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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

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

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I have a lot of thoughts about this project as a whole, most of them are good, there are a few things I'm a little skeptical about/curious to see how it turns out, but.....

These images of the Celestial Park central hub section looks pretty amazing, way better than what I had previously envisioned for that area so that's exciting. 

I'm guess they're slowly going to release some more details about each of the lands and attractions in those lands over the next year, but overall pretty cool project.

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On 1/21/2024 at 12:00 PM, teacherkim said:

So.....I see it's been forever since anyone posted. Has anyone on here actually "ridden" the new Minion Blast thing? Not sure if we are calling it a ride or an attraction. If so, thoughts?

It's gutter trash.  You're given a gun that's way too bulky and told to stand on a dot while the moving sidewalk drags you through the seven circles of hell.  We only went into the building because it started raining.  Funnily enough, that's the same reason we ended up on Jimmy Fallon's Dumpster Fire.  Why couldn't the rain show up outside of a decent attraction?

 

7 hours ago, A.J. said:

And located inside Epic Universe at the end of Celestial Park is Universal Helios Grand Hotel, designed to transport guests to a world where the heavens and earth unite – complete with 500 rooms, one-of-a-kind views and its very own dedicated entrance into the theme park.

Christ on a cracker, I can't imagine what this place is going to cost per night. 

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For myself, it will all come down to the landscaping of this new park. The model and new art renderings clearly show a LOT of trees on either side of each Universe's portal entry way. As well as the Celestial Park itself. Except for where Dark Universe is, lol. That looks barren already, except for the gnarled roots around the portal, etc. That will interesting to watch, too.

Exciting times!  :b  :br

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I'm very happy about Celestial Park, primarily for the fact they're treating some very flagship anchor attractions with original theming rather than attaching an IP to them (which I don't view as a negative, it just feels rare to see otherwise nowadays).

Starfall Racers looks incredible!

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22 hours ago, KBrylczyk said:

 

Christ on a cracker, I can't imagine what this place is going to cost per night. 

I'm curious about that as well. We always stay at the Royal Pacific when we go and in my opinion it is a very good value for what you get. The new hotel will be amazing I'm sure and most likely will be a deluxe so you'll get expresspass BUT you will have to bus to the other parks and citywalk and there is the question of how many rides in Epic will start out offering expresspass access. That walking path and boat transport at the other 3 deluxes is pretty amazing. I'm more worried that all of the on site hotel prices will take a big jump, especially the deluxes, after Epic opens. The value now as compared to the mouse properties down the street is pretty amazing, but thinking they will see this as a reasonable excuse to raise lodging.

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It looks incredible, I can't wait to go.  But also... a moment of silence for the era of Universal being truly affordable.  5-10 years ago, there was a meager gap in park experience between Disney and Universal, but an enormous gap in pricing.  This spree of capital investments in the last 5 years at Universal has given us some amazing new park experiences, but now the gap in pricing has shrunk dramatically and will probably shrink again once Epic is up and running.

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I think there's still a noticeable price gap between the two (for now anyway). On some of the low crowd days I'm seeing rooms at Aventura and Cabana Bay for around $110 and Endless Summer for $75. Haven't seen the All Stars below $180 and those places are dumps (although to be fair I didn't play around with the dates as much for them). Annual passes for non residents still have about a $1000 gap. Day tickets and food are pretty close at both though. 

I'm sure the gap will close when Epic opens but there's still deals to be had at Universal that you're not getting at Disney.

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I'm been wondering .... I know the upkeep of such a thing is expensive, but then what else is new? That said... how about a monorail system between EPIC and ...everything else? Make it electric and charge for a ticket/pass like Tokyo Disney does with their monorail. There, it was required (as public transport, with stations) to charge for using it, it's still a wonderful way to tour the Resort. And it was reasonably priced, too.

So ....? Still possible to add this?

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My question in terms of the portal thing does that mean there will only be one way in and out of every land or is the portal just the main entrance and there will still be something on the other side to let people in and out as well.

If it's really only one entrance for each land do we think there will be a queue just to get into them? Is Nintendo land setup like this in California or Japan? 

I really want to check this place out but I'm not sure I'd rush out in 2025 to go. Depends on the cost of everything too. 

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^ Portal is main entrance to the Land. The exit from each Land will be separate from the Portal, either on the left or right of it, as you suggest. The best (current) version of this I have seen, is the Harry Potter Universe. If you look at an overhead photo, of the entryway, you'll see what will be an Exit, to the left of the Portal. Hope that helps.

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Velocicoaster has been down since Sunday. I went on Saturday and it was down for most of the day, and pulled a 180 minute wait all evening once it reopened. I think this was because of 2 train operation because there is no other reason that wait time is ever 2x the wait for Hagrid's.

Not too surprising if the ride needs some maintenance given that it has been operating 365 for almost 3 years with no significant closures other than weather. Just a little odd it was unscheduled.

I know, I know, Intamin. But Universal has done an exceptional job keeping this coaster reliable and running at full capacity pretty much since it's been open it almost doesn't feel like an Intamin from the outside looking in. Hopefully it's back up soon. I suppose weekdays in February, if anything, are a relatively good time for a closure. Just a heads up for anyone heading to the park soon.

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13 hours ago, Zand said:

Figures a couple days ago I just booked a trip down for next week :(

Maybe it'll be back up by then but it doesn't sound promising.

You're probably good.  They are doing test runs today.

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Fingers crossed! Funny how it didn't even exist 3 years ago and now the park would feel so wrong without it open.

Edit: Velocicoaster is back open this morning!

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So just as a heads up to those who may be headed down in the near future while Velocicoaster is running at a reduced capacity, here are some dispatch times I sampled today...

