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Richard

TR: Orlando Parks

15 posts in this topic

I figured we needed a new thread for my trip. It's been big enough in the other one, and this is a long long review. :) Busch Gardens, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando, Islands of Adventure. It's been a few days since my last update, and in those few days I've ridden all of the remaining coasters of the trip and been to every park in Orlando. We went to Busch Gardens on Sunday. They have the single most stupid shuttle system from Orlando (Tampa Bay is an hour+ away) - I'd hire a car if doing it again. We went for Rhino Rally, given its reputation for being a big queue ride. It's essentially a safari ride for the majority, which would be a lot better if the driver took the ride seriously. As great as the whole "give animals and landmarks stupid names" thing goes, I'd really prefer a more realic experience. The rapids section is overhyped and boring, which made me really disappointed that the driver took it as such a joke. Kumba was next. It's truly an amazing ride, but superb up the front. Its first drop is great, but nothing different from just about every B&M sitdown/standup/floorless. I couldn't care less about every inversion but the zero-g-roll, which is truly the best inversion ever created. Thanks to Busch's renowned high-capacity and low (relative to Orlando) attendance, the ride is a walkon for any seat but the front pretty much all day. We next went around and did the river rapids ride. They're all very different over here. They make it no surprise to get soaked, unlike at home. You will come off this thing dripping wet. We did a bunch of other things, including R.L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse, which stars whoever the guy who played Doc Brown in the Back to the Futures, with a cool Weird Al cameo at the end, which was all I really wanted to see. I thought it was as good as Pirates, which it replaced at the Anheuser-Busch parks here (perhaps our Sea World didn't think it was worth the asking price?). Montu is a great ride. Better than Batman, and too different to compare to Dueling Dragons, which is all I can say. All the diving underground is cool, and again I simply love the zero-g-rolls. Gwazi is nothing special. This is the first wooden coaster that is on par with most opinions of it. It's fairly boring, and about equivalent in roughness to Psyclone, which ain't good. At least it has the nice PTC trains that I love (NOTHING like those PTCs that Bush Beast runs, by the way). The two sides a fairly comparable, and they made no effort whatsoever to actually duel the trains. They were so bloody slow at load/unload, that probably 75% of the ride time was spent stacked in the brake run waiting. Python proves that our Corkscrew is a rarity among old Arrows. It's rough and pretty painful, even with the softer OTSR (between Corkscrew's hard ones at Cyclone's super-soft ones). Scorpion is just an old Schwarzkopf, which would be rough if it had OTSR, but isn't bad with just the lapbars. The helices are Goliath-like in force, which I like. We didn't ride the log flume, which was about as ugly as those at SFMM. Their shoot the chutes, named Tidal Wave really lives up to its name. It soaks those on the rode, and absolutely drenches everyone on the bridge. They have a glass pane at the end for those that want to see it but not experience it, which is hit by a wall of water that is strong enough to actually move the glass, which was thick enough to not budge at all when I threw my weight into it to test its strength. :P We managed to do Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot in one day, and Disney-MGM in a much slower-paced second day. We've still got three days plus up to four days at the non-theme parks at Walt Disney World, so we take take time and redo what we want, and see everything we missed. Magic Kingdom is like Disneyland with double the capacity. Space Mountain was first, and it was truly above and beyond all my expectations. It's hard to imagine if you haven't ridden either the Disneyland or MK versions, but for such a relatively simple (yet quite intense) coaster, it really did freak me out (and I don't just mean the "Cool! Airtime!" sort of freaked out). We then went over to Frontierland and did BTM with Splash Mountain FastPass tickets in hand, plus I figured out how to scam the system (I won't be revealing in a hurry), so as to get more FastPass tickets. Big Thunder Mountain is gentle yet great fun, and goes all-out in the lift hill department. Splash Mountain makes the story so much less ambiguous, but on the same note, it also makes figuring out the story no longer half the fun. I didn't think it was quite as good as Disneyland's - they are both very different, not just in the size of the logs. Animal Kingdom is a boring park if you're after your regular theme park. It has Primeval Whirl, which is certainly below Disney standards, and Kali River Rapids, which you can really see is what Grizzly at DCA was based and expanded upon. It's got fantastic theming, and some cool elements. The real masterpiece here is definitely the safari. It's as authentic as the real thing (I'd imagine :)), and compared to Busch and San Diego Zoo, the animals are a lot nicer looking - it's as if they paint them, or reject the less-than-perfect ones or something, because they're all so textbook perfect. We got approached by some giraffe, which was quite