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Everything posted by disneyfan1313

  1. Part 6! The kids area is really nicely themed and opened up around 1pm on opening day. Lots of interactive elements and bright colors! WOAH! It is a little busier today! WAY busier. As of now, this doesn't get you right on. You will still have to wait in the normal slide line of 30 minutes once your time is up. You can see the lines going down the slide tower. Those are folks who already waited in the "virtual line". The opening ceremony was authentically Polynesian - including the blowing of the conch shell! HASHTAG THE PANDA SPOTTING! Huge crowd of media from throughout the world and invited VIP guests! All these talented performers made the opening very special. Oh no! It is the scary tongue guy again! This is probably the only time you will see canoes in the wave pool! Volcano Bay is officially open! I can't lie - I really want to stay in one of those rooms in the new Cabana Bay tower and watch the park overnight! After a quick break we are back to see what the park is like with guests! OMG! It is busy! The entrance process is slowed down by the TapuTapu issuing. Fun trivia - this means Wet Wild - an homage to the old park! Splash down time! Can't wait to ride! Time to check out the kids area.
  2. Part 5! We even got to meet some of the "residents" of Volcano Bay! You could even get a hat made out of palm fronds. Universal does impressive displays at their events. The one for the sushi table had a fish ice carving and a huge real fish! Giant roast pig for the pork sliders! Huge volcano made of chocolate for the deserts! Their events team does a really great job! Musical guests included an authentic Hawaiian "swing" band. I AM GIANT ICE TIKI!! We also enjoyed music from an award winning folk duo from New Zealand. OMG! This guy was crawling around surprising people! The highlight of the night was the authentic tribal group that Universal flew in from New Zealand from the opening. They had an intense performance that felt like it was out of a movie! This guy will haunt your nightmares! Heading out to see the sand art is complete! And so is the tiki statue! How cool! We are back bright and early for the grand opening ceremony. We get to be some of the first to ride in the new Volcano Bay busses! Wow! Even with a slightly overcast sky it is incredibly beautiful! The Today Show was filming throughout the morning. The drummers from last night are set up and ready to go!
  3. Part 4! Almost every view in Volcano Bay at ground level is lush and tropical! I haven't ridden one of these slides since River Country closed! Of course if you are brave, you can DROP all the way from the top of the volcano! PLENTY of seating on beach chairs throughout the park. It didn't seem to be an issue getting a spot either day. Even the bridges are themed! There are also a couple of large themed bars with plenty of shaded space to hang out. Both themed to boats! These are proving to be popular already! TOO MANY GOOD CHOICES!!! Everything we tried was DELICIOUS! Each slide also has a nicely themed sign. They were still working on some paths, but this will eventually take you through the volcano. You really can't get enough photos of this! The wave pool is generous in size with a good size beach to match. Even on capacity days it shouldn't feel too crowded. The new tower at Cabana Bay Resort overlooks the park - that would be a cool room to have! Time to wrap up Media day with a yummy Waturi Swirl ice cream! As you leave you must drop your TapuTapu in the provided box. It then deactivates. We return a few hours later for the grand opening VIP event. This was supposed to be in the park, but Mother Nature had other ideas! Creating a sand castle logo in real time! ...and carving a tiki statue with a chainsaw!
  4. Part 3! Volcano Bay has some amazing bars and drinks - not surprising for a Universal Studios park! This watermelon drink was to die for! Even Moana has a slide here! The large raft rides were GREAT! Lots of thrills! Stacey is getting nervous... This is her OMFG face! OK - now she is having fun again... Can't wait to try these again when all the water effects are working. You really work up an appetite at water parks... time for lunch! The menu is extensive and tasty at each location. OMG! BBQ! I know what I am getting. No joke - these were some of the best ribs I have EVER had. And the chocolate pineapple cake is worth going out of your way to get. They are also doing these grab and go options at each location. Perfect for a water park. Too many choices! I had a burger the next day and it was great also. Cabanas are hugely popular at water parks around the world and Volcano Bay was built with this in mind. Two story ones are a great idea, you can choose if you want the top or bottom or you can rent both with a large party! The slides at the front of the mountain are integrated so well to the rock structure! Each slide has a check in point at the entrance where they will scan your TapuTapu.
