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Photo TR: Universal Studios/IOA First Visit! (3 Days)


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Hey TPR! Hope you had a great Halloween.

 

There are many great things about TPR trips, but no doubt the best (and priceless) thing is the people you meet! Coming off of the USA Trip I had made two great friendships with Jared and Alex. They had planned a trip with some of their cruise/local friends to Universal and I was thankful to be a late addition. When I mention 'we' below, that will refer to about 9 of us (Jared/Alex/Me/Couple from NY/Couple from Chicago/Couple from MD).

 

Universal had always been a park I looked up to because of the groundbreaking attractions that I had always seen in books and shows growing up. The dark rides like Men in Black and Spiderman along with the coasters like Hulk and Mummy are some of the first attractions I think of tied to *theme* parks. But to be honest, on paper, Universal didn't excite me too much. I'm not a Harry Potter guy. I stopped reading and watching the movies years ago when certain spoilers were unavoidable. I looked at this trip as a fun vacation to hang out with Jared and Alex and meet some new people along the way with some cool rides mixed in.

 

I couldn't have been more wrong Universal was amazing and I'm still buzzing with happiness from my visit. I'm a huge Halloween/horror/haunt guy, but with the cost + crowds to manage HHN combined with 7am-8pm regular park hours, I did not do HHN. I will see you in 2019, HHN! Enough gushing, let's get this started!

 

Friday, Day 1, 5PM Arrival. Harry Potter fan meter = 0. Didn't recap any movies or anything. Watched Evil Dead instead.

 

Do you guys like MCO? I love MCO. It makes flying fun with the monorail ride. Also the food options were stellar. It was SO easy to find the ride-share spot and it was $20 for a ride to the Royal Pacific hotel where we were staying. Mind you it was $20 during a rain storm on a Friday at 5pm so that's pretty cheap. Friday was all about hanging out at the new rooftop bar 17 Bistro with the Goodwins who were in town. https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/dining/bar-17-bistro/index.html

 

Every good trip starts with a beer picture! Thanks for the free beer(s), Southwest.20181019_143317.thumb.jpg.35a3f2f7e0decd8775cd0957c34e46b0.jpg

 

1.thumb.jpg.ed2e810ef1629240fb7d4959d46c44d1.jpgThe Royal Pacific hotel is stunning. So convenient that you're less than 10 minutes to walk to IOA or Citywalk.

3.thumb.jpg.7d6ceb16cae0bd98f695517001424223.jpgView from our suite! It had coffee tea, plenty of room with a giant table. Sorry I didn't take more pictures!

20181019_172938.thumb.jpg.f55542b3478c5f57244cbe93f0964b72.jpgJared hooked us up. Look at all this crazy ass candy!

20181019_220346.thumb.jpg.6033582132be7b0ce714d026cc41fab7.jpgCheck out the view of Volcano Bay! It looks beautiful at night, and so does Orlando in general. So colorful.

2.thumb.jpg.74572d522b5a11f24227dfcf8c1115f6.jpgThe IOA/Universal view. Sliders, buns, and drinks were consumed. I recommend the place!

 

Day 2 - Up at 6am because we get 7am early entry at Universal Studios! It is going to be a long day since IOA is open until 8pm.

 

20181020_070700.thumb.jpg.6997225e7a48d6ac588491daddc693f8.jpgAM or PM? 6:45am ready to get on the water taxi to Studios.

20181020_070705.thumb.jpg.8ee25e1308190756e327b1bee537175f.jpgYES HELLO GOOD MORNING I'M HERE AND EXCITED.

20181020_071348.thumb.jpg.451227bb9a3681ff8bb6c79a624c8a03.jpgCitywalk all lit up, even super early in the morning.

4.thumb.jpg.72765ae5dc2dd56e8e4e747b87723462.jpg11 hours of adventure let's get it!

20181020_071648.thumb.jpg.4564911a8d8932bd42c10e60c01576aa.jpgUnder this arch and into the park.

20181020_092821.thumb.jpg.f833447bf7b07a65f5ed1f6efe8895c3.jpgWe went straight in and rode Gringotts and then went back to the gate to get the other half of our group, and it wasn't until I had an hour to take in everything that I started taking picture. It really is sensory overload!

20181020_082615.thumb.jpg.b395f8d8651515e1eddad2188867ad7f.jpgHey beautiful.

20181020_093031.thumb.jpg.60a15f34ab5f4e98b642bdd80a9e5008.jpgNaileddddd itttt!

20181020_103541.thumb.jpg.c9710187079fedad56ec8f850ac3686d.jpgGringott's - I honestly had no idea what I was getting into with this ride. I didn't know when it opened, who made it, what type of ride it was, nothing.

5.thumb.jpg.9398a733d61ef28968d3e7d9639e0306.jpgIt's an easy premise - you're going into this bank to get an item you need while leading them to believe you're just there to open an account or check your money.

