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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

p. 623 - New Epic Universe details, including Celestial Park!

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What I would do is switch your Wednesday visit with a Friday visit...the HHN add-on (called the Stay n Scream option) is not only a better deal than a regular admission to HHN, but it will also work to your advantage if you are in the park when the event starts. If you spend your day at USF on Friday, head to Finnegans (across from the Mummy) when they begin closing the park to the public. Team members will then scan your ticket to make sure you have HHN access so upgrade your ticket before then! Then, you can just chill in the Finnegans holding area and one of the soundstage houses will open early for you. This headstart on the general admission crowds is a HUGE advantage, and will allow you to see everything almost guaranteed.

 

Great info, thanks for the suggestion. We'll move out USF day to Friday. Now to figure out the best way to go about purchasing tickets. When we went to Disney a year and a half ago I bought our tickets at AAA. Looking at the pricing there now it doesn't seem to be any cheaper than purchasing them directly through Universal. Any other places to look? And is there a chance of the opening night of HHN selling out? There will be four of us at the park that day but probably only two of us staying for the Event. Thanks again for the help!

 

Typically, opening weekend is one of the best times to go to HHN, simply because its so early in the season and people arent quite on their Halloween grind yet, so to speak. That being said, the event is growing a lot in popularity, so I cant say for sure. Based off of my previous experiences (Ive been going since 2007) I would guess that opening night will NOT sell out and that the crowds will be very manageable. But like I said, its tough to tell nowadays and I dont want to provide info that could be wrong. With the growing use of IPs to draw people in plus the huge draw from Walking Dead, HHN gets more and more packed every year, so just keep that in mind, even though my gut instinct tells me you'll be ok.

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HHN does get a bit more crowded each year, since word of mouth and press continues to spread while the event maintains its quality. But it doesn't sell out but MAYBE 1 or 2 nights a year, and that only happens on the night of. If you buy tickets beforehand, no problems.

 

Walking Dead could have insane crazy waits this year. Its entrance is near the front of the park, people will see it on the way in and the way out. I wouldn't be surprised if it posts at 3.5 or 4 hours at some point this season (also wouldn't be surprised if it's nothing like that, people might be tired of that IP or visited "the walking dead house" last year). HHN functions like a crowd sandwich, on any typical night the hour of 6-7 waits will be really short, then 7:30-11:30 everything gets really busy with posted waits peaking between 8-10, and any time after midnight waits go down dramatically and become walk-on at 1:15 AM.

 

The Non-IP houses down the kidzone pathways will be missed by many guests this year, I would imagine those two will have the shortest overall waits.

 

Rockit, Despicable, and Transformers are just as busy during the event as the daytime. Rockit gets really long actually.

 

Last year Peak Saturdays were actually not bad and maybe a little better than Peak Fridays, due to the difference it cost to attend and no Frequent Fear on Saturdays. Wednesdays and Sundays and the November dates are the most dead.

 

All of this is anecdotal from me working for last year's Afterlife:Death's Vengeance house, and going around my few nights off or after shifts.

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When in doubt, spring for the Express Passes. Yes, they're a bit pricey, but it you have only one night for HHN, at least they help you to experience all the houses without much fuss.

 

I skipped HHN last year because, frankly, I'd been disappointed with it the year before (after a steady decline in quality, in my opinion). But I'm checking it out this year. We'll see.

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I'll look into an Express Pass as well then. In the end if I miss a couple of the houses it won't e a huge deal. I'll try to hit them in order of appeal to me.

 

Next question. Do you think it is reasonable to do both parks in one day? If we did that the plan would be to get to IOA at opening, do everything we want to there, then hop over to USF and try to get in the main attractions before HHN starts. Possible to do on a Friday?

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^If you try to do both parks in one day, and try to do HHN on opening night, you will be extremely rushed all day to fit everything in to limited hours. It could be a busier daytime than the others in September with Annual pass holders and Frequent fear guests arriving early. Even with Express pass you will not see everything or rerides. It depends on what all you want to see.

