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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 623: Universal's Mardi Gras 2023 details announced!

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Spent the past week down in Orlando for HHN... Overall, very good year! We ended up going through 41 houses in 4 nights at the event.


I think the house line-up was not as strong as last year but the zones were fantastic. Dusk till Dawn, AVP and Halloween were really good houses. Dracula, Dolls of the Damned and Gore and Giggles were at the bottom of my list. The others fell in the middle somewhere.


I hope this can be the last year for Walking Dead, it is just so uninspired anymore. The house was decent, but zombies are just not exciting...


While Halloween was a fun house, I think it is a bit overrated myself. It was far from scary and more-so cool just because the movie is so iconic. It was well done though, for sure.


Roenoke is a really "pretty" house, but scares are lacking. Also, it is a very gory but you hardly see any of that unless you do the lights on tour. Incredible detail throughout, but it just fell flat in terms of experience.


Alien vs. Predator I looked forward to the most... It did not disappoint at all! Amazing detail. Loved this one! I wish we had more houses of this caliber at the event this year.


Dusk till Dawn ended up being the house we went through most (10 times)... I am a big fan of the series and this house was awesome. I can see others not being impressed, especially if they never saw the movie or just wanted something more scary... But IMO, it was just a fun, solid house. High energy and great scares. Tied between this and AVP for top house.


Bill and Ted was pretty weak this year... Or I am just clueless to this past years pop culture, not sure.


All the zones (except Face Off, if you could call that a zone) were well done. I enjoy the unique zones over a park-wide one for sure. The interaction with the crowds in the purge zone was really awesome, especially during the auction.


Overall, not my favorite year... But still really good.


I am working on all my photos (and video) from the event.. We did both lights on tours, so plenty of shots within the houses will be included as well. Some previews on my FB page if interested (here!) but I plan to do an update here once I get them all uploaded with a better TR.

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I'm sure you've been seeing us post about Halloween Horror Nights 24 to our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channel, and now it's time to put all those photos, videos, together, with a few more we've added for one giant "HHN 24 Update!"


Also, everything you need to know about getting tickets, booking RIP Tours, etc, can be found here: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/




It's that time of year again and terror has taken over Universal! Halloween Horror Nights still proves to be one of the top theme park haunt events in the USA if not the world!


Look, we know it's the third year in a row for Walking Dead, but it's a huge house with one of the longest lines all night. People love it, so why not?


"Hey, aren't you that weird guy that runs Theme Park Review???"




Apparently, they have rolled out the red carpet for someone...this looks like a good event to crash! =)


Elissa met some of our TPR trolls at the media night.


The Face Off characters looked absolutely AMAZING!


Elissa has found herself a new date!


We got to interview Laura Tyler, Face Off Season 5 winner and also a make-up artist for HHN 24! She was super nice and said she'd come babysit KidTums! (Who is also a HUGE fan of the show!)


Do these pretty girls look like they have an evil side? No? But they do! =)


"Hey, look! Me and Mike just hanging out..."


"Is this a theme park blogger or a monster? Can't tell? Neither can we!" =)


Loved this creature! One of our favorites!


Elissa: "I took all these photos in the last 90 seconds! This pretending to be a blogger is EASY!!!"


Hanging out with Mike Aiello, Creative Director for Halloween Horror Nights!


It's the "blogger elite!!!" (or...just a bunch of nerds...you decide!)


Time to go out in the streets and check out the event!


It wouldn't be HHN without Mel's Die-In!


Tonight we are on an RIP tour, which is an exclusive tour with front-of-the-line access to all the houses and a VIP tour guide! We highly recommend this experience and it can be booked via the website! (link above)


First stop...the PURGE!!!


I support anything that supports the killing of random people.


Either too much drinking or too much purging...


...I guess it was the purging.


Loved the little "show" they did with the van coming in from the streets...


...grabbing people and taking them away!


"Don't worry...this won't hurt much..."


And any scare zone with FIRE and EXPLOSIONS is instantly AWESOME!


The Purge "auctioneer" was awesome! One of my favorite characters of the event!


I have a feeling she's not the only one that wants to Purge me!


And then there is this guy...


"Oh, we shall!"


"Want to buy some blood?" These girls are everywhere...that's not a bad thing!


"Oh, no you just didn't take a picture of the sign that says no pictures did you?" "Yup, yes I did!"


