Disney/Universal - A Novel; pt. 2 MGM

Associated parks:

OK, once again, this TR is long and descriptive, and I'm warning you of that up front. If you just want a summary of the coasters (of which i rode only one anyways), don't bother reading this. If you read the first part of the TR, and are back for more, well thanks. I like to see that someone is encouraging me in my narcissistic babbling. If not, here's the deal: i'm going park by park, attraction by attraction. My rating system consists of three ratings, each on a scale of 10. The first is thrill factor, second is originality, and third is re-ridability. The ratings for all the attractions are at the end of the TR, so you can bypass my babbling and just see those if you want.

Disney/MGM Studios

Since I only had a day to "park-hop," and wanted to get in at least three parks, I figured I'd make my stay at MGM short. I had seen the park 10 years ago when i was a kid, and not much seems to have changed, except the addition of a few new attractions. My plan: hit RNR Coaster and Tower of Terror, which were right up front, and get over to Epcot before the end of the night. One thing you might not know (I didn't) is that there's a boat from Epcot to MGM, so if you plan to do both of them in one day, it's much easier to park at Boardwalk, take the boat to MGM, and take the boat back. Plus this saves you from paying for parking (as far as I could tell, but my dad has a vacation club pass anyways so we didn't have to pay for parking anywhere).

So we walked into MGM right as the daily parade was ending. I'm not big on parades anyways, but this one seemed particularly unspectacular - it was just characters on cars driving through. Fine for kids, but nothing really entertaining to see. So we get to Rock 'N' Roller coaster and the sign says a 20min wait - we figure we'll grab the pass, ride TOT, and get right back on. But as I walk away from the queue area, I notice an employee telling someone the ride was down temporarily. They were badgering him, and he just kept repeating the spiel - you know, the "playing dumb" spiel. Which I'm sure is what they're told to do, but it's still a bit annoying anyways. No matter, knowing Vekoma and their track record i figured this thing probably breaks down daily anyways. So we head off to ride:

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I had ridden this ride when it had just opened about 9 or 10 years prior, and remember being scared out of my wits (but loving it all the same). Being a huge Twilight Zone fan all my life, I always thought the pre-show film with Rod Serling introducing the ride as if it were an episode was really well done. It still sends chills up my spine when he says "This elevator goes straight to... (dun dun duuunnn) The Twilight Zone!" Anyways, if you've never ridden it, you have no idea what i'm talking about, but trust me it's cool. The theming of the queue for this ride is also incredible. And although I don't want to be a spoiler (especially for those lucky folks in California who are getting a brand new one), the effects inside the ride are some of the best in all of Disney, and probably the world.

On the highway driving towards Disney, there was a billboard with a picture of TOT with the caption "Good news. We made it worse." Well, that was an understatement. When I first rode it, the elevator took you up, and dropped you, pretty much like any other freefall ride. Well, not anymore. This isn't a spoiler, because I've been told that each individual ride is different now. All i know was that we must have dropped about 6 times. And you don't just go up to the top, drop, go back up slowly, etc. Sometimes you drop a tiny bit, only to be shot back up and free fall. Sometimes it catches you for a second, giving you a split second to catch your breath before you drop again. Plus there's some new effects in there too. It's hard to explain what the ride is like now, but it's easily my new favorite freefall ride. I was completely surprised and walked off the ride with my heart pounding and was quite happy to be standing on solid ground again. Excellent!

So we head back over to RNR Coaster, only to find that the ride is still broken down, and now the line is out of the queue and wrapping around. Fortunately, we had our fast pass, so that wasn't a worry. But I was starting to think it might be closed down for the night, even though the employee at the entrance assured us they were hoping to have it up and running again soon. Ahh, Vekoma. It's like the new Tower of Terror - always keeps you guessing. =) So, we figured we'd ride something else and check back. I really wanted to see "Millionaire," because I love game shows and was interested to see how the audience participation part worked. But unfortunately, we had just missed the last show of the night. Bummer. So it was between Star Tours and MuppetVision 3D, but because it was closer we opted for:

Star Tours

Well, what can I say about this ride. It's a classic. Even though the thrill factor is pretty much gone now, especially since i've ridden bigger and better sim rides, there's still nothing that can compare to the Star Wars theming. It's worth riding this alone just to get to walk through the queue, and see the intro movie with the ewoks struggling with their safety belts. =). So the ride hasn't changed at all, but there's so many fun facts about it that I always notice something new every time i see it (even though i hadn't been to MGM in years, I had ridden this ride more recently in Disneyland Paris. And no, Pee-Wee doesn't do the french voice. Darn.). OK, anyways, everyone's ridden this, so not much more to say.

So we head back to RNR Coaster, and guess what? Still broken. Oh well. Since we wanted to get to Epcot, we figured it would be a waste of time to wait around all night for it. Overall, I was disappointed that I missed out on two of the new attractions that I wanted to see. But, since I live in the area now, I wasn't that disappointed. Had I not been able to go back, it would have been a much bigger disappointment; however, on the flip side, if i were a vacationer I probably would have spent the whole day anyways so I would have gotten on everything one way or the other. OK, on to Epcot. Thanks for reading.


**Despite all of my Vekoma bashing, I'll be the first to admit I like their rides. Deja Vu is incredible, and Paris' Space Mt. ain't bad either. So don't get all defensive - I was just being a smartrump.**

Ride Ratings

The New and Improved Twilight Zone Tower of Terror:
Fear factor: 8
Originality: 8
Re-Ridability: 9

Star Tours:
FF: 2 (i saw little kids asking their parents when they could get off)
Orig.: 8 (in it's hey-day)
Re-ride: 2 (unless you're a Star Wars geek, in that case 10)

S:ROS; SFNE. Ride it, and you'll understand.

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