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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

p. 624 - New Epic Universe details, including Isle of Berk!

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Remember that some Orlando area schools started back yesterday too. Seminole started classes while Orange, Osceola and Polk go back next week and teachers are back. Now, does this mean less people in the parks, somewhat but not massive amounts of people out of the parks. I enjoyed the update. I have steered clear of Universal since Potterland 2.0 opened as I don't want to deal with the craziness. Now that I see legit pictures of how it's calmed down, I might head down there. Thanks for the update.

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- Now that I've been on Gringotts a couple of times, I have to say (and credit whores you aren't going to want to hear this), but I just can't count it as a "roller coaster." It has one drop about the size of Pirates of the Caribbean, a small S-curve after the drop, then the rest is all dark ride powered by drive tires. Obviously there will be some people that will count it, and I wouldn't argue it that much, but when 90% of a ride is not a roller coaster, I just cannot count it as one.

 

Kind of off topic, but do you count Wonder Mountain's Guardian then? Many people seem to be saying that WMG is a credit, yet it seems to be in the same situation as Gringotts… one small drop, then the rest is a dark ride.

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http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/index.html

 

Three more houses for Halloween Horror Nights 24 have been announced and they are all original concepts!

 

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http://blog.universalorlando.com/whats-new/hhn24-original-content/

 

So, we’ve already heard about some of the terror that will descend upon Halloween Horror Nights 24 this year (if not, click here). It could be the best collection of horror icons we’ve ever unleashed.

 

But that’s not enough. Not nearly enough. We’ve saved some of the best for last with the unveiling of this year’s (duhn duhn duhn) ORIGINAL CONTENT.

 

I met up with Assistant Show Director Charles Gray deep in the bowels of the Universal Orlando Art & Entertainment dungeon. Actually, it was a conference room. But it was the nose-piercing, disorienting scents that hit me on my way in that really captured my attention. Rotting flesh, urine and…baby powder?

 

My olfactory senses did not deceive me. At this point, Charles was nostrils-deep in a scent strip. He recoiled, his face so squished together he looked like a character from those bitter beer face commercials.

 

“Hey, come on in!” he exclaimed as his face snapped back into place. “We’re just in the middle of some scent testing. This one’s called ‘dung.’”

 

He handed me the inconspicuous-looking white strip and waited, now smiling, for my disgusted reaction. This was going to be an interesting afternoon.

 

Meet Charles

 

Charles, can you tell me a little bit about what you do here at Universal?

I started here in 1993 at Nickelodeon Studios and worked my way into a roll as a scareactor. I also played Ozzy Osbourne in The Bill and Ted Show and Frankenstein in Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue. Now I answer questions like, “How do you want this neck severed? Clean cut or ripped apart?” It’s pretty awesome.

 

I’m curious, on a scale of Gargamel to Hannibal Lecter, how sick and twisted are you?

I land somewhere around Jekyll and Hyde. I’m a pretty kind, sweet guy, but when you flip my switch I’m completely messed up and evil.

 

What got you into this world of scaring the hell out of people?

Funny story, I actually come from a really conservative family. I remember when I was a kid and my Sunday School teacher showed my mom these drawings I was doing of people with their heads exploding and guts flying out. So, the teacher asked my mom, “Hey, do we need to be worried about Charles?” The cool thing was my mom said, “Nope, he’s just expressing himself.” That really emboldened me.

 

Original House: Dollhouse of the Damned

 

Let’s get to the houses. Tell me about Dollhouse of the Damned.

The word to keep in mind here is ‘juxtaposition.’ When you walk into the house, you find yourself in this old-time morgue. But this little girl has set up shop and now it’s her playhouse. She’s torturing people in there. So you’re taking the sweetness of the dollhouse and childhood and combining it with something completely sinister. That theme remains throughout the maze. Another phrase we use is ‘forced integration.’ You’ll see characters with porcelain doll masks that have been smashed into their faces, and now they’re permanent. They’re victims of this twisted amalgamation. It’s really creepy.

 

Did you have an older sister who made you play with dolls? It seems like you’re releasing a lot of pent up anger here.

