Since I visited Orlando in a “quiet” period (back in January), most of the Disney and Universal parks were closed by 8 pm. What was I to do? Was I actually supposed to go to my hotel room and get a full night sleep? Please…that’s how normal people vacation.
Instead, I went to the one park that would never dream of closing before midnight- Fun Spot.
Fun Spot. The land of late hours, cheap beer, and crazy go karts.
I much prefer the Kissimmee location for a few reasons- Mine Blower, that gargantuan SkyCoaster, and the insane go kart track with the double down and banked turn.
Unfortunately, the Vortex go kart track was closed. But Fun Spot did make it up to me with a brand new roller coaster credit in the Hurricane.
But first I had to find the new coaster. That was quite hard.
Hurricane is way back in the Old Town area. While it’s included on the Fun Spot wristband, it doesn’t feel like it’s part of the park at all. The back area of Old Town feels empty and deserted. I felt like I wasn’t even supposed to be back there.
Most of Miler’s coasters are of the kiddie variety. And they probably make some of the best kiddie coasters since they’re a bit more aggressive. But every once and a while, they build a full-size coaster. And the results are awkward.
Hurricane is sized like a family coaster, but don’t be fooled. This is an aggressive ride! This coaster has a 3-car train, but it has hairpin turns fit for a wild mouse. This results in some violent and janky laterals.
But the most brutal part is this low-to-the-ground, high speed turn after the second drop. I have a high tolerance for rough rides and even I’ll admit this turn was brutal. I was dreading it on every ride.
However, I was willing to look past that turn because of the airtime. This coaster delivered airtime on every hill. It was of the floater variety up front, but the back row had some great ejector airtime, particularly on the hills towards the end of the ride. 7 out of 10
Hurricane felt deserted and empty in the back of Old Town.
I still have PTSD over that second turn. It's brutal!
But Hurricane does have some good airtime.
There was zero chance I’d skip the world’s tallest SkyCoaster. Except this time I opted to try the Sky Sled. And it was a struggle. It was unavailable on day 1 due to wind. And on day 2, I was suited up only to learn the harness had a defect and needed to be swapped out.
As for the Sky Sled harness, it was extremely awkward. The straps are *this* close to being a choking hazard and the straps ride up into your crotch. But you do get the terrifying visual of seeing the cable in front of you during the ascent.
And that cable was particularly terrifying during the drop. It comes very close to your face. Now I did find the drop much less intense on the Sky Sled since you aren’t facing the ground. This one felt more like a supersized Screamin’ Swing.
So when you combine the uncomfortable position with a duller drop, I don’t think I’ll be trying the Sky Sled again. 5 out of 10
No matter how many times I ride this, it still makes my legs feel like Jell-O.
Last but not least, I took several laps on Mine Blower. I’ve always been one to defend this coaster as smooth enough. But Mine Blower was definitely running rougher. I rode in both trains and there was no difference; both jackhammered pretty badly.
It was still hauling through the layout though. Mine Blower still has one of the best starts of any coaster with the ejector airtime filled drop and forceful hangtime on the zero-G roll. And then every other hill offers some sort of airtime. 8 out of 10
Fun Spot really is a picturesque little park.
Mine Blower absolutely hauls.
No one will confuse Fun Spot with Orlando’s major theme parks. And Fun Spot isn’t dumb. They know they can’t compete with them. That’s why they try to compliment them by offering the area’s only wooden coasters, crazy go karts, a pay-per-ride system, and extended hours.
After two early mornings at Hollywood Studios, I decided to sleep in. I slept in all the way to 7:30.
I knew it was risky getting to Islands of Adventure early for Hagrid's. With temperatures below 60 degrees and the ride's operational issues, I was skeptical it would even open with the park.
Sure enough, it didn't.
This was the equivalent of the Hogwarts Express arriving at Hogwarts only to find the school closed.
The park let us into the queue. I was optimistic since the ride was testing. But the audio prompts kept getting worse. The short delay turned into a long delay and latter an indefinite delay.
