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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures


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^ I feel like someone named Canobie Coaster should have something related to Canobie as their avatar.

 

Otherwise I'd have the photo of me in my Slinky Dog hat riding the Slinky Dog ride in Paris.

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Animal Kingdom

 

After a half day at Epcot, Emily and I met up with our friends the wildest park in the wilderness, Animal Kingdom. This always used to be my least favorite Disney park, but it has definitely grown on me*.

 

* Plus I visited Paris’s Walt Disney Studios this past year. That place owns the bottom of the list now.

 

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Welcome to the wildest park in the wilderness.

 

We started with Dinosaur. I really like Dinosaur. The wild motion of the EMVs is incredible and when paired with the detailed dinosaur figures, you have a winner. Who could find a flaw in that? 9 out of 10

 

That’s right, Disney fans could. I know the joke is that Disney ran out of money making Dinosaur. You have these amazing dinosaurs at the start and end of the ride. But in the middle, you have a lot of darkness and empty sets. But guess what, Indiana Jones Adventure has some dark bits too!

 

I’m pretty sure most people would have a higher opinion of Dinosaur if Indiana Jones Adventure didn’t exist. But I don’t want to think about that dark reality.

 

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Universal may not let us go back to the future, but at least Disney lets us go back to the past.

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Even with Chip n Dale wearing dinosaur costumes, I'll never be on board with Chester and Hester's Dino Rama.

 

Everest had a sizable queue, so we used the single rider line to board in less than 10 minutes. Emily hit the jackpot and was assigned the front row. I was seated two rows behind her.

 

Everest has to be one of the most visually stunning coasters on the planet. I know Disney has made some marvelous mountains, but this is arguably the grandest. And the coaster utilizes that mountain to the fullest.

 

Plus it actually has some force to it! The big drop has a pinch of air in the back and even the most jaded enthusiasts have to admit that backwards helix pulls a surprising amount of Gs. Heck, even the outdoor helices have some Gs. 8 out of 10

 

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We then debated whether or not to hit Kilimanjaro Safari. On one hand, we knew it would only get darker. On the other hand, we didn’t want to risk missing our Flight of Passage window.

 

So we made our way to Pandora. Along the way, Emily stopped to rub the glowing penis of power. I know Kentucky Kingdom’s Dick Rock Mountain is one of the Seven Wonders of the Amusement World, but the fact this phallic object exists at Disney is stunning.

 

On second thought, it all makes sense. I’ve seen the front cover of the Little Mermaid.

 

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Before taking her flight of passage, Emily rubbed the Pandora Penis.

 

I apologized to Emily that she missed Flight of Passage’s well-themed queue. For some reason, she didn’t mind missing a 2.5 hour wait.

 

Per usual, Flight of Passage was stunning. It is easily one of the most immersive attractions in the world. The combination of the visuals, sounds, smells, and movement is the complete package. I always come off this attraction buzzing. 10 out of 10

 

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Pandora at night should be on everyone's bucket list.

 

We then doubled back to Africa. Emily’s most anticipated attraction was Kilimanjaro Safari. We weren’t sure how it would be in complete darkness. And I guess we’ll have to keep wondering. It was closed.

 

It made sense though. And to the park’s credit, the fact the ride closed an hour early was clearly listed on the app under the ride. We just missed it. And just for reference, Kali River Rapids closed early too.

 

So as a consolation prize, we saw Rivers of Light. I’ve never actually seen this show since I’ve always gotten in line for Flight of Passage right at closing. Heck, that was the original plan before the Fastpass gods worked in our favor.

 

The show started with a water screen a la World of Color. It projected classic scenes from animated films like Lion King and Tarzan. And this was accompanied by an incredible soundtrack. I still have the songs from Rivers of Light stuck in my head.

 

Then these floats came onto the pond. And then it went dark.

 

Uh oh.

 

Thankfully, it was just a 5 minute delay and Disney reset the entire show. So basically I’ve now seen it 1.5 times. I still prefer Fantasmic, World of Color, and Illuminations, but I’ll take this over a generic fireworks show any day.

