For the majority of the 13 years that I've lived in the state of Florida, I've been the proud owner of a Universal Studios Annual Pass. Even before moving to Florida in 1997, I've visited Universal quite frequently on family vacations from Ohio, with the first time being approximately 20 years ago, not too long after the park first opened. I was 10 years old at the time and I remember being really excited getting to check out Nickelodeon Studios for the first time and seeing all of the other amazing attractions that Universal had to offer. I've been to the theme park well over 100 times since then and have watched the park progressively change over the years with new attractions coming in and old ones going out. Because of this I've decided to do a blog, discussing the old Universal from 1990 and some of the attractions that have since met their demise.
The Bates Motel
The first movie ever shot at Universal Studios Florida was Mick Garris' 'Psycho IV: The Beginning', a made for TV sequel/prequel that premiered on cable TV in November of 1990. Universal Studios Florida first opened their doors on June 7th of that year, so if you were an early visitor to the park you might have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the film being made!
The Bates Motel set remained intact for approximately 8 years in the Expo Center area, back behind the "E.T. Adventure" and the "Animal Actors Stage". Unfortunately the set was demolished in 1998 to make room for the "Curious George Goes to Town" water park. Being a fan of horror films and especially 'Psycho', this is one of the things I miss the most about the old theme park. Granted you couldn't actually walk up to the house and could only view it from a distance...however this Bates Motel film set was a part of the "Psycho" legacy and it was sad to see it destroyed for an attraction as stupid as a Curious George water park of all things!
The one thing that I vividly remember about the Bates Motel set was that they originally painted both the house and motel yellow to give it that clean "new" look for the flashback sequences with young Norman in 'Psycho IV'...later they repainted the house, dirtying it up to make it look old and weathered for the present day scenes in the film. Well the old HardRock Cafe was located just behind the Bates motel and I remember coming out of the restaurant and being able to see the back of the house still having the fresh yellow paint, where as the rest of the house was aged badly. I guess since they never filmed the back of the house during the production of 'Psycho 4', they figured it wasn't necessary to repaint it.