 

One warning on HHN express pass, it only cuts your wait times in half, it does NOT make for instant queues. It is still very much worth getting and I wouldn't go to HHN without it.

 

HHN express queues are empty from 6:30-7:30 and then from 11:30-Close. It's those middle, peak hours when where the houses literally cannot handle more than 1 person every 3 seconds, the lines stack up in both queues and the ratio is like 3:1 express guests.

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I'll look into an Express Pass as well then. In the end if I miss a couple of the houses it won't e a huge deal. I'll try to hit them in order of appeal to me.

 

Next question. Do you think it is reasonable to do both parks in one day? If we did that the plan would be to get to IOA at opening, do everything we want to there, then hop over to USF and try to get in the main attractions before HHN starts. Possible to do on a Friday?

 

Im actually gonna have to disagree with BlahBlahson here...you can definitely do both parks and HHN. Ive done it more than once (I have family who visits for HHN religiously and they like to do the parks all in the same day). Granted, you wont see EVERYTHING in the parks, but you can do the big rides considering September is completely dead during the day. Between both parks, you can definitely squeeze in all the headliners if you get there at opening and utilize single rider lines.

 

EDIT: plus, if you get HHN Express like you were suggesting, you can ride Transformers, Simpsons, HRRR, Mummy, Men in Black, and Despicable Me (basically all of USF's star attractions) during HHN, leaving you more time at IOA during the day/seeing shows at Universal.

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^Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I'm sure a lot of us have done both parks and HHN in the same day and it's just not as enjoyable as spreading it out. If you only have one day and you want to do it, then go for it as it's doable, but it's going to be hot and tiring!

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I have done this several times, and it a real mess of a day. Open of IOA to close of HHN is grueling and one of the more exhausting things I have ever done. I rode nearly ever ride in both parks, and did every maze (with the help of express passes during the day and night) and about died when I finally go into my bed. Its totally possible with the right game plane, but like Elissa said, its much more enjoyable to spread them out. Especially if you want to do the water rides at IOA.

 

What we did was this:

 

Open IOA, when done with everything but water rides, we hopped over to UNI. Did UNI at lighting speed until it closed. Back to IOA (it stayed open a hour longer then UNI) did the water rides, and changed into a dry set of clothes. Then BACK to UNI for HHN. We have succeed every time, missing only minor attractions. But this was also before Diagnon alley.

 

So the best of luck to you.

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^I did that with two friends (one of whom was in a wheelchair) the first time I ever visited Universal. This was before they offered Express Passes, and we were completely beat by the end of the night--and we missed a number of mazes.

 

I don't recommend it, either.

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^Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I'm sure a lot of us have done both parks and HHN in the same day and it's just not as enjoyable as spreading it out. If you only have one day and you want to do it, then go for it as it's doable, but it's going to be hot and tiring!

 

Thats the thing though, its really not that bad. Mornings at IOA in September are dead, you can leisurely stroll through and hit the big rides. By the time it gets hot, itll be time to grab some lunch and an ideal time to hit the shows and DA at USF. Now, I dont know what the poster's preferred method of park touring is (if he goes hard and only rides the big rides or if he goes slow and absorbs in all the details) but either way, the resort really isnt that big. Having done both parks and HHN all in one day several times before, I can tell you its NOT that bad at all, and because of how busy the parks are, theres ample opportunity to rest along the way. Obviously if you think you cant handle walking around all day from 9am-12am then you probably shouldnt follow this plan but Im guessing since he asked/considered it he is perfectly capable.

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^I did that with two friends (one of whom was in a wheelchair) the first time I ever visited Universal. This was before they offered Express Passes, and we were completely beat by the end of the night--and we missed a number of mazes.

 

I don't recommend it, either.

 

I can imagine having to push around a wheelchair would be a huge damper on your day and affect your touring efficiency.

