Here's a few pictures from my Orlando Vacation first week of March 2003.
Select the location below. You will be shown some pictures, with descriptions of what you are seeing.
The theme parks had several kinds of shows. Most of them about 20 minutes long:
These are similar to ordinary movies, but often in 3D. They may include some anamatronic figures around the movie theatre, perhaps a few live performers, smoke, light, flame, water spray, and smell effects, trick seats that prod you in the back or bounce around, etc. Examples include "Terminator 2-3D" at Universal Studios, or "Its Tough to Be a Bug" at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Highly recommended.
These are again mostly film, but you aren't sitting in a regular movie theatre seat. Instead, you sit in a simulator that can tilt up, down, left, and right. When combined with the movies, you think you're really moving. Some examples of simulator rides are the "Back to the Future" ride at Universal, and the "Polar Exploration" ride at Seaworld.
In these rides, you are strapped into a car that rides around the show on a track. Things jump out at you, the car spins around, etc. Some also include 3D (like Spider Man), or the ability to shoot back at bad guys (like Men in Black). Others are in water instead of land (like the Jaws tour boat). Another example is the ET the Extraterrestrial ride.
The "earthquake" ride at Universal is a cross between this and a simulator. They put you in a subway car, which is really a simulator mounted on tracks. It takes you a short distance down the track to a different stage (although with lighting, sound, and wind effects if feels like you went a lot farther). There the simulator rocks and rolls while the subway suffers an 8.0 earthquake.
These are the various roller coasters, and other similar rides. Cool coasters are the Twin Dragons and the Hulk at Islands of Adventure, and "kraken" at Seaworld.
A variant of these is the "water coasters" where you sit in a boat that goes through artificial river rapids, falls, etc. On these you'll always get soaked (so I didn't try them out). Examples are the Jurassic Park ride and the Popeye ride at Islands of Adventure.
Another variant is the "jungle safari" ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here they put you on real 4 wheel drive vehicles, and take you through the Africa part of the zoo, lions, elephants, giraffes, etc.
These are shows where you walk through the stages. Normally there's several separate rooms. You walk into one, get a bit of the show there, then go to the next room, get some more show, etc. Examples of this are the "Twister" show at Universal Studios (where you walk through a town that is experiencing a "twister"), the "Poseiden" show at Islands of Adventure, and the simulated Saturn V launch at the Kennedy Space Centre Apollo exhibit.All of these were great.
These are typical live shows, sometimes including animals. Some of the cool ones were the "Animal Planet Live" and "Wild Wild Wild Wild West" shows at Universal Studios, the "Pirate Adventure" and "Shamu" shows at Seaworld, and "The Lion King" at Disney's Animal Kingdom.