Massive Florida Trip Report

Thursday, October 13, 2011 10:28 PM

Ok, so here goes nothing. This could be relatively lengthy, so sorry in advance. A fellow coaster friend and I had been planning a trip to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando for quite a while, and we finally did it last weekend. And since we were down there, we figured we'd hit some other parks as well. So the agenda was as follows:

Wednesday night: Arrive in Orlando
Thursday: Busch Gardens Tampa
Friday: Sea World in the day, HHN at night
Saturday: Islands of Adventure
Sunday: Depart for home :(

So Thursday morning, we arrived at Busch Gardens right at 10 am. I had been to BGW before, but never BGT. All I can say is wow. This park is gorgeous. There is just an absurd amount of wildlife to be seen. The park was dead all day long, and even later in the day we were still finding new things that we had missed. And they do a fantastic job of having picturesque locations to photograph the rides. Ahh, coaster porn.

So as for the rides.. We started of with Cheetah Hunt, figuring it was the newest and would therefore have the longest line during the day. We rode in the front seat. This thing is just plain fun. If you're looking for the most thrilling thing in the world, go elsewhere. But there are some really cool launches, very good hills, some fantastic scenery, and a nice heartline roll. It's silky smooth, and has a very long ride time. Loved it.

Up next, we went to Montu for a walk-on ride. Again, it was incredible. The Egyptian theme is beautiful. And the drop out of the MCBR is mind-blowing.

After Montu we hit some of the smaller rides on our way back to Kumba. I remember seeing POVs for this bad boy way back when I was just a little coaster dork. And it still packs a punch. Our first ride was in the front seat, and I'm not sure if it was the wind in my eyes, or if I was "greying out," but I honestly didn't see too much of that ride. But we rode again later in the back, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then there's Sheikra. This was my first ever dive coaster. I must say, I always thought holding brakes were incredibly gimmicky, and just a bad idea in general. Why would you want to stop the momentum of that train? That is, until I rode this thing. There's that 3 seconds of anticipation when you're sitting there.. and literally the second it releases, you're ejected into the lap bar. That drop is just incredible. I wish there was more to the ride after the second drop, but I may be getting a little greedy... :)

The last coaster at BGT is Gwazi. Unfortunately they only had the Tiger side running, so Lion was a no-go. But the new Millennium Flyer trains were very comfy, and the ride wasn't jerky at all. It's definitely fun, but I imagine it's a blast when the other train goes whizzing by as you navigate the course.

As I said, the crowds were very light, so we got plenty of re-rides on all of the coasters. And that's even including a lot of time taking pictures of the wildlife. Day 1 was a success.

Halloween Horror Nights

This was my first trip to HHN, so I went in with very high expectations. It didn't disappoint. We were through the gates right at 6:00, and we knocked out all of the haunts pretty quickly. We were able to do all of the rides and haunts, and even some re-rides/haunts on our favorites. In the interest of keeping this short, I'll post a link to my review of all the haunts.

Haunts

As for the rides, I'll run through them real quick. Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket was... lame. The moving station platform is a pretty good idea I think, and they do a good job of grouping riders to keep the line moving. But that's about it. The goofy "non-loop" is kind of cool I guess, but I was too busy counting the brake runs to enjoy this stupid ride.

I liked the Simpsons and Men In Black rides, even though I really brought my team's score down in MIB... Apparently shooting aliens isn't my forte. I'll just assume I had a faulty gun. :)

And then there's Revenge of the Mummy. Holy crap this thing is awesome. I had no idea what to expect, so the first ride was quite intense to say the least. Especially the launch. Just a fantastic ride all the way through.

As I said, the haunts were just great. Nightingales and The Thing were definitely my favorites, but there were multiple other really good houses.

I will say my one gripe about HHN was the crowd control at the Bill & Ted show. Rather than letting people go in 10 or 15 minutes before the show, they held everyone outside the stadium until about 5 minutes before, so when they started letting people go in, it was just a gigantic mass of people. Pure chaos. And then they only let some people go down certain aisles and such. So it's essentially just a giant traffic jam of people. But the show was pretty good once we found our seats.

All in all, I can't say enough about HHN. I wish the price of admission was a little less, but apparently they're not having problems selling tickets at that price, so more power to them I guess.

