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Favourite Ride

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  1. 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?
  2. Universals Islands of Adventure https://www.parkz.com.au/search/photos/location/islands-of-adventure (For all the pics) Ah, nice to be back at one of my favourite parks. Well themed, good mix of dark rides, water rides and thrills, and pretty well considered in terms of having plenty of things for kids scattered throughout. I've been here before, so less urgency to see everything (I skipped over the water rides), that will make this trip report a bit shorter. For those unfamilar with the park, it has a few themed lands: Port of Entry. The "main street" of the park, with a bit of exotic explorers theme, with plenty of gags. Marvel Super Hero Island: Built before the whole MCU thing / Disney, its a real animated looking area with oversized cutouts and stylised buildings. And because of the terms of the licensing agreement, Disney cant use these characters in their parks lol. Toon Lagoon: Errr, more comics I guess, but these are the ones you'd see in newspapers, like the Phantom, Popeye (But no Garfield or Peanuts it seems!) Jurrassic Park, needs no introduction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Islands of Adventure was a good park, but just didn't get the attendances it needed. Potter turned all this around. Lost Continent. The only non IP zone in the park, but part of it was swallowed up by Potter, and the two attractions it DID have are now closed. Hopefully this gets redeveloped. Seuss Landing. The most kid friendly area of the park, wonky and full of colour. But lets cut to the chase, everyone probably wants to know about Jurrasic World Velocicoaster Yep it lives up to the hype, a highly themed, properly intense launch coaster from Intamin that is just a polished experience from start to finish. The story goes that in their quest to further thrill guests, Jurrasic World have decided to build a roller coaster in a raptor pen, where you can see them up close. The queue is well themed, a highlight being the medical room where a couple of raptors are in a crush getting their daily check up, and the room actually smells like antiseptic. There's also windows onto the launch track, with transparent screens showing raptors chasing each launching train. Just before the station you have to put your stuff in a locker, activated with your park ticket (and if your ticket is on your phone, they give you a card with a barcode to use instead. The final bit of the preshow is hilarious, with Owen the raptor trainer ranting about how the whole concept of a coaster in a raptor pen is a terrible idea and you should all leave, and Claire the manager saying it will all be fine and perfectly safe. There's a separate queue for the front row in the station, with not too much extra wait due to the speed they dispatch, so its worth doing once or twice. My tip, front right is the best seat, because on a few of the elements that side seems to get banked up more. As for the coaster. Before the launch is section with raptor pens either side of you, with screens showing them thrashing around inside, bumping the cage walls etc and workers keeping them at bay with cattle prods. A good launch leads into an Immelmann with strong airtime at the top (think DC rivals loop), dive down steeply into a rocky tunnel (and the rockwork on this ride is really good, with sharp spiky bits that you feel like you're going to hit. Next comes a dive loop, followed by a bunch of quick twisted turns, transitions, and a couple of airtime hills all crammed in. You are constantly rising and falling and avoiding rocks, so there's a real element of surprise as you work through this section. There are a few raptor statues perched on the rocks, but they sort of blend in, so you really have to look for them. Eventually you hit the 2nd launch, which really spices things up. A top hat with ejector leads to a steep drop, a high speed S bend at ground level, and then a very long zero g stall which has you hanging upside down for a few seconds. Next comes a 720 degree helix, but the 'helix' is interruped with elements, so theres this fake out reversed banked turn, then a wave turn (imagine a sideways airtime hill) And then for the wild finale, a speed hill over a lake, followed by the "mosasaurus roll", which is like a more agressive version of the roll on ST, really dunking you down and throwing you to the side, so you cant help but grab the bar. A quick couple of turns and you hit the brakes. I think the name of the element is a gimmick though. I get the feeling the intent was that there was supposed to be a jaws style animatronic jumping out of the water when the train goes past. They totally should do that. Pretty awesome overall, the two halves have their own character. Fast transitions and confusion on the first half, big grand elements on the 2nd half. Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure A real 1-2 punch with the park having this as well. Imagine the fun of Jet Rescue spread out over 1.5km of track. The park is onto a winner, with it consistently having a a posted wait of 60-90 mins. Again though they tend to overstate, i saw a wait of 70 min but it was more like 45. The first bit of the queue is themed well too, full of magical creature classroom stuff. By magic they have duplicated flying motorbikes for everyone to join hagrid on for a lesson on magical creatures in the forbidden forest. The final room in the queue I thought was clever, Imagine standing under a deck, with people riding motorbikes and doing doughies above you. They used some form of projection to simulate this. Ocassionally too you'd see silhouettes other creatures like giant spiders appearing to walk above you. Loading is done by a moving conveyor, so this ride really does have huge capacity, its just that demand is high too because its a good ride. The first bit has a short launch then a drop down then a bigger launch, and a few quick turns at ground level. Eventually the track enters hagrid's hut, when a blast ended skrewt (imagine a giant double ended scoption shooting fire out of its ass) shoots smoke at you. With that you launch again, up into an airtime