighty of them were designed in house by Universal Creative.

Men in Black Alien Attack. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

The attraction received an award shortly after for its inception by the themed entertainment association for outstanding achievement.

6. Furious 7

If you make the unfortunate decision to experience Fast and Furious: Supercharged, then I would recommend you sit down and take a gander at Furious 7.

This is, as I’m sure you would imagine, the 7th installment in the Fast and Furious franchise.

Universal Orlando Resort Fast and Furious Supercharged Construction. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

This was the final film for Paul Walker, who played the role of Brian in almost every film in the franchise up until that point.

He passed away in 2013 in a tragic car accident and his brothers filled in to complete most of his filming for the role, which caused the film to be delayed until its 2015 release.

Universal Orlando Black Car Fast and Furious Ride. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

If you are familiar with the franchise, you may need a refresher to remember the characters. If you aren’t, fortunately, you will really only have to watch the 7th installment.

Furious 7 Storyline

The 7th film sees the family, and yes you will hear that word at least 20 times in the attraction, returning the United States to live out normal lives after being granted amnesty for their past wrong doings.

Universal Orlando Blue and Red Car on Fast and Furious Ride. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

They run into trouble once a man named Deckard Shaw, a rouge assassin, comes after them to avenge his brother who is in a coma due to their actions.

Experiencing this Movie as a Ride at Universal Studios

The film was one of the most expensive ever made costing $250 million to produce but grossed over 1.5 billion globally.

Furious 7 – Extended Edition [4K + Blu-ray + Digital] [4K UHD]
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
  • Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Actors)
  • James Wan (Director) – Chris Morgan (Writer) – Neal H. Moritz (Producer)
  • Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

It was also praised for its absolutely astronomically impressive stunts, set pieces, cast performances and its tribute to Paul Walker.

Fast and Furious Supercharged queue

The film mostly gained nominations and awards due to its tribute song to Walker, “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.

With that being said, the attraction does not live up to the film and in fact, the Universal Creative Senior Vice President stated in an IAAPA interview that the attraction was the biggest mistake of his career.

I will say that if you have never ridden it, to at least try it once as the queue is worth seeing!

There are amazing vehicles and props from the film within and a tribute to Paul. But most visitors will tell you to skip it.

Universal Orlando Fast and Furious Earthquake secret key in queue next to blue car. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.
Former Attraction, Earthquake, Easter Egg

I could honestly try to explain the ride to you, but to this day, I’m still very confused.

Read NEXT: 7 AMAZING Things I Can’t Wait to Do at Universal Epic Universe in 2025!

7. The Mummy

One of the most popular, if not the most popular attraction at Universal Studios is Revenge of the Mummy. But before we dive into that, let’s talk about the movie!

Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy Ride at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

This 1999 cult classic is a remake of one of the famous Universal Monster movies of the same name.

Storyline of the Mummy

It starred Brendan Fraser in the lead role as Rick O’Connell, who travels to the city of the dead with Evelyn, a librarian, and Jonathan, her brother.

The Mummy Guy outside of the ride. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

They end up accidentally awakening Imhotep, a cursed high priest with supernatural powers who had an affair with the pharaoh’s mistress.

The Mummy Ultimate Collection [Blu-ray]
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories
  • Brendan Fraser, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Rachel Weisz (Actors)
  • Stephen Sommers (Director) – Stephen Sommers (Writer) – James Jacks (Producer)
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

After they both kill the pharaoh once their secret is discovered, the mistress kills herself and Imhotep flees, believing he can resurrect her.

Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy store and merchandise. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

He is caught in the middle of the resurrection ritual and made to be buried alive with flesh eating beetles and locked in a sarcophagus.

Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy store and merchandise. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

It is a truly riveting film that was praised for its CGI, live action and stunning visual effects, brought to you again my Industrial Light and Magic.

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Why We Recommend Watching This Movie Before Going to Universal Studios

The film took years to make but made $416.4 million globally spawning two sequels, a prequel and an animated show.

Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy store and merchandise. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

While nominated for numerous awards, it only won two for Best Makeup and its original score by Jerry Goldsmith.