Here's a photo of the stage and this will be the last picture you'll see of Bill & Ted since, as always, no photography is allowed.


EXCEPT OF US!!! Here we are enjoying Bill & Ted! (Well, at least sitting down before the show started!) =)


Bill & Ted were around for photos with pretty girls after the show. I was denied because my man boobs out cupped many of the other women at the event. (although I lost to several of the other bloggers!) ;)


Time for the Halloween house!


Trick or Treat!


I like where this is going....


I like to call this my "every Friday night!" ;)


He seems to love them women!


Dollhouse of the Damned was up next...


There were dolls...and they were damned!




And HOT!


Next up, probably my favorite part of the event... the Face Off Scare Zone!


Loved the detail of all the Face Off creatures.


And that you could actually get photos of them!


So many of the scare zones make it impossible to get pictures, but I think capturing some of this horror is one of my favorite parts of the event!


So man different Face Off creatures that we recognized from all the different seasons.


I kind of hope they do a scare zone like this again.


In addition to the creatures on display, there were plenty of other characters out in the zone jumping out at you.


Axe Girlfriend was by far my favorite!


The re-creations they made from the show to the theme park was outstanding!


Completely stunning!


This guy was offering me some head. I turned him down. I'm sure he'll have plenty of takers, though!


Thank you for the AWESOME Face Off section. Seriously loved this!


Wait times are getting up there! Glad we have the RIP tour!


Next house - Aliens Vs Predator!


Love this series and the house was one of my favorites of the event!


Lots of awesome touches from the films.


The scares and animatronics were fantastic!


Loved the little vignette's with the actors.


Dracula was just "ok" - Maybe if the film had been out and I'd seen it I would have liked it more.


Still some really nice set design and characters.


Plenty of scares!


Bayou of Blood was a voodoo-themed scare zone.


Witch doctors and black magic were all around.


Had a really cool vibe to the scare zone.


This took me back to my Oingo Boingo days!


MASKerade: Unstitched was like a ballroom gala gone wrong.


Loved the "theatrical" setting of this scare zone.


Kind of had a bit of a "Phantom of the Opera" vibe to it as well.


The costumes were amazing.


I heard some people complain that they didn't like that the scare zones weren't that "scary", but I honestly really liked the mix of scares and theatrics to all the zones. I liked that there were things you could get pictures of and really capture the event. I feel like some people don't realize the importance of that. I liked all the scare zones this year and hope that this sort of trend continues.


This ended up being my favorite maze of the event!


No, not because of this creepy dude out front trying to sell me girls...


but because there were lots of girls!


And they were nice to look at and I didn't mind them jumping out at me one bit! (or should that be bite?) =)


Walking Dead. I've never seen the show (I know, I know...) so some of this is lost on me...


Poor little guy...he was just trying to get some left over churros!


This maze had a TON of actors in it though...


Lots of zombies!


Giggles and Gore was the last house we walked through. If you like gore and comedy...this is the house for you! =)



Everyone, make SURE you push this button when you go through the maze!!!


Once again, Halloween Horror Nights has to be in the top three best halloween events in the world! If you're into Halloween, even just a little bit, you MUST do this event!!!



Construction Photos from early Feb 2005


In case you get lost wandering through the gardens, just look for one of these signs!


Oh, no Chris! Watch your step!!!

Edited by robbalvey
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I don't know if I just got a bad run through but my least favorite house was Dusk Till Dawn. It just wasn't that scary and it felt kind of ... cheap compared to the standards that I'm used to. (What with the curtains and all, I understand it fits the theme, but it just didn't do it for me.)


My favorite house so far (setting my bias for the Walking Dead aside as that will always be my number one,) was Halloween. (I've yet to do Dracula but will be very soon.)

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Every year I find it interesting how differently each house is reviewed by different people. The same house that is one person's favorite of the event is someone else least favorite house in 10 years. Has there ever been a year where one single house was the absolute majority favorite? Seems like it really comes down to what you like personally.

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Every year I find it interesting how differently each house is reviewed by different people. The same house that is one person's favorite of the event is someone else least favorite house in 10 years. Has there ever been a year where one single house was the absolute majority favorite? Seems like it really comes down to what you like personally.