  5. Part TWO! Lockers are plentiful throughout the park and use your TapuTapu to unlock. Simply tap, pay the $12 or $15 depending on size and you have a locker for the day! Even the changing rooms are VERY nice with private rooms. Time to check out some slides! These are the "normal" tube slides. Lots of fun! Wheeeeee! Gotta check out the water coaster next! KRAKATAU! What cool themed vehicles! NOTED! The coolest part of the water coaster is going INTO the volcano. Unfortunately there isn't theming inside, but it is cool to see! There are lots of airtime opportunities on this. It is a LONG ride! All the slide areas have great theming at pool and ground level. These stations are set up at every slide entrance point. You tap your TapuTapu band and you will get a return time loaded onto it. These waits have been hovering in the 60-250 minute range since opening. The TapuTapu band was surprisingly comfortable and secure. You can also use it at two "selfie spots"! Scan your TapuTapu and the tiki statue will take your picture and you can view and purchase it later! Time for a snack...how about Volcano Bay exclusive Dippin Dots!
  6. This week, TPR was invited to join in the festivities of the Volcano Bay media day and grand opening event at Universal Studios Orlando! We have a TON of pictures to share with you and our thoughts on the park will be interspersed with the pictures throughout the trip report. First things first - the park is BEAUTIFUL! Lush and tropical horticulture everywhere you turn with some very unique tropical plants as well. The park also has a GREAT selection of water slides that run through the full list of what you would expect in a world class water park. The food is also phenomenal - you will see in the report how they have a better selection and quality of food than you will find in many non-Orlando theme parks! On the flip side, they have work to do with the TapuTapu virtual wait system. Think of it like Fastpass - you can reserve ONE "basic" slide and possibly the water coaster. The basic slides have had waits in excess of 60-90 minutes and the water coaster has been in the 200-300 minute range. Here is where the downside comes in - while you are waiting for those, you can't do ANY other slide. You can experience the wave pool, lazy rivers or lounge on the beach. Then once your time comes up, you still have a wait (usually to the bottom of the slide tower - 30 minutes or so) before you can ride. That is leading to some frustration with their guests and will need to be tweaked as their operation continues. They are also having some normal grand opening jitters with efficiency and continual downtimes which hopefully will get tweaked over the coming weeks. I'm looking forward to returning when some of these bugs are worked out and the park is a little less crowded. It is a GREAT "hang out" kind of water park. I didn't notice a shortage of chairs of beach space and the cabanas (for an upcharge) are beautiful. Express Pass is available but it doesn't bypass the line at the slide, just the virtual wait. Anyways - on to the photos! Please feel free to ask questions about our experiences! OMG! I *LOVE* themed USB drives. How cute is this tiki one? This really shows the care that went into branding this park. This big boat will be the ticket sales location if you don't buy them in advance or in the parking garage. I AM HUNGRY TIKI GOD! GIVE ME YOUR PLANTS! Height requirement signs for those interested! At the entrance the Universal Team Member will scan your ticket, your fingerprint and issue you your TapuTapu. It uses RFID technology to link it to you. And this is the first view of the volcano.. HOLY CRAP that is beautiful! Mandatory selfie time! We are checked in and ready to go! To get to Volcano Bay you must park in the main Universal Orlando parking structure. A shuttle bus is then provided to the drop off point. Where you walk underground?!!?!? In Florida!?! This is already starting to be an adventure! It is time to take the tunnel! This is feeling very Indiana Jones-esque. Hello tiki gods! Don't let this tunnel collapse! We made it! I really like this entrance plaza. Lots of room and a cool photo op. And I love the fountains at the entrance signs. You can get wet before you even buy your tickets!
  7. The next day we saw the grand opening ceremony! Bright and early! We are ready! "The Beat Builders" was a percussion group masquerading as construction workers. "Sing It" was an acapella group and they were awesome.. almost time for the big entrance! Carson Daly (who remembers TRL on MTV!) is doing a live shoot for the Today Show. Jimmy Fallon rolls up on this awesome NY themed float! He got a ticker tape parade! [fbvideonew] [/fbvideonew] His wife and daughters are there as well to help with the ribbon cutting. How many of the characters from the Jimmy Fallon show can you name? We came back at night to ride again, and Jimmy Fallon surprised the audience. It was amazing! [twitter] [/twitter] He took questions and talked to everyone waiting for about 15 minutes. Don't forget to check out the merchandise shop where you can buy a Hashtag the Panda costume! You can also get your "Tight Pants" And of course shirts from his character "Sarah" who says EW! We then got to finish out our night seeing Jason Derulo do his musical number for the Tonight Show with a HUGE crowd!
