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Everything posted by Delirium_Guy

  1. The walls around London in USF and around Hogsmeade station in IOA are down. http://behindthethrills.com/2014/06/walls-come-down-around-diagon-alley-at-universal-orlando-as-harry-potter-gets-closer/ After participating in mock service last week, all I can say is that guests are going to be blown away with Diagon Alley. As incredible as Hogsmeade is, Diagon takes things to an entirely different level that even New Fantasyland doesn't do. It will be easy for guests to spend hours exploring....there are a lot of hidden gems that have not been announced nor can be seen from any pictures that are out there. :-) And Hogwarts Express is simply wonderful....
  2. From a guest satisfaction point of view, it's consistently been one of the highest in the history of HHN....also a very strong revenue driver for merchandise. Walking Dead is not the theme of the event, just a house.....a very large house! - Todd
  3. One is currently already running the course. It definitely provides a much better experience and is much smoother. Not B&M smooth, but enjoyable. While a lot of enthusiasts find it mediocre, it consistently gets high guest satisfaction scores...so the GP eat it up. Being able to ride it at least once a week usually, I guess I've just grown to enjoy it for what it is and now I really do enjoy riding it. By the way, GYK, great song choice!
  4. No one will argue that point. Universal will never beat Disney. What they can do, however, is keep people off Disney property for LONGER. With Comcast essentially giving the parks a blank check and openly discussing how much money they intend to invest in UOR, Disney will have a serious competitor at their door steps. Instead of a family spending a full 7 day vacation at Disney, they may only choose to spend 4 or 5...and spend their other 2 or 3 days down the road at Universal.
  5. One can hope. While Walt certainly envisioned that things should be ever-changing, its sad that TDO has really lost sight of that for the better part of the last decade. It's no secret that both DHS and Animal Kingdom are at the bottom of the ladder as far as the Florida parks are concerned, with most guests spending half day or so at each and then venturing over for an additional visit to Epcot or Magic Kingdom. At the current pace, there is an incredibly high possibility that Universal Studios will surpass Animal Kingdom and DHS in attendance with the opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley next year. These attractions are sorely needed at both parks. I'm certainly not that excited about Avatar. Although I'm sure, like New Fantasyland, it'll turn out to be beautiful...the attraction line up just seems blah. I have to believe there is something innovative behind the "Soarin 2.0" ride, but right now current chatter is no. I'll also be curious to see if Avatar makes the registers ring as much as Potter did for Universal. I don't think it will, but time will tell. I'm far more excited about the extended hours, night time safaris and night show...I think those alone will go along way with keeping guests in park longer. The smartest thing on the horizon is leveraging the Star Wars brand. THAT will be a home run, no doubt about it, and that will affect DHS much like Carsland did for DCA. So yes, potentially a lot of exciting things on the horizon....never fear we have 4-5 years to keep speculating and discussing before anything sees the light of day. Meanwhile, down on the farm, you'll have two completely refreshed parks at Universal to enjoy before any of the above projects open.
