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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 624: Super Nintendo World unveiled!

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^ If there's one thing I've learned it's that all of the crowd forecasts and live reports are not to be trusted. Sure, sometimes they're spot on, but by the same token they can't predict the future. For instance, take my last visit to the Disneyland Resort in early May. Everything I had looked at pointed to the place being a complete ghost town. It was the time between spring break and summer vacation, kids were in school, right? Wrong, big time. Both days the parks were hugely packed and lines were quite long all around in both parks. Luckily we know our way around Fastpass and single rider lines so the trip was still fun as we managed to get on everything that wasn't shut down (that's a whole other story), but compared to our trip in mid-September last year where the parks actually were empty it was a bit of a disappointment. We're talking going from riding Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy about 15 times in one day to riding twice. Not just Space Mountain, but every ride. September was incredible, May was fun but still annoying, haha.

 

Just goes to show that anything can happen whenever.

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^May is during Magic Music Days at DLR when tons of music ensembles from schools descend upon the parks, but that's a different discussion for a different thread, I guess.

 

Certainly glad to hear the expansion is all it was hyped up to be. Maybe one of these years we'll make it to Orlando...

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^^With the expansion of the Wizarding World, we are seeing a new innovative ride from the Escape of Gringotts that I am almost certain has a ride building bigger than that of the Forbidden Journey. Also, we have the new inclusion of the Hogwarts Express. This with many different shops and interactive experiences in the world, I wouldn't say that it lacks in rides. The Hogsmeade area already had Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons before) and Flight of the Hippogriff (Flying Unicorn). They just received the Harry Potter theme. Diagon Alley is most certainly bigger, with more detail and greater experiences. So while there are more rides in the Hogsmeade area, Diagon Alley definitely doesn't lack at all.

 

Well said.

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September was incredible, May was fun but still annoying, haha.

 

That's always/usually The Best Time of The Year for me to travel to parks and resorts in the USA.

September. Most kids and teenagers are back in school, so the numbers in major parks do

drop dramatically, IMhO.

 

That's why we're also hitting Paris Disney next year, in September. Same thing there with school

and such. And it's all a mid-week visit too. Arrive and leave before the weekends. Also with

Amsterdam and Paris, proper, thrown into the tour, lol.

Edited by Nrthwnd
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^^With the expansion of the Wizarding World, we are seeing a new innovative ride from the Escape of Gringotts that I am almost certain has a ride building bigger than that of the Forbidden Journey. Also, we have the new inclusion of the Hogwarts Express. This with many different shops and interactive experiences in the world, I wouldn't say that it lacks in rides. The Hogsmeade area already had Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons before) and Flight of the Hippogriff (Flying Unicorn). They just received the Harry Potter theme. Diagon Alley is most certainly bigger, with more detail and greater experiences. So while there are more rides in the Hogsmeade area, Diagon Alley definitely doesn't lack at all.

This actually brings up a VERY interesting point. To someone who is a "casual" Potter fan (maybe seen some of the movies, but not all, etc...) who maybe likes it enough to check out the lands, but not enough to, let's say buy a wand, and has never been to Universal before, not knowing that all those rides in Hogsmede were there before Potter, does Diagon Alley all of a sudden seem "light" on things to do?

 

Just throwing that out there and thinking about things from your "average" guest perspective, not your die-hard Potter fan.

 

Thoughts?

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^^ Agreed about mid-September as far as SFOG goes from my experience. The heavy humidity of August has started to calm down, kids are back in school, people are consumed with SEC football on Saturday, and the Halloween fest hasn't started yet. It's a ride fest.

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^^With the expansion of the Wizarding World, we are seeing a new innovative ride from the Escape of Gringotts that I am almost certain has a ride building bigger than that of the Forbidden Journey. Also, we have the new inclusion of the Hogwarts Express. This with many different shops and interactive experiences in the world, I wouldn't say that it lacks in rides. The Hogsmeade area already had Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons before) and Flight of the Hippogriff (Flying Unicorn). They just received the Harry Potter theme. Diagon Alley is most certainly bigger, with more detail and greater experiences. So while there are more rides in the Hogsmeade area, Diagon Alley definitely doesn't lack at all.

This actually brings up a VERY interesting point. To someone who is a "casual" Potter fan (maybe seen some of the movies, but not all, etc...) who maybe likes it enough to check out the lands, but not enough to, let's say buy a wand, and has never been to Universal before, not knowing that all those rides in Hogsmede were there before Potter, does Diagon Alley all of a sudden seem "light" on things to do?