 

Also, yes, including the water rides does make it a lot more difficult because you'll want to change. It means a lot more back and forth.

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^I did that with two friends (one of whom was in a wheelchair) the first time I ever visited Universal. This was before they offered Express Passes, and we were completely beat by the end of the night--and we missed a number of mazes.

 

I don't recommend it, either.

 

I can imagine having to push around a wheelchair would be a huge damper on your day and affect your touring efficiency.

 

Also, yes, including the water rides does make it a lot more difficult because you'll want to change. It means a lot more back and forth.

 

I'll be staying at the resort for a few days and spending two days at IOA and USO, including Halloween Horror Night. I enjoy a more "leisurely" pace at parks, but to each his or her own.

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Went to the Universal Team Member preview for a couple of hours tonight. Stuck to mostly the scare zones to get photos & video as we'll be going again on Friday night for the mazes and shows. Here's a few sneak peek photos and then we'll have our full report up after Friday's media event!

 

Great video of the Face/Off scare zone from Attractions Magazine! I was REALLY impressed with this area. I was worried that you'd never get to see the awesome characters from the show, but they really did it right! They had several minor characters running around scaring, but the main characters from the show they had on sets which were well lit so you could really see the makeup and costumes, and they would gladly take photos with you, which I thought was AWESOME! There are eight different characters and they are presented in sets of four that seem to swap out about every 30 minutes or so.

The Purge scare zone also had these awesome "streetmosphere" moments that really set this area apart from other scare zones. The actors they got to play the parts were fantastic! Check out this video from Attractions Magazine:

MASKarade: Unstitched was a homage to the "Phantom of the Opera" theater theme. Was a great area. The costumes were great and stilt walkers seemed to be having a good time with their characters.

Bayou of Blood was my least favorite of the four scare zones but it still had some impressive stilt walkers and a really fun dark and disturbing theme to it.

 

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Tonight is preview night of HHN24!

 

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Personally, I'm all for The Purge!

 

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The creatures from @FaceOffSyfy at @HorrorNightsORL look AMAZING! I mean... Horrifying!

 

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For theater fans MASKerade: Unstitched @HorrorNightsORL was freakishly amazing!

 

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The host of The Purge @HorrorNightsORL was awesome! Auctioned off her victims to the DEATH!

 

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I support anything when there is fire and explosions!

 

[vine]

[/vine]

Preview of the MASKerade: Unstitched scare zone for #hhn24

 

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A preview of the #faceoff Scare Zone at #hhn24

 

[vine]

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A preview of The Purge scare zone at #hhn24

 

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Wow! The @FaceOffSyfy creatures @HorrorNightsORL are seriously amazing! Love the setup so you can get pics!

 

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The Purge taking away another victim! Poor girl. She probably deserves it!

 

[vine]

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Stilt walkers in Bayou of Blood

 

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AVP maze @HorrorNightsORL! No photos allowed so you'll just have to come experience it yourself!

 

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Now that's a sign you're not gonna see very often!

 

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The characters & costumes in MASKerade: Unstitched were just wonderful

 

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This year's Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure set. No photos during the show, as always.

 

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Pretty sure this girl from The Purge wasn't gonna give me her number!

 

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I'm pretty sure she's not giving me her number either! lol

 

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Wait times for the mazes are about back to normal

 

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Hey look! Turns out she DID give me her number after all!!! I'm in love!

 

BxydABlCEAAxBlZ.jpg.943caa93178e3adecdb17750585ccb53.jpgReally loved the photo ops with the @FaceOffSyfy creatures @HorrorNightsORL

 

Huge thanks to Attractions Magazine and Adam Roth for the additional photos & videos!

Edited by robbalvey
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Just got back from the preview...I focused on the houses and did all 8, but missed Bill and Ted. Next time.