I actually have two young daughters, so there are a lot of dolls in my house. When I come home late at night and see these sparkly eyes staring at me in the dark—and I don’t have pets—it’s a little disturbing. The weird thing about dolls is that even if they’re smiling, they’re soulless. They always look sinister in the dark, even the cutest ones.

 

There is a feeling of innocence associated with dollhouses. What kind of fun did you have flipping that on its head?

Yeah, we have a room with baby cribs—and let’s be honest, there’s nothing cuter than a baby, so we had to mess with that. We created these muscular, mutant baby dolls and they’re crawling around all over the place. I’m telling you, it’s bizarre.

 

Original House: Giggles & Gore Inc.

 

Giggles & Gore Inc…Alright, lay it on me Charles.

So, we asked ourselves, where do evil clowns come from? And we discovered evil clowns are not born, they’re made. It’s an actual process. We all know that there are countless unsolved disappearances across the country. Where do these people end up? In the clown factory, being stretched, smashed and eviscerated.

 

Faces are peeled off and voice boxes are torn out. Victims are dropped into a wood chipper, and the gunk that comes out is shoved into other people to create these massive, nasty stuffed clowns.

 

Toward the end, you encounter the most evil of all evil clowns: The Discarded. These are the surviving clowns that have been cast down for being too dangerous to exist, even with other evil clowns.

 

Original House: Roanoke – Cannibal Colony

 

I’m really intrigued by this maze, especially because it’s loosely based on real events. What can we expect in Roanoke?

The year was 1587. It was one of the first settlements of the colonial era. The people living here were expecting supplies from Europe, but there was a war going on so they couldn’t make the voyage. Three years later, when the supply ship finally arrived, everyone was gone…except the deranged cannibals who’d managed to survive by eating their fellow settlers.

 

As a guest, you’re fighting you’re way through this chaotic gauntlet of flesh-hungry man-eaters. What’s cool about the set is that Karen, our décor guru, has traveled up to Virginia to some of these historic settlements and brought back photos for us to use as visual reference. So, the scenery you’re observing throughout the maze is all pulled straight from theses real-life settlements.

 

What’s this business about the “spirit of Wendigo?” I’m pretty sure my family rented one of those for a road trip when I was a kid.

I think that’s a Winnebago… The spirit of Wendigo is something much more sinister. It’s actually a mythical Native American creature that curses all those who ingest human flesh. These people have snapped, and they have to somehow justify their cannibalism. They think they’re being possessed by the Wendigo spirit. They start eating their own mouths. They’ve chewed away their lips. They’ve just completely lost it.

 

There seems to be an interesting end to this maze. What kind of carnage should we look forward to?

There’s a surprise in the finale that I won’t give away, but you will definitely meet some really interesting characters in all sorts of different states of decay. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself.

 

To learn more about our original street experiences, I sat down with HHN Show Director Lora Wallace.

 

Meet Lora:

 

First, Lora tell me about what you do here at Universal.

I am a show director for entertainment creative development. The fun part of my job is that I am never working on one thing at a time. I get to do tons and tons of projects at once—right now I’m working on HHN streets and several other projects outside of Halloween. It’s so fun!

 

How did you get into scaring people?

I have been a show director since 2000. When they brought me on, I was the one who held purses for Halloween haunted houses. I don’t like horror movies because I get scared. I get scared so easily! When they asked me work on Halloween, I said, “Why? This is crazy! I don’t do this right?” And they said that is exactly why…because you get scared and you know what scares you.

 

Original Street Experience – MASKerade; Unstitched

 

Again with the ripping of the flesh. You’re really out to cause some pain this year, aren’t you?

The whole concept is that these people are trapped in an old time period—their skin is falling off, they have stitched their skin back to their faces, but much of it is still peeling off. What I love about the concept is that it is like you’re entering this really surreal dance, but it is very terrifying at the same time.

 

There is wax holding their skin on, some are sewing their skin back on but they are doing it very poorly, and there are some whose skin is still detached.

