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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread


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^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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^ Is Hagrid's running more consistently at this point and not closing ridiculously early?

Not sure, it was a special evening event. For what it's worth it didn't have any downtime for the three hours of the event.

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^ Is Hagrid's running more consistently at this point and not closing ridiculously early?

 

I too really liked the ride, but the ride's operational issues deterred us from even trying to ride it on the second day.

 

Finally got a chance to ride it on Saturday, November 15th when I went to UO for a friend's birthday. It opened about 2 hours after the park due to technical issues, but they still let you queue up. Once it started running we were on the ride pretty quickly. Once it opened around 11am, we never saw it go down again in person or on the UO app. It was posted about 180 all day but we rode again around 3pm and it took exactly 2 hours. When we left IOA at 6pm they were still letting people queue up. However, I know Elissa was at the park later that night before park closing at 8pm and the queue was then closed. It seems like they close it depending on the wait time, as it stayed open much later than the app said ("You must enter the queue by 3pm to ride" or something to that effect) but still closed before the park despite running well.

 

I liked the ride for what it was, very fun but not exceptional either. I don't like HP but it's quick and whippy and the indoor drop is probably the best part of the ride for me. I liked the motorbike more than the side car just because you sit higher making the transitions a bit more extreme. I do wish it did a little more coaster after the last launch (which I think was the fastest on the ride but right into the final brakes) with an airtime moment but it's already a long ride anyways. I'm torn because it is cool but....I miss Dragons.

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Of course Dragons was still a good ride even after it stopped dueling, but at this point it’s long gone. Obviously Hagrid’s is not a mind-blowingly intense coaster, but I enjoy Harry Potter and they pack a lot in to the ride experience, so I cant wait to check it out. However, I am more looking forward to the new Jurassic coaster. IOA will have two new Intamin coasters right next door to each other, offering very different ride experiences. The Jurassic coaster likely could exceed the intensity of Dragons, so I’m really not complaining much about the departure of Dragons at this point.

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We're seriously considering Orlando for our 2020 vacation (finally!). I'm not sure where to ask, so figured this was a good spot. What things on I-Drive are worth doing? We're definitely hitting Universal, Sea World, and Fun Spot. Looking to add a couple of days of non-theme park stuff. We live near Branson, so anything that's here isn't worth it to us (like Titanic and WonderWorks).

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We're seriously considering Orlando for our 2020 vacation (finally!). I'm not sure where to ask, so figured this was a good spot. What things on I-Drive are worth doing? We're definitely hitting Universal, Sea World, and Fun Spot. Looking to add a couple of days of non-theme park stuff. We live near Branson, so anything that's here isn't worth it to us (like Titanic and WonderWorks).

 

I like some of the mini golf places, there's a pirate themed and a Congo themed one that are both pretty fun.

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If you want to spend a few non theme park days in Florida I would honestly leave Orlando. Personally Orlando is one of the few places where we don't bother scheduling non theme park days unless Discovery Cove counts.

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We're seriously considering Orlando for our 2020 vacation (finally!). I'm not sure where to ask, so figured this was a good spot. What things on I-Drive are worth doing? We're definitely hitting Universal, Sea World, and Fun Spot. Looking to add a couple of days of non-theme park stuff. We live near Branson, so anything that's here isn't worth it to us (like Titanic and WonderWorks).

 

Yeah, I kind of agree with Bill here. Compared to Branson and Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg I don't think we have as much cool 'non park stuff', especially right on I-Drive. Like the Ferris Wheel area is nice for a few hours to do some attractions and food but not like full day stuff. If you're willing to go a bit farther we have things like Gatorland which is actually more awesome than it sounds or those Eco Parks with zip lines and stuff.

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Thanks everybody. We're going to need a break from theme parks but with Branson in our backyard, it's hard to get excited about any of that I-Drive stuff. If it's mostly skippable, so much the better. Gatorland was one that we were considering, so sounds like that'll be the thing to do on our rest day then. St. Pete Beach is on the list too.