 

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I can't decide if I prefer the official night spectacular...

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This park is loaded with nighttime spectaculars. You have Rivers of Light, Pandora, and projection mapping on the Tree of Life.

 

Our original plan wasn’t to return to Animal Kingdom. However, we couldn’t leave Florida without Kilimanjaro Safari. So we made an executive decision to return to Animal Kingdom the following day at the expense of our Hollywood Horror Nights time.

 

And we have zero regrets.

 

We got the coveted sunset ride. The views over the African savannah were stunning. And the animals were more active than usual. The highlights were the lions. I had never seen one move before in person. But even better, they were roaring!

 

And for those unaware, a lion’s roar is a lot less impressive than you’d think. It sounded more like he was chucking a hairball. It was like hearing a dinky little horn coming from a Ford F150. 9 out of 10

 

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Riding the safari at night was definitely a different experience.

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And the lions actually did things...just not in this photo.

 

It still feels odd for me to visit Animal Kingdom in the evening. For years, this park closed by sunset. But now, Animal Kingdom has a full-fledged nighttime spectacular in Rivers of Light and Pandora (which really is a nighttime spectacular on its own).

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And for those unaware, a lion’s roar is a lot less impressive than you’d think. It sounded more like he was chucking a hairball. It was like hearing a dinky little horn coming from a Ford F150.

 

Disney thought so too, which is why they used Tiger roars and

in Lion King.
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Great part of your trip reports, on Animal Kingdom! Never been there (last time was 1991 and the Studios was 'newish'), and we definitely want to take in the Pandora part of it all. But...not till (probably) 2024! The Nov. Food&Wine Fest, too. So this was a really nice look on everything possible there by you, for now.

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^ For myself, Animal Kingdom's Pandora has become

the Beastly Kingdom (sp?) that it never got, same location.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

 

I’m a nerd. And like any good nerd. I love Star Wars. But I’m sort of a bad nerd since I don’t hate the prequel trilogies or new films.

 

As a result, I was really looking forward to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. And the reveal of Batuu was nothing short of breathtaking.

 

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Star Wars fans can rejoice. This land had no Jar Jar.

 

My visit took place before Rise of the Resistance opened, but I was still impressed with the land as a whole. Disney did an incredible job building a unique land capturing the feel of a planet from Star Wars. It’s so immersive, you forget you’re even in Hollywood Studios.

 

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I'm guessing Disney will pay for this land 10 times over in merchandise sales alone.

 

And the current anchor is Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. We contemplated using the speedy single rider queue, but our friends encouraged us to do the 70 minute standby queue so we could request pilot.

 

If you read my Epcot report, you know I have a gripe with Mission Space. It’s the fact that I can’t influence the ride. Well that has been corrected on Smuggler’s Run. We only got one ride, but it was clear riders influenced the outcome. I may or may not have clipped a wall…

 

While I wish each position had more responsibility, the interactivity was cool nonetheless. Smuggler’s Run is good, but I’m guessing the real star of Galaxy’s Edge will be Rise of the Resistance. 8 out of 10

 

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Our Millennium Falcon had a bit more damage than this one.

 

It was time to check into the Hollywood Tower Hotel. With the lack of attractions at Hollywood Studios, we struggled to get Fastpasses. Tower of Terror was the only major ride with any Fastpass availability. And per usual, the mix of theming, gut-wrenching drops, and airtime delivered an incredible ride. 10 out of 10

 

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OG Tower of Terror is the best Tower of Terror.

 

Rock “n” Roller Coaster’s single rider queue didn’t look too bad, so we hopped in line. However, it slowed to a crawl after the preshow. Disney was still dispatching trains lightning fast, but there simply weren’t many of them. Ultimately, we ended up waiting almost an hour.

 

That’s probably too long for Rock “n” Roller Coaster, but Emily didn’t really remember it. The launch is fantastic and I love the force on the first inversions, but the rest of the ride isn’t all that eventful. But at least the darkness and soundtrack helps mask that. 7 out of 10

 

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This coaster...wait for it...rocks.

