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Photo TR: Slowly Chipping Away at Florida Parks (All photos/reviews up!) 9/21/21

First time visits to BGT, SWO, and a return to Universal

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Hey everyone!

After 2020 ruined Alex and I's trip to Disneyland, we started to put together fantasy European trips for when the pandemic ended but we realized we would probably have to settle for something in the USA for 2021. Between WDW, Gwazi, Ice Breaker, and then Velocicoaster, Florida seemed to be the unanimous destination when we could travel safely in 2021.

I haven't visited Disney World since a kid in 2002, and we all love Disney, but now does not seem like the time to go. After looking at the (lack of) available parks to visit for our time frame, limited hours, no shows/fireworks, etc we just ended up putting it off for another time. I have so much to do in Orlando, haha.

So then the plan became clear - Busch Gardens, Sea World, and Universal over a week. We had slight hope for Gwazi, but we know how that turned out. Ice Breaker seemed real with the employees riding, but we know how that turned out. Despite that, who cares, it'd be nice just to see a friend I hadn't seen in 2 years and go to a new theme park. 

Day 1

Tampa non park day. So what do you do in Tampa when there's no sporting team in town? Bar hop, I guess. I had looked into some 2 hour boat tours around the city or to see dolphins but the cost + weather risk wasn't worth it. We stayed at the brand new Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa Busch Gardens right across from the park. and OF COURSE our window perfectly framed the closed Gwazi 😅 Even though I had blocked it from my mind months prior to the trip seeing it in person, closed, yet ready to go was infuriating. Don't worry, BGT had many more ways to piss us off. 

I highly recco the Hampton Inn & Suites Tampa Busch Gardens, they were really friendly and even though they hadn't opened up the full breakfast spread they gave you as much food/drink as you asked. Rooms were clean, shuttle to the park, but honestly you could walk too and from the park. BGT is in a rough looking neighborhood but we didn't have any issues walking back after park close and getting some delicious stuffed pitas at Zeko's Mediterranean Grill.

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Of course this is our hotel view.

We had lunch on the water at Jackson's Bistro, very solid spot for a fish sandwich and then headed over to the convenient cable car/lite rail to check out Ybor City. Tampa's TECO Street Car is free and vintage cool. For a Friday happy hour, Ybor City was absolutely dead. Probably more chickens in the street than people haha. We had some good drinks and bounced around, but the whole area seemed more industrial like. It's a big port city but whenever I visit BGT next I won't bother spending any time outside the park. 

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Day 2 (BGT Day 1 of 2)

Busch Gardens Tampa/Africa had been on my list for so long. It's got the legendary B&Ms of America! Not only that, the surplus of animals, encounters, an INSANE looking drop tower, Cheetah Hunt, Tigris, Cobra's Curse, these pretzels everyone raves about, and a beer/cocktail lounge overlooking the Serengeti! Needless today I was absolutely hyped. 

Of course being Florida in mid June, we knew it would be hot. We were prepared with Quick Que for both days. Right away we saw that the sky ride is down, which is a mega bummer considering the park's layout and the heat. Headed over to Cheetah Hunt first, but it was down. Cobra's Curse! Oh, it's down. But at least they had 4 employees out there giving mixed messages on if the ride would even be open the next day. Okay Montu! Hooray, it's open! 

 

mo.thumb.jpg.b408dcd8e2be796223867c18449a700c.jpgMontu absolutely tore down Banshee, Afterburn, Batmen, Alpengeist, Raptor, and the rest of the inverts I've been on. Having had some of the best Banshee rides a few days before, they're just built differently. I'll gladly trade those slow barrel rolls for the original B&M invert trains. The drop had a nice whip, the loop and immelman had me seeing spots, the zero g roll is absolutely perfect, the batwing underground is taken incredibly fast and then you're treated to a mix of inversions, dips, and turns underground until the end. Amazing. Loved front and back equally. 

We checked out some nile crocs, lions, hyenas, and tigers on the way to Falcon's Fury. Falcon's Fury is probably the only attraction on the planet that gives me anxiety waiting in line. 1) because it's a crazy Intamin tower, it will breakdown throughout the way 2) it's way taller than I ever thought, I guess I didn't see the stats! it's 330ft!!!

