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Gazza

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Gazza last won the day on August 15 2022

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About Gazza

  • Birthday 16/03/1989

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  1. In fact, 2 generators on this artwork visible, and potentially a 3rd if they do the one in the corner indicated on @Jamberoo Fans aerial image.
  2. 2 Wave Pools 2 Lazy Rivers 2 Kids Zones 2 Tornadoes 2 Raft Slides 2 Racers The cosmic ballet goes on. It already is very good. Definitely the best operations.
  3. Disney's Hollywood Studios https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/disneys-hollywood-studios (For more pics) Last but not least from my November trip. I ended up here on a couple of the days through park hopping. For the thrill seekers, the park probably has the best lineup at Walt Disney World. Plenty of new stuff to see here. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance An amazing attraction. I don't think there is much that comes close in terms of being a true start to finish immersive experience with a strong storyline. Haunted mansion is great for instance, but they still whack you on an escalator at the end of the ride for example. Big Thunder is pretty, but no story right? Harry Potter is a great ride, just make sure you stay looking straight ahead! But this, its so well thought out from start to finish. You begin in a reistance base, carved out in some caverns on the edge of the settlement, full of supplies and munitions. The first preshow tells you that you have to get off the planet since your current location is no longer safe. A cute BB-8 Animatronic whirls around in a concerned manner. You then head outside and board a transport ship. It's like a mild simulator ride, (not too strong since everyone is standing up), anyhow your craft is intercepted by the first order in a space battle, and you are dragged into the shuttle bay of a star destroyer. The doors open, and you are in a completely different location, the massive void of the shuttle bay! It's real wow moment, up there with that moment on POTC where you turn the corner into that huge battle. And you turn around and there your ship is, parked against the wall. From there you are taken into custody hustled down into holding cells and locked inside. Kylo Ren and General Hux try to interrogate you, but are distracted and wander off to deal with other issues. In that moment, some unseen allies come to your rescue, and burn a hole in the wall to bust you out. From here its into your next ride vehicle, a trackless transporter. From then on, the fun really starts. You start sneaking off through the corridors of the star destroyer, but within about the 30 seconds you are spotted by some storm troopers and they open fire. This is where the Disney magic really shines, with actual laser shots ricocheting around you, holes being blown in walls etc. From then on its several minutes of running for your life through different battle scenes. At one point you are darting around like mice under the legs of an AT-AT, at another point Kylo ren sticks a lightsaber through the roof and tries to cut you up. The only real downer was that on all my rides the last couple of scenes were running in B mode. None of the huge moving laser guns were working, so your vehicle sort of just moves back and forth erratically, seemingly dodging ghosts. The final scene had no Kylo Ren animatronic, so you just see him hovering outside in his spaceship before getting shot down, and you head to the escape pods without the rushing air effect of being sucked out into space. And then of course its a wild finale where your vehicle drives into a simulator pod meets freefall ride and evacuates out of the star destroyer, crash landing on the planet. What makes this cool is the unload area is actually outdoors, so the whole thing is wrapped up in a neat little package and you are back to where you started. Did this 3 times. Ah well, maybe when i return to one of the parks it'll all be going. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run I've done this back at Disneyland when the 'soft' opened their version of Galaxy's Edge and Rise wasn't ready yet, and then Covid happened and here I am finally seeing the rest of it in 2023. A huge recreation of the Milennium Falcon sits out front And you make your way through a well themed, but some what lifeless workshop themed queue. IMO they should have made it more like star tours with more things moving, though the soundtrack is quite humorous in this area if you listen in. And then after walking through a gangway, you board the faclon. On one ride, just before closing i had the most odd experience where I had an entire pod to myself. The ride is an on the rails shooter, with a bit of steering ability, and of course all your motion simulator fun, as you go off flying to steal some coaxium from another planet. A couple of of players shoot, a couple shoot and a couple do mostly nothing except hit one button at the right moment. So I got to take on the pilots position, with everything else being done on auto for you. Slinky Dog Dash Possibly the gentlest LSM launch in existence? The theming is quite fun, they have actually got this whole sub narrative that what you are riding on is a roller coaster kit owned by