  8. Check out the rest of the fun that we had! Even though he is the newest one, Jimmy Fallon has a full case of memorabilia. You then proceed up to the second floor where you will enjoy some entertainment while you wait! Once your color appears - you grab your "racing goggles" and get ready to ride! No photos are allowed inside the ride, but the pre-show video has The Roots rapping the safety instructions. It is awesome! The entertainment while you wait to ride is very fun - first you enjoy "The Ragtime Gals" barbershop quartet. And of course the beloved HASHTAG THE PANDA! Poor bear has to dance when he hears his music. Sometimes he dances so much he collapses. You can even meet Hashtag and get your photo with him! There are also interactive tables to play on while you wait, here you can send one of Jimmy Fallons "thank you notes". TONS of outlets to charge your phone all throughout the waiting area. And some fun quick games based on the show! The best part was when Hashtag showed us his skills!
  9. For the past two days TPR had the opportunity to be part of the media event for the grand opening of Race Through New York staring Jimmy Fallon. We also got to sample some awesome food from Volcano Bay and experience the attraction and its new virtual queue and entertainment. What a fun filled two days - on to the pictures! We are checked in and ready to go! We got an awesome swag bag filled with Jimmy Fallon merchandise including a musical Hashtag the Panda doll! We started off with a presentation on Volcano Bay. This artwork really shows the depth of the theming of the park. WOW! Look at what it will look like at night. Can't wait to see it in person in just a little over a month! This park is going to be PACKED full of slides. But also tons of places to relax when you aren't riding! We then got to sample some of the unique and interesting offerings for Volcano Bay. Of course we start off with the yummy desserts! TONS of specialty drinks. Umbrella drinks and sitting under the volcano. Perfect! They also will have their own custom brew beer! How cool is that? The food looks (and tastes!) phenomenal. This isn't your average water park meal. Chicken, shrimp, mahi and more! They also will be doing these "Grab and Go" meal containers at all restaurants if you just want something quick! Now it is time to check out #FallonRide! A test seat is available out front, but it was designed to accommodate most guests. NOTED! And we enter into 30 Rock (in Orlando!). Lots of history in this building. This famous logo will become your guide! It will turn all one color which will match... Your ticket! This will tell you when it is time to advance to the next virtual waiting area. These display cases of Tonight Show memorabilia are very unique and cross all eras of the show.
  10. I've had one since launch. I love it - best console I have owned in a long time. Absolutely game changing.
  11. TPR attended the Universal Holidays Media Event yesterday and got to experience some of the awesomeness that starts TODAY at Universal Studios Orlando! It was a great sneak peak at Grinchmas, the Macy's Holiday Parade and their Christmas decorations throughout the resort. Here is the official information from Universal Studios Orlando - then on to the photos! Such a fun time of the year to visit Universal Studios Orlando! You can see they already have their entrance gate decorated! We started off in IOA, since that is where Grinchmas is! Time for a sneak peak of the Grinchmas show! The stage really captures the spirit of the Dr. Seuss books. We get to meet the Grinch himself! Stacey was a little afraid, but he is a friendly grinch! See? Once you warm up that Grinch heart... The show has all your favorite parts of the story! Including great live singers! Off to check out some of the Christmas decorations! These balloons are all over the park.. and HUGE! OMG! Garfield is almost as tall as the NY Public Library! Time to check out the parade! We got a special sneak peak! This is the 15th anniversary of the parade! These were actually used in the New York parade! This inflatable guy is new this year and based on a balloon from the 40s. Cool to see how the balloons are held - just like NYC! These high kicking ladies are awesome! The event also features Mannheim Steamroller on select nights!