6.thumb.jpg.969356783b9a8e02b1c3def17a598026.jpgThe goblins looked hyperreal and the whole queue was stellar.

 

Escape from Gringott's - Wowie. I can't wait to check out the movie to see the scenes from the films. This ride will break your brain a part and put it back together. There are so many surprises, the screens for video portions are crystal clear, the physical sets are massive, and now I have a burning desire to check out Pandora and see what that's all about. Seriously this is what happens when you combine great storytelling with the latest technology.

 

We re-rode Gringott's and then took in Diagon Alley. All of the details are on point. There's so much going on - the wand tricks, the characters to interact with, dragon breathing fire, shops with different smells, train rumbling overhead, and the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen ever? Seriously there were 2 people mopping and sweeping at all times.

Is it magical? Yes. Especially Olivander's when you see younger guests interact with the wand expert - it makes your heart melt.

Harry Potter fan meter = Imagine the Grinch's heart starting to come to life.

 

Jared had warned us about the popularity of the train, so we did a round trip. I'd say this was the only ride that I wasn't thrilled about. It just took too long to get on. I mean it's there to transport you between parks which is great but it seemed like I almost could have walked to the other side just as fast. I had also heard about how they toned down the 'frightening' factor which makes me want to learn about the original version.

5cca0ea879d181d98660a71edcae9e7d.0.jpg.6ee3c388182f7666c1014287c66287f8.jpg

4ac9832c4d3cb5c9bcd00d8e68e6303a.0.jpg.53633216449f7025770cfcc16863d6bc.jpgCan I go into the Forbidden Forest yet???

 

Round trip completed! We had been up since 6am, so by 11am we were hungry. The Leaky Cauldron is a great option for quick service, sit down. We were in and out pretty quickly and the food was hot/delicious.

IMG_24731.thumb.jpg.fffd4d33a4d3bd66c72a0d2fdf1ae979.jpgFrozen butterbeer was great! I love butterscotch, so this was divine.

 

Time to check out the rest of the park! It's easy to lose track of time getting lost in everything happening in Diagon.

20181020_120431.thumb.jpg.8ffb140b41f141cfd4cfd9d933f7d7c9.jpgPan from the back of the park looking towards the front.

20181020_120505.thumb.jpg.5dbb3b867305bc925cdc38d8c0247378.jpgMen In Black was so much fun! How old is this ride?! It doesn't show it. The set design was great and it was a shooting game that worked well. We tried to do the 'tour' to get up close with the animatronics but no luck on this trip. This ride was kind of like a time hop, seeing Big Willie Style Will Smith.

 

20181020_125146.thumb.jpg.56d7de45d9c801fa4cd991eaec04c56b.jpgSimpsons part of the park was colorful and had so many great photo ops.

20181020_125135.thumb.jpg.e0882e4d5760e156b24098100556f142.jpgSideshowbob was trying to figure out how he wanted to kill me but had too many options and ran out of time. Classic, Bob.

 

Simpsons ride made me feel ill, and half of the group as well. It seemed sitting in the back is a trick since you have people's heads in the way of the screen. It was neat to see the other vehicles while sitting in the front row but I have to believe that BTTF was just a better fit all around. The Simpsons in 3D is just wrong.

 

We did Transformers next. No one really liked it. It made half of us dizzy. When you compare this to MiB, you have to wonder what Universal is thinking. It's a slap in the face, especially when compared to ET!

 

Time for a break from the screens! Mummy was right around the corner and we were all pumped to ride our first true coaster of the day. Mummy is one ride that I knew a good bit about - Premier, the fire room, launched, one car train. There were still many surprises that got me. I always forgot about the backwards bit, too! There's just so much going on it's easy to be distracted. The airtime hill was great, the fire room lived up to the hype, and Brendan Fraser is the easiest person to laugh at.

20181020_134437.thumb.jpg.28a24aeb1f6193b15b1c01b93d7898c5.jpgAn all around excellently executed experience.

20181020_135313.thumb.jpg.7cc504a9bc057f9d8e8c8ef8322644d8.jpgPretty much all you can see from the station.

FullSizeR1(3).thumb.jpg.607d5f7504b9d0ed2f1e93ef8dcc6a0f.jpgThey must have gone to get Brendan Fraser a double macchiato.

20181020_135320.thumb.jpg.3d0d2702d297aa74f01db5e0fd7a1ac5.jpgLet's go see what this 'afterlife' is all about.

 

20181020_140721.thumb.jpg.976775671797c4895355f012fce96343.jpgOh hey there's another coaster we need to check out!

7.thumb.jpg.a7fcbf16cef0cc2e9c163ffbb58f13df.jpgNailedddd ittttt!

20181020_141459.thumb.jpg.c8bab985d2f52dca0c512389a47f6c88.jpgThis is such a weird coaster. I like weird coasters.

