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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

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

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^Storm is one of the more terrifying water slides out there. You're completely disoriented once you hit the pool at the end.

 

This. I've been to a decent amount of waterparks and Storm is one of the best and one of the most intense slides I've ever been on. I gotta say a lot of my favorite slides come from Wet n Wild. Great park overall.

 

About Aqua Racer, I really question why they didn't just take out the old mat slide instead of Bubba Tub. I actually much preferred Bubba Tub to it and that mat slide is one of the worst mat slides I've been on. It's dated and you don't need 2 of them.

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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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I had a chance today to stop into the Universal Orlando Resort to check out the latest happenings going on, including the latest progress at CityWalk, the opening of the new Starbucks at Islands of Adventure and of course, the progress in both parks on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansions. So let's dive on in!

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And we're back!

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The new "open" seating area for the new Starbucks location is almost done.

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And the new location itself is looking like it is pretty close too!

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Cold Stone Creamery is nearing completion as well.

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While no vertical construction has begun on Vivo, the new Italian restaurant, the former Pastamore table service venue is being gutted in preparation for the new tenant's arrival. Cowfish construction will begin once the new Starbucks location is open, as the old one will close to make way for the new "burgushi" restaurant.

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It looks like Margaritaville's Porch of Indecision is being expanded. The existing dining space on the porch is currently open to guests, but it appears that the entrance will be pushed closer to walking traffic to allow for more seats to be added.

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It has been a while since I last visited Amity...

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No folks, you won't be watching the Hogwarts Express magically float behind San Francisco or London. A wall is being built to block the train from guest view here.

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Seriously, the London facade is huge!

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Kings Cross station is almost complete.

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They've added two of these clever sneak peek spots along the construction walls to allow for curious guests to get a better look at what is being built.

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I'm a curious guest.

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Tons of detail still left to be completed, but this is already very impressive!

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Attention to detail is obviously a cornerstone with this project, even when it comes to facades of this scale.

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No, the discoloration on this Grimmauld Place facade is not accidental. This is the "expanded" building as it appears when the hidden residence of Sirius Black and his family is revealed to the wizards of the Order of the Phoenix. Notice the damage on the windows and rain gutters...

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Getting closer!

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The main entrance to Diagon Alley from the Muggle side of London.

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And I now present to you, the 9th Wonder of the World! The backside of Potter!!!

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The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley dominates the park's skyline.

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Another look at the main entrance to Diagon Alley. It should be noted that Kings Cross Station (the entrance and exit for the Hogwarts Express) will likely release guests out into the London section of the park, and not directly into Diagon Alley, for crowd control purposes.

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More details still to be revealed!

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In other news, a new Starbucks Coffee location has opened up inside of the Port of Entry at Universal's Islands of Adventure in the former Funnel Cake location.

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I love when they do things like this!

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The location has an odd layout due to the constraints of fitting into an existing building...

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But it was extremely busy when I stopped in!

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Over in the Lost Continent, the absence of the former games of chance and their surrounding buildings is odd to get used to. The buildings were demolished to make way for additional team member facilities as well as transitionary space that will better allow the new Hogsmeade Station for the Hogwarts Express to fit into the partially expanded Hogsmeade Village.

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This is like experiencing deja vu...

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Work on the Hogsmeade Station continues...

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Details already in place!

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Zonko's, the joke and novelty shop at the front of Hogsmeade Village will close roughly around the time that Diagon Alley opens to make way for an expanded Honeyduke's Candy Shop.

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While never as popular as the candy store it shared retail space with next door, Zonko's played host to a wide variety of unique merchandise.

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The good news is that this merchandise will be available at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes over in Diagon Alley, so you'll still be able to get your Pigmy Puffs, inflatable tongues and extendable ears.

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The shop had a unique, intimate design that had a lot of little details you had to really pay attention to find.

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Faint dusty footsteps pepper this wall in response to the warning clearly printed...

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Instructions worth following...

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I loved the details like this.

