Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby SharkTums » Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:26 pm

^Are you in the position where you're able to buy Express Passes? It's going to be VERY busy.

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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby Satans Hockey » Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:26 am

Was our first time going down for Universal's holiday stuff and had a great time. This type of weather is perfect to me, sun was out but I wasn't sweating to death lol

Really enjoyed the Macy's day parade which is something I'd never bother doing on Thanksgiving even though I could. We lined up maybe 40 minutes before and got a great spot.

At Islands I got to ride Kong for the first time and I enjoyed it more than I expected to but I just wish the ride was more like the start and end of the ride. The opening of the giant doors is such a great start and then it's just screens and meh. Loved the ending though and it's 1000x better than the fast and the furious ride.

I forgot how much Dudley do right gets you soaked lol still a fun ride though but not something I would do every time.

We didn't do a ton of rides since we were checking out all the Xmas stuff in both parks but Hagrids was running all day for the most part at a 90 min wait. We just didn't bother since we are making a few trips to Florida this year. The Grinch show was great, especially the guy who plays the Grinch. Did the meet and greet later in the day and he was a lot of fun, told us to have a horrible day on the way out lol

They also had a Xmas tree hunt that was free that we did, you picked up a free map/list and just get stamps at each store that has a themed tree. They were themed to the area, marvel tree, Betty boop, minions, men in black, etc, all of them were very nice. After you got all of them they gave you a free plastic minion tree ornament. I saw some people online complaining about it but it took us maybe 5 mins to do the entire thing because we were walking by the stores anyway.

Was also our first time seeing the Potter projection screen on the castle and thought it was very well done.

My only slight issues are that the stands for butterbeer that aren't inside and stuff like the taco truck in simpsons land don't honor the season pass discount. I knew that when I got the season pass but if SeaWorld can do it at their food booths there's no reason Universal can't set it up to work as well.

Also just thought an 8pm closing for both parks on a Saturday night is odd. The parks definitely seem crowded enough to warrant keeping them open until 10pm but I'm sure they know better than me. Would be nice if they at least staggered the closing times, islands at 8pm and studios at 9pm or whatever just so both parks aren't sending everyone out to citywalk and the parking deck at the same time.

Also have to add that I haven't been to universal in a few years but all the staff we encountered were way nicer than we ever remembered. They all seemed to be very happy to be there. Felt very Disney like in that manner which was nice to see.

Ended up eating at big fire for dinner, burgers were pretty good and since there was a 25% discount promo going on for certain restaurants for pass holders it was really reasonable price wise.

Not sure when we are gonna get back down there but we have been debating doing the 5k and 10k runs through the parks since this is the first year universal is officially running them.

Here's a few photos of the parade...

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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby SharkTums » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:43 pm

^Nice report, glad to hear the employees are improving. I still haven't been on Hagrid's because I really want it to be more consistent before I go put the effort into it. I really want to try that new Big Fire restaurant too, I've heard a lot of good things.

The closing times are ridiculous. Robb and I were commenting on that a few weeks back. They obviously could stay open later or stagger the parks, but I really think they WANT to put people into Citywalk before it gets too late so they'll spend more money. That's the only reason that makes sense for the shorter hours at the parks.

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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby Satans Hockey » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:01 pm

SharkTums wrote:^Nice report, glad to hear the employees are improving. I still haven't been on Hagrid's because I really want it to be more consistent before I go put the effort into it. I really want to try that new Big Fire restaurant too, I've heard a lot of good things.

The closing times are ridiculous. Robb and I were commenting on that a few weeks back. They obviously could stay open later or stagger the parks, but I really think they WANT to put people into Citywalk before it gets too late so they'll spend more money. That's the only reason that makes sense for the shorter hours at the parks.


Yeah I agree that's gotta be their thinking. I do think staggering closing times might get more people eating at Citywalk, I think they do stagger sometimes but I don't pay enough attention to their schedule attention to know. On the Saturday we were there both parks closed at 8 and we waited 50 minutes to get a table at big fire. I'm sure a lot of people skipped eating simply because they didn't want to wait after already spending a day at the parks. When we got out around 10pm it was really empty, voodoo donuts had a long line still though lol

I know they are trying to get more of a Disney type bubble going but you would think they would extend the hours to warrant people choosing to stay there the entire time and for the prices they charge for admission. I think people would still fill up the restaurants with 10pm closings or a staggered close of 9/10. I just don't think expecting a 10pm close time, especially for a Saturday night is unreasonable. It's a huge part of the reason we just opted for a season pass this year. The value vs single day park to park tickets is crazy. We have family in Florida so doing a quick weekend trip down there is easier for us now.

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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby coasterbill » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:02 am

On the subject of Hagrid's, it looks like it opened and closed with the park the last 3 days. We were tempted to get in line right at close yesterday but we hadn't been on Forbidden Journey in years so we ended up riding an enchanted bench instead.

We rode Hagrid's for the first yesterday time though and it's an awesome ride. It's like a giant Verbolten on steroids.
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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby Canobie Coaster » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:12 am

^ Great to hear! That's a coaster I definitely want to try at night when I return.
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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby coasterbill » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:19 am

I mean, I have no idea if it's a permanent development but it can't be a bad thing that they're sometimes running it all day now.
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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby SharkTums » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:41 am

I'm happy to hear it sounds like Hagrid's is running slightly more reliable. As soon as it is, I'll head down and try to get on it one morning.

