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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 624: Stella Luna and Terra Nova resort details released!

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I know the locker situation over in Hogsmeade was dire when I went last March, even though the park itself wasn't very busy. I'd imagine that it would be a complete shit show during high season (Christmas week especially). I had problems getting my fingerprint to work so I could get stuff out of my locker, especially at Rockit (the line for the ride was short enough that I was able to ride twice in the hour alloted). The process would go a little easier if more people had fanny packs (next time I go to a theme park, I should think about getting a fanny pack so I only have one thing to put in a locker instead of multiple things, especially phones, wallets, and loose change). Universal needs to invest in more of those fluffy bunnies over in Hogsmeade. At least they have enough of those near Rockit!


^I agree. Spider-Man, Mummy, and MIB are still the best rides at the Universal Resort (although I was surprised that I liked Transformers). The newer Universal attractions involve sitting, bouncing around, and watching movies.

I'm not a big fan of Universal's newer rides, especially the two Harry Potter rides. Those both made me feel a little nauseous, so I've skipped them the last couple of times I've been there in order to ride rides like Mummy, Men in Black, Rockit, Dragon Challenge, Dr. Doom's, and Hulk. However, the theming in the Harry Potter areas is among the best I've seen in any park.

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Last time I went was in September of 2014. Although I do remember lockers I dont remember the whole finger print thing nor the metal detectors to get on coasters. All that sounds crazy though! I understand they care about safety but thats why you have the metal detectors in the front of the park! I can see that really slowing the lines up too. They probably do it to make sure you dont have stuff with you so you have to use their lockers. Sounds greedy if you ask me! Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks just use the cubbies that are on the coaster/ride platforms. I dont know about you but to me that just makes Universal look the greediest of them all. I dont know seems like a hassle to me. As for the finger prints for the lockers you would think it would be quicker then just punching in a code or using a key but it seems from this thread people are having frustrations with that too. Thats the thing about finger print scanners,card scanners etc. They may be quicker but they dont often work that well. Scanning like 10 times in a row only to get "excess denied" over and over will make you wish you can go back to the old less tech way....

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This weekend Theme Park Review was invited to attend the returning event at the Universal Orlando Resort, A Celebration of Harry Potter. This event spans both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure, both inside of the two Wizarding World locales as well as in additional venues outside of the normal Harry Potter-related spaces within the park. Celebrity appearances, guest panels, cosplaying guests and an expanded Harry Potter Expo made this year's event the strongest yet. Returning exhibitors included Scholastic, the Warner Bros Studio Tour London and Harry Potter: The Exhibition. The new exhibitors at the Harry Potter Expo (the additional space located in a separate studio from the original venue, which hosted the previously mentioned guests) were Lego Dimensions, Audible and the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Google Daydream Experience. Throughout the course of the weekend, guests of the event had the opportunity to experience panels with hosts from these exhibits as well as to attend Q&A sessions with four stars from the Harry Potter film series: Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Warwick Davis (Griphook and various roles).


This year's event was host to an experience that could be considered a star of the show and a hidden gem of the weekend. The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Google Daydream Experience was something that both Madeline and I had the chance to experience, coming from two different levels of Harry Potter fandom as well as differing exposure to virtual reality and interactive VR experiences. Transported inside of Newt Scamander's now-well-recognized suitcase, players/participants/visitors donning the Google Daydream headset hold a small remote with two buttons and a smooth trackpad that synchronize on-screen (or in this case, ahead) with a virtual wand that you command. Testing this experience in a swivel chair with 360 degree rotation, it was easy to look around, but the real area where the immersive experience excels is the vertical views that deepen the reality in which you are surrounded. With Newt Scamander whispering in your ear, passionately describing his fantastic beasts with a nervous tremble, you feel as if you're being watched by the magical creature champion, but without the whole "game" being given away by his narrative. The story is simple but extremely effective: you have been tasked by Mr. Scamander to assist with interacting with his fantastic beasts as they live in their faux-native environments, conveniently located in a soundstage-like setup within his magical suitcase's expanse of habitats. The app currently features three creatures (all of which can be seen in the title film), but summoning them requires the completion a spell and task each to be able to visit. These puzzles aren't overly challenging, but provide just the right amount of activity for users of all ages and technical proficiencies to be able to complete and enjoy the reward of getting up close with these creatures. Each creature has at least two interactions that can be triggered by tracing out a pattern into the air with your wand and the result left both myself and Madeline giddy... One magnificent flying creature in particular shows off his beauty in a moment ripped straight from the recent film that when experienced through my own eyes triggered chills. Madeline's jaw clearly hit the floor at this point, followed shortly after by the biggest grin and at least a tear or two.


