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Universal Orlando Resort (USF, IOA, Epic) Discussion Thread

P. 625: Dark Universe revealed!

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If you do decide to do express pass, which I would recommend for a first visit, since you won't want to skip things; price out Royal Pacific. It is the "cheapest" of the deluxe hotels and super convenient to either walk or boat to citywalk and the parks, if you compare the price of hotel plus buying express pass versus Royal Pacific which includes express pass you will probably find there is not a huge difference. Also, if your sister wants to bail early and go hang at the pool it will be easy to do. I agree with Bill, do not miss the Bourne Stuntacular. My sons is the typical enthusiast that normally does not like to miss ride time to see a show and he loved it so much he went to see it two days in a row.

We had a great  meal at Big Fire a couple months ago. All 5 family members were happy with their food including the two picky eaters which are the oldest, age 77 and the youngest, age 18. Taking the two of them to any restaurant is it's own adventure.

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I have no nothing to blame but myself for this: 
Holy hell the park was jammed today. Not sure why I broke my own advice of not going on prime days...guess the VC hype was too strong and clouded my judgement! I expected it to be bad, though for some reason they had the single rider line closed on VC (and Hagrid's)! I figured ugh...make us buy the fast pass but the guy selling em told me those two are not included on it!! Sooooo that was very weird, and sadly I did a lot of waiting today. That said, my fault for going today! Anywho, not much to note so I'll keep it to the main points:

Hulk - 5 years ago it was crazy rough, like savage, 2/3 years ago it was perfectly fine. Today....kinda rough. Soooo not sure what to make of that lol still a great ride though. Forgot how much I love that first half. 

Hagrid's - Surprisingly good! I really expected this would be fine as a ride...and a fun overall experience. The ride itself was shockingly good, I had a smile the whole time! Not sure why I liked it so much, I think it was the constant pulses...just adds a real sense of speed (though its not super fast ofc) and its just fun. It also went through all the elements just quick enough imo not so much to be whippy or have airtime but enough you notice. Great ride! 

VC - Of course this was my priority. Got 4 rides (which took up a lot of my day but I had to) and it was damn good. Now....not sure I'm with the hype train 100% This is not making my top 10, maybe not top 15 (deff not a rival for top spot) and actually my first ride was a tad underwhelming. However, once warmed up this thing was sick. First half was great, deff more intense and forceful than I expected, good airtime pop and whippy moment or two, the second half was of course the star...nasty airtime in back coming off the top hat, the whole sweeping part was cool and the wave turn hit harder than expected, good thing bc the stall I thought was a bit underwhelming, and that roll is wild. No bad element or part of this ride and straddles the line of crazy. IMO step down from Maverick intensity but longer and a better layout. Great ride, top 20 steel maybe 15 (let's see year's end) clear best coaster in Orlando and for now best in FL but Iron Gwazi will probably have a word about that. 

EDIT: If anyone knows if this experience is common please let me know. I was surprised they had the single rider line closed and I couldn't believe VC (and Hagrid's) were not on fast pass! Is this the norm?

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27 minutes ago, JJLehto said:

Hulk - 5 years ago it was crazy rough, like savage, 2/3 years ago it was perfectly fine. Today....kinda rough. Soooo not sure what to make of that lol still a great ride though. Forgot how much I love that first half.

Ya sure it was 5 years ago? If you were on pre like mid September 2015 that was before they retracked the whole thing, sometime in summer 2016 it reopened so that would explain the differences you felt. 

I was on Hulk in September last year and thought it was still super smooth. 

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8 minutes ago, Satans Hockey said:

Ya sure it was 5 years ago? If you were on pre like mid September 2015 that was before they retracked the whole thing, sometime in summer 2016 it reopened so that would explain the differences you felt. 

I was on Hulk in September last year and thought it was still super smooth. 

Not sure to be honest, it was around that time. It wasn't that bad today, not sure I'd say "rough" but had moments (not extreme though). Made me wonder if the retrack is starting to wear off, or maybe just the day. Still loved it. The layout is so unique and the whole first part still gets me. 