Id say American Werewolf would be the only house I can think of that I saw a majority people love but this year has been all over the place, Halloween would be my guess to this years in a popularity contest, although it wasn't my favorite

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Just a quick report from me with a longer one following.


We´re in Florida for the first time at the Universal Orlando Resort and in our first American Theme Park. AND IT IS AWESOME ! We love it. We have two more days to come here and some rides left to do.


Some thoughts. A full photo TR ouf our three weeks in Florida (not just parks) will follow when we´re back.


Royal Pacific:


Really beautiful hotel, nice pool. Rooms could be bigger for the price. The bathroom is the biggest let down for me. Stayed at an airport hotel before we left for 80 Euros and hat a better room and a better bathroom than here. Nice perks which make up for a big part of the price, which makes it just seem like a "little" waste of money for me. Considering that it´s just a 10 Minute walk, I´d choose a cheap hotel somewhere around IHOP and buy unlimited express next time. Overpriced food and drinks.


Horror Nights:

Visited yesterday and it was awesome. We did AVP, Dracula, Giggles, Dollhouse and Walking Dead just with early entrance which was nice. Great Scareszones. Scareactors there were totally on top of their game and got us a few times. My girlfriend used the photo op in Face/Off and one sneaked up behind us. When we were done he totally got us. Also two at Maskerade got us really bad Great.

We actually already think about coming back for a short stay next year. Yep. We seriously consider coming again. From Germany. For this.


Harry Potter:

I´m really not a big fan of Harry Potter, so many of the movie details are lost on me. But these two areas really just look like a giant money printing machine to me. Shops, Shops, Shops selling useless stuff for prices that are totally through the roof. These wands and robes and stuff.. I would never buy something like that for my child. It rather make them myself.

The theming.. well the buildings are nice but I´m used to great theming at my home park and while I agree that the attention to detail is great, there are some places where it is lacking. For example the marble walls in Gringotts. It´s just some foil glued to the wall and not even glued correctly in many places. Looked and felt fake.


On the construction site of Kong:

Vertical construction is underway with lots of steel rising and a huge crane at the site. Took some pics that I will post later tonight.


So, the rides:



I was seriously disappointed by this one. Praised as the best ride ever, it was nice and fun, but it also has some faults. You can see switch tracks during the ride. And the final scene was a big bummer for me as I thought this would be a completely enclosed dome but you could see the end of the screens which broke immersion for me. We waited 45 Minutes (with 60 Minutes posted), the ride broke down for around 15 minutes so it would have been 30 I guess. Would not wait more than 30 Minutes for this one. And when we got out, 75 was posted but the queue looked to be less then when we started. I personally think that they keep the times high to make it seem like there is a huge demand.


Forbidden Journey:

I liked this WAY better than Gringotts. The flying sequences are really great to feel and the animatronics are awesome. The dragon, womping villow, dementors and so on. I was SERIOUSLY scared. I would wait an hour for this, but I´d never wait more than 30 Minutes for Gringotts.



AWESOME. Loved the movement on this one. Better than both potter rides. The scenes played out perfectly and even though I didn´t know anything about Transformers (I have never seen a transformers movie), I understood the story - which I did not on the Potter Rides.



3D was really AWESOME. Great water, fire, heat fx, also better than both potter rides. (I have never seen a spiderman movie). But this story just made sense to me. I don´t know who the bad guys are and so on, but still, I understood the story (pretty much the same as with Transformers).


The Simpsons:

I loved this one. Great fun and the best simulator I was on so far. The whole Springfield area is just plain beautiful. Great Photo Ops as well. We didn´t try the food because somehow the smell in most of the Burger / Quickservice Restaurants in the parks kills all my appetite. Don´t know whats different in comparison to Europe. But I never had that at any european park.


Dudley Do Rights:

Nice ride and soaking wet. I would have loved this if my home park didn´t have Chiapas which, for me, is ten times the better flume. Ok, it´s 15 years younger, but all these unthemed passages just didn´t work for me. Loved the first little drop with the camelback, that came completely unexpected. Loved it.


Jurassic Park:

Loved it! Loved the last drop on that one. Yes, it´s aging and some of the animatronics could use a little love. Hopefully this will happen when they open kong. Jurassic Park is my favourite area at IOA, and I´m a huge fan of this ride. A part of me still hopes that this expansion will be for Jurassic World and have a new ride thats themed to that and not to Kong.