Andy, so the queue is scattered with spare bits of track and supports, as well as a lot of oversized toys. The first launch goes into a horseshoe turn and helix. Stops at the 2nd launch, which is themed a bit like a launcher on a hotwheels set. From there is a floater hill, a bunch of very mild bunny hops that would be right at home on a Japanese jet coaster, finished off with an S bend. When you are waiting on the brakes, squeaky penguin sings to you with his microphone, which was a nice surprise you dont see from the queue. This thing can get painful queues, but I tended to try and ride it later in the day and waited like 30-40 mins on both rides. Alien Swirling Saucers This is the same ride as Maters Junkyard Jamboree, several turntables interconnected so you move in a double figure 8 pattern, with some mechanism below the floor allowing your car to move from one turntable to the next. What is also cool is that your car is connected to the turntable by a springloaded tow bar, so your car drifts and swings wildly from side to side, not unlike the classic whip rides. Good fun. The "pizza planet" in the middle of the ride is a nice detail. Now why dont they have an ACTUAL pizza planet at Disney, it would be a license to print money Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy Fine for kids, but its Disney so its still decent. Imagine an animatronic Lighting mcqueen with a projection mapped eyes and mouth. Hey greets the crowd, moving about on his podium. He then demonstrates his speed, with a panoramic racing simulator on a giant screen behind. But his arch rival hacks in to try and beat him, but of course McQueen prevails. Tower of Terror Still excellent. As the prototype, this one actually has a section where your vehicle moves from one lift to another through a brief dark ride scene, with some cool optical illusions. Paris still wins out in terms of sheer intensity of the ride programme, and probably Tokyo has the best preshow. Rock n Roller Coaster Some embuggerance with this one, as it kept bloody breaking down. Surprisingly, one of my favourite things about this is how the whole loading area is themed. The preshow has you watching Aerosmith recording in their studio, and they invite you to join them at their concert via stretch limousine. When you step out the back door of the studio, you are in an alleyway, and your limousine is waiting in a multi level car park, but the theming is so immersive, eg the operators booth is inside the cashiers office, the secondary control panel is on the call box, there’s all sorts of other details like a motorbike being fixed, and even a low clearance height bar above the track where it leaves the station. The launch is powerful, and its a smooth, frantic layout full of positive gs, with a sea serpent roll, a lot of helices, and then a surprise corkscrew at the end. Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway This one is fantastic. You head into the chinese theatre, ready to watch a short film featuring Mickey and Minnie on a road trip, (Hmm reminds me of how the gremlins ride started out). On the way, they meet goofy driving a train, and an explosion on the train in the cartoon creates a real explosion in the theatre, creating a smoking hole in the wall that leads to the cartoon realm. You are invited to pass through, and inside, everything is done in the art style of the cartoon, with scribbled details on the walls, 2d props etc. The ride vehicles are a train of trackless pods behind a locomotive driven by goofy. Shortly into the ride your cars become detached from the loco, spinning out of control through a number of projection mapped scenes, often taking different routes. On the way you keep encountering Mickey and Minnie in peril. One scene had you caught up in a tornado, with very strong winds. Another was in a big city, where a jackhammering worker causes everything to shake. An impressive moment is where a room has faux rockwork and looks like a jungle, but when you return to it, it has transformed into an underwater environment. There’s also a nice moment where you end up in a dance studio run by daisy duck, and all the vehicles waltz side to side in unison. But, the quality of the graphics was something else, it just looks so bright and crisp, like a blacklight painting come to life, and they have managed to incorporate other moving props into it seamlessly. Did this a couple of times. I ended up timing it to try a few of the food items at the park. The Totchos from Woody's Lunchbox are a big ole bowl of carbs. Chilli con carne with corn chips and potato gems. But i think the 'blandness' of the corn chips overpowers everything. And i was sure to have booked in a drink at Oga's Cantina. I was recommended to try a Fuzzy Tauntan, which was rum and a few other sour flavours, but the foam on top actually made your lips go numb, like as if it had Lignocaine in it or something. The other drink i had was like a juice blend with coloured boba balls floating in it. They had a theatre showing newer Mickey Mouse shorts. Since when did it become like Ren and Stimpy? Overall, I think the park has one of the best ride lineups at Disney, and a mixed bag in terms of Immersive theming. Star Wars and Toy Story are great, but the rest of it is generic city streets and backlot theming, with a fair bit of the latter being under renovation. *****************************