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16 hours ago, JJLehto said:

I have no nothing to blame but myself for this: 
Holy hell the park was jammed today. Not sure why I broke my own advice of not going on prime days...guess the VC hype was too strong and clouded my judgement! I expected it to be bad, though for some reason they had the single rider line closed on VC (and Hagrid's)! I figured ugh...make us buy the fast pass but the guy selling em told me those two are not included on it!! Sooooo that was very weird, and sadly I did a lot of waiting today. That said, my fault for going today! Anywho, not much to note so I'll keep it to the main points:

Hulk - 5 years ago it was crazy rough, like savage, 2/3 years ago it was perfectly fine. Today....kinda rough. Soooo not sure what to make of that lol still a great ride though. Forgot how much I love that first half. 

Hagrid's - Surprisingly good! I really expected this would be fine as a ride...and a fun overall experience. The ride itself was shockingly good, I had a smile the whole time! Not sure why I liked it so much, I think it was the constant pulses...just adds a real sense of speed (though its not super fast ofc) and its just fun. It also went through all the elements just quick enough imo not so much to be whippy or have airtime but enough you notice. Great ride! 

VC - Of course this was my priority. Got 4 rides (which took up a lot of my day but I had to) and it was damn good. Now....not sure I'm with the hype train 100% This is not making my top 10, maybe not top 15 (deff not a rival for top spot) and actually my first ride was a tad underwhelming. However, once warmed up this thing was sick. First half was great, deff more intense and forceful than I expected, good airtime pop and whippy moment or two, the second half was of course the star...nasty airtime in back coming off the top hat, the whole sweeping part was cool and the wave turn hit harder than expected, good thing bc the stall I thought was a bit underwhelming, and that roll is wild. No bad element or part of this ride and straddles the line of crazy. IMO step down from Maverick intensity but longer and a better layout. Great ride, top 20 steel maybe 15 (let's see year's end) clear best coaster in Orlando and for now best in FL but Iron Gwazi will probably have a word about that. 

EDIT: If anyone knows if this experience is common please let me know. I was surprised they had the single rider line closed and I couldn't believe VC (and Hagrid's) were not on fast pass! Is this the norm?

As far as VC and Hagrid's they have never been on express pass. You would think they would put Hagrid's on since it has been almost 3 years since it opened but it doesn't seem to be hurting it's popularity (I agree it is super fun) and if they are selling plenty of express passes guess they are in no hurry. I'm not sure about single rider, we were there right before Christmas when that rush had already started and it was open on both rides all 3 days we were there. In fact since you cannot do row requests anyway we exclusively did single rider for Hagrid's since we had done it before, although you will almost certainly get the sidecar doing that.

Edit: I should have probably added that it is to be expected that VC would not be on Express Pass as Universal usually does not include the big new ride until the new ride smell wears off. Forbidden Journey did not have EP until 2-3 years after it's opening.

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16 hours ago, JJLehto said:

If anyone knows if this experience is common please let me know. I was surprised they had the single rider line closed and I couldn't believe VC (and Hagrid's) were not on fast pass! Is this the norm?

That sucks that you couldn't use the single rider lines for either but it's been discussed to death on this forum and elsewhere that neither Hagrids nor VC is on express pass and as @teacherkim explained, its not at all unusual for Universal to not add EP to their new attractions for a few years after their debuts. I also didn't know this until just before my first visit last year, but I do tend to do a little research about these things before I visit parks so I planned accordingly (aka visit during a historically slow week and hit those rides early/late in the day to avoid the waits).

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Yeah, neither ride is on the Express Pass. And from my experience, the single rider line for VelociCoaster can be VERY slow.  They used to have a single rider line for Hagrids which moved pretty quickly, but I imagine they close that off when the park is packed.

I went today with some out of town friends and got early admission into IOA at 8am. We ran with the hordes of people to Hagrids only to find it doesn't open til 9am. Why the $^$! ???  Really annoying when one of the perks of getting in early is beating the line. Ended up doing VelociCoaster in about 30 minutes. By the time we got off, Hagrids was open...and sporting a 150 minute wait. UGH.

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4 hours ago, pianojohn said:

Yeah, neither ride is on the Express Pass. And from my experience, the single rider line for VelociCoaster can be VERY slow.  They used to have a single rider line for Hagrids which moved pretty quickly, but I imagine they close that off when the park is packed.