  6. I just got back from SeaWorld a few minutes ago. Park opened an hour early due to the anticipated crowds. Fortunately, we were able to walk right into the ride. First of all, let me say the entire area is BEAUTIFUL. They really did an outstanding job at transforming what was a very dated area of the park. It is rich in detail, in a very Disney or Universal like fashion, and has a lot of hidden corners and areas to explore. The exhibit itself is very well done. You can get incredibly close to the penguins and the Park has continued its recent trend and enriching the animal encounters. The underwater viewing area is fantastic. Again, I think it is a nice improvement over what used to be. The ride? I'm not sure where to begin. The queue line is wonderful. The preshow rooms do a nice job of setting up the story of Puck. Unfortunately, that's about where it ends. The ride system is stunning and it was awesome to finally experience it after seeing prior installations that GYK pointed out. Our "wild" ride ended up with our pod being the only one going through. I've read that multiple pods are capable of going through the show, and it seems that way based on my observations, so I think it would be interesting to see them interact with one another. The ride does absolutely nothing and telling the story that was set up so well in the preshow. It is mostly a lot of pointless meandering with a few screens along the way with the animation of Puck. The elaborate theming from the queue doesn't quite carry over as much into the ride itself. There were a lot of dead spots with little to no theming at all. The ride ends with a quick view of the real penguins. It is incredibly short and if I waited more than 30 minutes for it I would be quite disappointed. I'm incredibly disappointed with the execution of this. It dumps you out into the exhibit, which really is 30 degrees inside. Crazy cold when you are in shorts and flip flops, but a nice touch and making the experience authentic. What I am disappointed to see is that it seems like you HAVE to ride the ride in order to see the penguins. This trend started with Turtle Trek and I don't like it at all. Hopefully with time, as the popularity dies down, this will change and you'll be able to by pass the attraction. Overall, the area really is a solid addition for SeaWorld and I do think it will be a game changer for them. While it is easy for us, as enthusiasts, to pick everything apart, the guests seemed to really be enjoying it. I do think that SeaWorld raised the bar for themselves as far as executing the area and it really does look spectacular. I'm looking forward to heading back after the Memorial Day crowds go away to try some of the new food options as well as the South Pole Chill. -Todd
  7. Fun Spot officially opened White Lightning to the public yesterday around 5pm. GREAT little ride. Fast paced, some quick direction changes, several quick pops of air time, and a 90 degree bank that is just strange but incredibly fun. They have a winner on their hands. I snagged an annual pass last night, so looking forward to getting many more rides on this guy!
  8. SeaWorld had a terrible year in 2010. This was also the year that they were fighting all of the negative publicity associated with the accident early in the year. They have since seen attendance climb in 2011 and 2012. More people coming to Orlando is good for all of the parks, you are absolutely right about that. What you mentioned above is what is the most important though. If they can get people to spend one less day on property at Disney, that can be significant.
  9. I agree that Walt Disney World will always be what people associate with Orlando. I don't agree, though, that these attractions won't help boost attendance numbers at UOR. Will Universal ever eclipse Disney in terms of attendance? I wouldn't say it is impossible, but extremely unlikely. Can they continue to invest in attractions that can help persuade people to spend a little less time on property at Mouse House...absolutely. I'm interested in seeing how the Gringott's attraction turns out as well. The show building is huge. There is still quite a bit of track yet to be installed. It's visible when driving down Hollywood Way just before you get to Royal Pacific.
  10. Agreed about two different demographics being served, then again I think that Potter can serve a much broader demographic than Fantasyland can. It is no secret that Potter definitely dinged WDW. Will Diagon Alley have the same impact? If it does, will the opening of SDMT be overshadowed by the new Wizarding World opening just a few miles down the road?
  11. Here's the thing. New Fantasyland is absolutely stunning. It's gorgeous. No doubt about it and I'm glad to see Disney go back to that level of detail once again. My biggest issue is there just isn't much to it. Belle's Enchanted Cottage features some amazing special effects, but at the end of the day it's still just a meet and greet. Little Mermaid has an incredibly elaborate queue that builds up to a very average and ordinary ride. Storybook Circus is very well done, but it was just a re-theme of an existing area in the park. Is Disney nervous about any of this? Part of me wants to believe that maybe it is sinking in that Universal is stepping up to be a very SERIOUS competitor with them. Then again, with the arrogance and complacency that is TDO...I have my doubts. As Disney has release their quarterly results, attendance at the US Parks & Resorts have been down....but they continue to sing the praises of Cars Land and its significant impact on the Disneyland result. If Disneyland and DCA are seeing such surges in attendance, it is pretty clear that the loss of attendance is coming from Florida. With Sea World stepping up its game with Antarctica and the new projects coming on line at Universal, which are reported to be only the beginning of the expansions that are coming down the pipe in the next few years, I have to believe that TDO have to have projects forthcoming.
  12. Meanwhile, a few miles down I-4, the 3 year construction of Seven Dwarves Mine Coaster will finally be completed....and new Fantasyland will finally be complete. Yawn. Come on, Disney....you can do better. In all seriousness though, this really is an amazing addition. It's already looking incredibly impressive and has already drastically altered the former Amity area in USF. Transformers. Springfield. Potter. USF is almost like a brand new park.