To quote our resident Harry Potter enthusiast, it could only be described as "amazing." Despite the simplicity of the approach, the unreal encounter of three mythical beasts is presented in such a rich, fulfilling, immersive experience that you as the user want to believe that the mythical can be real--and it certainly feels like it is. The only thing the experience is lacking is the added immersion of the other senses. I was so drawn into what I saw and heard in the experience, I was half waiting for the ground beneath my seat to shudder as the Erumpant rolled over; expecting a breeze to cross me as a certain winged beast flew in. Sadly this experience is limited to Google Daydream compatible devices at this time, but I would highly recommend giving this app a go if you have access to such a device, or know someone/somewhere that does. Even better, there are hints throughout the current app that lend credence to the notion of additional fantastic beasts taking up residence in Newt Scamander's briefcase in the future, though no timeline could be hinted at when I attempted to pry...


Beyond this highlight of the event (the most unique offering I experienced), Audible presented an interactive audio trivia contest, Lego Dimensions demo'd the latest Harry Potter gameplay including a sneak peek at the new playable Hermione to be released later to the public. Outside of the Harry Potter Expo and the scheduled panels and presentations, guests had the two Wizarding World locations to enjoy (and a train between them to ride) throughout the weekend. Read our entire weekend's coverage of the event below and let us know your thoughts! Special thanks to the Universal Orlando Resort for hosting us at this great event--we look forward to all of the surprises next year's event will bring!




TPR will be at Universal Orlando throughout the weekend for the Harry Potter Celebration 2017!




Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis and Warwick Davis are Universal Orlando this weekend for the event!




We're now at the Music Plaza Stage for the Harry Potter Celebration 2017 Opening Night Ceremony!




Across the crowd of Harry Potter Celebration The Tonight Shop is lit up. Race Through New York Starring @jimmyfallon opens this April!




Warwick Davis conducted The Frog Choir in a special concert just for the Harry Potter Celebration 2017!









A flood of magic filled the Music Plaza to kick off this year's Harry Potter Celebration! We'll be back tomorrow for more wizarding fun!




We're back this morning for Day 2 of the Harry Potter Celebration 2017 at Universal Orlando! We'll start our day with a visit to the Harry Potter Expo!




First up, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London exhibit at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo!




Here are some of the facial prosthetics Warwick Davis wore when filming for the Harry Potter series as seen at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London exhibit.




Guests can see the work that goes into creating the spiders for the Forbidden Forest expansion opening at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London attraction this March!




Some familiar characters that guests may find in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Orlando as seen in the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London exhibit.




Hagrid's wardrobe as seen in the exhibit at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo.




Wardrobes for the four main characters of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are on display at the Universal Orlando Harry Potter Celebration Expo!




Come face to fangs with Aragog this weekend at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London exhibit!




The House of minalima has returned for this year's Harry Potter Celebration Universal Orlando




Some of the art minalima provided for the production of the Harry Potter film series, on display at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo.




The Audible booth at the Universal Orlando Harry Potter Celebration is hosting a live audio trivia contest for guests to enjoy!




The Scholastic Muggle Wall has returned for muggles that wish to share what Harry Potter means to them.




The Sorting Hat Experience has also returned outside of the Harry Potter Celebration Expo!




Harry Potter: The Exhibition has brought some Quidditch themed games for guests to enjoy!




The prop of Hermione after she was petrified by the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.




Some additional work that minalima did on the Harry Potter film series, on display at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo!




New this year, LEGO Dimensions has a booth at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo, allowing guests to demo the game as Hermione before her public debut.




Guests can assist with assembling the Harry Potter Celebration Fan Mosaic while in the Harry Potter Expo.




The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Google Daydream Experience is available to demo at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo! It was awesome!




Outside of the Harry Potter Celebration Expo, chalk artists are creating art of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them characters.




Lots of guests enjoying the sights, sounds and thrills of Diagon Alley!




More escaped fiends from Azkaban... Be on the lookout for these wanted wizards!




Today's lunch at The Leaky Cauldron, the classic Ploughman's Platter!




How many of you are craving a Butterbeer right now?