 

Okay, okay. I get it. The whole metal detector thing is awful. But no one said anything about the :30 second safety spiel on an endless loop!!! That was by far the worst part of this whole experience, holy f***s***. The ride went down for 10 minutes so they could transfer a car off so we only ended up waiting 20 minutes, but the safety spiel is so loud and there is no break between the start and end of it. It's the sole reason I only rode RRR once.

The ride itself was pretty fun. It's so odd how steep the ups and downs are. I liked being able to pick from hundreds of songs with the secret list.

 

Woooo one park done! We were pretty satisfied with everything we had done and it was about 3pm, so we strolled through Citywalk to IOA.

abba28f61c72b2561c77217809a04cea.0.thumb.jpg.eb9d8f6b3e5e2d7764892309852057e7.jpgTime for a break and some margs.

20181020_173824.thumb.jpg.35c6e245cbefe9616a2411326a02cd1a.jpgAfterwards we went to check out the other HP area, Hogsmead, the original HP area. The castle contains Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey as well.

20181020_174348.thumb.jpg.1bc40554b905b87f3031b861490a0618.jpgHey I recognize that guy! It's Dumbledore!

20181020_174402.thumb.jpg.6d141d5bca856204ba7e7c110198f469.jpgThis is the realm of Harry Potter that I read and watched the movies on, so I had no problem keeping up.

 

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - Once again. Mind disassembled and reassembled. It's astounding to see this constantly moving ride-type. The pocket to put your stuff in the seatback is genius. Favorite part - face to face with the dragon. The combo of physical sets and screens worked well and it did make one person in our group dizzy, but she loved it still. Everything about this attraction is stunning. Yes, the putting-stuff-away part in the entryway can be a cluster, but we never had to put stuff away so it didn't bother us. The Hogsmead area was very cool, but I liked Diagon Alley much better - felt more intimate.

 

With just a few hours left, it was time to head into the Jurassic Park area.

20181020_180154.thumb.jpg.ef15130a56ba66ad8a79d0ca3c501f60.jpgAll the stomach butterflies right now.

20181020_181040.thumb.jpg.7b392bd1a338755ece5dd36305f6837b.jpgWho cares if we're wet for dinner, we want a River Adventure!

20181020_182355.thumb.jpg.3432f11e1997be2035c1d78a4fce65bb.jpgIconic.

20181020_182401.thumb.jpg.c78108dd50aadeb44c59faec25af2aeb.jpgSuch an amazing ride.

 

River Adventure was probably the ride I was looking forward to the most. Despite a main effect not working, I still loved it. I didn't know what wasn't working until I was shown a video and now I want to get back to see it in action! I got pretty wet each time - either getting sprayed by the umbrella dinos, getting the hit by splashdown, or the splash ricocheting off other people into me I f*** loved everything about this ride.

 

20181020_185953-EFFECTS.thumb.jpg.4ee839a2d78df593d04293473b22b4d4.jpgWe skipped this because we didn't want to be drenched since we were heading to Vivo Volo after park close. But it looks great at dusk! We rode Spiderman before Hulk, but I'll get into that later.

 

20181020_192558.thumb.jpg.56cabe377a9bf86a48027aa0ee5ddf85.jpgDamn this is such a cool set up.

20181020_192609.thumb.jpg.c9c275e139e23fb8fde6a8d2a5384ef1.jpgThe excitement was overflowing at this point as we were ready for arguably the best coaster Universal had to offer. It was so crazy to finally be in front of this ride after nearly 20 years of hype building. Not to mention it had been torn down and rebuilt! Hulk was great, and it had so many more inversions that I was anticipating. The line moved so quick. Posted wait was 65min. With express we were on and off in less than 15.

 

20181020_223919.thumb.jpg.b05411d6081d2afc989c338f919f0a19.jpgIf I say bill 3x while doing the fins dance with a marg in my hand will he appear?

 

After that it was time for dinner at Vivo Volo, an Italian spot which huge portions and all very well priced given the quality and location. Service was a little spotty but we had 11 and it was prime time Saturday night. That wraps up half of this report! More to come from Universal + Disney's Polynesian resort.

 

-Zach

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"umbrella dinos"

 

Great description of them.

 

Excellent TR of your quick trip there. And so much done too,

including margaritas and butterbeer!

 

Thanks for sharing "the first half."

Looking forward to the second half, too.

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Time for a break from the screens!

I feel like this needs to be a theme for Universal as a whole. Some of my favorite past and current attractions at the parks: Mummy, Men in Black, Jurassic Park, Ripsaw Falls, Dueling Dragons, Jaws, Hulk, Rip Ride Rockit, were all in Universal's pre-screens days. And while I'd even throw Spider-Man into that mix because when it was first introduced, that style of ride was the anomaly not the norm. But now... with Simpsons, Transformers, Gringotts, Forbidden Journey, Kong, Fallon, Fast & Furious, and yes, even Spider-Man, I feel like every time you enter a queue for an attraction, they hand you a pair of glasses. Enough is enough.