Holy shit Falcon's Fury was absolutely incredible. It feels like you're being shot down AND the pull out (don't be nasssssti) is super smooth. Next to DoDoDonpa, I've never experienced the sensation of fear + adrenaline + euphoria like that. 

It only took 2 rides for us to notice not the lack of staffing, but the lack of good staff. These ops were not happy at all. Montu's capacity should be 1,500 per hour and the ops weren't really interested in checking your restraints until a train stacked. Falcon's ops were so miserable we thought the ride broke down every cycle because they'd kinda point and look at something in the op booth or on the ride and we people would ask "did it break?" they'd just laugh, as if the ride needed a smoke break every time it ran. Even the automated voice over was mixed up. The welcome back would play as you go up, visa versa. 

I'm sad to say those Twisted Tails pretzels didn't live up to the hype, but with the lack of quality food in the park, I think we had those for 3/4 of our meals. They were good, not great and you had packetted mustard and cheap nacho cheese (upcharge) to pair. Disappointing. 

Scorpion was a fun Schwarzkopf. Stanley Falls was up next and 3 of us in 1 log got absolutely SOAKED head to toe! Thanks to the florida heat I think we dried off in an hour. We checked out the cool avian exhibit and completed a lap around the park to see if Cobra's Curse or Cheetah Hunt were open.

The crappy service continued as our friend with us who needed to use a breast pump was run back and forth across the park trying to find the right nursing station, and when she finally got to the right place the quality/privacy was not good. 

Cheetah Hunt even with Quick Que was almost an hour wait. Stand by was 2.5. Only 1 station was being used and boyyyy were they taking their sweet time. They also didn't care to tell people not to smoke in the queue or on the ride and let people take as many on ride photos or videos as they wanted. 

Cheetah Hunt was a ton of fun! The front provided some great pops of air while the back gave the best experience coming off the tower. Is there supposed to be water back in the canyon section? Was there? It is a great family coaster and gets even better at night!

After that long wait for Cheetah, we took some time to relax at the Serengeti bar. Apparently there's a restaurant opening on the 3rd floor ...eventually. It's a really great bar for beer or mixed drinks, you can even get a beer flight or two! Yes, multiple beer flight options! We also experienced the only employees with life here today, great bartenders. 

Another ride on Falcon's Fury, another pretzel, and it was time for Montu!

Montu doesn't have the most impressive stats on paper, but man this thing looks huge in person up on the hill. It absolutely lives up to the hype, great intense inversions and even a dope B&M lite stengel dive into the tunnel that spits you out into the helix. BEAST! So that's two old school B&M's that have OTSRs and don't touch your ears. 

Sheikra blew all of the other dive coasters I've been on out of the water, especially the ones with vests. It's beautiful, feels bigger, has airtime on the inversion, man this park has amazing coasters!

Alright that's enough for right now, I'll update again soon!

-Zach

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Free booze samples and it's good booze? Sure go here if you must stay in Tampa!

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Mmm, good beer.

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It will terrify you, but you will be rewarded. Wow wadda thrill. 

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The pop up bubble in the tiger exhibit must be visited. LOOK AT EM!

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Pawb. 

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Some beautiful bird friends in the open air aviary.

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My favorite animal. Look at these dino-bunnies.

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Goofy, weird, stupid.

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Derpy, lazy, friggin cute.

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Your plumage is stunning ma'am

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LAZY!!!

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You walk into the park and are greeted with this. OPEN IT!!!!! Cheetah Hunt has a 3 hour wait! There's no ride in the area of the park too! So frustrating. 

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What. A. BEAST!

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rippin'

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Your gradeschool science book

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Absolutely HAULING

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The train ride is incredible, but they were only running 1 train. 30 minute dispatches. Fuck.

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After sleeping in and most of the day with the kangaroos, Cheetah finally woke up.

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Thanks for scaring me, Intamin.

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Montu sunset rides gah, so good!

