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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 609: VelociCoaster passholder preview photo report posted!

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Assuming that Diagon Alley is actually open (which I doubt), I will be more than a little annoyed if they will not let us ride the train just because we don't have park hoppers.

 

Honestly, it's not that hard to figure out. You just have turnstiles on either end (which you would need anyway) and make sure the patron's ticket matches the park you're walking into. Disney handles it just fine with the Monorail. There are many parks out there that share a ride between the park and the water park (Worlds of Fun's Monsoon, for example). If this is meant as an upsell item, well, it had been be bloody amazing.

 

More interesting is this- since the train will have to go in both directions, will the experience be different each way? Will there be a "going to Hogwarts" and "going home for holiday" experience? Right now I'm expecting a dynamic somewhat similar to the Jurassic Park river ride... except that JP has only one load/unload point. A show building would be optimized for one direction only. I suppose they could easily work out a track configuration wherein both trains could enter a show building at the same place... or perhaps there will be no show building at all... maybe all the effects will be housed on the train itself.

 

Is it bad that I'm more interested in the train than in the thrill ride? LOL...

 

It is pretty clear from the press relase requiring press hoppers and the design that they will be checking your tickets BEFORE you get on the ride. Similar to pre-clearing customs. Bascially the entrace to the attraction will be considered the "gate" to the other park. Neat concept.

 

Rumor the trips will probably be different as they are desiging multiple different videos for the screens.

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We rode Velocicoaster today! Here's our thoughts on the ride....  

It was a fun ride. The first half felt very Maverick-y with the quick transitions between elements. All the theming REALLY adds to the overall feel of being chased by raptors. The 2nd half.....WOW! 

Two weekends ago I made my way back to the Universal Orlando Resort to experience the new Mardi Gras offerings, but also to get a chance to see Velocicoaster testing. I'll have photos from Mardi Gras

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Curious to see if this will be open in late May/early June when I'm there... but I kinda doubt it. "Summer" seems to mean July/August.

 

Here's something that bugs me- when we're going down, we're allowing two days for Universal (which is actually twice as long as we've EVER spent down there). We plan to do one day in IOA and one in USO. Assuming that Diagon Alley is actually open (which I doubt), I will be more than a little annoyed if they will not let us ride the train just because we don't have park hoppers.

 

Honestly, it's not that hard to figure out. You just have turnstiles on either end (which you would need anyway) and make sure the patron's ticket matches the park you're walking into. Disney handles it just fine with the Monorail. There are many parks out there that share a ride between the park and the water park (Worlds of Fun's Monsoon, for example). If this is meant as an upsell item, well, it had been be bloody amazing.

 

More interesting is this- since the train will have to go in both directions, will the experience be different each way? Will there be a "going to Hogwarts" and "going home for holiday" experience? Right now I'm expecting a dynamic somewhat similar to the Jurassic Park river ride... except that JP has only one load/unload point. A show building would be optimized for one direction only. I suppose they could easily work out a track configuration wherein both trains could enter a show building at the same place... or perhaps there will be no show building at all... maybe all the effects will be housed on the train itself.

 

Is it bad that I'm more interested in the train than in the thrill ride? LOL...

 

If you go on the website, when you buy a 2 day ticket, you get the 3rd day free. And a park hopper ticket is only $21 more than a single park ticket. As someone who has lived here for 15 years and been to the parks hundreds of times, a park hopper is the way to go. You can start out at IOA and go over to USF or vice versa. The flexibility is great, and since the parks are right next to each other, the walk between them is 5-10 minutes tops.

 

Plus with all the new dining at CityWalk, I can't see why you wouldn't want to be able to go to either park whenever you want.

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Does anyone have any clue if Hogwarts Express will begin its technical rehearsals in March? I was just asking because this will determine whether our group sticks with the park hopper pass or just one park (only in Universal for one day). Thanks!

EDIT: For reference, I am referring to the Hogwarts Express ONLY, not the entire expansion (for obvious reasons).

Edited by Koasterking48
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^I cannot imagine it will be open in March for guest soft opening.

Orlando Informer makes an interesting argument that they might soft open the Hogwarts Express. They point out that the IoA and USO hours synchronize for the first time in March and April and also the fact that King's Cross (train station) can be open while still keeping Diagon Alley itself closed. March might be early, but they might be doing technical rehearsals by then with full operations by April or May...

