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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 602: Universal Holidays & Velocicoaster photo report posted!

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^I've never been "raped" by express users. The worst I've ever seen was a roughly minute long additional delay on the Hulk. It was less than one train. The existing system limits you to one ride on each ride per day, which keeps it reasonable.

 

Are you sure? They've had the Express Pass and the Express Plus the last time I was there and I thought that while you could only do the 1 visit per attraction with the "regular" pass, the Plus version offered an Unlimited number on any attraction that accepted it...

 

 

/Scurries off to Universal's site to double check....

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I like how they build a roller coaster in the same time it took them to built new lockers for Harry Potter.   

On Sunday I ventured out to the Universal Orlando Resort for a chance to see the new holiday offerings at the two parks. This year is a little different thanks to COVID-19, but Universal has still man

^Agreed. I think the newer Intamin lapbars are actually the best steel coaster restraint currently being produced. When comparing overhead lapbars on Taron and Blue Fire, I found the Intamin ones to b

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^Express Plus for hotel users is unlimited. Express Plus is the term for all of the current Express passes, to differentiate them from the original Universal Express, which was like Disney's Fastpass, and free. Normal Express Plus parkgoers who aren't staying in a hotel are limited to one use per ride per day. I'm willing to wait for hotel users, since they're paying upwards of $150/night in the offseason for the privilege.

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I read other blogs and you almost fear to say that you like them.

Short answer: The haters are just jelly.

 

Long Answer: Find any of Robb's excellent posts about why they work, and how people are bitter simply because they're not willing to pony up the extra cash for them.

 

I can't believe people are still trying to demonize queue skipping measures nearly twelve years after they were introduced. Don't people know how to get over it?

 

By the way, I'm *thrilled* that Universal is moving to Q-Bots. I love the system and look forward to using it on a future trip.

 

I'm not against an up-charge queue measure, but I do think that it should be fair for those in the stand by entrance as well.

 

Disney's Fast Pass has had some problems (mostly minor) here and there but generally seems to work for what it is intended. Bush Gardens and SeaWorld seem to work pretty well with their Quick Queue with little headache, though that could be do to their being a little "less busy" than the other parks. Yet, there have been a lot of times when I was at either the Studios park or IOA that the express line just raped the stand-by entrance due to their employees mismanagement of it.

 

On multiple occasions, I've waited behind a chain in the boarding room of Ripsaw Falls, while the employee slowly scanned everyone's card before passing them through. Standby was posted at about 30 minutes, but really was only a few minutes (5 to 10 max) up until that chain... The Express queue was empty, save for whatever family was at the scanning "post" before boarding. Once the employee was done with them, another would come down the hall and the process would repeat. Every time they got the express line to no one for at least 30 seconds, they would then chain it, come over to the Stand-By and proceed to let us through only as long as no one stood in the express line. The second anyone came to the Express chain, the Stand-By entrance was blocked, and the situation repeated. It was probably 15 minutes plus with only about 10 people in front of us at that gate. I understand that people are paying extra (or choosing to stay at your resort) for the perk of limited waiting, but this doesn't seem to be a great way to do the queue...

 

I've had something very similar with Men In Black. In the dispatch room, while they usually keep one side for stand-by and the other for express pass, or so it seems; I've seen the greeter take all 4 (2? been a bit, and going off memory) load zones from the express pass line if it was getting up the stairs at all. Effectively cutting off the stand by entrance for minutes at a time. I've even seen people try to leave the queue thinking it broke...

 

To counter this, I usually do Universal through single rider lines with my party, but it is not always possible when you have your young cousins and nephews with you.

 

I get why companies are doing them. I don't hate them for the up-charge; more revenue = more profits = bigger, better expansion opportunities. But, at a certain point, you have to agree that you cannot forget those who paid for the entrance ticket, but not the queue jumping one; especially as ticket prices soar higher and higher. With that said, if I was at a park that I will not have the opportunity to visit regularly, you better believe I will be investing in a Q-Bot if it is offered. From what I've read about them, and seen on these forums, it seems like a great, fair way for the park to implement these kind of privileges....

