Universal SOF/IOA TR!!!
Just got back from an amazing trip to Orlando Florida where I enjoyed a stay at Universal. Fan-fricken-tastic to put it in simple terms.
Let's just start by saying there were six of us (my parents, two brother, and one of my brother's girlfriend). We spent three days in the parks, one at Universal, one at IOA, and a last day to hit the stuff we missed, re-riding, and shopping.
The drive down was quite scenic as we drove I-77. We stopped at Tamarack (West Virginia) for lunch and checked out a pretty neat art and craft shopping center dealie. I had some extremely thin pizza, but it was good. We ate dinner at a country diner in or at least near Columbia, SC. We stopped at Savannah to check out there historical district and to eat lunch. I had a Reuben.
Next day we drove out and finally got to our villa. I was so excited for three reasons: 1. I had my very own room to myself with a queen sized bed while in most cases I've been screwed in sleeping situations on vacation (I'm the youngest). 2. This room had I bathroom I had all to myself WITH access to what... but a beautiful in-ground swimming pool with a spa (not heated but soothing none the less). 3. In the game room, there was pool, darts, air hockey, and best of all a Nintendo WII! Man are those fun, but I'll go into more detail later.
Basically that night we ate pizza for dinner (see a trend?), swam a bit, and played that oh so interesting wii.
The next morning we got up (barely in my case) and drove about 40 minutes to Universal. We went to the studios first, walking past the lovely City Walk. We entered under a huge archway and we greeted by a cowboy on stilts as we entered the park.
We got maps and such and split up. My parents went off while us kids did out own thing. I'm 14, my brothers are 18 and 19, and his girlfriend is 18. So I was obviously the youngest. Yet I was still pretty much the guide for our group even though none of us had been there before. It seems I'm the only one to have inherited my father's directional gift.
Terminator 2 in 3-D!
We decided to take a right since most people in the park wandered forward. We headed straight for T2 to start off the day. We saw they had a Lucy Tribute place that we were to shop at later.
So we get to the entrance and there is this security guard standing there with a little toy robot claw clampy thing. I was about to walk past when he clamps the claw and me and I jumped. He then said "No one permitted inside under 17 unless accompanied by money." What a way to start the day. My brother said "how much?" and he says "how much you got?" he then asked for our wallets and we walked in laughing. What fun.
We go into the entrance, get our goggles and walk into the intro area. The lady walks out, does her whole Cyberdyne speech, shows us a video, we go in, something goes wrong... all that stuff.
Great experience. If you go to Universal, I'd suggest going first thing because it gets you really pumped for the rest of the day. I'd say it is one of the best experiences at the park. And when it comes to 3-D, it has the coolest things coming out at you. Go to T2.
Next we went to another short wait at E.T.. Steven Spielberg gave a little TV introduction and they let us into the line. It was a very short wait to ride, practically walk-on. I realized as I walked through the line based my reactions and the people around me that theming is more important than I thought. It really can take a mediocre experience and turn it around. If you have ridden ET or plan to, you will realize that the ride is nothing without the theming. I'll go on more later, but you get the picture. It was magnificent.
I thought the ending was funny when ET said your names and thanked you. I also think if you wanna try acid, it would probably be cheaper to spend a day at Universal and ride ET, because that's what it seems like. Much easier and cheaper life than getting into drugs. If only it was around long enough ago for the Beatles.
Men in Black: Alien Attack!
We continued on through the park to the World Expo area where we were taunted by the closed forever Back to the Future ride (one of my brother's favorite movies). And to think it's for the Simpsons! Not worth it in the least! Well, onto MIB.
I remember riding something like this themed to Buzz Lightyear at Disney World. Very similar. Once again, a great experience, and once again, a ride gone wrong type of cliche theme. It worked on the rides, but it was overdone throughout the entire trip. Few times did you know you were doomed or knew you would be safe without a lame twist. It was still great fun though.
My brother's girlfriend beat the crap out of us three boys at shooting aliens, by 20,000 points against me. And who'd of thunk it, a gift shop waiting for us at the end. LOL, another recurring theme at Universal.
We skipped by Fear Factor and went on to Jaws. No one in my family likes the show besides me (only the stunts, not the gross stuff... ugh).
The queue was the second to worst on the entire trip, humid, hot, muggy, redundant, and it had a crappy wanna blow your brains out it sucks so horribly bad fake TV channel playing on 80 TV's throughout the lines. ARGGGGHHHHH!