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^While it has been rumored that the attraction can in theory run without physically moving, thus allowing the ride to operate even with one park closed, the experience's capacity would then be cut by half as one train would be forced to remain inactive on the other side of the Wizarding World. If there's one thing I don't expect Universal to do with this, it would be to cut the hourly throughput of an attraction that is expecting to receive lines that rival, if not surpass Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. When you realize just how much queue is being prepared for each of the two stations for the Hogwarts Express, you realize just how badly they need both trains in operation. And soft opening or not, when guests are allowed onto this attraction, Universal will want it operating at full capacity.

 

It should also be noted that history shows that Universal put great care into their soft openings of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Dragon Challenge soft opened back and forth between operating as Dueling Dragons and as Dragon Challenge, but aside from that, the land soft opened in full, at full capacity. With the world watching this original land with all kinds of microscope, they wanted the debut (even the soft one) to be a successful, smooth one. I'd like to believe that Universal will only continue to build off of that strategy and perfect it in time for the launch of these new attractions, especially knowing how many more technological breakthroughs are employed in this realm that have the chance to break down and mess with the operation.

 

It could also be an indicator that despite this past weekend's hoopla, we still don't have a public official opening date.

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I'm still surprised that she'd be ok with the train going backwards for a journey each time since I can't remember it doing that in the books/movies at all, i'm assuming that's how it will work since the behind the scenes photos have only shown 2 locomotives so I doubt there is one on both ends of the 2 trains.

Edited by Garet
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http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/blog/tourism-central/os-thanks-to-potter-and-prime-attendance-and-spending-is-still-climbing-at-univerasl-orlando-20140128,0,7345702.post

 

Attendance and visitor spending continued to climb at Universal Orlando during the final three months of 2013, powered by the combined might of Harry Potter and Optimus Prime.

 

Comcast Corp. announced Tuesday morning that fourth-quarter revenue at its theme parks jumped 8.8 percent, to $566 million from $520 million a year ago. The company credited improved results at both of its U.S. resorts – the two-park Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood in Southern California.

 

Operating cash flow at Universal Parks & Resorts, which also earns licensing fees from overseas Universal Studios theme parks, rose 4.6 percent, to $257 million from $245 million.

 

For the year, Comcast’s theme-park revenue operating cash flow rose 5.3 percent to $1 billion on sales that leapt 7.2 percent to $2.2 billion. The company said its biggest draw continues to be the nearly four-year-old Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as a pair of Transformers thrill rides – one of which opened last summer at Universal Studios Florida.

 

Comcast expects even bigger gains this year, as it will open a second Potter themed land in Orlando by this summer. Spending on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley helped drive NBCUniversal’s total capital spending to $1.2 billion in 2013, a nearly $400 million increase from 2012.

 

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/blogs/theme-park-rangers/os-universal-orlando-cabana-bay-resort-20140127,0,7502620.post

 

A colorful new hotel is under construction -- and catching the eyes of I-4 motorists -- at Universal Orlando. Cabana Bay Beach Resort, modeled after motels of the mid-20th century, will open the first 600 of its 1,600 rooms to the public on March 31. In the meantime, here are five things to know about Cabana Bay:

 

1. The distinctly retro sign has been erected at the entrance, which will be accessible from Adventure Way, which connects Interstate 4 and Hollywood Way on Universal property. Below the name of the hotel is a subtitle of sorts: "Color TV & Cold Air."

 

2. The rooms are divided into five similar looking buildlings. To alleviate confusion, signage in distinctive script top each one. Around the north courtyard are Starlight, Thunderbird and Castway. On the south side will be Americana and Continental. The structures are named for iconic hotels of the era, says Russ Dagon, executive project director.

 

3. Although the vibe is certainly 1950s and 1960s, Universal just couldn't make the pool an old-school rectangle, Dagon says. "You can't get away with that anymore," he says. The pool in the north courtyard is about 10,000 square feet and surrounded by 17 rentable cabanas. There will also be a beach area featuring outdoor ping=pong and pool tables, food trucks, a picnic area, fire pits and the Atomic Tonic pool bar. The south side will have Universal's first hotel lazy river. A formidable ramp leads from the pool area to the second level of the lobby building, home of the 10-lane bowling alley, fitness center and Starbucks.