 

No real spoilers:

Walking Dead is this year's OMFG can't miss it house. I thought it was absolutely bonkers for many reasons. And I have never watched or been interested in that show. AVP and Halloween are everything you would want them to be, a ton of detail in each. I thought Dollhouse was exceptional, very creative scareactor choices and scenes there. Giggles of Gore is also a solid house with some interactive moments. Roanoke Cannibal Colony and Dusk Til Dawn both seemed a little underpowered other than some awesome set-pieces in Dusk. Dracula unfortunately just wasn't very good in two trips through, I hope to see that one improve a lot.

 

As far as lines it looked like the major IPs Walking Dead and AVP were bringing in the biggest crowd.

 

Overall maybe a tiny bit more uneven than 2013, but real scarezones are back too and that's a big plus! Enjoyed the event as always. It wasn't even opening night so the event will improve in quality as it goes along.

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A mini-TR with some short random notes of my incredible visit this past week.

 

Finally got to check out Diagon Alley this past week and I'm thoroughly impressed. It had been 3 years since I was last at Universal, so new to me were that, the Spiderman update, DM, and Transformers...definitely all great additions! I had ridden Transformers in Hollywood last year, but being able to ride that and Spiderman so close to one another was pretty cool. I actually like Transformers slightly better, and think it's an under-looked gem of an addition, overshadowed by Diagon Alley a bit.

 

One thing I had a blast doing this trip was trying to get a higher and higher score on MIB. In the beginning of the week I wasn't even breaking 100k, but the last day my highest was 340,925 without the bonus. Definitely one of my go-to rides at USO, and top contender for one of my favorite shooting rides, along with Toy Story Midway Mania.

 

The rain Friday made for an interesting ride on Dragon Challenge. Red was HAULING around the course!

 

One last little note that impressed me was that they let us stay in Diagon Alley Friday night until 8, even though the rest of USO "closed" at 5 for HHN. Kudos to them for that, as we basically had the whole area to ourselves, and Gringotts was a walk-on for over 2 hours.

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One last little note that impressed me was that they let us stay in Diagon Alley Friday night until 8, even though the rest of USO "closed" at 5 for HHN. Kudos to them for that, as we basically had the whole area to ourselves, and Gringotts was a walk-on for over 2 hours.

So how exactly did they do this logistically? How did they get people from IOA into Diagon Alley and what did they do to stop you from leaving Diagon and just entering the park during HHN?

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One last little note that impressed me was that they let us stay in Diagon Alley Friday night until 8, even though the rest of USO "closed" at 5 for HHN. Kudos to them for that, as we basically had the whole area to ourselves, and Gringotts was a walk-on for over 2 hours.

So how exactly did they do this logistically? How did they get people from IOA into Diagon Alley and what did they do to stop you from leaving Diagon and just entering the park during HHN?

 

Around 4:30 they put up barriers at both sides of London with employees posted, only letting people in who had park hopper tickets. If you had one they gave you a blue wristband. Around the same time, or shortly after, employees started walking around the whole area and asking people who didn't have a wristband if they needed one, or informed them they had to leave at 5 if they didn't have park hopper. They were pretty strict about this, there were employees even posted up outside the restrooms in Diagon Alley.

 

Around then is also when they closed off the Gringotts line (posted 30-minutes) to non-wristbands. It seemed as though anyone with that wristband could freely travel back and forth on the train pretty close to 8:00, although I'm not sure what they did about the people over in IOA. I left DA a bit after 7, and there were still people getting off the train from IOA, so they must've had some type of system. The only way out of London/DA, however, was the train...I don't know what would've happened if it had broken down.

 

All in all it was a very smooth process. As soon as I found out what was going on, I was cringing at the thought of what could become of the whole situation, but they handled it well.

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Yes, thanks for that info. I saw this happening around 6:40PM tonight and was confused why Diagon Alley was open. Very interesting.

 

Side Note...Walking Dead did not have it tonight, the scareactors were much more in sync and in your face on preview night. AVP or Halloween are the best houses this year. The Bill and Ted show is great, even better a second time around when the impressions make more sense.

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