Day 1, 12/25/06: Universal

Associated parks:
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Sunday, January 7, 2007 12:30 PM
Day 1, 12/25/06: Universal

I started the overcast day by heading to the Universal complex. I had already purchased a 6 day ticket, that was priced at 85 dollars or so, that allowed us to visit both parks. It was a deal in that that price is typically what is charged for 2 days, and really even though universal can be done in 2 days, it allowed to come and go whenever I wanted. So I could go for 3 night rides if I wanted. Anyway I first headed to the studious side when the parks opened, and made my way for the Mummy.

Mummy:

The queue is well done and is rather long. The park was rather empty at the time, so it was a quick walk to the loading station. Mummy is a Premier indoor launch coaster, which features 4 across trains. The first half of the ride is a dark ride, where you slowly make your way through scenes with fire effects, animatronics, etc. The ride picks up after your pushed backwards to set up the incline launch. Overall the launch was not really powerful, but was interesting due to it being uphill. The first indoor coaster section was rather good. Nice floating airtime, mixed in with good curves and pacing. The ride is not extremely intense, but has good pacing and nice floating airtime through this section. Most of the effects are smoke and lights through the indoor section. The ride comes to a stop at the fake ending. This is where the ride appears to be over, but instead you have another scene with a lot of fire and heat, and are launch again. The second coaster part was a little disappointing. It was rather short and not nearly as fun as the first section. Overall I thought the ride was very well done. It is easily right up there as the best indoor coaster. Since the line was so short, I went on again, but this time lucked out and got on the first seat. The first seat does provide a better ride, due to the better visuals and the airtime was more pronounced.

Mummy and Men in Black were the 2 rides I definitely wanted to go on, in the studios side, so that is where I headed to next. Overall I was impressed with the overall landscaping, pathways, and look of this park. Much more photogenic than I remembered the last time I was here. Men in Black had virtually no wait, so decided to give it a try. Men in Black:

The queue was also very well done, with animatronics/aliens providing something to look at as you walked through the line. For those not familiar with this ride, it is an interactive dark ride, where you make your way through various scenes of aliens, and are suppose to shoot them to get the best score possible. Having been on 2 other interactive dark rides at the time, I can say this one is my favorite. Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle at PKI is good, but the overall quality of Men in Black, makes it clearly the winner. The scenes were put together well, a lot of action, and a good finale.

After getting off and getting some food, I made my way to one of the classic universal rides, Earthquake. It had a 15 minute wait, and decided to wait it out.

Earthquake:

Before the ride are 3 pre shows, that are just ok. Really the 15 minute wait is just to go through each of these pre shows. The ride vehicle seats a large number or guest. The ride was better than I remembered it. The things falling down, the rushing water, there was a lot going on and a lot to look at. I am not sure I really felt like I was in an earthquake, but than again I never experienced one in real life. It was a ride that really stood up to the test of time, and still provides a good ride. It is still neat how everything folds back into place and is ready for another ride, definitely innovative for its time.

After enjoying earthquake, it was on to Back to the Future. I actually liked the ride, when I went on it about 10 years ago. For some reason I thought it would be closed now to make way for the Simpson’s new ride, however it was open, but had 1 side open I think and a 45 minute wait. Unfortunately I decided to wait it out. I am not sure why I did, but perhaps this was likely the last time to get on it, and my only 1 ride I enjoyed.

Back to the Future:

This ride is a motion simulator. You board your own time machine vehicle, which is sort of cool. That is probably the best part of the ride, is that you’re not seated in a big theater but in your own vehicle. Of course each vehicle is lifted up so they can see the big screen and go through the film and motions. The motions are really jerky and the whole film doesn’t make much sense. Why there are dinosaurs and what does that have to do with the movie at all? The ride really was cool when it first opened, but with more modern motion simulators and dark rides such as Spiderman, this ride looks out of place. After riding again, I realize why they are taking out this ride and replacing it.

After riding Back to the Future, the rain started to pick up and led to a downpour. Since we hit most of the rides we wanted, we headed to get some lunch on the city walk. It was raining so hard, so it made sense to rest and stay inside until it stopped. We ate at the first place we ran to, which was NBA City. It actually was quite good, and better than I thought it was going to be. Usually themed restaurants have only average food, but this was good quality and not as overpriced as it could have been.

After eating, the rain slowed down a bit, and I decided to head to Islands of Adventure for some more riding.

Islands of Adventure:

Whatever crowd was there at either of the 2 parks in the complex was surely gone after the rain. Islands of Adventure does have awesome theming but the rain and overall wet look kind of takes some of the beauty away. I decided to head to the Marvel Superhero area of the park, since usually those rides have the longest wait. Hulk was posting a 5 minute wait so I headed to that line.

The Incredible Hulk:

Hulk is definitely not my favorite B&M coaster. The ride actually starts off really good with an impressive up hill launch into a cool inversion. The cobra roll and vertical loop to follow are typical B&M stuff. The next element is a banked turn that leads to a corkscrew, which is just ok. That element does not really flow to well. The rest of the ride includes another vertical loop and a corkscrew after the block brake. Overall the pacing is not the best, as there is just 1 inversion after the block break and 6 before. Also for a B&M it is not that smooth. There is some minor head banging and vibrations. Hulk is a notch below my top 10 steel coasters due to its inconsistent pacing, lack of interesting elements after the first inversion, and its minor roughness.

After Hulk I checked the Spiderman wait, and it was only 5 minutes. The queue was actually flooded due to the rain and a leaky ceiling. I am sure it’s a nice queue, but with all the rain and stuff, it was nothing to write home about.

