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Posts posted by OrlandoGuy

  1. Just officially got done with a great opening weekend of HHN. Overall, I think this year is a great improvement over the last two years--in some aspects, its so much better this year that it feels like a return to form...almost. I'll explain that later; here are the house/scarezone reviews, after going through each at least twice over the weekend. (SOME SPOILERS)


    AVP (9/10)--I wanted to LOVE this house, and I think my expectations were set unrealistically high. My first run-through was very disappointing as I felt it lacked actors and effects. However, my next few runs were much better as everyone got into synch, and once I had my expectations in check, it ended up being a solid house thats one of my favorites now. The sets are incredible and there are some good effects. The Predator costumes are AWESOME and the alien puppets are everything I hoped they would be...the problem is I wish there were more. I know that the quantity of actual puppets/Predators is ok, but things like the static alien in the ceiling and the Predator who is always out in the open make it feel like the actual scares in this house are lower than they could be quantity-wise. However, the scares that ARE there are intense. I think after some work, the scares could get to that level of relentlessness they ought to be, but for now its a good house for the amazing sets and the intense scares that are there. (Also, can they get rid of that stupid crawl tunnel please?)


    Dracula (4/10)--I hated this house. The scares are almost nonexistent. The story is incoherent. The source material doesnt seem inherently scary. I enjoyed the sets and details, but as a haunted house I feel that it fails.


    The Walking Dead (8/10)--I thought this was a great house, honestly. The sets were phenomenal with how packed with detail they are. Now, Im not a fan of the show so a lot of it was lost on me. But the scope of it was enough to make it enjoyable to me (speaking of which, its very easy to tell this is HHN's biggest house ever). I also loved how this house seemed packed with actors--they came out from everywhere! As much as Im ready for HHN to move on from Walking Dead, I really thought this house was a star.


    From Dusk Till Dawn (6/10)--Ive seen the movie and the first half of the show's first season, so I kinda knew what was up. Like every other house this year, I loved the set design, the scale in this one was great and it felt very organic and "real". But the vibe in here felt off from the show...it didnt seem as quirky as it couldve been, or as "cool" as it should have been--other than the magnificent set design and scanty costumes, it was barely different from any other vampire house. Also, I thought the scares were light. Great final room though!


    Roanoke (7/10)--I liked this house a lot...it had a few great scares, some good makeup/mask work, a great facade/final room, and a solid original story. I also loved the gory effects and how well the actors blended into the gory parts (something that has been lacking lately). But for some reason every time I left I felt like there was something to be desired. Maybe the actor energy is low? Im not sure what its missing, but its something. Im sure it'll find its stride and improve though. It has all the ingredients of a stellar house, it just hasnt pulled it all together yet.


    Dollhouse of the Damned (9/10)--holy hell. This is a CREEPY house. Very creepy. The crib room is disturbing. The woman with the melted/morphed doll face furiously combimg the doll's hair is the single most disturbing and resonant image Ive ever seen at HHN since starting in 2007. HHN has been missing this kind of thing and its so good to see it back. Overall, the scares and sets were just good, but the immensely creepy tone really makes this house stand out. The amazing disturbing atmosphere gives such a surreal and intense feeling of dread that makes it something else


    Halloween (10/10)--my favorite house. Now, I may be bias because Halloween is a dream house of mine and Im in love with the Carpenter film. The crazy faithfulness with which the house followed the movie is phenomenal. The sets are straight out of the movie. Its claustrophobic. There are actual scenes of Michael attacking victims (something thats been missing for way too long), and pitch-perfect music cues straight from the movie. And best of all, Michael is AGGRESSIVE! I could have sworn he was micrometers away from making real physical contact several times. The hall of Michael Myers' is one of the most intense scares Ive ever gotten at the event. This is a gem.


    Giggles and Gore (9/10)--I had low expectations for this one, but they were far exceeded. First off, the rumors of this house being the shortest ever are nothing to worry about--the house feels perfect in length. And its very dark--theres a creepy-ass opening scene that really sets the tone for a dark and gory house...its not a fun house-type deal. Also, I felt the actors were pretty aggressive. Overall, this is a very solid house with good actors/makeup and scares, but the true star is the creepy environment its set in.



    Maskerade--cool idea and I like the chandelier, but the scares are lacking.


    Face-Off--if you didnt know what Face Off was, this zone would be no more than a photo op with a few actors thrown in. I am familiar with the concept of the show but didnt really *get* the zone. I thought there would be more of an interactive element, or some makeup effect, but it was just a photoshoot.


