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Florida Trip 2017: Part 6 Universal Studios Orlando

frontrow frontrow Profile

Posted:
9/3/17 at
10:05:20 PM

Our visit to Islands of Adventure was on Wednesday August 23rd and the next day Thursday August 24th we visited Universal Studios Orlando for the first time ever. In 2001, Universal Studios Orlando didn't have any coasters, so I didn't see the need to visit. Now they have 3 major coasters and a Kiddie coaster. With the addition of Daigon Alley and Escape from Griggots this park was on our list since day of planning.

At the rope drop we literally ran back to Diagon Alley and shot some photos of the area, before the crowd showed up and got in the way of my shots. We were the very first ones to board Escape from Griggots. The entire que is themed so well. Now, I was expecting a coaster experience, but it's more like a dark a rise with some coasters elements. It's a terrific ride, just a little different than I was expecting. I thought the screens were incredible, the tilt track was unexpected, and so was the launch. I have a feeling something similar to this will be added to Islands of Adventure. We did get a second ride on it later that evening and waited about 20 minutes. My son actually liked Griggots more than The Forbidden Journey at IOA.

Next up was The Revenge of The Mummy. Now this is what I expected from Griggots. Fantastic theming and special effects, along with a very fun and unique coaster experience. This was by far, my favorite ride at Universal Studios Orlando. We rode it 4 times and never waited more than 5 minutes. Thus was another surprise of the trip, and something else was I was extremely impressed with. The kids agreed that it was the best ride in the park.

The other major coaster is a Mack sit down, called Hollywood Rip Rocket Ride. My daughter liked this coaster because you can pick your own music. To me it was just a pure mess of roughness and block brakes. It has a vertical lift, and a non inverting loop. We rode it 3 times, and it's luck of the draw seating. We never did draw front seat or back seat.

We rode Transformers the ride, which is very similar to Spiderman at Islands of Adventure. I thought Spiderman had better special effects, and was the better ride. My daughter agreed with me, but my son liked Transformers.

We rode Jimmy Fallon race through New York. They were taking reservations on the day were there and gave us a time to return. We had to wait about 10 minutes after we returned. It's a 4D ride that I actually enjoyed. They entire building is nicely themed. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is almost the same exact ride experience, but with different theming. In fact at Universal Studios it seemed that was norm. Same type of ride experience, but with different themes.

We did the Shrek 4D theater and it was Ok, but very memorable. We rode E.T. the rise which was similar to Peter Pan at Magic Kingdom, and was nicely done for an older attraction. We also grabbed the Kiddie coaster credit while over that way called Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster. We also did the Simpsons Ride that was like an upscale form of one of those simulators you would ride in the mall. Also in that area is a ride called Kang and Kodos Twirl and Wirl which is a modern version of Knowledge Roto Jets that we rode.

My daughter absolutely loved Men in Black. It's a shooting ride that has actual 3D monsters you shoot at, instead of bullseye targets. We rode it 4 times, because she kept getting high score, which was driving my son nuts. He usually beats the crap out of us on shooting games. Men in Black is probably my favorite shooting ride. It's right up there with Guardian at Canada's Wonderland.

We did watch on show Terminator 2 3D. I thought it was the weakest show we saw of the trip. All in all Universal Studios was much better than I expected. Much better theming, especially Diagon Alley. They entire park was clean and gave you that feeling you entered a fantasy world. They just need more diversity in their attractions. We stayed form open to close.

Like I mentioned in an earlier thread we ended our Florida trip with a second day visit to Sea World Orlando. This was the most money I have ever spent on a single coaster trip, but it was well worth it. This was by far our favorite vacation we have ever taken, for my son and I. My daughter still likes her visits to Southern California more. With Hayden graduating high school this year, this may have been our last long trip together as a trio. We have taken a long coaster trip every year, since they started riding in 2010. We will still visit parks together, but Hayden plans on going to Tech school right out of high school. So if this was our last big trip together, then we saved the best for last. I cannot express how fortunate I feel to have spent so many days at parks with my kids at so many different parks. After this trip my kids are at 75 different parks and 385 different coasters. My coaster count is up to 442 now. It has been the best years of my life, and I'm sure these years is what I will continue to reflect on as my kids get older and eventually get out on their own. A huge thank-you to my kids for making me the happiest dad I could ever imagine to be.