 

 

As for the talk about having to place them in the fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo after they've been "activated"... could the problem not be solved by a plastic card or lanyard similar to what you see at the Disney queue lines for measuring waits? They're a RFID card... Activate the card when you bring in your Q-Bot, it will stamp the time issued. Have the guests take care of their loose articles, return with the lanyard/card and scan it again to give the "end time." It shouldn't take too long to stow your gear, and checking the issue/receive times would help dampen the misuse or "illegal" use... Thoughts?

 

This is exactly why I don't like the Q-bot system is how it is sometimes implemented. I get bothered frequently in Six Flags parks as they don't manage the Flash Pass that well. I don't like a Q-bot system to be an Exit Pass. I never use "not wanting to pay for it" as an excuse for not liking a Q-bot system.

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I just made a trip to IOA/Uni today to get my Annual preferred 2 park pass and the staff seemed to just generally not give a flippin crap about anyone today. I am NOT going to go into details what so ever about the three major things that made my day complete and utter CRAP. Suffice to day the ONLY redeeming factors of the day were my nearly 30 rides on Rockit, and walking around IOA with re-rides on Harry potter (because they kept sending my ride vehicle into the handicapped bay).

 

 

About the Que-bots. For all the nay sayer's and people against them. You pay extra for them. You DO wait in a "virtual que" Its a time given. So yes you DO wait in a "line" like other people. So next time you see the guy as you may feel is "skipping " the line. He's not he waited and he paid more than you to do so. He has the privilege of doing it.

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^But what if, like me, you're a naysayer in the other direction? I can only see this as worse for the people who buy Express when compared to the current system. I could see this making it impossible to, for example, do all of the houses at HHN on a single night (something I have done for the last 3 years and which makes HHN infinitely better than waiting in lines).

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^The Q-bots can be set up like the Gold or Platinum Passes at Six Flags. For HHN, you would just reserve the house you want to do next (from anywhere in the park) and say the line is 1 hour, you wait 15 minutes and then you can enter the Express Line.

 

With this system, as opposed to the ticket system, the park can easily keep track with who is using the Q-bots and what houses they are reserving. They can then adjust the wait times accordingly. If one of the soundstage houses gets an influx of Express Users, the wait times on your Q-bot will increase for that house. With the ticket system, you wouldn't know this ahead of time, and might end of waiting 30 minutes because everyone is trying to use the Express Line at once.

 

In addition, once they scan your Q-bot at a particular house, you can now reserve your place in line at another house and by the time you finish the first one, you will have a shorter wait for the next one.

 

The same concept applies to the rides at the studio park and Islands of Adventure. With the ticket system, you have to physically go to the ride entrance to reserve your spot in the Express Line. With the Q-bots, you can do this from anywhere in the park while also getting a generally idea of what the wait will be for all of the attractions across the park.

 

This is why I prefer the Q-bot over the ticket system. I don't know how crowded the Express Lines get at Universal, having never used it, but at Six Flags, even the Flash Pass lines can get long depending on how crowded the park is that day. I can view all of the rides on the Q-bot at once and see how long I will have to wait and can choose accordingly. And then when my Qbot is scanned at the ride, I can reserve my place on another ride before I even get on the first ride!

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I just made a trip to IOA/Uni today to get my Annual preferred 2 park pass and the staff seemed to just generally not give a flippin crap about anyone today. I am NOT going to go into details what so ever about the three major things that made my day complete and utter CRAP.

That's like when someone posts on facebook that they had a crappy day, and then when everyone asks why, they say they don't want to talk about it. No use posting that your day sucked if you don't elaborate, this is Theme Park Review. Spit it out, for crying out loud.

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^The Q-bots can be set up like the Gold or Platinum Passes at Six Flags. For HHN, you would just reserve the house you want to do next (from anywhere in the park) and say the line is 1 hour, you wait 15 minutes and then you can enter the Express Line.

 

With this system, as opposed to the ticket system, the park can easily keep track with who is using the Q-bots and what houses they are reserving. They can then adjust the wait times accordingly. If one of the soundstage houses gets an influx of Express Users, the wait times on your Q-bot will increase for that house. With the ticket system, you wouldn't know this ahead of time, and might end of waiting 30 minutes because everyone is trying to use the Express Line at once.