 

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After walking 12 miles in the 95* heat because the park's transport rides are broken, we were as sleeby as this yeen. 

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Busch Gardens does have some of the best B&Ms around!.  Montu is unbeatable, and Kumba is still fantastic and easily beats most of its bigger successors.  Disappointing to see operations so terrible though.  That definitely wasn't the case the last time I was there, but it's been a few years, and that obviously wasn't...well, 2021.  Busch Gardens without quality food just seems sad.

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Great report, you know I've experienced similar frustrations at BGT before, but it seems like no matter how frustrated I get by the end of the day Montu and Kumba end up being walk ons and I can knock out like 3 rides in a row and go home happy.

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Really hope by the time Gwazi opens they are up to the usual quality standard. It was a Saturday and Sunday visit and they still didn't have their featured summer specials available for food. The worst part is that the summer special food was actually healthy ish and sounded super good  one was a shrimp and rice bowl. 

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The BGT ops have never lived up to the Orlando parks, but this year has been especially rough.  Hopefully with some better weather and if the pandemic gets a bit more under control we'll see them improve a bit.  And yes, Falcons Fury is the BEST!!!

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Day 2 at Busch Gardens!

We planned on doing the safari where you can feed giraffes, get close to rhinos/nyala/many other African animals! With Alex's pass discount I think we paid like, $40? We weren't able to reserve our spot online, you had to show up when the park opened and get a spot (if it wasn't sold out already). I can't recommend this tour enough, it was so much! Our guides were really friendly, informative, and helped give us tips on how best to feed the giraffes. You get a great view of Cheetah Hunt, Cobra's Curse, and Montu as well. 

We were able to get on the first tour of the day around 1030am and there were only 6 other people with us so it felt private!20210620_101041.thumb.jpg.2ff5a92db2db50c293e13d21b73f159a.jpg

Oh good, Cheetah Hunt is working today! Spoiler, it still had a 2.5 hour wait for the general queue. 

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Let's get this tour started! I love this hidden barrel roll, I really wonder how many people would skip Cheetah Hunt if that inversion was front and center, it's like a little surprise for those who don't know it's coming!

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The supports are pretty unique too.

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Maverick-lite hill produces some solid airtime!

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Mr. Nyala is on the left and 2 of his 8 girl friends are on the right. They said he's very happy and keeping their population up! They had a newborn a few weeks ago.

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This rhino is very emo and likes to be alone. Also poops a lot.

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Pretty sure these are real animals.

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There are 2 baby giraffes on property and on the day of our tour it was one's birthday! 

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There's the 2 babies in the background.

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I think they know we've got the good green stuff.

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Yoohooo over here!

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Some sort of largest deer typa animal, very cute 7/10.

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Eventually, we had this 'ol gal come over. Sometimes you will get more than 1 giraffe, but this girl doesn't like competition since she's older and the other giraffes know to let her do her thing and they'll get a snack later.

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Giraffes are cute. Giraffes have long tongues to pick leaves. Cute! Not cute. They're really textured and super slimy so imagine you're getting a crusty yet slimy handshake hahaha

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Make your arm like a branch and hold it high for her!

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It's amazing to see them so close. Look at those big eyes

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"I want one" Alex.

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And there's a nice view of the 'closed' corner of the park. Cobra's Curse never opened, and went on to be down for over a month in June/July. Montu was closed almost the entire day and thankfully re-opened. Whew. Cmon BGT, do better! More to come shortly, I had never added videos so wanted to get those uploaded.

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After the safari and about 8 rounds of hand washing to get the giraffe slobber off my hand (it was worth it), we went around for some re-rides.

Even after the 3rd or 4th Falcon's Fury ride, it's still absolutely terrifying but incredible! 

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Found this little gem in between Falcon's Fury and Kumba. It's stuff like this that makes me stop and wonder why this belongs in this beautiful park. BGT has a lot of games and stupid filler fluff that could be used for much better things like an animal encounter/more plants/food stand. No I didn't see how much it cost, haha.

The tiger exhibit is a must stop by, just to see which angle you're going to see the tiger from in the bubble.

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And holy crap the tiger is nuzzled up right there!