  12. Tonight we got to see the second show of the 2016/2017 Broadway In Orlando series - "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time" at the beautiful Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando. This show won the Tony Award in 2015 for best new play and it is a tremendous example of how to make a play engaging and appealing as a musical. From the official website: "Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever." This show deals with some *VERY* heavy topics, Autism being its most central, yet it doesn't feel heavy and depressing at any point. It is a prime example of modern and impressive stagecraft with an AMAZING set that utilizes lighting and projection to enhance and tell the story while using minimal props. In fact, they often substitute people for props and set design in fascinating ways! The acting is incredible and really feels like you are seeing the opening cast on Broadway - it is a relatively small cast and the main character is on stage for 99% of the show which is incredibly impressive. This is one of these shows that you will regret not seeing - it is worth taking a chance on EVEN if you are not generally someone who is into plays. The story is SO solid and the stagecraft is almost worth the price of admission alone. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it also helped me to understand what being in the mind of someone who is autistic must be like. "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time" is part of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Broadway series which you can find more info about here: www.drphillipscenter.org/ Tickets are available in Orlando through November 6th. And if you're interested in seeing the show while on tour in another part of the country, you can visit their website at www.curiousonbroadway.com/ I know I say it every time, but I am SO glad we have such a beautiful performing arts center in Orlando. And today they announced funding was approved for their final expansion! This is where we will be tonight! Love the lighting in this venue. But first a stop for a cheese plate! This is our favorite pre-theater snack! It's showtime! The first 1/2 of the show really focuses on the relationship between Christopher who is autistic and his dad. There is really no way to capture the beauty of the staging in photos. This is a pivotal moment in the story and it is done so beautifully. The second act takes Christopher on a journey like nothing he has ever experienced before.
  13. Tonight we got to see the opening show of the 2016/2017 Broadway In Orlando series - "The Illusionists - Live from Broadway" at the beautiful Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando. This show ran over the holidays last year on Broadway and is now touring the USA with a new version of the show hitting Broadway again this holiday season. One of the quotes on the poster sums it up perfectly "Magic's Cirque-Du-Soleil" - it is an INCREDIBLY entertaining show from start to finish. From the official website: "This mind blowing spectacular showcases the jaw dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth. THE ILLUSIONISTS – Live From Broadway has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on stage. This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions. Audiences will witness stunning acts of grand illusion, levitation, mind-reading, disappearance and for the first time ever in history, a full view water torture escape. Performed by the acclaimed escapologist Andrew Basso, he will hold his breath for over 4 minutes whilst attempting to escape from his underwater cell. This group of world-class performers take their cue from the showmanship of the great illusionists of the past - such as Harry Houdini – and pair it with a new and updated contemporary aesthetic, whose set and costume design lend the genre a theatricality and artistry that has rarely been seen before. Collectively, these performers have been seen by millions of people around the world and this production showcases their incredible talents together on stage for the very first time." First of all I have to admit, I am a bit of a magic snob. I've been to the Magic Castle in LA a few times and seen many professional magic shows both large and small. I went into this show expecting to be entertained but also to see "standard" tricks that I have seen before and have a basic idea of how they are done. That was not the case AT ALL. This show really blew me away not only with the illusions themselves, but also with the pacing of the show, the art direction and the personality of the performers themselves. It was really top notch all around. Not to spoil the show, but it starts off with a mind blowing feat of mentalism that involves the whole audience and STILL has me racking my brain and just before intermission you see an amazing underwater escape that really keeps you on the edge of your seat. In-between and after intermission you will see a whole host of different types of performances including one of the best "bird acts" that I have ever seen. This show is really worth going out of your way to see! "The Illusionists - Live from Broadway" is part of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Broadway series which you can find more info about here: www.drphillipscenter.org/ Tickets are available in Orlando through October 9th. And if you're interested in seeing the Illusionists while on tour or their new show on Broadway this holiday season, you can visit their website at www.theillusionistslive.com/ Every time I visit this theater I am blown away by how beautiful. So lucky to have it in Orlando! Guess what we are here to see! I do like this trend of shows putting picture spots in the lobby. Some cool merch including magic tricks! I got the deck of playing cards. I love the speciality drinks that Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center does for each show. This one even changes colors like a magic trick! It is showtime! This really was an edge-of-your-seat kind of moment. He held his breath for almost 4 minutes as he escaped! This was one of the best "bird acts" I have seen. Producing doves over and over again and turning them back and forth into different things in rapid fire procession. Then turning them red - it was awesome! This version of "saw a man in half" is VERY impressive. It is over already!?!? Curtain call time! I would see this again in a heartbeat and I recommend you do as well!