  4. The Vekoma test rig was blue and dark red, not grey and orange.
  5. Epcot 14/11/2023 https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/epcot for heaps more pics. Epcot is undergoing a bit of work, and they are really leaning into their retrofuturism, particularly with the renovations of some buildings in the hub, a new sculpture at the entrance and new icons for each attraction. And you know its kinda fun. They acknowledge the place is a timewarp, much like tomorrowland, but they are leaning into it. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Woweee. Did this twice, again by getting an early boarding group via the app by refreshing at 7am, plus forking out for a one shot lighting lane. An amazing achievement and a massive coaster. The queue ties into Epcot by posing as an exhibit about the planet Xandar. Xandarians have come to earth to teach us about their planet, and are even inviting us up to their mothership via teleportation. The teleportation is done well, a similar effect I think to the old Poseidon's fury at ioa where you go into a room, the lights go out, and the walls are lifted up to reveal a bigger room surrounding you. Of course, something goes wrong when a bad guy steals the cosmic generator from the ship, and before you know it you are loaded into trains to chase after him. The ride uses controlled spinning, and the building is divided into two huge halls with long screens running the lengths. The "preshow bit of the coaster" passes a few big screens, before you are rotated backwards and sent down a long launch with electrical effect's. The track twists and turns along each room, and the battle plays out, moving along the screen with you, and even distorts away as the track turns away from the screen. The rotation of the car keeps you focused on the action. I got "Im gonna getcha getcha getcha" on one of my rides, I forget the other song. No miami disco for me. Mission Space. This one has has a slight facelift since last time, with new films for both the extreme and gentle versions. For those who don't know, you sit in a simulator pod, suspended from a centrifuge, allowing for strong Gs during the ride. The gentle version has the centrifuge deactivated, so is just like a normal simulator and has you doing an orbit around the world, with some of the most cliche commentary ever...."soon we will pass over Japan, the land of the rising sun....below you can see Paris, the city of light. Things get a bit energetic towards the end where there is a storm as you come into land, throwing your space shuttle about. The extreme version.... Damn i forgot how intense this is, or maybe Im getting older. The ride is based around a mission to Mars. The bit during take off has quite long periods of sustained Gs, like a powerful rotor type ride. There a breather in the middle as you go into "hypersleep" for a few months to reach mars. And then an exciting sequence for Landing where you almost go off a cliff! Skipped Soarin because they were running the darn old Californian film (I'd wanted to try the new one!) Test Track Ehhh, I liked the old one better. The previous version of the ride was themed like an actual crash test facility, with your car swerving around cones, over rough surfaces, through a heat chamber etc. very fun and practical feeling. The new version tries to give the impression you are in a "sim car" , and all the interior theming of the ride is like tron. This is tied together with a preshow where you craft a car on a touchscreen, and yeah its fun coming up with some sort of abomination. I tried to do a car like the one homer simpson designed but gave up. But now i think the computer theme makes it too farfetched and sterile feeling imo. Still the outdoor section at high speed is pretty exhilarating still. Ratatouille This one I thought was better than the one in Paris, because the cars were able to shake slightly, which was deactivated in Paris for some reason. It made the motion on the screen have a bit more feel, kind of like the seats in a 4d cinema. The motion isn't Spiderman/Transformers level, but still pretty good. Journey into Imagination is quite silly. Typical Disney dark ride with rotating cars, but this one has them in trains, with a few dips in the track too. The ride is themed like an institute for inventors. The queue passes various office doors with punny names and odd things going on inside The ride takes you on a tour of labs, but the irritating dragon figment causes mayhem and sings a song Frozen Ever After The queue for this is a bit hellish, with streams of lightling lane users and then 3 or 4 people from standby, so spent about an hour stuck in this nicley themed, but crowded town square themed queue line. I haven't seen the film so can't really comment. One thing that struck me was how dark it is inside. Its not so much a white snowy wonderland, but a lot of blacklight theming and dimly lit scenes, which to be fair give it a real nordic dark winter feel. Journey of Water - Inspired by Moana This is quite nice, a walkthrough with all kinds of interactive fountains, including waterfalls that shut off right as you walk through, ones that respond to your hand waving, a water harp, pop jets for little kids, and a spectacular one that simulated waves crashing against the shoreline. My only comment would be why isn't this at Animal kingdom where it would fit in better. I guess it's supposed to be educational, but a strange fit for the future world area. Spaceship Earth I have hazy memories of because last time I was here i was jetlagged and fell asleep on it because it was nice and dark lol. The ride is edutainment, taking you through the history of the world and communication, so you spiral up through the spherical building, and pass through scenes of people in the ancient world keeping scrolls, through to people in the 70s using magnetic tape computers. On reflection, its the same type of ideas as Carousel of Progress over at MK. The final part has dated a bit. Your photo is taken, and on a touch screen you are asked questions about what you are interested in and your lifestyle, and it whips up a quick animation about what the future might be like, based on your inputs. The food and wine festival was on when I was visting. There was a muppets food lab where you could get a pickle flavoured shake. I opted to see what their interpretation of Australian food was. Lamington was nice but the coconut wasn't desiccated it was big soft strands, but the wine was good :} The weather was somewhat bad on the day so I was ducking for cover a bit when going around the world showcase. Another thing worth checking out is Coca Cola Club cool, where you can try free soft drink samples. The infamous Beverly is a clear but very bitter drink that tastes like drinking liquorice. My personal favourite was Joy, a korean peach pear lychee sort of drink I could have sipped all day. A few of them are just fizzy tropical flavours, so its a good go to if you dont want to pay Disney drink prices. Overall, still a great park, If I had one more day I could have really spent more time in world showcase and seen a few shows.