 

Just throwing that out there and thinking about things from your "average" guest perspective, not your die-hard Potter fan.

 

Thoughts?

 

I certainly agree with you on the "average" guest perspective. I believe that Universal was simply trying to create the ultimate Harry Potter experience as the characters lived and breathed in the films. I feel with Diagon Alley, which does host one mind-blowing new ride system which I am sure cost a lot, Universal stuck with creating the land as it was in the movies rather than adding a bunch of rides themed to Harry Potter. There were some posts a long way back when someone stated how Universal could have added a ton of rides with not much theming and just slap the Harry Potter name in it and it would be a hit. Universal, however, focused on bringing the movie series to life to experience. Thus allowing the creation of the new ride systems as what the characters actually experienced in the film (Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley), creating new shops to buy what the characters bought, bring in new food items like the characters had, and actually believe that you are in Harry Potter. So while Universal didn't add a lot of rides to Diagon Alley, I simply think it is better that they didn't. We now have Gringotts and many world-class additions that I think Universal did a great job in bringing the movies to life.

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^^With the expansion of the Wizarding World, we are seeing a new innovative ride from the Escape of Gringotts that I am almost certain has a ride building bigger than that of the Forbidden Journey. Also, we have the new inclusion of the Hogwarts Express. This with many different shops and interactive experiences in the world, I wouldn't say that it lacks in rides. The Hogsmeade area already had Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons before) and Flight of the Hippogriff (Flying Unicorn). They just received the Harry Potter theme. Diagon Alley is most certainly bigger, with more detail and greater experiences. So while there are more rides in the Hogsmeade area, Diagon Alley definitely doesn't lack at all.

This actually brings up a VERY interesting point. To someone who is a "casual" Potter fan (maybe seen some of the movies, but not all, etc...) who maybe likes it enough to check out the lands, but not enough to, let's say buy a wand, and has never been to Universal before, not knowing that all those rides in Hogsmede were there before Potter, does Diagon Alley all of a sudden seem "light" on things to do?

 

Just throwing that out there and thinking about things from your "average" guest perspective, not your die-hard Potter fan.

 

Thoughts?

 

I certainly agree with you on the "average" guest perspective. I believe that Universal was simply trying to create the ultimate Harry Potter experience as the characters lived and breathed in the films. I feel with Diagon Alley, which does host one mind-blowing new ride system which I am sure cost a lot, Universal stuck with creating the land as it was in the movies rather than adding a bunch of rides themed to Harry Potter. There were some posts a long way back when someone stated how Universal could have added a ton of rides with not much theming and just slap the Harry Potter name in it and it would be a hit. Universal, however, focused on bringing the movie series to life to experience. Thus allowing the creation of the new ride systems as what the characters actually experienced in the film (Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley), creating new shops to buy what the characters bought, bring in new food items like the characters had, and actually believe that you are in Harry Potter. So while Universal didn't add a lot of rides to Diagon Alley, I simply think it is better that they didn't. We now have Gringotts and many world-class additions that I think Universal did a great job in bringing the movies to life.

 

To add to this, I think when Disney was approached with the idea of Harry Potter they only wanted to add some rides and slap the Harry Potter name on it, but that's not what JK Rowling and WB wanted to do and why they ultimately went with Universal. Universal took the initiative and created an immersive world that was built up to certain standards. Universal has always been about immersing yourself into the movie world, and if walking into Diagon Alley or MIB or Transformers doesn't do that for you then I don't know what will.

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To add to this, I think when Disney was approached with the idea of Harry Potter they only wanted to add some rides and slap the Harry Potter name on it, but that's not what JK Rowling and WB wanted to do and why they ultimately went with Universal.

Where did you hear that? I highly doubt that is what Disney would've done, I'm sure they would've put just as much detail into the area as Universal did. I'm pretty sure the reason Disney declined the project was because JK Rowling is freaking crazy when it comes to her precious Potter franchise.

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To add to this, I think when Disney was approached with the idea of Harry Potter they only wanted to add some rides and slap the Harry Potter name on it, but that's not what JK Rowling and WB wanted to do and why they ultimately went with Universal.

Where did you hear that? I highly doubt that is what Disney would've done, I'm sure they would've put just as much detail into the area as Universal did. I'm pretty sure the reason Disney declined the project was because JK Rowling is freaking crazy when it comes to her precious Potter franchise.