  14. Part 3 of our Halloween Horror Nights 26 Media Event! The scarezones were top notch as well this year. "A Chance in Hell" features chance and her minions up close. Vamp 55 features a homecoming parade gone wrong... with Vampires! Kitchy, interactive and fun! The chainsaw guys are AWESOME this year. So many cool costumes! If you ask nicely, the characters are even open to taking selfies this year! Dead Man's Warf is foggy, creepy and cool! Survive or Die does a great job of creating atmosphere on the streets of New York with fire and show scenes. You never know who is waiting to pounce! An important part of the HHN experience is grabbing the speciality drink of the year in a blinky cup! This year they have two new ones themed around chance.. or you can mix them for extra chaos! We even got a selfie with Chance! OMG! Fanboy time! Of course, no night is complete without seeing the sign for Mel's DIE-IN. Thanks for reading along with us and see you at Halloween Horror Nights 26!
  15. Part 2 of our Halloween Horror Nights 26 Media Night TR! Texas Chainsaw Massacre was next and it didn't disappoint! Leatherface was around every corner ready to get you! TONS of scares and you can't even let your guard down when you leave the house! The Walking Dead house this year had all of your favorite scenes and is my favorite of the TWD houses so far. TONS of walkers... everywhere! I mean this house has just a ton of scareactors. Bicycle Girl is even in it! Ghost Town was next and this was a wild west house on a HUGE scale! Loved the feel of this house and how "big" the sets seemed. It really felt like a movie. The Exorcist is next and it really captures the spirit of the original movie. You see Regan doing (almost) everything from the movie! CRAZY! THE POWER OF CHRIST.... you know the rest... The creative team said how challenging this house was to create since the movie takes place in one room, but they pulled it off! As we walk to American Horror Story, we get a peak at the line... THIS is why you need an express pass! I'm going to say it right now, American Horror Story is the winner... bar none. It is just almost perfect. Theatrical, scary, beautiful - it is the perfect package. It covers Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel. I've only watched Murder House and I loved the whole thing. The music, the audio cues... man - it just works. Oh - and this guy will haunt your dreams. Lunatics Playground 3D was next - your chance to meet Chance and her minions up close and personal. I recommend doing this with and without the 3D glasses so you notice all the details in the house! Krampus was the last of the houses we did and this Christmas nightmare was really brought to life! I haven't seen the movie yet, but it is now on my must watch list. SO many cool details throughout the house.
  16. Halloween Horror Nights 26 - Opening Night Media Event! TPR was at the opening night media event of Halloween Horror Nights 26 and we can't wait to share the photos and video with you! The icon of this years event is Chance, the sexy (and CRAZY) clown girlfriend of Jack. This years event is essentially a "sequel" of the iconic HHN25 from last year. This is the first time that they have attempted this as a theme, and I think it works very well to expand the Horror Nights universe! The events of this years Halloween Horror Nights continue where the last show of Carnival of Carnage last year left off. Jack is "missing" and Chance has been apprehended for the gruesome things she did during the show. Well, you can imagine how well that turns out! Overall, I have to say that this year is AWESOME. I have been attending HHN since the very first one, 26 years ago and this ranks up there in the top 5 in terms of quality of houses. They scored big this year getting American Horror Story, and having The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre,Halloween II and Krampus really bookend the top-notch original houses. Halloween Horror Nights is really the premiere Halloween event in the country. It goes for 31 nights in September and October and features a whopping 9 NEW houses, 4 new scarezones, 2 shows and roaming hoards of chainsaw killers throughout the park. Oh - and you also have most of the rides open in the park with VERY little wait. Before we start off with the pictures, just some friendly tips if you are planning on going to the event! - The event officially begins at 6:30pm,but they almost always will open the gate at 6. If you have tickets for the day, do "stay and scream" and get a head start on the crowds running to the mazes. Oh - and do American Horror Story first. The lines will NOT go down for it throughout the night. - If you have only one night and want to try and fit it all in, you will need to get an Express Pass or RIP guided tour. Both are *WELL* worth the money and I have done both many times throughout the years. - If you have multiple nights then you really should get the "Frequent Fear Pass" - this is a great deal and is basically an "annual pass" for the event. There are different levels of this that include various days and some now even include express passes. First our walk through videos of two of the houses: American Horror Story Lunatics Playground 3D OK - on to the photos! Chance is waiting to welcome you into her twisted nightmare! She really is delightfully creepy and she is surrounded by all of her psychotic minions. We are here! These iconic gates hold back all of your worst nightmares! Got our credentials and we are good to go! As we enter, the gates break and the chaos begins! We should rush to our safe media holding area before these guys get us! Time for a little food before the fun begins! Universal Studios does events right with tons of fun theming. Including mice and spiders in the popcorn! Finally chance ushers us in to start the event! We got to hear from the cast of The Walking Dead and their experiences going through their house. The first house was Halloween II - Hell Comes to Haddonfield. This was a GREAT house that started right where the last Halloween house in 2014 left off. Michael Myers is going to get you! And this time he is PISSED! Tomb of the Ancients was next! This dark and claustrophobic house was FILLED with creatures you would expect to find in an ancient tomb. A top notch original house.
