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Everything posted by live2tell75

  1. You are correct, the Florida parks are very dead the first half of December. It is a great time of year, no lines and the weather is actually nice, not crazy hot! My best recommendation after hitting HRR, would be to head to The Simpson's Ride then MIB. Both of these are popular even during off season. (especially The Simpsons Ride). I think it is because they both appeal to the entire family. After those two attractions, continue on to Revenge of the Mummy. The wait should be pretty short (if any). After the Studios, you should be fine at IOA. Since Spidey, Hulk and Doom all have single rider's lines you should be fine. You have picked a perfect time of year to visit. You definitely won't need an Express Pass. Now if you were to visit between Dec. 23rd through New Year's, now that an entirely different story, stay far far away! Hope this helps and have fun! Eric
  2. My Review of Howl-O-Scream 10: House of Vayne Every year we try to hit the major Florida Halloween haunts: Halloween Horror Nights at Universal and Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Over the years we have seen HOS grow into the major event it is today. Last Thursday, we checked out this year’s event: The House of Vayne. Busch Gardens jumped on the vampire bandwagon for this year’s theme. The twist is that the event is themed to a group of model vampires that are “killers” on the runway. I will have to give it to BGT for the marketing campaign for the House of Vanye, it has been everywhere and the TV spots are pretty cool. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGMbtxrhFFQ We always try to hit HOS on a Thursday and earlier in the month. It is always the best time to go. The crowds are super light. We walked into every house, walked onto every coaster, with the exception to Shekria (had a 10 minute wait). The 7 haunted houses are pretty solid, the scare zones could be a lot better though, but we still had a good time. Below is my review of the houses: HOUSES: Nightshade Toys: Your worst childhood fears are confirmed when sinister toys come to life. This was our first house of the night and our favorite. The house is located in the skyride building were the former After Hours: Club Dead house used to be. We had a blast in this one. There were a lot of good scares. The evil marinette room was very creepy! If you hate dolls at all, this one will scare the scrap out of you! Grade: A Reconstruction: The Doctor Is In Dr. Edger Von Angst has the skill and technology to rebuild you…But what will you become? A returning house from last year, Reconstruction is located in the old Akbar attraction building. When we went through this, it was especially creepy because we were the only people in the house. So it we had a lot of good scares. Kind of gory, which is expected. Grade: B Death Row: Vengence The inmates of Grey Echo Penitentiary are slated for execution, and they blame you! Another returning house from last year located in Narobi. A typical haunted house themed to a prison where the inmates have taken over. A solid house with a few cool effects including “floating” inmates. And watch out for the firing squad! Grade: B- Trapped In The Walls Evil pollutes the walls of a house that can’t let go of its horrible history. This returning Timbuktu house features scares from every direction. Another decent house. Grade: B- Taste of Blood Forced underground into the subways and sewers, vampires wait until nightfall to seduce fresh blood. Located in the Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars building, Taste of Blood had a good scare at the beginning for our group. I believe this is this house’s 3rd year, so not sure how many more years it will be around, I think some of the effects are getting old. Grade: B- DED Pledge Week The most mysterious sorority on campus is hiding some sinister secrets. The 2nd of 2 new houses this year, this one was built in a brand new building over where the old Orchid Canyon used to be by the Tidal Wave. I think this will be a big hit with straight guys. Lot’s of pillow fights and half naked demonic soul-sucking girls. Sounds fun, right? Grade: C+ 13: Motorcycle Club The Messengers return to claim another 13 victims. This year they’re out to feast on human flesh. Another old house from the last few years. A typical redneck-type themed house. Lots of fog and way too much gasoline. Grade: C- Out of the 4 scare zones, Werewolves was the best with the most scares and best theming. The other 3 were just ok, nothing very memorable. Can’t rate the shows since we didn’t really see them. We caught about 5 minutes of Fiends, basically it featured lots of characters Lip Syncing to disco, no thanks. How does HOS stack up to HHN? I would say that HHN’s houses are much more detailed and really set the mood. HOS’s houses have more constant and cheap scares. Also a plus and negative is that the houses at HOS are extremely long in length. If you go be sure to catch the fashion runway show at the front entrance which is very cool. Check out a video of it here: WARNING! Contains Spoilers! I think this year’s scare zones at both Universal and Busch have been better in years past. Overall I enjoyed our night at HOS, but I could have a very skewed opinion since we were there on an extremely dead night with no lines. I don’t care how good a haunted house is, waiting an hour plus for it, will never be worth it. If you have a chance I would recommend checking HOS out on a Thursday night and you will have the park to yourself! Final thought: If you like Halloween and haunted houses, you will enjoy HOS a lot. Thanks to my fun group for making this night a blast! The best scare zone at HOS in my opinion, "Werewolves". Part of the very cool runway show at the park entrance. Some of the cast of demonic models featured at this year's event.
