Monday, April 30, 2001 2:08 PM
TR: BGT, IOA, SWF – 04/26/01 to 04/28/01
First the short version for those who don’t like to read. Don’t quote the whole message if you reply. You already know the rides, we’ve done them, they all rule, so I won’t go into a ride report on each or which one is better, I like them all. Rather, I’ll concentrate on the crowd report, ride tips at IOA, and at the bottom, I’ll tell you how I parked for free at each park since many are complaining about this fee.
BGT Thursday 04/26/01 – Light crowds. Montu was down all morning. Many walkon rides on Kumba. Gwazi was only running 1 train per side (bummer), this caused about a 15 minute wait. Montu was up in the afternoon. Wait time for the front was 10 minutes, the rest was a walkon. Montu was a blast, that last snap roll before the end is so much fun.
IOA Friday 04/27/01 – Crowded. Many school field trips showed up. 20 minute wait for a front seat ride on Hulk, then a 20 minute wait for Spiderman, 10 minute waits for the front of DG. Park filled up, went to Universal, less crowds, but MIB was still 1 hour, came back later and it was down to 15 minutes. Back to IOA, everyone was leaving, got a PF ride after begging the ride op to let us on. Couple rides on Doom Drop before the park closed at 7pm. IOA is the new field trip destination for schools, don’t go here on a Friday. You must visit IOA Monday thru Thursday or you’ll have to dodge the crowds.
SWF Saturday 04/28/01 – Crowded. Got there an hour late at 10am. Kraken was a 10 minute wait, JTA was 25. This increased later in the day to 1 hour.
Now for all the details if you care to read on, including the Express system at IOA and free parking.
BGT – Thursday 04/26/01
My 9 year old daughter and I (dad 37 yrs old) drove from Plantation FL. Woke up at 3am, left at 4am, took I-75 the entire way, took 4 hours doing 77mph. This is the advantage to driving so early in the morning, no traffic. Got our fun card passes processed, and went to Montu, down, whaaaaaaa. Took the sky ride to the back of the park 4 laps on Kumba, daughter liked it. Stanley Falls Log flume was down for renovation (wood fences are up), went on the Tanganyika Tidal Wave and got soaked in the front seat. Next it was on to Gwazi, only 1 train per side, boooo, 15 minute wait. Being from South Florida, I’ve been on the DBH many times. Now it was Gwazi, and all I can say is that Gwazi is Fast, Fast, and Fast. Gwazi doesn’t give as much air time, but it flys thru the turns. What gives the DBH so much air time is that before each hill, there is a little hump, that launches the coaster up before it drops. Gwazi doesn’t have any of these humps, instead, it has banked turns. If you ride Gwazi, you rave about how fast it is. If you ride the DBH, you talk about the airtime. Back to Montu later in the day, front seat was a 10 minute wait, the rest of the ride was a walkon. Incredible rides, daughter loved it. Drove to our Comfort Inn hotel located at I-4 and US 27, $44 per night. This hotel is only 10 minutes from the parks, and costs less than the ones on International Drive.