    Bayou of Blood--I personally got no scares here but I see the potential. The props and atmosphere are great. The ritual is cool and is reminiscent of the scareamonies and side shows that they used to do which was nice. I liked it, but didnt think it was overly intense.


    The Purge--great scarezone, but could be amazing with more actors. For such a big area, the actors they have are worn too thin. If they could staff more people, this could be a scarezone for the ages. Its still got a good atmosphere and impressive props, though.



    Bill & Ted--hated it. I cracked a smile a couple times but overall the jokes were forgettable. Also, the shots at Disney seemed kinda obnoxious (as true as some of them may have been). I think the days of funny Bill and Teds are over.




    All in all, HHN 24 is a fantastic event. EVERY house had fantastic sets and atmosphere--seriously, every single one. The emphasis on detail down to the smallest thing is more amazing than ever. To be honest, I kinda thought that the event was missing some of those big expansive breathtaking facades/sets the event has come to be known for, but I'll take the incredible detail and intimacy over the over-the-top grandiose stuff any day. I also really freakin liked the darker feel to the houses overall this year--theres more gore, less humor, and more intensity overall. Its great, and I like to see HHN getting more comfortable with letting loose and going crazy even with their new surge in mainstream popularity. Also, I LOVE the return of "victim scenes" and actual gags using humans (for example, the girl in AVP penetrated by the alien claw/the Michael Myers stabbing Laurie watching TV scene). I have been lamenting the absense of those for the last 4 years or so and I loved seeing them back. Hopefully, the gore and dark themes are making their way back for good.


    As satisfactory as the houses were, despite them approaching their old school flair, theyre not there yet. First off, the scarezones were understaffed and overall not anything too special. But most importantly, the event still feels more disjointed than before. The lack of icon, backstory, meaningful build-up, interactive website, etc. has turned HHN, a formerly completely-immersive Halloween experience into a basic haunt event with really freakin elaborate houses. I miss the old environment story-driven coherent HHN's used to create. If they could take the incredible quality of the newest houses, and mix it with the creative stories that defined old HHN's, I think we would have the perfect Halloween event on our hands. Time will tell what happens.


    Either way though, HHN 24 is a great time. There are some dont-miss houses this year, and the incredible amount of detail in each one means repeats are going to be very nice. Go as soon as you can!

  2. Maybe I am just over-analyzing this, but Rougarou finishes the layout (drop to brake run) a few seconds faster than Mantis does now. Rougarou exits the corkscrew by the time Mantis makes it to the MCBR. Maybe this means that they aren't trimming it, or I am trusting the concept animation to much. What do you think?


    In the Rougarou POV, the video skips a good portion of the lift hill. Look closely and you'll see theres a bit of a fade and transition from the bottom of the lift to close to the top...Im guessing thats why theres such a variation in the lengths of each video.

  3. ^I'm not a fan of "Air" either but I do like Fury 325


    Frankly, I think that "Air" and "Fury 325" are bad. Cedar Fair has kind of a "habit" of putting something like "Fury" or "Intimatador" then put the maximum height of the coaster by it!


    Is that really a habit? Theyve done it twice......

    Three times


    Whats the third? Theres Intimidator 305 and Fury 325 and I cant think of another one. Intimidator at Carowinds is not referred to or officially named Intimidator 232, its just referred to that in these sorts of discussions to differentiate between the 2.

  4. ^BGT and SFGAm are two very odd parks to compare it seems like. I havent ever been to Great Ameria though so I cant comment on your comparisons for sure but as to your fascination with the riff raff...


    Its simple. You get what you pay for. Wal Mart attracts a more unruly crowd because its less restrictive by being ridiculously cheap. Anyone can afford Wal Mart prices so anyone can go there, including lower-class families that may appear to be "riff raff". Meanwhile, Target is a bit pricier, thereby restricting the amount of people that are willing to shop there, and limiting the chance you see unruly shoppers. Same thing applies to theme parks. Six Flags practically gives seasonal passes away, so anyone (even the riff raff) can jump on them and show up acting like animals at a Six Flags park. Sure, the area where BGT resides isnt the nicest, but that doesnt matter when tickets to the park run in the high $80 range. Its all about affordability my friend. The more affordable a product is, the more attractive it becomes to lower-class people.


    ^Knoebels makes good "park food," but Epcot really should be the choice for best food overall.


    But Epcot's World Showcase is a shopping mall, not a theme park.