  13. It's official. The giant Megatron crash site at the Fairwinds building has been updated this morning with "Prepare For Battle June 20". http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/on-the-town/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2013/5/2/transformers_the_rid.html - Todd
  14. There are a lot of rumors regarding soft opening....most of which all point to late May. So you may miss them by a week or two. Team Member previews have not began yet, but are expected very soon. They are ramping up on the viral campaign and advertising.... http://www.thedailycity.com/2013/05/transformers-in-downtown-orlando-on.html Very exciting times at Universal Orlando! - Todd
  15. Latest update with Antarctica. May 24th Grand Opening date. Made a loop around the park last week for Bands, Brews and BBQ...it's looks VERY good over there. Quite a transformation from the very dated Penguin Plaza we were all used to! http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/seaworld/os-dewayne-bevil-seaworld-antarctica-20130221,0,7506320.column Check out the pictures, incredible detail going into the rockwork! - Todd
  16. Only that it was disappointing that they didn't go the route that California did. It had been years since i had ridden Space in California, before they did the rebuild, so I never thought much about the differences between the two rides. In 2009, I went out to DLR and they had just converted their Space Mountain over to Ghost Galaxy. Talk about a total surprise. It always amazes me how adding music and other small effects can really plus a ride...and that was clearly evident in California. I haven't been able to experience regular Space Mountain, as both time I've been out since the refurb there have been with Ghost Galaxy in operation, but Ghost Galaxy is awesome. Fantastic sound track, the awesome effects tunnel that surrounds the 2nd lift, not to mention the images that are projected throughout the ride really are well done....not to mention the fact that it is incredibly smooth and re-ride able. I suspect that the regular Space is just as great. So when WDW's version re-opened after it's refurb, it was disappointing to come back to the same old ride....just with a newly enclosed loading area. I was happy to see the effort to add music to the ride, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't work well for me. It is difficult to hear while you are on board, with the exception of a few spots. The ride itself certainly didn't feel, nor does it feel now, like it went down for a 6 month refurb. Stark contrast to the butter smooth ride in California. Just my opinion.
  17. They most certainly played a major role in this and also footed the bill for a large portion of it. Recent WDW "refurbishments" have seen the projects value engineered to death (please see Space Mountain), however Test Track went the opposite direction. This was not a cheap re-do. Quite honestly, I was very surprised when I rode Test Track last night for the first time. I purposely avoided watching videos so I would be surprised and boy was I. Gone is the tacky and loud queue with the annoying sound track, crashing sounds, etc. It's now very sleek and modern, it's beautiful really. The design aspect was something that didn't appeal to me at first, but it is actually kinda cool and it is neat to see your design sync up to the ride itself as you experience the attraction. Also gone are the three pre-show rooms and the god awful bottle neck in the queue when they dumped out. Such an improvement. Instead the 3 design rooms are now at ground level and dump out onto the ramp that the former stand by line utilized as it lead up to the old pre-show loading. Fast Pass skips the design studios but has a small modified section near the end of its queue where people have a few minutes to design a car. Single Rider skips the design phase all together. As far as the ride itself, it is visually stunning now on the inside. In some places theme elements and screens extend from floor to ceiling. The way that it is lit and the placement of all the new elements give it a more intimate feeling on the inside, as opposed to the old Test Track where you could clearly see the wasted space left over in the building from World of Motion. The testing chambers, I'll admit, I missed what two of them even were. The former "cold room" is now the aerodynamics testing room. It utilizes the same mirror trick used in Radiator Springs Racers (which was an amazing attraction, btw) where you see an air current appear to flow over the shape of your car as it moves through the chamber. I think the biggest piece for me, as others have mentioned, is that this new theme better aligns with what EPCOT truly is. I couldn't be happier with how this project turned out and I'm happy to have Track open again...EPCOT has certainly been quiet the past 7 months with out it - Todd