 

Read it a while ago but I had heard that Disney did not want to build a "land" of sorts and only a ride/ttraction in one of the parks. JK Rowling obviously didn't like this idea and opted for Universal's idea of two connected lands in the parks.

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I was at IOA July 8th, and it was probably the best day of the entire month to go. Longest line of the day was Forbidden Journey at 45 minutes, which, considering the stories i've heard of two hour lines, was an AMAZING discovery once I found it out. I had only been to this park once before, and that was a long time ago, way before I started riding coasters. So I got a few really fun new credits and an entire memory of this great park, not one in bits and pieces. Favorite ride of the day was a tie between the Blue side of Dragon Challenge and Hulk, with Forbidden Journey at a close second. (being a newfound Harry Potter fan) I hope to go to the other park and see Diagon Alley in a few years when I get to go back. Was the best park of my Florida trip, with Busch Gardens in second and Legoland in 3rd.

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Here is a crazy concept for the "Diagon Alley should have had more rides" arguement (either way)...

 

Remember that this land is at Universal Studios. USO isn't the "rides" park, it is the "movies and shows" park. IOA is the "rides" park.

 

My first trip to USO was back in 1996, and IOA was about 5 years ago. I live with a 15 year old Potter nut, have seen the Hogsmeade area back when it was the Flying Unicorn and not Flight of the Hippogriff, and so forth.

 

Obviously when they re-themed IOA and added 1 ride, they saw what it did to attendance and profits. They needed something for USO now to really kick it into gear. So they added a themed land and 1 ride dedicated to that land.

 

Throw in that people complained, or at least were disapointed when they couldn't actually ride the Hogwarts Express, and they had their idea for their first park-to-park ride system that fit the theme of both parks now.

 

So depending on how you look at it, they both got 1 "cutting edge" ride and a lot of theming. It sounds like Diagon Alley received a lot more of the theming to push the bar up, but as previously mentioned by others, this is to simulate the movie scenes as if they were real life. So it is back to replicating a movie experience through sets, shops, small shows, just like the rest of USO. So in that aspect, while I too would love more rides, I understand why they did what they did, and it really is the same number of new rides as IOA got with Hogsmeade.

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Remember that this land is at Universal Studios. USO isn't the "rides" park, it is the "movies and shows" park. IOA is the "rides" park.

Right, but with the last few new attractions they've built from the ground up (Gringotts, Transformers, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Mummy), they most certainly are proving that the old mentality of "movies and shows" is being pushed aside for more "rides" in the park. I would have to say the focus of USO has absolutely been more rides in the last decade or so, because, let's be honest, that's what guests want.

 

So I don't buy that argument for a second.

 

The theme of the park, since day one, has always been "RIDE the Movies!"d9a62dd949d8dc6cdfb4905fe9817273.jpg.61f9788f0b4aaf0fdd3f39aaac0dba52.jpg

Edited by robbalvey
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Universal couldnt add more rides because they didnt have enough room for rides that would do the theme justice. JK Rowling would never allow a basic spinner in Diagon Alley or let Universal go out of their way (rather than work around current rides like Hippogriff) to make it seem more like an amusement park and less like a 'wizarding world'. Universal didnt have enough room in Diagon for more rides that would tell the story and leave JK/WB happy. End of story.

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So I don't buy that argument for a second.

 

The theme of the park, since day one, has always been "RIDE the Movies!"[attachment=0]d9a62dd949d8dc6cdfb4905fe9817273.jpg[/attachment]

 

 

Good point. I forgot about that slogan. You are right again, Sir...

 

I can't wait for even more expansions to the park beyond the current HP stuff. So much speculation on how their "5 year plan" could play out. Bring on the rides, Universal! We love 'em!

Edited by nickbuol
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Although, that being said, they could always knock down that brand new team member parking garage they just built and expand another Wizarding World section out that way! Plenty of room out there! Even more room than the current Diagon Alley!

1348402397_ScreenShot2014-07-10at11_28_07.thumb.png.aa41412f7c722e02f4cb536be74fabdb.png

Edited by robbalvey
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I'm really excited to see what they do with Jurassic Park in IOA since Jurassic World is coming out next year. I just hope that whatever they do they can recycle the props and theming from the Triceratops Encounter. There is some great stuff back there.

