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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

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

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Universal Orlando has announced that Universal's Great Movie Escape, two themed escape rooms inspired by Back to the Future and Jurassic World are coming to Universal CityWalk!



Universal Orlando Resort will soon debut Universal’s Great Movie Escape – featuring two escape rooms. Packed with innovative storytelling and theming, the destination is inspired by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s blockbuster films Jurassic World and Back to the Future.

Concepted and designed by the same creative masterminds responsible for the wildly immersive haunts of Halloween Horror Nights, Universal’s Great Movie Escape will bring two distinct and extraordinary escape adventures to the heart of Universal CityWalk.

Through interactive state-of-the-art missions, captivating storytelling and intricately detailed sets, guests will be swept into the dinosaur adventures of Jurassic World or the time-traveling chaos of Back to the Future.

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On 6/9/2022 at 10:09 AM, PKI Jizzman said:

Halloween Ends comes out this October, so it's a match made in hell ;)

If it's anything like Halloween Kills then it'll be a match made in hot horseshit.  Seriously, how was Halloween 2018 so damn good but Halloween Kills one of the worst flicks in recent years?

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12 hours ago, KBrylczyk said:

If it's anything like Halloween Kills then it'll be a match made in hot horseshit.  Seriously, how was Halloween 2018 so damn good but Halloween Kills one of the worst flicks in recent years?

The need to make every pop culture property into a trilogy whether it deserves it or not? Get all the good stuff out of the way first to get people on the line for an utterly disappointing and mediocre set of second and third installments.

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Universal has announced that The Horrors of Blumhouse featuring Freaky and The Black Phone is the newest house to be featured at this year's Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood!



The Horrors of Blumhouse

Step inside a new double-feature of Blumhouse horror. Your scream squad will find yourselves trapped between a frantic teen and the ruthless serial killer she’s swapped bodies with in Freaky. Then, you’ll try to make a desperate escape from the dark basement of The Grabber before you become his latest victim in the terrifying The Black Phone.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I'm starting to wonder if Universal flooded worse than what has been reported. BGT and Disney are almost fully open save for a few random rides but Queue Times shows 3 rides open on the Studios side and IOA is still saying 100% closed.


Edit: Spoke too soon. Looks like they got everything running except the water rides and Hulk.

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Some quick disjointed thoughts from my family's recent trip two weeks ago, where we got the eff outta Dodge just before Ian touched down...

  • My daughter just recently hit the 51" height requirement and was able to ride both Velocicoaster and Rip Ride Rocket. Unfortunately she didn't really like either coaster all that much; RRR was way too rough for her, and Velocicoaster (in her own words) "was too fast and made my cheeks flap in the wind". Go figure.
  • She ended up loving Hagrid's though, as did my famously non-coaster-fan wife, who has now proclaimed Hagrid's to be her new number one coaster, dethroning Oscar's Wacky Taxi. We also got really lucky when it came to the wait time; both times, the wait was posted at 60 minutes, and it ended up being approximately 25 minutes from entering the queue line. We were able to get a mid-day ride as well as a night ride just before closing on Thursday, and Hagrid's in the dark was a phenomenal experience!
  • We also knocked Pteranodon Flyers off the list, since it's probably my daughter's last and only chance to ride it before she sprouts up even further. Can we get more coasters that use Wave Swinger seats, please?
  • Kinda funny though that she can ride the two most intense coasters in the park, yet an S&S drop tower with a 52" height requirement is just a step too far. They did give her a certificate after measuring up that can be used for a single-use Express pass on that ride once she gets tall enough, so that's a nice touch!
  • Finally got a chance to ride the East Coast version of Revenge of the Mummy now that it's reopened from its refurbishment, and going in only with the West Coast version to compare it to, it's definitely the superior version of the two. I especially loved the fakeout ending!
  • We did Halloween Horror Nights on Wednesday, the 21st with Express passes. We stuck around and grabbed a late lunch/early dinner at Finnegan's while they were closing off the stay and scream areas, and that afforded us the chance to knock out Halloween and Spirits of the Coven before the park officially opened to everyone. It was our first time at HHN and the production value on these houses was insane. Definitely clear though that they go more for repeatability over giving actors the freedom to improvise, since it seemed like a lot of the vocal cues were audio triggers in just about every house. With the express passes, we were able to knock out all ten of the houses in just under 6 hours.
  • Favorite houses of the batch? #1, Dead Man's Pier: Winter's Wake. OMG, the scale of this thing... it took my breath away. #2, The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare. It was certainly unique, nothing quite like it that I've seen at other haunts! #3, Halloween. I love the John Carpenter original and this house was very faithful to the movie, and Michael got me a bunch of times.
  • Least favorite house? Hellblock Horror, which really didn't make much sense thematically at all... I guess, prison escape, but monsters, but then aliens? Sure, I guess. Special consideration to Bugs: Eaten Alive, which was really well done, but ew ew ew ew ewwww ick. And the Blumhouse double feature house was great, but if you haven't seen the movies, you won't have any clue just what the hell's going on there. Having my kids attempt to explain the plot of The Black Phone to me after walking through the houses was hilarious. "Sooo... I think if you touch the phone, you die!" Yup, nailed it.
  • We had lunch at Mythos on Thursday afternoon, and just wow. The octopus... mmmm. So good. Loved the decor, all the food was top notch, would definitely eat here again. Absolutely one of my favorite sit-down restaurants I've been to at any park to date.
  • We used our third day of the 3-day tickets to hang out at Volcano Bay on Saturday for a few hours, but we were pretty wiped out after doing Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom on Friday night. We only ended up spending about 4 hours here before calling it and retiring back to our hotel, where we got some lunch, reserved a lane for bowling at Galaxy Bowl, and just took it easy before heading to Busch Gardens on Sunday. Still one of my favorite outdoor water parks I've been to!