  6. New versus old. The old slides were four open air slides. Their replacements were 2x open air and 2x enclosed slides from Whitewater West. Originals Originals demolished New slides
  7. Correct me if im wrong but they would be the oldest fiberglass in the park, given Super 8 was rebuilt.
  8. Check out the way the explosion rips through the teal slide, lighting the rings up from the inside.
  9. The ones at Jamberoo aren't uphill looping slides, which is what this topic is about. FWIW, if you want to ride a regular "downhill" trapdoor slide, you can also find examples at Aquatopia Prariewood NSW, Aquanation Ringwood VIC, Cockburn ARC in WA.
  10. SeaWorld San Diego 25/11/23 ( Quite a few photos here https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/seaworld-san-diego ) Sea World San Diego is a place I haven’t visited since about 2007, and back then the ride lineup then consisted of Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids and a rubbish simulator named Wild Arctic. But now they have COASTERS™ (Though I missed Tidal Twister by a few months, the memory lives on at one of the press a penny machines) And I've always been intrigued by Manta…. A one day ticket doesn't come out cheap since you get hit with a high admission price and a full whack for parking, but tbh I didn't mind, it's a decently decent park. I started off one with I was low key excited for…Arctic Rescue. Aside from one of them, all of these Intamin straddle coasters are all pretty decent. And the one in San Diego has three launches. The station was shoehorned into a bit of the building that previously held the simulators, and they have just installed platforms etc straight in. Thought it looked a little rough. The trains totally aren't Jet Skis that have had little wheels added to make them look like snowmobiles. But the coaster, pretty good! It's not the outright intensity of Juvelen/Yukon Quad, its perhaps more on par with Namazu, but still enjoyable quick transitions and pops of airtime...Imagine a longer version of Jet Rescue with a few more elevated hills. There is some Arctic base theming scattered around the ride, like a helicopter, a few dome roofed buildings, rocks, and patches of grey and white gravel on the ground to give the impression of snow. The ride itself is all in its own compound so non riders basically can't watch it. I got the following pics from the skytower and from out the opening of the load station. Nearby is Emperor , a B&M Dive Coaster. There's really no theming to speak of on here. Just truckloads of gravel under the ride, and even things like the pathway fences and the station platform look like it was all just 'hardware store' type construction rather than something themed around diving penguins. They were only running a single 18 person train too. But with the bad out of the way lets get to the good. It's a solid layout up there with the best, and seems a lot more inversion focused than the other ones, and no slow points breaking up the ride...3 inversions, almost 4 actually. The vertical first drop leads into your standard Immelmann, then a tall overbanked turn that borderlines on a cutback. From there is an unusual element that is sort of like a roll meets incline loop. The closest comparison I can think of is the knot element on Flug der Damonen. From there its one last corkscrew and into the brakes. Action packed from start to finish, with that tall first drop with the holding break providing enough intimidation factor. The park also has Electric Eel...Another Premier Skyrocket. You can go read my Busch Gardens trip report for my thoughts on this. Great coaster, and at least this one had some effort put into the presentation. It was on the way to I took a ride on Sky Tower. These things never seem to be open at the SeaWorld parks, and they charge extra for some reason🤑. It was a good overlook over the park, but who thought it was a good idea to put contravision film on the windows. It was like being on a bus, and it meant your photos come out really murky (and it disrupts the view in general), kind of defeating the purpose. And finally Manta. You can tell this was more of an old school Busch attraction, because the theming was very detailed, and a lot of effort was put into the landscaping, with a large area of the ride actually sunken into the ground. The coaster more or less plays out like the middle bit of DC Rivals, with small hills, quick twists and helices, so firmly a family thrill coaster. The first launch is interesting. The ride pulls out of the station into a darkened room, with a tube of scrim surrounding the track, with