World of Cinemagic

1991 – 2001

In 1991, the long-standing Special Effects demonstration was relaunched as a stand-alone attraction, based in Stages 30 and 32. Previously it was the first stop on the tram tour, allowing visitors to learn about special effects before hopping back on the tram to see the backlot.
When the Lower Lot (“Studio Center”) was created, along with the construction of the Starway, visitors were able to spend some time in and around soundstages and move freely around (a part of) the same level as the movie stars and techicians.

The theming of the attraction was originally the Back to the Future Special Effects Stage, incorporating the Harry and the Hendersons Sound Effects Show and the Magic of Hitchcock. By 1999, the Nutty Professor had taken over the sound effects show (see panel on the right)

On July 26 2001 the Back to the Future Special Effects Stage closed to be replaced by today’s Special Effects Stages.

From Universal Studios Hollywood website, 1999)
“You will be the star of the show as our special-effects experts take you behind the scenes for a first-hand look at how movies are made.
This is where the impossible becomes possible and screen mysteries are unlocked. Take a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse and participate in the thrilling world of Hollywood motion picture technology.
The World of Cinemagic is actually three attractions in one:

  • The Magic of Alfred Hitchcock
  • Back to the Future Special Effects
  • Harry and the Hendersons / Nutty Professor Sound Effects Show


Presented in the same soundstage where the master filmmaker actually worked, “The Magic of Alfred Hitchcock” begins with an in-depth look at the most chilling movie moment of all – the infamous Psycho shower scene.
Then Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak (on video) take studio guests into the world of “Rear Window”, “Rope” and “Vertigo” to show the audience how Hitchcock, the master storyteller, used the camera to create visual images of incredible power.
Finally, Universal Studios Hollywood guests recreate a milestone cinematic special effects – the climactic final scene in “Saboteur.” Through the magic of a special “matte” process, the visiting actors take a heart-stopping fall from the torch of the Statue of Liberty to the ground hundreds of feet below.


The “Back to the Future Special Effects” show is electrifying. Literally. Each day the technical virtuosity and wizardry featured in the blockbuster Steven Spielberg “Back to the Future” films, comes to life as visitors recreate actual scenes depicting the ride on an outer space freeway to the futuristic Hill Valley and the climactic electrifying courthouse clock tower scenes.

Guests learn exactly how the hoverboard scenes at Courthouse Square in “Back to the Future II” were filmed.

Doesn’t everyone know that the key to riding a hoverboard successfully is being attached to a pole on a moving truck? They do after a visit to Universal’s “Back To The Future Special Effects” show. Some only barely make it through the visit. Each show, one “lucky” member of the audience has a moment in the sun best described as “electric.” Actually, he or she is in the rain, wind, lightning and darkened night as the famed clocktower scene is recreated with the guest portraying the zany Doc Brown.

That moment culminates when lightning “strikes” the guest who takes on the appearance of a smoldering skeleton in a lab coat with singed hair and electricity dancing about his body. It’s all movie magic!

It’s also one of the many ways The World of Cinemagic at Universal Studios Hollywood transports guests three-dimensionally into the heart of movie making.


In the “Harry and the Hendersons Sound Effects Show,” delighted visitors utilize a myriad of video monitors amidst thunder sheets, wind machines, metal chimes, squeak devices, sheets of glass, dubbing machines and other audio equipment to spectacularly create such sounds as thunder, lightning, swirling wind and crashing windows to tape a specially scripted scene.

In real foley pits (e.g. gravel, dirt heaped with loose audio tape, concrete) microphones stand everywhere ready to pick up the effects from the various props. Guests bring film to life via an array of exotic methods including stomping through loose audio tape to create the sound of walking on leaves and drawing ping pong paddles with nails across sheets of glass imitating tree branches scratching a window pane.

To make the experience even more realistic, guests are subject to the same tight production deadlines imposed on productions day-in and day-out in “the business.” Under the tutelage of a Universal Studios Hollywood sound editor, these guests sound editors feverishly race the clock to finish a dramatic scene in time for “airing.”


Featuring classic scenes from the blockbuster hit The Nutty Professor, the new Nutty Professor Sound Effects Show invites guests to recreate the film’s most hysterical moments using Hollywoods coveted special effects secrets. Following the recreation, the audience views their “homemade” Hollywood production.