 

We then made our way to Toy Story Land and I locked eyes with this beauty.

 

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Disney tries to sell you that Woody and Buzz are the stars of Toy Story. But don’t buy that propaganda. Clearly Slinky is the star. Do Woody and Buzz have their own roller coasters? I don’t think so.

 

I’d do anything for Slinky. I buy his hats. I buy his toys. And I waited 90 minutes (thankfully shaded this time) for his ride. Emily was not amused. I don’t know why. Slinky Dog has launches as powerful as Helix or Copperhead Strike*.

 

* This isn’t a wiener dog fan spewing BS. Slinky’s launches really are as strong as these rides. You can interpret what that means about Mack launches.

 

Ok real talk, Slinky Dog is not worth a 90 minute wait. But it is fun. The back row is way better than the front. The visual of Slinky weaving through the course is way better than staring at the back of an oversized head. Plus, there was some whip on the double downs and bunny hills. 7 out of 10

 

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I get so happy just looking at this ride.

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I mean, just look at it!

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I love accelerating to one third the speed of Top Thrill Dragster in three times the time.

 

But in all honesty, the top dog in Toy Story Land is Toy Story Mania. This is one of the most addicting rides out there. The wait was posted at 50 minutes, but I don’t even think we waited half of that. So of course we rode twice!

 

Usually I prefer detailed practical sets to screen based attractions, but Toy Story Mania is so well executed that I don’t care. The pop guns have a really unique feel to them. If your arm isn’t as sore as a teenager who discovers masturbation for the first time, you’re doing it wrong. 10 out of 10

 

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Hollywood Studios has really upped its game with the recent additions of Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. And it’s only going to improve when I get to ride Rise of the Resistance.

 

But there is one downside to Hollywood Studios. And that’s the amount of shows. The shows are good, don’t get me wrong. But if you want to spend a full day here, you really need to plan in advance around showtimes.

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Universal Studios Florida- Halloween Horror Nights

 

I’ve always been a fan of Halloween and Christmas events. But it’s not for the haunts and shows. Rather, it’s usually for the extension of the park’s operating season. I support any event that extends the season and gives me more coaster rides.

 

That being said, I usually do participate in some of the seasonal festivities…unless I’m at Fright Fest because the Six Flags haunts are an embarrassment.

 

Universal was different. The haunts were the main course. In fact, the Ghostbusters and Stranger Things haunts were the catalysts for our trip taking place in the fall.

 

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Happy (very belated) Halloween!

 

The logical thing would have been to start with a haunt, but Emily is a die-hard Harry Potter fan. So Escape from Gringotts couldn't wait.

 

Gringotts ended up being the only attraction we rode at Horror Nights. I think we waited about a half hour, but we didn’t mind since there’s a ton to look at in that queue.

 

As for the ride, it’s quite good. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say the brief coaster sections are thrilling and the projection quality on the dark ride bits is top notch. 8 out of 10

 

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I love this land, but I feel claustrophobic just looking at it.

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Two tellers? You don't get this type of service at Bank of America.

 

We then made a lap around the park soaking up the scare zones. There was a creepy arcade, an effed up fashion show of hospital patients, and (most importantly) a Zombieland area.

 

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The scare actors weren't as awkward as the usual arcade patrons. The scare actors could actually talk to girls.

 

Zombieland was particularly great since I am a big fan of that film. The best touches were the miniature S&S tower and the porta potties. Trust me, you want to go in these porta potties.

 

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This looked like the drop towers I'd build in Roller Coaster Tycoon (aka the ones that are way too short and blast riders to their doom).

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If you ever wanted to get peed one, Halloween Horror Nights is for you.

 

We met up with 805Andrew (who was very easy to find thanks to his glowing green mug) to experience Ghostbusters. For those unaware, the original Ghostbusters is one of my favorite films. And I do enjoy the all-female one as well. Just don’t bring up the second one…

 

After about an hour, we entered a retelling of the first film. And that’s exactly what I wanted! I was interested how scary they’d make Ghostbusters since the film was always more of a comedy than a horror film, but they had a few very sudden jump scares.