I went today with some out of town friends and got early admission into IOA at 8am. We ran with the hordes of people to Hagrids only to find it doesn't open til 9am. Why the $^$! ???  Really annoying when one of the perks of getting in early is beating the line. Ended up doing VelociCoaster in about 30 minutes. By the time we got off, Hagrids was open...and sporting a 150 minute wait. UGH.

Hagrid has not been on early entry recently, I know it has been for perhaps since early 2021?Velocicoaster is the featured early entry IOA attraction and has been for a while this year.

I personally haven't had any good experiences using the single rider line, and I prefer to just wait for VC since it's typically 30-40 min or less. Hagrid I've not experienced any downtime with yet, just a steady 45-60 min wait at the end if the day or dinner time.

 

January 3-February 28, 2022
Available Attractions:

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™

Flight of the Hippogriff™

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

Ollivanders™

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will operate during regular park hours.

*Subject to availability

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/early-park-admission

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Really wish they'd had signs or audio announcements for those of us who didn't see it on the app. Literally everyone headed that way, and the team member at the front of the line would have to announce over and over that the ride would not open til 9am. TELL people this while they are getting their passes or hotel keys looked at so we don't waste time. 

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Yeah, It’s pretty clearly posted on the website and the app and the early entry schedule changes all the time to different rides / different parks so people should always check that.

It’s annoying that their most popular ride isn’t on the list, but it’s not like they hide this fact at all.

 

 

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Yeah using single rider on VC isn't really that useful, truly that line moves pretty good, even at the start of the crowded Christmas time (we were last there Dec 18-20) I never saw more than a 30-40 min wait and they have a dedicated front row line if you want it as well as they will let you go to back if you ask. No requests on single rider of course. But on Hagrids where they do not honor any sort of row requests because of the omni mover station and how long the line always is it's really good to use when open. Unless you really really want the motorbike side, then you just have to duke it out with whichever friend or family member you are riding with.

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To be clear didnt say they hid it, (and this is the internet so I know we always have to spell everything out lol) no, never felt they hid it... quite opposite when I asked that person for the cost they volunteered that info to me without me even asking about em, which very glad bc saved me quite a pretty penny! Good customer service right there.

It my fault for assuming....bc yeah why wouldn't they include those two?? But deff lesson learned for the future. Eh I plan plenty for trips that's the only reason, besides news, I hang around this place 😛 One time I goofed, what can ya do?  

I was mostly curious about the single rider thing....it seems it usually is open so just odd it wasn't, I wondered if they would find it unfair on such a busy day, but some of yall seem to think it may not have done much. Ah well, lessons learned as I said no idea what I was thinking going when I did anyway. I blame the VC hype lol

Edit: was a good ride though, deff will see if my schedule will allow a visit later in the year, on a less crowded day

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So far since living in Orlando my record low wait time for VelociCoaster during regular hours was last night 3/3 Thursday around 6pm. Posted wait 35, on and off in 25.

My record low wait for Hagrid during normal hours was also last night. Posted wait 75 but only waited 40 minutes from about where you go indoors. The crews were 🔥

I was very pleased with my visit last Sunday - 930am-330pm we did everything. Hagrid was only an hour, VC 45-50 minutes!

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12 hours ago, Zand said:

 

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Will be writing up a full report sometime, but let me just say that this is by far my favorite coaster element ever.

That roll is great because its legit upside-down ejector air. I think it f*cks most people up as it actually feels like its trying dump you into the water. If you stand by it (or just watch some off-ride footage) every single train is filled with people screaming in terror/elation as it rips through that element. With just the lapbar, I'm sure its horrifying for some people lol.

Happy to hear the ride lived up to the hype for you.

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TR from the past 3 days at Universal!

Flew down with lovely Frontier on Sunday which wasnt too bad, but upon arrival it took an hour and 5 minutes to get luggage at the carousel (no joke) and then after shuttling to Aventura and checking in, it was already pushing 6:00. My wife wanted to go to the Mardi Gras parade at 7:30 so we unfortunately had to miss Velocicoaster the first day and headed to Studios. Parade was good. It was a parade. 