Overall, we had an excellent time at Universal, though I really wish we had more time to spend taking it easy. Doing this trip with four people compared to two 100% made things tougher when trying to stay on schedule, and in the future, I'd probably make sure we had at least a full 2 days at each park to really be able to explore, see the shows, and take our time without being locked into a hard and fast schedule. We'll definitely be back in the future, though at this point, probably not until Epic Universe opens.

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Universal Orlando Resort has announced their holiday offerings for 2022!



Universal Orlando Resort guests can take the merriment of the destination’s Holidays celebration to the next level with additional festive experiences select dates from November 12 through January 1, 2023 – including embarking on an exclusive guided tour of this year’s event during Universal’s Holiday Tour and encountering the mean, green one himself, the Grinch, while enjoying a delicious breakfast during the popular The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast. Plus, guests can enjoy a spectacular slate of holiday festivities that include special dining, décor and entertainment across all eight Universal Orlando hotels.

See below for details about the one-of-a-kind experiences guests can add to their holiday getaway at Universal Orlando:

Universal’s Holiday Tour

On select dates, guests can enjoy a guided tour filled with unique experiences and special access to the beloved holiday entertainment taking place across Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, such as:

  • Meeting the maven of mischief, the Grinch, and his faithful dog, Max, while enjoying a delicious hot cocoa bar with small bites and desserts at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous in Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Access to reserved seating at the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” – a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” in Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Enjoying a meet-and-greet and photo opp with Santa Claus in Universal Studios Florida (includes one digital download photo)
  • Capping off the night in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure with an exclusive, after-hours showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a stunning projection of holiday spirit and Christmas moments inspired by the beloved “Harry Potter” stories brought to life on the majestic Hogwarts castle

Universal’s Holiday Tour is available on select dates beginning November 13 through January 1, 2023 and can be booked by visiting www.universalorlando.com/holidays. Pricing starts at $79.99 (plus tax) and separate theme park admission with a 2-Park 1-Day Park-to-Park ticket is required.

Annual and Seasonal Passholders receive a $10 discount per ticket per passholder with a valid Annual or Seasonal Pass. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-866-346-9350 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. EDT daily or by visiting the UOAP Lounge in Universal Studios Florida. Regular Seasonal and Power Pass blockout dates apply.


The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The popular dining experience, The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast, is back this year for Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration – allowing guests to start their day with a delicious breakfast and appearances by some of their favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including the Grinch. Guests also receive access to one digital download photo as a keepsake from their encounter with the Grinch during this special opportunity.

The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast takes place in Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous in Universal’s Islands of Adventure on select dates from November 12 through December 29, 2022 and can be booked by visiting www.universalorlando.com/holidays.