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Pumpkin Fizz or Butterbeer... Why choose one when I can have both?

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Here's a Jurassic Park streetmosphere experience I've never seen before.

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So simple, yet so incredibly amusing.

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Haven't been to school in a while...

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And to close, this awesome billboard on the backside of the Kang & Kodos Twirl & Hurl in Springfield. I love the humor behind this place!

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This is looking awesome! Thanks for the pics and the update. Less than 8 months until we're back down there (if we can make it that long.)

 

I specifically loved Zonko's. It's good to know the merchandise will still be available.

 

I can't believe I never noticed pumpkin fizz before. I'll have to try that next time I'm there.

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^

...Zonko's, the joke and novelty shop at the front of Hogsmeade Village will close roughly around the time that Diagon Alley opens to make way for an expanded Honeyduke's Candy Shop.
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I just love seeing Universal building like crazy for my future visits. I think a cool photo would be if someone got all special drinks now available at the whole resort but it be a very expensive photo. Thanks for the update.

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Yesterday the Universal Orlando Resort invited us back out to experience this year's Mardi Gras Grand Celebration! Host to incredible food, fun and music, this annual event keeps getting better and better! But rather than just tell, I figured we could show you!

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Mardi Gras Grand Celebration runs this year from February 8th to May 31st!

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And we're back!

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Sadly tonight's show with Robin Thicke was cancelled, but Robin has agreed to perform at Universal at a future engagement.

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There's never a shortage of awesome streetmosphere when it comes to Mardi Gras at Universal!

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One of my favorite parts of Mardi Gras is the French Courtyard, home to some authentic cuisine and music!

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King Cake for the win!

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It wouldn't be a Universal special event without Twisted Taters!

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And an authentic New Orleans band to boot!

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We were given the chance to go backstage to see the new and upgraded parade floats, fresh from their production at Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World in New Orleans.

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Blaine Kern has been producing Mardi Gras floats for New Orleans since 1947, and Universal has partnered with them for this parade since Mardi Gras first began at Universal Studios Florida many years ago.

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The Jester float was considered one of the classics for Universal Mardi Gras, but Patrick Braillard, show producer for this year's parade felt that it was time to update the float, retaining much of its charm from before, but emphasizing a brighter color palate and a more vibrant design.

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You can definitely tell how passionate Patrick is about this year's parade!

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Needless to say, there is never a shortage of beads during the Mardi Gras parade!

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Let's go fly a kite!

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How sweet of Universal to name the boat the TH ELISSA! They must be fans!

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Scariest dolphin EVER!

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Time for my favorite part... The food!

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Authentic Mardi Gras andouille sausage!

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GUMBO!!!

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King Cake and Praline Cheesecake for the win!

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Steven Jaysen, Executive Corporate Chef for Universal Studios (worldwide) once again shared with us the stories and inspiration behind this year's cuisine.

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This year's floats look incredibly cool at night!

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Keep your hand at the level of your eyes so as to best catch beads (and to not get pelted in the face by them)!

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One of this year's new floats, inspired by the new theme for this year's parade: Around the World in 80 Days. The Zeppelin actually features programmed strip lights that dance in unique patterns.

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This float looked so incredible with all of the smoke!

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It's the TH ELISSA!

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Another classic float for Mardi Gras at Universal is the riverboat!

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The Bourbon Street float debuted last year and remains as one of my favorites of the entire parade!

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And closing out the parade is the classic, huge King Gator float.

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Mel's and Transformers even got in the spirit for Mardi Gras.

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Since there was no Robin Thicke concert this evening, a showing of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular was added to the evening's lineup, and it never fails to impress!

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Thanks again to the Universal Orlando Resort for hosting us for an incredibly fun night at the Mardi Gras Grand Celebration!

 

Seriously folks, if you haven't been, or haven't been in a while, Mardi Gras is just one more reason to come out and visit! Whether for the food, the music or the great lineup of rides and shows, this extra event is just the icing on the delicious King Cake that the Universal Orlando Resort continues to serve up!

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