    Its always sad to me when people dont recognize the greatness of World Showcase, or well-themed areas in general. A well-themed environment without rides, to me, can be a more exciting theme park than a mish-mash of basic rides.

  6. I guess what I don't understand about all of the craziness surrounding this announcement is that it's a theme park. It's not a cultural exchange or an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It hasn't been for a long time. You know why? Because people complained and made fun of it!!! So now Epcot has been putting in more fun rides, more rides for children, and more events. Why is this a bad thing? They're making money, the park is more fun for everyone, and it's awesome!


    This park was punishment for children in the late 80's and early 90's. We went there for French Club field trips and were miserable. Now it's Kristen's favorite park of all the Florida Disney's and she can't wait for a Frozen ride. Sounds like they're going for their target demographic and doing a great job!


    This is so true. "Theme purists" are the most insane people in the world. Epcot is not meant to

    be a museum or series of diplomats...its first and foremost a theme park meant to entertain people.


    Now, thats not to say I dont appreciate the educational aspects of Epcot. But a Frozen ride isnt going to change the elaborate land that it resides in. The shops are full of neat little cultural tidbits and the dining outlets will still serve authentic food. A ride based on Disney's most popular animated film wont take away from the environment its in that has already been constructed. But at the end of the day its a theme park meant to entertain its guests.

  7. Conversely, think of how pissed people would be if they suggested it was staying in some form and then got a complete change in vehicle. Probably better (if the floorless conversion is really what theyre doing) to suggest something permanent closure. Now if they were saying it was being replaced rather than closed, THEN we'd have more room to think its getting demo'd for good.


    And @hey...hey... yep thats the book!

  8. I seriously hope that they are just scrapping Mantis. The layout sucks anyways, and sit down trains won't change that. Sure, the clues are pointing to a sitdown conversion, but Tony could just be trying to throw us off.

    I really like how Mantis' layout looks, though I've never ridden it. It appears to be a lot more than your typical "inversion after inversion" coaster. I remember that the layout was published in an old book on roller coasters and I was always trace the layout and compare it to photos when I was a child...


    LOL I think you know the exact book youre talking about and am guilty of doing the same thing when I was little. I remember specifically telling my parents I wanted "the book with the yellow roller coaster on it". I agree its a unique layout for a B&M...it deviates nicely from the loop, dive loop, zero-G, cobra, MCBR, interlocking corkscrew formula.

  9. ^I did that with two friends (one of whom was in a wheelchair) the first time I ever visited Universal. This was before they offered Express Passes, and we were completely beat by the end of the night--and we missed a number of mazes.


    I don't recommend it, either.


    I can imagine having to push around a wheelchair would be a huge damper on your day and affect your touring efficiency.


    Also, yes, including the water rides does make it a lot more difficult because you'll want to change. It means a lot more back and forth.

  10. ^Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I'm sure a lot of us have done both parks and HHN in the same day and it's just not as enjoyable as spreading it out. If you only have one day and you want to do it, then go for it as it's doable, but it's going to be hot and tiring!


    Thats the thing though, its really not that bad. Mornings at IOA in September are dead, you can leisurely stroll through and hit the big rides. By the time it gets hot, itll be time to grab some lunch and an ideal time to hit the shows and DA at USF. Now, I dont know what the poster's preferred method of park touring is (if he goes hard and only rides the big rides or if he goes slow and absorbs in all the details) but either way, the resort really isnt that big. Having done both parks and HHN all in one day several times before, I can tell you its NOT that bad at all, and because of how busy the parks are, theres ample opportunity to rest along the way. Obviously if you think you cant handle walking around all day from 9am-12am then you probably shouldnt follow this plan but Im guessing since he asked/considered it he is perfectly capable.

  11. I'll look into an Express Pass as well then. In the end if I miss a couple of the houses it won't e a huge deal. I'll try to hit them in order of appeal to me.


    Next question. Do you think it is reasonable to do both parks in one day? If we did that the plan would be to get to IOA at opening, do everything we want to there, then hop over to USF and try to get in the main attractions before HHN starts. Possible to do on a Friday?


    Im actually gonna have to disagree with BlahBlahson here...you can definitely do both parks and HHN. Ive done it more than once (I have family who visits for HHN religiously and they like to do the parks all in the same day). Granted, you wont see EVERYTHING in the parks, but you can do the big rides considering September is completely dead during the day. Between both parks, you can definitely squeeze in all the headliners if you get there at opening and utilize single rider lines.


