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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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Hate it when roller coasters ruin the skyline at a theme park /s I’ve never understood this gripe.
Right?!? And, I’m sure they will continue to landscape making it’s presence slightly less visually jarring.
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Last Sunday morning I was able to venture out to Universal to go give the new Halloween test offerings a try... Since my visit on Sunday it has been announced that these offerings will be offered regularly between Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-Nov. 1. As many of you know, Halloween Horror Nights was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, given the crowds the event garners, the filled pathways scarezones demand and the close up scares that the haunted houses call for... But in a surprising turn, Universal announced that two houses from this year's planned event would open to all guests (with a Virtual Pass Reservation) at no extra cost during the day. These houses would be outfitted with plexiglass shields to protect guests from the scareactors and vice versa and that social distancing processes would be put in place to keep the close-quarters elements of the houses at bay. In addition to the two houses, two new food trucks, a free scavenger hunt-style experience and a new food & beverage location, along with the existing Tribute Store have brought the Halloween vibes back to the park, but during the daytime, which is a first for Universal.

 

I won't go as far as to compare/judge the two haunted houses against other Halloween Horror Nights years, because I believe that the houses had less scareactors than they would in a normal year, and because the experience just simply wasn't apples to apples, but I am happy to share my thoughts on both. Overall, Universal did a REALLY good job of managing the queues for these two houses. At opening, there were (very) limited capacity standby lines available for those that wanted to rope drop the houses, but right around park opening, the Virtual Line Pass availability for these houses came up, allowing me to reserve my entry times for both without trouble. The capacity must be heavily limited compared to normal, because I only saw about 6 people ahead of me in either queue, but the best part is, the management of guest flow inside of the houses. House attendants inside of each house hold glowing (soft) batons that can be used to gently stop guests from proceeding if there isn't enough social distance between them and the party ahead of them. This actually makes for a more personal experience in the houses with more "on your own" moments in the rooms than the normal conga line approach would allow. Any scare location (or boo hole as some would call them) are covered (at least from head to waist) in clear plexiglass to prevent the scareactor from spreading particles and vice versa. Depending on the lighting, this may give away where a scare would be up ahead, but there are more than a few covers placed to provide balance by distracting you from the real scare spots.

 

"Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives" was the first house I went to (and the one I did standby for, so I was able to experience this one twice in the same day) and the one I more eagerly anticipated. A sequel to last year's amazing Universal Monsters house, this one focuses almost exclusively on Frankenstein's bride as the name suggests, with a few clever nods to the other classic Universal Monsters of cinematic past. The house theming is over the top and puts you in a heightened version of the world seen in the classic Frankenstein movies. I didn't get too many scares out of either run in this one, though it could've just been bad timing. But the detail in this one is really great.

 

"Revenge of the Tooth Fairy" is the house that makes me really eager to see what else was planned for Halloween Horror Nights 30. This house is presented in such a unique format with such distinct design/stylistic choices, this house was amazing. As if you're stepping into a Grimm Fairytale-style storybook, the opening of the house literally unfolds around you like the pages of a book (and the effect is REALLY clever). Narration carries overhead from room to room, explaining what is going on around you as if you were being read a bedtime story. As the story goes, one child refused to give his tooth up to the Tooth Fairy, and as a result, the Tooth Fairy unleashes an army of fairies to attack the child and the other residents of his family's manor. Seriously, I can't say enough good things about this house, other than I wish I had done this one twice instead of Frankenstein.

 

I appreciate that Universal is testing the limits of what can be done safely in COVID-times, and this Halloween event seems like a fair compromise in lieu of a full Halloween Horror Nights. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if another house or two don't find a way to be opened up before the end of October if the demand proves to be there for these other offerings. I was glad I visited when I did because crowds really do seem to be picking up for the Halloween offerings--so if you're interested, plan ahead and get out to Universal before November 1st!

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Getting to the park at 7:45 AM, just an hour and 15 minutes before park opening, it was more quiet at the arch than I expected.

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But with social distancing in place, lines filled the queues normally used for the ticket booths and entry queues were set up to allow Guests to enter via the park exit.

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About 15 minutes before the park opened, people in line around me started to point out that Virtual Line Passes had become available for the two Haunted Houses. I rushed into the app and managed to book a time for each...

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I was surprised that the system let me book two houses for the same time. Thankfully, with the Virtual Line Pass, I waited about 6 minutes for the first house once in the line, so I had plenty of time to use my pass for the other house later on.

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A familiar location for Halloween Horror Nights fans, though this line is set up for social distancing. When the park first opens, there is a very limited capacity standby queue for each of the two haunted houses. I defaulted to Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein as last year's Universal Monsters house at Halloween Horror Nights was one of my favorite houses of the year. We were let into the park around 8:50 AM and the line for the house started letting guests in just after 9:00 AM, so I only ended up waiting about 8 minutes in line by the time I got into the house.