 

It will be nice to see them get away from screens (or at least I hope) for the next attraction, however that new coaster has a lot, and I mean a *LOT* to live up to. Dueling Dragons was quite possibly the best and most unique B&M coaster I've ever ridden and it is going to take a lot for this new ride to top that for me. We shall see...

 

Nice report. I had to just quote that one sentence though as I feel it sums up my thoughts on Universal as a whole at the moment.

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Yay, another Zach trip report! Really interesting to see your reactions as a first-time visitor. Can't disagree with your negative reviews of Simpsons and Transformers, but right there with you on the positive reviews of the two big Potter attractions. I don't give two craps about Harry Potter but I was seriously impressed with those rides!

 

Plus, a trip report with Jared and Alex automatically gets ten bonus points.

 

Oh, and I'd have a field day with those views from the rooftop. You can basically see all the big attractions at the parks!

 

...and the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen ever? Seriously there were 2 people mopping and sweeping at all times.

 

After Cedar Point, I expect this to be a feature of all your trip reports from here on forward.

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...and the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen ever? Seriously there were 2 people mopping and sweeping at all times.

 

After Cedar Point, I expect this to be a feature of all your trip reports from here on forward.

 

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Outstanding report! My first and only visit to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure was in 2006, but I really did enjoy my visit. I was just starting to become a "theme park junkie" and I missed coasters such as The Hulk and Dueling Dragons, but all turned out well. Glad you had a great time and can't wait for the other part of the report!

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Thanks everyone!

 

Time for a break from the screens!

I feel like this needs to be a theme for Universal as a whole. Some of my favorite past and current attractions at the parks: Mummy, Men in Black, Jurassic Park, Ripsaw Falls, Dueling Dragons, Jaws, Hulk, Rip Ride Rockit, were all in Universal's pre-screens days. And while I'd even throw Spider-Man into that mix because when it was first introduced, that style of ride was the anomaly not the norm. But now... with Simpsons, Transformers, Gringotts, Forbidden Journey, Kong, Fallon, Fast & Furious, and yes, even Spider-Man, I feel like every time you enter a queue for an attraction, they hand you a pair of glasses. Enough is enough.

 

It will be nice to see them get away from screens (or at least I hope) for the next attraction, however that new coaster has a lot, and I mean a *LOT* to live up to. Dueling Dragons was quite possibly the best and most unique B&M coaster I've ever ridden and it is going to take a lot for this new ride to top that for me. We shall see...

 

Nice report. I had to just quote that one sentence though as I feel it sums up my thoughts on Universal as a whole at the moment.

 

Thanks! To your point, we didn't even ride Fallon and F&F because we were exhausted from all of the other screen based rides. So that's the two 'newer/est' attractions that we chose to skip. It just feels like they sap more energy from you than coasters, I don't know how to explain it. I believe there were some huge missed opportunities because Kong could be a stand out attraction if it was a different ride type like Indiana Jones/Dinosaur.

 

 

After Cedar Point, I expect this to be a feature of all your trip reports from here on forward.

 

Haha I had to mention it. It should have put Universal as a whole as far cleanliness. That place is spotless.

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It just feels like they sap more energy from you than coasters, I don't know how to explain it.

I completely agree with this. I spent a few hours at Universal Hollywood about a month back and by the end of it I was completely drained. Even the tram ride is littered with the 3D screens now. Plus their Jurassic Park is being redone so that's one less ride without screens to take a break.

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So I did exactly what I said I would do when I messaged you from the airport and downloaded this and used it to get me through another Frontier flight with no WiFi and then forgot to comment after I landed like an a**hole.

 

Sorry about that, I suck.

 

Anyway, great report! I’m a huge Universal, Potter and Margaritaville fan so this ticks all the boxes.

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It just feels like they sap more energy from you than coasters, I don't know how to explain it.

I completely agree with this. I spent a few hours at Universal Hollywood about a month back and by the end of it I was completely drained. Even the tram ride is littered with the 3D screens now. Plus their Jurassic Park is being redone so that's one less ride without screens to take a break.

 

Okay I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way! It's an odd thing to try and explain.

 

 

:lol: So I did exactly what I said I would do when I messaged you from the airport and downloaded this and used it to get me through another Frontier flight with no WiFi and then forgot to comment after I landed like an a**hole.

 

Sorry about that, I suck.

 

Anyway, great report! I’m a huge Universal, Potter and Margaritaville fan so this ticks all the boxes.

 

Hey glad to see you survived another Frontier round trip!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Day 3

 

I've a lot more pictures than I realized so here we go!

