Universal Orlando and IOA - Jan 7-16th

Not too large of a TR here, but more-so a summary of the week we had down in Orlando!

We bought our season passes for both parks and this year, as we planned to just hit IOA/Universal, as our last visit was for SWO and BGT.

The new stuff this year was obviously Harry Potter "Land"... Because we did not want to feel left in the dark, the girlfriend and I watched all the films only two weeks prior to heading down. I am glad we did though, the movies were actually pretty excellent and made the experience much better! Universal did an amazing job with this area, and the people obviously love it. The rest of the park could be dead, and the area is still crammed pack with people taking photos, drinking, waiting in ridiculously long lines to shop and simply loitering around. We went to both parks every single day but one I believe, for a total of seven days. Only two of those were actually very busy, but most days were very tolerable with short waits for almost anything except Forbidden Journey, and even then, the single rider line made it very tolerable.

As for Forbidden Journey, I am very mixed on this ride. The theme, technology and "realism" to the movie was spectacular. I really appreciated everything about the ride, except for the movie parts. It made me terribly sick, and because of that, only rode it twice the entire week. I absolutely loved the live sets, but the screen parts just blew it for me. Too bad, because it could of been incredible, otherwise.

As for the HP area, it is incredible to look at. The detail in the castle, stores, etc... Are just excellent. Oh, did I mention the butterbeer? I did not expect it to be so... awesome. We had two or three with every trip, easy. We could not decide if frozen or regular was better, both were just awesome! We also tried the pumpkin juice, pumpkin fizz and pear cider... The pear cider being the most disappointing (tasted mostly of apple juice), but the pumpkin juice is excellent if you like that kind of stuff. I highly recommend skipping the pumpkin bottle for $7.99 or whatever they charge at the carts and go inside the restaurant and get it served via cup for only $2.99 I believe... Unless you want the souvenir :)

I did not mind the "renovations" to the DD queue line... I know many people say they ruined it, but honestly besides the ice room, everything looks about the same. It is still a dark, winding cave that goes on forever. All that is missing are the skeletons and such stuck in the wall... The ride was running great, as always. Still prefer Fire over Ice.

As for the rest of the park, it was generally very dead. What I love about this time of the year is that the parks are open still once it gets dark out, which makes for incredible rides on Jurassic Park, Jaws and the other outdoor attractions.

I was quite sad that the Dudley caught fire though, as that is such a fun ride and my favorite flume. And given how cold it was, I would of still rode it. Not much else with IOA though, besides running through the nets in the Jurrasic Park playland... Such a blast! I really dig the secret caves and such in that area as well, it is like a secret "easter egg" in the park. We rode Hulk a few times and it was running decent, a little rougher this year than normal.

As for Universal, I FINALLY got on that Rip Rockit ride after two previous trips down since it opened... And I can say I did not miss much of anything. The first drop and pretzel-type element were excellent, but then the ride just... Died... Not much else to it. The pacing was terrible, the layout unimaginative... Too bad Universal did not go with somebody else, it had such potential IMO.

Enjoyed the other classics like "ET", "Men In Black", (which by the way, beat my record and now sits at 715,000 points! :) ) and of course, Jaws... Still one of my favorite rides to this day... Ahh, the smell in that boat house is just incredible!

We had a great time at these two parks all week... We also made the trip to the Tampa area to check out the Zoo, along with the Aquarium which were nice. The zoo was awesome, and one of the best ones I have been to (including Florida's Brevard Zoo, Forth Worth Zoo and the Atlanta Zoo). We also stopped at the Florida Zoo, which was nice - But a step down from Tampa. We spent over three hours at the Tampa zoo which is unheard of for us at a zoo! We are usually very quick! :)

All in all, we had an amazing trip... Plus, we got to escape the bad snow storm that hit the Cleveland area that week. Sad we still can't be there!

For those interested in seeing photos from my trip, check out my Flickr page, below:


And I have sets from IOA, Universal and the Tampa Zoo.


I also got sick from the video parts on Forbidden Journey and have heard the same thing has happened to a lot of people. Next time I go to IoA, I am probably going to close my eyes during the video parts.

Those castle night photos are great.

Last edited by YoshiFan,

You know, I tried to shut my eyes but it did not help me.. But I heard it works for other people! I tried it my second lap and it almost may of been worse, since the cart is still moving all around. I can get pretty bad motion sickness in those cases. :)

LostKause's avatar

When I find things like that are making me sick, sometimes it helps for me to cover up one eye.

Nice TR. I have a small chance that I will be going to FL in a month or so. The only park I must go to is IOA for HP.

Great photos. I miss that place.

eightdotthree's avatar

I found the Harry Potter video scenes to be blurry, and that's what caused a little naseau for me.

That is exactly what me and my girlfriend thought as well.. It was not clear and sharp, which would of helped big time. The movements mixed with the poor video and "motion blurring", almost like they used too low FPS for the video (24 FPS probably, but 30 or 60 may of been better in this case for the quick action).

Jeff's avatar

It's 24 fps. But it's also 4k projection, so there are a lot of dots. It's just that everything is in motion. :)

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Are you familiar with how that video systems works by chance? In terms of how the screens meet up with the vehicles and such on the move. It seems like the screen rides on it's own track or something, following along until a certain points and turning away to make its way back to the start to line up with another vehicle, if that makes sense.

It is cool how they got the screen to follow the car the way it does, because it really is hard to tell that you are moving along with it!

kpjb's avatar

The screens are on a carousel.


That is what I thought, thanks!

LostKause's avatar

This page has a neat video showing the ride moving through the building with the lights on, revealing how that particular effect works. It's quite an interesting video.

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