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I wanna pet but also that paw is the size of my head....nooooooope, I'm happy being here in my bubble!

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Sunday was still a busy day at BGT but quick queue turned every coaster into a walk on! Kumba is incredible. 

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Heading back over to Cheetah Hunt to catch the cheetah run!

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A short demonstration, but very cool and informative. It's pretty much up to the cheetah if it wants to play/run. Definitely stop by when they are doing these!

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She got some yummy chicken in the end. I believe there are 2 times a day they do this.

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It's 100* and time for a flight! You're My Boy Blue was a yummy blueberry beer! It's awesome BGT has this bar.

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Not my photo, this is essentially what you can get if you want to sit out in the heat. There is some shade.

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Mr. Nile Crocodile wanted some beer too.

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Majestic. Mature. Beauuuuuutiful! 

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And the side eye! She's over it.

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Pokemon Go just got very real.

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One of the baby nyala!

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We got absolutely drenched head to toe on Stanley falls! Lovely flume, but watch out. 2 adults = soaked. 

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For some reason I didn't take many pictures of Sheikra. Sheikra blew me away. Between Sheikra, Valravn, Griffon, Sheikra had the best airtime by fair. The classic over the shoulders, the dive loop had fun floater air, the foliage and plants all around the coaster... this ride is incredible. 

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Walking back over to Montu as it had finally opened with maybe an hour or two left in the park. The Cobra's Curse/Montu area is really cool looking. I do admire how all of their coasters are 'terrain' diving in and out of tunnels, canyons etc. 

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Montu is incredible, it's crazy how fast it is. Wish it was open more on Sunday but I have a lot of 'wishes' when it comes to BGT.

We waited a good 20-30 minutes in Quick Queue for our Cheetah Hunt rides and got a night ride to close the night, which was pretty fun!

We rode Tigris in the front and it's front or bust for that ride, imo. Those trains are so weird and tight. We all hate the comfort collars they're so pathetic. 

BGT Final Thoughts, Negatives:

The operations were dismal and it wasn't the lack of workers, it was luck of any happiness or enthusiasm. Aside from the bartenders, the 1 guy at Tigris who might have been on his 48th red bull of the day, and safari tour guides, it seemed like there was no responsibility or structure. Do they even have an area rides manager? 

People waiting in line for Cheetah Hunt, Falcon's Fury, and Montu would ask the ride operators if the ride was broken because the ops would just stand around and loaf around between cycles for so long. 

Cheetah Hunt's line was 2.5 hours all weekend, Quick Quick was 30 minutes usually. 

Montu, Cheetah Hunt, Falcon's Fury (I'll give you some slack), Sheikra were all down for significant portions of the day. Cobra's Curse never opened. 

Food was garbage. Bengal Bistro was closed (now it's turning into Forbidden Jesus Chicken), the summer specials featuring fresh delicious food were closed, the Twisted Tails pretzels aren't what they used to be (confirmed by multiple people) so we were stuck with cafeteria style pizza/burgers/panda express knock off. We ended up sticking with the 'pretty good' pretzels, drinks, and oh we actually got hummus and pita/veggies at the Giraffe bar. Then Mediterranean on our walk to the hotel after park close. 

No skyride. So you're walking or taking the train. The train was only running 1 train and not all stops were open. So you'd have to wait 30-40 minutes for the next train if you missed it, and you would be cause of all huge line that builds up between cycles. 

BGT Final Thoughts, Positives:

The summer nights firework show was solid, I'm happy they were able to offer that! 

The safari was well worth it, I'd do it every visit. 

The coaster collection is stellar. B&M's finest, a really fun, long Intamin launched coaster, oh yeah, Tigris, some classic smaller coasters like Scorpion and the wild mouse WHICH YOU CAN HIT YOUR HEAD ON THE TURN OVER THE LIFT!!! WTF?! Someone else please acknowledge this if you know what I'm  talking about! And obviously Gwazi will make BGT even more alluring.

If you like booze, the selection of beer and mixed drinks will keep you entertained for a whole weekend. 