 

Once again we had early entry at 7am which included Fast and Furious + Harry Potter. We never bothered with F&F. We took our time getting some coffee and went to check out the Prop Shop where you could buy cool stuff like the HHN Pizza Fries sign for $100. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of it, haha. I did take pictures of other cool stuff like the Mummy blue prints.

20181021_093910.thumb.jpg.178656954c94c54367f3079ede4c21b6.jpgHere we are in the Prop Shop! Look at all this cool stuff.

20181021_094016.thumb.jpg.aac206c1b95ffc2b7e7d03dbf5141e62.jpgWho needs happy hour deals when you can get these pitchers of margs?!

20181021_094423.thumb.jpg.2f62d94dee2f469660624911043f21b6.jpgSuper cool Mummy details.

20181021_094445.thumb.jpg.5ee0c9f45b83972c33b88b47d87ebd3b.jpgOriginal car design?

20181021_094754.thumb.jpg.d17beacfd5eb8b223cf0454270bd7747.jpgThe "traditions" scare zone looked cool during the day and it looked great at night from the pictures I saw!

20181021_095306.thumb.jpg.1da0e844ce68e104eb42532fb6f066a2.jpgForeshadowing as today was going to be about trying lots of different drinks!

20181021_101013.thumb.jpg.f83976e91e11ff1dd2e647327b49cf37.jpgLet's take another spin on MiB while we wait for the other half of the group to show up.

20181021_101130.thumb.jpg.192ee6a6408b5622a5b35757f10fc2a6.jpgHey, Kay, nah, nah. Come on, man, you-you get a Series Four De-atomizer and I-I get a little - little midgy cricket?

 

20181021_103539.thumb.jpg.9cb8695c353013ac8eda6bbd6b5fb0db.jpgAs we went to the front to gather the gang, we saw some priceless entertainment.

IMG_20181021_103900_035.thumb.jpg.0c4730ad9322001a63cba23d96487b24.jpgThat's right. Popeye - the original multitasker. Smoking a pipe. Dancing with Betty Boop. AND holding a can of spinach!!! What a guy.

20181021_110755.thumb.jpg.5fc8f474030fb84c0e33a77715e5e481.jpgWhy do Floridians wear pants in this weather? I'll never understand.

20181021_111159.thumb.jpg.291728cb0a4e2569c7a5e1a97d0f5085.jpgI watched KK for the first time last week after being inspired by seeing all the props - IT WAS AMAZING! I really hope make it into a maze. (I'm sure they've done this already. Have they?)

20181021_112425.thumb.jpg.0fa41b82b6ac2c535b024a6ec439a059.jpgIt's lunch time! Let's check out Moe's!

20181021_120039.thumb.jpg.85a2ff0e8339979b97bd84e0eb674964.jpgDuff, brewed locally, was delicious. So was Dufftoberfest!

20181021_121400.thumb.jpg.15360c56652ccd4882a5b4920aeaee34.jpgI honestly liked the ride show more than I anticipated. I expected to hate it due to the non-Simpsons art style. The ride itself made me very dizzy though. So I did not ride it again..

20181021_122441.thumb.jpg.eceb4a8a6c6f6cbd125d7d0699da91de.jpgBack over to find more Harry Potter easter eggs! They had the wands, I had the beer. But seriously the Knight bus with the talking head was a really cool interaction.

20181021_123030.thumb.jpg.98467337814816881d3ec117517d8a27.jpgInside one of the sweet shops.

20181021_123034.thumb.jpg.764f0df0a19fdf30f857648a875fca09.jpgLook how cute these are!

20181021_123041.thumb.jpg.c8cf38932f2c5bc6e0ec416e048183c8.jpgOne of the ways to have butterbeer.

20181021_123047.thumb.jpg.e54d647a9ea3c6db37dda40cbbfd78c3.jpgThese are adorable too.

20181021_134650.thumb.jpg.4d5bb189169de26558940c9c48054dc3.jpg I'm more interested in the beer though. Dragonscale was delicious!!!

20181021_134904.thumb.jpg.69974d8f00942197e18a728505dcacc8.jpgJust livin' it up in Diagon Alley.

IMG_20181021_135354_768.thumb.jpg.72842c23807b064ce3682c242f8dd364.jpgSeeing the fire from all angles was really cool. Check out the light beams!

20181021_140541.thumb.jpg.6722d66378aa381250469058a362e284.jpgAlright with Dragonscales finished, it's time for another spin on Gringott's.

20181021_141102.thumb.jpg.90621138fd6ededfc4ff19e51d962516.jpgWhat're you going on about? Let's head down to the vault.

20181021_141045.thumb.jpg.81b53a3abba13ec47ed65f291d98a2dc.jpgNot before some fireworks, of course.

20181021_132626.thumb.jpg.c1c784e89f255795b9d8ea53dd0748e0.jpgThe view inside the station/vault.

20181021_132612.thumb.jpg.d8909295e1285844a52add42ed2b2416.jpgThe beginning of the journey into the depths of Gringott's.