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I'm really excited to see what they do with Jurassic Park in IOA since Jurassic World is coming out next year. I just hope that whatever they do they can recycle the props and theming from the Triceratops Encounter. There is some great stuff back there.

 

 

I would guess tech-upgrades to the ride/animatronics. Maybe more weather-proof skins for the Dinosaurs?

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To add to this, I think when Disney was approached with the idea of Harry Potter they only wanted to add some rides and slap the Harry Potter name on it, but that's not what JK Rowling and WB wanted to do and why they ultimately went with Universal.

Where did you hear that? I highly doubt that is what Disney would've done, I'm sure they would've put just as much detail into the area as Universal did. I'm pretty sure the reason Disney declined the project was because JK Rowling is freaking crazy when it comes to her precious Potter franchise.

 

I remember something similar to this at the time. That Rowling wanted to require everyone who visited Disney's Harry Potter park to have a true-to-book experience which would have caused operational nightmares. Things like the entrance to the park being a one at a time walk through the Diagon Alley brick wall.

 

You can still see the impact of her demands at Hogsmeade... where all the stores are realistically sized, instead of theme park sized.

 

I swear this was a Jim Hill story, but the only good article I found was this: http://jimhillmedia.com/editor_in_chief1/b/jim_hill/archive/2007/06/01/why-for-today.aspx which doesn't go into detail about Disney's problem's with Rowling's ideas.

 

BTW, that article is also good for some laughs. I'm still waiting on the flying car ride at Sinbad's theater and the Pirates makeover of Adventureland.

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To add to this, I think when Disney was approached with the idea of Harry Potter they only wanted to add some rides and slap the Harry Potter name on it, but that's not what JK Rowling and WB wanted to do and why they ultimately went with Universal. Universal took the initiative and created an immersive world that was built up to certain standards. Universal has always been about immersing yourself into the movie world, and if walking into Diagon Alley or MIB or Transformers doesn't do that for you then I don't know what will.

 

No, Disney wanted to (allegedly) make a ride utilizing Toy Stoy Mania technology with guests shooting spells out of wands rather than darts out of cannons. JK Rowling saw the space Disney had, and apparently was unhappy that they would not do more (rumors range everywhere from her wanting guests to take a boat to Hogwarts to wanting a whole HP theme park). Universal was much more willing to bend theme park conventions (make the stores tiny, implement unique technology), so she went with them. But Disney still was willing to do more than slap the Harry Potter name on lame rides. Rowling just wasnt happy with the interactive ride idea.

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I really don't know where any of the Disney rumors are coming from. I've talked with people who are fairly high up at both companies over the years and I've heard it simply came down to Universal willing to ante up the $$$ and that Disney just wasn't as interested in the property and the baggage (JK) that came with it.

 

I don't doubt that Disney would have pulled off something spectacular as well given some of the projects they have managed to produce over the years (New Fantasyland, Carsland, DisneySea, etc), but I also know that Disney likes to be a little more autonomous than I'm sure JK and WB would have wanted them to be.

 

Clearly Disney isn't afraid to spend the money on properties that make sense for them (Marvel, Star Wars, etc) but Potter would have only really given them Theme Park rights whereas those other properties they spent their money on are giving them a full compliment of entertainment rights.

 

IMO, I think Disney not going for Potter and going for Marvel/Star Wars instead makes perfect sense for them. I'm sure Box Office receipts are proof enough.

 

--Robb

Edited by robbalvey
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^yeah, everything I've heard is just a rumor. But Im positive Disney wouldnt have simply slapped some weak theming on lame rides. I mean how often does Disney do that when dealing with big IP's? If anything, JK Rowling may have expected more from Disney considering how big they are and then was maybe more impressed with Universal's willing to do more with what they had.

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^ From what I've heard, it was really more than Disney didn't want it. They seem to like to either buy properties outright or have full autonomy with a property that they license. I doubt that JK Rowling would have provided that.

 

And I really cannot think of many rides that Disney has "re-themed" from one property to another over the years. Superstar Limo > Monsters Inc comes to mind. Dreamflight > Buzz Lightyear is another. (But then they at least went and developed a stand-alone version of that for the other parks.) Probably the most obvious is Alien Encounter > Stitch only because of how bad that one turned out.

 

To be honest, if I was JK Rowling, I would have been a little skeptical of Universal after seeing what they did to a huge property such as The Simpsons! I still hope one day they finally rip out the simulator ride and give that property the really kick-ass attraction it deserves! (I can dream, right?)

 

--Robb

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