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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 624: Super Nintendo World unveiled!

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10 hours ago, SharkTums said:

Wow. Thanks for sharing! I really didn't realize how much this is going to be 'US Taron'! The rock work and everything, super interesting. 

I don't think quite that.  Taron is much more aggressive and fast; this is not.  Check out some footage of the first half....very floaty.  

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1 hour ago, TrippinBillie said:

I don't think quite that.  Taron is much more aggressive and fast; this is not.  Check out some footage of the first half....very floaty.  

I've been on Taron several times and never found it aggressive or fast. I always found it to be more like a sailing ship bobbing one way then the other way! =)

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I mean I didn't expect Maverick! But did expect intense and forceful. It's Orlando I should've known better XD Honestly, long as its a step up from Copperhead Strike I will be happy! That was one that really let down from what I expected. 

Dang those pictures are just amazing. That scenery is awesome and I've seen some clips of it running at night. What a beautiful ride. In all regards, Universal killed it with this one. Super excited, and yeah gunna be one helluva FL trip with this Ice Breaker, Iron Gwazi and I need to hit the Fun Spots! 

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8 hours ago, TrippinBillie said:

I don't think quite that.  Taron is much more aggressive and fast; this is not.  Check out some footage of the first half....very floaty.  

That's awesome that you got to ride this already. Also, how do you rank Taron?

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Going backwards in time, before my stop over at Islands of Adventure to check out the Jurassic World VelociCoaster I made my way through CityWalk and went to Universal Studios Florida to experience Mardis Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval. On the CityWalk front, it has been a time of change as all signs of Blue Man Group's presence at Universal Orlando are quickly being removed, while work starts to wind down on the construction of the giant, new Universal Studios Store location and the existing store begins to transition into a new legacy content theme. 

Mardi Gras 2021 looks very different than previous years because this year there are no concerts and no parade. Building off of the approach of November/December's take on Universal Holidays, Universal has adapted the popular event to shift the focus to food and beverages while enabling a more stationary version of the Mardi Gras parade. Similarly, a new Mardi Gras Tribute Store has opened where the Halloween and Holiday tribute stores opened before. Entertainment and decor can be found at key locations throughout the park, adding a little bit of Mardi Gras flair to the event. Major credit is due to the Universal culinary team for blowing out their menus to add a bunch of new F&B tents and booths to the park--only a few of which were offered in previous years, so many of these culinary experiences are new. 

The best part is, with thirteen countries' worth of food and drinks to enjoy (check out the full menu here), you can buy a sampler lanyard with 10 items for $55 plus tax, or if you're an Annual Passholder, 15 items for $65 plus tax. Basically, that equates to $6 per item for the base lanyard or around $4.70 per item for passholders. Almost all items are eligible to use the lanyard on and with generous portions, a lanyard could easily be shared between two people (or could really fill up someone visiting on their own like me). Honestly, the food quality was pretty exceptional... Quite possibly my favorite seasonal food offerings I've experienced at Universal Orlando to date. While I look forward to the return of the standard concerts and parades that make Mardi Gras even more memorable in normal years, I really do hope that this food & wine festival-style experience carries over into future years' events. This has been a top notch event!

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On the way into CityWalk some Blue Man Group advertisements could still be seen.

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The new Universal Studio Store in the former PiQ/Fossil/Island Traders space has really taken shape!

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The concept art looks really nice!

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The space is going to be huge compared to the current store.

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Some interesting concept art from the inside of the new store.

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I've arrived!

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Plenty of new Mardi Gras merchandise can be found in the Universal Studios Store inside of Universal Studios Florida.

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The Blue Man Group sign has been removed and the side entrance/exit to the park leading to the former Sharp Aquos Theater has been closed.

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Over near the Music Plaza Stage you start to see themed food and beverage booths themed to different countries and cuisines.

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In case you're in the market for a Bloody Mary...

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Two sizes available.

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Floats from the Universal Mardi Gras Parade are parked strategically to allow for photo ops and entertainment interactions.