Once that ended around 8:00 we headed to Diagon Alley for the first time and wow. It's absolutely amazing how well of a job they did with it. The attention to detail is incredible. They didn't miss on anything.

We took advantage of a 30 minute line for Gringotts and hit that real quick. After gawking at the amazing job they did with the interior of the bank, we made our way into the mindf*ck elevator and then wobbily made our way to the station. As for the ride, I'm going to get a lot of shit probably, but I was let down quite a bit. IMO it's very short, not any more impressive than anything else at Universal, and Forbidden Journey blows it away. I know I'm in a very small minority by being underwhelmed, but at least skipping the 2+ hour lines for it will be easy for me lol.

It was pushing the 9:00 closing after that, so we set off for City Walk to find food which turned out to be an impossible task. It was mobbed, the sit down places were full for the night, and the fast food places had mile long lines. Eventually admitted defeat and headed back to the hotel and ordered a pizza.

Awoke Monday morning and there was only one place I was heading. Velocicoaster had a 50 minute line posted which wasnt bad at all for a coaster of its newness and magnitude. Not to mention that line never stops moving. They do a great job with ~55 second dispatches and the great theming makes the line go even quicker.

I've intentionally avoided any discussion or videos on this thing since it opened as I wanted to be surprised by it. I didn't know about the barrel roll or the stall until I saw them while walking up. So the first half of the ride was a real blind experience as you can't see it from the line. It kind of meanders a bit, but a few small pops of good air and a fun inversion. But then, from the second launch out it just turns into one of the greatest coasters on earth. The air on the top hat is phenomenal as well as in a few other places in the 2nd half. The stall is great. But then, that barrel roll. You get launched directly at the water and I screamed "HOLY SH*T!" so loud when it happened. My first experience with the Rolling Thunder hill on El Toro and my first ride on Skyrush were the only other two times I can think of that blew me away like that. But those are just great ejector air moments. This is upside down ejector air mere feet above the water, hanging from a lapbar. RMC has done great things the past 10 years, but no one builds masterpieces like Intamin (when they're not broken down lol). 

Anyway, after that ride we looked for lunch but Jurassic Park (and Hogsmeade) were Kings Island Haunt on Columbus Day weekend busy. Finally got all the way to Comic Strip Cafe to find a line less than 10 minutes. Food there was fine. 

Made my way to Hulk and got on quick from the singles line. Always a fun, intense ride on one of the most iconic coasters in the world. Speaking of fun, intense rides, I kind of just made my way back to Velocicoaster because I just had to get another ride. 

Headed for Hogwarts next (grabbing a butterbeer on the way) and grabbed a ride on the best Potter themed ride between the two parks, Forbidden Journey. Great theming in line and the ride is phenomenal. This was the only thing they had built last time I was there and I loved it then and it's still just as good as I remembered it.

After grabbing a beer at the Hogs Head we hopped in line for Hagrids. Posted at 50 minutes, we were excited when we got to the preshow within 10 minutes. But WTF, why is the preshow followed by another 30 solid minutes of lines? Anyway, the coaster is a ton of fun and a home run as a family ride. I forgot it has a backwards section and it even got a little intense at some points. But a lot of fun.

After hitting the restroom with sounds of Moaning Myrtle piped in (which makes sense from the movies but still f*cking weird) we had a bizarre incident at the train. We got in line and after 5 minutes, suddenly the hosts were like "EVERYONE NEEDS TO EXIT THE LINE NOW!" and some of them were literally running trying to get everyone out. The hosts at the front of the line just said it was down temporarily but there's no way they would act like that over a mechanical issue. I later read (on Twitter, take it with a grain of salt) that they totally blocked off the Diagon Alley end and that there might have been a bomb threat. Not sure how true that is, but based on how urgently they cleared the line I can kind of believe it.

Good news is I used that time to get one more Velocicoaster ride before heading to NBC Sports to watch the end of the Celtics sweep over Brooklyn with some great food and beer. Then checked out the rooftop bar at my hotel which is an awesome spot.