Thanks for reading,
Ken

Re: Florida Trip 2017: Part 6 Universal Studios Orlando by RobLec RobLec Profile at 9/5/17 8:20:16 PM
Thanks Ken for your excellent TR and for the somewhat teary eyed insight into fatherhood. We started making coaster trips with our two sons in 1992 and extended into several "reunion" trips in 2005, 2008 and 2011. All those trips will always be treasured memories. Your recount at the end of your TR was truly heart warming.
Thank you. Makes an old man happy!

Mommabeast needs to jump in here and recount some of her family trips. All of our children are grown up now and we are left with all these wonderful memories. My nephew and both of our sons now take their families and friends to Cedar Point and text me how great a job I did "training" them which rides to ride when.

BTW we've been going to Universal since the early 1990's as well and have seen some of those rides have changed theming several times. And you are right, Mummy is probably still the best ride in the park, and I didn't care for Rip Ride Rocket either.

Re: Florida Trip 2017: Part 6 Universal Studios Orlando by Frontrider Frontrider Profile at 9/5/17 10:12:32 PM
Excellent series of reports! I'm glad you got to experience the Florida parks again with your kids and see the new things. I lived in the area full time for a few years after Hurricane Katrina and still consider all these parks my adopted "home parks". I still keep my APs active, and still visit regularly every chance I get (which is usually a few short trips spread out throughout the year and one long one).

I'll just reply here to a few things from all 6.

Glad you enjoyed Mako and Mine Blower - my two favorites currently rolling in the state.

Like all Beemer hypers I've ridden, Mako has awesome backseat air; the frontseat air is what makes it stand out to me compared to many - even while going down the first drop! I agree that the end could be stronger, but what a first half - and I LOVE the Platinum re-ride benefit! I can get 4 fronts and 4 backs on Mako with just four queueings - in usually less than an hour at opening.

Sorry to hear they took this away on Kraken (I guess because of the VR). I'm old school about VR on coasters and even if I try it once, I would still prefer to experience it the traditional way, seeing the sky, water, track, natural scenery, etc. I'd rather sit in an unthemed room and do VR on a motion base or something, than have it take away from the natural visuals on coasters. From the sound of your report, it looks like my ability to rack up laps on Kraken at rope drop (on days when Mako opens an hour late) will be a thing of the past :(

White Lightning seems to be very tempermental - I've had sessions on it where the airtime is really lacking, and others where there are fun little pops of air all over the layout (not really "extreme" Gravity Group/CCI type air, just fun little GCI pops, which tend to be more noticeable for me in the front). The double-up/double-down seems to be the best spot for air on the ride. Even on it's best days, though, I don't enjoy it as much as the late (but still standing) Gwazi, but I still love it - as a woodie fanatic, more than most of the steel in the state.

Mine Blower tops both Florida GCIs, IMO, even if it is a tad on the short side. But what a wild, air-filled, ride it is!

Very excellent observation about the older restraints on Sheikra/Griffon allowing more room for airtime than on Cedar Point's newer dive machine.

After being used to floating all the way down the drops on the two Busch rides, my rides on Valravn in 2016 on my Mean Streak farewell trip were VERY disappointing by how pinned to the seat I was. Makes me think Wild Eagle at Dollywood would also have great backseat air on the first drop if it used the older B&M harnesses instead of those confining "vest" doohickeys.

I rank the three dive machines in the same order as you - I like Griffon a little better than Sheikra due to a stonger second half with more air. And while I like the front for the view, I agree that the back is the "money row" on these for the way you get yanked over and down the vertical drops, getting launched up out of the seat and then floating all the way down!

Sorry you didn't like Rip Rock It. I know some find it rough, but it's my fave Uni coaster (and #2 steel in the state behind Mako, with Sheikra at #3) because of all the air I get - The first drop, non-inverting loop, and each drop off each block brake gives me really strong backseat air; I get great air in the front on the first drop and non-inverting loop as well, and also on the climbs up onto each block brake area.