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My family is going to the Orange Bowl this year (Go Hoos!), and I was wondering what Universal looked like for New Year's Eve and Day. Can anybody give me any tips or ideas of crowds or which park to do if I could only do one? Thanks so much!

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Was our first time going down for Universal's holiday stuff and had a great time. This type of weather is perfect to me, sun was out but I wasn't sweating to death lol

 

Really enjoyed the Macy's day parade which is something I'd never bother doing on Thanksgiving even though I could. We lined up maybe 40 minutes before and got a great spot.

 

At Islands I got to ride Kong for the first time and I enjoyed it more than I expected to but I just wish the ride was more like the start and end of the ride. The opening of the giant doors is such a great start and then it's just screens and meh. Loved the ending though and it's 1000x better than the fast and the furious ride.

 

I forgot how much Dudley do right gets you soaked lol still a fun ride though but not something I would do every time.

 

We didn't do a ton of rides since we were checking out all the Xmas stuff in both parks but Hagrids was running all day for the most part at a 90 min wait. We just didn't bother since we are making a few trips to Florida this year. The Grinch show was great, especially the guy who plays the Grinch. Did the meet and greet later in the day and he was a lot of fun, told us to have a horrible day on the way out lol

 

They also had a Xmas tree hunt that was free that we did, you picked up a free map/list and just get stamps at each store that has a themed tree. They were themed to the area, marvel tree, Betty boop, minions, men in black, etc, all of them were very nice. After you got all of them they gave you a free plastic minion tree ornament. I saw some people online complaining about it but it took us maybe 5 mins to do the entire thing because we were walking by the stores anyway.

 

Was also our first time seeing the Potter projection screen on the castle and thought it was very well done.

 

My only slight issues are that the stands for butterbeer that aren't inside and stuff like the taco truck in simpsons land don't honor the season pass discount. I knew that when I got the season pass but if SeaWorld can do it at their food booths there's no reason Universal can't set it up to work as well.

 

Also just thought an 8pm closing for both parks on a Saturday night is odd. The parks definitely seem crowded enough to warrant keeping them open until 10pm but I'm sure they know better than me. Would be nice if they at least staggered the closing times, islands at 8pm and studios at 9pm or whatever just so both parks aren't sending everyone out to citywalk and the parking deck at the same time.

 

Also have to add that I haven't been to universal in a few years but all the staff we encountered were way nicer than we ever remembered. They all seemed to be very happy to be there. Felt very Disney like in that manner which was nice to see.

 

Ended up eating at big fire for dinner, burgers were pretty good and since there was a 25% discount promo going on for certain restaurants for pass holders it was really reasonable price wise.

 

Not sure when we are gonna get back down there but we have been debating doing the 5k and 10k runs through the parks since this is the first year universal is officially running them.

 

Here's a few photos of the parade...

 

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^Nice report, glad to hear the employees are improving. I still haven't been on Hagrid's because I really want it to be more consistent before I go put the effort into it. I really want to try that new Big Fire restaurant too, I've heard a lot of good things.

 

The closing times are ridiculous. Robb and I were commenting on that a few weeks back. They obviously could stay open later or stagger the parks, but I really think they WANT to put people into Citywalk before it gets too late so they'll spend more money. That's the only reason that makes sense for the shorter hours at the parks.

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^Nice report, glad to hear the employees are improving. I still haven't been on Hagrid's because I really want it to be more consistent before I go put the effort into it. I really want to try that new Big Fire restaurant too, I've heard a lot of good things.

 

The closing times are ridiculous. Robb and I were commenting on that a few weeks back. They obviously could stay open later or stagger the parks, but I really think they WANT to put people into Citywalk before it gets too late so they'll spend more money. That's the only reason that makes sense for the shorter hours at the parks.