A quiet afternoon on the streets of Carkitt Market in Diagon Alley.




Quite the sight to see in Diagon Alley!




We had the chance today to meet Mina and Lima of minalima at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo!




Dark wizards congregate in the depths of Knockturn Alley... Enter with caution!




At the entrance of the Kings Cross Station you can find some talented street performers throughout the day.




We've got a train to catch... Any guesses as to where we might be headed?




If you guessed Hogsmeade, you were right!




Now departing for our next stop, Hogsmeade Station!




Dementors on the train!




Chocolate frogs from the trolley... Catch them while you can!




We've arrived to the familiar sight of Dragon Challenge flying by...




A busy day on the streets of Hogsmeade...




Guests enjoyed a panel with Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis and Warwick Davis Universal Orlando for this year's Harry Potter Celebration!




In hearing them speak, you can tell that these actors are still incredibly passionate about the Harry Potter films.




Here is the Harry Potter Celebration schedule of events at the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater for the rest of the weekend.




That wraps up our coverage of the Universal Orlando Harry Potter Celebration Day 2! We'll be back tomorrow for more fun on the final day of the event!




We're back at the Universal Orlando Harry Potter Celebration Expo for another demo of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Google Daydream Experience!




The chalk artists have moved inside to the Harry Potter Celebration Expo for the last day of the event.




The famous Ford Anglia 105E Deluxe from the Harry Potter film series is on display at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo.




Guests at this year's Harry Potter Celebration have created unique costumes inspired by their favorite elements of Wizarding World.




Next up is the Harry Potter Celebration minalima panel at the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater!




Guests have been chosen to go up to the stage to ask minalima some questions!




More unique cosplay found in Hogsmeade on the final day of the Harry Potter Celebration at the Universal Orlando Resort!




As the weekend begins to wind down, the Harry Potter Celebration Fan Mosaic is nearly complete inside of the Harry Potter Expo.




The Book of Monsters prop found in the Harry Potter Celebration Expo Warner Bros. Studio Tour London exhibit.




Some recognizable pieces that minalima worked on for the production of the Harry Potter film series.




A quiet afternoon in Hogsmeade on the final day of the Harry Potter Celebration 2017…




Time to make our way back to Diagon Alley!




The queue for the Hogwarts Station of the Hogwarts Express provides close encounters with Dragon Challenge!




Our train has arrived!




Weasleys' Wizards Wheezes advertised on the Hogwarts Express!







One of the best cosplays of the entire weekend!




Guests can visit the Knight Bus outside of London before they visit Diagon Alley!




What Leaky Cauldron specialty are you craving the most right now?




Would you like to try some of these enchanted candies?




Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes is home to all kinds of magical trickery and fun.




A sight that stops everyone in their tracks...




It is time once again to take the Hogwarts Expresss to Hogsmeade!




We've arrived once more at Hogsmeade Station!




The Flight of the Hippogriff can be seen on the approach to Hogwarts Castle while in Hogsmeade.




The Harry Potter Celebration 2017 merchandise can be found in select locations in both Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios Florida.




A look at this year's Harry Potter Celebration merchandise design, highlighting both Wizarding World locations.




The mandrake prop from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London exhibit at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo…




How about another Butterbeer for the day?




The Wizarding World of Harry Potter can be found at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Osaka and the Universal Orlando Resort each with unique elements.




Another look at some of the wardrobes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as seen at the Harry Potter Celebration Expo.




Diagon Alley is filled with a magical glow when the sun goes down...




It is also filled with this kind of glow too!



We end our coverage of the Harry Potter Celebration 2017 with a ride on the Hogwarts Express! Thanks to Universal Orlando for hosting us this weekend!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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I was at the parks today for Super Bowl Sunday (aka no Americans at the parks).


Managed to get 16 rides in less than 2.5 hours.

-Dragon Challenge Fire x2

-Dragon Challenge Ice x1

-HP and the Forbidden Journey x1

-Hulk x2

-Dr. Doom x1

-Spiderman x1

-Rockit x1

-Mummy x2

-Transformers x1

-Men in Black x2

-Escape from Gringotts x2


Btw on the Hulk...the paint is all gone on the wheel placement of the rails on the track. It is starting to really show some wear and tear. Also, the footers in the lagoon are really showing some rust too.