The animal exhibits - lions/birds/hyena/savannah, were all awesome. Only the gorilla/monkey exhibit seemed abandoned. We walked through it and there were just a bunch of confused people wondering what we were doing. 

 

I just hope Gwazi has a smooth opening and the park focuses on creating a better guest experience. I can't imagine going there without Quick Queue on the weekend waiting in those lines in that head, the awful quality of food for the price, and having to walk 10 miles to do the whole park/revisit rides. I could totally see this place being the best park in America, but it has a lot of work to do. 

Okay one last jab, haha. Looking for decent food we see on the map "Garden Gate Cafe". Look at this place, it's stunning. Probably a great place to get a salad or sandwich and chill out, right?

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Wrong. They had 2 food choices. 1) foot long chili dog. 2) food long BBQ hot dog. You've gotta be kidding me. BGT is still trying to open their new sit down restaurant, but this place looks like the prime candidate for another sit down offering. Maybe they can move Bengal Bistro to here and make it a real bistro? A sit down full service restaurant with a massive patio and indoor section would be a cash cow.

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See ya in 2022 Gwazi!

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  • PKI Jizzman changed the title to Photo TR: Slowly Chipping Away at Florida Parks (BGT Update Complete!)

Thanks for writing everything up. I'll be back there in a few weeks after taking a several year Florida hiatus.

Ops have always been terrible. I worked Gwazi for a short period of time, back when it was... Gwazi... and visited at least once a month after I moved to Orlando, but the management at BGT never cared, and being a ride supervisor at SeaWorld I got to experience the workers that didn't give 2 shits first hand. Some of the management did a really great job (pats self on back ;)) at setting a good example, but I feel as soon as a supervisor left a ride to go to another ride everyone went back to their old ways. There are always exceptions and some people were awesome, but overall there was no customer service / getting trains out fast mentality. Manta was the absolute worst for several years, though. lol.

I'm excited to go back! Oh, and that garden grill place used to be a sit down pizza/pasta buffet. I'm guessing it changed once COVID happened since buffets weren't really a thing anymore. It may have changed well before that, but last I knew that was the case.

I've only been on it once or twice, but Falcons Fury is an awesome ride. I wish more parks would get something like it. Definitely my favorite (not so) flat ride / non coaster that I can think of. I don't normally care for drop towers but that thing is a whole different level.

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Sounds like they are just having a pretty down year when it comes to quality of staff, that's too bad! Interesting to know that used to be a sit down Italian spot! The whole area over there is so pretty, they have a big opportunity there. 

A quick Sea World report is up next!

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Okay with Busch Gardens complete, it was time to head to Orlando!

Alex and I had looked into a rental car since some of the Universal Resorts have a rental car company built into them, but that idea was quickly dismissed when I realized at Lyft hotel-to-hotel Tampa-Universal was only $80. Easiest decision ever. Turns out it works well for the drivers as they'll take people to Orlando, make bank at Disney/Universal then head home. 

I scheduled the Lyft a week out, locked in the rate, and it was an easy ride to the Royal Pacific. Even at NOON we were able to check in and get settled, that was fantastic. It also was a Meat Monday, and we were able to meet up with the Alveys + Reed and Stacey (nice meeting you two). It was so great to see familiar faces after 2 years!!!  Of course Gyu Kaku is amazing and delicious and their lunch specials are great. Robb & Elissa were kind enough to drop us off at Sea World for our second park of the trip! 

SeaWorld Orlando

The entry is cool with the lighthouse + oceanic waves. I think the day we arrived in Orlando was when Orlando decided to go into full shitstorm summer mode. We probably arrived around 3pm and 90 minutes later we could tell the clouds were brewing and the wind picked up. We got 2 rides on Mako, went over to check out Infinity Falls, which was having some sort of issue. So nope, not getting on the new hotness. 

