Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida, USA
Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Florida, USA
Epcot, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA
This was my first time going to Florida in three years and my third major park trip in just a little under a year. SFMM was just after Christmas last year and my Ohio trip at KI and CP was in September. This entire trip lasted from December 19th- 26th. The three park days were all in a row from the 21st-23rd. When I asked for the time off at work my plan was to go back home to Massachusetts. I then changed my mind and decided to go to Florida to see my parents and go to some parks. It was kind of a strange time to ask off for, but I still would end up in Florida Christmas Day and my time at the parks would be less crowded.
Friday December 21st
Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and Epcot
When planning for this trip I figured that three park days was an appropriate amount. Seaworld and Islands of Adventure were no brainers after going to Busch Gardens and Universal Studios three years ago. It came down to going back to Busch Gardens, Disney or spending a day in Orlando and seeing all the off road attractions and small parks. My parents were surprised that I wanted to go to Disney and I kind of was too. It's mostly kids rides, but I thought that every park had a few rides worth while. At first I was thinking of using the park hopper and literally doing everything in all four Disney parks worth my time in a single day. I modified that to just two parks. My expectations were very low, but ironically this was the day I was the most stressed out for planning. When your planning one day at two parks the timing has to be just right!
The first thing I noticed when driving into the parks was that the buildings in the resorts are bigger than the rides!! The parks(especially the Cinderella Castle with the smaller windows higher up) create optical illusions to make things appear bigger than they actually are. I wasn't fooled though. Anyways I parked my car at Epcot and went straight for the Monorail to head for the Magic Kingdom, but I had to get through security first. It's always funny to see the look on the park securities faces after searching through countless bags they come to me carrying almost nothing. To me that's an easy way to locate a roller coaster enthusiast out of a crowd. This is not to say all coaster enthusiast carry as little as me. Anyways the Monorail ride turned into a Ferry ride and I was in the Magic Kingdom for the first time since 1997. Back in those days I was afraid of rides and I really wanted to see what this place would feel like now. My other motivation was of all things the Barnstormer roller coaster. I always like to keep track of my roller coaster credits, but the one asterisk I have had for a long time was this roller coaster. I always assumed that I had gotten on it at some point either in 1997 or 1994, but I don't know for sure.
I had a feeling coming in that this was the best ride here. I really did a good job the whole day at keeping my expectations in check. The last roller coaster I was on before this one was Steel Vengeance so my expectations couldn't have been any lower. This ended up being the longest wait of the day maybe the whole trip at a little over an hour, and that was with me skipping probably 10-15 minutes of line at the end being a single rider. I was very pleasantly surprised with this coaster. It was a legit ride. I got off actually thinking if I had enough time I would love another ride. It was definitely the best "ride" in the Magic Kingdom.
Mission accomplished I got my one ride in.
Front seat but it really didn't feel like a front seat. Enjoyed more when I was a kid
Might be the longest ride duration time I've ever experienced
My greatest fear of the day(other than the Barnstormer being down) was coming true. A parade was about to start and I was almost running to avoid getting stuck. I was just quick enough. Anyways this was the biggest surprise of the day. I'm really not that into history, but even I found it as my favorite attraction at the Magic Kingdom. I'm definitely glad I spent the time.
Kind of cool nothing like I remembered it though
7 Dwarfs Mine ride
Nothing special but a new credit
Pirates of the Caribbean
Glad I did it once
It was now around 4 pm and time to head back to Epcot. I got in every ride I wanted at the Magic Kingdom. As you can tell the lines were not all that bad. It wouldn't surprise me if just one day later the lines were significantly longer. This was the Friday before Christmas and Christmas was on a Tuesday. I can picture people literally starting their vacations the very next day here. Honestly the thing that impressed me the most with this park was their ride capacities. It was a work of art!
This was now my first time in Epcot since 1994 when I was just six. I had the three fastpasses, but really didn't have to use them. My first fasspass wasn't for a while. I ended up over at Frozen and lasted in the line for about five minutes until I quit thinking it wasn't worth it. The wait was well over an hour.
I then ended up walking all around World Showcase. I suppose that this is the adult section of the park, but I guess I turn back the clock whenever I enter any themepark. I never go to a park for the food or to have adult beverages so this area really was useless to me. I actually saw a youtube video before this trip that compared the Magic Kingdom to Epcot and the same weight in the comparison was given to food as the rides. I guess that this is what makes Disney so great. I on the other hand didn't spend a dime other than my park ticket at any of the parks on this trip. My mother did buy me some food at Seaworld though. I just didn't pay for it.
