Canobie Coaster wrote:I do like the Alpine Bobsled, but that line is so painstakingly slow that I only will ride it if it's a walk-on. I know you love flumes. I like flumes too, but I think Great Escape's is among the worst out there.
Agreed on both counts, we got really lucky last year and caught the bobsled without a line. As for the log flume, it's not one of the better ones (though the one section before the drop is cool) but I still feel like it's in the top 3 rides in the park by default. What else are you going to ride? Steamin Demon? Boomerang Coast to Coaster? The next best ride in the park is probably the f*cking Condor which is sort of pathetic.
Canobie Coaster wrote:I like weenie dogs like you like flumes and sky rides. It's an unhealthy obsession.
Lol, nah I get it. I'd just be more worried about the sanity of the other people at the event than anything. I love Dachshunds, I just don't know if I could deal with a Dachshund event or people getting pissed off over a dog is a purebred. F*ck you you arrogant b*tch.
Canobie Coaster wrote:How bad are the lines at the Florida haunts? Usually that's my reservation with haunts. I would rather wait an hour for a coaster than a 5 minute haunt walkthrough.
Oh, they're bad. If you go early in the events and go on Thursdays they'll be less bad but they're still bad. If you don't want to wait in line you'll definitely need a skip the line pass and they're absurdly expensive. The atmosphere of the events can't be beat though.
Canobie Coaster wrote:I much preferred the dolphin and sea lions shows. But to each their own.
Clyde and Seamore is totally my favorite show at SeaWorld Orlando but if that ever gets back to Brit it'll be a bad day for me. Sea lions are adorable, they're like puppies with flippers.
boldikus wrote:Thanks for the SWO update! Can't wait to visit so soon!
Liked the Compounce update as well, those swings are nuts!
I think you'll enjoy the trip. It's one of the cleanest and most well run parks I've been to. Plus they have some great coasters and all the animals.
coasterbill wrote:As for the log flume, it's not one of the better ones (though the one section before the drop is cool) but I still feel like it's in the top 3 rides in the park by default. What else are you going to ride? Steamin Demon? Boomerang Coast to Coaster? The next best ride in the park is probably the f*cking Condor which is sort of pathetic.
I'd probably go with Blizzard, but that's a pretty sad moment when a scrambler is one of the top 3 rides at a Six Flags park.
Dombot wrote:Great report of my personal favorite park in Florida! Surprised you'd take Manta over Mako, but I'd actually probably take a back row ride on the ray than a front row on Mako.
Like I said, I'm splitting hairs with the two. I'm giving the edge to Manta since it's a more unique ride for me. I've been on several B&M hypers similar to Mako, but I haven't been on flyers with a layout and a setting quite like Manta.
In light of Islands of Adventure removing Dragon Challenge, I felt somewhat guilty for visiting Universal. Dragon Challenge was an amazing roller coaster and it’s still surreal to me that the coaster no longer exists. But when I put down the pitchfork, I have to admit Universal Orlando is still one of the best theme park resorts in the world.
It was a Saturday with perfect weather (80 degrees and sunny), so I was expecting heavy crowds. Fortunately Universal has single rider lines on almost every single one of their major attractions, so I was able to avoid waits for the most part.
I decided to start on the Studios side for a few reasons. First, while the Rockit has a single rider line, I remember it moving painstakingly slowly during my last visit. Second, I wanted to try the Jimmy Fallon ride before the virtual queue started up. And third, neither Simpsons nor ET had single rider queues.
I'm sure you've never seen this shot before.
I began with the Rockit. After depositing my possessions in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo, I was treated to a scan even more thorough than TSA to board. Is it frustrating having to put everything in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo? Without a doubt. Especially since I know to keep my phone safely tucked away in zippered pockets. However, since fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo are free I don’t really object since it genuinely appears to be in the name of safety.
TSA or Universal? Not sure if there's a difference.
I was able to get three consecutive rides on the Rockit without waiting. The coaster seems to be bashed upon quite a bit, but I actually really enjoy it. It’s probably my favorite ride on the studio side. It’s a bit rattly, especially in the very back, and barely has any theming, but it’s a darn good coaster.
