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Photo TR: First Time to Orlando! WDW, Universal, Busch, More

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Amazing TR. Having just 2 weeks ago experienced the parks for the first time myself I can relate to pretty much everything. Although I did find the "without the park its pretty much a given that they wouldn't survive in nature" rather unitentionally hilarious.

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Awesome report. Totally agree with you about Universal becoming Pottertown with some other stuff that they're really not going to promote or care about or anything, BECAUSE WANDS. Really hope they can get this place back to the quality level it used to have, especially IOA.


I really like the Seaworld in Orlando, and it does indeed have two really, really good coasters. I haven't been since the penguin ride was added, but yeah, just from all the videos and reports they really did drop the ball there. It should have been a world class attraction, just based on the technology they were using.


Looking forward to the next installment!



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I can see both the "rest of the park is shabbier" thing in certain areas and the "too many simulators thing." I'm so hopeful that Kong won't be only giant screens. But Hulk is being refurbed this year and new rides are coming constantly. And most things in IOA (giant cutouts aside) are just as high quality as other majors.


But there are plenty of Non-simulators not mentioned in the report...MIB, any great water ride, Dr. Doom, Dragons, Cat in the Hat, Disaster, Poseidon, etc.


And YAY to see some love for Great Movie Ride. All the attractions at DHS are AWESOME, I just wish the company could literally double the amount of them...and for DAK too...

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So... The observation tower at Sea World can be a new attraction this year! Pixelated Wrapping Paper on a Tower: The Ride! Also, my God, a 3 hour wait for Tower of Terror?! I went back in 1995 a year after it opened and only had to wait an hour... in July! What happened?

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This sounds like a really bad follow up to "Planet of the Apes" right?


A planet where penguins evolved from men?



A good piece of advice is to eat lunch after riding Tower as I can't imagine it would feel to fun having that sausage bouncing up and down inside you


So, daydreaming about Elsa and sausage, were you?


Great report, Craig!

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So, daydreaming about Elsa and sausage, were you?



Looks your take on the parks.

I can't wait for my Trip to sea world in may. Did you not ride Journey to Atlantes?


Yes I did ride Journey to Atlantis. The ride was a lot bigger than I expected from looking at the building but it did seem like quite a few effect were not working. Either that or not a whole lot happens in the show building. The actual ride itself is pretty good though and the Beetlejuice lift hill made no sense what so ever!

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Not quite. We saw the Frozen show was a couple of days later. But we did manage 2 amazing B&Ms, Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster, I got an Elsa Magic Band AND then we saw Newsies!


Still that is an impressive amount of awesomeness in one day. Or at least I thought it was until later in the trip! Stay tuned

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Just combining Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster and Newsies in one day sounds utterly fantastic to me! (I've never been to the Sea World in Orlando, so I can't really comment on that.) But you got to experience some of my favorite Disney attractions and my absolute favorite show in merely a few hours! I'm so jealous!


I agree about the towers/ sets from Newsies. The way they move around the stage is so cool to watch. Even though they're fairly minimalistic, there's just something about seeing giant metal scaffolds manipulate themselves into different structures that's kind of awe-inspiring.

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Hey Craig! I'm the dude that hung out with you and Robb at Busch Gardens. Really diggin' the way you're presenting this TR, it's fascinating to see Orlando through fresh eyes. Thanks again to you and Robb for letting me and my girlfriend hang out with you guys, it really was a nice day (even if operations were strange!)

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Hey Craig! I'm the dude that hung out with you and Robb at Busch Gardens. Really diggin' the way you're presenting this TR, it's fascinating to see Orlando through fresh eyes. Thanks again to you and Robb for letting me and my girlfriend hang out with you guys, it really was a nice day (even if operations were strange!)


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Next stop on the trip was Busch Gardens for my first and thankfully last ride on Gwazi! This park is the non Disney park I knew the most about before I visited so I was very excited about the prospect of actually getting to ride Falcons Fury and Cheetah Hunt!


After having a really nice drive out to the park and a really great breakfast muffin at Starbucks we entered the park and waited for rope drop. It was at this point I experianced something I had never experianced at any park before. Suddenly it all goes quiet and the American national anthem started to play. Robb explained to me that this is a Busch/SeaWorld thing but it really did seem weird to me. I could never imagine everyone standing outside a park in the UK and singing along to "God Save the Queen".



"Welcome to Busch Gardens come get your firewood from here soon!"