I got the credit I suppose. I just had to get on something having been in the park this long already
Unique worth one ride
This was the attraction I was most anticipating on this whole day. I finally used my fasspass and went with the Orange intense side obviously. I was actually a little concerned because I felt a little dehydrated. I went on a spinning centrifuge ride once this way and almost passed out. It ended up being more intense than I thought, but the intensity was for far less time than I thought. This was definitely the best ride at either park. It kind of defines Disney. They take a basic centrifuge ride that you can find at almost any park and put 100 million dollars of theming into it.
I didn't have the fasspass for this, but the single rider line kind of acted like one. It was ok. I wonder why people don't consider this a roller coaster?
I had the fasspass for this one. It was actually getting cold outside and not just for Florida standards. It was in the lower 50's I think. It was just tolerable without a sweater. Anyways this was a nice classic.
The only ride/ attraction I got on multiple times at either Disney Park this day.
Living with the Land was down
It was nice, but I still think the rides at Universal make this almost outdated.
The best way to describe this day was that it was 100% worth it, but I wouldn't go back under my own will. In other words I won't go back unless someone else in my party wants to. That's exactly what I thought was going to happen coming in. I hope to do the same thing at the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios some time in the future. I have never been to either of those parks.
Saturday December 22nd
This was the one day I didn't go alone. My mother came along, but didn't go on any of the rides with me. This day was kind of the opposite of Disney World. This place had the fewest rides, but the best rides overall. With such few rides the stress of planning for the day was gone. It almost felt like a rest day. I also didn't pay for anything, or do any of the driving.
My last time here was 1999. It was really interesting to see how everything changed. I went for the best ride first. The wait was nearly a walk on. It was a back seat. More on this ride later. I'll rate the rides when I mention them last.
This obviously was the biggest change since last time. It certainly was a shadow of it's former self. The only reason I wasn't disappointed was because I knew what to expect coming in. It was rather impressive how creative Seaworld was with the trainers not going in the water.
I got a back seat ride. It was about a 30 minute wait. More on this ride later.
Clyde and Seymour show
I don't know if it was because I'm now 20 years older or because the show just isn't as good as it used to be. I remember almost falling over laughing last time. That wasn't the case here. It was kind of cheesy.
One quick back seat ride with a 20 minute wait or so. More later
Journey to Atlantis
The funniest thing maybe the whole day was that somehow this ride(the one ride that was here my last time other than Wild Arctic) ended up having the longest line of the day and it was almost cold out. It was over an hour. The ride ended up breaking down so we ended up coming back here right after I got my ride on the Kraken mentioned above. This was a very special ride. My last time on this ride the 60 ft drop actually scared me. I remember always looking at this coffee mug that my parents got back in 1998(the 1st time I was here) of us all on this ride with me holding on for dear life. It gradually faded away over the years of being in the dishwasher. Anyways the ride was fun. I'm just disappointed that the mermaids are gone! I knew that coming in, but it was still annoying. It would have been nice to get on this ride one more time exactly the way I remembered it! That was a big part of it to be honest.
This was probably the best non ride surprise of the day. It seems Seaworld has put a lot more into this show now that the Shamu show is on it's last legs. I really liked the part when one of the trainers had two dolphins pick him up out of the water with one dolphin pushing up on one foot.
I got two more back seat rides with two short waits. This ride really impressed me. It would probably crack my top 17 or so. The head chopper towards the end with the concrete beam that you feel like your going to hit not once but twice might be the single greatest head chopper I've ever experienced! I would take the average roller coaster in any "Seaworld parks" over the average roller coaster in any Six Flags park. This ride is very similar to Scream at SFMM. The difference is that one ride has the best head chopper ever and other surprises while the other one is built over a parking lot. That's the difference from a top 20 ride and an average roller coaster in my book. It's almost the best ride in the park.
After some food it was time for Wild Arctic. The ride was down, but we got to see all the animal exhibits afterwards. After this my mother went for the car and I was going to take a few more rides on both Mako and Manta before going back.