 

But it was more about the set design for me. The sets brought me through the most iconic scenes in the film. The effects (mix of physical and projections) did a fantastic job bringing the story to life. And the actors portraying characters from the film were very convincing.

 

Ghostbusters was exactly what I wanted in a haunt. 10 out of 10

 

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Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

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The Ghostbusters queue gives you some unique angles on the Rockit.

 

Stranger Things was Emily's Ghostbusters. She loves Stranger Things. And most people did as well, as evidenced by the 80-100 minute wait all night. For that reason, we saved it for the end of the night.

 

I had a major issue with this haunt. And that was the excessive amount of strobe lights. While I understand why they're there from a scare perspective and storytelling perspective, they made it near impossible to appreciate all the details in the sets.

 

This was surprisingly my least favorite haunt for that reason, but it still far exceeded most haunts at regional parks. 7.5 out of 10

 

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This way to the Upside-Down.

 

The other standout haunt for me was Universal’s Classic Monsters. And in my opinion, this was easily the scariest haunt. I think my ears are still ringing from Emily’s screams.

 

This one had the most jump scares and the most aggressive scare actors. And the sets were great too. It’s honestly a toss-up if I preferred this one or Ghostbusters. 10 out of 10

 

Universal’s Classic Monsters also had the best queue. It brought us past the Shrine of the Purple Dinosaur, aka A Day in the Park with Barney. The area was creepy. But it was less creepy than an adult going there during normal operating hours.

 

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Praying to the purple god.

 

Halloween Horror Nights is the best scary Halloween event I’ve ever experienced. Top to bottom, the electric atmosphere combined with the great haunts made it a real winner. I know we didn’t have enough time to see it all, but it’s an event I definitely want to return to someday.

 

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Universal Studios Florida

 

After a successful Hollywood Horror Nights, we had 2 additional days at Islands of Adventure. Most of that full day was spent at Islands of Adventure. Hagrid’s Line from Hell was the main culprit.

 

But another culprit was how early the Studios side closed. We visited on two non-HHN days, but the park still closed at 6 pm. Crowds were super light, so it wasn’t too big of an issue.

 

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No mouse ears on this day.

 

We started with Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. I know this coaster is often maligned. And congratulations, the haters now have a new member. Emily hated it. After one ride, she swore never to ride it again.

 

Meanwhile I enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed the Rockit, so it was business as usual for me. The only shaky spot I noticed was the bottom of the first drop.

 

The drops give some surprising airtime, but I forgot about all the sustained airtime on the non-inverting loop. Plus, the helices at both ends of the ride pull some surprising Gs due to the compactness. And who doesn’t like riding a roller coaster to the music of Kayne West? 8.5 out of 10

 

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I know people always wish Florida got Hollywood Dream, but I actually prefer Rip Ride Rockit.

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What other coaster can you get airtime while listening to Rainbow Connection?

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But in all seriousness, Kanye is the way to go for this ride.

 

That was followed by one of Emily's favorite rides, Jimmy Fallon. You can probably guess she's a fan of his. For that reason, she loved the queue (aka the shrine to Jimmy Fallon). She liked the queue so much we actually missed our original return time.

 

In terms of the ride, it’s a complete WTF. But I do enjoy it. The movement is well synched and the visuals (while dumb) are clear and crisp. The biggest advice I can give you is to not ask questions. Just go with it. 7 out of 10

 

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Feel free to call this ride dumb, but it has a seriously awesome queue.

 

We then walked onto Revenge of the Mummy for back-to-back rides. I do think I’m in the minority that I may prefer Hollywood’s Mummy, but both are great rides. The launches and theming are quite good.

 

Orlando’s has better airtime, but the backwards bit feels like it’s there just for the sake of going backwards. Compare that to Hollywood where the backwards bit is arguably the highlight. 8 out of 10

 

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In here is an essential part of your Universal experience...lockers!