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By the time I exited Universal Monsters, signs like these had been set up in key locations between this corner of the park and the park entrance.

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With time to spare until my Virtual Line Passes for the two houses, I got in line for the Tribute Store, what was meant to be the main Halloween Horror Nights shop for the event but opened even after the event's cancellation with tons of merchandise, themed rooms and a new food & beverage counter.

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I waited maybe 15 minutes in line before being allowed in.

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The theming inside of the Tribute Store is on par with that which you'd find in Halloween Horror Nights haunted houses...

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And with this year's event having been set to celebrate thirty years of fear, there were plenty of references, subtle and not to icons and offerings of years' past.

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There were a few banners/signs within the Tribute Store that were strategically covered as if to hide a detail that would've been related to this year's planned event. We'll have to wait until 2021 to see what Universal had planned for us for the 30th Halloween Horror Nights season, but hopefully they'll pick up right where they left off with what was planned for this year.

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Icons have a substantial presence in one of the Tribute Store rooms... The Usher, the Caretaker, the Storyteller, the Director, Jack the Clown, Eddie and Fear are among those represented.

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Some art designed for this year's event has found its way to more HHN merchandise not marked by a year.

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But there is plenty of merchandise for what was supposed to be this year's event available for purchase.

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Fans of Halloween Horror Nights lore can see props and details that tie into past years.

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The entrance facade for last year's Tribute Store is actually featured in this year's Tribute Store interior.

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In a hallway leading to the next Tribute Store room, you find lots of archival photos on the wall from the event's past 30 years... Here is Universal Parks CEO Tom Williams featured at one of the event's earliest years.

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Bill & Ted become synonymous with Halloween Horror Nights for many years thanks to its popular show.

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Some classic and more current images are intermixed throughout the halls.

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Anyone remember the "S.S. Frightanic: Carnage Crew" haunted house from Halloween Horror Nights 8?

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Back when the Bates Motel still existed at Universal Studios Florida...

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Time to head into the next room!

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More classic Universal Monsters merch!

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The third room has introduced a food & beverage counter for the first time in the history of the Tribute Store and it has already proven to be incredibly popular.

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These cherry heart gummies actually beat and pulse on the serving table before being given to you to take with you. One of the coolest food item presentations I've seen in a theme park. I won't spoil how it is done (it is actually fairly simple) but the effect is really neat.

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So many options to choose from!

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Horror donuts make me go nuts.

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The final room in this year's Tribute Store is themed to Beetlejuice, which was all but confirmed to be a haunted house in this year's version of Halloween Horror Nights. Some of the film's most iconic visuals are recreated here in the store.

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So cool!

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This room was easily the most impressive of the four.

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And the check out location is themed to the afterlife lobby from the film!

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Amazing!

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No detail is too small!

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The experience isn't over until you're back outside!

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Thankfully I had gotten my Virtual Line Pass.

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The beauty of the Virtual Line Pass is that there was almost no one ahead of me when I finally entered the queue. I waited behind 7 people in total once my time had come to get in line.

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A similar experience for the other house line.

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Social distancing was really solid throughout the park's offerings.

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Even though Virtual Lines were advertised as "At Capacity," I did find some times drop for later in the day within the first hour and a half of park operation.

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Two food trucks are parked in the New York corner of the park to offer spooky themed treats for the Halloween season...

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Interesting choices.

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Yep.

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Another new offering this year is the Skeleton Bar in Cafe La Bamba.

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This is a new food & beverage location with some Halloween decor. Cafe La Bamba is traditionally used as a venue to support RIP Tours during the Halloween Horror Nights season.

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It was neat that Universal took the time to open the venue and lightly theme it for the season.

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I went with the Loup-Garou and I was pleased with my choice!

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Goin' down the bayou...

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In case you were wondering...

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New Halloween Horror Nights legacy merchandise continues to be released, with the latest round featuring the Terra Queen from Halloween Horror Nights 15.

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Even more legacy merch...

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Halloween Horror Nights face masks are available for purchase.

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The Scarecrow Stalk is a free scavenger hunt experience that sends guests across the park to find scarecrows. If all of them are found, you can get a free sample bag of candy to enjoy.

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Signage out front advised guests that the haunted houses were at capacity.

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Work on the CityWalk refurbishment where Fossil, Quiet Flight, Island Traders and PiQ! used to be continues.

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Even more custom Universal masks available for purchase at the Universal Studios Store.

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Two days after the Premier passholder preview and one day after the new Halloween offering test began for all Guests, this is what the toll plaza looked like just 2.5 hours after the park opened... Exactly why I try to avoid going in the first day or so if possible these days.

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I brought some treats home from the Tribute Store including this awesome red velvet cake pop.