a magical experience. I finally did "It's Tough to Be a Bug" at this park, which I don't think was nearly as good as Shrek 4D or the best of them all, Muppetvision 3D, but it was fun. Epcot is the true gem of WDW. We got into the 35 minute single-riders queue for Test Track, which was quite a great feature, and very efficient. This ride is just so amazing that it's almost hard to describe. It's basically what the name suggests - a testing track for cars. It takes you through a range of tests, including braking, rough surfaces, extreme temperatures and high-speed plus a whole bunch more. It was truly the best ride I've ever ever been on - no joke. That was until we did Mission Space next. Mission Space is best described as a simulator, built onto arms of a centrifuge, similar to La Revolucion at Knotts. Unlike most simulators, where you are given the visual illusion of various feelings, this, you actually feel the high G-forces of the launch, the weightlessness of space, and all the rest. Combine this with the fact that you're pressing buttons to control parts of the journey, and "steering" the ship with a force-feedback joystick, this is truly the best ride I've ever ridden. It's so great, and you just know that nobody other than Disney will ever pull off this sort of ride. The next day we went to Disney-MGM Studios. It's like Movie World, only bigger and with some decent non-ride attractions, which Movie World loves to remove. We did Tower of Terror first, second and third, because Rock n' Roller Coaster was down for most of the day. Because they're now randomly running four different programs, you really don't know what to expect. If you like the "initial drop" feeling, you'll love this thanks to the repeated drops and even S&S style upward launch and drop. We did many of the great non-ride attractions. Millionaire-Play It! is great, equal to DCA's of course. I couldn't beat my record of number eight in the audience (out of 500, it's really not that bad), but Simon got to number one for a bit before getting the remaining few questions wrong. A kid got on, which means he was the fastest and most-correct in the audience, who used two lifelines on the first two questions, and got wrong with "What does Harry Potter ride", with a 50/50 between mop and broom, which got some good chuckles. There's a great museum dedicated to Walt Disney, which I personally loved. When Rock n' Roller Coaster opened, we waited about 30 minutes for this, but it's worth it. The launch is great, and amazingly it's a smooth coaster - probably the smoothest I've ever experienced, which proves that the Vekoma badge isn't the problem - it's the parks who don't maintain them. Kind of silly though - it's just a few inversions and whatnot in the dark, to a seemingly random Aerosmith soundtrack. To get to Walt Disney World from International Drive (the touristy hotel area of Orlando), you have to catch two buses, with a transfer at SeaWorld. We figured it was too cold (it's turned freezing over the past few days) for WDW, so we just wandered over to SeaWorld and spent half a day there. We wandered around for a while, but eventually ended up at Kraken, which truly is the best floorless coaster in the world. The zero-g-roll is the most perfect one ever, and you know how much I love them! It's actually noticeable smoother than most other B&Ms, which makes this thing silky. Combined with the silence of the ride (it uses sand and dampeners and whatnot to make it quiet for the nearby animals), so it's quite a different ride. We watched Journey to Atlantis for a few minutes, seeing as we weren't decked out for a wet ride in this weather. We're saving it for another, better day. :) There's a pretty awful simulator there called Wild Arctic. You basically board, go for a terribly synchronised helicopter ride, before getting off in the Arctic to see some actual animals. There's some beluga whales, seals and polar bears (which aren't as cool as those at our Sea World). We decided to get out of there after lunch, and ended up at IOA for the afternoon. It's amazing to see how empty this place was after some seriously packed days. Hulk was a 5 minute wait according to the sign, which always translates to walkon. This ride is sweet, but to me, the element that makes this ride wouldn't even be considered an element by most. After the second loop, there's a downward s-bend. It's all of about two seconds, but to me, it's just the coolest thing ever. We then got over to Spider-Man again, because it was only a 20 minute wait, which was also pretty close to a walkon. This is the coolest ride Universal have in their arsenal, and it's just so cleverly done that it's worth riding just to figure out how different effects work. Dueling Dragons was calling us. Absolutely horrible one-train operation meant it was a 30+ minute wait. We rode Ice first, and decided to wait an extra 30 minutes for the front. There is no other seat but the front on this inverted - more so than normal ones. We then rode Fire, just going for a middle seat. I can't really compare the two until I ride them both in the front, which I'll do when we go back and crowds die down some more. We dared to ride Jurassic Park, which amazingly isn't nearly as good as Universal Studios Hollywood's version. About all I preferred was the fact that it had better looking surrounding rainforests. We're just going to go back to parks and ride what we've missed at all the parks, and get some video and photo footage.