Tuesday we decided to make it a dedicated Studios day. We really planned it well and between 2 and 6 we basically had free reign with lots of walk ons ans rode everything in the park. Honestly, I'm not sure anything really stands out here with Mummy closed. ET is a nostalgic favorite, and I like the Simpsons, but everything else just blends in to me and started to feel repetitive. Rockit has potential with a lot of intensity and some ejector air, but god do those trains suck. Saw Bourne Stuntacular which was pretty awesome.

Visited Diagon (and Knockturn) Alley for a bit before finally successfully getting on the train. They absolutely nailed this area too. So well done with all the detail. Plan was to close the night with Velocicoaster but it was throwing an Intamin maintenance fit and Poseidon was also down, so hit some Seuss stuff to end the day. Wife loves One Fish Two Fish (and I got soaked because the song lies) and then I have a soft spot for Cat in the Hat so fun enough way to end the day even if it wasnt mind blowing upside down ejector air.

Two more days left at Universal, tomorrow will be for hitting some of the lesser ridden stuff at IOA and then Thursday will be spent mostly at the paddock most likely. Then we ARE going to Disney after all, just one day on Friday. Starting at Epcot and ending at Magic Kingdom. May slip into one of the others if Queue Times suggests its worth it. Saturday is a rest day (AKA Fun Spot Day) followed by my first ever day at BGT Sunday and first trip in 10 years to Seaworld Monday.

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IOA has been pretty steady crowd wise, but I couldn't believe how easy and quickly we got through Studios yesterday. Got there around 11:30 and it was like 12:45 when we got out of Bourne. Hit Fallon with no line, then saw the Blues Brothers show (which was pretty awesome TBH). Made our way to Springfield, hit the Duff Brewery, then brought beers into the Simpson's line (which was listed at 25 minutes, but had to chug when it ended up being 5 minutes lol). Then ET had no line before the preshow. Hit Rockit (with no wait) on the way out to lunch at 3:30 at Toothsomes Chocolate Factory (which was really great) then we went back in to a 10 minute Minions wait and then walk ons for Transformers, F&F, and MIB. Didn't do Gringotts since we did it Sunday, so by 6 we were done with the whole place and hopped on the train which was maybe a 10 minute line. Who needs express passes?!?

This morning/early afternoon was a "Pina Coladas by the pool" morning but heading up in a little while to hit stuff like Spiderman, Kong, River Adventure, and Poseidon for the first time.

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0427222037.thumb.jpg.5b5f30f7ecfa95f8fc1b1394ebf9c891.jpg

Fun night with @PKI Jizzman getting night rides on this beast! Look how short the line was!

Went into IOA around 3 and was once again treated to walk ons and short lines everywhere. In the first hour I was able to ride Hulk twice, Dr Doom, and Spiderman twice. Forgot how fantastic Spiderman is, definitely one of my favorites from either park.

Made my way around for a few first-to-me rides, starting with a quick 5 minute wait for Kong. This was terrific and IMO much better than F&F. 

River Adventure was next, also a first for me on an IOA classic. Kind of cheesy, but really fun and naturally we absolutely drowned after watching people come off bone dry. Always seems to work out that way for me!

Went over to Poseidon, also for the first time. While it is a bit time consuming, it's a fantastic attraction with tons of cool effects. Didnt know what to expect going into it, but it really delivered with the wow factor a few times!

Hit Velocicoaster next and went to row 2 to get the front experience without actually being in front. The first half of the ride really stands out up here. Seems like a lot more great ejector moments and that dive loop is mental up there.

Met up with @PKI Jizzman at the Hogs Head for a beer and we made our way into the line for Forbidden Journey. Well, joke was on us. The ride was a total walk on and we had to stand aside for a few minutes to finish our beers! Anyway, this is by far the best dark ride I've ever ridden and I can never get enough. It pulls off the flying effect perfectly and there are so many great sets. Such a home run.

Finished up the night with a couple mental night rides in the back on Velocicoaster. You can't see in the first half and some of those turns are surprisingly forceful when you can't see them coming. The air over the top hat is second to none in the back and then the barrel roll blows my mind. Every. Damn. Time. So sad I have to leave this thing behind after tomorrow. Great to meet a new TPR member, thanks for hanging out Zach! 

Down to one more Universal day, then it's off to the Mouse.

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