  18. This is exactly right. That's why if they're going to spend the time and the money to expand a park, I'd like to see them try something different not just do revamps of rides we already have. Do we need 2 flying Dumbo rides? I'm not sure. Also, I thought it was a joke when they were talking about expanding Animal Kingdom to create an Avatar land. That's crazy, it's not even Disney! Maybe this is where the Pocahontas idea could fit. I think that land would fit great in Animal Kingdom. You could build the forest, Pocahontas' village, and right in the center of it call you could have a full size Grandmother Willow that you could talk to and she could respond. Maybe have a ride built into the area also, maybe some authentic shops and restaurants. To me, I think this would be a much better use of space than an Avatar land. Plus, it is the Disney brand and still family appropriate. I definitely agree that for once, I'd like to see Magic Kingdom EXPAND and not replace. After all is said and done, MK is only gaining one ride. We get Little Mermaid, but lose Snow White. Seven Dwarf's will at last up the ride count. With that said, do we need two Dumbo rides....absolutely. There are some things that are simply Disney classics, this is one of them. Dumbo is a Magic Kingdom staple and one of the most popular rides in the Park....it also has crap capacity. I applaud Disney on this move, I do think it was smart and has improved guest experience for the attraction. I don't really get Avatar. Again, it was so out of left field. I'm sure that whatever they have planned will turn out to be spectacular, but I can't help but wonder why one of their own properties wasn't chosen for such an expansion (i.e Carsland). Carsland has completely turned California Adventure around much the same way that Potter did for Universal Orlando. I've been reading stories about shops running out of Carsland merchandise already, not to mention the huge crowds that have descended upon DCA. Is Avatar going to do the same thing for Animal Kingdom? Sure is going to be interesting to see....whenever it opens in the next 4 years or so - Todd
  19. Yes, you could argue that. While the Fantasyland expansion has been on the books for a while, what wasn't was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There has been chatter about the ride for years, but it was left out of the finalized plan that was announced 3 years ago. Originally, this section of the new Fantasyland was to essentially be a large area with various meet and greets for the princesses. Potter caters to such a wide demographic, including young boys AND girls. The Fantasyland expansion primarily was geared for girls, with the princesses making up a very large part of it (meet and greets, Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle). Seeing the huge success of Potter, no surprise that plans changed. I still can't get that excited about Fantasyland. Dumbo turned out nice and Splash 'n Soak Station is cute, but that particular part of the expansion just doesn't feel like Disney. Honestly, the detail in that area is something that I feel like we'd see turn up in a SeaWorld Parks attraction, which is perfectly suitable for those tier of parks....Disney just always sets the bar so much higher. I'll be interested to see the rest of the area open up in a few months, a lot can change when everything is finally pieced together. After seeing pictures of Carsland, I feel like they could have come up with something more immersive and more captivating. To me, Carsland seems like more of an answer to Potter than the new Fantasyland. I do agree, though, the Avatar announcement was so random and out of left field. Hopefully some details start to emerge soon. They've been doing balloon tests recently in the park...so things are in motion at this point. - Todd, can't wait to check out Carsland next month!
  20. Agree again about IOA. It was incredibly sad to see such an amazing park open, yet be neglected with no additions or attention for so many years. Potter breathed new life into the park. The entire atmosphere in the park is just different now and one that I've been enjoying tremendously. In general, it has been fantastic to see just how much investment has been and is continuing to be made in both Universal parks. I am very interested in the Avatar expansion...and just how much of an impact it will make. Will it have the same drawing power that Potter did? - Todd, who is also curious to see how Antarctica turns out at SeaWorld next year!