We rode it, I was right next the fish on the last big pop-out. They said you'd get soaked, I got sprinkled at best. In fact, you probably get drier due to pyrotechnics (they love fire there, yet another recurring theme!). All in all, the ride was kinda lame next to the cool rides we already experienced.
Ok, so we waited in line for quite a while, stood in a building for a while, watched a movie for a while, saw a demonstration for a while, and experienced an earthquake. All in all, funny but a bit on the short side and maybe a little more fire (just kidding, if they had any more in the park the place'd be torched).
Next we headed for lunch which was hot dogs and french fries. This is when I realized I lost the 40 bucks my parents gave me for the day because it drooped while I was pulling out a map or something. Man did that suck! Let's just leave it at the fact that I wasn't allowed to carry money for the rest of the trip.
We caught one of the Blues Brothers street shows on out way to the Mummy. Great music, great dancing lol, and a great time. It ended pretty quickly and we got right in line at the Mummy when it was finished.
Revenge of the Mummy!
The line was really the first long one of the day. I can't remember how long it was, but at least the theming was fun to look at.
Mummy is now my number 1 dark ride topping Space Mountain. This rides speed, length (for indoors), and all around experience were great! I enjoyed the ride very much, especially the fire on the ceiling part lol.
Rating: 7 out of 10!
Twister: Ride it Out
If you like this ride, maybe you shouldn't read this review, because there is a reason it is the one title without an exclamation point.
Between a looooooong line, standing during the entire thing, not actually riding anything as it alludes to in teh title, Bill Paxton's mono-tone voice, and his co-star Helen Hunt talking about how much "danger" they were put through during filming, this was the worst experience on the trip.
If it is a short line, like first ride of the day or something, go for it. Otherwise, dodge this bullet. The actual show at the end was pretty cool. But couldn't been done a LOT better and I was stuck behind people looking over there shoulders while idiots behind me screamed and screeched at the top of there lungs at a fake cow. Ugh.
Universal Horror Make-Up Show!
Just go see it. It's lots of fun and really hilarious. Ahh... good times.
BTW, as we waited for the show to start we got shakes at a place called Mel's I think across the street. There was a 50's style band that was pretty good. The shake was pretty much a frosty. And lucky us, as we ordered, a small child spotted a cockroach! How wonderful!
Beetlejuice's Rock 'n' Roll Graveyard Revue!
We headed towards this show next which was the meeting spot for our group and my parents. This was supposed to be at 6:30, but we ran out of stuff to do and we re-scheduled for around 4 o'clock.
This park is easily done in a day, if you mozy about even. Only try to rush to beat some lines early, but don't rush it once the lines get long because it won't get better or worse really.
Once we met up and got in line, it wasn't long until the show started. Holy crap is all I have to say. It was pretty funny with all the Universal classic monsters performing. especially since none of the songs made any sense. Oh, and don't forget the fire. It was fun and anyone at Universal should be able to make time for this easily.
My parents hadn't ridden yet, so we went together and decided to finish up the park on our separate ways and meet up for the Universal 360 show at night.
Long line, but I think it was more fun with all of us together. My dad was disappointed with his score so he wanted to go again, but not the first day he didn't. I did a lot better getting close to 100 thousand while my younger older brother beat the crap out of us all with 160,000 or close to that.
My parents saw this and told us to go because it was fun. I was reluctant due to personal reasons. But it was fun. The intro with Pinocchio and the dungeon was amusing. The show itself was kinda dumb except for the effects. Good enough I say, certainly not the worst part of the trip, but not nearly the best.
We had dinner next and ate at some Food and Film Festival place. It sucked. The food was alright (I had chicken parm), but the line was forever and I wished we went the route of my parents and went to a sit-down place.
Sitting was great after the line. And that's pretty much all I did afterwards. I looked around shopping a bit but mostly rested up while my brother and his girlfriend got a caricature. They had long necks that crossed and there were kiss marks on my brother. It was pretty funny looking.
We gathered together on a good spot on a dock at the lagoon for the show all of the family together. I saw the Blues Brothers again as they drove up (this time). that was fun to listen to while I sat on a bench very... very tired. We watched the nightly show and enjoyed it thoroughly. We waited a bit and got our pictures from the morning while the park cleared out a bit.
Islands of Adventure!!!
The second day we got up earlier and were at the park pretty soon, able to beat a few more long lines. This was July 4th, and the lines were surprisingly okay. We all went through together this time around.