Just a FYI - you said seating on here (and Everest) is luck of the draw, but you can tell the "grouper" on every Disney and Uni coaster, dark ride, etc. where you want to sit, and they always seem to give it to you. Everest and Rock and Roller Coaster even have dedicated (but unadvertised) front row queues next to the grouper for anyone who asks for the front. I've never had any problems with this at any Florida park; the only park I've ever been to that was aggressively militant about assigned seating was on my one Carowinds visit in 2011 (and I haven't been back since! ;)

Excellent call on visiting Clearwater Marine Aquarium. I had no idea that was there until the first Dolphin Tale came out, and now I go see Winter at least once a year. Truly inspirational!

Lastly, I also agree that BGT has excellent "hands-on" animal interaction opportunities - moreso than the average zoo or animal park. Did you get to pet/feed the kangaroos there at the "Walkabout Way" Australian section? I highly recommend this on any return trips, if you missed it. I also love the Opening Night Critters show at BGT, Pets Ahoy at Sea World, and Animal Actors at Universal. All three have lots of dogs, cats, and other more exotic animals, and many of these animals are rescue animals. Also, you can usually pet some of them after each show!

Again, nice reports, and I'm glad you had an awesome trip in Central Florida - theme park capital of the world!!! (and southern Cali is awesome too, and with much drier, less humid weather!)

Frontrider

* This post was modified at 9/5/17 11:37:11 PM *

"If it isn't wood, it's not as good!"
Favorite wood and overall favorite - Voyage, Holiday World. Favorite steel - Any B&M hyper
"Voyage To Paradise" - http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/profiles/frontrider/blog/340
Re: Florida Trip 2017: Part 6 Universal Studios Orlando by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/6/17 9:28:16 AM
RobLec said:

Thanks Ken for your excellent TR and for the somewhat teary eyed insight into fatherhood. We started making coaster trips with our two sons in 1992 and extended into several "reunion" trips in 2005, 2008 and 2011. All those trips will always be treasured memories. Your recount at the end of your TR was truly heart warming.
Thank you. Makes an old man happy!

Mommabeast needs to jump in here and recount some of her family trips. All of our children are grown up now and we are left with all these wonderful memories. My nephew and both of our sons now take their families and friends to Cedar Point and text me how great a job I did "training" them which rides to ride when.

BTW we've been going to Universal since the early 1990's as well and have seen some of those rides have changed theming several times. And you are right, Mummy is probably still the best ride in the park, and I didn't care for Rip Ride Rocket either.


Thanks for the kind words Rob. I knew way back in 2010 that I was on borrowed time with the kids. I saw how fast time was going by. That's why I made it my mission to get them to as many parks as possible, as often as possible, and to get them on as many different coasters as possible. I've probably said this in another thread, but it was more than the time spent in the amusement parks. It was the time driving to parks and in the hotels that we spent together, and the other non amusement park things we did. Now my daughter and I already have a a few smaller trips planned for 2018, based around the new coaster installations. I don't know if my son will be able to join us or not. In fact this year was a challenge to do a long trip, because both kids had summer jobs, and they had to get time off of work. I'm sure we all will visit parks together, but I just don't see how we could ever do a long trip together again.

Re: Florida Trip 2017: Part 6 Universal Studios Orlando by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/6/17 9:35:49 AM
Frontrider said:

Excellent series of reports! I'm glad you got to experience the Florida parks again with your kids and see the new things. I lived in the area full time for a few years after Hurricane Katrina and still consider all these parks my adopted "home parks". I still keep my APs active, and still visit regularly every chance I get (which is usually a few short trips spread out throughout the year and one long one).


I'll just reply here to a few things from all 6.

Glad you enjoyed Mako and Mine Blower - my two favorites currently rolling in the state.

Like all Beemer hypers I've ridden, Mako has awesome backseat air; the frontseat air is what makes it stand out to me compared to many - even while going down the first drop! I agree that the end could be stronger, but what a first half - and I LOVE the Platinum re-ride benefit! I can get 4 fronts and 4 backs on Mako with just four queueings - in usually less than an hour at opening.