projections of manta rays swimming around and dramatic music. The train actually rolls back and forth a couple of meters each way a few times, in sync with the screens, creating a sort of sensation that ocean currents are moving you about. Doors open, and it actually accelerates with a bit of a jerk down the first launch. The first bit of the ride dives and weaves around the queue area, with a good head chopper under the bridge too. At this point, I dont think Mack had perfected the rolling launch, so halfway through the ride you slow for a MCBR, only to get launched back to full speed again, which certainly felt awkward. The final half had more twists and hills, and was out in the open, surrounded by the flamingo exhibit. The other ride I was interested in was Bayside Skyride , another upcharge. This one actually just runs outside of the park, giving you views of the marina and Fiesta Island. Most of the other rides are for kids, and they are all pretty cute, though how many rides need to have "rescue" in the name lol? In particular I thought the teacups looked pretty well done. And a Jellyfish themed wave swinger! It seems so obvious yet nobody has done one before to my knowledge. I did check out some of the animal exhibits too, and they are well done, but didn't devote a whole lot of time to them given I had other plans for the evening I was there. As is it was, doing a couple of laps on each coaster took me through to late afternoon. In particular I liked the Sea Turtles. And I thought the entrance area was well done too with elaborate giant coral structures, and touch pools. But what is wild is that literally in the past few weeks they have demolished all that, even though it only went in a few years ago! (Reddit) Overall thoughts on the park, still pretty good, but I think the two newest coasters could have had more effort put into the presentation. The ride lineup is well balanced, maybe a dark ride. I'd also say they should round out the kids area with a proper kids coaster, but in park they were heavily promoting Sesame Place, so it seems like they are encouraging families with young kids to go there for that. Put this park on your Californian itinerary if you like launch coasters or want to try a dive coaster!
  11. Busch Gardens Tampa - 12/11/23 https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/busch-gardens-tampa (Plenty of photos) 3rd time back to this park, which remains one of the best rounded in the US, with pretty decent theming, impressive coasters and a good collection of Animal exhibits too. Perhaps the one thing that has gone backwards is the operations. Previously Busch parks were usually pretty rock solid with operations, but this time around you'd encounter one train ops and sluggish speeds which kind of surprised me! Arriving at the Moroccan themed entrance: Its right there next to the entrance, so of course I started off with Iron Gwazi Wow, what to say, this ride is crazy. More intense than my previous favourite, Hakugei, but IMO more imaginative than Steel Vengeance. Pretty wild how they have made a hypercoaster out of what was once a pair of 28m high dueling coasters, and it almost looks bodgy how they have added extra steel tubes to hold up the ride. Once the muck around of the loading is done, a steel drop and turn out of the station leads to the huge lift. The first drop is out of control, being slightly steeper than vertical, a true freefall. From there you come up and up onto a huge outward banked hill, down and around an up to another apex, followed by a roll that spirals towards the ground. The pace continues with a quick flick into an overbanked turn, and then an element I wasn't really aware of, a drawn wave turn that crosses over the front of the station. The rest of the ride is a bit lower (relatively), banking and dipping around, really throwing you out of your seat. Frequently you look at the messed up looking track ahead and wonder how on earth the train is going to get through it with the speed it is carrying, but somehow does. The finale really shines, with a zero g stall, and then an airtime hill where it has double humps at the top, perhaps the most agressive airtime in the ride. A couple of turns later and you hit the brakes with plenty of speed. So there you have it, its neck and neck between this and Velocicoaster. Continuing around the park, I grabbed a ride on Tigris, another one of those Premier SkyRocket coasters. Turns out I've been on half of the ones operating worldwide, Ill recycle my review from the one at Sarkanniemi: A punchy launch, really fast vertical twist, good pop of airtime as you transition