    EDIT: plus, if you get HHN Express like you were suggesting, you can ride Transformers, Simpsons, HRRR, Mummy, Men in Black, and Despicable Me (basically all of USF's star attractions) during HHN, leaving you more time at IOA during the day/seeing shows at Universal.

  12. Hello everyone! Today, I was lucky enough to attend a sneak preview of Laguna Island's new ride for the 1963 season, Timber Falls! But first, a little backstory on the ride.


    For one thing, I had no idea what to expect going into the park today. The so-called "log ride" is a modern new take on the traditional "water ride" from the old days, and is said to be the most exciting ride in the world! According to some of the executives in the park today, Timber Falls was built and designed in conjunction with another new log ride called "El Aserradero" in Six Flags Over Texas. Considering all of the research and development needed to make the idea come to life, along with the challenges of weaving the construction of the ride through some dense forest along the shore and a more intense winter than Texas, Timber Falls is not only more expensive than its Texas counterpart, it is the most expensive ride in the park to date! But enough of that, don't you want to know how the ride was??


    I was quite impressed. While I've always been quite a big fan of Laguna Island (particularly the Laguna Cyclone), this addition really puts them on the map. Here's how the ride works…true to its name, you board a boat shaped like an actual log, where you and up to three others straddle one another. While this may be a bit uncomfortable for some folks, the park was allowing seating requests today for the media and hopefully will for the general public once the ride officially opens. If you sit with the right people, it's a lot of fun!


    The ride starts with a short climb up a roller-coaster like hill, and what follows is a serene coast down the flume. The flume makes a few sharp turns along the way as it gradually descends back to ground level, all while offering some great views of the beach from the forest through which it navigates. It seems that there are little sections of rapids throughout the course as well to enhance the overall excitement of the ride.


    Eventually, the ride finds itself back at ground level where it slowly winds its way around the forest. Soon, you are facing another lift hill, bigger than the last one (I was told by park executives that it was about 40 feet tall, which feels a lot taller in a tiny, vulnerable log). At the top of this lift, however, you don't turn…you drop. 40 feet, at a steep angle, into a little pond below. And before you know it, your log splashes at the bottom, all but drenching everyone in your log. It's quite a thrill, and while it was a little chilly today, it will be welcome in those hot Oregon summers on the lake.


    Laguna Island has a real winner on their hands…I'm all about innovation! Here are some pictures I took on one of the very first ride on one of the first log rides ever!


    And here we go up the first hill!


    The view as we turn the corner at the top of the first lift is quite breathtaking


    Winding around back towards the park...


    The flume makes a gradual descent and crosses in and under itself a few times


    Winding through the trees


    On our way up the final and largest hill...


    And here we go!!!!!!


    Also new for this season are blue vehicles for the Lakeside Racer's left track



    (thanks for the suggestions in the comments, btw!!!)


    The splashdown area…it's a bit secluded and this shot was taken from a media-only spot. You can see it from the queue and a bit from the Lakeside Racer, but mostly, it's a fun surprise for those on the ride that sort of adds to its isolated forest feel


    Walking up the new entrance plaza


    This is what I'm here for!!!


    The queue winds through the woods past the flume



    Here are a few pictures taken by the park for promotional purposes that we got a hold of


    Here's a shot released by the park…boy this ride is a beauty



    We spent the rest of the day enjoying the rest of beautiful Laguna Island. Can't wait for the summertime to roll around to really enjoy Timber Falls. 1963 looks to be a good year!

  13. What I would do is switch your Wednesday visit with a Friday visit...the HHN add-on (called the Stay n Scream option) is not only a better deal than a regular admission to HHN, but it will also work to your advantage if you are in the park when the event starts. If you spend your day at USF on Friday, head to Finnegans (across from the Mummy) when they begin closing the park to the public. Team members will then scan your ticket to make sure you have HHN access so upgrade your ticket before then! Then, you can just chill in the Finnegans holding area and one of the soundstage houses will open early for you. This headstart on the general admission crowds is a HUGE advantage, and will allow you to see everything almost guaranteed.


    Great info, thanks for the suggestion. We'll move out USF day to Friday. Now to figure out the best way to go about purchasing tickets. When we went to Disney a year and a half ago I bought our tickets at AAA. Looking at the pricing there now it doesn't seem to be any cheaper than purchasing them directly through Universal. Any other places to look? And is there a chance of the opening night of HHN selling out? There will be four of us at the park that day but probably only two of us staying for the Event. Thanks again for the help!