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Hashtag the Panda waves at guests from above...

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Credit given for putting some cleverly themed booths together!

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Despite the floats not moving, the combined energy of bead throwers and authentic jazz bands brings an energy to the park that is reminiscent of what you'd find during a normal year's Mardi Gras.

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A few of the existing food trucks are being used for the event.

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The Brazil booth proved to be one of the most popular during my visit.

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Tasting lanyard front...

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And back.

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I was excited to the find that the arepas from the previous food truck menu were brought back for this event and this picadillo arepa was delicious as ever!

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Added a few weeks into the event, a tent offering some of the more popular drinks from across the event can be found opposite Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon. 

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I really appreciate the fact that they've put out entertainers as opposed to just parking the floats. It makes this a much more high energy experience when walking by.

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Even more floats to see...

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More details on the Tasting Lanyards... I appreciate that they can be used beyond the event for select snacks and bottled water.

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The Pineapple Trini Chow had been offered at last year's event and I loved it then. This year's version is a more substantial serving with two skewers, well charred and seasoned. This was the the one item I went back for seconds on later in the day.

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I had heard good things about the Italy booth's Arancini and I was not disappointed!

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Some more fun photo ops with entertainers can be found throughout the park.

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Some of the booths leverage existing F&B locations during this temporary event.

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Fast & Furious Supercharged has reopened for anyone that's interested...

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Fresh meat over at the Cuba booth!

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I was truly excited to see the Germany have such an extensive menu.

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Beers and brats for the win!

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There are no special Mardi Gras offerings in Diagon Alley, but there are plenty of delicious options to enjoy here year round!

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The Jerk Chicken and the Goombay Smash were both great surprises at the Bahamas booth!

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Doc Brown was out and about for socially distanced photo ops!

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A dance party was going on in front of this float!

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Belgium had fresh waffles in case you were wondering.

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Canada gets its own quick service venue!

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Beef poutine and a maple sugar doughnut that looks suspiciously like a Beaver Tail... Both delicious!

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It was quietly confirmed a few weeks ago that "A Day in the Park with Barney" had permanently closed after a 25 year run. It closed when the parks shut down and never reopened. 

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Signage and the Barney fountain were both removed around the same time the permanent closure was confirmed. No replacement for this show has been announced at this time.

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The Spain booth makes really clever use of a quiet corner of the park.

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This delicious paella is served in a themed disposable paella pan!

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Central Park Crepes offers the event's sole French-themed food item, a Poached Pear Crème Brulee Crepe.

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This pavilion near the park's lagoon has been turned into one of the New Orleans-themed booths, this one offering seafood boils and beignets.

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I forgot just how many floats the Mardi Gras parade normally has!

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Pretty neat to see during the day!

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Drinks and coasters... Always a fine pairing.

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You can still get your beads tossing fix in!

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Time to head into the Mardi Gras Tribute Store!

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The theming in these stores continues to be on par with the interior of a Halloween Horror Nights house.

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Lots to see and potentially buy inside.IMG_2439.thumb.jpeg.9f07b7759c8defcf0f06066572864811.jpeg

A clever way to mask the Made to Order system...

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Very Horror Nights-esque.

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Fans of the classic Mold-a-Rama machines will be happy to know that Universal continues to update theirs for the rotating Tribute Stores.

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Pirates are a prominent theme at this year's Mardi Gras and thus an entire section of the Tribute Store carries that theme.

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A pirate-themed Mold-a-Rama...

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My favorite part of each Tribute Store is the food section!

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This event's unique gummy is a moving sour gummy skull. The jaw moves while at rest here!

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The Vegan Skull brownie makes a return from the Halloween Tribute Store, albeit with Mardi Gras touches... It is still an absolute knockout!

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One more Trini Chow for good measure!

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Stuffed to the brim, I finished my culinary journey with a strawberry & pineapple caipirinha and a bag of beignets. I was covered with powered sugar when finished, but the end result was well worth it!