  17. Have you been on it recently? It seems that they fixed a few things that were a bit "off" during the previews w/ timing, projection issues and even the ability to see your "driver" through the frosted glass. This was my second time riding and I enjoyed it a LOT more than my first. We were also told that there are 5 different "driver" characters and I think the one we got the first time just made the story more confusing than it probably needed to be. It isn't a mind-blowing ride, but I think it is a good addition to the park!
  18. More photos of the Incredible Hulk and Sapphire Falls Resort! This bigger overview of the queue shows that it kept the same basic layout but really amped up the theming and effects. No more purple and green. Hmmm... I wonder who Dr. S. Lee is.... Time to ride! Love the look of the station and the super fast operation. Great crew there! LOVED the ride overall! The new trains and the on-board music by Patrick Stump of Fall out Boy really rocket this ride to new levels! Time to launch over to Loews Sapphire Falls resort which just opened! The lobby has really cute "beachy" and Caribbean theming. AWESOME views of IOA from the lobby as well! The views around this resort are outstanding! The best part is it offers complimentary boat transportation to the parks! A map? Yes please! It is a big resort with a lot of amenities.. you will need this! The centerpiece of the resort is this beautiful stone enclosed staircase! It is hard to capture how pretty this is in pictures! The rooms are VERY spacious and well appointed with all the modern amenities! Time to take the resort bridge to get some food! We got to sample some of the resort specialties including their ceviche bar! And delicious jerk chicken with mango salsa! YUM! The theming and details in the Strong Water Bar are great and they have an amazing selection of rum! Stacey found her new favorite drink - the Strong Water Grog which tastes like rum and cinnamon heaven! So many awesome new things at Universal Studios Orlando this summer and Volcano Bay will be coming along in less than a year... I can't wait!
  19. Earlier today TPR attended the Universal Studios Orlando Summer Media Event and saw all of the awesome new summer offerings! We started off with an early morning walk through of the queue at Reign of Kong where we got to see the amazing queue effects and scaractors up close. Then we moved over to Incredible Hulk which is currently in technical previews and got to ride this newly re-imagined and plussed up iconic B&M coaster. We then finished off our morning touring the brand new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort which is a beautiful addition to their already great resort lineup. The story is in the pictures... so lets take a look! We start off the morning with a pre-opening Reign of Kong queue walk through. The detail in the queue is awesome! Really like a movie set. The natives in the queue are getting restless! This queue is an attraction in itself - it even has animatronics! I really can't stress enough how detailed this queue is - really one of the best in Orlando. Cameras are not allowed on the ride - but this spec sheet shows you what the vehicles are like. If the weather is good, you start off outside the ride in your vehicle. If it is bad, your vehicle will bypass this portion. Cool! The climax of the ride is a face to face look at the big guy! It is VERY impressive in person! Time to head over to ride The Incredible Hulk! Love this view! Hulk is BACK and is better than ever! Onboard sound, new trains and track and an awesome new queue. LOVE the new entrance statement for the queue! Really sets up the ride well. TWISTY! So many great elements to this coaster! They really ramped up the storyline to tie it into the Marvel Universe even more. Even the metal detectors have theming! The queue uses the storyline of General Thaddeus Ross and his base. So many cool lighting effects and the largest plasma generator in the world! So many cool themed signs and references! Hmmm.. I wonder what nefarious purpose this is being used for!