After 2 hours, the park cleared out the queue but gave us a special Express Pass to return. And I was secretly happy with this outcome since I could use it to get a rare night ride on Hagrid's.
Arthur Weasley is a sucky mechanic.
And just like last time, Hagrid's was testing as the queue line was evacuated. So I decided to wait around for 5 minutes and sure enough, Hagrid's opened and I walked right onto the coaster.
Even though I was a single rider, I chose to use the regular queue. That way I could guarantee myself a motorbike. The elevated seating position leaves you so open and accentuates the curves.
And I think I preferred Hagrid's even more this time around. It's an action-packed journey from start to finish. Each launch packs a nice punch, the turns pull some good Gs, the hills had a pinch of airtime, and the surprise elements along the way give the ride character. 10 out of 10
Hagrid's marches all over the grave of Dueling Dragons.
Hagrid's may be a slow oaf in the films, but his motorbikes are certainly agile.
I didn't remember the ride having the few spots of airtime back in October.
I contemplated getting back in line for Hagrid's, but I couldn't locate the end of the queue (it was somewhere back in Lost Continent). So instead I decided to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
The ride was posting an astronomical 120 minute standby queue, so naturally I chose to use the single rider line, which was a walk-on as always. And per usual, it was one of the best dark rides in the world. 10 out of 10
Hogwarts is home to many mysteries. Most importantly, why don't more people use the single rider queue?
The Hulk was being quite temperamental in the morning, but it eventually reopened in the afternoon. It had a lengthy queue all day, but I was able to ride it twice- once in the front and once in the back.
And I love that first half. The uphill launch into the zero-G roll is one of the best moments on any B&M. The cobra roll is easily the best on the planet; it pulls some serious Gs. The two loops are quite powerful and I love the corkscrew that is immediately followed by a drop into a trench.
The second half is a bit dull, but at least it's smooth and has the on-board audio pumping. 8 out of 10
Best cobra roll on earth. It's not even a contest.
The Hulk's first half is a mean green machine.
Such a picturesque coaster.
I also did something quite stupid during this visit. You see, I had a toe injury. I'm not going to go into any details, but it was covered in a bandage that I was explicitly told not to get wet.
So naturally I rode Jurassic Park, Popeye's, and Ripsaw Falls.
But I took some precautions. I wrapped my foot in multiple trash bags. Did I look ridiculous? Absolutely! Did I care? Nope. I managed to escape the wettest water rides in the world with dry feet. And honestly, it worked so well I may even do it again on future visits.
Looks are certainly deceiving. I can't believe this is easily the driest water ride in the park.
Meanwhile the log flume is freaking deluge.
I spent very little time on the Studios side, but I made sure to take a quick lap hitting my favorites. That included Men in Black, Mummy, Rockit, and Buddy. Who's Buddy you may ask? Why, that's the adorable weenie dog from the Secret Life of Pets.
Slinky Dog isn't the only wiener dog in town.
But the highlight on the Studios side was undoubtedly the Rockit. I get that people find this coaster shaky, but it's such a unique and well-rounded coaster. The drops have some great airtime, the helices pull some strong Gs, and the soundtrack certainly helps. 8.5 out of 10
I know people wish Universal Orlando got Hollywood Dream instead, but I actually prefer the Rockit.
Each drop delivers some really underrated airtime.
However, the highlight of the entire visit was riding Hagrid's twice at night. Night rides have been difficult to obtain on Hagrid's since the ride's queue closed at 3 pm all summer, but it was kept open until closing on this visit. So I was able to get two rides- once with the Express Pass and once in the standby queue.
I didn't find the experience any better at night, but that was no issue since it was already exemplary by day. The only difference was that the transition into the Devil's Snare feeling more seamless.
Sometimes my camera's struggle to capture moving targets at night results in some cool photos like this.
I was also able to catch the projection show on the castle during my final wait for Hagrid's. And it made the night even more special. The show didn't last long, but it was a nice touch that added a lot of energy to the area.
Everything is better with projection mapping.
And while I might not make it back to Universal again in 2020, there are certainly some nice things coming in the near future.
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