The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman:

Overall although the ride is very well done, it’s not something I would consider great. This was my first time on Spiderman and would consider the ride part dark ride, part motion simulator, and part 4D film. The ride is really a sensory overload, in that there is a lot going on and almost to much to digest. A lot of smoke, things coming out at you, sounds, a lot going on. The free-falling section at the end to me was not very convincing. I guess its hard to feel like your free falling if your not experiencing weightlessness. However the climbing up part before that was more believable, in that it did seem like you were going up. I would consider it a dark ride, and overall I prefer Men in Black to it. Something I enjoy, but would now only ride if it had a 30 minute wait or less. Compared to other rides at IOA it’s below Dueling Dragons, Hulk, and all 3 water rides.

After that I walked through Toon lagoon, which seemed completely wet. The rain plus the fact that this area has water coming from all over also seemed like it was flooded. It was 60 and too wet to go on any water rides, so we passed on them. Jurassic park section looked really cool in the rain, more authentic. It was too cold to do the river adventure, so I walked to the Flying Unicorn. It had a listed wait of 10 minutes, so decided to add another coaster to my list.

Flying Unicorn:

Unfortunately the wait was longer than expected since they were loading half a train. My likely guess of why such a process was in place was due to the rain. The track was very wet and having a full train might be harder to stop in these conditions. Although they only run 1 train, the brake run is followed by a flat small radius curve, and its likely not desirable to have the train zoom by that section of track. I hope that was why they were only loading the front half of the train. If it was due to the lack of crowds, well that would not make sense. Anyway the ride is a typical Vekoma junior, not much to write about. It was definitely not worth the wait, and one ride was enough.

After that disappointing ride, it was on to Dueling Dragons, in my opinion the star attraction at IOA.

Dueling Dragons:

The queue is very well done, and the best coaster queue I have seen. Its long, has a lot of detail and is just fun to walkthrough. I decided to try fire dragon first and went to the rides best seat, the last one.

Fire Dragon:

Easily the best inverted coaster I have been on, and quite possibly the best steel coaster. The ride has incredible pacing, nice visuals and strong forces. The ride starts off with a steep curving first drop immediately into an Immelman inversion. The hill over ice dragon provides an interesting visual and some floating airtime. The next inversion is rather unique, in that it appears to be a half loop and corkscrew rolled into one, and than proceeds to spiral down. This is a very impressive inversion and provides for some strong forces as it spirals down and sets up for the near miss vertical loop. A strong left turn follows the vertical loop and the near miss corkscrew next to ice is another good element. The ride completes with one last corkscrew the other direction. The ride has non stop action from start to finish, and perfect pacing in my opinion. Some of the other B&M inverted coasters have a very good first half of the ride, but tail off near the end. Montu and Alpengeist are examples of superb first halves, but a lackluster second half. Without a block brake and any trim brakes being used, fire does not let up. It also has a more unique layout as its one of the few B&M inverted coasters to not have its first inversion be a vertical loop.

Ice Dragon:

Although not nearly at the level of perfection that is Fire Dragon, Ice Dragon does hold its own. Its highlights include its heartline twist under fire dragon, its cobra roll by the castle wall, and the near miss vertical loop next to fire dragon. Overall it has a tamer first drop, a weaker finish (it watches fire do its last corkscrew as it makes its final turn), and lacks that one of a kind inversion fire dragon has. Still up there as one of the better inverted coasters, and slight better than Raptor at Cedar Point. The second best coaster at IOA, since it is still much better than Hulk.

After a ride on each, they unfortunately decided to go to 1 train on each side due to the lack of crowds. With all the riding, and being wet from the rain, I decided to call it a day and leave the park. Not a bad day at all, since I hit most of the rides I wanted to with minimal waits. Onlly disappointment was the IOA operations being less than stellar. The park is incredible with its rides and theming, yet there operations are more similar to Six Flags, than Disney or even the former Paramount or Cedar Fair parks. The rest of the days at Disney and universal to follow. *** Edited 1/7/2007 5:36:30 PM UTC by Beast Fan*** *** Edited 1/7/2007 5:37:07 PM UTC by Beast Fan***

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Friday, January 12, 2007 9:04 PM
I haven't be to Universal or IOA in a long time. But I like both park. And I am glad that they added City Walk so there is more to do than just go to the 2 parks. My girl friend and I both love the Dueling Dragans. Our farvorite is riding Ice. Because you feel like your going to hit the wall. And we also like how you come close to the Fire train. I like the way that you almost can tough other people feet on Fire.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:05 PM
yeah I actually liked Ice the first time I went there when the park opened, due to its better visuals. But after riding fire in its back seat, its the most forcefull B&M inverted I been on. It was not stop action, crazy elements and great pacing. Ice just seemed to be really good, better visuals but lacking the punch and had a weak finish.

Oh well, I hopefully can finish the rest of the trip reports sometime soon. Here is a preview of what to come

Day 2: MGM and Epcot (crazy crowds)

Day 3: Animal Kingdom, park closes so we leave, and Magic Kingdom at 10-12pm (very crazy crowds)

Day 4: Free day at Magic Kingdom, 4-12pm (crowded)

Day 5: IOA again (not that crowded, questionable operations)

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Thursday, February 1, 2007 1:24 PM
Why was day4 at the Magic Kingdom "free"? When are you going to post the others?
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Monday, February 5, 2007 9:14 PM
yeah sorry, I am just really busy with engineering course work, but I will hopefully write about them soon. Day 4 was free since we went out of Animal Kingdom at about 1, and than they closed off all the gates to the other parks, so we couldn't go to the magic kingdom. So after going back to the park and realizing that they re-entered people into parks, we got to MK at around 10:30, and went on space mountain and thunder mountain. However after talking with guest relations they decided to give us a free day due to the crowds, walking out and not being allowed back in (due to gates being closed due to park being at capacity), etc. So yeah, I will write up the trip reports when I get a chance.
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