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Next on the agenda it to come home. We're leaving in four days for Brisbane via Sydney via Auckland via Los Angeles via Chicago (all in the name of cheaper tickets :)). We've still got a few days to spend at parks. We've got two more days at Disney and another day at SeaWorld/IOA. Blizzard Beach, one of Disney's two water parks. Typhoon Lagoon happens to be shut for maintenance, but Blizzard Beach is considered the better of the two. They're home to Summit Plummit, the world's tallest, fastest and most painful body slide. It rocks, but you'd never do it more than once in a visit. They also have just about every other slide you could want, including a lazy river that circumnavigates the entire park, whcih has tubes with a bottom, so you never have to get wet. 8)

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I know this is pulling up an old post but what was Popeye and Blutos Bilge Rat Barges like? Is it as good as its cracked up to be, and what is the waterfall element on it like? Is it better than Grizzly River Run?

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Waterfall element? You'll have to refresh me on that one. It's a good ride - if wetness is your thing, then this is the ride for you. You won't leave this thing without being head to toe wet - and usually you're there before the thing's half over. No way that it's better than Grizzly River Run, or Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Grizzly River Run is definitely the best I've ridden, out of a total of nine - with not one but two full fledged drops during the ride, one of which spinning, nothing comes close, and its theming personally does it for me a lot more than IOA's painted concrete. I'd compare Popeye in terms of the ride (leaving theming alone) to SeaWorld San Diego's - Popeye's just a heap longer and a heap wetter.

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It's not a vertical drop - my memory about it is a bit sketchy, because I only rode it once about six months ago, and at the time I was concentrating more on the fact that it was absolutely freezing - rather, it's a "regular" drop that curves to the left. I believe the system was a tilting, so it does appear to be a waterfall, but it's not like those freefalls they've got on some rapids rides in Europe.

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I'll just say getting wet on an Australian water ride and getting wet on a US water ride are two totally different things. Ours are all designed to splash, theirs, bar none I've ridden, are designed to leave you head to toe soaked to the core wet. The large 12 person ones are notorious for it - the rafts are so heavy that when it comes to a wave, rather than going over it, they just cut straight through it splashing water everywhere. We got on SFMM's the moment it opened one day, and by the time we got back to the station we were completely drenched, and there was about eight inches of water on the floor, which is quite a bit, especially considering the floorspace of these things. I'd say this is the reason they've gone back to eight-seaters for the modern ones - 12 is just too bulky.

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Its first drop is great, but nothing different from just about every B&M sitdown/standup/floorless. I couldn't care less about every inversion but the zero-g-roll, which is truly the best inversion ever created. Thanks to Busch's renowned high-capacity and low (relative to Orlando) attendance, the ride is a walkon for any seat but the front pretty much all day. It just came off like you were saying that it was nothing special, which I doubt cause it looks pretty spiffy and is a B&M, However I;ve never been on a B&M, so I cant compare and some pics would be cool lol! ;) anyway, my apologies to you sir.

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