 

Transformers was next. I’m still not a fan of the IP because I struggle to differentiate the robots from each other. However, I’ve now ridden the Transformers ride enough to know what’s going on.

 

I think this is the Dinosaur of Universal Orlando. If we didn’t know Spiderman (Universal’s Indiana Jones Adventure) existed, we’d love Transformers more. 8 out of 10

 

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Men in Black Alien Attack was next. Emily should have beaten me both times, but I got the 100,000 point bonus for pressing the red button first. She was pissed.

 

As far as shooting dark rides go, this is arguably the best. The large physical sets are stunning and I love how you can shoot the aliens anywhere rather than an itty-bitty target fixed onto them. That makes the ride way more immersive. 10 out of 10

 

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I hope Universal never gives this ride an extensive rehab because if they do, I fear they'll replace it all with screens.

 

Up next was the Simpsons Ride, one of the funniest amusement rides out there. But beyond that, it also has some fantastic motion, particularly during the simulated inversion. Emily really enjoyed it until she realized what the Simpsons Ride replaced. 8 out of 10

 

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Krustyland is a lot of fun.

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But Emily wanted to take the Delorean back to 2007 to ride Back to the Future.

 

Last but not least, we made sure to ride E.T. Adventure. I think Emily had the quote of the day at this one.

 

“I’m glad everyone gets to ride a bike on this one.”

 

While the animatronics are definitely dated, I like E.T. Adventure. In a park littered with screen-based attractions, it’s refreshing to experience a ride with grand physical sets. 8 out of 10

 

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If E.T. came out in 1982, why is the 2002 re-release poster celebrating the ride's 30th anniversary?

 

For a split second, I contemplated riding Fast and Furious Supercharged. I hated the section on the Hollywood Studio Tour and I was morbidly curious to see if this was any worse, but it somehow had a longer queue than Hagrid’s. WTF?!?

 

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I don't have words to explain this.

 

I prefer Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios Florida, but I still enjoy the Studios park. The dark ride collection is top notch. I just wish it had another 1-2 non-simulator rides to really complete the park.

 

And while this isn’t related to the park, we also tried the Hollywood Drive-In mini golf. I have always eyed this mini golf course, but have never played it. I guess I figured it closed with the park, but much to my shock, it opens with the parks and stays open 6 hours later. That’s crazy!

 

The course was pricey, but it had an electric atmosphere. The lighting was incredible. And all the obstacles and theming really made the course standout. I came *this* close to winning, but I blew it on the last hole so Emily got a Voodoo donut on me.

 

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The lighting was super cool at night.

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I'd say maybe a third of the holes had obstacles. The best was this robot themed Archimedes screw.

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Emily got the cock n balls doughnut (yes it's actually called that). I forgot to take a picture of it in Florida, so here's the same doughnut in Portland a few months later.

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It was fun hanging out with you for both Halloween Horror Nights and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and a great coincidence we were both in Orlando at the same time. Looking forward to seeing your report from Mickey's Halloween Party.

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Islands of Adventure- Hagrid’s Line from Hell

 

Once upon a time, there were two amazing inverts called Dueling Dragons. They were absolutely beloved by guests. One day, they stopped dueling.

 

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R.I.P. Dueling Dragons.

 

Then along came the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and JK Rowling. The dragons held their ground, but they met their untimely demise in 2017. And from the ashes, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure rose.

 

For those who just want to read about the ride itself, feel free to skip ahead. The next several paragraphs are going to talk about just how frustrating it was to ride Hagrid’s. I think it's doing better nowadays, but this is how difficult it was to ride back in September.

 

Queuing Experience

 

Normally I’d rope drop the popular new attraction, but we chose to sleep in. It's not like Hagrid's was guaranteed to open with the park anyway (it actually did open with the park, but quickly broke down). We just needed to get there by 3 pm, a fact Universal put in small print on the park map.

 

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Hagrid's operated briefly in the morning before breaking down. Once the ride reopened around 12:30, we hightailed it over to Hogsmeade and entered the Line from Hell.