 

In addition, once they scan your Q-bot at a particular house, you can now reserve your place in line at another house and by the time you finish the first one, you will have a shorter wait for the next one.

 

The same concept applies to the rides at the studio park and Islands of Adventure. With the ticket system, you have to physically go to the ride entrance to reserve your spot in the Express Line. With the Q-bots, you can do this from anywhere in the park while also getting a generally idea of what the wait will be for all of the attractions across the park.

 

This is why I prefer the Q-bot over the ticket system. I don't know how crowded the Express Lines get at Universal, having never used it, but at Six Flags, even the Flash Pass lines can get long depending on how crowded the park is that day. I can view all of the rides on the Q-bot at once and see how long I will have to wait and can choose accordingly. And then when my Qbot is scanned at the ride, I can reserve my place on another ride before I even get on the first ride!

 

 

This may be the best/most comprehensive statement that I've read about why Q-bot is better than cardstock-based passes. Caveat: I've not read every page of every discussion on the forum, but I do read fairly thoroughly everything that's current. I appreciate your thoughts, and, based upon that, I can see this switch as being potentially good for all parties, as long as the implementation is done well and the ROI is better than previously.

 

My chief complaints about any skip-the-line system are in implementation and in managing expectations of all of your guests. This is the reason that I hate "exit passes", because you're ignoring the expectations of your standby customers, who may, in some cases, wind up waiting several trains/cycles when they appear to be "next in line" because someone with an exit pass takes their seat.

 

This is one of the reasons that I am very much in favor of the new Fastlane at CF and dislike the FlashPass at SF. One effectively manages expectations, one doesn't. It's not about the fact that people are paying more to skip lines, it's about the implementation and how guests' expectations are managed.

 

Back to the USO question, I tend to agree that the requirement to use a locker for the Q-bot is asinine. That's one of the implementation issues that (hopefully) will get worked out, but makes me [initially] resistant to the change.

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I think my favorite part of this TR is the apathy shown in the majority of your cast member photos!!! Leaning over, resting on queues, a look of utter despair, etc.

 

So happy to have Qbot in Florida!!!! Long live Qbot and the Qbot Minions!!!!!

 

The pictures make me

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^The Q-bots can be set up like the Gold or Platinum Passes at Six Flags. For HHN, you would just reserve the house you want to do next (from anywhere in the park) and say the line is 1 hour, you wait 15 minutes and then you can enter the Express Line.

 

With this system, as opposed to the ticket system, the park can easily keep track with who is using the Q-bots and what houses they are reserving. They can then adjust the wait times accordingly. If one of the soundstage houses gets an influx of Express Users, the wait times on your Q-bot will increase for that house. With the ticket system, you wouldn't know this ahead of time, and might end of waiting 30 minutes because everyone is trying to use the Express Line at once.

 

In addition, once they scan your Q-bot at a particular house, you can now reserve your place in line at another house and by the time you finish the first one, you will have a shorter wait for the next one.

 

The same concept applies to the rides at the studio park and Islands of Adventure. With the ticket system, you have to physically go to the ride entrance to reserve your spot in the Express Line. With the Q-bots, you can do this from anywhere in the park while also getting a generally idea of what the wait will be for all of the attractions across the park.

 

This is why I prefer the Q-bot over the ticket system. I don't know how crowded the Express Lines get at Universal, having never used it, but at Six Flags, even the Flash Pass lines can get long depending on how crowded the park is that day. I can view all of the rides on the Q-bot at once and see how long I will have to wait and can choose accordingly. And then when my Qbot is scanned at the ride, I can reserve my place on another ride before I even get on the first ride!

 

Thanks for clearing that up. I'll keep an open mind until I see how it actually works. Maybe now they can finally open up the express lines at HRRR and HP...

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I think my favorite part of this TR is the apathy shown in the majority of your cast member photos!!! Leaning over, resting on queues, a look of utter despair, etc.

 

Bad show. Thats why they are not Cast Members lol.

 

But I am excited about Q-Bots in Florida!

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On Tuesday night, Theme Park Review was invited to attend a special media premiere party at Universal Studios Florida to commemorate the launch of the Universal's Superstar Parade along with Universal's Cinematic Spectacular.