IOA – Friday 04/27/01
My daughter and I got there at 9am, and there was already a huge crowd of people walking to the park. I looked up on the Hard Rock Café message board, and it was welcoming a bunch of schools. We saw marching bands setting up, and knew it was going to be a tuff day. Put our change of cloths in the $5 locker at the front of the park and ran to Hulk. 15 minute wait for the front seat, great ride. 20 minute wait for Spiderman, then attempted a ride on PF. Ride op wouldn’t let us on, my Daughter is too tall by a couple inches. I begged and pleaded. Here’s the rule. If the wait time is 30 minutes or more, they won’t let you go. If you wanna ride PF and you don’t have a kid, then you’ll have to run to this ride first and beg the guard to let you pass, because they’re getting strict on the kid rule. He gave me that line, “If I let you pass then everyone will want too.” He said to come back when the park closed, we did and got our ride. Went on the Flying Unicorn once, fun. Then to DG. 10 minute waits for the front seat on both sides. Fire still wins because of that negative G hill when going over Ice, I love that hill. 1 hour wait for Rip Saw falls, read the next paragraph to hear the rant. Then it was time for Popeye and Bluto’s Bildge Ratt bardges. Here’s how to stay fairly dry. Before getting on the ride, I took off my shoes, balled up my socks, and put my shoes back on. You must wear shoes or flip flops on the ride. You can take off your shirt, I did this. My socks, and shirt went into the middle holder which has a plastic cover. Ride started, and it always fills with water after the first hill. I knew this and kept my feet up. Sure enough, the vehicle filled with water after the first drop. I got nailed under a water fall, freezing cold water, but my feet stayed dry. Ride ended, put my shirt on, put my socks and shoes back on, and I was able to continue without changing. Otherwise, your feet will be water logged. It was noon at this point, and the park was packed. All the Express Systems we’re out of tickets and not working. We ate at the pizza joint next to Hulk (30 minute wait), then left and went to Universal. Saw Twister, then walked to MIB, 1 hour wait, express computers we’re turned off, whaaaa, kept on walking. Went to Jaws and put our tickets in the express computer, it worked, we got tickets and went on. The wait was only 10 minutes. The regular queue wait was about 45 minutes, this really saved us a lot of time. Walkons for Earthquake, Kong and the Beatle Juice Show. This is a musical, Beatle Juice brings out Frankenstein, His bride, Count Dracula, and a couple others and they have a rock show, cool. Back to MIB, wait time was down to 20 minutes, good ride. Back to IOA at 6:30pm. Ran to PF and asked the guard if he would let us pass, told him we we’re there in the morning and said we really wanted to go. He gave me all the reason why not, but we stayed cool and kept asking nicely telling him I’ve never done it, and that I’m a coaster fan. We continued to wait, he realized we we’re not lying. Another ride op came over and said the wait was down to 10 minutes and to let us go, he let us pass. This coaster is great, you’re hanging there, swinging from side to side, and at the end you pick up speed. I wish they would build a huge one, but it’s basically the same as Iron Dragon at CP. Back to Doom Drop, wait was 20 minutes. Went to the exit and asked if they we’re letting single riders go. The ride op said yes, she put my daughter in one side and me on another. Some people switched and we ended up together, cool. If you want a re-ride on Doom Drop, go to the exit and ask if they will do a single rider. Park closed down at this point. Daughter played in the fountain on the way out, we had a change of cloths, she had a blast. It’s located just outside the exit, black and white squares with water jets that shoot up from the ground in different patterns. Amazing how people will run thru it trying not to get wet. Eventually they’re soaked and don’t care anymore. Avoid IOA on Fridays, schools are making it their field trip destination. I’ll go on a Thursday instead. I talked to a girl in line and she said the park was empty on Thursday. Disney used to be the field trip destination, but I think they’ve lost this title. Disney needs a thrill ride park. Where do you think middle and high school kids will want to go for a field trip or Grad night, Disney, or IOA? It’s no contest. People are going to IOA instead. Disney needs some new thrill rides, in 1 park.