 

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Note, this photo was taken after we rode. Hence the wait time being "Ride Full"

 

The wait was posted at 90 minutes. The queue was well themed and we hardly stopped moving. After about an hour, we reached the final room of the queue.

 

That’s where it all went wrong.

 

“Class is delayed. Class should resume shortly.”

 

15 minutes later, the message became grimmer.

 

“The motorbikes need more tuning. This will be an extended delay.”

 

This was followed by another 3-4 different recorded messages announcing delays. I don’t know if I should be impressed or disturbed they had this many pre-recorded messages at their disposal. It’s almost as if they knew the ride was unreliable…

 

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At least we had time to appreciate the fine details in the queue line. Like this picture of a unicorn. Exquisite.

 

Eventually Emily had to use the restroom, but she was willing to hold it. She didn’t want to wait through this line again. Thankfully, Universal was providing bathroom passes, as long as one person held your party’s place in line.

 

By this point, the ride had been delayed 2 hours (bringing our total wait to 3 hours). People were getting stir crazy. I did feel bad for the employees. They were constantly asked when the ride would reopen. And I know this was a daily occurrence. It’s not their fault Universal rushed the ride open.

 

Then an employee spoke over the mic.

 

“Hagrid’s is closed indefinitely. All guests must leave the queue.”

 

You could see the employees burying their face in their hands. They knew the sh*tstorm that was about to occur. Thankfully, Universal did compensate everyone with two Express passes. One was good for Hagrid’s. The other was good for any other ride.

 

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I guarded this with my life.

 

But here’s the odd part, Hagrid’s was testing as the queue was evacuated. WTF?

 

Through Hell or high water, we were getting on Hagrid’s. So we hung around Hogsmeade. And we’re glad we did. Not even 15 minutes later Hagrid’s reopened…and the app wasn’t updated to say it opened.

 

The smart decision would’ve been to go standby, but we weren’t messing around. We weren't chaning the ride going down again. We were getting on Hagrid’s no matter what. So we used the Express Pass and beat the standby guests to the load platform. And since we were the only guests there, Universal let us choose the front. Normally you’re assigned a row.

 

After our first ride, we got right back in the standby queue. Universal did update the app, so a steady stream of people were entering the queue. Our wait started just after the preshow, which is really far back I might add, and took about 30-40 minutes.

 

We contemplated riding again, but Universal made up our minds for us. They had already closed off the queue for Hagrid’s. The queue started in the indoor portion, so it was no longer than an hour in length and the park was still open for another 4.5 hours. That’s embarrassing.

 

 

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If you’re keeping score back home, the queue line for Hagrid’s was open for about 3 hours all day (9-10, 12:30-2, 4-4:30) and closed for 8 hours.

 

It’s also worth noting you could wait 3 hours and not even get the motorbike seat. Universal does not let you wait for a row. They also do not let parties split up so everyone gets a motorbike (we saw people ask on multiple occasions).

 

There is a single rider line, but it’s not appealing for three reasons. One, you can’t access it until you’re about 1/4 through the queue. Two, it looked very long. Three, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the side car unless the person you're paired with miraculously doesn't want it (and they have priority since they waited in the main queue).

 

Ride

 

I also should say this review has some spoilers.

 

The launches, all 7 of them, had way more power than expected. Even the little ones had a kick to them. The final launch in particular was surprisingly powerful. Hagrid’s is no Mack launcher, that’s for sure.

 

The ride is a blur of turns and dives. There isn’t any real airtime, but a few hills have you feeling weightless (the backwards spike in particular). But the real stars are the turns. They are taken fast and are surprisingly forceful. They feel even wilder if you’re on the elevated motorbike seat.

 

Going in, I knew Hagrid’s had a drop track. Universal proudly proclaimed it as the first freefall drop track in America…since apparently Verbolten isn’t a true freefall. Drop tracks have the potential to be just a marketing gimmick, but the one on Hagrid’s is integrated well and good for a quick thrill.