Revenge of the Mummy Ride at Universal Studios

Its successful Universal Orlando attraction debuted in May 2004 replacing Kongfrontation.

If you actually look up, you can still see some of the old attraction throughout the ride. You learn more about the attraction here.

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk Kongfrontation. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Since 2011, it consistently won best indoor coaster yearly until 2019 when the category was retired due to its wins every year.

After this, it was given legendary status by Golden Ticket Awards.

8. Jurassic Park & Jurassic World

The Jurassic Park franchise is absolutely synonymous with Universal Studios!

Universal Orlando Resort Tyrannosaurus Rex in front of Jurassic Park Jeep at Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure

Most likely if the first thing that comes to mind isn’t Harry Potter, the runner up usually is Jurassic Park.

But in this case, Universal did a spectacular job of bringing the immersive land to live for visitors.

Jurassic Park Collection 25th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]
  • Attenborough, Richard, Neill, Sam, Goldblum, Jeff (Actors)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Jurassic Park, based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, was another film creation by Steven Spielberg.

Storyline of Jurassic Park

The original film of the trilogy takes place on Isla Nublar, off the coast of Costa Rica where a wealthy businessman and his team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park…filled with extinct dinosaurs.

Universal Orlando Resort entrance to Islands of Adventure and Jurassic Park. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

The businessman, John Hammond, needs to reassure his investors and bring several experts and his grandchildren to do a test run of the park.

Jurassic Park River Adventure with Tyrannosaurs above green jeep next to Thunder FallsUniversal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Due to some internal sabotage, the power for the entire island is shut down and the dinosaurs are running rampant. Now everyone is fighting to survive and escape the island.

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Islands of Adventure.

Jurassic Park Makes History

The film itself was an absolute marvel at the time and the special effects still hold up almost 30+ years later!

Universal Orlando Resort Jurassic Park Velocicoaster at Night in Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

It was called one of the best blockbusters of all time, with critics praising the life like animatronics and special effects.

The wonderful people from Industrial Light and Magic had hands on this project.

It even replaced E.T as one of Spielberg’s best sequence works since Jaws. Fun to mention is that out of all the dinosaurs that were featured in the film, only two are actually from the Jurassic Period.

During its run, it grossed $1.046 billion at the box office, won more than twenty awards, including three academy awards, and was placed in the National Film Registry.

World of Jurassic Park: The Sequels

While this film has spawned five sequels, we will only be talking about one in this piece, and that’s Jurassic World.

Released 22 years after Jurassic Park, it is the 4th sequel, set in the exact same setting as the original film.

We find that the idea by John Hammond was successfully brought to life and has been for several years since it opened to the public.

Jurassic Park Dinosaur Museum Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

They have once again pushed the envelope too far as their latest genetic creation has escaped and is running amuck on the island.

There is also double the chaos when there turns out to be a conspiracy within the staff.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ getting ready to watch Jurassic World Dominion at Cinemark in Citywalk. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Editor NikkyJ at Jurassic World Dominion Premiere

Industrial Light and Magic returned for this project along with Legacy effects to help out with the animatronics.

It was a major success grossing $1.6 billion at the box office.

This made it the highest grossing in the franchise, second highest grossing of 2015 and the third highest of all time, tied with The Avengers and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Recommended: The Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Guide

Why We Recommend Watching This Movie Before Going to Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The film was considered an excellent sequel and reboot to the franchise as a summer blockbuster and was nominated for several awards, only winning four in total.

VelociCoaster queue dinosaur statue Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
VelociCoaster Queue

Jurassic Park Ride at Universal Orlando

When it comes to the attractions it has inspired in Islands of Adventure, we can look no further than VelociCoaster and Jurassic Park River Adventure.

Jurassic Park River Adventure Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Jurassic Park River Adventure is a river-based attraction inspired by the original book that debuted in May 1999.

It is inspired by a scene that was not included in the film, where Dr. Grant and the children try to get back to the visitor center via boat.

Jurassic Park River Adventure Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Some elements of the film are included like the T-Rex, several dinosaurs, etc. It’s a very popular attraction to beat the Florida humidity and heat.