  3. I found a link to the movie's official website. http://www.scarezonemovie.com/ From the movie trailer, you can see some familiar sets from last year's Body Collectors house.
  4. ^ Thanks Chuck, I am right there with you, I grew up on the Classic Universal monsters, you are in for a real treat!
  5. One final photo: a map of the event, our media badges and one of the 2 HHN pins. That's it from me - until next year! Scroll down for more photos and a video from Erik.
  6. Part 5: FINAL THOUGHTS: I had a great time, the only thing I can complain about was that it was a thousand degrees out! But that's not HHN's fault. The Usher mascot was creepy & all the houses were solid this year. They all gave a good setting and completed the job of being ripped off the screen. You really do feel like you have been transported into the movie. I don’t know if there were as many scares as previous years but the atmosphere was excellent. Which sometimes I enjoy even more than just a cheap scare. For the scare zones, I need to try them again in the dark. Both shows were entertaining, but I have to give it to Rocky as my favorite. I think overall it will be placed in my top half events attended, not as good as last year’s Bloody Mary theme but better than 2007’s Carnival of Carnage. Here is my updated rankings: 1. HHN IV (1994) 2. HHN 13: The Director Will See You (2003) 3. HHN: Reflections of Fear (2008) 4. HHN V: The Curse of the Crypt Keeper (1995) 5. HHN VII: Frightmares (1997) 6. HHN: Islands of Fear (2002) 7. HHN: Sweet 16 Horror Comes Home (2006) 8. HHN: Ripped From The Silver Screen (2009) 9. HHN VI: Journey Into Fear (1996) 10. HHN: Tales of Terror (2005) 11. HHN VIII: Primal Scream (1998) 12. HHN IX: Last Gasp (1999) 13. HHN X: You Don’t Know Jack (2000) 14. HHN: What’s Your Breaking Point? (2004) 15. HHN: Carnival of Carnage (2007) Thanks again to Robb for having us attend this fantastic event. Erik and Adam it was fun hanging out. Thanks to all of the Universal staff for making us feel so welcome and the creators of HHN for giving me a great appreciation of what goes into my favorite event of the year! Another great event, can’t even imagine what next year’s 20th anniversary has in store! Thanks for reading and enjoy the Halloween season! Including Doug Jones, known for rolls in the movie Pan's Labyrinth and one of my favorites, as one of the Gentlemen in the classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode "Hush". We ended the evening watching an interview session with a Fangoria radio station and some of the HHN creators.
  7. Part 4: SHOWS: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure – I’m a fan of this show. It’s part of HHN history and a tradition. Usually this a major highlight. But I think maybe this year it just wasn’t the best in my opinion story-wise. All of the performers did a great job dancing. They danced their asses off for the big finale number which I think made up for the rest of the story line. And considering it was like in the low 90’s with agazillion % humidity, I don’t know how they didn’t pass out. I don’t know if it was the audience’s lack of enthusiasm for the show, (usually everyone cheers and is pretty rowdy). Maybe everyone was sober and not drinking as much as in years past. But this year's show just didn’t seem to capture the audience as usual. I did think the MJ tribute was kind of cool. I think I might have finally hit an age where I can’t relate to as much of the pop culture as in past shows. So yes I’m too old! The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute – This was a gem I experienced last year for the first time. This was so much fun. The performers did a fantastic job singing and dancing. The audience as like if you ever see the movie in theater, was on fire. They really interacted with the stage, and the performers gave it right back! And plus everyone is half naked!