We got a bit lost back by Ice Breaker and ended up going into the Wild Arctic, which was a bit spooky to be honest, haha. We had no idea what exhibits were within and it was dark, themed to a shipwreck of sorts, but there were some different sea mammals in there. Upon exiting the building we could hear loud metallic slaps toward the front of the park. The incoming storm was making the cables on the Sky Tower violently shake and hit the tower's structure, which is incredibly ominous 😅

We booked it across that wooden bridge that goes over the water in the center of the park and before I could even begin to search for that Shark Bar and Grill we ended up ducking into the Seafire Grill/Flamecraft Bar where we had an incredible view of the storm coming in. We got absolutely shitstormed on for 2 hours, yet people took their time in the lightning and thunder walking over that bridge to the front of the park. How did these people survive 2020 to make it to 2021?!

A bit tipsy after sampling some Florida beer, rides were slowly starting to reopen and we made our way to Atlantis, Kraken, Mako, and then the storms came back in, but with no lightning this time. We were already wet, kinda drink, so just kept riding Mako in the rain and Manta had finally re-opened and we got on that before heading out. 

I wanted to get on that Penguin/Antarctic dark ride everyone dunks on but it's not even operating? Again like the other exhibits we went through, it was just really dark and ominous. We walked through seeing no one then ended up in the station and where the penguins are? It was just really odd and creepy. 

Manta: I need to get back on this. By the time it had opened, we were soaked, cold, kinda drunk, and it was pouring our entire ride. I really really loved Acrobat/Japanese Manta, but a rainy night ride on Manta just didn't really let me appreciate the beautiful themeing and floral surroundings and water finale. I know this ride is good.

Atlantis: I don't know much about the ride's history other than it's not as well themed as it used to be. Regardless, it was a pretty awesome flume/coaster combo. I would love for more of these to be built if they did different layouts and surprises. The first big drop was better than I expected. 

Kraken: Kinda the ride I was expecting to like the most. A 2000 B&M that dives in and out of the ground, bonus inversions, a classic floorless. Sadly it just didn't offer much intensity, the drop didn't give airtime, and the whole area seems neglected. It's kinda built in between mechanical/support for the surrounding aquatic experiences so it felt like a parking lot coaster. Bummer. 

Mako: Kraken was my anticipated coaster because I didn't buy into the Mako hype. It's just a new B&M hyper right? Yes, but it hits. This is the best B&M hyper in America, in my opinion. An excellent first drop that rivals the intensity of the gigas, it's just not as tall. The second twisted hill is more memorable than Orion's wave turn as it's almost like an inversion fake out. Then you've got 2 awesome airtime hills with a tight hammerhead in between before the coaster snakes around giving you some more air and twists. It's so good it's worth marathoning in the rain.

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Alright, I get the hype. Mako is so much fun it deserves to be talked about as one of the best hypers.

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Next door Kraken needs some love. It's essentially a parking lot coaster with all of that gray mechanical stuff it's tucked in. No wonder they put VR on it! 😛 (No, that's still not cool). 

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Looks like a weird steel version of Mystic Timber's layout. Can't wait for this to open and see how it is.

(Then huge shitstorm for 2 hours)

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I was so stoked to ride Kraken, but sadly this coaster isn't running as well as the other B&M's in the park. Can we just turn up the intensity here please?

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It's got all the classic B&M inversions + some extra twistyness.

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I was surprised by this one, even if it's not as good as it once was. More of these type of rides, please!

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Why even have this thing 'open' to walk through, there's nothing going on here.

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Ya'll see how creepy/ominous this is? This is what most of the indoor experiences were like. No signage about things being closed, they just let you walk through what feels like an abandoned attraction but there's actually real animals in some of them. I was really weirded out.

 

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Absolutely soaked, but who cares. Mako is amazing and they just kept cycling us through until we had enough. What a strange SWO visit but I think Meat Monday was the highlight of the day :) 

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  • PKI Jizzman changed the title to Photo TR: Slowly Chipping Away at Florida Parks (BGT + SeaWorld Up!)

You guys really did have the WORST weather of the summer that week! I remember feeling so bad when we dropped you off at SeaWorld and it poured like most of the rest of the day! Glad you at least got your credits in and had some fun. Great report!

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The "parking lot" coaster criticism of Kraken is fair as it really is mostly backstage but that thing still rides great for me. Seems like I've read several recent reports of it being rough, or underwhelming, but every time I've been on it recently (couple of trips this past month) it's been great every time. I still love that ride.

