Continuing onward on my Floridian trip -- my (almost) first-ever trip to Universal. I've got enough pictures that I've decided to split this into two parts -- one for each of the Universal parks. I'll start off with the original.
As with SeaWorld, my last and only visit to Universal Studios was in 1995 at the age of 10. Again, I remember very little of the visit, but there are a couple things that stick out. For one, I do remember riding Jaws, which met its unfortunate demise several years ago. For two, I remember waiting at least an hour for Kongfrontation. I don't remember the ride at all, but I remember the NYC-subway-esque queue, which had a "Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain" movie poster that 10-year-old me was quite fond of.
Suffice to say, Universal Studios looks nothing like it did in 1995, so this was essentially a first-time visit. Yes, ET Adventure carries over from 1995 to 2017, but that's about it!
I visited on Tuesday, February 14. Scorecard for the day:
Men in Black
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (x2)
-- Lunch at Red Oven --
Men in Black
Hogwarts Express (to IOA)
Hogwarts Express (to USF)
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
My closest points of comparison for Universal Studios Florida are Movie Park Germany and Disney's Hollywood Studios -- two parks that, at least in their current state, are inferior to USF. A launched Mack coaster might change that for the former, and two huge new lands will almost certainly change that for the latter. I went into USF with measured expectations, knowing right off that there would be two factors that would negatively influence my feelings on the place.
1) I have zero attachment or connection -- as a child or an adult -- to any of the park's franchises or theming.
2) I've never been huge on 3D media-based attractions.
To no surprise, I didn't fall in love with most of the attractions (or the park as a whole), even as I recognize that it's overall an impressively-themed property. The only attraction I truly disliked was Shrek 4D -- a mostly-unfunny film set to a hideously uncomfortable "moving chair that feels like a pothole-ridden Michigan freeway at 90 MPH" experience. Transformers was incoherent, Simpsons looked like 360p, and I didn't like Mummy as much as I thought I might. Oddly, despite thinking that Minions are among the most annoying franchise mascots ever created, that might have been my favorite of the non-coaster simulator attractions! Gringotts, of course, was excellent -- and a brilliant combination of ride and simulator technology. However, I think it's Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit that ends up as my favorite attraction overall at USF -- I enjoyed it far more than I'd expected to.
Crowds were not as completely dead as they'd been at Busch Gardens or SeaWorld, but they were still light. A 20-30 minute wait for Minion Mayhem was the worst of the day, and most everything else was walk-on to 5-10 minutes at most. I went through the full (non-single-rider) queues for Gringotts, Mummy, and MiB on my first rides, and even that didn't add much time to the wait.
For lack of a better place to put this part of the review, Red Oven Pizza missed the mark. They're trying to be a little more deluxe than Blaze and its fast-casual peers, but it wasn't as customizable or economical, nor was it a true higher-end pizza. I'm a pizza snob, so I'm willing to pay for a good legit Neapolitan pie, but this one did not fit the bill. Plus, I'd been to Bavaro's in Tampa exactly a week prior, so it's almost unfair to ask this place to compare.
I'll save my overall thoughts for the Universal experience for the next trip report segment. For now, let's get to the pictures from the first park!