  8. Part 3: (MINOR SPOILERS) HOUSES: This year’s 8 haunted houses were all around solid good houses. Many years there are great houses but there always seem to be a clunker. But this year I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Silver Screams – A solid house. Home to this year’s mascot “The Usher” Silver Screams puts you in the middle of a scene from a collection of classic and recent horror movies. Biggest freak out for me is “The Strangers” room, that movie freaked me out and their scene in the house delivered the same reaction. B+ Chucky – Friends Till The End – “The funhouse” of this year’s event. Lots of good disorientating effects. You are shrunk down to the size of Chucky. Lots of cool Chucky masks and some “killer” stuffed animals. B The Spawning – You travel through the sewers to come face to face with some type of creature things that have really cool glowing eyes. This house has a lot of nasty things hanging from the ceilings. B- Saw - I think it does the movies proud. Basically you walk through lots of graphic scenes of torture that are featured in the films. Warning: you may get wet in this house. B Leave It To Cleaver – Like Psychoscarapy: Home for the Holidays a few years back, this was a cool and very unique house. The layout of the house was interesting and the masks worn by the actors are freaky. Felt like the most original house this year. A- The Wolfman – Attention to details is all I can say. Universal always does a good job on transporting you into the movies and this is no exception. You really feel like you are outside in the woods – think the E.T. queue but eerie. The Wolfman house wasn’t the scariest but had the best setting. The acting scenes were really great. A- Frankenstein: Creation of the Damned – Another great detailed house. Lots of monsters, body parts, solid house. B+ Dracula: Legacy In Blood – I think this was one of my favorite houses of the night. It was more like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is a movie favorite of mine. Lots of details in the castle and many “killer” brides made this one great. A SCARE ZONES: I feel I can’t really give a good/fair review of any of the scarezones from my visit. When we started the RIP tour it was still daylight so the scare zones aren’t that effective. By the time we went through them, it was the end of the night so I was extremely tired. I will say I liked the overall feel for most of them. The Horrorwood Die-In was good, (be sure to visit the snack bar!) I really enjoyed the Apocalalypse scarezone: The actors were doing a great job there. I think I would need to experience the other scare zones in the dark, first thing coming into the park. I think they would have left a lasting stronger effect on me. Big plus for bringing back the jack-o-lanterns in the trees by Café LaBamba, it is one of my favorite areas from last year and this year. Bumped into some old friends, Reed and Stacy! The jack-o-lanterns are back. Sorry about the sucky photo. =( War of the Living Dead scare zone.
  9. Part 2: We were led to our “RIP” party at the Horror Make Up Show theater lobby. They really rolled out the red carpet for this event. A perfect setting to host in, the lobby features many artifacts from a gazillion classic Universal horror films. The party was great: 4 food stations and 2 open bars were all top notch. Got to meet with some of the creators of the event including Michael Roddy the show director and the creator of Jack, just to name a few. Also spoke with Kim Grommel the creator of past scare zones like “The Skool” and this year’s Horrorwood Drive Inn”. Kim gave us a great tidbit: there is a new small indie movie called “Scare Zone” that will be either in theaters or on DVD soon that was filmed in last year’s “Body Collectors” house. So be on the look out for it. Another little tidbit: did you know it takes over 1,000 cast members make HHN happen? I believe it! After a welcome by Chris Thomas, the VP of Universal Entertainment, we were sent off on our “RIP” private tour of the event. Led by our great tour guide, Ethan, we hit the monster-filled streets of Universal Studios Florida. Chris Thomas, the VP of Universal Entertainment. Show director, Michael Roddy. T.J. Mannarino one of the creators of HHN. Tribute to past Halloween Horror Nights.