20181021_134514.thumb.jpg.0389a7a869391358db8522c8198afdac.jpgLots of cool details all around Diagon Alley. It's impressive how much they packed into a seemingly small space.

20181021_144057.thumb.jpg.a63e290fc3a778223d5c209cd84e1964.jpgPutting my dark arts skills to work!!! (it's a joke, I love Disney too. but it was hilarious seeing that in HP area)

20181021_145632.thumb.jpg.b77a5994b0d90bcc3c89afb83c130584.jpgTime for a quick hop over to IOA to check out Hogsmead and try another beer!

20181021_181225.thumb.jpg.265a16b38f6d894969b608104baec4ec.jpgWe ran through our faves in IOA and needed to head out at an appropriate time to get to Ohana for dinner!

20181021_181346.thumb.jpg.201b20876e8faceb80c00d161c14d802.jpgWhile half of the group went to check out VooDoo Donut and other spots, I was finally able to make a stop and try a marg at one of the Margaritaville bars!

20181021_181702.thumb.jpg.66ab88fbb5b15085644b3f77b694e15a.jpgCheers to this amazing place. It's mindblowing to think that this place (and the rest of Orlando) is running all day. Every day. Every year. New people. In and out. It's crazy to think about!

IMG_2542.thumb.jpg.687f8007331f9586e8ca0a41e278942f.jpgOverflowing with happiness.

IMG_2543.thumb.jpg.fc7a188e7e7ee4e784dd6a6482e543c6.jpgAnd tequila. Holy shit this was strong.

20181021_202252.thumb.jpg.7c174c495513d1c0c22946be4df41062.jpgSo we had dinner at Ohana planned and a stop at Trader Sam's - I was so happy to be on WDW property! It's been ages! I really need to come back to WDW. I have given DL an uneven balance.

20181021_203436.thumb.jpg.7dbaa4d885f16f8f27c5e32ed8448060.jpgThis place is endlessly entertaining! There is SO much happening it's hard to notice everything all at the same time.

20181021_203154.thumb.jpg.0698e5bc3bcce7fbd47090936405dbc9.jpgI had an IPA from Hawaii. It was incredible.

44771218_2102776296423974_6470885182277681152_n.thumb.jpg.a5363b233bb432c0c966f880bba10fd2.jpgthis is what I'm talking about - ALL OF A SUDDEN. MY BARSTOOL. WAS ON THE GROUND!

20181021_205237.thumb.jpg.df105e875e2a3f15ee10e48cf1c3369d.jpgThe bartender gave me a booster seat to get back to bar-level This place is the best.

20181021_204725.thumb.jpg.0f6f3003458a02ebe87cb7ccf22a6807.jpgSome yummy drinks.

20181021_204505.thumb.jpg.c3124d4a05ac74c319cee20689d3fdb1.jpgSome happy friends. Trader Sam's is a must visit! Ohana is a must visit! The bread, the chicken, the veggies, the pot stickers, the noodles.... all 5 stars! I was thrilled to have a slice of Disney on this trip - even if you can't get to the parks, get to the Polynesian resort and soak in the atmosphere.

 

One more update to go!

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Oh cool, some Disney in your Universal day. That bar looks fantastic, and agreed on the Kona IPA.

 

Universal is much more for the walking around than the actual rides. Butterbeer, Duff, Moe's Tavern, those were the best things. For the rides, eh, Jurassic Park was good, otherwise, I don't have an itch to go back. Even the Harry Potter screen ride, fun as it was, not as fun as just being in that area and going in the shops, seeing the frog show, eating at Three Broomsticks. The stuff that's real is better.

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Even the Harry Potter screen ride, fun as it was, not as fun as just being in that area and going in the shops, seeing the frog show, eating at Three Broomsticks. The stuff that's real is better.

 

It's so interesting how the opinions vary wildly! It definitely pushes me to visit more parks like WDW and Europa so I can see which I like best.

 

The Simpsons area had such great food options and the bar by the lagoon outside was just divine!

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Personally, I think it's better, if you can figure out an extra park day, just to do that, moving through the park,

taking in some attractions maybe, but mainly going for the shops, food, atmosphere, and a show perhaps?

 

People thought I was crazy going into HKDL for two-1/2 days. Most of them on the TPR tour just did the one day.

It was so much more relaxing to have an extra day to just soak in the atmosphere and try things I might have

missed, rushing to one attraction after the other, in some cases.

 

I realize a lot of people and families just can't afford that "extra day". But still, (IMhO) it's worth a try to add one on,

if you can.

 

Pardon the sidebar, here.

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I just want to interject based on the t-shirt wearing that HEALTH's Death Magic was a rad record.

 

Also the Killer Klowns stuff was out because they were doing a maze this year with that as the theme (first year for that). Maybe it'll be back in 2019?