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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby Canobie Coaster » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:49 am

coasterbill wrote:I mean, I have no idea if it's a permanent development but it can't be a bad thing that they're sometimes running it all day now.


The real test will be the Christmas week.
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Re: Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

Postby coasterbill » Wed Dec 18, 2019 12:08 pm

So I know that I won't end get around to writing a full trip report but we had an awesome day at Universal on Sunday and I figured I'd give some quick thoughts on a few things. We were at HHN this year and last year but it's been years since we went to IOA and honestly, that's far too long. First, let's talk about the 3 rides that were new to us. I can't call it the good, the bad and the ugly, maybe the incredibly good, the less good and the uh... actually I don't really have the words for that last one.

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PS: JRice was off from work at Universal but was more than willing to spend the entire day at work. I guess I would be too if I worked at Universal. lol

Hagrid's
We made Hagrid's our first stop. As an aside, we didn't even get into the line to enter the park until 9 (when they opened), we didn't run and we were still on in an hour. The craziness has died down a bit. As an added bonus, by pure luck of the draw we ended up getting the front row!

We loved the ride but it's a very "us" ride. First of all, we love Harry Potter. Second of all, it has a drop track and Brit thinks that the sun rises and sets with drop tracks. "Verbolten on crack" is the best way to describe this. It just does so much and it's so incredibly fun that it's hard not to love it.

I can't really pick a favorite part but I guess if I had to choose I would say that it's the reverse spike just because not only is it a tremendously fun element but I was really impressed with how well and how cleverly they hid it.

This ride is not as intense as Dragons, but it's really more intense than I thought it would be. That's probably credit to the manufacturer. It's whippy and it's fast. The animatronics are very cool (though you go by them at a quick clip). Honestly, everything about it is just pure fun. I don't really have a single complaint. Brit's declared it her new favorite coaster. I think that's a bit strong but it's up there for me too. It's tremendously fun. I also fully expected Brit to say that because it has a drop track. Her favorite ride in Canada is Wonder Mountain's Guardian so this is what you're dealing with here...

Fallon
This ride isn't amazing, but it's better than I expected it to be and that's probably because Jimmy Fallon actually gave a sh*t when he was working on it. The production value is great. It also has the best safety spiel in Orlando. It was also fun riding with JRice since he works the ride and could give us some fun little factoids about it.

It could be a case of nonexistent expectations and I'm not telling anyone to make this a priority but it's not a bad ride. I probably like it better than Shrek and I definitely like it better than the next ride that I'm about to talk about:

Fast and the Furious
Uh.

... what the f*ck is this?

Let me say this. I'm not bothered by Universal's use of screens. I'm not bothered that they keep spraying you with water. I like Kong and it's ride system. I don't dislike this ride for any of those reasons. I dislike this ride because it's a bad ride.

It's a movie about car racing but you ride in a... party bus? The acting sucks. The effects suck. The story sucks. The ride sucks. I don't like this franchise but it's a big franchise for them. This should have been an awesome ride. Imagine if this were like Test Track or even Backlot Stunt Coaster in a show building with an insane theming budget. Why is it a party bus? Nobody who rides a Fast and the Furious ride wants to ride a party bus, they want to ride a cool fast car.

In addition, the ride feels very short despite the massive show building and the final scene is terrible. Kong works because it's dark. You can't really see the mechanics of the ride. Here you clearly see without having to look for it that you're on a track and not moving because of how insanely bright the last scene is. Plus, even aside from that the scene is less than impressive. Vin Diesel is almost the size of the helicopter. It also feels like you're maybe building up to something really cool after that scene but then you find out that... no, it's actually the finale. That was it.

The ride also has 2 pre shows, neither of which are good. The queue is the best part of the ride.

Before this, I never thought that Universal Orlando had any "bad" rides. Rockit has it's days, Shrek is the closest they come but I don't hate it. This ride though? This ride is bad and I think they know it and I think all of their guests know it.

Now for a few more general thoughts and some comments on rides that we HAVE ridden before:

- Gringotts and Forbidden Journey never stop blowing our minds. We always make it a point to ride Gringotts when we go to Horror nights so I've been on that very recently, but it's been way too long since we've been on Forbidden Journey. These are seriously some of my favorite rides ever. I love everything about them.

- I always liked Hulk but JRice told us to ride it in the back row and now I *LOVE* Hulk. Holy living sh*t this ride is powerful. To all of you G-Force-loving Floridians who have Montu, Manta, Kumba and Hulk within 90 minutes of eachother just know that I hate you.

- We rode Mummy like 5 times during Horror Nights but we didn't get our fill so we rode again. That ride is perfection.

- Skull Island: Reign of Kong is a really good ride. I'll never understand the hate for it. This was our first time not expressing it and I loved the live actor and cool animatronics in the queue.

- Jurrasic World looks cool but I really love River Adventure as-is. Going through the Jurrasic Park gates is so cool. I kind of hope they never change it.

- I still love E.T. Adventure. I shouldn't. It has so many similarities to Peter Pan's Flight between the ride system and flying over the city and I don't like that ride at all but I really do like ET. You also don't have to stand in a 90 minute line for it which is a plus.

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- Butterbeer is ridiculously delicious. I'd never pay that much for a non-alcoholic beverage anywhere else on the planet but Universal... shut up and take my money.

Overall we had an awesome day at Universal. Thanks again to JRice for coming to work on your day off. :lol:
Last edited by coasterbill on Wed Dec 18, 2019 12:52 pm.

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