 

Another period piece. I love it. It sounds like the street itself will be pretty grand. What will we be feeling when we walk through this area?

It is grand in scale—there are elements above your head while this off-putting yet harsh waltz music plays. Everyone is moving in a really surreal and creepy dance. There is beauty along with the disgust.

 

Original Street Experience – Bayou of Blood

 

Bayou of Blood, that’s got a nice ring to it. Rumor is there’s a high priestess here working some bad mojo. What should we know about her evil voodoo rituals?

Our high priestess is crazy-evil and in a trance, doing numerous spells and sacrifices to get the ultimate power in her. Because she has made these sacrifices, many other voodoo practitioners in the area have come and they are squatting outside of her shack. They feel if they make sacrifices to her, they will get some of that power when she makes the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Ok, so a lot of sacrificing going on here. What’s the one detail of this street experience that’s really hair-raising?

You’re going to see her sacrifice someone right in front of you…you will see every gory detail of this ultimate sacrifice. But that’s not the end—once you get past the sacrifice and the high priestess’ shack, you enter into the area inhabited by the voodoo squatters…and they are all looking for something or someone to sacrifice.

 

So, there you have it, folks: the low down on all the original, horrible houses and scare zones you’ll find only at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for September to get here.

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Edited by jedimaster1227
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- Now that I've been on Gringotts a couple of times, I have to say (and credit whores you aren't going to want to hear this), but I just can't count it as a "roller coaster." It has one drop about the size of Pirates of the Caribbean, a small S-curve after the drop, then the rest is all dark ride powered by drive tires. Obviously there will be some people that will count it, and I wouldn't argue it that much, but when 90% of a ride is not a roller coaster, I just cannot count it as one.

 

Kind of off topic, but do you count Wonder Mountain's Guardian then? Many people seem to be saying that WMG is a credit, yet it seems to be in the same situation as Gringotts… one small drop, then the rest is a dark ride.

 

Ive only seen POV's of WMG but from what I can tell, Gringotts is definitely more of a coaster. Im not saying I would count Gringotts as a credit, but I was actually surprised by the length of the coaster portions in it. WMG has a chain lift and a drop track, and thats basically it. Gringotts has much more actual coaster-like track elements taken at a high speed than WMG seems to have.

 

Although after going on Gringott's, I cant believe its being mentioned in the same breath as Wonder Mountain Guardian...such a great experience!

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- Now that I've been on Gringotts a couple of times, I have to say (and credit whores you aren't going to want to hear this), but I just can't count it as a "roller coaster." It has one drop about the size of Pirates of the Caribbean, a small S-curve after the drop, then the rest is all dark ride powered by drive tires. Obviously there will be some people that will count it, and I wouldn't argue it that much, but when 90% of a ride is not a roller coaster, I just cannot count it as one.

 

Kind of off topic, but do you count Wonder Mountain's Guardian then? Many people seem to be saying that WMG is a credit, yet it seems to be in the same situation as Gringotts… one small drop, then the rest is a dark ride.

it's a hard call because 1. I haven't ridden Wonder Mountain Guardian, but the ride DOES have a proper roller coaster lift hill and an outdoor drop. But again, if the ride is 10% roller coaster and 90% dark ride, I don't think I can really consider it a "roller coaster" that I put on any list. For example, I don't count Journey to Atlantis at SeaWorld Orlando, but I know a lot of other people do.

 

It's their list, they have the right to count whatever they want....as long as I have the right to laugh at some of the things they add to their list!

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Ive only seen POV's of WMG but from what I can tell, Gringotts is definitely more of a coaster. Im not saying I would count Gringotts as a credit, but I was actually surprised by the length of the coaster portions in it. WMG has a chain lift and a drop track, and thats basically it. Gringotts has much more actual coaster-like track elements taken at a high speed than WMG seems to have.

I would actually disagree with this. Other than the chain lift that Wonder Mountain has, I'd say that both rides are about on par with their length of "coaster sections." The ONLY part of Gringotts that I would consider a "roller coaster" is the tilt drop at the beginning. It's a VERY short drop and a small S-curve after, and then almost immediately the ride is picked up by drive tires, and it's that way the rest of the ride.