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Great report. I really like that you captured a lot of different angles than most of the other park photos I've seen. I love Universal Florida despite its' faults and as other posters said, it really is the atmosphere that seals the deal. It's a park that rewards exploration and attentiveness to detail.

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Alright alright time to wrap this up.

 

Day 4

Alex and I had flights around 5 so we had a good part of the day to have fun.

 

We took our time sending part of our group off to the airport and then got lunch with Jared at the Irish spot across from the Mummy and everything was delicious. Never a bad meal at Universal! Also got up close with Jake and Elwood as they come out of the side entrance to the restaurant for their show. They actors looked spot on to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi! We got one more ride on Mummy and Gringott's before heading over to IOA. Our plan was to re-ride our favs and check out the Raptor Encounter before picking up our stuff at Royal Pacific and getting a car to MCO. Here's how it went!

 

20181022_112007.thumb.jpg.283b2c914a8facfa64bab0c74753ec08.jpgWe went in the side/Blue Man entrance where you can get up close to RRR. Shocking, it's down.

20181022_113958.thumb.jpg.c38b7d661216a0f8f9de99da3fc01e9a.jpgIt was hilarious watching the Mummy guys interacting with other guests and sneaking up on people. We had a dope Mummy ride where we saw another train wiz by right before we entered the fire room. Hadn't seen any other trains in the dark-coaster portion before - it was a big surprise and it was the best Mummy ride of the trip!

20181022_114350.thumb.jpg.178c4ebd3a85efd0185cfc4c63bb6726.jpgShoutout San Francisco and the greatest Irish Coffee in the world (http://www.thebuenavista.com/home/irishcoffee.html)

20181022_124609.thumb.jpg.098cdc2e9b51a0f7ca64b670542cd83c.jpgThe HHN shop was incredible and spooky on its own to walk through! It was really well done.

20181022_124839.thumb.jpg.faf827079adac0ab286370fdc40bdca7.jpgThe Stranger Things side of the shop was on another level with the upside-down decorations. I bet the maze was fun!

20181022_125229.thumb.jpg.eaa32b371e5663f363193aba748bee03.jpgWent to check out that treble clef part of RRR. This coaster was a lot faster and taller than I imagined!

20181022_125332.thumb.jpg.9b4d1bbe2d010595011a6da9a87f3e5a.jpgIt's a fun element and a solid coaster, I just can't get over how they put the safety spiel on an endless loop. The message is only :30 seconds long and it's so loud even a 10 minute wait is torture.

20181022_135512.thumb.jpg.5fa57493bfccdea84319e6576190c696.jpgHeading back out provided the opportunity to re-do the first posted picture on this update. Nailed it!

20181022_135514.thumb.jpg.2077a1a8394a6cedefcc9d8c17d86be4.jpgWeeeee! Block brake #19 was my favorite part of the ride!

20181022_140121.thumb.jpg.e03fb8e60957d2f997fc4d8945ca2b8c.jpgAhh my final 'park visit' of 2018? Let's do this dance.

20181022_140423.thumb.jpg.4b00c63b4e70acf7e9e455744f06ff95.jpgIt was so surreal to be next to this massive B&M. The cobra roll was a great element!

20181022_140445.thumb.jpg.1d45734be51f01c15429c5730968b82a.jpgThere's tons of space to get up close to the lagoon and look around the park. This view never gets old.

20181022_140503.thumb.jpg.462c9f5c6ef50f2423703846734dd81e.jpgSure is funky.

20181022_140540.thumb.jpg.e8310b7d5691227e7c76a88fc3baa960.jpgAll in all a great looper that does a little bit of everything.

20181022_141059.thumb.jpg.25e1137f30365330d7a701cf0984cc7f.jpgSpiderman is impressive for many reasons - the mix of media and physical sets, the animated 'episode' made just for the ride, the ride design when it opened.. Spiderman was right there with MiB and Harry Potter FJ for my favorite non-coaster ride.

20181022_142703.thumb.jpg.c3dacfb8688297c2ec560842be3a27a8.jpgAbsolutely drenching! I thought this rapids ride was so much fun and I really liked the lagoon-side area of this attraction that let you see parts of the layout.

20181022_144650.thumb.jpg.ca9e02adc59e264eb0ac3931983265b6.jpgBlueeee! <3 The Raptor Encounter was BY FAR my favorite moment at Universal! Holy crap I was absolutely blown away by how Blue looks, makes sounds, moves around, blinks...everything. The Owen (Chris Pratt) character leading the Raptor Encounter was spot on with the acting and mixing jokes with seriousness treating the dino like it was...truly a living breathing dinosaur. I laughed, I felt my heart race, and for a moment was led to believe that there was a real raptor right there with me. Well done all around, Universal.

IMG_2590.thumb.PNG.feedfe515a7ba06b13d186ebd9b43b0f.PNGOwen said "It's mating season and I think she likes you, show her the goods!"