After the national anthem finished the rope droped and we made our way straight to Gwazi to get my first and last rides on it and some final footage for TPR.



Even looking at this sign hurts.


I have been lucky enough to ride many woodies both good and bad in my life but this ride.........


This ride was really very rough. Anyone who thought this ride needed to be saved is delusional! Im sure somthing much better will replace it in time but it no sad loss that the ride is now closed. You know a ride is bad when even the ride staff were telling people it sucks.


This video sums up the ride pretty well! It really kicked our arses!





Yay first good coaster of the day is some serious Intamin goodness!


When we rode this first thing in the morning the operations were really good, 2 stations running, pumping trains out like it was nothing. Later in the day it was nothing of the sort. They were down to one station, stracking trains and it was so very slow. It was such a shame that they started out so well and the ride is awesome!


This ride is an amazing family coaster. It is not a high speed crap your pants thrill ride and it is easy to tell it was never designed to be. Its just a really great ride!


Even though the tower part of the ride looks awesome I was very sceptical about it. I was proved wrong instantly! Its actually a really great part of the ride! It offers great views! Plus its twisttttttyyyyyyyyyyyy!


Ever wanted to buy an entire coaster footer? You can in the Cheetah Hunt shop!


It is much better to hunt Cheetahs on the ride and not actually hunt them in person!


This is a turtle. I named him Bernard!


After some Intamin goodness, why not some B&M goodness?


Sheikra was actually my first BIG Dive Machine. Before this all I had been on were baby ones such as Oblivion and Krake.


And wow this was much better than I was expecting!


This a really good dive machine and I would love to see something similar like this being built in Europe! Not just another 2 small little ones that are almost over before they get started!


The water brake also surprised me by just how noticable it was!


I dont think I could have visited the park without a ride on the Skyride. I would actually really reccomend going on this and not just for the convenience of transport across the park. You get some really good views of the park and its a great way to see the animals.


Plus you get some amazing views of 2 peices of very sexy Intamin goodness!


And along with Intamin sexyness you have even more B&M hotness! Seriously how can anywhere be allowed to have this many good B&Ms?


Out of all the B&Ms inverts I have been on I always end up comparing them to Nemesis. I honestly didnt think this would be anything like Nemesis.


But WOW this thing was INTENSE! After riding it twice I ended up with a slight nose bleed! If thats not a sign of a great ride I dont know what is!


And if you dont belive me about just how good this ride is watch the POV!





Is this sign telling you not to feed the dragon chocolate or small round poops?


Who doesnt love a classic Schwarzkopf coaster?


From one great coaster to another. This park doesnt actually have any bad coasters now Gwazi has closed. If I was a local to this park I would have zero things to complain about when it comes to the quality of the parks rides.


However what I would have issue with is the operations and just how bad they were on all rides by the end of the day and this ride in specific all day. This ride had one train operation for the entire day and the crew were painfully slow to watch. The park wasnt super busy by any means but it was more than enough to consitute putting a second train on this. The queue was around an hour long at one point and just didnt move.


While that doesnt take away from the fact that this is a kick arse coaster, the operations did prevent me from getting more than one ride on it during the day which is such a shame as I would have loved to. It is a bad fact that I can say I rode Gwazi one more time than I rode Kumba!


This is one of my all time favourite park souviners. You injection mould you own elephant on for ! I mean thats so random its amazing! Do any other parks have these or is it unique to Busch Gardens?


Its just so awesome!





Oh humanity fails again!


Now its time for the ride I was most looking forward to at this park, Falcon's Fury!


Can you see the excitement in our faces?!?


I honestly havent been as excited for a drop tower as much as I was for this in my life!


When we were at the top and facing the ground I actually thought I was going to explode with excitement!


I actually cant put into words just how much I loved this ride once it started dropping. Its just unbelivably good. The park and Intamin managed to take a very common ride in a drop tower and turn it into a whole new experiance that is unlike anything else. We must have been on this at least 4 times and every time it was just as good as the last. I would be very surprised if Intamin dont end up selling more of these.


The ride also has my favourite on ride photo system ever! A group of photographers standing around the ride with SLRs pointing them at the ride then taking the picutres as the ride drops!


This was me after Falcon's Fury!


Overall I really did love Busch Gardens. Easily its my favourite non Disney park in Orlando, its just such a shame that after the day started so well with good operations its just got progressivly worse and worse. I would love to go back at some point but I would dare go on a busy day if thats how the park is normally run. I look forward to see what will be done with the Gwazi site as it is a pretty sizable chunk of land that im sure they can put the great use. The loss of that ride is nothing but a plus in my books and if you do miss the ride for whatever reason you must have endured brain damage from the ride!