  10. Part:1 My Thoughts on Halloween Horror Nights 19: Ripped From The Silver Screen Every year I always look forward to attending Halloween Horror Nights. This year it was a special milestone event for me, it was my 15th event year attending. Over the years the events start to blur into each other. Not that they aren’t good, but it gets hard to remember which house/scare zone went with which year. Over the years some do stand out in my mind, like my first house back in 94’. You always remember your first house, I was 19 and with a bunch of my friends. We went through the Psycho Path Maze. We queued up in front of the old Bates motel and then headed into the house built behind the now gone Psycho House façade where Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster now stands. From the moment walking into the Bates Motel lobby and Norman slamming down a butcher knife on the front desk screaming “GET OUT!” We knew this was going to be a night full of screams. Over the years a few more memories come to mind, like my first scare zone: The Midway of the Bizarre in Amity. The little monster creature biting a eyelid as part of the Frightmares theme in 1997. Bill Clinton, Monica and Hillary and rest of the Bill & Ted cast performing “You’re the One That I Want” from the movie Grease. Trying to find our way out of a room with the walls caving-in, in the Dungeon of Terror. Or when “Neo” from the Matrix flew over the audience in Bill & Ted and then found his “Ted” twin. Running scared sh#tless through the Terror Mines with just one source of light on our leader of the group’s helmet light. Being trapped in a room full of Micheal Myers in the The Director’s All Nite Die Inn at Islands of Adventure. Having Jack spray the boat with a giant firehose in the boathouse on Jaws. Experiencing and being amazed by the bungee effect of a flying vampire in Castle Vampre for the first time. Always being blown away by the massive detail that goes into the sets for the houses. I have experienced the event in the super hot normal Florida mid-90’s weather, through 2 tropical storms and every once in awhile a nice low humidity night when it actually feels like fall! And then there are the memorable icons from The Crypt Keeper, Jack, The Caretaker to the Director. All the events are fun, some years stronger than others but I always have a good time. Last night I had a very special treat: along with Erik and Adam, we were invited to attend the Media Night/Kick off for this year’s event: Halloween Horror Nights: Ripped from the Screen”. Ripped From The Screen places you in some of the most terrifying scenes from motion picture history. The icon for this year is a movie ticket usher who once worked at the Universal Palace Theater. When approaching the entrance plaza for the Studios you immediately notice the theater entrance and marquee. Movie posters that feature characters from this year’s houses are decorated in each of the surrounding arches. We started with a Q&A at the front entrance with Michael Roddy, the show director for HHN. After some trivia, Michael brought out actors John C. Reilly, Chris Massoglia and Josh Hutcherson stars of the upcoming Universal film, “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”. It was exciting, I wanted to shout out to “Broc Landers”, Dirk Digler’s wing man, but I resisted. After seeing a sneak peek of the new film (opens October 23rd) and some Q&A, HHN officially kicked off. HHN Show Director, Michael Roddy. Erik was happy about his free movie poster. Yay for "Broc Landers!" Actors John C. Reilly, Chris Massoglia and Josh Hutcherson stars of the upcoming Universal film, “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”.
  11. ^ You are right. It's funny, I thought the one in Williamsburg from the photos looked kind of bare for having "Forest" in it's title. The ironic thing is BGT's version of Sesame will feature a lot of desert themed items, but the area, if kept as is, will be more forest-like than desert-like. Oh well.
  12. Even though I thought Land of the Dragons was well done and very cute, I always thought it didn't go with the theme of the rest of the park. In Williamsburg, LOTD totally fits in, but not so much with BGT's African theme. I'm glad that the Sesame Street area will have a safari theme. I pray that they keep all of the giant trees that keep that area of the park nice and shaded and cool. As some have mentioned, I hope we do get a hyper for 2011, but I think this will still be good for the families. The park will now have a pretty good selection of coaster intensity levels for everyone: Air Grover for kids, Cheetah Chase and Scorpion for families. Kumba, Montu, Gwazi and Sheikra for thrill seekers.