 

4. The 600 units opening in March are suites that can sleep four adults. They have identical set-ups. Guests step right in to the kitchenette-ette (microwave, mini-refrigerator, small sink and counter), which is next to the living area with chairs, flat-screen TV and orange couch that converts into a queen-size bed. Behind the TV is a panel that divides the sleeping area and living area and its two beds. A sliding door inside that panel closes the two spaces off completely. The bathroom is divided into three spaces (toilet, sink, sink and shower).

 

5. That giant dive tower back in the pool area? Dream on. It's not for diving, although it might have been in the old days. It's for decoration (the 4-foot deep water was a clue). But water tumbles from it (think waterfall) and a slide runs through the concrete structure.

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Cabana Bay is looking absolutely fantastic! The main sign went up a little while ago, but I just noticed the sign for the Starlight building has been hung and is testing. It's clearly visible from the top of the parking garages.

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Spending on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley helped drive NBCUniversal’s total capital spending to $1.2 billion in 2013, a nearly $400 million increase from 2012.

 

What is really impressive is that $1.2 billion might equal the entire total GE spent on the parks the whole time they owned them!

 

Aside from Potter and Transformers at USH, they basically added a bunch of low budget attractions to the parks.

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Is it bad that I was way more excited for Transformers, than for either of the Harry Potter expansions? I rode Transformers like 5 times and after I rode all the rides in Potterland, I was done with the area. I will say that, regardless if frozen or liquid, the butter beer was amazing!

 

I hope that the new Diagon Alley rides are more inviting to the non-fan boys, unlike Forbidden Journey which was super disorienting and confusing. Also, it's a shame to hear that it looks like the new area will have the same crowd issues.

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^I was pleasantly surprised by Transformers, as well--nearly as good as Spider-man, and better than Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

 

I agree that Butterbeer is pretty good, too.

Edited by cfc
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Is it bad that I was way more excited for Transformers, than for either of the Harry Potter expansions? I rode Transformers like 5 times and after I rode all the rides in Potterland, I was done with the area. I will say that, regardless if frozen or liquid, the butter beer was amazing!

 

I hope that the new Diagon Alley rides are more inviting to the non-fan boys, unlike Forbidden Journey which was super disorienting and confusing. Also, it's a shame to hear that it looks like the new area will have the same crowd issues.

 

I don't think so. I do agree with you on your Diagon Alley comment. We never watched Harry Potter or read the books during all the hype. We ended up watching movies 1-3 before our first trip to Universal and the rest before our second trip to Universal. Unfortunately the movies turned my wife and daughter into fans. Fortunately I had the background information that I needed to understand the area and rides. It would be nice if you didn't have to watch the movies to understand WWoHP.

 

While not a Potter fan, I am looking forward to the Diagon Alley expansion. I appreciate how Universal has stepped up and is trying to take their parks to the next level. I am equally excited to ride Transformers since it was still under construction during our last visit.

 

I had half a dozen butter beers during a trip in 2012. They were free since I was there for a private party when the park was closed to the public. They also let us ride Pteranodon Flyers so I have that credit. All the food was free so I ate my way around the park. That was the best time ever.

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Sitting in Antojitos at the moment. Just finished some excellent duck tacos. Probably the best duck and best tacos I've ever had. The side of rice and beans were also excellent. The restaurant itself is a little weird looking inside, but if all the food is this good, I'll be here often.

 

PS: AP Discounts FTW!

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So did anyone else have the chance to try Warm Butterbeer? I honestly wasn't a huge fan. I mean it tasted good, but the way people were praising it on Twitter, you would have thought it was liquid sex. Don't get me wrong, I love the Butterbeer topping, (which I'm pretty sure they've been messing around with, it seems like the foam continues to expand the longer it sits), but the warm drink itself was basically just milk, butterscotch, and marshmallow. Really just a latte without the espresso. It tasted faintly of the other two styles, but the fact that it was only served lukewarm was kind of annoying and puts it at the bottom of the WWoHP exclusive drinks, (after Pumpkin Fizz, both Butterbeers, and Pumpkin Juice).

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I thought the Frozen Butterbeer I had was a little too sweet for my tastes (which is weird since I love sweet stuff), but I could drink LeFou's Brew all day long.

 

Either way I am excited to see how Diagon Alley turns out. However I am not excited to see the lines when I eventually make it there.

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