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The beating heart gummies were really delicious--honestly more jello-like than gummy and I was loving it.

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But the star of the show was the vegan skull brownie--super dense and moist but no shortage of flavor!

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Don't worry, our local valley bus service has Veloci taken care of. The BRT service is called VelociRFTA. (RFTA being pronounced rafta.) That's all I could think of when I heard the coasters name.

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What an amazing trip report, thank you. So many great photos covering every aspect of the event, real in-depth information and lots of useful tips. It looks like the resort have done a really good job of creating this Halloween Horror Days event and I'm really surprised/happy to see it included in regular admission.

 

Regarding Velocicoaster, it's a pretty naff name but I guess not really important. The coaster isn't the prettiest skyline-wise, but I am sure we would have said the same had Incredible Hulk been built 20 years after the park opened too. I am not a big fan of the Lost World style grey buildings and walls, but hopefully there will be plenty of trees coming, and I am surprised how much rockwork there is. I saw a fan-created POV and it looks like the first section will be extremely disorientating because of this.

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Well, it kind of matches USJ now and their Flying Dinosaur. Yea, it disrupts the skyline and does look a bit out of place seeing track all over the Jurassic area in terms of theming but you get an awesome coaster out of it.

Actually, track is not all over the Jurassic area. While in the land, the track is confined to a paddock. Inside the paddock, rockwork hides a majority of the track from view and you only have a couple spots to "view" through the paddock. The coaster is no more jarring (inside Jurassic Park) than the JPRA building. Even the track on the coast of the Jurassic area was designed in a way to be low to the ground and not foreboding in the other lands. It does not obstruct the view of the visitors center and it's black so it's not jarring or contrasting against the trees. This is all coming from actually seeing it in person.

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Jurassic world, not Jurassic Park. Hopefully it’s a mix of the old and new in the area and doesn’t mean an upgrade to River Adventure. I much prefer the gate open reveal of the dinosaurs and the ‘Welcome to Jurassic Park’ moment over the digital aquarium.

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I'm so excited for this, that video looks great and I actually like the name. I do hope they put some animatronic raptors in though instead of all screens. Even a combination of a few animatronic raptors and others on screens would be fantastic.

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Almost everything about this ride lines up for it to be an elite coaster. 4,700 feet also makes it the longest Intamin blitz coaster, beating Cheetah Hunt, Maverick, and Taron all by a few hundred feet. Those trims on the top hat are the only thing worrying me, but hopefully the effect is negligible.

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^Good news: they’re not trims! Lol

 

With a combo of impressive stats, extensive theming, a super unique layout, and Intamin’s super comfy new restraints, this thing looks to be not only the best coaster in Orlando, but one of the best in the world. I really can’t believe Universal is building it—but I’m sure glad they are!

 

Also: 6-car trains?! A full size launched coaster with a top hat and 24-passenger trains...just awesome.

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Also: 6-car trains?! A full size launched coaster with a top hat and 24-passenger trains...just awesome.

Yep, I saw that. It's just going to make the airtime even better on the opposite ends of the train.

 

Welp, I guess I still have 36 hours or so to decide if I want to get a Universal annual pass.

 

4,700 feet also makes it the longest Intamin blitz coaster...

What's a Blitz coaster? [/s]

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What's a Blitz coaster? [/s]

 

It's like an Aqua Trax but without the water.

 

Although considering Lotte World removed the water permanently off the worlds only Aqua Trax a few years ago, does that make Atlantis Adventure a Blitz coaster?

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The light package on the trains looks amazing, nice touch I wasn't expecting. Maybe I missed it but do any other Intamin Blitz trains out there have lights on them? I can't recall.

 

Too bad the park only stays open past dusk like 3 months a year, but for those 3 months this thing is going to look great at night lol.

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Those look like Skyrush-style lap bars. Get ready for the complaints LOL.

They're not, they're Intamin's newest setup, which, at least on Hyperion, are decently comfortable.

 

It's like an Aqua Trax but without the water.

But what's an AquaTrax?!?

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^Good news: they’re not trims! Lol

 

I've seen a few people say this and I hope to the coaster gods they're right and I'm wrong lol. Braked top hats are apparently "in" these days and I desperately don't want this to be one of them.

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I was also a little (pleasantly) surprised at the 6-car trains. It makes total sense, given Universal's capacity requirements, but I was expecting 4-to-5 car trains like most new Intamin launched coasters. That just means all the more whip in the back seat!

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Those look like Skyrush-style lap bars. Get ready for the complaints LOL.

They're not, they're Intamin's newest setup, which, at least on Hyperion, are decently comfortable.

 

I actually think they're great! Sure the old T-bars are the best in the industry but this isn't that far off. I much prefer them over Mack's new lapbars and everyone goes bat sh*t over those.

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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 be lighter, less bulky, and less prone to coming down further during the ride.

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