 

The way I look at it, both rides use a "fast drop" to get the riders into the dark ride experience, much like Pirates of the Caribbean does with it's drop.

 

But you're right. I don't think Gringotts and Wonder Mountain should really be compared in the same sentence!

Edited by robbalvey
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It's their list, they have the right to count whatever they want

 

Screw it. Dark rides now count. They're on wheels.

 

Also Transdemonium is a coaster. Just throwing that back out there.

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Universal just tweeted "Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?"

 

 

You think they're just tooting their horn or are they about to announce something?

 

I may be wrong but wasnt that their slogan for the Diagon Alley ads? It could be referencing that. If its for an announcement, I could imagine it foreshadowing Kong. It was a big hit once, and theyre doing it again aiming for similar success...lightning striking twice.

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The way I look at it, both rides use a "fast drop" to get the riders into the dark ride experience, much like Pirates of the Caribbean does with it's drop.

 

But you're right. I don't think Gringotts and Wonder Mountain should really be compared in the same sentence!

 

I had cracked a similar joke when the ride first opened to your facebook review

 

WMG is really the diet coke of Gringots. Small coaster section, coaster cars that have motion base, track drop section, 3D video with glasses, a dragon, caverns.

Like · July 8 at 11:48am

 

...

 

Theme Park Review I think Wonder Mountain may actually have a bigger coaster section.

Like · July 8 at 11:53am

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I'd just like to add this . . . I just came back from a FANTASTIC trip to Orlando and although we got one-day unlimited fastpass park-to-park passes, we just didn't have time to ride either of the Harry Potter rides, but we did have some butterbeer . . . did you know there are only two places you can buy butterbeer in North America? . . . Orlando at Universal and in Toronto, Ontario, Canada . . . my home town! I had some this past weekend! Guardian should never be compared with anything Universal has or will ever have . . . Guardian has many issues that Universal would have resolved a long time ago . . . including broken laser guns, dirty 3d glasses and blurry screens . . . Transformers is an INCREDIBLE ride! Crystal clear screens, full motion ride vehicles, what Guardian could have been . . . do you people think Transformers or the new Potter ride is better . . . I'm not a Potter fan, but I think Transformers is just INCREDIBLE! . . .

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^Glad to hear you had such a great time!! Personally, despite not being a Potter fan, I like the new Harry Potter ride (Gringotts) more than Transformers, because its a little more unique. However, I would put Transformers above the older Harry Potter ride (Forbidden Journey) because TF's execution is so much better. I would put every ride at Universal above the Hogwarts Express

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I'm still shocked that Diagon Alley will not be open for Horror Nights. A Dementor themed house would be pretty awesome.

 

When I worked there in 2011-2012 I remember discussion of this, but if J.K. Rowling won't even allow soda to be sold in the parks, I don't think she will ever permit Halloween Horror Nights to have access to it either.

 

It's all about making her universe. Hell, you have to take a test that was approved by J.K. Rowling just to work in the areas.

 

I counter your worst attraction at Universal with SHREK the torture device.

 

With Jimmy Neutron being removed, and replaced with Despicable Me, I'm sure they'll hit up right across the street and either renovate Shrek to a more modern version, or completely gut it and overhaul.

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I'm still shocked that Diagon Alley will not be open for Horror Nights. A Dementor themed house would be pretty awesome.

 

That's only during the night when it's flipped over to HHN right? I'm planning a quick weekend trip in late September and I want to get some Diagon Alley stuff done in the morning.

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I counter your worst attraction at Universal with SHREK the torture device.

 

With Jimmy Neutron being removed, and replaced with Despicable Me, I'm sure they'll hit up right across the street and either renovate Shrek to a more modern version, or completely gut it and overhaul.