The drops all give really nice air in the back. Even the front row has some really nice air on the ascents up the surprisingly steep hills. Then the funkily profiled helixes and turnarounds dish out far more Gs than anticipated. I also like just how odd and quirky the layout is diving through buildings and soaring over pathways. 9 out of 10
Rip, Ride, Rattle is a quirky but really fun coaster.
The helixes look like throwaway elements, but they're surprisingly forceful.
And there were a ton of Christmas decorations out too.
I know part of the experience of Race Through New York is the queue line, but I didn’t want to be held captive for 30 minutes by Jimmy Fallon and Hashtag the Panda. Fortunately the virtual queuing had yet to begin so I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. The queue line is incredibly well-themed and if you’re a Jimmy Fallon fanboy/fangirl, you’ll basically have an orgy in there.
The ride itself was exactly what I expected. Universal is the king of simulators and Race Through New York is no different. It shakes you around, spits on you, and has 3D. The story is a complete WTF though. I was expecting something insane, but I really think this was conceived by two drunk college students. At least the ride recognizes its own absurdity.
I actually liked the ride far more than expected. The visuals were well-done, the movement was well coordinated, and it was good, goofy fun. 8 out of 10
My girlfriend was so jealous that I got to ride Jimmy Fallon.
Having no standby queue is pretty awful, but the "virtual queue" they had is pretty darn cool. There are a ton of displays.
I hit Revenge of the Mummy next. I appreciate a well-themed queue, but I don’t know if it’s just me, but I almost wiped out on the stairway because of how dark the queue was. Disaster averted, I was on the coaster within 5 minutes. I love single rider lines.
The Mummy is the complete package (the ride at least, the movie is an entirely different story). The dark ride bits are very well executed and I love their reliance on practical sets unlike all of Universal’s newer stuff. Then the coaster section is excellent as well. The launches aren’t overly fast, but they have more kick to them than you’d expect.
The rest of the coaster section has a little bit of everything. There’s some strong pops of air, particularly after the first launch. There are several wild turns. And there’s even a helix that started to cause me to grey out. 9 out of 10
So much better than any of the movies.
From one movie franchise I dislike to another, I made my way over to Transformers. My issue with the movies is that they’re so chaotic I cannot tell what’s going on during any of the action scenes. The ride is pretty similar in that regard.
The ride’s strength is the reuse of the Spiderman ride system. But the action is so fast paced and over the top that I was lost for a majority of it. The guns and explosions looked cool, but I couldn’t tell who or what we were fighting. Still it’s a decent ride. Just towards the bottom of the Universal dark rides. 7 out of 10
Spiderman is to Indiana Jones Adventure while Transformers is to Dinosaur.
I debated going to Diagon Alley next, but decided to hit the other two rides that lacked single rider queues. ET Adventure is one of the most underrated rides at the resort in my opinion. I also know Universal will never design a dark ride quite like it ever again. That honestly may be part of the allure for me.
The bicycle ride vehicles are a simple touch, but they really heighten the immersion and uniqueness of the attraction. I also love all the practical scenes. The trucks, the city, and ET’s acid-trip of a home planet all combine to make this a memorable ride for me.
I really hope the park keeps ET Adventure around since it’s based on a classic movie and it’s a very well done dark ride. 9 out of 10
Make sure to pick a funny (but appropriate) name. I gave my real name. OJ of course.
I was still in luck, as the Simpsons Ride was a walk-on as well. Regrettably, I never got to try the Back to the Future Ride. But in some regards, I’m not clouded by nostalgia for the old and can appreciate what’s currently there.
I’ve never really watched the Simpsons, but I really like the smart, quirky humor of this attraction. And it’s not just during the ride. The jokes are spread during the queue line and safety videos as well.
The ride itself is unique for Universal- it only shakes you. There’s no water or 3D. But as far as simulators go, it’s one of my favorites. I’m a sucker for the amusement park setting and the movement is very well coordinated with the ride. 9 out of 10
Practicing my JJ Abrams lens flare.
Men in Black is one of my favorite franchises. And I love shooting dark rides. So Men in Black Alien Attack is right up my alley. This is the pinnacle of shooting dark rides. I love the massive sets and wide range of aliens. And not all of them are out in the open. Several are hiding in 3rd story windows, behind cars, etc.
