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TombraiderTy

Ty's Universal Orlando PTR

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As a 16th-birthday present, my Dad and I headed-down to Orlando, Florida at the end of October to visit Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World for several days. We arrived Wednesday, October 28, and I departed Sunday, November 1. Beyond just visiting Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, and Magic Kingdom, we also participated in two-nights of Halloween Horror Nights, one night at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the Keys to the Kingdom tour at Magic Kingdom, and a backstage tour of the haunted houses at Universal. Overall, it was a great trip that was jam-packed with theme parks, good food, plenty of picture-taking, and more. However, I'm already ready to go back :lol:

This over-sized PTR will be divided into multiple parts, each day probably taking a few posts. Like my PTR from Walt Disney World from August, I'll try and share a few rarely-noticed details around all the parks, as well as giving my opinions on the rides and attractions. Comments and questions about anything regarding the parks or PTR are welcome and appreciated :)

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Departure, Orlando, and Hotel

 

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Good morning, it's 5:54am, and my clock is apparently twelve-hours behind the correct time.

 

After getting-ready and dragging my suitcase to the waiting cab outside, we left our house and headed to the Cincinnati Airport. After arriving, we checked our luggage, went through security, ate McDonalds for breakfast, and boarded our flight.

 

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Odd clouds outside the window.

 

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At-last, we landed in Orlando. This tower has became a "You're in Orlando" icon for me :lol:

 

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Anyhow, after picking-up our rental car, we drove off.

 

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I love driving to Universal Orlando or Walt Disney World- you pass dozens of different theme park billboards on the way. Here's one for The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida, perhaps my favorite standard simulator ride.

 

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Epcot's Test Track, a fun ride. However, we won't be visiting here this time around.

 

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As a reminder, all these photos were taken as the car sped past :P Toy Story Midway Mania, at Disney's Hollywood Studios, is one of the "funnest" theme park attractions in existence. Although we considered visiting this park one of the days, it was finally decided against.

 

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:D :D :D

 

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Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster, a standard B&M twister with an added punch- a launched lift-hill

 

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Finding Nemo: The Musical, at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Another park we didn't visit this trip, but an amazing place and a fantastic show.

 

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Horrible pic, but the "new" attraction in Orlando- Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rock-It at Universal Studios Florida.

 

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After cruising past all the billboards, we stopped at Taco Bell for lunch, followed by Wal-Mart for some needed groceries.

 

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At last, we turned onto Universal Boulevard and entered Universal Orlando.

 

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We stayed at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, one of the three Universal Orlando hotels.

 

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Guests staying at any of the three hotels get complimentary "Express Pass" services- unlike Disney's FastPass system, Universal offers Express Passes, which must be purchased for an additional cost. I know that quite a few KIExtreme users are against the concept of paying to cut the line, but saying we got them free with our stay, we planned on using them :rolleyes:

 

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But once again, very nice hotel.

 

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Our room overlooked the main swimming pool. Pretty nice.

 

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Off in the distance, as seen from our room's window, is the new Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rock-It at Universal Studios Florida and the under-construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure.

 

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So here's the map of the hotel. Pretty big, tad confusing.

 

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And an overview of Universal Orlando. Much smaller than Walt Disney World, but still very impressive.

 

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After taking a boat from our hotel to CityWalk, it's time to start the day at Universal Studios Florida :)

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Yay! Another long trip report! :)

 

Even though I am now spoiled and like going from the plane, to the Magical Express, to the hotel to get to WDW, I agree, I used to love seeing all of the billboards promoting the park rides...I still have a photo of The Back To The Future billboard.

 

Your cloud photo is cool...if you cut off the top I would swear it was a shot of some snow.

 

I was wondering...how many days would it take to see everything Universal has to offer? (Not counting shows.) Back in the early 90's (the last time I was there) we could get everything done within' 1 day...and not even stay until closing.

 

Looking forward to the next segment...but since we are in the off-season. no hurry!

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^I spent four of the five days down there at one of the Universal Orlando parks, but it's probably possible to hit all the major attractions at both parks in a single week-day. However, to take-in all the detail and enjoy the smaller-scale attractions as well as the larger ones, I'd suggest spending at least two-days there and considering purchasing Express Passes.

 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Universal Studios Florida

 

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So the entrance to Halloween Horror Nights is pretty impressive- besides the massive LED screen hanging in the arch, there's also the theater marquee and several posters hanging in the neighboring arches, all advertising different haunted houses inside the park.