Day 3: Islands of Adventure

This was the single rainiest day of my life. We woke up at 9 am to a steady rain. Not pouring, but not drizzling either. And that same storm lingered over us literally the entire day. So it was a soggy, damp mess. Fortunately, IoA was running nearly all of the rides. Hulk was not operating though. :(

So we started by getting our credits on Cat in the Hat and Jurassic Park River Adventure. I was not too fond of the latter, just because it took me from pretty wet to drenched. Nobody's fault but mine though, haha.

After those two were accomplished, we headed on to WWoHP! One of the things I was actually looking forward to the most was Butterbeer. But first we wanted to get a ride on the Forbidden Journey. I'll first say that WWoHP is exactly what I thought it would be--amazing. The level of detail is just profound. And Forbidden Journey is a really impressive ride all the way through. It's a wonder how it does everything that it does, and somehow makes each ride "individual" for each car. And the best part is that the line was no longer than 15 minutes all day, so we got plenty of rides. :)

So after the Forbidden Journey, we decided to finish off the rest of the rides before getting Butterbeers. We went to the comic book area for Dr. Doom's FearFall and Spiderman. FearFall was pretty fun. Can't go wrong with a good space shot.

As for Spiderman, I loved it. The queue is pretty cool, with the animated cartoon building up to the ride. And the ride itself is just awesome. It reminded me of 7th Portal at Kings Island, but infinitely better.

So we finally went back to WWoHP and went right into Hog's Head for some Butterbeers. But which one to get... frozen, or cold? How about one of each! I figured I had to try them both. So I first tasted the "cold" butterbeer. It was sweet glory to the taste buds. Absolutely delicious. So I drank a good amount of my unfrozen butterbeer before sitting down. And then I had some of the frozen one. Goodness gracious. This is the treat of all treats. If you're only going to get one, get the frozen one. You won't be disappointed.

After that we got our rain-filled credits on both sides of dragon challenge (near the back of the train of course.. I can't imagine what the front seat could have felt like in that rain). I liked them both, but the red side was more enjoyable in my opinion.

With all the rides complete, we decided to hit Hard Rock Cafe for a nice dry lunch, and then we headed back for a few more rides before calling it a day. IoA really is a neat park, but the rain really put a damper on my day.

Almost done, I promise!

So other than the four parks we saw, we did some other things in the area as well. On Thursday night, we came across the Slingshot at Magical Midway. It's marketed as the tallest slingshot in the world, shooting riders 390 feet into the sky. Naturally we had to do it. I strongly recommend this thing. It's soooo ridiculously high. And the city of Orlando at night is quite beautiful from up there.

And on Saturday night, we found a local haunted house. The Haunted Grimm House of Old Town. It's right by the Fun Spot (It's HUGE!) in Kissimmee. The first impression was that this place was really sketchy. It's a cash-only place in the middle of a flea-market style area. But it was actually quite fun. They only have a few people working it, but there are a few scares to be had. The Fun Spot skyflyer looks insane, too.

Anyway, that should wrap it up. I had an incredible time seeing plenty of parks I'd never seen before. I'm sure HHN will be on the agenda again at some point in the future, and I'll certainly look forward to it. Until then, back to being a Cedar Point fanboy. ;) And if you want to see my pictures, here's some links.

BGT

HHN

SeaWorld

IoA

Last edited by D_vo, Thursday, October 13, 2011 10:31 PM
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Friday, October 14, 2011 12:45 AM

No Scorpion :( Best go take my meds.

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Friday, October 14, 2011 1:59 AM

I enjoyed the warm over the cold when I had it; cold was a bit too sweet, whereas the warm was savory... I wish I had some now :(

Also, Jurassic Park rules when it's hot out and not raining. Unfortunate you couldn't enjoy it that much

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Friday, October 14, 2011 7:28 AM

^^Oh there was definitely a ride on Scorpion, as well as Sand Serpent. Scorpion was a lot of fun, despite me barely fitting my 6'6" body into that tiny train, haha.

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Friday, October 14, 2011 10:39 AM

Anything to note from Sea World?

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Friday, October 14, 2011 1:51 PM

Always fun to read a first time TR to those parks! Different world from up north!

I am one of the few, the proud... To max out my score on MIB... 999,999! I did it twice my last trip, I was so excited. My average is around 500,000-600,000 though on average. Depending on if certain targets are working and such (sometimes they don't!).