This is because it has the ability to push 3,000 riders through per hour. It’s also known for its 50 MPH (miles per hour) final drop.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ behind Thunder Falls Terrace in Jurassic Park in Islands of Adventure with River Adventure Boat splashing Down. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Splash area of Jurassic Park River Adventure with Editor NikkyJ

Meanwhile, VelociCoaster is one of the crown jewels of roller coasters in Orlando and some consider one of the best in the country.

We touched base on what makes this attraction inspired by Jurassic World truly incredible in our other piece here.

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9. Despicable Me

The Despicable Me franchise might be one of the most popular animated franchises after Shrek for the company and rightfully so!

Universal Orlando Resort Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Ride at Universal Studios Florida. One of the best movies to watch for Universal Orlando.

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios.

Storyline of Despicable Me

It follows the original tale of a supervillain adopting a trio of orphaned girls.

Universal Orlando Resort Minions Mayhem Ride at Universal Studios Florida

On top of being a parent, he is currently working on trying to steal a shrink ray from his mortal enemy in order to shrink the moon and steal it!

Universal Studios Orlando Vicious 6 Villain Con Minion Blast

Despicable Me made its debut in summer 2010 and boasted a truly great cast with:

  • Steve Carell as supervillain Gru
  • JuIie Andrews as Mama Gru
  • Jason Segel as Vector
  • Miranda Cosgrove
  • Kirsten Wiig
  • Russel Brand
  • Danny Mcbride
  • Will Arnett

The film was praised for being very lighthearted, family friendly, adorable and with one critic even stating that it was similar to the Pixar style and not afraid to be silly or goofy.

Check out my latest theme park adventures on Instagram TODAY!

Awards and Recognition of Despicable Me

It made $543.2 million at the box office and while nominated for many awards, it only won two for Favorite Animated Movie from the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and Best Animated Film from the Women Films Critic Circle.

Minion Mayhem ride during Universal Studios Mardi Gras. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

It had quite a bit of competition with Tangled, Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon around that time.

Universal Studios Orlando Florida Minion Land Villain Con Store and Merchandise

Nonetheless, it was popular enough to spawn two sequels with a 4th coming in 2024, a prequel and spinoff for the Minions of the film.

Illumination Presents: 4-Movie Collection (Despicable Me / Despicable Me 2 / Despicable Me 3 / Minions) [DVD]
  • Steve Carell, Sandra Bullock, Jason Segel (Actors)
  • Pierre Coffin (Director) – Brian Lynch (Writer) – Chris Meledandri (Producer) – Geoffrey Rush (Narrator)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Not to mention one of the first attractions you see when entering Universal Orlando.

Why We Recommend Watching This Movie Before Going to Universal Studios

You will see the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction as you enter the park. It is usually packed as its a very popular family friendly computer simulator ride.

Universal Orlando Resort Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Entrance next to Universal Studios Height Requirements Sign. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

This Universal Studios Ride opened in the summer of 2012, just two years after the film made its successful debut.

The Minions ride matches the atmosphere of the film in which it is silly, carefree, amusing and fun.

Guests find Gru attempting to turn humans into minions although Gru assures riders that despite previous errors, there is nothing to worry about.

Universal Orlando Resort Minions Mayhem Ride at Universal Studios Florida

While the riders are being scanned, the orphans come in to help with the minion training.

Universal Orlando Resort Minions Store at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

The attraction itself is truly delightful and has won two awards for Best Animated Special Production and Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project!

Certainly, worth riding at least once!

Be sure to discover the NEW Minion Land at Universal Studios Florida!

10. Kong: Skull Island

I feel like I would be remiss if I did not mention the king of monsters on this list.

Kong Skull Islands of Adventure Tips with King Kong. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Kong Skull Island

Visitors would have to watch Kong: Skull Island to get a better idea of what they are about to walk into as far as its attraction.

Kong: Skull Island (4K Ultra HD) [4K UHD]
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
  • Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman (Actors)
  • Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Director) – Dan Gilroy (Writer) – Tom Peitzman (Producer)
  • Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Most frequent visitors know of Kongfrontation which was replaced by Revenge of the Mummy, who is on this list.