Dr.Dooms Fearfall:

I still haven´t decided if I love or hate drop towers. Phantasialand has Mystery Castle which I love due to the story and the theming, and this is quite similar, except for the fact that you don´t stop at the top. This ride gives some serious airtime. And who doesn´t love airtime? I´m excited to try out Falcons Fury this week.


Poseidon´s Fury:

I don´t think it stands out in the park´s contest but still a nice ride.


Minion Mayhem:

We love Despicable Me, so it was clear that this was a hit for us. Loved it. Minion Dance Party is a funny idea.




Lost Continent:

Beautiful theming.


Port of Entry:

I love the music here. Nice theming and great photo ops.


Seuss Landing:

This is so cute! My girlfriend still has her inner child, so she was just laughing and squeaking all the time. I enjoyed it as well. We rode Red Fish, Blue Fish just for fun and had a fun time. Though there were some evil looks from parents, especially as we used our unlimited express


The coasters:


Incredible Hulk:

My favourite coaster in the park. My girlfriend blacked out twice in the second loop. I love how this thing roars around the track. The sound of it is just nuts and it makes the ride seem so intimidating. Swimming in the pool at the Royal Pacific and hearing Hulk roar through it´s track is great. The corkscrew at the end rocks. A bit of refurbishment (think floorless trains) and most of all some new paint could do wonders on this one.


Dragon Challenge:

I prefer Fire over Ice. The Airtime hill is so cool and so unexpected on a invert. I found it interesting how different the two Immelmen (is that correct ??) ride. Of the inverts I rode so far I would put this on number three after Black Mamba and Nemesis, before Ice on rank four and Oziris on five.


Flight of the hippogriff:

Theming is cool in the station, but it´s really just a kiddie coaster. I would have preferred a mine train instead. It´s also quite rough.


Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit:

I think this one is seriously underrated. It delivers great forces and some airtime aswell. The non-inverted loop rocks. Will ride this many more times tomorrow.


And as the last thing, my only real point of criticism:


I know it´s in the law here that you have to provide ID if you want to drink, but what happened is just ridiculous (Keep in mind, we are both over 30 and also look that way..). We both have German IDs and German Drivers licenses on us, and we experienced six different situations:


a) No asking for ID

b) German official ID was ok

c) German official drivers license was ok

d) German official ID and drivers license together was ok

e) ID and Drivers License was not ok, asked for passport (WTF ???)

f) Are You over 21?


Cases a) and e) even happened with the same person behind the counter (Loaded Fries at HHN).


So, more too follow in the next days if I find time.

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Universal just announced extended hours for HHN on select nights. The events on 10/12, 10/16, 10/19, 10/22, 10/30, and 10/31 now have an extra hour of operation vs. the original schedule:



I'm curious if this is due to crowds, pre-purchased tickets, etc.

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Universal just announced extended hours for HHN on select nights. The events on 10/12, 10/16, 10/19, 10/22, 10/30, and 10/31 now have an extra hour of operation vs. the original schedule:



I'm curious if this is due to crowds, pre-purchased tickets, etc.


The do this almost every year if im not mistaken.

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They've made changes to hours before Mike but this is on another level. Presales and predicted attendance are so high they've expanded hours on more nights than ever. Dare we see a USF sellout? Time will tell...

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This has been the first year that not once in any one night I've visited (five nights so far), I've not been able to complete every house before the end of the evening. The park is packed on a level I don't believe they've seen before, which is surely great news for Universal.


I'm hoping that if the success of the event is as good as we seem to be observing from the outside looking in, that serious conversations are being had about adding an additional house or two to the event lineup to help manage the crowds.

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At the parks now and resting up for the craziness of HHN to tonight. It is has been a rough day for the new Potter stuff. Gringotts was down all morning (it might have finally opened around 1, not for sure) and the train broke down for over an hour. Hopefully, Gringotts will get its act together for tomorrow.

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Just chilling at Cabana Bay. Gringott's was down much of the day, but I heard it may be up now (but take that for what it's worth). The Hogwarts Express was down for a while, but we did ride it over to IOA. I liked it. So, fun day overall, but rough time in Potterland.

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I have my Kayak alerts set to see if flight prices can drop low enough for me to do a quick day trip for HHN...Would be fun to do another "both HHN's in the same day" trip as I've done a few times already!

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  • coasterbill changed the title to Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

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