  13. ^I wasn't sure if the Sunny Day Theater and it's description referred to a new live stage show? If it did, I assumed that it would be where the existing Land of the Dragons stage show - open-air theater is. Or maybe it is a brand new 3D-movie for the Timbuktu theater. I'll do some research and try and find out.
  14. ^ I updated the first post by adding the 3D movie. I couldn't find any info on the website about the movie. But all of our local papers have been saying the park would be adding the Sesame Street presents Lights, Camera, Imagination! 3D Movie. Other than the 2 new rides I mentioned, looks like all of the old Land of the Dragons attractions/area will be re-themed to Sesame Street. So I believe LOTD will be no more.
  15. UPDATE: Opening Weekend Trip Report - Go To Page 2 Busch Gardens Tampa Bay officially announced the re-theme of the Land of the Dragons area to Sesame Street Safari of Fun. Along with re-theming the exsisting rides, the land will feature Air Grover, a new family themed roller coaster and Rosita's Djembe Fly-Away swing ride. An another element of the land will be a Sesame Street character breakfast and lunch. And finally a new 3D movie will round off the new additions, "Sesame Street presents Lights, Camera, Imagination!" All of these new additions will open in the spring of 2010. Below are a list of the new and re-themed attractions:
  16. I approve of where you had dinner! Looks like a great time!
  17. Erik, SDC looks awesome, I cannot wait to go in a few weeks. Looks like you hit everything, great report!
  18. Madonna gave a small tribute to Michael during the opening of the 2nd leg of her Sticky and Sweet world tour last night in London: http://www.madonna.com/ Pretty fitting for the queen of pop to pay respect to the king of pop. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjeNLlOOATA
  19. Tonight kicks off Madonna's 2009 leg of her Sticky and Sweet World Tour in London. This summer she will be playing European markets that she has never played before or hasn't played in over 15 years. She will end the tour in September with 2 shows in Tel Aviv, Isreal. 95% of the show will be the same as in the 2008 leg of the tour. A few songs have been added including a rock version of the old Madonna classic Dress You Up that replaces Borderline. And the classic Holiday replaces the newer song Heartbeat. A dance remix version of the 1998 hit Frozen will replace the rock version of Hung Up. As a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, elements of the songs Billy Jean and Wanna Be Starting Something will be mixed with the song Holiday. To help celebrate the kick-off of the 2nd leg of the tour, Madonna.com has released an ad for the upcoming Sticky and Sweet DVD concert that was filmed last December in Argentina to be released this September. Check out the ad and the updated tour dates below! The Sticky And Sweet World Tour 2008/2009 Dates: 2008 Europe Aug 23 - Cardiff, Wales Aug 26 - Nice, France Aug 28 - Berlin, Germany Aug 30 – Zurich, Switcherland Sept 02 – Amsterdam, The Neitherlands Sept 04 – Dusseldorf, Germany Sept 06 – Rome, Italy Sept 09 – Frankfurt, Germany Sept 11- London, United Kingdom Sept 14 – Lisbon, Portugal Sept 16 – Seville, Spain Sept 18 – Valencia, Spain Sept 20 – Paris, France Sept 21 – Paris, France Sept 23 – Vienna, Austria Sept 25 – Budva, Montenegro Sept 27 – Athens, Greece North America Oct 04 - E. Rutherford, NJ USA Oct 06 - New York City, NY USA Oct 07 - New York City, NY USA Oct 11 - New York City, NY USA Oct 12 - New York City, NY USA Oct 15 - Boston, MA USA Oct 16 - Boston, MA USA Oct 18 - Toronto, Canada Oct 19 - Toronto, Canada Oct 22 - Montreal Bell Centre, Canada Oct 23 - Montreal Bell Centre, Canada Oct 26 - Chicago, IL USA Oct 27 - Chicago, IL USA Oct 30 - Vancouver, Canada Nov 01 - Oakland, CA USA Nov 02 - Oakland, CA USA Nov 04 - San Diego, CA USA Nov 06 - Los Angeles, CA USA Nov 08 - Las Vegas, NV USA Nov 09 - Las Vegas, NV USA Nov 11 - Denver, CO USA Nov 12 - Denver, CO USA Nov 16 - Houston, TX USA Nov 18 - Detroit, MI USA Nov 20 - Philadelphia, PA USA Nov 22 - Atlantic City, NJ USA Nov 24 - Atlanta, GA USA Nov 26 - Miami, FL USA Nov 29 - Mexico City, Mexico Nov 30 - Mexico City, Mexico South America Dec 04 - Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 05 - Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 07 - Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 08 - Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 10 - Santiago, Chile Dec 11 - Santiago, Chile Dec 14 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Dec 15 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Dec 18 - Sao Paulo, Brazil Dec 20 - Sao Paulo, Brazil Dec 21 - Sao Paulo, Brazil 2009 Europe Jul 04 – London, United Kingdom Jul 05 – London, United Kingdom Jul 07 – Manchester, United Kingdom Jul 09 – Paris, France Jul 11 – Werchter, Belgium Jul 14 – Milan, Italy Jul 16 – Udine, Italy Jul 19 – Marseille, France Jul 21 – Barcelona, Sapin Jul 23 - Madrid , Spain Jul 25 – Zaragoza, Spain Jul 28 – Oslo, Norway Jul 30 – Oslo, Norway Aug 02 - St. Petersburg, Russia Aug 04 – Tallinn, Estonia Aug 06 – Helsinki, Finland Aug 08 – Gothenburg, Swedan Aug 09 – Gothenburg, Swedan Aug 11 – Copenhagen, Denmark Aug 13 – Prague, Czech Republic Aug 15 – Warsaw, Poland Aug 18 – Munich, Germany Aug 20 – Ljubljana, Slovenia Aug 22 – Budapest, Hungary Aug 24 – Belgrade, Serbia Aug 26 – Bucharest, Romania Aug 29 – Sofia, Bulgaria Sep 01 - Tel Aviv, Israel Sep 02 - Tel Aviv, Isreal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-9V0YtJEw
  20. Found this small article about one of the designers of Manta in the paper yesterday. http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/tourism/article999098.ece Thought it was interesting.
  21. I rode Manta twice on Thursday afternoon. Got to the park around 3 pm. The wait posted 15 minutes, but I waited about 25 minutes. The line started in the first aquarium. They only had one station open. The second time I rode the line was outside, but they opened both stations, so the line moved pretty quickly. I rode front row both times, which was fine as I really didn't want to experience the more intense back row. After greying out on Kawasemi last fall and maybe because I'm getting older I didn't really want to experience too much of a intense ride today. I have ridden Tatsu at SFMM, Superman Ultimate Flight at SFOG, Batwing at SFA and Air at Alton Towers. I actually really like flyers. I think Tatsu is more intense than Manta. But Manta is a thrilling ride. For me personally I am really a big themed- attraction type of guy. I look at the whole experience not just if it is forceful ride. I think the whole storyline of the attraction is great. Never have I been in a queue were the people in line looked more relaxed from looking at the exhibits. It really is a very peaceful experience. I think this is perfect for a Florida park, wear quests can cool off while waiting. The aquariums are beautiful. I would have to say that this queue is up there with the attention to detail as the castle queue for Dueling Dragons at IOA. The ride itself if fun, I think that it will make coaster fans and the general public very happy. As I mentioned before I like flyers, just 2 things I don't like about flyers: you have to look up to see wear you're going and if both stations aren't open, hanging face down to go into the station really sucks. But I love the maneuvers and the off ride elements that Manta experiences. From the crowds surrounding the ride it is a real crowd pleaser. I think it is a fantastic addition to Sea World Orlando. I figure everyone has seen enough photos of the ride, but here is an added one.
  22. As of right now: • Busch Gardens Africa Platinum Pass • Universal Orlando Premium Pass
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