Pricing for this experience is $41.99 (plus tax) for adults and $26.99 (plus tax) for children and separate theme park admission is required. Annual and Seasonal Passholders can take advantage of a 20% discount on the dining experience’s ticketed price when purchased in person at the front gate or a Guest Services location with a valid Annual or Seasonal Pass. Regular Seasonal and Power Pass blockout dates apply.

The Holiday Festivities Continue at Universal’s Hotels

The awesomest celebration of the season continues at all eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels, complete with festive décor that perfectly complements each hotel’s individual theme, holiday feasts and special activities filled with holiday cheer for the whole family. Universal hotel guests can enjoy special menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, menorah lighting ceremonies, holiday crafts for kids and more. Plus, select hotels offer additional holiday entertainment that includes Christmas tree lightings, strolling carolers and more.

Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration kicks off Saturday, November 12 and runs daily through Sunday, January 1, 2023, and features an amazing collection of festivities that range from traditional merriments to irreverent twists on holiday classics – including Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Grinchmas, Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s and live concerts by Mannheim Steamroller (on select nights). Guests can now take advantage of incredible offers to experience all the fun, including getting four days of theme park thrills for the price of a two-day ticket with the “Buy 2 Days, Get 2 Days Free” offer or saving 30% on a special vacation package that includes five-night accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal’s Aventura Hotel, five days of access to Universal Orlando’s theme parks and exclusive hotel benefits.

For more information about the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.universalorlando.com/holidays.

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My plan over the next couple years was to finally start traveling to new parks and areas of the country I haven't visited yet. However, my wife talked me into blowing that plan completely to hell and instead we are now Universal Annual Passholders. Honestly couldn't be more excited...IOA is far and away my favorite park right now, plus we just really enjoyed the atmosphere at City Walk and Aventura (which is like...$120 per night with a season pass). Having a place in Florida to take $80 RT Frontier flights to every few months sounds good to me.

Maiden voyage on our new passes is in 4 weeks, which will be my 3rd trip to Orlando this year (which is 3 more times than I've been to Agawam, MA this year if that says anything). Can't wait to race some dinosaurs.

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Sorry if this seems off-topic, but does anyone have footages of Universal Studios Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 1997, 1999, and 2000, including the footages of those year's haunted houses? Knowing what was it like to experience these haunted houses would be greatly appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I took a Florida trip last week and here's some thoughts on Universal.  It was my 2nd visit, so I focused mainly on new stuff and favorites from last time.


  • Velocicoaster of course.  My new #1.  Got to ride it 3 times (front, middle, back) and it was heaven each time.  It's obviously not as immersive as something like Gringotts, but for a big thrill coaster, I appreciated the level of theming.  The queue is awesome, the landscaping works, and the finale over the lake is unbeatable.  Also, the operations were flying, consistently sending trains in under a minute.  Universal has got ops and efficiency DOWN.  And once again... the mosasaurus roll... sent me to another plane of existence.
  • Bourne Stuntacular.  Absolutely my favorite non-coaster in either park.  Rather then feeling like a cheap substitute for physical sets, the use of video serves the experience in a creative and really boundary-pushing way.  The show constantly one-ups itself into bigger and bigger wow moments.  It seems like it doesn't get a lot of attention being tucked away in that corner, but it's a marquee attraction in my book.  And I love seeing live entertainment shine in ways that you can only get with real people actually in front of you.  Sinbad lost its edge a long time ago and Orlando needed its own Waterworld.  This is it, and it I hope it sticks around for longer than the Bourne movies are even relevant.
  • Halloween Nightmare Fuel - Wildfire.   Without a doubt, this was the biggest "wow" of HHN for me.  Acrobatic shows are really popular around Halloween, but I'm so tired of circus / carnival theming.  That's why I really appreciated how Universal  gave it a new framing, and then cranked the spectacle up to 11.  The performers were all fantastic, the choreography and music choices were fresh, and the fire was HOT.  Like... they did not call this show Wildfire for no reason.
  • Gringotts.  Repeat visit to this one.  In my book, it remains the best immersive theme park attraction in my America.  But the fog effect for the screen keyhole in the last room needs work.  Very clearly saw the hole open because the fog was super weak.
  • Food.  Especially during HHN, Universal's food consistently slaps.  So many options, and everything I had was delicious.