The ride also has some unique bits. The random spinning is surprisingly forceful and actually more intense than a tilt-a-whirl. I also love the bit where you can take aim at the opposing cart and mercilessly victimize them.
The ride is insanely addictive and I probably rode it 4-5 times in a row. After the Rockit, it’s probably my favorite ride on the Studio side (yes I like it better than the Mummy and Gringotts). 10 out of 10
This was just some World's Fair exhibit. The last thing I remember was a bright flash of light and some agent in black was telling me I had a bad dream about an alien invasion.
I had been making extremely good time thus far, so I decided to test my luck with Diagon Alley. I set foot down the cramped alley way and immediately bailed out. It was shoulder to shoulder. When I checked the app, Gringotts was posting a 90 minute wait. No thank you, I’ll come back later.
In just over 3 hours, I had basically ridden everything I wanted to on the Studio side (without an Express pass) outside of Gringotts. I decided to take a leisurely lunch on CityWalk before jumping over to Islands of Adventure.
Time to hop over to my favorite of the two parks, Islands of Adventure.
I knew exactly where I was going first. I was lured in by the unmistakable B&M roar of the Incredible Hulk Coaster. I had ridden the coaster in 2008 and 2015. I absolutely loved the coasters relentless intensity and unique layout, but did find it a bit of a head-banger. I was hoping the retracking would eliminate this.
The off-ride upgrades were striking. I remember fading paint in my last visit, but this time the green was really popping. The new main entrance is incredible with the Hulk throwing the old train. But my favorite upgrade was the launch sound effects. The pulse and subsequent Hulk roar can be heard throughout the park and I couldn’t help but direct my eyes towards the launch tunnel every time I heard it.
I grabbed a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo and with the single rider line, I was seated in the back row within 5 minutes. And holy moly. I remembered the Hulk being great, but not this great. The launch into the zero-G roll is one of the best starts to a coaster out there. And that’s followed up with the most intense cobra roll out there (sorry Kumba). I was greying out and that continued through the forceful vertical loop.
Hulk doesn’t stop there as the first corkscrew is taken surprisingly early and is very snappy. But it has an added surprise. After the element, it immediately transitions into a drop and is followed by another forceful vertical loop. I just love how odd the coaster’s layout is.
The finale only has one more corkscrew, but it has some wild transitions. It’s not as intense as Intimidator 305, but there’s some rapid twists and even a moment of air coming off the brake run. My breath was taken away by the new Hulk. It was still a rush from start to finish, but now it’s immaculately smooth. Honestly this is my favorite coaster in Orlando. 10 out of 10
It appears one of the trains has derailed. I love this new entrance.
I just loved the ride in general. "New" Hulk was considerably smoother than the old and still one of the most intense coasters out there.
The Hulk is one of the most photogenic coasters out there.
There used to be a debate if this were the best B&M in the park. Well...that debate has been settled. And it's not because of the fantastic upgrades to the Hulk.
With my Hulk fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo rental still valid for another hour and a half, I decided to hit the two soaking water rides. You’d think the one with the giant splash boat (Jurassic Park) is the most drenching, but nope it’s the log flume and river rapids. The latter makes perfect sense, but rarely do I have to game plan to ride a flume. Ripsaw Falls is different.
Since it was “cold” for Floridians at 80 degrees, Ripsaw Falls was only a 5 minute wait. Anything is better than that awful 2 hour wait I had when I first rode it in 2008 after the lap bars were added. I still find the lap bars ridiculously awkward, but I don’t blame Universal to protect people from their own stupidity.
I think the most evil thing with Ripsaw Falls is how it gets you wet. You would think it’d be the climactic plunge at the end. Nope. It’s the soakers are the tiny drops on the inside, the sprayers, and the waterfall. Yes this flume has a freaking waterfall and there’s no way to avoid it.
The story is pretty loose, but any theming is always a welcome addition. But the real star are the drops. The two smaller ones have some pretty good zip to them, but the ride’s bread and butter is that final plunge. It’s extremely tall and steep for a flume. And it packs a stronger punch than most coasters. 10 out of 10
Florida Guest 1 would prefer something warmer than Ripsaw Falls... Meanwhile this Massachusetts guest relished the opportunity to cool down on an 80 degree day.