 

The animatronics along the course look fantastic. But that leads into my one complaint with the ride. You hardly get to see them. It’s really unfortunate you only see each figure for 1-2 seconds since they were quite impressive. I had forgotten just how good Universal can make a non-screen based ride look.

 

Once we got on (no small feat), both Emily and I loved Hagrid’s. It was our favorite ride at the resort. It’s just pure fun (when you finally get on it). Hagrid’s is ridiculously long and still manages to feel fast-paced despite all the brake runs. 9 out of 10

 

I hate myself. I feel dirty for even saying this. But I liked it more than Dueling Dragons*.

 

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Make sure to try the motorbike seat. The turns feel much wilder with the higher center of gravity.

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At least the replacement ride sort of duels.

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Hagrid's is just pure fun (when you finally get on it).

 

* That being said, I do wish Universal found a way to add Hagrid’s without losing Dueling Dragons. I also wish they waited to open the ride after it was ready.

 

Simply put, the ride’s operational status was inexcusable. I get that rides can have a rocky first few weeks, but we rode Hagrid's a few months after it opened. Hopefully the ride's operational issues are behind it because it's a really fun ride.

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Great write up! It definitely sounds like it'll be my favorite at the resort, too. I haven't been keeping up with how it's doing now since I don't have a trip planned but yikes I hope Universal has learned its lesson. I really hope those who had an awful experience choose to go to another park because that type of experience would frustrate me as well.

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fantastic update, that I loved reading thru.

 

question on the Jimmy Fallon "ride". . .as someone who actively dislikes Fallon's "schtick". . . hated him on SNL, and NEVER watch the Tonight Show. . . . would I still enjoy the ride?

 

or is it SO MUCH FALLON that it would annoy me beyond being able to enjoy?

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as someone who actively dislikes Fallon's "schtick". . . hated him on SNL, and NEVER watch the Tonight Show. . . . would I still enjoy the ride?

 

No

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Great write up! It definitely sounds like it'll be my favorite at the resort, too. I haven't been keeping up with how it's doing now since I don't have a trip planned but yikes I hope Universal has learned its lesson. I really hope those who had an awful experience choose to go to another park because that type of experience would frustrate me as well.

 

Thanks! I'm planning on going back to Universal on Sunday and it seems to be running longer and more consistently. At last.

 

fantastic update, that I loved reading thru.

 

question on the Jimmy Fallon "ride". . .as someone who actively dislikes Fallon's "schtick". . . hated him on SNL, and NEVER watch the Tonight Show. . . . would I still enjoy the ride?

 

or is it SO MUCH FALLON that it would annoy me beyond being able to enjoy?

 

Thanks! If you hate Fallon, this is not the ride for you. I don't mind him and find it ok. It's definitely zany.

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I have a one day shot when my high school goes to Universal in April to try and make this an epic credit #100. This report doesn't exactly make me confident, but I have hope!

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I have a one day shot when my high school goes to Universal in April to try and make this an epic credit #100. This report doesn't exactly make me confident, but I have hope!

 

The ride began with a 3 hour delayed opening and had a few shorter breakdowns throughout the day. But it did stay open until closing, so I was able to get two night rides on it.

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Islands of Adventure

 

If you missed my previous report on Hagrid's, here's the short version.

 

We waited 3 hours for Hagrid's. The ride broke down. The queue was evacuated. We got Express Passes. The ride reopened immediately after the queue was evacuated. We loved the ride. We rode it a second time. Then the line was closed.

 

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Hey look it's Dueling Drag...Motorbikes.

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Hagrid's was open for 3 hours and broken down/closed for 8 hours.

 

For the irony, I decided to wear my Dueling Dragons t-shirt to the park. And I lost count how many employees complimented me on my shirt. Even further, most wished the ride were still standing! What does that say?

 

I figured the shirt would make for an amusing photo op by Hagrid’s, but it had a surprising benefit. An employee working the Incredible Hulk Coaster saw my shirt and escorted both Emily and I up the Express Line. Thank you Jordan!