IMG_2591.thumb.png.bab98908f8bad513acce113ed2e201c2.pngShe liked how I tasted and tried more than a nibble so I had to run away.

IMG_2592.thumb.png.b38bdc28768aa0dcea9252f8fbcbca41.pngBut she's a sweet talker, so I came back.

IMG_2593.thumb.png.900e8ae60fe46a9d01bc22662fe744ad.pngAnd now we're a thing. Relationships are weird guys ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Miss ya Blue! (Thanks Alex for the photos)

20181022_145619.thumb.jpg.1c7f31c984c68546d997e8936f508c8e.jpgIs this not the cutest sign ever?!

20181022_144914.thumb.jpg.325961233a64fc9ccccae33f97487a08.jpgFloridians, I envy you.

20181022_145035.thumb.jpg.cade14310ff1c2a54e057b5b9fd1a175.jpgThis whole area is stunning and it seemed so cut off from the rest of the park. I wonder how many people miss it! But hopefully there will be another coaster flying around here soon to bring it life.

20181022_145146.thumb.jpg.bad45fdef0e1a4df4032624da2afa80f.jpgI was on cloud nine at this point. Really taken back by how immersive the area is.

20181022_145359.thumb.jpg.4b2e69db69e9ae2c7e07038544b65646.jpgSoooo heyyyy I'm a dad now. We don't need diapers but we do need lots of meat. I can give you guys my Venmo if you wanna help out as a congratulatory gift.

IMG_2580.thumb.jpg.aa707f81a9c17e7abd31d364f79d198e.jpgWhat an iconic view. I could have sat there all day and enjoyed it.

20181022_151620.thumb.jpg.4bef4e5d7b6c3cad096bb1f2df7e5ac6.jpgBack over to get one last Forbidden Journey in. The Express pass allows you to breeze through what would normally be a 60+ minute wait.

20181022_151302.thumb.jpg.0ac29b673c28fc7cc434fe6adc7a2e91.jpgCan't wait to see the walls knocked down and explore the Forbidden Forest soon!

IMG_2584.thumb.jpg.b1d8fe399b246d391bf9a890a1103ae5.jpgYou can see up Hermione's skirt from over here!

IMG_2587.thumb.jpg.15b012de9776d5279bbd50bba3702ad5.jpgHow did I get lost in the asscrack of the castle? Help! Someone help me!

20181022_150017.thumb.jpg.3b52598b9fcf36ad28ed84ba06c333d7.jpgSee ya next year talking photos.

20181022_152046.thumb.jpg.d716106fa7ddb76d1f83598f38a45864.jpgPoseidon's Fury ended up being one of the biggest surprises of the trip!

20181022_152043.thumb.jpg.8cb49ced424f221a0ad307b60948eee2.jpgNo one talks about this attraction??? What an impressive outside structure and the whole story/attraction is a bit dated, yes, but the live-actor led journey was so much fun. I can understand it getting old after seeing it 3+ times but I'm very glad we went through it.

20181022_151836.thumb.jpg.f2de7415ccd07ba6b099182f86ade3f0.jpgPuss!!! He purred when I hugged him Te amo.

20181022_155356.thumb.jpg.f477652883bc3ff1bb853fa968049607.jpgGetting Who-ville set up for the Grinch. 'tis the season.

20181022_160242.thumb.jpg.fbc6ec9d7bbec2e0ffd3793a5615269f.jpgGoodbye IOA and Universal!

 

I completely underestimated how much fun I'd have at USO. I am *so* glad we went back to Universal this day for the Raptor Encounter. It was absolutely incredible. There seemed to be so many more characters out, too! I'm not sure if it just happened to be the time we were in IOA or what but there seemed to be tons of Marvel characters and such out and about. The new Potter coaster will be a game-changer in that area of the park and I can't wait to return sometime next year. Another big shoutout to Jared for all of the advice and treats during our visit, and Alex for the photos and company

 

See ya next year TPR!

-Zach

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Great report!

 

I haven't tried either Poseidon's Fury or the Raptor Encounter, so I'll have to check them out next time I'm at Universal. Usually I only give myself one day at both parks, so I end up cutting out attractions such as those.

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Really nice report!

 

I went to USF for the first time this past Tuesday. I rarely go to Disney or Universal parks, and I was so completely blown away by the crowd management, customer service, operations, and interesting queues that were both stimulating and clever ways to manage crowds. The park was definitely filled with people, but I'm guessing it wasn't a very busy day for this park. I was just with 1 other person, so we used the single rider lines and walked onto the rides all day.

 

We got stuck on on the block right behind the right side of the Gringotts station for 10 or so minutes. The ride systems seamlessly switched to left side station operations, and continued running. When they got the right side moving again, everyone on my train received one complimentary express pass and an apology (for lost time), and then the ride continued full operations. I'm simply not used to this level of competence.

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