After a great day at Busch Garden we thought we should hit up Fun Spot in the evening, so thats exactly what we did!



So is the park going to be called Gator Spot when the Gators arrive or is Gator Spot going to be the name of the area with Gators in?


The park was so very quiet when we went so that meant multiple rides on everything!


For a park the size of Fun Spot its amazing what they have packed into the it!


And it looks like they plan to keep inveting in everything which is awesome!


I got to experiance my first even multi level Go Kart track at Fun Spot! What a weird yet experiance it was as well. It was amazing that all the people we saw in the park were on the Go Karts everything else was dead.


A GCI woodie? How can I refuse!


This is a really fun little GCI woodie. If more small parks could afford them I would love to see a few more pop up here and there.


I know the question you are all thinking off. Is this my favourite woodie in the USA? The anwser to that is HELL YEAH!


Fun Spot was a really nice little park that makes a great evening attraction. I think the Go Karts are still the main draw for the park comapred to the coasters but I did like the variety between the two. I will say I do think one of the reasons the park was quiet is because they priced themselves too high. They would do pretty well if they did a late night deal which lowered the price if you got you wristband a few hours before closing. I think that would deffinetlly entice people into the park. Not as much as the White Castle truck though


Busch and Fun Spot were my final 2 non Disney parks to visit so that meant the rest of my trip was all about Disney! The next update will be Studios (including Frozen sing along!), a look at the Orlando Eye and more Epcot.



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Another great update! I'm glad you mentioned operations at Busch Gardens seeming slow...I went a few weeks ago and noticed the same thing but didn't think to mention it since I'm so used to Disney and Universal that I thought I might have just been spoiled. Good to see someone with more regional park experience thought the same thing though. Also didn't even realize that they were doing on-ride photos for Falcons Fury, much less in such an unconventional way. Very cool...can't wait for your next update!

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^ The weird thing was the operations started out GREAT! We must have hit 5 rides in the first couple of hours...EASY! Things were moving smoothly, queues were short, etc. But then after about 1pm we just noticed a shift. 1 train on both Kumba & Montu, only half of the station being used on SheiKra, and it's not like the place was empty! SheiKra had about a 20 minute wait, and the first time we rode Kumba we waited about 25 minutes, and then going back in the day to get a second ride, the entire queue area was filled to the entrance and the staff said 60 minutes. Why was only 1 train running?


Other than that, we really did have an AWESOME day at the park!

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The national anthem must be a US park thing. Every Cedar Fair park I've been to at opening also plays the Star Spangled Banner. Great report though! I hope to take a trip in the beginning of April, probably my #1 US park on my bucket list.

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Operations were bizarre. In the morning, Cheetah Hunt was running 5 trains and both stations. In the afternoon, just one station and trains were stacked. Kumba had one train and the ride ops took their sweet time loading and unloading. Montu also had one train operation. Gwazi was running two trains. My girlfriend and I actually had time to watch the running of the cheetahs, walk to Montu, and ride 2nd row behind Robb and Craig since they were waiting for the front while the rest of the train sat empty. I get that the crowds were light (it was a weekday off season) but there's nothing more infuriating than seeing two trains in storage at Kumba while the line gets longer and longer.


It was a real nice day to be at BGT though, all things considered. I'm glad I was forced onto Falcon's Fury (I have a fear of elevators), as I haven't been that scared on an amusement park ride in a very long time. When *that's* a 5 minute wait and a B&M 32-person-per-train ride is pushing an hour, there's something wrong.


Also I failed at making a falcon face but hey it was fun anyway.

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BGT is a bit strange when it comes to operations (Gwazi's ops were always bad). The Williamsburg park's ops seem to be consistently better. That being said, Tampa has a great ride selection and good animal attractions.

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^There was no way you could NOT ride Falcon's Fury! I mean seriously it was amazing! Yeah the whole Montu thing was insane. The fact that you managed to see the Cheetah talk, walk over to Montu and meet up with us again before we even got on the ride is shocking.


Still though I did have an amazing trip and I really hope I get a chance to go back!

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I had my first visit to BGT last week as well, and loved it. Cheetah Hunt was surprisingly fun. Falcon's Fury does indeed promote pants-crapping. Montu might be my new #1 invert. Beautiful park, great rides. Also good beer and pretzels

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