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^^^Great report! I enjoyed my first trip to the resort last year, even the Harry Potter areas (which I'm not a huge fan of). It's really a nice looking pair of parks, but until they add something really really spectacular, I don't find myself really itching to get back. It's been 15 years since I've been to WDW so that is much higher on the list of parks to get to. Thanks for the report again though!

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Thought I would mention something in regards to Volcano Bay (which looks like it might be the best water park ever built).


Did anyone take note of the Ko'okiri Body Plunge slide. Universal hasn't really announced this, but it's pretty clear that this will be the tallest water slide in the United States. Maybe I'm crazy, but after Verruckt permanently closed, there aren't any slides that are taller. Universal states that it will be a 125 ft plunge straight down from the top of the Volcano. With Deep Water Dive at Kentucky Kingdom at 121 ft and Summit Plummet at 120, this thing will hold the record. Not to mention that you will start in a drop capsule. This thing will be insane.


With this and all of the other fantastic looking slides, river rides, pools, complimentary fast pass (TapuTapu), and the fact that Universal created a whole story and theme for the entire park, I am honestly looking forward to Volcano Bay more than anything else in the amusement/theme park industry for 2017. It's genius and the whole concept is brilliant. I feel it will be right up there with both Aquaventure Parks at the Atlantis Resorts, Yas Waterworld, and Siam Park as one of the best themed water parks out there. Anyone else as syked as me?

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A waterslide that tall seems epic! Id like to go on one that tall one day....The tall straight down speed slides are my favorite type of waterslides. Just like my favorite coaster element is the steep straight down drop. Now imagine they made Hyper and Giga waterslides

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Thought you guys might be interested in this in case you hadn't seen it. One of the other writers over at Coaster101 did a break down of how the boom coaster works (based on the patent) including some of the physics and CAD simulations. And he does compare it to the "cantilevered" coaster from like a million years ago





So could that be a donkey kong type ride maybe?

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Thought you guys might be interested in this in case you hadn't seen it. One of the other writers over at Coaster101 did a break down of how the boom coaster works (based on the patent) including some of the physics and CAD simulations. And he does compare it to the "cantilevered" coaster from like a million years ago





So could that be a donkey kong type ride maybe?


Mine Cart Madness!!!! I was actually hoping for a multi-launch RMC called DK's Barrel Blast, though the odd's of that happening are slim to none.

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A waterslide that tall seems epic! Id like to go on one that tall one day....The tall straight down speed slides are my favorite type of waterslides. Just like my favorite coaster element is the steep straight down drop. Now imagine they made Hyper and Giga waterslides


That would be moderately terrifying, though I would probably ride all of them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had a chance to ride Race Through New York With Jimmy Fallon today during it's limited soft open. Simply put, it's one of the most entertaining and unique queue experiences I've ever been in, followed up by the most mediocre and lazy attractions I've been on. After you enter the building, you're given a NBC logo card with a color. Every time you see that color, you move into the next room. There are two main holding rooms. The first is a museum of sorts, with memorabilia from the entire run of The Tonight Show. The second room, after a flight of steps, was a lounge area combined with a stage area, of sorts. Throughout the wait, they had various acts come out on the stage, from a guy in a panda suit (quality stuff...ugh) to a group of barbershop quartets, who sing modern songs, like baby got back...yup. Despite that, the vibe was actually quite energetic here, passing the time well. After that room was the preshow/safety briefing area, then its off to the ride. And once again, its a bunch of seats in front of a screen. Think Despicable Me, but...no, actually it's the same exact thing. The benches are uncomfortable, and the jokes are...well not funny. After it was done, there was a consensus of..."That's it?" from the crowd, and "Well, I never need to ride that again." Not exactly the reaction they expected, I'm sure. For me, it was another disappointment, after Kong. But I'm just not a fan of media based attractions, and hate that every new ride requires 3D glasses. Might as well hand them out at the entrance. But your milage may vary. A few photos follow.


The main entrance. The facade was done quite well.


Return time Kiosks. Were not in use for the soft open, and I don't see there being enough of a wait for them to be used that often.


The card you were given after you enter the first room. Six different ones. The whole room changed to the next color, and that group would move right along...


The first room was a museum to the history of The Tonight Show. Large room with no seats, leading to...


...people sitting in front of every exhibit. Good luck getting a close look or a photo.


Second room had a small lounge area, and a bigger area with a stage. Here, there's a random panda walking around. Wish I knew why.


Other show was the barbershop quartets singing pop songs. I give it three months till they cut this.