 

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Some women wear low-cut shirts to get free drinks at bars. Meanwhile, I wore this super nerdy coaster t-shirt and got to skip the line.

 

Back in 2017, I raved about Hulk. I believe I said it was better than Kumba and the best coaster in Orlando. That wasn't the case on this visit. The launch still packed a punch, the zero-G was whippy, and the cobra roll had me greyout.

 

But the rest of the ride felt slow. The loops were still forceful, but nowhere near what I remembered in 2017. The same could be said about the corkscrews and final few turns. That being said, Hulk is still running smooth and it has a unique layout. 8 out of 10

 

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Hulk starts with a bang.

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But sort of hit a lull in the second half. I remembered it being forceful start to finish back in 2017.

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Hulk angry. Hulk smash.

 

Universal has a ton of great dark rides, but my favorite is probably Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The robot arm ride system is spectacular. The range of motion is incredible and it results in a very unique ride experience.

 

But the most underrated part is the physical sets. As you’d expect, the ride does have a fair amount of screens, but it also mixes in grand set pieces like the dragon, Dementors, and Whomping Willow. Forbidden Journey tells a great story and adds in some exciting thrills. 10 out of 10

 

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A toast to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

 

Our first day had a massive rainstorm, so that was the perfect time to ride Ripsaw Falls. I mean, we couldn’t possibly get any wetter, right? Wrong!

 

Ripsaw Falls is arguably the most drenching log flume on the planet. Beyond the drops soaking you to the bone, you have a freaking waterfall and dozens of sprayers that nail you in the face.

 

But it’s all worth it since the drops are fantastic. The final one in particular is better than most coaster drops. Oh and the ride does tell a story. It’s nowhere near the level of Splash Mountain’s animatronics, but the cartoony style is maintained throughout. 9.5 out of 10

 

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If you hate water, you'd be better off jumping in the ocean than riding Ripsaw Falls.

 

Popeye’s was down for maintenance (at this point, Emily realized the universe conspires against her riding river rapids rides), so we made our way over to Jurassic Park River Adventure. I still find it ironic this is easily the driest of the park’s water rides even though it looks like it should be the most soaking.

 

As good as Ripsaw’s drop is, I think I prefer the drop on Jurassic Park. And it’s a better overall ride thanks to the impressive dinosaur animatronics. It also helps you don’t get unpleasantly drenched. 10 out of 10

 

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I made sure to appreciate the iconic gate scene just in case Jurassic World comes to Orlando as well.

 

We then walked onto Skull Island: Reign of Kong. I think the 3D tunnel is a neat ride system. Having action on all sides is overwhelming. And that King Kong animatronic at the end is stunning. 8 out of 10

 

The only downside was that the 3D glasses kept falling off. I thought maybe I grabbed a bad pair, but Emily had the same issue. We ended up having to hold them against our face the whole ride.

 

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The sequel (Skull Island) isn't as good as the original (Kongfrontation), but it's still quite good.

 

Our second day at Islands of Adventure was brief. We spent more time on the Studios side. But we did park hop for two of the dark rides we missed- Cat in the Hat and Spiderman. It was tempting to get another ride on Hagrid's, but we just didn't want to deal with that queue line again.

 

I honestly don’t remember the last time I rode Cat in the Hat. It’s a fine ride, but there’s a lot of empty space between animatronics. The spinning is a neat touch though. 7 out of 10

 

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No Mike Myers Cat in the Hat in sight. Thank goodness!

 

Last but not least, Spiderman is still awesome. Everything about the ride works so well- the ride system, the 3D effects, the film quality, and the sounds. It truly is one of the best dark rides in the world. 10 out of 10

 

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I know the resort is named after the studios side, but I honestly think Islands of Adventure is the superior park. Islands of Adventure has one of the strongest and most diverse ride lineup of any park. And it will only get better once Hagrid's operational quirks are behind it (still was a disaster on my visit on Sunday) and the new Jurassic Park coaster opens.

 

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