hill through a castle ruin, down a curved drop into a tunnel, more ground level turns, another launch, and even more turns. Already at this point the coaster part has been pretty substantial but there is more to come. The track continues into a short foggy tunnel through a rocky outcrop, with a crashed car on it, surrounded by cornish pixies. Well they have designed the sightlines well here, because the shape of the outcrop is good enough to disguise a vertical reverse stall, like a little baby tower of terror. Obviously you get to go up higher in the front seat, but i never got that sadly. You travel backwards, with a high speed track switch sending you up into a helix, and by the time you have had a moment to process all that you have reversed into a show building. In the show building, the walls and ceiling appear to be writhing with devils snare vines all around you. Great concept, but you can see the shed roof and trees ''cutting off" at the ceiling line quite clearly here, which undoes some of the immersion despite the money they would have spent. But a couple of seconds later, the whole track drops a few meters (Much like Thirteen at Alton or Namazu at Vulcania), and you exit the darkness into the open air. Then one last launch, the most powerful of all. The coolest feature is a trail of light and smoke along the side of the launch, giving the impression of rocket fuel (or in this case "dragons breath" giving you the power needed to accelerate. A couple of final high speed turns and you hit the brakes, and join a conga line of 3 or 4 trains rolling into the unload station, also with a conveyor belt. Overall this ride is excellent. Good level of intensity on the coaster bit, and the way it hides both the reverse stall and the drop tracks as suprises on the way, integrated seamlessly into the pacing works really well. The level of theming is high for the most part, aside from perhaps the indoor show building (from the outside it looks like a shed too, guess it needs more trees to cover it?) As a final note, I saw perhaps the most chaotic good, but non condonable behaviour ever at a park. On one of my rides i was in the singles queue, but it was moving slow. You get most people in even groups, which can make this line crawl. A group of people ahead of me decided to cut into the main queue sneakily. I was thinking they were just line jumping, but of course, I was not going to cause a scene and complain. But, the plot twist came when they were at the front. When the grouper asked them how many, each of them said one, one, one, one. Net result, was that 8 people got cleared from the singles queue in the space of a minute lol. Skull Island: Reing of Kong This is the only other 'new' ride for me was this. It's an immersive tunnel attraction, or rather a few of immersive tunnels in sequence. You ride in a tour bus that stops in long cylindrical rooms with screens either side. There's also a motion base, so at each of these points stuff happens on screen, before you drive off into the next. The studio tour at Hollywood has an abridged version of this (Where the tour shuttle will drive into a building shake table with screens either side) The queue is well themed, through a dark temple. A highlight is this giant worm in a glass cabinet moving about, a taste of all the other mutant things you'll see on Skull Island. You board your tour bus and from there set out on your jungle expedition. The next few minutes can be described as various battles and attacks from giant creatures, with a liberal amount of water being squirted at you every time something gets decapitated or shot, ugh. Overall, decent I thought, but I think the limitations of the bigger vehicles and the longer time spent at each screen makes it feel a bit less frantic than other screen based dark rides like Spiderman or Transformers. Incredible Hulk Coaster Tell a lie, technically this is 'new' since they replaced all the track since I last visited. The queue has been totally refreshed and looks great, with lots of neon scientific equipment, too bad you cant take pics, since the lockers are before you enter the queue, so no phones. Onboard, the launch tunnel has been fitted out with LED screens, showing energy pulsating around the train before you launch. Forgot how darn intense this ride is, with positive G forces that dont let up, and huge elements. And of course that zero g roll straight out of the launch tunnel is a great start to the ride. Cat in the Hat A bit of a sleeper hit. This ride goes through the story of Cat in the Hat, with the words being recited, with each scene being an animated version of a page of the book. A real delight actually. **** A note on food. I had the "Green eggs and ham". Basically potato gems, with scrambled eggs (with chives to make it green) and diced ham and some cheese. Actually a filling breakfast option. Amazing Adventures of Spiderman Always a favourite, and now in 4K (I've done the 4K version in Japan, good to experience it in English) Still holds up well, and the re animated sections have more background gags to spot. Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey A great ride from a physical standpoint, after all, being flung around on a robotic arm whilst following a track is real technical achievement. But since then, the newer Harry Potter rides have done a bit better in terms of storytelling, leaving this one feeling a bit chaotic. I guess you cant blame them, this was the first HP ride ever built, so it seemed like they were trying to fit as many things in there as possible. Quiddich? Dragons? Dementors? Still a great ride, just wish more parks would do them, and with more themes (At this point, I think its only WB World Abu Dhabi that has done one) **** These days you can now get 'warm butter beer' in the area, but I thought it tasted like white hot chocolate mostly. I had a laugh that Heathcliff was mentioned....Heathcliff comics are absurd: And thats IOA for another decade likey.
  3. Any other HP fans on here excited for Hogwarts Legacy? Please - no massive spoilers. But, please feel free to chat about the general story, characters, what you're looking forward too, etc. Would just like to chat with fellow HP friends
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