  20. TPR got to go to the Cobra's Curse Media Event today at Busch Gardens in Tampa and it was a TON of fun! This coaster is the perfect addition to the park, almost everyone can ride with a 42 inch height requirement and it is unique and fun enough to keep you coming back for more! The queue is actually a very important part of the ride with lots of theming details, projection mapping and interactive elements. Reptiles are also nearby with a 400-cubic-foot snake exhibit which includes Jameson’s mambas, Angolan pythons and rhinoceros and gaboon vipers! The coaster has a 70 foot vertical lift which is similar to an outdoor elevator. It is a 3:30 ride with a second lift and a freespining second half of the ride at a top speed of 40mph. Busch Gardens® Tampa puts a spin on family thrills in 2016 with a brand new family thrill ride – Cobra’s Curse. This spin coaster is the only one of its kind in the world, featuring a vertical lift and taking riders on a whirlwind adventure of exciting explorations. Located in the Egypt area of the park, explorers will come face-to-face with an 80-foot snake icon, trek over the park’s Serengeti Plain® and discover the mysteries of an Egyptian archeological excavation. “This isn’t your ordinary spin coaster. In true Busch Gardens style, we’re putting a twist on this attraction and taking riders on an unforgettable and exciting journey,” said Busch Gardens Park President Jim Dean. “ “The addition of a family spin coaster complements the selection of thrill rides Busch Gardens offers, and we know it’s an attraction that guests from across the globe will enjoy,” Dean added. “We continue to find new and exciting ways to offer thrills for the entire family, and we know Cobra’s Curse will even further solidify Busch Gardens as Florida’s Thrill Leader.” Now what you really want to see... onto the photos! Time to check in! These stilt walker cobra dudes are AWESOME! Our first glimpse at the iconic Cobra tower of the ride! This creates interest and excitement in the whole area! Another cobra dude welcomes us into his lair... a fully air conditioned queue! Super cool use of projection mapping in the queue, Uh-Oh! The cobra is mad! The station is really nice! It is big, with a moving walkway to help you board and some theming to continue the storyline. The cars are even themed a bit and very comfortable. HUNGRY COBRA EAT COASTER CAR! This is going to be a prime spot for photos! No ride is complete without a gift shop and this one has lots of interesting cobra items! They even sell a custom blend wine in a Cobra's Curse commemorative bottle! They also have a custom blend on the coke freestyle machine - the Cobra Twist! It tastes like a combo of Fanta Peach with raspberry. Sounds weird, but it is delicious! They even updated the bathrooms by Montu - find the mirror with this hidden symbol... And this appears! How cool is that! Cool concept art of the queue and loading area. And a model of the whole ride! Cobra's Curse is NOW OPEN at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida!
  21. Tonight we got to see the Tony and Grammy award winning musical, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical", at the fantastic Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Downtown Orlando. This production is still on Broadway and is also showing on the West End in London. From the official website: "Before she was Carole King, superstar—she was Carole King, teenage songwriter. Her music would become the soundtrack to a generation. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice. BEAUTIFUL tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than BEAUTIFUL music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation." This is a "jukebox musical" where you don't walk in realizing that you know all the songs, and you walk out AMAZED how many songs that you actually know! (You make me feel like a) Natural Woman, I feel the earth move and The Locomotion are just a few of the songs on this amazing soundtrack. The staging and set design were very impressive for a traveling show with a couple of pretty awesome costume quick changes that you don't expect in a show like this. In addition to being surprised that I knew so many of the songs, I was also quite surprised how funny it was! The cast was filled with amazingly strong singers and it even had one of the original cast members from Newsies... you can't beat that! "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" is part of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Broadway series which you can find more info about here: www.drphillipscenter.org/ Tickets are available in Orlando through May 8th. And if you're interested in seeing Beautiful while on tour or on Broadway or in London, here's more info about their schedule: beautifulonbroadway.com/ If you have been to the Dr. Phillips Center you realize that it is one of the premiere modern theaters in the country. They had some great merchandise that featured lyrics from some of her best known songs. I love that they had a photo spot - I wish more shows did this! Shhhh.... it's showtime! Curtain Call! What an amazingly talented group of cast members! Singers and Songwriters - such talent and such memorable songs!
  22. We had actually been to Oslo before Copenhagen, so this was just returning for one last day before our Flight. Oslo is a BEAUTIFUL city and spending 3.5 days there really just let us scratch the surface. I don't usually get sea sick, but Stacey sometimes does and we didn't have any issues on our voyage. That being said, I did read reviews that this route during the fall can get a bit rough. Since it is a smaller ship, it would be a different experience than a large ship in the Caribbean.