 

Universal's Superstar Parade is a highly dynamic show experience that really spans the entire day and offers something for guests of every age. During the day, individual float sections (grouped by their host franchise) do small shows along the parade route, all leading up to the Universal's Superstar Parade. With four franchises (Despicable Me, Spongebob Squarepants, Hop and Dora & Diego), the show builds upon an energetic set of tunes formed from some recognizable pop songs. The dance routines are high energy and are really fun to watch. The music, while in sync for all four sections, features stylized versions of the music to match the style and mood of the franchise as it would sound were you watching it on its own. The main parade floats are pretty massive (and detailed) and the smaller fillers hold their own with some impressive features such as live drummers or spinning motions. Dora & Diego's float feature some high energy acrobatic monkeys who perform even while the floats are in motion! And while we didn't get to see it during our viewing thanks to the rain, expect the parade to feature even more unique performers including stilt walkers and pogo stick jumpers. Seriously an awesome show, not only worth seeing once, but definitely worth checking out the show by watching each franchise section by its main float--the experience will be different each time!

 

As for Universal's Cinematic Spectacular, the show is a great departure from the old Cinesphere 360 show that was retired earlier last year. There's some impressive tech behind the show, including the centerpiece water curtains from Aquatik. These projection screens double as water printers which can etch out falling patterns in the most impressive of shapes and designs (see photos below). When used as the projection screens, the curtains are able to display the visuals evenly and from the proper perspective to viewers on either side of the lagoon. If you are watching from one side of the lagoon, the view on the left side will see the same image as you without it being backwards/inverted/mirrored in any way! As for the film itself, it is definitely more interesting than its predecessor and includes a good deal of titles unexpected to be found in a theme park environment (i.e. Scott Pilgrim, Inglorious Basterds, Happy Gilmore, etc...), but that's a plus! Michael Aiello and his team are clearly passionate about Universal Studios' 100 year old film catalog because they pulled together a show that culls movies both well know and sometimes forgotten or under appreciated. Clever editing and a great division of themes between films helped to make transitions between the movies even more seamless. Morgan Freeman's narration is a natural fit for the show, but is not invasive or overlaid above the film clips, rather interjecting throughout the show to offer a small bit of guidance between thematic/genre changes. Universal's Cinematic Spectacular holds its own as a solid addition not only to the Universal Orlando Resort, but to the Orlando theme park (and nighttime show) market with its unique technology (the water curtains really stun when seen in person) and incredibly broad appeal. Everybody's got their favorite Universal movie (at least one, if not, a ton more), and my guess is, at one point or another, it is featured in the show!

 

And with the technology behind the show allowing for the possibility of future uses (this is speculation, but hopeful speculation at that), I wouldn't be surprised if the park continued to update the show featuring new footage from new movies (the show we saw definitely put an emphasis on upcoming films such as Snow White & the Huntsman and Battleship), or decided to use the show system in some capacity for Halloween Horror Nights and other seasonal events at the park.

 

Overall, the event itself was truly a ton of fun with some great food, drinks and company! Entertainment in the evening (including an awesome little dance party seen in the last video) made for a memorable night for us all. It wasn't just about business (and networking) at this event, rather they wanted to make sure that everyone had a great time. Serious props and thanks to Universal Studios Florida for putting on an incredible premiere party, one which I think none of us will ever forget!

 

 

Universal has delivered two outstanding additions to its already stellar lineup of shows, attractions and experiences at the Universal Orlando Resort. And with Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, additions to CityWalk and Halloween Horror Nights 22 all on the horizon, it really does look like 2012 is the Year to Be Here!

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They rolled out a special red carpet for us!

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We've got credentials! Time for some serious networking!

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The Pantages Theater hosted the opening reception.

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And already at the entrance, we were greeted by Gru and his Minions!

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The opening reception turned out to be an opportunity to meet the stars of the new Universal Superstar Parade!

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We don't know what Tyler said to Diego but the race was definitely fast and furious.

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One of these things is not like the other... One of these things does not belong.

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Robb and I were playing the role of Twins tonight. E.B. was just there for show!

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The creative minds behind the two new experiences had a chance to talk about their work and answer some questions from the media.

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You can definitely tell how much our friend Michael Aiello is passionate about the Universal Cinematic Spectacular!