at the top, then a fun heartline roll. The 2nd half rapidly picks up speed as you dive down again, with more air in the non inverted loop. So despite looking quite simplistic from the outside, it's quite forceful and varied. I disagree that it is anything like Buzzsaw. Continuing around, it was time for Falcons Fury Along with Ikaros, would be my favourite dark ride. There's nothing like being slowly rotated to face the ground, and then freefalling, seeing it rush up towards you. It was telling though that it was virtually a walk on all day. They probably overbuilt the thing, with capacity for 32 people, so would take time to actually get enough passengers to cycle it. I had hoped to ride the new Serengeti Flyer, but every time I went by it was closed, and I don't recall seeing it operate all day. The other new coaster I had to ride was Cobras Curse, a unique Mack Spinning coaster with short little 2 car trains where everyone faces the same way. Also had a nifty conveyor belt loading system (Wouldn't it be great if Scooby got this!) The queue goes through a well themed queue with an archeological exploration theme. The ride has a vertical lift like scooby in front of a giant cobra statue, with some cringe audio, but what was interesting was they figured out a way to keep the platform level as it ascends (though it does shake a bit as a result). It's a ride of 3 parts. The first third is forwards with a first drop and couple of quick turns. The next third is backwards around a couple of helices, and the final 3rd has actual spinning, through 3 horseshoe turns in a row. I think it must have the energy efficiency of a brick though, its a large drop, but it seems to run out of momentum after a few turns. There's a 2nd lift to give it a bit more height, but even after that its slowing down by the end. The ride does look great, and integrates well with the theming, but perhaps a bit mid overall. By that point I was just about around the park so it was time for a few re-rides on some old favourites, starting with Montu Get out there and ride some of these older B&Ms, they really keep their pace up, and alternate between hard pulling inversion and hard pulling turns. Montu is extra interesting, with a few elements sunk into trenches, themed like Egyptian ruins. Cheetah Hunt So it wasn't until it was pointed out to me that the first element is supposed to be like a giant tree that a cheetah is jumping in and out of. I think maybe at the early stages it was meant to be an actual themed tree, but of course the reality of budgets means it is what it is. A decent launch coaster, but perhaps a bit more drawn out and less intense than the others, since a lot of the ride is this big long run with shallow drops in and out of trenches, though there is a slalom, barrell roll and airtime hill towards the back of the layout that amp it up a bit.. I think the likes of Taiga, Toutatis, and even our Superman Escape eclipse it. SheiKra Was my favourite in the park last time, and probably still is, with its huge scale, hang time through the elements, and just the sense of fun with such a large group of riders screaming together in the front row, with kids on the ground being soaked by the water splash. Kumba Still holds up, with its non stop elements perfectly sequenced to flow into each other, and runs pretty well still. Scorpion Another ride type you should get out and see while you can are these old schwarzkopf looping coasters. They were ahead of their time, with fun well designed layout and lots of intensity. Always wondered why Arrow sold more rides than these guys. There are plenty of bad arrows, but no bad Schwarzkopfs. Serengeti Express Train One thing I have never done until now. It's quite a long ride, and the only way to really see the animals on the open range section up close (Rhino Rally is long gone, and I wasn't gonna fork out for one of the safari tour feeding experiences) As the day wound to a close I checked out a few of the Animal exhibits, wish I had allowed more time for them, since they are genuinely excellent, and typically slightly off the main paths which makes them a quiet escape. And a couple of night rides on Iron Gwazi, fully warmed up. Wahooo! And a few more photos....
  12. Yeah but there's heaps of rides people also love IMHO. And you know how the public were like "Vortex is the same as Wipeout"...yeah, that again.
  13. Australia literally doesn't need any more of these style of spin and swing rides. I can ride one at AW, I can ride one at LPS, I can ride one at DW, I can ride a lil one at Funfields. I can go to a show and ride 3 or 4 other variants too.