  23. Part 3 and Final! Overall we had a GREAT time and would do something like this again in a heartbeat! So much to see before the sun went down, this was the castle from Hamlet on one side and the other side was Sweden! One of my favorite things to photograph, no matter what cruise I am on in the world... The actually had a decent promenade deck that if the weather was nice would have gotten some use! Our dinner menu! Prices were not horrible and the pizza was decent! PIZZA PIZZA! This is one of the upgraded spaces - not bad for a cruise ship pizza joint! The pub which would be hopping later! Overview of things to do! Only cruise ship I have seen with multiple pay phone rooms! Never saw anyone using them however. After asking around for hours, we finally got this handy list of the cool things we can see along our route! We also finally found the "pool"... it was super weird, empty and you had to pay 5euro to swim. Deserted kids play area Indoor "pool" They converted two staterooms into an arcade which was kinda weird! Guest Services seemed to be more about selling items than actual service.. The main lounge was HOPPING! Decent singers and hilarious to watch the Scandinavians dance without a care in the world! This was our favorite place to sit on the ship. You are in your own little hidden world when you sit there! Other lounge that didn't even get going till 2300 with a DJ. Crazy for a one night cruise! Breakfast time! We had a separate and much nicer buffet in the Steakhouse. Fresh mixed juices, lots of cheese, pastries, etc. Yum! View of arriving in Oslo from our room! Thanks for a great trip!
  24. Part 2! In the lounge Stacey is excited to try the super salty pretzels, weird cheese covered nuts and various other stuff! Unlimited wine, beer and sodas! The peons can look down at us in the lounge The had a selection of the menus - you can see they are pretty pricey, even by Scandinavian standards. The pizza place was reasonable, so that is where we decided to have dinner. Obligatory! Time to sail away form Copenhagen! It is freezing! The indoor spaces were nice. This was the wine bar. Things did get busy later at night. The buffet was getting set up, but it was pricey and a little too seafood heavy. More buffet! The duty free shop took up a huge chunk of one floor. It was so big it even had supermarket style registers! And a meat and cheese cold case! Stacey was very excited that there was a Mermaid Bar... but it wasn't open. So we brought our sparkling wine out into the cold windy weather anyway! So strange to see a flag on a cruise ship that isn't Bahamian! You could get SUPER close to the bridge while sailing!
  25. So this is a departure from the "typical" cruise ship experience, but I wanted to put together a trip report for the overnight cruise ferry that I did a few weeks ago that went from Copenhagen Denmark to Oslo Norway. These European cruise ferrys have been featured in a few trip reports that Robb and Elissa have done before, although this one is a different company and route. It was overnight (we boarded around 4pm and arrived around 9am) and the cost was similar to an inter-europe air fare and one night in a decent hotel. It was our anniversary, so I decided to splurge and upgrade us to the lowest category of room that included access to the concierge lounge and also free breakfast. This cost about 60euro extra (for both) and was a GREAT deal since the breakfast alone would have been 20euro each and the lounge had unlimited beer, wine, sodas and snacks. These ships do have complementary entertainment, but you do have to pay for all food. Anyways... on to the photos! Our first glimpse of the shio! The bottom is where the cars drive in - it really is a ferry! Hey! Thats the route we are doing... so European looking. As we soon discovered, we think we were the only Americans on the whole ship. Check in was done entirely on kiosk! It printed out your boarding/room "key" which was little more than a hard paper ticket with a mag stripe on the back. Wrinkled after one night! I love ship models! Wish they had this one to purchase. European kids are REALLY excited about this cruise! We spent a night on this ship and we still aren't really sure of the name. Crown Seaways was used pretty much everywhere but there was also a few other names around.. Walking the gangway onto the ship... it really is like a cruise! Aaaaaaaaaannnnndddd... our grand entrance. OK - so our first impression was "Carnival ship from the 1990s" but many other areas have been upgraded recently as you will see in other photos! Our room was AMAZING! One of the largest rooms on the ship and well worth the upgrade. We were dead center in the front! Largest bed we had during our entire trip! Typical tiny cruise ship bathroom. FREE minibar with sparkling wine, their own microbrew beer and bottled water! View from our stateroom.. how awesome is that! It was in the low 40s outside so a great indoor view helped! Ship map so you can get a feel for the layout! Time to visit the concierge lounge.. the Commodore club!
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