I am so glad we went to this park second, because quite frankly Universal would've been a let down after this. Universal had few actual rides and Jaws was the only one outdoors. IOA is the Yin to Universal's Yang.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster!
Best way to start off a day at IOA? Getting launched 0-40 in two seconds flat after waiting in a very short line and shooting out a tunnel going upside down immediately of course! Awesome. This was my fourth B&M, and was my second placer at the time.
My Rating: 8 out of 10!
Doctor Doom's Fear Fall!
This one was a detour on the way to Spiderman. I was the only one who felt sick afterwards. I felt fine after Hulk, but that bobbing up and down got to my head and it hurt. I felt better by the end of the reasonably long line for spiderman.
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman!
So we went through the Daily Bugle and rode Spiderman. I find that IOA totally owns Universal because Spiderman was better than anything there. This ride made you feel like a part of it for once. And it felt so real at points, like climb and falling. wonderful experience! I'd do it again if I had the chance... and I did!
This place had all the water rides, but we weren't in the mood to get wet, so we passed that up and headed straight for Jurassic Park, not that we didn't like the scenery along the way.
The theming of these parks are outstanding, especially IOA.
We waited about an hour for this one. It was a lot of fun though. Small swinging coaster that we split up two, two, and two for.
We went through an amber mine on the way out and got wet at some dino water shooting game. Loads of fun at this park.
My Rating: 4 out of 10!
Jurassic Park River Adventure!
We got just ahead of this ridiculously large group of Brazilians (I don't know how exactly they were affiliated with one another, but all that matters is that we got ahead of them in time.
One of, if not my favorite movie (especially when I was 4) is Jurassic Park, so this ride was a dream come true. The ending was so awesome I loved it. You'll just have to ride to find out. The most I'll say is it is a much improved version of Jaws.
Pizza... good... you get the picture.
Jurassic Park Discovery Center!
This was my favorite part of Jurassic Park (although I'm not sure if it was better then the River Adventure... hmmn). It was so much like the movie upon entry... amazing!
I had my head put onto a dinosaur... it was a fun little computer game. I wish they made a version you could print out. My brothers did the same thing after I showed them.
I walked over and got my parents and family to watch a velociraptor hatch from it's egg. So cool.
Then I walked over and played a dino trivia game against a couple of people. I was quick on the trigger and won with about 1400 points. I was so glad to win, and the other kid (about my age) of course gave the whole "I knew the answers the buttons just didn't work" bologna. I beat him fair and square lol.
That was the grand finally as we left Jurassic Park and headed for the lost continent.
Dueling Dragons: Fire!
I knew it was gonna rain soon, but I couldn't rush my family fast enough to get them to the dragons before it poured. Luckily, it didn't rain too long and we headed for the coaster.
The whole queue was really amazing because you venture through a castle, it was long, but I think that help spread crowds so you didn't really have long lines.
Fire was first. So amazing. I haven't ridden anything like it. Now my second favorite B&M.
My Rating: 8-9 out of 10!
Dueling Dragons: Ice!
We immediately rode Ice. Great, but not as good as fire. I think ice was smoother, but it had too much filler track, especially at the end. It seemed that this ride was made to match up with fire more than they were made for each other.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad!
Lame. We skipped Poseidon at this point for Sinbad and it was better for little kids than teenagers. Some of the stunts were cool, but the story and acting were bad.
The Cat in the Hat!
After that we headed to Seuss Landing and rode the Cat in the Hat. The theming in this area is the best ever! Suess rules! The Lorax theming throughout (trash cans and a Onceler spot to listen to the story) were my favorite. The Lorax was my favorite Suess book.
The Cat in the Hat is a great ride. You on a couch and you watch the story o on around you. It was great. If you have kids, take them on this, they should love it.
I also got a churro in line for this ride... pretty tasty.
We rode this ride a second time. I had more fun the first time since everything was surprising, but I tried to catch anything I missed the first time. Great time once again. After this, my brother and his girlfriend went off to Universal for pictures and shopping, while we ate dinner at Wimpy's burgers... tasty, and my Dad and I rode the Hulk again (once again a great experience).
A silly little show starring the sexually ambiguously named Taylor host of the tour of Poseidon's temple. Pretty cool with plenty of water and fire effects.
Dueling Dragons Fire Again!
I rode with my brother and it was really fun... WOOT!!!
