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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Universal Stories

Finalist in Storytelling


Universal Destinations & Experiences set out to exemplify what it truly feels like to vacation at our destinations through a series of documentary short films featuring first-time visitors called Universal Stories. Tagline: Real stories of real guests and their unreal vacations.

Before the creation of this series, we were losing potential guests in the mid-funnel due to a lack of engaging and educational content that provokes serious consideration for Universal Orlando as a destination of choice. We needed to figure out how to capture and hold both the attention and imagination of our target audience, causing them to dream about their own visit.

Strategy and Execution

Universal identified that modern consumers don’t necessarily trust traditional advertising. People rely heavily on the reviews of family, friends, and complete strangers to help make big purchase decisions. It was imperative to find a way to reach potential Universal Orlando Resort guests through video content featuring actual park goers and their authentic opinions.

But it often takes more than testimonials to truly inspire. We knew this series needed to be sensory and experiential. Rather than hear families talk about an attraction in front of a marquee, the audience should actually see the response play out on their faces while they ride. To equally generate tears of laughter and tears of heartfelt sentiment, the show needed to capture both the bombastic and the intimate moments that happen on any vacation. And most of all, it was important not to shy away from imperfections in order to stay relatable and connect with viewers.

Partnering with Jon Strong Films, we found a series of fun-loving families that fully exemplified our brand and demonstrated unique enthusiasm for the intellectual property in our parks. We strategically focused on those who had never before visited to reap the emotional benefits of unadulterated first-time reactions.

Through breathtaking cinematography that emphasizes the immersive qualities of Universal Orlando Resort’s three theme parks and eight hotels, viewers can follow the beats of a family vacation in each episode of Universal Stories. The subjects discover liberation from the everyday and the togetherness all households need.


Since its debut, Universal Stories has become a beloved contribution to the Universal Orlando Resort YouTube channel.

The series, which currently includes 6 episodes and a trailer, has garnered the following on YouTube:

Ultimately, though, our goal was to engage consumers for as long as possible. Viewers have watched an average of 59% of each episode. With an average video length of 7:08, that means people are generally watching over 4 minutes when they tune in, far above the expected rate.

Comments on episodes call out the emotions viewers felt while watching, as well as the relatability of families, emphasizing the series’ success:


Video for Universal Stories

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Universal Destinations & Experiences


Entry Credits