Kong: Skull Island is a reboot of the King Kong franchise and the second in the Legendary Pictures Monsterverse which features Godzilla as well.

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk Kongfrontation
Kongfrontation Model

This is also the 11th installment in the Kong franchise as a whole! This monster has been getting a paycheck frequently.

Storyline of Kong: Skull Island

The film debuted in March 2017 and was praised for its special effects, action sequences and performances from its cast!

Skull Island Reign of Kong Ride Entrance Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

The film is set in 1973, where a group of Vietnam soldiers and scientists who travel to an uncharted island to search for primeval creatures recently discovered nearby.

Universal Orlando Resort Skull Island Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure witch lady

There they discover Kong, a giant ape who is the last of his kind, along with several other dangerously huge creatures that want to obviously have them for supper.

Particularly the performances of Samuel L. Jackson and John C Reily were amongst the biggest praises.

Why Skull Island is One of the Best Movies to Watch for Universal Islands of Adventure

Of course, Industrial Light and Magic had a hand in the creature design for the famous Kong.

Skull Island Reign of Kong Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

The inspiration apparently came from Studio Ghibli’s “Princess Mononoke” for his behavior and design as well as No Face from “Spirited Away”, Cubone from “Pokemon “and the entire Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise.

Universal Orlando Resort Skull Island Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure

Even the two-legged lizards from the original King Kong film were an inspiration for the Skullcrawler creatures in this film.

Making it one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Islands of Adventure.

Awards and Recognition of Kong: Skull Island

Globally, it grossed $398 million and is to date the highest grossing in the monsterverse.

Universal Orlando Resort Skull Island Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure

Overall, it got positive reviews and was a big break for Brie Larson, in which shortly after she gained the role as Captain Marvel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While nominated for several awards, it did not win any.

The Skull Island Ride at Universal Orlando

Skull Island: Reign of Kong gets direct inspiration from this film. Located in Islands of Adventure in its on-Skull Island area, it made its debut in July 2016.

Skull Island Reign of Kong Universal Orlando Resort Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

It is a trackless 3D attraction created by Universal creative and Oceaneering International.

The 6-minute ride places guests in a safari truck where they come across an expedition group getting ready to set up camp.

Universal Orlando Resort Skull Island Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure Truck

Throughout the queue, the locals and natives warn riders about the dangers and legend of kong.

Originally, Team Members dressed as locals would pop out in holes to scare guests, but this was removed after the pandemic and has not returned.

The leader of the expedition, Kate is taken by flying creatures and the group chases after her in order to save her.

Universal Orlando Resort Skull Island Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure

Riders then go through various aspects of the island and come face-to-face with some of the terrifying creatures and Kong.

The attraction was praised for its visual effects, story and jaw-dropping animatronics! It is amongst the favorites when visiting Islands of Adventure.

Recommended: The Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Guide

My Final Thoughts on the Best Movies to Watch for Universal Studios

Universal Pictures and its subsidiaries have been bringing out a plethora of memorable and jaw dropping films since its inception of 1912.

Universal Studios Arches. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Among this list is just ten of the amazing products they have offered viewers and have managed to bring to life for its visitors in its spectacular Orlando based theme parks.

And this is just the beginning as work on its 4th park, Epic Universe, is being done as we speak!

Universal Orlando Resort Summer 2022 Tribute Store at Universal Studios Florida Jaws Merchandise. Keep reading to get the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

While we don’t know much about what will be inside or what Universal Pictures films will have attractions here, we do know that Universal Monsters and Super Nintendo World will get some love in the 750-acre park.

Universal Studios Hollywood Super Nintendo World

Epic Universe is scheduled to open in Summer 2025. Til then, you can enjoy their large library of films to prepare to enter the movies!

Best Movies to Watch for Universal Studios
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What’s one of the best movies to watch before going to Universal Studios? Let us know in the comments section below.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

About the Author

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

UP NEXT: Doctor Doom’s Fearfall at Universal: The Good, the Bad, and the Scary!

(Original Article Date: October 5, 2022/Updated by Editor on February 23, 2024)

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