 

Shrek aint goin anywhere anytime soon. It still pulls a solid crowd, sells a decent amount of merchandise, and is still highly marketable. Shrek is on several bilboards promoting Universal, AND takes up a considerable chunk of space on merch bags. Its unpopular for those who have seen it several times, but its still a draw for less-than-frequent visitors. Hell, it cam draw up to 20-30 minute waits when using both of its 350-seat theaters, which is pretty remarkable for a basic 3-D movie.

 

In terms of stuff getting gutted, Twister, KidZone, and possibly even Disaster are out before Shrek.

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I'm still shocked that Diagon Alley will not be open for Horror Nights. A Dementor themed house would be pretty awesome.

 

That's only during the night when it's flipped over to HHN right? I'm planning a quick weekend trip in late September and I want to get some Diagon Alley stuff done in the morning.

 

Yep, it will be open during daylight hours!

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..possibly even Disaster are out before Shrek.

 

NOOOOO!!!! Disaster is one of the most entertaining experiences at Universal Orlando! Sure, the ride itself is dated, but the renovation of the preshow is incredible! Also, The Rock.

 

Actually, speaking of The Rock, if they were to retrofit the attraction into the new Fast & Furious attraction going to Hollywood I wouldn't be too sad.

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If I had to pick anything that's the closest to renovation, it would be Kidzone, as there are actual rumors about it, and the rumor of the third gate being a more family oriented park. Shrek is still well-known, Disaster is only 6 years old and it's hilarious, Twister can never go because we need Bill Paxton's dramatic acting in our lives.

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If I had to pick anything that's the closest to renovation, it would be Kidzone, as there are actual rumors about it, and the rumor of the third gate being a more family oriented park. Shrek is still well-known, Disaster is only 6 years old and it's hilarious, Twister can never go because we need Bill Paxton's dramatic acting in our lives.

 

The latest rumor is that Twister is out in favor of some sort of Jimmy Fallon-based show (there are already talks underway with getting NBC's involvement and an account for the attraction has been set up as far as I know).

 

As for Disaster, I agree its a good show and is not too old yet, but its removal would be based on reliability more than anything. It has had quite a bit of downtime this summer and I believe Universal has been looking for a viable reliable alternative.

 

I wish both of these rides would stay, as they have the old-school feel Universal keeps getting rid of. They also use physical sets and effects which is nice in a park becoming increasingly overrun by 3-D. But thats not the way Universal sees it I guess :/

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I have not been in Disaster or Twister in YEARS mainly due to the pre-shows. If you could just go right into the attraction, I'd do it, but the pre-shows just take soooooo long! It's not like Tower of Terror where you're in and out in 90 seconds, I feel like these pre-shows add so much time to the attraction, and after you've seen them once, you don't ever need to see them again.

 

It's a shame, because I actually do like the core attraction of each ride, but not enough to stand around for 10-15 minutes watching something I have no interest in.

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https://www.universalorlando.com/Landing/harry-potter-celebration.aspx

 

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http://blog.universalorlando.com/visiting-us/celebration-harry-potter/

 

We have some exciting Harry Potter news to share with you today! Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will be hosting the second annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter” event from January 30 to February 1, 2015.

 

Park guests were so thrilled by “A Celebration of Harry Potter” last year that we’ve decided to host another fun-filled opportunity for fans. This special event celebrates the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter as fans from around the world join together at Universal Orlando Resort for three days of everything Potter.

 

All general admission park guests will have the chance to experience the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo, attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent, visit the all-new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and much more!

 

For all the super fans out there, a limited number of exclusive event vacation packages—including annual passholder packages—will go on sale at noon (EST) on August 21. These packages offer hotel accommodations, theme park tickets, and exclusive benefits including:

 

  • An exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
  • An evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
  • Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (one per person)
  • Reserved seating for select Celebration events
  • A specially themed Welcome Parcel
  • Complimentary commemorative merchandise item

 

Whew, that’s a lot of Potter packed into one weekend!

 

Last year, these packages sold out within days, so if you want to be in the center of this celebration, make sure to set your alarms for noon (EST) on August 21, or buy your general admission theme park tickets for those dates now!

 

Check out the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” page for more details.

 

Look forward to seeing you in January for this unforgettable event experience!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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