 

Yeah I agree that's gotta be their thinking. I do think staggering closing times might get more people eating at Citywalk, I think they do stagger sometimes but I don't pay enough attention to their schedule attention to know. On the Saturday we were there both parks closed at 8 and we waited 50 minutes to get a table at big fire. I'm sure a lot of people skipped eating simply because they didn't want to wait after already spending a day at the parks. When we got out around 10pm it was really empty, voodoo donuts had a long line still though lol

 

I know they are trying to get more of a Disney type bubble going but you would think they would extend the hours to warrant people choosing to stay there the entire time and for the prices they charge for admission. I think people would still fill up the restaurants with 10pm closings or a staggered close of 9/10. I just don't think expecting a 10pm close time, especially for a Saturday night is unreasonable. It's a huge part of the reason we just opted for a season pass this year. The value vs single day park to park tickets is crazy. We have family in Florida so doing a quick weekend trip down there is easier for us now.

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On the subject of Hagrid's, it looks like it opened and closed with the park the last 3 days. We were tempted to get in line right at close yesterday but we hadn't been on Forbidden Journey in years so we ended up riding an enchanted bench instead.

 

We rode Hagrid's for the first yesterday time though and it's an awesome ride. It's like a giant Verbolten on steroids.

Edited by coasterbill
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So I know that I won't end get around to writing a full trip report but we had an awesome day at Universal on Sunday and I figured I'd give some quick thoughts on a few things. We were at HHN this year and last year but it's been years since we went to IOA and honestly, that's far too long. First, let's talk about the 3 rides that were new to us. I can't call it the good, the bad and the ugly, maybe the incredibly good, the less good and the uh... actually I don't really have the words for that last one.

 

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PS: JRice was off from work at Universal but was more than willing to spend the entire day at work. I guess I would be too if I worked at Universal. lol

Hagrid's

We made Hagrid's our first stop. As an aside, we didn't even get into the line to enter the park until 9 (when they opened), we didn't run and we were still on in an hour. The craziness has died down a bit. As an added bonus, by pure luck of the draw we ended up getting the front row!

 

We loved the ride but it's a very "us" ride. First of all, we love Harry Potter. Second of all, it has a drop track and Brit thinks that the sun rises and sets with drop tracks. "Verbolten on crack" is the best way to describe this. It just does so much and it's so incredibly fun that it's hard not to love it.

 

I can't really pick a favorite part but I guess if I had to choose I would say that it's the reverse spike just because not only is it a tremendously fun element but I was really impressed with how well and how cleverly they hid it.

 

This ride is not as intense as Dragons, but it's really more intense than I thought it would be. That's probably credit to the manufacturer. It's whippy and it's fast. The animatronics are very cool (though you go by them at a quick clip). Honestly, everything about it is just pure fun. I don't really have a single complaint. Brit's declared it her new favorite coaster. I think that's a bit strong but it's up there for me too. It's tremendously fun. I also fully expected Brit to say that because it has a drop track. Her favorite ride in Canada is Wonder Mountain's Guardian so this is what you're dealing with here...

 

Fallon

This ride isn't amazing, but it's better than I expected it to be and that's probably because Jimmy Fallon actually gave a sh*t when he was working on it. The production value is great. It also has the best safety spiel in Orlando. It was also fun riding with JRice since he works the ride and could give us some fun little factoids about it.

 

It could be a case of nonexistent expectations and I'm not telling anyone to make this a priority but it's not a bad ride. I probably like it better than Shrek and I definitely like it better than the next ride that I'm about to talk about:

 

Fast and the Furious

Uh.

 

... what the f*ck is this?

 

Let me say this. I'm not bothered by Universal's use of screens. I'm not bothered that they keep spraying you with water. I like Kong and it's ride system. I don't dislike this ride for any of those reasons. I dislike this ride because it's a bad ride.

