TODAY   |  May 23, 2013

Behind the scenes of Universal Orlando

On any given day, tens of thousands of people will visit Universal Orlando’s two theme parks, but few get to see the magic and mystery that make them come to life every day. The TODAY anchors get a unique look behind the scenes of the parks.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> about the fun, family entertainment . but as you know, a lot of work goes into making sure everything runs smoothly.

>> and it's pretty rare they peel back the curtain and let people see behind the scenes of a big park like this, but they did it for us. on any given day, tens of thousands of people will visit universal orlando 's two theme parks . to be twisted, spun and splashed. but long before the sunrises over this resort, these parks are already in action. hundreds of park employees are hard at work clearing paths, trimming trees, washing sidewalks. by 6:00 a.m ., executive chef steven jason and his team are inside the universal test kitchen already well into a 20-hour a day operation that services 76 restaurants across the park.

>> caught 1,000 pounds a day.

>> that's not all, 1,000 cakes and pace stries. and approximately 15,000 chocolate chip cookies will be distributed around the park. thousands of lemons are squeezed and mixed ready to be delivered to thirsty thrill seekers.

>> these are the pies we serve.

>> it's 6:45 a.m ., outside in the park and chris is hard at work with his team of mechanics.

>> we're here to get it online, make sure it's a safe, fun day for all of our guests.

>> waking up a roller coaster is not a job for the faint of heart. chris' morning caps off with three consecutive test runs.

>> no lines for me, not in the morning.

>> great day at the office.

>> but before any of the rides even make it here, they all begin here at universal creative headquarters where access is limited and creative minds are hard at work thinking of the next big thing like the soon to be opened transformers the ride.

>> this is a model that lays out the whole attraction and shows us a vehicle. that's the bright spot going around.

>> universal creative president mark woodbury says it all begins with an idea.

>> a while back, this was a blank sheet of paper. we'll start dreaming up concepts of how to make this thing become a great attraction and start to model, you know, what are the specifics of it. we take it from two dimensions into three dimensions and start to look at how these characters are going to be brought to life and how are we going to put guests right into the action, come face to face with guys like optimus prime .

>> a unique collaboration of writers, film makers, and engineering that turn a model of hogwarts into a three-dimensional world.

>> the activity and innovation is really creating memories for families that last a lifetime.

>> and it's not just the rides that have creative minds at work. universal orlando produces several live performances throughout the park. the biggest production is a daily parade featuring all of the park's most popular characters and entertainers under the careful supervision of michael ielo.

>> we wanted something the entire family can gather and enjoy, from mom and dad to kids to the grandparents.

>> by 1:00 p.m ., technicians begin to roll out floats while hundreds of performers are dressing, stretching, swinging, and practicing.

>> it really is a combined effort and a blend of organized chaos to get it all kind of put together.

>> show time .

>> and while the work is high energy and can be exhausting, the payoff is big. and before long, there'll be time to do it all over again.