 

He let us know that the Universal Cinematic Spectacular was meant to be the successor to the old Cinesphere 360, originally intended to merely replace the footage and domed screens with a new film and projection medium. As the project fleshed out, it added the fountains, mist screens and the Aquatik water curtains, taking on a 100th anniversary theme along the way.

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Then it was back to food, networking and pre-show shenanigans.

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Once the rain let up, we were led to a reserved viewing area for the Universal Cinematic Spectacular. The show's water curtains perform a neat pre show with stylized patterns and some noticeable icons made out of light and water. Pictures don't do full justice.

 

This is the Psycho pattern.

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Shark! Shark! Shark!

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The show really does start with a bang, paying tribute to the opening logo sequences of the last 100 years of Universal Studios films.

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Still mourning the loss of Jaws? You'll be pleased to know the lovable shark appears several times in the new show!

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It wouldn't be Universal if they didn't show some love for E.T.

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The show is divided into themed segments, all subtly narrated by Morgan Freeman in between well-edited montages.

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One great aspect of the show? It pulls films that you might not expect in the theme park environment for the montages. Inglorious Basterds was one surprise that made its way into the Heroes segment.

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The horror segment features some of Universal's most well known horror classics including Chucky from Child's Play 2 & 3 (both Universal films)...

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Alfred Hitchcock also gets some great throwbacks with The Birds and several of his other horror classics.

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On to the laughing...

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40 Year Old Virgin!

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Glad to see the most iconic scene of Happy Gilmore included!

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"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."

 

Yes, they included all of this awesome speech!

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Scott Pilgrim is immortalized in the new Universal Studios Orlando nighttime show!

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The pyro is timed pretty well to match the action on screen!

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And as Morgan Freeman prepares to bring the show to a close...

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He walks on water to prove who he really is!

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Time for the big finale!

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It should be noted that not only are there mist screens in the show, but the water curtains and the building surfaces all serve as content screens as well!

 

Even more neat, the water curtain projections do not bleed through from one side to the other meaning, that guests on either side of the screens see the exact same image in the right perspective (not with one side inverted/mirrored).

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Time for the dessert reception!

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Dessert included photo ops.

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There were also these awesome cupcakes!

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Swiper, no swiping!

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The Pantages once again hosted the bulk of the dessert reception, although it stretched across the entire length of Hollywood Blvd. with additional bars and food booths.

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The event even had its own Country of Cheese!

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And with the cheese, came lots of accompaniments including...

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Candied Bacon!!!

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It's like candied pecans, but with bacon instead of pecans!

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It was on this night that we officially became citizens of the Country of Cheese!

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Kristen Stewart likes to be in our photos... Doesn't she look excited to be here?

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We're all Minions now!

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Tyler was the first to break.

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They've really turned to the dark side.

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Alright, back to the whole focus of the party!

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It was time for the Universal Superstar Parade!

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The floats are definitely "Disney quality" and all of them feature nighttime lighting to make the show able to run at any time of the day. It is currently slated to run daily at 5:00 pm, but it could run later in the evenings at some point in the future.

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Don't be fooled by their human proportions. These things are Minions! They sound like Minions, shake like Minions and certainly dance like Minions!

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They may just be the most energetic parade dancers ever!

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(Continued)

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With four main floats, each one has its own set of dancers and characters, along with its own music to match the theme of the franchise it represents. Our show stop placed the Despicable Me float right in front of us!

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I spy synergy!

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Vector, the villain of Despicable Me has his own mini cruiser, and dances quite a lot in the parade during the show stops.

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Something really great? The characters' choreography matches up with that of the rest of the parade dancers!

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Man, can these Minions move!

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Margo, Edith and Agnes are also in the show!

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And there is confetti!

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Tyler and Renee had no problem dancing along to the show!

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As the show began the final rollout we were able to see the other floats.

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The Spongebob Squarepants float had a lot of awesome stuff going on!

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There's actually two character actors on this float. Can you spot both?

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Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward! Hey Squidward!

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Moving on to the characters from Hop.

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Despite being added to the show fairly late in the creative process, the Hop segment doesn't fail to impress.

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The film's main character E.B. even plays the drums live in the show!