Sorry to hear they took this away on Kraken (I guess because of the VR). I'm old school about VR on coasters and even if I try it once, I would still prefer to experience it the traditional way, seeing the sky, water, track, natural scenery, etc. I'd rather sit in an unthemed room and do VR on a motion base or something, than have it take away from the natural visuals on coasters. From the sound of your report, it looks like my ability to rack up laps on Kraken at rope drop (on days when Mako opens an hour late) will be a thing of the past :(

White Lightning seems to be very tempermental - I've had sessions on it where the airtime is really lacking, and others where there are fun little pops of air all over the layout (not really "extreme" Gravity Group/CCI type air, just fun little GCI pops, which tend to be more noticeable for me in the front). The double-up/double-down seems to be the best spot for air on the ride. Even on it's best days, though, I don't enjoy it as much as the late (but still standing) Gwazi, but I still love it - as a woodie fanatic, more than most of the steel in the state.

Mine Blower tops both Florida GCIs, IMO, even if it is a tad on the short side. But what a wild, air-filled, ride it is!

Very excellent observation about the older restraints on Sheikra/Griffon allowing more room for airtime than on Cedar Point's newer dive machine.

After being used to floating all the way down the drops on the two Busch rides, my rides on Valravn in 2016 on my Mean Streak farewell trip were VERY disappointing by how pinned to the seat I was. Makes me think Wild Eagle at Dollywood would also have great backseat air on the first drop if it used the older B&M harnesses instead of those confining "vest" doohickeys.

I rank the three dive machines in the same order as you - I like Griffon a little better than Sheikra due to a stonger second half with more air. And while I like the front for the view, I agree that the back is the "money row" on these for the way you get yanked over and down the vertical drops, getting launched up out of the seat and then floating all the way down!

Sorry you didn't like Rip Rock It. I know some find it rough, but it's my fave Uni coaster (and #2 steel in the state behind Mako, with Sheikra at #3) because of all the air I get - The first drop, non-inverting loop, and each drop off each block brake gives me really strong backseat air; I get great air in the front on the first drop and non-inverting loop as well, and also on the climbs up onto each block brake area.

Just a FYI - you said seating on here (and Everest) is luck of the draw, but you can tell the "grouper" on every Disney and Uni coaster, dark ride, etc. where you want to sit, and they always seem to give it to you. Everest and Rock and Roller Coaster even have dedicated (but unadvertised) front row queues next to the grouper for anyone who asks for the front. I've never had any problems with this at any Florida park; the only park I've ever been to that was aggressively militant about assigned seating was on my one Carowinds visit in 2011 (and I haven't been back since! ;)

Excellent call on visiting Clearwater Marine Aquarium. I had no idea that was there until the first Dolphin Tale came out, and now I go see Winter at least once a year. Truly inspirational!

Lastly, I also agree that BGT has excellent "hands-on" animal interaction opportunities - moreso than the average zoo or animal park. Did you get to pet/feed the kangaroos there at the "Walkabout Way" Australian section? I highly recommend this on any return trips, if you missed it. I also love the Opening Night Critters show at BGT, Pets Ahoy at Sea World, and Animal Actors at Universal. All three have lots of dogs, cats, and other more exotic animals, and many of these animals are rescue animals. Also, you can usually pet some of them after each show!

Again, nice reports, and I'm glad you had an awesome trip in Central Florida - theme park capital of the world!!! (and southern Cali is awesome too, and with much drier, less humid weather!)

Frontrider

Thanks for taking the time to read my reports and your feedback. My daughter actually agrees with you about HRRR. She really did like that coaster. As far as the kangaroos at Busch Gardens Tampa, that attraction was closed unfortunately. I ended up ranking Mine Blower at #10 on my favorite wooden coaster list out of 115 different wooden coasters that I've ridden. I ended up ranking Maco #13 on my Steel coaster list out of 327 different steel coasters that I've ridden. Thanks for the information about the front seat choice at the Disney Parks. I had no idea. They just told us where to go, and I didn't see a separate line for the front. I think when Magic Kingdom adds TRON, that may get me back down to Florida. It's a very long drive, and the most expensive coaster trip that you can do in North America. I still need to visit Disney Studios, and Legoland.