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One last look at the former Universal Studios Store before the new location opens up!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Awesome!

I'm interested to hear if this will open with a conventional queue or a virtual queue like Hagrid's has been using.  I'm thinking they may use the latter.  I'd want to make sure I can actually ride this a few times in a day before booking a trip.

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^My thoughts exactly.

I am moving to Florida, so I'm not too worried about riding it immediately, but my family will be with me during that week of June. Of course they announced the opening that week. I'd really like to attend opening day but... is that a death sentence? lol

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1 hour ago, Canobie Coaster said:

Awesome!

I'm interested to hear if this will open with a conventional queue or a virtual queue like Hagrid's has been using.  I'm thinking they may use the latter.  I'd want to make sure I can actually ride this a few times in a day before booking a trip.

I would think they will go this route.  Rumors say Hagrids is going on express pass soon.

 

 

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I'm so happy this is happening after our next trip. It looks great and I can't wait to ride it in the fall but also I would rather shoot myself in the face than go there opening weekend and it was looking like a distinct possibility.

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1 hour ago, coasterbill said:

I'm so happy this is happening after our next trip. It looks great and I can't wait to ride it in the fall but also I would rather shoot myself in the face than go there opening weekend and it was looking like a distinct possibility.

Fair that would've been pretty gnarly. Guess later in the year I'll keep my eyes peeled for some of those dirt cheap Orlando flights. 

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At least with the months of testing (and the fact this ride has a more conventional block system), I have to think this ride will be more reliable than Hagrid's.

I was planning on being down in Florida for my anniversary the following week, so while it won't be opening day, I imagine it'll still be pulling crowds for the opening rush.

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9 hours ago, thrillseeker4552 said:

I'd really like to attend opening day but... is that a death sentence? lol

 

8 hours ago, coasterbill said:

...I can't wait to ride it in the fall but also I would rather shoot myself in the face than go there opening weekend...

correct breaking bad GIF

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38 minutes ago, tndank said:

It's fun.

I get why some people would like it; mainly locals who want the festive atmosphere and know a bunch of their friends in the hobby will be there and they can hang out all day while standing in line and knowing that they'll probably ride like one thing all day but you're not really there to ride much and you're okay with that. If I were traveling to be there I would hate it. Also, personally if I were a local I wouldn't care about that at all and would just wait 3 weeks and ride it on a random Wednesday morning or something but if that's your thing, hey... you do you.

If I lived nearby I would either avoid the park like the plague that day or I would go to the studios park in the morning and walk-on every single ride for a few hours since you can basically never do that before getting the hell out of there.

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Exactly. It can be fun.  I'm not flying across the country to stand in line for 6 hours but if I was local or in the area, why not?  If someone wants to ride it, waiting 3-5 hours seems better than weeks or months for it slow down.  If you are buying a daily ticket to do this, I think you're slightly crazy. 

 

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2 hours ago, coasterbill said:

I get why some people would like it; mainly locals who want the festive atmosphere and know a bunch of their friends in the hobby will be there and they can hang out all day while standing in line and knowing that they'll probably ride like one thing all day but you're not really there to ride much and you're okay with that. If I were traveling to be there I would hate it. Also, personally if I were a local I wouldn't care about that at all and would just wait 3 weeks and ride it on a random Wednesday morning or something but if that's your thing, hey... you do you.

If I lived nearby I would either avoid the park like the plague that day or I would go to the studios park in the morning and walk-on every single ride for a few hours since you can basically never do that before getting the hell out of there.

I feel like most locals with at least half a brain and most enthusiasts would avoid the park during that grand opening rush. The majority of those that day will be the 'Firsties!' crowd and I'm alright skipping a few weeks rather than them desperately posting their queue updates every 10 minutes on Instagram for bragging rights.

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It's funny because my family was planning our Florida trip for that week already. In fact, we may have scheduled Universal for that day regardless - before they even announced the opening day. I would definitely never travel just to attend opening day - like Coasterbill, there are other things I'd rather do...

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