Already soaked to the core, I doubled down are rode Popeye next. Also just a 5 minute wait, I was eager to reride my favorite rapids ride after it was closed during my most recent visit. The ride uses every single trick in the book to soak riders.
Huge rapids. Check. Waterfalls. Check. Sprayers. Check. Misters. Check. And all of these elements are very well themed. But the most soaking bit is the finale. The “car wash” lift is cleverly themed, but the trip down is the absolute soaker.
I wouldn’t call it a drop per say, but it’s a non-stop downhill segment where the raft generates some surprising speed. And the resulting splash is colossal. I usually will lift my feet up to save my shoes on rapids rides, but that was no use here. The cascade of water barreled over the seats (note that I say seats, not the side of the raft) and soaked everything. 10 out of 10
There's no way to come off this ride dry. Unless you get evacuated 10 seconds in.
On the way back to the Hulk fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo, I couldn’t pass up a ride on Spiderman. I’m a huge comic book nerd, so this ride is crack for me. The story is easy to follow and well executed, something far too many dark rides seem to butcher. Then the combination of movement, 3D effects, and screens are so flawlessly executed. 10 out of 10
A comic book nerd's wet dream.
Along with Race Through New York, the other new ride for me at the resort as Skull Island: Reign of Kong. I was psyched to see another single rider line. Unfortunately this one wasn’t particularly fast. The main queue was posted at 40 minutes and I think my wait was in that ballpark.
That’s the game with the single rider line. 9 out of 10 times it saves time, but this was the one instance it didn’t. I realize that. However, people around me were getting pretty irate. They were floored when the grouper asked for parties of two instead of taking two people from the single rider line. In fact, two girls got so furious behind me that they tried to sneak into the main queue before being busted.
I purposely didn’t spoil the ride prior to riding. When I saw the huge trams and giant gates to Skull Island, I was optimistic this wouldn’t be a screen ride. Nope. When I got to the boarding station I saw the 3D glasses. I’ll say this about screens. I prefer a well-executed ride with practical sets over 3D screens. That being said, I can still like the latter if it’s well done. Kong was well done.
Having the screens on both sides was a unique configuration. I was fortunate enough to be on the outside of the tram so I had an unobstructed view of one side. I thought it was cool having the action bounce between screens on the right and left. But the finale was the highlight. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it was visually impressive to say the least. 9 out of 10
It may look like a non screen-based attraction, but after a brief outdoor detour that gets your hopes up, the screens make their triumphant return.
I completed the trifecta of water rides with the driest of the bunch, Jurassic Park. Again with the “cool” weather, it wasn’t more than a 5 minute wait. Jurassic Park is the perfect IP for a theme park attraction and it’s used to perfection here. The dinosaur animatronics are massive and very well done. All of the water effects were also working, something I haven’t been too lucky with on past trips.
But the highlight is the final plunge. Ripsaw Falls gets all the attention, but I think Jurassic Park’s drop is superior. It’s larger, steeper, and has the surprise right before it. I personally think that this is my favorite of the water rides. It has the best theming, the best drop, and it doesn’t get you so ridiculously wet that you could melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. 10 out of 10
I still can't answer why this is dryer than the flume.
At this point, the only major rides I had left both resided in Harry Potter. As I walked towards Hogsmeade, I saw the bridge packed to the gills. I was worried it could be at max capacity. I was walking shoulder to shoulder, but they weren’t restricting people from entering.
I really want to like the Harry Potter areas. The theming looks incredible and I can’t believe just how much they pulled from the books/movies. My issue is just how ridiculously crowded it gets. Because of the crowds, I sneak in for the rides and quickly duck out.
The area really needs another high capacity attraction to pull people off the walkways. I'm just spit-balling here, but something like a dueling B&M invert would fit the bill. Oh wait...
Hogsmeade seemed even more crowded than usual. Just after the train, I hit a wall. This wasn’t Platform 9 ¾. No this was a wall of people and they weren’t moving. What was going on? Turns out they were about to start the projection show. Thankfully the park set up a lane to travel to and from Forbidden Journey.
Of course you had those jerks try and cheat the system and stop to watch the show. The employees had to keep prodding them like cattle. I didn’t stop, but I was able to see bits of the show. It looked quite impressive. The projection mapping technology looked similar to the castle shows at Disney.