I ended up with two rides in the front and two in the back. These were incredibly short waits as people started leaving the park. Towards the end the trains were leaving only a third full and going around felt pointless. Having been on Diamondback just three months earlier I think I would give that ride the slight edge keeping this ride out of my top ten. The airtime especially in the beginning felt more ejector like and almost frightening with the loose clamshell restraints. The trim brake about half way in was completely ridiculous. I have never felt such a brake on a B@M before. The ride lacked the cool darkness feeling you get on Nitro and Diamondback when they leave their parks in complete darkness. This ride is too well lighted. It's not really the parks fault. It has everything to do with location. This ride is probably the smoothest B@M and maybe the smoothest coaster overall I have ever been on. The main thing that holds it back is it's length and it just doesn't have the pure quantity of airtime that a ride like Diamondback or Nitro has.
My first ride (second overall) was before Mako and the last one was after the four Mako rides. One was the very front and the other one was the very back. Overall I think I would give this ride the slight edge over Tatsu as my favorite overall flyer. The Pretzel loop is just as intense and there just seems to be more character with this ride. Even if they were dead even I would give this ride the slight edge because it was open the whole time. I only got on Tatsu once because it broke down. On my final ride the people right behind me for the front almost had an entire train to themselves and the park still had another 30 minutes or so to be open! I'm all for marathoning rides, but I really hope this park isn't hurting attendance wise. This was the Saturday before Christmas! I would have kept riding, but someone was waiting in the car. I got enough rides in and there was still another long day to come not to mention a 90 minute car ride one way.
It may seem like I spent most of the day on the rides alone with how I wrote this, but that couldn't be further from the truth. All the waits were short and there were a lot of little things I didn't add. I'm actually not 100% certain of the exact order for the day. I always am when I write these. This is the first time. I'm the type of person who hates putting in any wrong information even when no one really cares. Anyways this was also probably my favorite of the three days.
Sunday December 23rd
Universal Islands of Adventure
It was now day three in a row. I didn't get into the park until 11 am. Somehow getting into the park ended up being an adventure. I opened up the PDF of the ticket and the women at the gate immediately started giving me a hard time. She first told me that without the actual ticket I would have to go to the ticket booth. This after being in this line to enter for probably 15 minutes, but more importantly it says on the PDF "Head straight for the turnstile with photo ID and this mobile ticket". The lady then told me that it can't be a screenshot so I opened up the email right in front of her face and told her what it said. It was at this moment that she gave up and told me in a abrupt manner "just go!" I was seriously going to file a complaint but decided against it. If I actually was forced into another line to get an actual ticket then I would have! This whole event probably took 2 minutes with me having to open up my email and get to the PDF. This may not sound like a long time, but it was two minutes of completely wasted time not just for me, but everyone behind me. To be fair every other experience I had with the park employees was really good. Some of them even went out of their way to help a little.
Dudley Ripsaw Falls
It was still rather cold for Florida(I live in northern Utah now). It was fine during the daytime, but nighttime temperatures made me bring my cotton sweater. I obviously wanted everything to be dry come nighttime so I went for the water rides first. This was the only day that I took this into consideration. Splash Mountain isn't very wet and Infinity Falls was down. This was a rather interesting log flume. I can't recall seats ever being that deep and hard to get into. It was a little wet, but not overly wet fortunately. This ride was a walk on.
I asked the ride attendant how wet it was and she told me it was actually the driest of the three water rides. It sure looked a lot wetter. The single rider line was amazing here. The regular line looked like a good hour. I basically walked on. The ride attendant was right. It really wasn't that wet at all. The theming for the ride obviously is it's best part.
Popeye Bilge-Rat Barges
For some reason I had a hard time finding this and ended up walking around the park clockwise to get to it. Looking back I'm kind of glad it happened because I got to see the whole park. I never got back to some of those areas. It was now time for the wettest of their rides. I was really worried about my sweater getting drenched on this ride. I was so happy when I saw the place where you could put your belongings in to remain dry. Good job Universal! This definitely is the most themed I have ever seen one of these rides, but it was far from the wettest. All the water seemed to come from below. There were no waterfalls. My shoes seemed to remain wet the rest of the day though.
With practically no wait I decided for one more ride. That was it for the water rides.
Reign of Kong 2x
The single rider line again did wonders here. Both waits were about 20 minutes. The regular line was around 2 hours! It was a good ride, but I think I would take some of their other simulator rides over this one. I just don't like how you could only see half the ride at a time.