Express System Comments (rant) here:
The Express System ran out of tickets for all rides at IOA by noon, saying “No Future Passes Available”. Here’s how it works. Multiple day tickets have a magnetic strip on the back of them. They have Kiosk computers set up at each ride. You walk up to the computer and swipe your ticket thru a card reader. It will then tell you what times are available for the ride. It dispenses a ticket, which you give to a ride op in the Express Line queue. So there are basically two lines for each queue, a regular line, and Express. You get a certain amount of tickets each day, and there are other restrictions. Doesn’t do much good when all the machines are sold out by noon. It didn’t work at Universal for MIB, the machines we’re turned off. However, it did work for Jaws, and this saved us 30 minutes on our wait. It was nice waiting only 10 minutes while looking at a full queue, but in general, many people we’re pissed watching others get to the front of the line. And Jaws was the only ride it worked for, all the other machines we’re sold out. I really got mad waiting for Rip Saw Falls. The line went just outside the building, not bad, I thought it would move quickly, I was wrong, it crawled. Why? Because the express line enters the building from another door, just before you go down the walkway to the loading area, the two lines merge at this point. The ride op lets about 30 people from the express line into the queue, then lets the regular line go. After you pass this point, the line moves quickly. They’re advertising the no wait access on tv commercials in South Florida, meaning, if you stay at a Universal Hotel (Hard Rock), then you don’t wait at all. These people go thru the express or another line that takes them right to the loading area. I don’t think it’s fair watching little kids get no wait access, just because their parents are rich. It’s like the front rows at sporting events, real fans can’t get them. Now we’ve got no wait access for those willing to spend triple the price at a hotel. $44 for the Comfort Inn, or over $200 for the cheapest Hard Rock room? Yes, if you have 4 people who will split the cost, then fine, but I’m taking my daughter, doesn’t make sense. The Express System is no better. Instead of going on rides in the morning and moving around the park, you have to run from Kiosk to Kiosk to get tickets, because they stop working in the afternoon when you need them the most. And then this slows down the line for regular people who didn’t feel like raiding the Kiosk machines. This takes away from the park experience. Instead of going on the rides, you’re running from Kiosk to Kiosk trying to get tickets before they sell out. I say to do away with the express system, good idea but just doesn’t work in the real world. Single rider queue, yes, but forget the Expres System and No Wait Access for hotel guests. Let everyone wait in line, First Come, First Served. They’re not gonna do this, because they’re advertising this on the tv commercials, so rich people are going to eat it up. But I’m against it.
SWF Saturday 04/28/01 – Got there at 10am, an hour late. 10 minute wait for Kraken, back seat ride. Daughter loved it, the zero-G roll is the best. JTA was a 25 minute wait. Shamu Show, stadium was full, we sat near the front, daughter got soaked, I went up at the end and stayed dry. Next to the Key West dolphin feeding. For $4 you get 4 little fish. Got two cups, took some great pictures of my daughter feeding the dolphins, this is so cool for little kids, they love it. Stayed for the next feeding, and bought two more cups, $16 to feed dolphins, but worth it. Went on the tower ride where you pay $3 and go up high. Bought a shirt, then won my daughter a stuff horse in the games area. Great day at Sea World, you can spend an entire day in this park, and it’s beautiful.
Left the park at about 5pm, drove the 3.5 hours home, end of trip. We’ll be back in 1 month in May.
There have been many threads in the message boards from people complaining about parking fees. I too feel it’s a joke to pay $7 just to park my car. Especially when some parks are raising that fee to $8 and more. When I visit a park, I’ll spend my money, buying food, drinks, and T-shirts. But I don’t like the idea of paying money and not getting anything in return. To get around this, I now park at hotels across the street and walk.
At BGT, there is a Busch Gardens Credit Union across the street next to a McDonalds. Park in their empty lot and walk. Don’t park at the McDonalds, they have signs up warning people not too. Here are the addresses. Go to maps.yahoo.com and print out a map and then you can find these parking spots when you visit.
Busch Gardens Credit Union
3209 E. Busch Boulevard
Tampa FL 33612
Or around the corner
Baymont Inn Suites
9202 N 30th Street
Tampa FL 33612
At IOA there is a TGIFridays next to a Holiday Inn on Kirkman Road at the entrance of Major Blvd. Walk across the street to the parking garage, where you can get on the moving walkways. We ended up eating at the TGIFridays that night.
5905 Kirkman Road
Orlando FL 32819
At SFW there is a Reniasaance hotel across the street from the parking lot. What’s so funny about parking here is that the walk is only 100 yards more than someone who paid $7 and ended up at the end of the row. These people paid $7 and still had to walk as far as me.
6677 Sea Harbour Dr
Orlando FL 32821
It’s easy to find these hotels. The theme parks have lists of them on their web sites. Take the address and enter it into maps.yahoo.com and you’ve got the directions.
Think about it, I visited 3 parks, that’s $21 I saved, and I’m going back in May and again later this year. You do the math. I’d rather save that money to buy food in the park.
SFMW – There is a Holiday Inn across the street from the park.
PGA – There is a conference center next to the park.
SFOG – There are hotels to the right of the main entrance to the park.
SFMM – There are restaurants at the bottom of the hill of the main entrance.
Disney – Park at the All Star Resorts (Sports, Music, or Movie) and take the busses.
End of Report. Thanks for reading.