We regrouped and stopped at a bridge on the outside of the park for fireworks. It was the fourth of July and we were willing to sit on uncomfortable cement for more than an hour to see fireworks. What were we thinking? As for my first 4th of July experience at an amusement park, it blew. My hometown does a better display than this major amusement park. Disney had a better display when we went, and it was just their nightly affair! The show just seemed to putter out and the music was hard to hear because it wasn't turned up at all. Plus the musical selections were weak anyway, if it was under Universal's name, they could use it cheaply, and that's the route they chose. It was sad and I hope for better display somewhere else next year.
Great Day Again!!! ... with a mediocre finale.
This ride was better than the first time, because of two factors, line-less wait practically, so it didn't seem on the short side at all. And my whole family was together we had more fun, that usually happens.
MIB Again Again!
My dad really wanted to go again so we did. He was happier with his score. Although I don't think the ride was as fun. Why? Because you are supposed to shoot the other car across from you's red light to make them spin. There was nobody in the other car because we got there early this time and we couldn't get shot either (this is fun because it results in your car spinning).
So we left the park and got back to IOA!
Nope, line was too long, so we went off. We went straight the water rides. We dressed for the occasion and it was the hottest of the three days.
Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls!
We went through a fairly long queue watching a bear and a beaver telling jokes on the wall and finally got on the ride. It was a pretty entertaining lead up to the drop which reminded me a lot of that log flume at Disney themed to "Song of the South".
Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges!
Much wetter and more fun (a river raft ride). The queue wasn't as good though due to it being a popeye theme... not cartoony enough to make you feel very welcome. But the ride was great. One girl was in our raft that kept laughing and laughing. My mom got soaked first by the rapids and then shot in the face with water. We went up this raft wash hill that led to the climax and it stopped for us to be spaced out more. My brother was sitting in the exact spot to get shot by water constantly. He was so soaked it was crazy!
River Adventure Again!
I think we enjoyed the ride a bit more the second time as well. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the ride had a break down when we were second in line to ride. We waited for about 10-15 minutes and rode it. Good times. I also got an awesome t-shirt for Jurassic Park.
Dueling Dragons: Fire and Ice!
This time since we had stuff we had to put them in lockers. The line was worse then the day before but it was raing then so yeah. Fire with everyone and then ice with just my dad. Fun, fun, fun.
Afterwards, I got an icee and brothers had gotten goose juice from Suess Landing. We headed there. My parents and I rode the Caro-Suess-el and then we headed for the "If I Ran the Zoo" maze. The ending had a little water area to play and get wet in. It was nice.
We were practically dead inside having done so much throughout four days (you'll understand soon). We went to ride the Hulk one last time before leaving. We were close to the front and for the first time a line was taking about as long as the sign in the front predicted. "In-climate weather" stopped the ride and we left not long after they start playing trivia games to pass the time.
Bubba Gump Shrimp!
We ate there for dinner and I stumped the waitress in Gump trivia with the question "Where was Cleveland from?" I musta drank about 15 Dr. Peppers... actually, it was 4 and the waitress handed me the third one and said "And here's one for the hose".
We spent a day in between IOA and the last day to relax... swimming, eating, playing the wii and pool, watching movies, and planning for the final day were our activities. I tried sushi... and hated it.
Many recurring themes at Universal, pizza, rides gone wrong, Paris Hilton jokes (got old fast), and fire.
But while theming can be overdone or just get hoaky, I think there is an extent at which every park should have theming. I think that CP should start taking one coaster or major attraction each year and giving it the proper attention it needs to themed and or re-themed because it can really make a coaster better to wait in a themed up air-conditioned building than under some crappy tarp.
Universal is a great park with not much to do. Don't get me wrong, they have plenty of great attractions, but you can run out of rides fast and especially coasters. I would suggest going to Universal, but for three days max and have some down time to keep yourself alive. don't go too often unless you have a season pass to ride the coasters constantly. Other than that, I wouldn't see the point in going back for a long time unless they have a really attractive new ride or I forgot this trip.
Unfortunately for Universal, I logged the trip so I'll never forget it haha.
BTW, the Wii is an amazing device. I took a Wii fitness test. I was 38. My brothers laughed. Then they took it. They were 50 and 76... guess who's laughing now?
For anyone who read everything I wrote, I'd like to both thank and apologize to you.
Number of Comments: 1
Added by eric_gieszl on August 17, 2007 @ 09:56:09 AM
I guess I didn't realize that E.T. Adventure is still operating at Universal Orlando. For some reason I kind of assumed that since they removed the one at Universal Hollywood, they did the same in Orlando.
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