    Typically, opening weekend is one of the best times to go to HHN, simply because its so early in the season and people arent quite on their Halloween grind yet, so to speak. That being said, the event is growing a lot in popularity, so I cant say for sure. Based off of my previous experiences (Ive been going since 2007) I would guess that opening night will NOT sell out and that the crowds will be very manageable. But like I said, its tough to tell nowadays and I dont want to provide info that could be wrong. With the growing use of IPs to draw people in plus the huge draw from Walking Dead, HHN gets more and more packed every year, so just keep that in mind, even though my gut instinct tells me you'll be ok.

  14. Ah yes, the first log flume in the world at Six Flags Over Texas in 63. I've been debating in my park when to put it in. (I'm kinda watching you so we don't have conflicts.) What continues to impress me in this park is that it is default. The buildings are what really impress me the most. (I've always had a hard time in the buildings department.)


    Good idea about watching for conflicts, I'll be sure to keep an eye on yours as well. And thanks! Once you get the hang of it, buildings by default aren't too bad to work with, you just have to experiment a bit with what looks good and make sure to have a decent variety and color. It's no match for what CS can do, but if you tinker with it enough, the non-CS buildings can look ok as well.

  15. I will be in Orlando next week with my family. We're planning on going to Universal on Wednesday and Thursday. Seeing as how I've always really wanted to go to HHN and we are in town until Saturday 9/20, I think I have to try to get there on Friday. Is my best option to purchase the HHN add on ticket when I'm at the park earlier in the week? I'm on a budget but don't want to miss the opportunity to go. Any suggestions as far as tickets go and/or how I should plan my visit? Thanks a lot for any help!


    What I would do is switch your Wednesday visit with a Friday visit...the HHN add-on (called the Stay n Scream option) is not only a better deal than a regular admission to HHN, but it will also work to your advantage if you are in the park when the event starts. If you spend your day at USF on Friday, head to Finnegans (across from the Mummy) when they begin closing the park to the public. Team members will then scan your ticket to make sure you have HHN access so upgrade your ticket before then! Then, you can just chill in the Finnegans holding area and one of the soundstage houses will open early for you. This headstart on the general admission crowds is a HUGE advantage, and will allow you to see everything almost guaranteed.


    As for the hotel...love the concept, HATE the name. Sapphire Falls? Ugh. But it definitely looks nice. I agree that it probably wont have Express access due to oversaturation concerns. Still should be a nice option though. It'll be interesting to see if Universal can sustain all these rooms even without Harry Potter hype.

  16. Sorry Knoebels fans, but seriously, Flying Turns is GTA's best new ride of 2014? That should have gone to Banshee or Goliath. Also, technically, it opened last year, so why it's considered new for this year is a bit confusing. I know GTAs aren't centered around thrill rides, but still...


    Sorry that this is off topic, but I agree...I haven't ridden Flying Turns or any of the other new for 2014 rides, but still I think it should have gone to Harry Potter's Gringott's Bank ride. Hooooow did that not win? Or was it not considered since it basically just opened?


    if you "haven't ridden" ANY of the rides that were nominated, then, honestly? How could your opinion on what should have won be valid in the least?



    I *have* ridden "Flying Turns" and tho it was enjoyable, it wasn't very thrilling, and I expect at least one of the other options should have beat it.


    Yeah.. Knoebel's got an award for finally getting this thing open. But so what? Good for them, and the publicity they get out of it.


    Im sure anyone who has seen a video of Gringotts, or even read a basic review on it, can recognize and appreciate how much of an achievement it is in immersion, scale, and technology. You dont have to ride it to realize how much of a technical marvel it is. The other 2014 additions were just basic roller coasters. So yeah, Id say he has every right to his opinion.

  17. Maybe dumb question, but I've never been to Florida outside of the summers. I'm planning a trip to Busch Gardens and Universal Studios for my honeymoon and it will be in either November or January likely. Do they close any of the rides over these winter months? I imagine the water rides close? Anything else about this time of year that would make the experience less fun than if we waited till Spring?


    In January, certain water rides will be closed at Universal (Dudley and Popeye most likely), and likely all three of Busch's will be down. Certain rides that need annual maintenance will also go down in January as its one of the slowest, if not the slowest, months of the year. However, this largely depends on the ride and how much work it may need on it.


    November is a bit warmer and busier (still not crowded) so most rides will probably be open, maybe with the exception of a water ride at Busch Gardens.


    Overall, the Orlando rides are pretty solid about being open on a consistent basis, so just enjoy the low crowds and have a good time! And remember that maintenance refurbs are all subject to change schedule...nothing is 100%.

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