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4 Days of Universal Studios Finale! 

This portion of trip could be defined as 'ecstasy and torture' due to the weather, crowds, and bad luck, haha. I didn't take as many pictures as I thought I did and I can't recall the order of stuff, so I'll start off with an intro and Velocicoaster post.

We stayed at the Royal Pacific, so express pass is included and you get the early entry, and the parks are a 10 minute walk away. 

Morning Day 1 was a reality check. Early Entry started at 8am, park opened at 9am. By the time we left the hotel at 730 the line to get into City Walk was almost to the path that leads to Royal Pacific. And it was not moving much at all. The line for the boat by that time was probably a bit less of a wait but we were already in this line and an HOUR later we get to City Walk. The massive line we were in ended with only 2 metal detectors. No wonder it took so long to get in. Never. Again. 

So after getting up and being hyped to get in the park, we were already pissed off. But wait, more confusion. My 4 day 2 park ticket that I bought was coming up as already used. Oh boy. Thankfully I didn't have to wait long to get help confirming the ticket had not been used, I had proof of purchase, etc. 

But all of that frustration started to melt away when I was Velocicoaster running. At this point it was close to park opening and VC had a 45 minute wait, which is totally fine, you really get to appreciate the coaster going through the whole queue. 

Velocicoaster: It's as amazing as I wanted it to be and more. The level of detail, commitment, creativity, design, to every inch of this attraction is awesome. It's as if every room has all been thoroughly double checked by multiple teams because I don't see any flaws anywhere. The locker system is efficient and easy. The lighting package for the area with how it changes and syncs is so eye catching. The raptors you see in the queue are too cool. There are Easter eggs everywhere. There's real talent in the pre show videos. Universal also kinda breaking the wall with saying "You asked for this. Faster. Crazier. More airtime. More speed. More teeth." 

Then you have the trains. They are special. They're so comfortable, your feet can't touch the ground, they give you something to hold onto.

The ride itself completes the package and the crew/team running the ride makes Velocicoaster the best coaster on the planet. I can't compare it to Maverick, that's unfair. The Jurassic Park/World theming is awesome, this coaster is so perfect. 

The first half is pretty unique with a big blend of strong airtime, unexpected airtime, laterals, high speed turns, and the initial launch out into the paddock has some fun theming. Anyone else really love that mini roll back wiggle it does when you first arrive by the raptors? 

The second half really goes wild. I love how minimal the supports are on the top hat. Riding in the back seat, you really get to appreciate being up on that top hat, it feels like time pauses for a moment.... until you're absolutely ripped out of your seat down that drop. It's seriously amazing. The stall stretches for a long time to allow you to look around upside down, and then you've got crazy twisted airtime until the barrel roll over the lagoon which definitely deserves the title for best inversion. Somehow it tries to throw you in with a burst of airtime before you bounce up into the paddock/station. 

Thank you Universal and Intamin teams for this huge hit. This coaster is world class and it feels like a coaster from the future!

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What a way to start the day! It's finally my time!

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Loved this center piece. 

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It's stunning.

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There was a fire alarm pulled or something on our first day, so we were able to get in a quick ride right when it re-opened!

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There's the most unique, crazy, intense burst of airtime here and it makes no sense!

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Yep, right here it's like an upside down airtime hill making you think you're going to end up in the lagoon.

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Hey Elissa!

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Don't sleep on Blue.

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Best coaster I've been on so far. Sorry DoDoDonpa. Sorry Maverick. Sorry Hakugei. Sorry i305, Skyrush, Phoenix, Outlaw Run, Millennium :) 

 

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  • PKI Jizzman changed the title to Photo TR: Slowly Chipping Away at Florida Parks (BGT + SeaWorld + VelociCoaster review Up!)
  • 3 weeks later...

Here's a photo dump for the rest of the visit! 

We never got to ride ET over 4 days, it broke down every time we got in line (3x)

Never got on Rip Ride Rocket either due to weather, mechanical, or a 90 minute express wait.