I went on Transformers three years ago so the novelty never really hit me this time. After my two rides on Kong and my first on Spiderman my ears started hurting. I do have sensitive ears, but still do they really need these rides to be so loud!! I was actually covering my ears on my second ride and could still hear things perfectly fine! It's almost to the point that Universal could offer two versions of this ride. One is just not as loud. That I would sign up for! These were two half hour waits and I could tell that more people were starting to figure out about the single rider lines as the day went on.
Doctor Doom 1x
Nothing special I've been on so many of these. Always good to get the credit though.
It's amazing that it took until after 4 pm for me to finally get on the one major roller coaster in the park. This and the Studios park are really the only parks in the world where this would happen to me. You just can't find simulator rides like these anywhere else. Obviously I was well aware of the no cell phones policy coming in. It still annoys me though especially when I end up keeping my wallet with the receipt to open the locker in my invincible zipper cargo pants anyways. The single rider line ended up being a good 30 minutes. The part that I was not prepared for was when the ride attendant apologized giving me a middle/back seat after I requested a seat in the very back row. This time I will defend the employee. It's not his fault the park has this stupid policy. Not like it's very hard to find another single rider behind me! He genuinely seemed to care. This combined with the no cell phone policy really pissed me off and I went in wanting to hate the ride. This ride felt really smooth. The most impressive thing about this ride is the launch. It really feels just like an average launch for a shorter time duration, but this is a full B@M train!
I can't help but put this here. I missed out on Son of Beast this year at KI. I saw the Drachen Fire in 2000 at BGW. I saw the original Riverside Cyclone before the modified first turn, but spent the day at the water park. I also missed out on the original Steel Phantom and Hypersonic by a few years. This is the most painful one though. Three years ago I decided on the Studios park over Islands of Adventure because the Hulk was down for the reprofile. I figured next time I will get to ride both coasters so why not go for the Studios park. I never saw this coming! What a unique ride it must have been!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 2x
Well this is the ride I probably was the most looking forward to and I sure wasn't the only one. I have never seen so many people in such a small area before. When walking over to the ride at one point it was literally like a mob of people pushing against each other to get through! If I was a foot shorter and still alone it would have been a terrifying experience! The regular line was hours long, but the single rider line was only 30 minutes. On my first ride I really was blown away with this thing. I dare say that my first ride was the best single ride I had on this entire trip. The novelty wore off quickly though and by the time it was my third ride it was already starting to feel old. One thing I regret on this ride is leaning forwards during my first two rides. I started feeling the pain in my back. Roller coasters have kind of a natural motion to them that this thing doesn't have, and that actually makes this the worst ride for your back that I have ever been on. Overall this whole area is a work of art, and it probably is the number one themepark attraction in the world along with the Studios version(but I like this one more). Personally I'd take any roller coaster probably in my top 20 over this thing, but roller coasters are not everyone's cup of tea. This thing appeals to a much broader range of guests. People were taking pictures of the castle like they were in a national park(I live in Utah) and even the line in the castle was interesting. Well done Universal well done!
Flight of the Hippogriff
I couldn't believe the ride attendant when they told me that this little thing was an hour wait! Well I ended up doing it anyways and in typical fashion the real wait was indeed less than they were telling us. Good to get the credit.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 1x
I just needed to get on this thing one more time. It was strange how every time I went on the ride the overall line was smaller, but the single rider line was longer. The single rider line was literally about three times longer on my final ride than the first ride, but the overall wait was almost the same!
Incredible Hulk 2x
I decided to wait in the normal line this time so I could pick my seat. When I got to the location where the single rider line and normal line separated I asked the ride attendant and he confirmed it was another 30 minutes with either line meaning this would be my final ride. In classic fashion he was completely wrong and right before I got on I asked someone for the time(very hard to find someone with a watch these days lol) and sure enough there was time for a second ride. At this point I definitely knew I made the right decision to wait in the normal line. I don't think the single rider line was any shorter. That's very different from the beginning of the day! The two back seat rides felt identical. For some reason my first ride felt really smooth, but these two rides were not. The cobra roll in particular was very rough. It's really hard to believe it was as rough as it was especially since this is a B@M and it was just reprofiled. This ride does not crack my top 25 I'm afraid to say and that has nothing to do with the ride policies.