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Probably the best example of the show's built in lighting. Glad to have seen this show at night so we could see these!

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More live drums!

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The Dora & Diego float has one of the most unique features...

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Yep. Acrobatic monkeys!

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And they even perform while the float is in motion!

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Renee and I couldn't help but dance along.

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The older cars were replaced by new sports cars at the end of the evening... It was like they knew TPR was here!

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After the parade ended, the night continued with an awesome DJ-driven dance party on Hollywood Blvd! From Gaga to Nikki Minaj and even Rihanna, this club was awesome!

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Flashback to A Night at the Roxbury.

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While Robb, Renee and Tyler danced, I went to go check out the Universal Superstars!

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Not quite sure what I got myself into, but it was awesome.

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Vector seriously did not stop dancing the entire night!

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Getting very excited about Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which opens later this Summer!

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Back at the Roxbury, Tyler found love! Thanks Rihanna!

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This DJ was doing an amazing job! He read our minds for song requests before we could even make them!

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Tyler Party-Rocked so hard not even the professional dancers could keep up!

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Even Michael Aiello got in on the clubbing fun!

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Seriously Universal! Thank you guys for such an awesome event! From the insanely great food and drinks to the amazing new entertainment options, this party was fantastic! Thank you for inviting us--we really had an amazing time!

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I was there as well on Tuesday, and was going to watch the parade, but then I remembered I wasn't a fan of parades, and felt my time was better spent at Del Taco.

Looks like a pretty good parade, though, if your into that type of thing.

I have seen the lagoon show, and really enjoyed it.

Great combination of several different technologies, without them overpowering each other, though the multicolored spotlights were my personal favorite aspect of the show.

Certainly a great way to end your day at Universal.

Oh, and gosh darn those bariers and security keeping me away from all that cheese...

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WE FOUND LOVE IN A HOMELESS PLACE

 

Amazing that they could hire DJ Ram away from Carnival for the night...

 

Nice report. I'm not a show/parade person at all, but it's obvious they put a lot of work into these new attractions.

 

dt

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After the parade ended, the night continued with an awesome DJ-driven dance party on Hollywood Blvd!

 

Did you find love in a hopeless place?

 

Back at the Roxbury, Tyler found love! Thanks Rihanna!

 

...Evidently, yes.

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I will have to remember to check these out the next time I am down there as they both look like great additions. Also,nice to see scott pilgrim getting some love in the new show. I still have no idea why that one failed to find an audience.

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Both exits merge before you get out of the castle, so you can cut up the hill and walk back into the castle up top again. Otherwise, I don't think you can just jump over before the castle exit. They used to open that possibility on slow days, but I don't think they've done it since the retheme.

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TRIP REPORT (No Pictures)

5/19/2012-5/20/2012

 

Got to Islands of Adventure and head for Harry Potter with no wait. I decided to go in all the shops since I've never really payed attention to the area rather than the rides. Then we went to Hulk and it was running great. It can be a little head-bangy in some places but hardly any...I love that ride. Then we did Doctor Doom and Popeye and ate lunch at Circus Migercus in Suess Land. Went to Universal after that and rode Rockit 2 times with like a 15 minute wait. I had really good rides on Saturday. Then we did Mummy...that ride never gets old to me and MIB. Then we went back to Islands and did Hulk two more times and Harry Potter.

 

On Sunday, we went straight to Isaldns again and got 2 rides in on Hulk, Ripsaw Falls, Spiderman, Doctor doom, Dragon Challenge (that ride breaks down a lot), and Hulk again. Then went to Universal and did Rockit 4 times...everytime I went on it..I grayed out on after the second drop when you go through the building. Also, it was very very very rough and it broke down a lot. Did Mummy again, Disaster, MIB, and Simpsons. Had a great weekend. I wish they would do something to Rockit...I hate having rough jerky rides.

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Both exits merge before you get out of the castle, so you can cut up the hill and walk back into the castle up top again. Otherwise, I don't think you can just jump over before the castle exit. They used to open that possibility on slow days, but I don't think they've done it since the retheme.

 

Actually, I've used it a couple times since the change over. With that said, the chances of it being open are rare nowadays. Like you said, using the steps to get back up top is your best bet, though you still have to walk through the whole castle.

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