  14. With Volcano Bay and Islands of Aventure out of the way its time to take a look at Universal Studios Florida https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/universal-studios-florida (For all the pics) Again, I spread out my entries over about 3 days. I made it there one evening when it was an absolute downpour. This meant the crowds were light, and outdoor rides were closed, so a good excuse to knock out indoor stuff with minimal wait to start with. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Wow, this one really impressed me. Universal have copped some flak for doing a lot of screen based attractions, but this one did the 'ride' part well too, and the theming was fully immersive right from start to finish. In short You are on a tour of the bank vaults but are caught in a battle between Harry and Voldemort. After making your way through some well themed bank corridors, you catch a lift down to the underground vaults, which used a cool vibrating floor to give the sense of the lift shuddering and siezing up on the way down. Eventually you end up in a grimy underground tunnel system with stalectites hanging from the ceiling, where you find the load area.The ride is a roller coaster system, but the cars can rotate to any position, and there are some pretty nifty special track sections used throughout. Right at the start of the ride, the evil Belatrix attacks you, and the whole track tilts like a Vekoma Tilt coaster, but only to about 45 degrees. From here you are released down a first drop, theres a brief s bend (a very minimal amount of coaster!). The next couple of scenes are in front of screens, with the ride vehicles actually rotating quite powerfully in time with the on screen action. I recommend back seat on this ride since both the tilt track and the rotations feel more intense up there. Another section has the train actually stop on a section of track with a full motion base underneath it (must have to be as strong as anything!), and again the ride vehicles jostle a fair bit. The final showdown takes place in front of a wraparound screen, with you being hooked up behind a dragon to escape the vaults. There's a small launch and turn (another brief bit of coastering) and you are back at the station. I think it did all the dark ride and screen based bits perfectly, and the motions are really good, I just think the coaster bits at the start and end could have been just a teensy bit more fleshed out . Obviously doesn't have to be as substantial as revenge of the mummy, but it should be more than 1 turn! Hogwarts Express Did this in both directions on my first night. It's a train ride connecting both parks, but it does have limited capacity (only 2 trains, operating like a shuttle), so during the day I saw waits of 40 mins or more, at which point its quicker to walk between the parks. The stations at each end are well themed, particularly the whole Kings Cross complex at the USO end. There's a neat feature where guests appear to pass into a solid brick wall to access platform 9&3/4, done by having a well positioned mirror and a wall you walk around. In practice, it means you watch the people ahead of you walk through the wall, but when its your turn, all you end up seeing is a black painted opening in the wall on the other side of the mirror. Cool that they at least managed to fake the effect though! Onboard the train, you are locked into a well themed carriage, with a screen showing the outside world (no real windows, since the track has to travel through all the back of house areas between both parks...the commitment to immersion is impressive!) There's a different film depending on which direction you are travelling. Personally I thought the USO>IOA direction one was better and more dramatic. Diagon Alley Should touch on this, much of the same ideas seen in the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter....A pub selling british food, quirky shopfronts with animatroinic displays, a bit of a 1910s look to everything. Just substitute the village for laneways of London. It all does look superb, with plenty of details, and all buildings having this slight wonkiness to it. And they did nail the whole instagram moment, with the dragon wrapped around the rooftop that regularly spits fire. I did stop in at Florean Fortescues ice cream parlour. Wouldn't have minded trying a few flavours, but at about $8 usd a serve, I limited myself to the pleasant tasting "butterbeer ice cream", which tasted caramelly. Fast & Furious Supercharged Much like Kong, this is just a clone of immersive tunnel part of the Studio Tour in Hollywood. The queue line is well themed, through some car workshops, but the preshows were kind of lost on me. Apparently we are going to a party on a bus, but now some bad guys are closing in on us? The lady presenting the preshow was taking the piss a bit, repeating "Family" every time it was said on the video. Guess you'd have to watch the films to really get it? The buses you ride depart from a back alley themed loading dock, and go around a corner into a warehouse, where a large transparent screen shows crowds of people partying. A CIA agent turns up and shuts the party down (?), some words are said, and then all of a sudden you roll out of the party and are in the middle of a high speed car chase with various guys in cars and helicopters shooting at you. (Achieve by having two long screens either side of the bus, with a motion base underneath) They get around the fact a bus is slow by having two allies turn up with supercharged tow trucks that you are attached to with cables, allowing you to escape at high speed. The visuals here are good, racing through an arid LA themed environment with freeways and oil refineries. Of course, one of them is blown up, with you feeling the splash of fuel onto you. It's still worth a ride for that simulator sequence, just dont expect to understand anything else prior unless you have seen the films. Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Better than expected. It's a simulator with a large curved screen like Sky Voyager, but you sit on a more conventional motion base in front of it rather than the whole multi level, leg dangling arrangement seen on an actual flying theatre. The queue is quite attractive, themed like NBC studios, and the preshows are done as if you are going on set for a real tv production. The ride is imagined like a zany challenge on the show where the audience races against Jimmy Fallon. Its zany and unrealistic though, as in you end up going to the moon, underwater, through subway tunnels (and of course familiar sights like Times Square, Statue of Liberty and so on). Good motion and animation, but the park already had 2 standalone simulators anyway.... Villain Con - Minion Blast Shooting dark ride, but instead of riding in cars with guns attached to the seat with a cord (Like JL), you are given a handheld laser tag type gun, and you stand on a moving conveyor belt that travels through scenes. For those of you who get intrusive thoughts about jumping on the baggage carousel at the airport, your dream just came true here! The queue theming is a lot of fun, imagined like a trade show for villains, with various booths selling products geared towards villains, like weapons, underground lairs, dangerous animals and getaway vehicles. You are then invited to take on the "Vicious 6" , and board the 'ride' One of the coolest things i saw was you grab a gun off a rack that works like a dry cleaning carousel, synced to the boarding speed of the conveyor, so as you pass, a gun is right there ready for you to grab. Each scene has a bit of theming, and one large screen, so you are shooting at animated targets on screen...Kinda felt like every Triotech thing ever, though a bit hard because theres 20 other people shooting, so you really have to concentrate to note lose sight of your icon amongst everyone elses. Was OK. Transformers Always a solid attraction, but perhaps feels less unique in Orlando with Spiderman next door. Still one of my favourite dark rides, with very well integrated 3D screens and set designs. For those of you unfamiliar, you are on a mission to protect the Allspark and chaperone it out of the city, but are intercepted by Decepticons. The ride vehicle spends brief periods parked in front of 3D screens, with the areas in betweeen done as real life sets and walls. The screens are positioned to work into the environment, for example you might be looking down a corridor, and the screen at the end appears to carry the perspective off into the distance.A few of the screens are full 180 degree curved screens too, and these are used for sequences where you are being chased, or flying. Some really ways to tie this all together, for example at one point you are racing along a street and pass under a bridge, your vehicle spins out and is thrown into reverse, and you transition into the next scene, but in the transition space they have built a recreation of the bridge you just saw on screen, and before you know it, you are now in front of a different screen. The Bourne Stuntacular More screens, this one is actually a pretty innovative use of them though. Imagine a stunt show, where the entire backdrop is a screen, and its all indoors. In a normal stunt show you would have people running or driving around in a set area, eg like what happens on HSD. But here, the screen is used for beautiful panoramic shots and moving backgrounds, and they bring physical things in front of it. For example at one point there is a car chase, the cars are sitting static on the stage, but the background is moving behind them, giving the illusion they are racing along at high speed. One of the most impressive things is where they somehow get a whole facade of an apartment building about 3 stories high to slide in from one side of the stage, a guy jumps off the balcony, and grabs onto a cable hanging from a helicopter. As the helicopter starts moving, that whole apartment building moves away into the distance. Pretty full on, I'd like to see shows like this at other Universal parks. Springfield USA Around the simpsons ride, they have built a whole food court with places from the show like Krustyburger, Moe's, The Frying Dutchman, Luigis Pizza and so on. Tried a couple of items but found them both to be a bit of a miss. The Flaming Moe is pretty much just fanta with some dry ice in it to make it bubble. I was hoping for some sort of faux cough syrup flavour as in the show, but this is what we get. They also had the Ribwich at Krustyburger. Though it wasn't really like a mcrib, but rather a few big chunks of marinated pork on a bun.F Flith. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem I'll just copypaste my previous review of the Hollywood one. "I was expecting to be meh about this one because Facebook ruined minions (apparently adding a picture of a minion to a meme makes it relatable) But it was actually funny! Basically you are shrunk to minion size and sent on a training course, so it feels like you are in a computer game level, with minions falling over a d being knocked over by obstacles." I think that's all the new stuff since last time I was there, so onto the rerides. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit All the music has changed since last time. I did Darude: Sandstorm, which really worked well in terms of reaching a crescendo before the first drop. The ride still shakes and bangs around waaaay too much, so it was 1 and done for me. ET Adventure Hehe this one is fun. The queue is themed like a forest, and you ride on flying bicycles back to ETs planet, which is dying. ET uses his healing touch to bring it back to life, so most of the ride is pretty trippy, with alien flowers blooming aroud you, fountains spouting and so on. Revenge of the Mummy Still holds up well, with some good fire effects, animatronics, and a forceful indoor coaster sequence. Has a great gag where you believe the ride has come to an end, but this is followed by even more coaster! MIB Alien Attack Justice League style dark ride, with you shooting at aliens. This one has some extra spice, with two tracks. at one point you are shooting at the other vehicle, which makes them spin out of control, making it harder for them to get points. *********** Final Thoughts. I think the Diagon Alley area, and Bourne Stuntacular are excellent, as is the port of Transformer but in some way it feels like the park has had a bit less love compared to the calibre of attractions they have opened next door at IOA. Do they really need to have added so many simulators?
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