Well the rest of the trip I won't write about, but it was really nice too. It did finally warm up to the 80's and I even got a swim in. When I got back to Utah I immediately had to dig my car out of snow haha. Sorry this took so long to post!
1.SV 2.El Toro 3.MF 4.I-305 5.Kumba
6.STR@SFNE 7.Voyage 8.X2 9.Storm Chaser 10. Wicked Cyclone
I think Bluto's Barges has a pretty extreme cold weather setting. In warmer weather it's a significantly more wild and unpredictable ride.
I was in MK on the 21st and it did seem oddly empty. I think the forecast for rain later in the day was part of it. We left at noon (having arrived at 8 for EMH) and it started to sprinkle. The day before (20th) was a complete torrential washout but we powered through and everything was a walk on.
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."
Well thanks for sharing that eightdotthree I never knew those rides can actually have different settings. You made me watch a few youtube videos and they definitely were a lot wetter than my ride. The only time water came from above on my ride was when it came from other park guests. and that was only once I think.
Yea next time I plan a trip to Florida during Christmas I'll spend the night in Orlando and my parents can meet me at one of the parks that they want to visit with me anyways. That saves them a drive and me a day(finally got to bed around 5am on the 19/20th). It worked out this time because the 20th was a washout anyways just like you said, but next time it probably won't be.
I was NOT aware of this cell phone policy on Hulk. **** that ****. I’m themeparking Florida for the first time and about to go to Universal tomorrow, was planning to spend about 250 just on a parkhopper ticket and fast pass for myself, but I’m seriously reconsidering now and I might not even go. Its not about the $5 (or probably ****ing $10) for the locker, it’s the principal of it. I don’t want to give that park ANY of my money now.
edited: oh and thanks for the full report; lots of good info in there!
it doesn't cost anything actually.....well as long as your items fit in the smaller lockers. That's literally the one line that they haven't crossed..... yet. Just google search for them and you can see just how small they are.
Oh thanks! It always takes me a long time to post these, but I spend a lot of time on them!
Hey thats great news! Thanks again! Like you said I’m only carrying what fits in my pockets so a small locker will do, and not upcharging for the policy at least passes my righteous indignation test, lol. Universal back on for tomorrow, to the detriment of my savings!
Glad you got that response in time. I would have felt bad if you didn't go because of something I put and didn't put(thought about putting a sentence in there about the small lockers being free) in.
Nice TR. I went to SeaWorld yesterday and had a blast, went to Universal for only a couple of hours today b/c I had to catch a flight back to Philly. Rode Incredible Hulk for the 1st time and found it very smooth. Wasn't wowed the 1st time around but on the 2nd ride I changed my opinion. Being launched into a zero-g roll was a 1st. Anyway, I had two out of the ordinary experiences on Hulk. I know, I know, I'm infamous for having out of the ordinary experiences but for some reason I attract them. Not always; nothing at all out of the ordinary happened at SeaWorld but for my 1st ride on Hulk as we were finishing the course and approaching the loading station the train behind mine crossed overhead and got stuck on the block brake so that my train could not be moved into the station. I could look up and see the end of the train that was stuck. We were walked off and everyone was given a bottle of water and two express passes. This turned out to be a bonus, as I used one of them to get back on Hulk a couple of hours later. And having to put my phone in a locker was not a hassle at all.
For the 2nd ride I was directed to row 8 and told that 3 people would be entering from the other side. 3 people did enter and the guy who ended up sitting next to me was a triple amputee with 2 prosthetic legs and 1 prosthetic arm. As his left arm was prosthetic with a hand and he was sitting directly to my right I had a good view of what was going on. He was able to grasp the restraint with the prosthetic arm. I just looked at Six Flags' policy about amputees and found this about Full Throttle: "Riders must have two functioning legs and two functioning arms. Riders must have full upper and full lower body control. For your safety and the safety of others, riders must remove medical devices including half or full length orthotics, braces, crutches, canes, prosthetics and any other type of medical assistance device that is not permanently affixed to the rider’s body to prevent hazards or loss due to ride forces." By this criterion the guy would not have been allowed to ride. However, Universal had no problem with this guy's limitations; maybe it has to do with the fact that coming out of OTS restraints would be difficult or maybe Universal has a more liberal policy.
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