 

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Halloween Horror Nights did not start for some-time, however, so our first priority was riding the new roller coaster- Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rock-It

 

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Unfortunately, Universal is not yet offering the usage of Express Passes for the new coaster. Instead, we had to wait in the 30 minute line (yes, I know, tragic :P). There are about a dozen-or-so TV screens playing the ride-safety video and telling guests how to select their music, which is nice.

 

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Beyond the 25-or-so songs easily accessible, a hidden Easter Egg lets you enter a digit between 1 and 999 and play a hidden song that corresponds to that number. Very cool feature.

 

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So the ride itself... It's very unique in more ways that one. For starters, the trains play a pre-selected song, adding to the experience. The ride's layout is also very unusual, featuring such elements as the world's first non-inverting loop on a roller coaster. The coaster starts-out, however, with a vertical lift-hill and a steep drop downwards.

 

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Unlike the lift-hill, the drop is not vertical. It's still plenty of fun and offers some nice airtime, however.

 

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Yep. Pretty intense.

 

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Following the first-drop, the train enters the non-inverting loop.

 

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Believe-it-or-not, I think I prefer the non-inverting loop compared to the traditional, inverting loop.

 

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The coaster is pretty tall (167-feet) and pretty fast (65 mph).

 

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It's really added some variety to the landscape at Universal Studios Florida.

 

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The second-half of the ride, seen from the waiting queue. Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rock-It does not have any inverting elements- riders do not turn upside-down at all during the ride.

 

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For our first time riding, we waited an extra few minutes for the very-front. Knowing about the Easter Egg, both my Dad and I entered random numbers into the hidden keypad. I don't know the name of the song that played during my ride, but it was alright- seemed to the fit the mood and the coaster.

The trains were also very nice- the seats were especially roomy and comfy, and the single, simple lap-restraint was fantastic- you barely even felt it during the ride, allowing for a more enjoyable coaster ride. The lighting-effects on the side of the trains, as well as the music, were also great touches.

The vertical lift-hill was surprisingly comfortable, especially when compared to Hersheypark's Fahrenheit. It was also quick, and passing through the large, red-rings was interesting.

As said, the first-drop was smooth, fast, and offered some nice airtime. The non-inverting loop was also intense and dizzying. Following this, the train sped-up a large incline and slowed-down a tad as it passed through the first MCBR.

Afterwards, the train dives-down and "crashes" through a building, one of my favorite parts of the ride. It then spends the remainder of the ride speeding through both tight and drawn-out twists and turns, tossing riders on their sides above guests and around in some dizzying circles. The back-half is well-landscaped and looks very nice.

Overall, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rock-It is a great coaster that's smooth, intense, fast, and fun. If I had to rate it, I'd probably give it about an 8/10.

 

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The coaster borders the back of a large stage, capable of hosting concerts and what-not. The large, open-area in front of it (seating for concerts) is currently being used as the queue for one of the haunted houses, however. If you thought Kings Island's Halloween Haunt had long lines for the houses, you haven't seen Universal's Halloween Horror Nights...

 

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The park was pretty-empty during the daytime, but once Halloween Horror Nights started, the number of people inside the park at least doubled, if not tripled. They had a bunch of stuff- including these stands- to accommodate more guests, entertain them, and make additional profit.

 

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As you will see later-on in this PTR, there is alcohol for sale all over the park during the event.

 

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I personally wouldn't add a Psychic Booth if I operated a Halloween event, those types of activities being frowned-down upon by a large fraction of the event's guests...

 

More coming up next.

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If you thought Kings Island's Halloween Haunt had long lines for the houses, you haven't seen Universal's Halloween Horror Nights...

I can't even imagine...and wouldn't want to! I will be curious in your later installments to see if their lines moved faster than ours.

 

I personally wouldn't add a Psychic Booth if I operated a Halloween event, those types of activities being frowned-down upon by a large fraction of the event's guests...

Really?! I wouldn't have guessed that...is that from a religious stand-point that most object? (Without getting into a religion discussion. ;) )

 

Thanks for the latest installment! :)

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YES! FINALLY. THANK GOODNESS IT'S HERE. I love reading your PTR's, especially ones about a place I'm leaving for in 62 days! Now I'll be all caught up on a place I haven't been since 2000. These photos so far are great! I can't wait for the rest.

 

Also, as a side note, Cedar Point this year has psychic readings at Halloweekends by the All Wheels Extreme Stadium.

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