Eventually I made it to Forbidden Journey. The main queue was posted at 45 minutes, but my good friend the single rider line got me two quick rides in the span of 15 minutes. This is arguably my favorite dark ride after Indiana Jones.
The theming is outstanding, as the ride seamlessly mixes between practical sets and screens. The immersion is truly spectacular. But what makes the ride is the Kuka robot arms. The ride system is ingenious. Rather than the grandparent friendly dark rides of old, this transforms the dark ride into a legitimate thrill ride with the wild movements. 10 out of 10
I really want to like the Harry Potter areas.
The rides are awesome and the area looks outstanding but...
It feels busier than the malls at Black Friday. At least these wizards and witches don't fight for parking spaces or claw you over the last $5 DVD on the shelf.
The projection mapping show was wrapping up. I knew I only had a few minutes before the stampede would flood Hogsmeade Station. It was about 90 minutes to closing and I still needed to get on Gringotts and get my night rides in on Rockit and Hulk. Getting on the Hogwarts Express would be a big time saver.
Fortunately it was just a 10 minute wait. As a theme park fan, I kind of wish I could see Universal’s back stage areas, but I still appreciate how well-themed this train ride is. I like the mix of outdoor scenes with the silhouettes in the hallway.
All aboard the fastest way to park hop.
Diagon Alley was still incredibly busy. It was nowhere near as bad as Hogsmeade, but it was still pretty awful. Gringotts had a 50 minute wait posted, so I decided to use the single rider line. I know it skips the incredible queue, so before you rake me over the coals, I have experienced the full queue before during my visit in 2015. The single rider line was busy, but I still saved time and got on in about a half hour.
Gringotts is a really interesting mix of a coaster and a dark ride. If you don’t want any spoilers, please ignore the next paragraph.
<SPOILERS> I absolutely love the tilt track segment at the beginning. The sudden drop is pretty powerful and gives that gut-wrenching sensation like a drop tower. Until the surprise launch at the end, the rest of the ride is more of a dark ride. I really appreciate how this one incorporated in Voldemort. I always found it odd how the Forbidden Journey didn’t include Harry Potter’s archnemesis even once. <END SPOILERS>
I prefer Forbidden Journey and a few of Universal’s other dark rides to Gringotts, but I still do enjoy the ride for its innovative ride system and well-done scenes. 8 out of 10
Diagon Alley is newer, but it feels just as congested as Hogsmeade.
The newest Harry Potter ride (for now).
I had about 45 minutes left, so I was hoping to get one ride on the Rockit and one on the Hulk. My plans were changed when I saw the Rockit had been closed early due to a concert.
That concert ruined my chance for a Rockit night ride. Thankfully there was a green beast nearby.
As a consolation prize, I park hopped over to Islands of Adventure. I put my belongings in a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo and was optimistic I could get 2-3 rides on the Hulk with the single rider line. After passing the metal detector, I tried to bear left but was told the single rider line was closed. I was shocked they closed it early. It was annoying, but 45 minutes later I was seated in the back row again and treated to another great ride.
The Hulk looked absolutely amazing at night.
It's just a bummer they closed down the single rider line.
Condensing Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios into one day can be done, but it’s definitely a rushed day. You also need to use the single rider lines like me or splurge for an Express Pass. Someday I’ll have a longer visit to the park so I have enough time to explore more in the park outside of the main rides.
Universal has received a lot of hate for removing Dragons. I strongly opposed that decision from an enthusiast standpoint, but from a business standpoint I can understand why it happened. But looking past that, I still have to say that Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure are two of the best parks out there. The theming is close to Disney and the rides are much wilder.
Since the park closed at 8, I was looking for a fun spot to spend the night. Conveniently, there was a place called Fun Spot next door.
Canobie Coaster wrote:It felt criminal going to Orlando and not visiting Disney World, but that’s what I did.
