Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida, USA
Busch Gardens Tampa, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA
Disney's Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Florida, USA
Universal Studios Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
Thought I would post a trip report about our 11 days in Central Florida where we visited Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens Tampa. I am by far not a pro at doing these so: for those that want the short version here are my top 5 greats of the trip and disappointments of the trip. Great #1 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey #2 and #3 Front of the line access at Universal Studios and Busch Gardens. #4 Shrieka. #5 Roa's Rapids at Aquatica . Disappointments #1 Cheetah Hunt #2 Dolphin Plunge at Aquatica #3 SeaWorld, #4 Backlot tour at Hollywood Studios with no catastrophe canyon, #5 Light, Motor Action Stunt show.
Now on to the slightly more detailed version of the trip report. It had been over 10 years since I had been to Central Florida so there was plenty new for me to experience. We started our first day out rather late because when we landed around 10am we were hit with monsoon rains. We got the rental car at Orlando International and proceeded to our hotel which was the Holiday Inn & Suites main gate on kirkman road. We paid for the standard double room and got upgraded to a Suite! Nice hotel, not new but great access to Universal Resort, International drive and I-4. It really served our purpose. We hit Universal Studios about 3pm that day and bought the one time front of the line access pass. We were able to do the entire Studio before the 9pm closing with this pass. The cons of this pass, you miss some of the pre shows and Rip Rocket Coaster is not included. Rip Rocket Coaster is defiantly a night coaster with its lighting package otherwise it just doesn’t fit the feel of the park. The music did nothing for me but it had some interesting elements in its course. Now that I have ridden it, it wouldn’t draw me back to the park.
Day 2 we decided to head to SeaWorld, we had torrential rains on the way to the park but once inside it stopped. I was surprised how close to the entrance Manta was. It really is a nice coaster, but the park needs more than this coaster to bring me back, I am a fan of the killer whales and seals but I can only see those shows so many times. Kraken was good. Atlantis was closed most of the day. We finally got a ride on it and then it broke down again. Honestly it was hard to understand what the storyline was. We had several rides on Kraken and manta with less than 5 minute waits. We decided to comeback another night for the summer nights shows because the weather( when we did go back Shamu Rocks was better than One Ocean, but the entire summer nights promo in my oppinion was bust) was forecasted to be windy and rainy.
That night we headed to Island of adventure where the crowds were light except on the water rides. The weather never hit. We Hit the Hulk, Popeye, Dudley Doo Right, and Jurassic Park then we wondered how Hogesmead and The forbidden Journey crowds would be. To our Surprise it was only 20 minute wait for the forbidden Journey. We ended up loving this ride even though the dementor scene is a little dragged out a bit. Butter beer is addicting, a cream soda with a marshmallow top. Dragon Challenge wait was as long as it took for you to walk through the queue, but was then shut down because of an injury later that night. The next night weren’t dueling anymore. I think we have good idea what caused the injury but it pure speculation on our parts.
The Gem of this trip for us was Busch Gardens; I love the coaster collection here. I know cedar point and lot of Midwest parks have record breakers but the rides here were a pleasant surprise and even though they don’t break records. I think the entire ride experience is much better. Kumba was great and so was montu. Shrieka was just plain awesome with the stop and drop feature! Now on the other hand I had great expectations for Cheetah Hunt. To me it was just plain slow and boring. I was expecting something like maverick but honestly its seems slower and too high off the ground . The turnaround under the waterfall is just too rushed to see the scenery they placed there. We didn’t realize there was prop truck placed there until we took the sky ride. We got to ride it once and then within an hour of opening, it was down for the entire day.
We tried out Aquatica while we were there. It was small and the signature attraction was a bust. The dolphin plunge was hard on the back and when you went through the tube in the Dolphin tank, the tube was so cloudy and short, you couldn’t see into the tank. We love Roa Rapids, it had smooth bottom with a quick current and NO tubes allowed. It was so much fun to have the current whisk you along with small rapids. I wish more parks had something like this.
When then finished our last 6 days at Disney. We stay at the Port Orleans Riverside. Very, nice peaceful resort. The only thing we were really disappointed with at Disney was the Hollywood Studios. The back lot tour consisted of the water effects tank, then a short tram ride through costuming and that was it because catastrophe canyon was having technical difficulties. Really, what’s the point of this ride if the big attraction isn’t working? It such a shadow of what it used to be. We heard it was finally running again on our last day there but we weren’t going back to see it. The lights motor stunt show was pretty lame as well; they only ran two shows each day. It just seemed like sloooooow pacing then got even slower with the commercial for Cars 2, I mean the Lightning McQueen portion, which doesn’t fit into the show. Then it seemed like the same stunts were performed over and over again. Lots of cars doing donuts wow exciting…….
We did Star tours 2 and we had two very different trips. The first we were like wow this is really lame, it had the Battle Hoth Sequence, which was the only thing we knew, the second time though was amazing, we had Darth Vader, visited the wookie planet and hit Chewbacca, then yoda gave us a message, then we escaped to Jar Jar Binks planet with a humorous story line. That by far was a great ride and story line. I liked toy story mania, it was fun, but with that said I think buzz light year spin needs to disappear.
We had the dining plan which worked well for us, but it might not for others, in my opinion it was too much food. We just had the standard plan with one quick service, table service, and one snack. The thing we learned was make your reservations for table service well in advance or get stuck with what is available, and also plan at least 1.5 hours for that table service meal.
As for tickets for Universal ect., we bought the Orlando flexticket plus. That included early entry into Wizarding world of Harry Potter becuase we stayed at a universal partner hotel, which we didn’t need. Plus it gave us unlimited admission for 14 days to Universal Studios, Island of Adventure, SeaWorld, Wet n wild, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens. With this you only have to pay for parking at one place per day and it’s honored at each park for re-entry. We did get some great pictures which I may post at a later time. If you want me to elaborate on anything else let me know
How much was FoL access at Universal and BGT? We were considering it at BGT, but the only rides with even moderate waits were Sheikra (30 miuntes) and Cheetah Hunt (60, but single rider line occasionally).
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
For Universal Studios Orlando for the 4 of us it Cost $170.36, that was one time use, one park. It cut wait times down to at most 5 minutes or one show Cycle like on twister and disaster, where waits were 90 minutes. Universal Changes there price on this based on season and day.
For Busch Gardens, It was $213.80 for unlimted front of the line access for the 4 of us. We only needed it on 4 rides since everything else was walk on. Those 4 were Cheetah Hunt, The white water raft ride, Shrieka, and the log flume. It took Cheatah Hunts hour wait to 20 minutes and Shrieka's 90 minute wait to about 15 minutes. We were able to walk right on the log flume which was at 90 minute wait and it was about a 15 minute wait for the white water ride. All the other coasters were walk on all day with out front of the line access.
In reality see what the waits are first before you buy, Just about every shop at both parks sell Front of the line access so dont waste your time lining up at the front gate waiting to buy.
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