 

It's a movie about car racing but you ride in a... party bus? The acting sucks. The effects suck. The story sucks. The ride sucks. I don't like this franchise but it's a big franchise for them. This should have been an awesome ride. Imagine if this were like Test Track or even Backlot Stunt Coaster in a show building with an insane theming budget. Why is it a party bus? Nobody who rides a Fast and the Furious ride wants to ride a party bus, they want to ride a cool fast car.

 

In addition, the ride feels very short despite the massive show building and the final scene is terrible. Kong works because it's dark. You can't really see the mechanics of the ride. Here you clearly see without having to look for it that you're on a track and not moving because of how insanely bright the last scene is. Plus, even aside from that the scene is less than impressive. Vin Diesel is almost the size of the helicopter. It also feels like you're maybe building up to something really cool after that scene but then you find out that... no, it's actually the finale. That was it.

 

The ride also has 2 pre shows, neither of which are good. The queue is the best part of the ride.

 

Before this, I never thought that Universal Orlando had any "bad" rides. Rockit has it's days, Shrek is the closest they come but I don't hate it. This ride though? This ride is bad and I think they know it and I think all of their guests know it.

 

Now for a few more general thoughts and some comments on rides that we HAVE ridden before:

 

- Gringotts and Forbidden Journey never stop blowing our minds. We always make it a point to ride Gringotts when we go to Horror nights so I've been on that very recently, but it's been way too long since we've been on Forbidden Journey. These are seriously some of my favorite rides ever. I love everything about them.

 

- I always liked Hulk but JRice told us to ride it in the back row and now I *LOVE* Hulk. Holy living sh*t this ride is powerful. To all of you G-Force-loving Floridians who have Montu, Manta, Kumba and Hulk within 90 minutes of eachother just know that I hate you.

 

- We rode Mummy like 5 times during Horror Nights but we didn't get our fill so we rode again. That ride is perfection.

 

- Skull Island: Reign of Kong is a really good ride. I'll never understand the hate for it. This was our first time not expressing it and I loved the live actor and cool animatronics in the queue.

 

- Jurrasic World looks cool but I really love River Adventure as-is. Going through the Jurrasic Park gates is so cool. I kind of hope they never change it.

 

- I still love E.T. Adventure. I shouldn't. It has so many similarities to Peter Pan's Flight between the ride system and flying over the city and I don't like that ride at all but I really do like ET. You also don't have to stand in a 90 minute line for it which is a plus.

 

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- Butterbeer is ridiculously delicious. I'd never pay that much for a non-alcoholic beverage anywhere else on the planet but Universal... shut up and take my money.

 

Overall we had an awesome day at Universal. Thanks again to JRice for coming to work on your day off.

Edited by coasterbill
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really great update, Bill.

 

makes me want to make an effort to get to Universal in Orlando. . . hmmmm. . maybe I can convince Nick to do that for "our" vacation in 2020, since he's dragging a bit on my proposed Manhattan/Broadway trip.

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Great report!

 

I must have caught Hulk on a bad day this year. It blew me away in late 2017. It felt like Kumba. This September, it was still smooth but not as wild, even in the back.

 

And thank you for reaffirming my decision to skip Fast and Furious. I hated the scene on Hollywood's tram tour and this one sounded even worse. You were spot on it would be exceptional as a coaster or Test Track type ride.

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I'm partial to the frozen butterbeer. I know they have a hot version right now but we didn't try that when we were down there.

 

Absolutely agree about the fast and the furious ride, it's amazing how they screwed up something as simple that should have been 2 cars racing. That party scene at the club is beyond ridiculous and easily one of the worst things I've ever seen. I like pretty much every ride I've been on at Universal but there's no way I'd ever go on that one again.

 

I enjoyed Kong too but I think my problem with it is that it could have been so much more and the start of the ride and end of it teases how much better the ride could have been with some more practical effects. Driving up to the giant entrance doors at night with the torches lit up around it is so damn cool.

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