I felt the same way when I went to Orlando for the first time ever back in August, especially with Pandora having just opened, but I only had four days and riding Dragon Challenge before it closed was the purpose of my trip. I do not regret my decision as I had three great days at Universal Orlando including a good day at Volcano Bay, and a fourth day at both Fun Spots before flying home. I really liked Universal Orlando resort, and felt there was plenty to do there. Sure, there are a few redundant attractions with the same ride system, but Fantasyland at Disneyland has several dark rides with a similar ride system to each other, so is it much different than that? It sucks that Dragon Challenge was removed and had it been in another location of the park it would have been safe, but even without it Islands of Adventure is still a great park and Universal Orlando offers plenty of attractions for thrill seekers that also likes immersive environments. Escape from Gringotts might have been my favorite ride at the Universal Orlando resort and if the new Harry Potter attraction is at least as good as that, then we're in for a treat.
http://coaster-count.com/userinfo15854.xhtml and http://www.coastercounter.com/805Andrew (I don't count traveling fairs and casinos as parks, and I count Coney Island as one park)[url=http://www.clubtpr.com][img]http://www.clubtpr.com/images/memberbanners/07c56b6e6c57795b5e848cab51dd406e.jpg[/img][/url][url=http://www.clubtpr.com][img]http://www.clubtpr.com/images/memberbanners/4bcb6d715cbe293b80fdfea5d0baf0b0.jpg[/img][/url]
I really wanted to visit Volcano Bay, but the nightmare stories I've heard about Tapu Tapu had me delay it for a future trip. Krakatau looks like Wildebeast in a fake volcano and those trap door slides look like some of the most terrifying slides out there. How bad were the queues on your trip? In particular I remember hearing 4-5 hour Tapu Tapu times for Krakatau and I couldn't spend that long in a lazy river.
You definitely made the right choice getting to Universal before Dragons closed. Those were two of the most forceful inverts out there and they had two of the most unique layouts as well. Even if the new ride is as good as Gringotts, I personally can't see it passing Dragons in my book. But a new Potter themed ride is going to be a bigger long term draw. It's a shame but the reality of the situation.
Overall I prefer Disneyland over any singular park at Walt Disney World. Indiana Jones is my favorite ride there. The California Space Mountain is better. And while the dark rides are similar, the ones in California seem to have more/better effects. The most obvious one is the California Pirates which is twice the length of Orlando's. But for a longer trip, Walt Disney World wins. Each park feels considerably different and several unique to the resort like Everest, Test Track, etc.
Great report! Just a few random comments from the peanut gallery as I read through...
1) I was starting to think I was the only one that didn't mind Rockit. I've had a few rides on it that werre glass smooth, a few that delievered bit of a beating and a few that were sort of in between but it's a fun coaster, even when it's running rough.
I'd consider it the worst adult coaster in the history of Universal Orlando pretty much by default, but it's still fun.
2) Holy crap, someone else who liked Kong! I was starting to think it was just me. lol
3) Nobody's going to believe this, but I have to agree with you on River Adventure. Everyone knows how much I love log flumes, but Ripsaw falls is almost absurdly drenching for a log flume ride and because of that and the dumb grouping / lap bar system it's one of my least favorites.
River Adventure on the other hand is an all around fantastic attraction. There's an "acceptable amount of wetness", awesome theming and the ride features 100% real sets to keep the "Universal has nothing but screens" crowd happy. It's one of the best rides on Universal property and it's criminally underrated.
As for Popeye, I've never ridden it. I just assumed I would get off the ride soaked to the bone and miserable. lol
4) Nice to see the Potter stuff getting some love around here. Personally I think it's absolutely mind blowing and I was suprised to see I seemed to be in the minority in the enthusiast community.
After riding one of the other X-Car coasters in Germany, several of us noted the ride was very smooth in the middle rows but rattly in any other row. I have a feeling Rockit is similar. Still I love the funky elements of that ride.
Everything about the Potter area is amazing outside of the insane crowds that make it hard to enjoy the area. If I could ever get some time in there on a day that it wasn't packed to the gills, I have a feeling I'd be singing its praises more. Until then, my evaluation is limited just to the rides. And Gringotts and Forbidden Journey are two of the best dark rides out there.
After riding Ripsaw, Popeye's isn't that much worse to be honest. If you ride one, you mind as well ride the other since you're already soaked. The worst part of the Ripsaw lap bars is that you're unable to lift your feet to avoid soaking them. Same thing happened on Chiapas.
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