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Friday, October 14, 2011 4:30 PM

D_vo said:
^^Oh there was definitely a ride on Scorpion, as well as Sand Serpent. Scorpion was a lot of fun, despite me barely fitting my 6'6" body into that tiny train, haha.

Yay! That was something I noticed recently on Mind Bender. The train is tight for the legs. But just perfect, really. I'm shorter than you, though, just over 6', so I can see how your knees would have to squeeze. Other than that, I can't say enough good things about those old Anton/Intamin trains.

Did you happen to ride Gwazi with the old PTC trains? If so, how would you compare them? I really want to ride the new trains, I thought the ride (even with rough PTC trains) was outstanding, very assertive (especially for a GCI) and had amazing potential with some oddly placed double-ups and double-downs.

PS - by chance, do you remember if Scorpion ran 2 trains? Last time I was there, a ride op said they don't run 2 anymore...

Last edited by CoasterDemon, Friday, October 14, 2011 4:43 PM
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Friday, October 14, 2011 6:18 PM

Scorpion's second train hasn't even been on the transfer track in at least...2-3 years.

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Friday, October 14, 2011 8:05 PM

^I guess you are the person to ask, gator :) In 2007, they told me no 2nd train. But if it's crowded - isn't that line bad?

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Saturday, October 15, 2011 7:58 AM

Yes. It moves very slowly.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011 11:29 AM

ApolloAndy said:
Anything to note from Sea World?

Hmmm, I'm certain I had some stuff in there about Sea World... I must have deleted it when I was messing with my links. Doh!

I'll be honest, I really wasn't too excited about Sea World as a whole, but that darned Kraken had been giving me dirty looks for a long time, and it was finally time to tame the beast.

So we started our day going straight to Manta. I had ridden a few other flyers before this (Superman at SFGAm, X-Fire Flight Hawk, and Tatsu), so I was pretty excited to see if this one lived up to the hype. The first impression was just awe at the queue. They do a great job integrating the ray aquariums into the queue. It's beautiful. And then there's the ride itself.

I think this is definitely the best ride layout for a flyer. There is always something going on, whether it be an inversion, or swooping around the mountain or down to the pool. Just an incredible ride all the way through. I think I still like Tatsu's ride experience better just because of the views, but Manta is right with it as my favorite flyer.

After that, we went to Journey to Atlantis. I'll start by saying that when we were about 2 boats from boarding, it was sunny and about 80 degrees. Perfect for a water ride. So we started going through the "dark" section of this thing, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But as we were going to the outer portion, I noticed a lot of water falling. I assumed it was just a big fountain that was going to get us pretty wet.. but as we got closer we came to realize that it was an absolute downpour of rain. So needless to say we came off of that ride rather soaked. Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed the ride.

The rain was pretty on-and-off for a while, so the coasters were down for a few hours. In the meantime we saw the Shamu show, the penguin exhibit, some sea lions, and the sharks. All very cool displays. Finally, the rain let up enough to where they opened Kraken. Unfortunately it was only one-train operation, so the line for the front seat took about 15 minutes. But it's definitely worth it.

Kraken is a really solid floorless. I sat on the far left side of the train, and that zero-g roll really whips you around! And I love the tunnels and valleys in the second half of the ride. We got a quick re-ride, and finished our day throughout the rest of the park.

I can now say I've touched some sting rays, so that's pretty sweet. And the dolphins are pretty funny of course. All in all I enjoyed the place, but I kind of doubt I'll be returning for a good while. :)

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Saturday, November 5, 2011 2:55 PM

You and I have had nearly identical Orlando experiences, at least up to wwohp. That was still being built when I went. I too loved BGT, thought it was gorgeous, and was super impressed with Kumba. Montu became my favorite invert by a long shot. The Mummy at Universal is one of my favorite "themed" coasters ever, and is actually probably in my top 10 favorites ever. Very scary and very cool. Spiderman was an absolute blast, and the red side of the Dueling Dragons coaster was so much better in pacing and near misses. I would love to go back down there some day sooner rather than later. I have NOT ridden RRR or been out to ride Tatsu, but I was fortunate enough to ride Manta on Contractor Day, and that was the first really "pretty" coaster I have been on.

I'm glad to see that things are still fun, gorgeous, and thrilling in Orlando. Great trip report!

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