  21. While I used to agree with that statement, I have to say that I think the focus at Universal has definitely changed with the addition of Potter. To say that they didn't care about the details or guest experience just isn't fair. While I find it highly doubtful that Universal will ever top Disney in terms of attendance, they have definitely shaken things up and changed the game here in Orlando. They have made an impact with how people are choosing to spend their vacations while in town and are pulling more people off property from the Mouse House than in the past. With more Potter on the horizon and the yet-to-be-announced but highly rumored Transformer attraction rapidly under construction now, I can't help but to imagine what all this means for the Orlando parks in the coming years! - Todd
  22. TheCrypt is correct about the tiered seating on Rockit....with that said ride as close to the front as possible. Rockit is possibly one of the moodiest rides I've encountered. It can be really smooth or it can shuffle and bounce so much that you'll have come off with one hell of a headache. It is usually smoother in the front two seats, the back seat of either car is HORRIBLE. TheCrypt and I seem to have similiar tastes in where we ride, but I have to say that I really enjoy the front seat of Cheetah Hunt. Nice airtime as you crest the top of the tower, wonderful view, really fun ride. ANY seat on Kumba is brilliant, IMHO. My favorite coaster in Florida, hands down. - Todd
  23. You're major attractions will have them. At IOA: Hulk, Dragons and Forbidden Journey the lockers are required....no bags can be taken through the queue. I believe there are optional lockers located near the water attractions, I'm having a hard time recalling because we don't ride them all that often. At Studios: Rockit, Mummy and MIB the lockers are required...no bags can be taken through the queue line. You are correct, though, similiar to the old coin operated lockers at KI....likewise SeaWorld has the same coin operated lockers that KI had before the switch to Best Lockers this season. They are single use, but you can rent them over and over again. I'm a big fan of their system at Universal and find them incredibly convenient and easy to use....best of all they are free! - Todd
  24. Anyone who has visited SeaWorld Orlando in the past will be happy to know that Sky Tower is now FREE with paid park admission! They began doing it earlier this year, which I think is just fantastic! I will echo what everyone else has said as well about Discovery Cove. Maybe I'm partial because I used to work there before I started working at Legoland Florida, but the park is truly spectacular. One would never even believe that they are actually in Central Florida, but rather a lush tropical paradise far, far away. The new Freshwater Oasis is fantastic as well, the otters are adorable To loop back around to try to answer your Universal locker question again, you aren't limited to one locker rental. Basically, once you get off the ride and open the locker to retrieve your belongings....it ends the rental. If you choose to ride again, then you simply return to the rental kiosk and follow the same steps....it'll scan your finger print again and assign you a locker number. In other words, you will pretty much be renting a locker each time you choose to experience the attractions in the Park. Does that clear it up? - Todd
  25. You explained just fine! The lockers are free, but keep in mind that they are free for the duration of the attractions wait time. For example, if Forbidden Journey has a 75 minute queue time posted....the locker would be free for approximately 30 minutes longer than the posted queue time. They give a little bit of breathing room in case of a break down or other delay that may extend the guests wait time. If you keep your things in the locker past the allotted free time, you will have to pay for the additional time you utilized the locker for. I'm not sure how much they are charging these days, as I rarely use them. TheCrypt was correct in that the same locker system is in use at all the major attractions in both IOA and Studios. As far as the finger print, the rental kiosk at the lockers will take a scan of your finger print. When you return to open the locker, it is the finger print that must match. You aren't issued a key or a password. To touch base on a few of your other things: * SeaWorld Parks do give our free cups of ice water. With that said, an average meal in either SeaWorld or BGT will run you $10 without a drink. As far as the Meal Deal that they offer, depends on how much you want to eat. The Meal Deal includes the entree, desert and drink each time you go through the line. If you are only planning one meal in the Park for the day, then no it definitely isn't worth it to you. * Rockit....I DEFINITELY recommend doing it FIRST if you are there at rope drop, it will continue to grow throughout the day and usually doesn't get shorter. That will most likely hold true since it sounds like you may be going on a weekend. Just a note, Rockit, Mummy and MIB all three have single rider lines. * While Forbidden Journey does have a single rider line, I highly recommend waiting through the queue at least once...especially if you enjoy details and theming. The queue is beautiful. The line for FJ also moves incredibly fast. * Which park to hit on Labor Day Saturday? Since you are buying Quick Queue, I would suggest SeaWorld. If you want the full SeaWorld experience and are planning to see all of the animal attractions, then Saturday would be great because Summer Nights will still be going. There is a totally different show line-up once the sun goes down and the park does fireworks. Honestly though, with you buying Express and Quick Queue, it isn't going to matter which one you do....guess it depends on what your interests are. * I can't speak too much about Wet n Wild, I've only been there once, but I do visit Aquatica a lot. Aquatica will be busy on a Saturday and you are correct in that there is no Quick Queue type system implemented yet. I would actually suggest doing the water parks on one of your week days, especially since a lot of local schools will be back in session by that point. Hope that helps! - Todd
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