Mummy still kicks so much ass and might be the best example of a themed coaster.

MiB still holds up.

I have such a soft spot for Escape from Gringott's, I love that weird coaster so much. 

The airtime in the back row on Jurassic Park always hits so well.

Fearfall was a new ride for me, welp so I did that!

F&F is Cringe: The Ride. From the staff, the premise of the ride "don't touch your phone!!!!", the stupid club scene and the other 100 things wrong with this waste of space.

The Bourne Stunt Show was totally worth the time investment, definitely glad TPR called that out!

Hagrid's was new for me and honestly there was a lot about this coaster I forgot about! I intentionally avoided videos and pictures where I could since I didn't even experience the DD area/queue. I was pretty surprised with how creepy/dark/semi claustrophobic the line gets down in those caves. Hagrid's ran very consistently every day and the crew seemed to move as fast as they could. Over 3 rides, I got near the front and back and it's just so much fun. It's pretty crazy what all this ride does and how it was put together, but I totally understand those who prefer Dragons. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we would go to dinner 4:30-5:30 and re-enter the park only to have storms and lightning end our nights early. Honestly I think we left soaking wet each night. We either waited for a night ride on Hagrid or Veloci, but never got rides, but we did get specific express passes exclusive for Hagrid/VC. Finally on Friday we just balled out with them and we ended the night in an amazing fashion:

Friday night there was one cell that seemed like it would pass by just in time right before closing to allow VC to open. Our luck was such shit, but this time it looked like we'd FINALLY get a night ride in! The crowd thinned and thinned and thinned, and we watched the ops talk back and forth, look at radar, and at this point our phones were in the lockers so we just hoped.

We ended up getting 3 back to back to back rides without getting off the back seat as the crew cycled everyone through, and a lot waited for the front seat. So after 4 days of being tortured by mother nature we had a banger of a finish to the trip. You're the best VC crew!

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Oh yeah, the other new Intamin I need to ride!

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I wish there was a better area to just sip on a butterbeer and watch this thing cycle but I understand why. There's a number of well hidden surprises and it's just a big twisted mess of rock and steel.

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Sweet view of the castle! I think we waited 45-60 minutes in the morning, it was just that crazy at the park even first in the morning.

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Vroom vroom!

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Do we see this going on Express anytime soon? I don't know, it still seemed to be the most popular attraction by far.

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Ello there headmaster. 

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Such a cool room!

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It never gets old! The raptor cage was working on a few of our rides, so cool to see that working.

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Suck it JK!

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Another one that never gets old and was the winner for best AC! That line was amazingly frigid! 

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Florida, land of the OG B&M's. Was very happy to get some front seat rides on Hulk this visit.

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Hey babes. 

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Oh yeah, forgot to do this last visit so uh, this was fine! The whole super hero island needs an update. 

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Lunch at the Irish pub was very consistent with good food and great service. 

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Brendan Frasier and Imotep, the classic rivalry I grew up with!

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Even though the franchise as slipped, this attraction will bring back all the good vibes from the original movies!

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Mmmm...beer.

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The only attraction that has made me nauseous. 

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How dare they tease me with the original Irish Coffee. If you've never been, get your ass to San Francisco! 

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Nailed it

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Just checking to see if I have any coins left in my account and that's not a good look.

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Such an awkwardly-acted scene. 

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Get to the vault!!!

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After getting shit on by mother nature 3 days in a row and trying to get night rides, it's time to use all of the passes on the last day!

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The park closes in 10 minutes, we're in line for VC. Most of the queue emptied, we were in the raptor room just waiting for good news.....and it happened. Lightning held off and they opened the ride and we got 3 back to back rides without using our express. Wow.

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Just the best, honestly.

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What a way to end the trip! I really enjoyed what the front seat offered as well as the back. 2 incredible experiences. 

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So long Universal. While this trip was far from perfect, it was amazing to be able to travel again, experience new attractions, and see friends! Can't wait to get back there!

-Zach

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  • PKI Jizzman changed the title to Photo TR: Slowly Chipping Away at Florida Parks (All photos/reviews up!) 9/21/21

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