  • Hagrid's.  This might be controversial.  I liked it, I think it succeeds at what it set out to do, but it didn't blow me away.  I can appreciate the completely insane technology and complexity of the ride system.  Maybe I should have done this before Velocicoaster, but it was closed for the first few hours of the day so the decision kind of got made for me.  I may have also had more fun if the line was shorter?  RIP to the Fire Dragon though.  One of the coaster loves of my life.
  • Revenge of the Mummy.  I know, another controversial opinion.  This moved down a tier since my first visit.  It's definitely bigger than Hollywood, and it has a much more satisfying finale.  But what I noticed this time around is that the ride's pacing is incredibly choppy.  Each chunk of the ride is quite short and you don't get to spend as much time appreciating the coaster.  I feel like Hollywood's breathes a little more.
  • Fiesta de Chupacabra and Dead Man's Pier HHN houses.  These were the two standouts of the night for me as far as the HHN houses.  I though the Chupacabra concept was a nice break from the typical Dia de los Muertos vibe that we usually see from theme parks.  Dead Man's was beautifully made and had some more interesting scenes as well.  The Weeknd probably would be on the list but I skipped it because I had to prioritize and already did the one in Hollywood.  I liked the Hollywood version a lot though.
  • The HHN Tribute Store.  I loved it, but there was a severe lack of Dracula merch.  That was my beef that moved it to medium-tier.



  • Most of HHN.  I really expected a lot more from the Big Daddy of Halloween events. and I was bored.  The movie houses were "meh" the original concept houses were a mixed bag (two above were fab, Spirits of the Coven was horrible).  And not to personally insult any employees, but Universal's reliance of effects triggers has created an entire army of monsters who don't know how to be scary.  The button does all the work for them.  And it totally defeats the immersive construction & design work of the attractions to have talent that isn't allowed to act and truly inhabit the world that was created around them.  I've gotten more scares at home haunts.
  • Need another way to park hop.  I took the Hogwarts Express once, and it was lovely.  But later in the day, the line got up to and beyond an hour.  So then it was just hiking all the way out and around.  And I had to do that twice.  If there was some other pathway that connected the two closest points within the parks, that would be a God send.



  • Despite being rather disappointed with HHN, I will continue to sing the praises of Universal Orlando Resort.  Commitment to quality and guest experience around every corner.  Imaginative and innovative attractions that run the spectrum of experiences.  Healthy live entertainment presence.  The on-property value hotel I stayed at was lovely, and getting early park access was a great perk.  Prices have definitely started rising, but the overall value is still unquestionable.
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Cedarflags I agree with most of what you said. Universal has always been my favorite park. Although I love Hagrid's but probably more because I've always been a big HP fan. I too thought it would be nice if they had another way to get from park to park and it might cut down the line at the train somewhat. Not sure if there is geography or infrastructure in the way of that happening or what.

The Bourne show is not only the only show my son goes to without grumbling, he goes several times on every trip.

My biggest disappointment with HHN, we were there in 2019, was the massive conga line style of sending people through and all of the non scare actor staff that are standing in the houses. I get why they kind of have to on both counts but just took away from the atmosphere for me.

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Wrapped up night 1 of HHN last night. Really good time overall, was able to get through every house (and two we did twice) without express. Crowds were quite manageable for a HHN, surprisingly enough. The main houses peaked at 120-130 minute, but died down late and most others stuck between 30-45 most of the time between surges. As usual, wait times are typically inflated and end up 10-15 shorter than posted. Our max wait was Halloween at the very end of the night at 40 minutes (85 posted), but otherwise longest was 30-35 prior to that. Of course, Stay and Scream allowed us to get half the houses done in the first hour and a half, so that is always a must.

Overall, my biggest complaint is having to hear the Weekend non-stop everywhere. Like seriously, it's horrible. The house is also OK at very best (same with Hollywood), but to play his music everywhere in the park is maximum level annoyance. Keep it in the specific house queue, sheesh. I must have heard Save Your Tears a solid dozen times or more. Anywayyyyyy.

My three top houses were Descendants, Pier and Chupacabras. Bottom was Halloween and (first half) of Blumhouse. Rehashing of Halloween over and over does nothing for me and the house itself was very meh. The Black Phone portion of Blumhouse was really good, though. Should have been it's own full house. 

Zones are weak again this year. Not really much to say there.

Love the food options, spent some time trying a few items and they were all quite good. Planning on more stuff tonight we didn't get to try yet.

Back tonight for the final night and hoping crowds are like last night, or better! 

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