Screenshot_20240213-133936.thumb.png.763fcae12435ff5daf6542c9088561b2.png

As you can see, they're still consistent as ever, but two train ops has the ride at 2:20 intervals instead of the usual :55, and that 600 per hour rather than 1600 per hour throughout makes the line move painfully slow. I got over to the ride right after a breakdown and the line was at the raptor statue, which in the past would've meant a 25 minute line. The sign said 75 minutes, and in actually ended up being 1 hr 55 mins. I'm not sure if it broke down again at any point but they didn't announce one while I was in line so yeah, be prepared. When I got off the line was into the outdoor portion and they listed it at 3 hours, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was more.

The throughput would be slightly better if they rolled trains by sending one when the other is about to come back, but for some reason they were purposely stacking for a good 10-15 seconds before sending a train. I'm sure between them and Intamin they'll get the issues figured out as soon as possible, but just be aware of what you're walking into if you get in line. Also there is absolutely no seat choice right now. The ride still kicks all kinds of ass no matter where you sit, but make sure it's worth taking up two plus hours of your day at a park like Universal.

Otherwise, it's been a busy couple days which leads me to my biggest question: Why the hell does Universal close so damn early? It was mayhem getting out after the park closed at 7 tonight especially with a 6:15 Mardi Gras parade. They closed at 6 last night. Room rates were about 60% higher this week so they knew it would be busy, so what gives? Just seems insane that a park of this magnitude closes that early at any time of year. Last night I left Universal at closing and went to Disney and spent 6 hours there. Not that I'm expecting Universal to be open till 1 am, but that's insane.

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13 hours ago, Satans Hockey said:

I'm with you about Universal closing too early. It's my only real complaint about the parks and it's way too expensive to be closing as early as it does. 

Yup, a one park ticket to Universal is $5 less than an Animal Kingdom ticket today (the only Disney park with the same total hours of operation) which is insane when you consider Universal annual passes are about $1k less than Disney. And the other Disney parks are only $15 more for 2-3 more hours of park time.

 

Edit: Velocicoaster is back up to 3 trains today with a consistent 1:06 dispatch rate! I guess the hunt is on!

 

Reedit: As soon as I got in line they went back to two trains and it's dispatching as slow as yesterday. Line is in the outdoor section, so I got out. Not waiting an hour longer than I did yesterday.

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15 hours ago, Satans Hockey said:

I'm with you about Universal closing too early. It's my only real complaint about the parks and it's way too expensive to be closing as early as it does. 

Samesies.  When we visited last September I understood why Universal Studios closed early, it was an HHN night, but IOA was only open until 8pm that night, as well.  Like, holy hell, if you're gonna boot everyone out of one park, at least keep the other park open to a decent time.  We only had one day to do both parks.  Thankfully since it was such a slow week we were able to bang out every single attraction, even the horrible ones (F&F&F: Fast & Furious & Fallon), but it would have been lovely to have the extra evening time to enjoy IOA's atmosphere and a few more rides rather than going back to our hotel and being bored.

Dinner at Antojito's was friggin great, though.  They put us right next to the stage and the evening guitarist was wonderful.

Edit - Just for comparison's sake, the next day we were at EPCOT by 9:30am and didn't get back to our hotel until nearly midnight.  Park closed at 10, we took our time after the fireworks to walk from the Japan pavilion, browsed the gift shop, and were among the last few groups walking out of the park, never once feeling pressured to GTFO.  Universal felt like they were actively pushing us out of the park the instant the HHN corrals began around 3pm and IOA had a ton of disinterested employees that were happier to talk amongst themselves than engage with the park guests.  It felt very Six Flags in terms of service.

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If one of the parks closes at 6 pm, it’s typically because there is an event buy out. If they take the average projected attendance for the evening and determine a buy out is more profitable than what they’d earn those last couple hours, they take the business. It’s very common this time of year with heavy convention volume in town. Larger companies will do their after hours events, sometimes 2 at a time. I worked for Mears and we’d have separate buses going to pick up one convention group from their event at Marvel and another from their event in Hogsmeade the same evening. 

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Universal's hours are awful. We were just down in Orlando for 2 weeks and spent almost all of our time at Disney instead specifically for that reason. We'd finish working at 5 and the parks would close at 6.  We could go to Universal on weekends of course, but the parks are mobbed on the weekends and Express passes are expensive. We usually picked Disney on weekends too since you can spend like $25 at Disney and never wait in a single line all day no matter how busy it is.

There was one random Friday night when studios closed at 6 and Islands closed at 9 and it was awesome! We got to the park like 20 minutes before 6, got in line for Rockit at park close and didn't wait long at all, then went to Islands and had a great time. It's a beautiful park at night and the coasters are all great night rides. I really, really wish they would stay open late more often.

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I agree that the earlier closures can be annoying. That being said, I've never gone to Universal and been bored, so I guess it's what you make of it. And we can usually get a hell of a lot more done at Universal than Disney in the same time frame, for less money, so on that front it evens out. If I'm being really optimistic I would like to think they are choosing less hours for a better experience without having to close things down for staffing and/or maintenance; if I'm being cynical I would think perhaps they are just trying to shuttle everyone over to City Walk to spend money there. The truth is probably somewhere in between 🤷‍♀️

I will say having done one OI meetup and one HHN visit it was super cool to be in the parks super late night with almost no crowds. However, in both cases rides are not necessarily open all the way until 1:30 am. At HHN you are only in USO and there are limited rides to begin with and at OI the big guns like Hagrids, Hulk, VC all close their lines about 11:30 or so to satisfy both local noise ordinances and enough time for maintenance (or at least that's the official explanation)

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