Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Details About the Creation of the Legacy Store at CityWalk
Of all the new things that have come to Universal Orlando Resort recently, perhaps the one that left us the most impressed was the Universal Legacy Store at CityWalk. The collection of artifacts from the resort’s 31-year history makes it a joy to visit time after time.
But how did this tribute to attractions past and present come to be? Recently, the resort revealed the circumstances behind its creation in an interview with Universal Orlando’s director of visual merchandising and store design, Rob Cametti. Cametti discussed the challenges behind creating a unique retail experience in an age where online shopping has become such a huge presence:
It’s all about the convenience of acquiring an item and there’s really not much of a reason to go into a store anymore — especially with this last year with curbside pickup and delivery. I think that mindset spreads into our park because many of our items can be bought online, so someone may wonder, “why would I take the time from my day at the park to shop?” And so then our job becomes providing them with a unique experience that goes beyond just shopping to acquire items. We’re getting folks through the door looking for the same level of themed experience they find throughout the parks.
We had learned in previous years that the Tribute Store, with things like Halloween Horror Nights and Mardi Gras, does really well. So when we got word in early 2020 that we were temporarily closing, we said, “OK let’s get going on our next version of the Tribute Store.” And the theme of that store was going to be the 30th anniversary of Universal Studios. My team starts cranking on that store and we’re all set to start loading things in because in our minds, the theme parks were going to be closed for a week or two and then reopen!
Of course, the months-long closure of the parks due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the team to abandon that version of the concept, as the June reopening required them to pivot to the development of the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store. But thanks to the creation of the new Universal Studios Store in CityWalk, the old site was left open, and Cametti’s team got to have a Hollywood ending.
…So when we found out the theme parks wouldn’t be opening again until June, that just put us too close to when we needed to get started on the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store. So we never got to open that 30th anniversary store. But we loved the concept of it as this prop warehouse with all sorts of pictures and designs and items from the last 30 years. We kept the idea in our back pocket. Then when plans started for the new Universal Store in CityWalk and we knew that we actually had two stores now that we could operate and they needed to be different. So we were like, “We get to do the 30th anniversary of Universal Studios store concept!”
One of the best elements of the shop has to be the variety of props and development pieces that come from the attractions that have entertained guests from throughout the resort’s history. Finding some of the decorations they wanted to use required some serious digging… and the help of some kind-hearted Team Members:
…there’s a lot of people on property like us who love the history of Universal. We’re all fans, that’s why we work here. There are things that teams have developed, used, built in the past that are no longer used in the park but hold value — whether it’s emotional or monetary — they’re valuable so people have kept them in their office or in a warehouse. My team reached out to several partners, we knocked on doors, we visited offices, and we said, “Look, there’s a reason you held onto this stuff and we feel like we’re finally the reason because we can bring this out and show guests and let them enjoy these items you’ve archived and rescued.”
Cametti closed by revealing that the store will likely change as the resort continues to evolve, but thanks to the Legacy Store, the attractions that have thrilled and captivated us will always have a home:
Our legacy is not going away; it’s forever. This store could live on and change with our resort. It has a future — I don’t know where it is or when or how, but it’ll stick around in some form. Our history is valuable and important and it has a strong connection with our guests. I’m glad we get to embrace that with this store.
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