In between the shows they played "The Best Of..." Quotation marks used appropriately...


The preshow area, just like minions...literally. Lined up in six rows and watching the video overhead.

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This is where Twister was right? I kind of miss Twister but maybe thats because I'm into natural disasters like tornadoes. However I know the movie Twister is pretty irreverent now. So I assume thats why they replaced it. It would of been cool if they modernized it somehow with a 3D screen but with the wind blowing and even debris flying towards you. (of course it wont be real) Maybe they could of made it move too. Now that would be awesome! Yea a lot of USO's attractions are just that,the moving seats and the 3D screens and special effects,but I thing tornado themed ride would be pretty cool and separate it from the rest. I don't even really watch TV let alone the Tonight Show. So I know diddly squat about the show.

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So we had a chance to go down and get a sneak preview of the Jimmy Fallon ride today. Let's just say that the previous reviews kind of sum it up. There are certainly positives to take away from the entire package, but don't go in expecting a ground-breaking new simulator style experience. The area in which you walk into the building and the upstairs area is very nicely done. If you are a fan of current or nostalgic television, namely The Today Show, which does have many decades of history behind it, there is a lot to see. The upstairs lounge where you'll find some Tonight Show themed entertainment was also very nicely done. It's great to have a place to hang out and sit, even charge your phone, while waiting for the attraction. Here's some photos and some teaser video from the ride...




Yay! We have made it to Universal Orlando! Always exciting to come check out a new attraction!


Over at the entrance to the New York area, you'll now find 30 Rock! Home to shows like Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show!


The entrance has a very classic NYC style feel to it.


Upon entering the building, you'll find some tributes to all of the Tonight Show hosts...


Not a fan of Jay Leno...


Poor Conan...


The current guy...


Yay! Johnny Carson!


The ride is using Universal's new "Virtual Queue" system, and much like Dumbo over at Magic Kingdom, when it's your turn to ride, or at least go on to the next part of the queue, your buzzer will go off, or in this case, you are handed a card with a color on it...


When the NBC Peacock turns your color, you go on to the next area...


We have headed into what I will call the "lounge" and we are greeted by Hashtag the Panda.


Hashtag and Elissa seem to be hitting it off.


The upstairs area is very nicely done. It feels like a "high end lounge" like something you would see made for DVC members or a really nice hotel lobby. It has a very clean and nice look to it.


There are places to sit and relax. Watch the TVs, play some games. You can even charge your phone here.


This is the entrance to the attraction. Again, when it turns your color, you will know when to board the ride.


The stage is in another room where they have live entertainment while you wait.


And again, this area just has a nice, clean look to it. Where the Dumbo queue has a kids play area to hang out in while you wait for your turn, this area has entertainment and "adult stuff" to do. Same concept, different content.


Just some artwork of what to expect from the ride.


Nice looking vehicle, right?


As we wait for our turn, Elissa plays some games...


And then the entertainment starts. This is the Ragtime "Gals" Barbershop "Quartet!" (Get the joke? Good!) They were actually really fun to watch!




Next up, time to do something you do a lot here at Universal...grab those 3-D glasses!


There are two theaters in the attraction. House Left and House Right.


We go into the next room where we get to watch the pre-show and safety information video, divided into rows.


They said no photos or video beyond this point, so this is the best you're going to get. As for the ride/show vehicle itself, it really is more like a giant Star Tours without a roof. Picture a very similar looking Star Tours base of seats, but instead in the middle of an open theater. And you can let your imagination figure it out from there...


Hashtag was getting very "friendly" with Elissa, but I an told he does this with all the girls!


Seems he had a rough night...


He doesn't do so well at video games we found out.


The sofas and walls are modeled after the chairs that Fallon's guests sit in. Attention to detail here.


it's all very nice. It's what you would expect in a high-end hotel lobby or just a nice waiting area for an expensive show. It feels upscale so that's a good thing.


Building front entrance! Yay! Just in case you forgot where you were going! You go here!


Ride height restriction sign.


Ride vehicle test seats.


Inside the shop was all sorts of Jimmy Fallon merchandise and references to the show. I'll be honest, I don't watch very often so some of this was lost on me, but here's a few pics of what you'll find inside...




Plenty of Hashtag plush....




Is this a "thing" or is it like trying to make "fetch" happen?





And look! An obligatory roller coaster shot on our way out! Go check out Jimmy Fallon. Let us know what you think!

Edited by robbalvey
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