Latest Tribute Store is 1980s time machine – Orlando Sentinel

Universal Studios has restocked its rotating seasonal merchandise store and come up with a big-screen theme. The Tribute Theater is now open for business at the theme park.

More specifically, the store has rooms devoted to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws” and “Back to the Future,” three beloved flicks with ride ties to the theme park. Each area has been redecorated to go with the film and associated souvenirs.

The “E.T.” space looks like Elliott’s bedroom. Translation: Very ‘80s adolescent, down to the orange-striped bedsheets. The decor includes a phonograph, a Magic 8 Ball toy, an Incredible Hulk poster and a Speak & Spell, the pivotal and primitive communications device the title alien used for his phone-home needs.

Yes, you can buy a Speak & Spell at Tribute Theater for $39.

To get the desired “E.T.” look required researching and searching, says Andrew Erickson, a visual designer at Universal Orlando.

“It started with watching the movie, of course, and then re-watching it. And then pausing and screen-grabbing the scene so I could try to get as much authenticity as we could,” Erickson says.

He made a list of top priorities and started hunting online and in person.

“I went all over, from The Villages to Melbourne, every kind of secondhand store I could find,” he says. He found many items locally, he says.

Hanging from the bunk bed is an Incredible Hulk sleeping bag.

“That’s what Elliott uses when he goes outside and he’s in the lounger … and he’s waiting for E.T.,” Erickson says.

The bedsheets were difficult to track down, he says, and were specific posters, including one about NFL teams.

“Other things we had to make ourselves,” he says. “They no longer make rainbow blinds, so I made those myself.”

Other odds and ends in the “E.T.” room: board games such as Clue and Stratego, a 1981 wall calendar, Lego figures and a View-Master projector. (Don’t get sticky fingers with your nostalgia; everything is well-attached to the set.)

There’s a wealth of modern-day “E.T.” merchandise for sale, including backpacks, plush dolls, frames, a throw blanket and a wide selection of T-shirts, bolstered by the fact that the film is celebrating a big, round anniversary this year.

“There’s a whole 40th anniversary collection that is exclusive to the parks,” Erickson says.

Insert childlike Drew Barrymore scream here.

Elsewhere in Tribute Theater, visitors can find “Jaws” gear (snow globes, shirts that say “You’re going to need a bigger boat, items that incorporate the memorable movie poster).

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Also in the Amity atmosphere are items from the Jaws ride that closed at the park in early 2012. Four light fixtures are from the queue, and a faux firearm from the ride is behind glass. Visitors can hear seaside sound effects that were used at the attraction and see the comical preboarding video on a small TV. (Down below: a book titled “How to Abandon Ship.”)

The hallway to the next room is, naturally, covered with movie posters of the era.

The “Back to the Future” room, a shoutout to Doc Brown’s gadget-laded garage, has a model of the film’s courthouse square, “Enchantment Under the Sea” posters “featuring the musical stylings of Marvin Berry,” many clocks and clippings from the Hill Valley Telegraph newspaper.

Folks can buy a Hoverboard-themed lunchbox or a guitar signed by “Future” star Michael J. Fox ($2,000 in 2023 dollars, please).

By now you can smell the popcorn and end up in the final room, which looks like a theater concessions stand. It sells popcorn and treats themed to the films, including what we’ll call a modern take: Hoverboard lemonade whoopie pie (there’s a fruit punch variety, too).

Tribute Theater, in the New York section of the theme park, is a limited-time offering. An end date has not been announced, although it is touted as a summer thing. And Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights begins Sept. 2. Those are our clues.

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