Universal Studios, 7/15/12-7/22/12; part 3

Monday, July 23, 2012 10:52 PM

And this is going to be the last part of the actual park reports: Universal Studios Orlando. There is a lot of good stuff at this park, some real letdowns, and some just plain awesome.

First off: Rip Ride Rockit! Now, I know this coaster has been called boring and lame and this and that, but I was fairly happy that it was my 100th coaster. I mean, is it particularly memorable for the ride itself? No, not really. I don't care for vertical lifts, and this one is larger than Fahrenheit, but it actually didn't seem as bad as Fahrenheit. The ride is smooth, and the non-looping loop reminded me a lot of going up a TTD or Kingda Ka type hill and back down again. Yes, there were a lot of brake runs, but some of the turns and helixes were quick, smooth, and so tight that they packed a ton of G's. Also, making this my 100th gave us the opportunity to have the moment videotaped.

That being said, the video was expensive. With a picture as well, the cost was nearly fifty bucks. I was excited because I thought it would be really funny to see how we looked during this (my husband especially, since he didn't realize this was the coaster that had video on it, and he was making funny faces the whole time so he could get a great picture). However, when we got the video, the song we chose was replaced by Busy Child by Crystal Method. This is apparently the default song for the video and does not change with each video. That wasn't really a big deal, but the thing that WAS a big deal was that we are only on video for about 10 seconds total. The rest of it is POV shots, most of them being animated POV instead of real footage. I'm still glad we have the video, and it is cool that our names pop up as the "artists", but it was a bit of a waste of money. The video is quite stylized, but I like my Raptor video much better. 6.5/10, 1 ride.

I don't think I need to tell anyone that the Revenge of the Mummy was awesome. You all know. If you don't know, you should find out. The only thing I can say in the negative about this ride is that after the "death is only the beginning" part of the ride, they should continue the ride longer to get into the second Mummy movie. That would be so awesome. 9.5/10, 3 rides. Unlimited Express definitely helped with this ride. The line never really went beyond 30 minutes except once, but we always walked on or waited for one train.

There are two huge areas of construction in Universal Studios. I am guessing that one of these is Transformers, but I haven't figured out what the other one is. Anyone know or can speculate on what the other construction zone is for?

Hmm...oh, Disaster! This was one of the many rides that felt like something was missing. The preshow was fantastic. The guy that led the preshow was exceptionally funny and had great comedic timing, and he wasn't totally G-rated, either. I was surprised by some of the comments he made, but none were heinous or in bad taste. I just sometimes forget that Universal's parks sometimes toe the line between PG and PG-13. I LIKE that about them though. It is a different experience than at any other park for that and many other reasons.

Anyway, so Disaster...there was quite a lengthy preshow, complete with a hologram of Christopher Walken that was pretty convincing, and then a second pre-show room where they were filming "scenes" for a new movie called "Mutha Nature". Finally, we get to go on the ride. Now, this is supposed to be sort of an iconic ride that people really want to check out at least once. The ride vehicles themselves and the way they did the subway station were fantastic. The special effects looked GREAT. However, the actual ride itself was a minute, if that. All of this preshow and awesome effects for THAT?! We were so disappointed. Disney's Catastrophe Canyon is definitely better in this aspect. The video at the end was a lot of laughs though, and the whole ride and show were put together very well. It just seemed like the ride, which I had heard so much about in the past, is just in need of some improvements to make it worth all the time spent building up. 6/10.

I'm not really going to say that much about Twister because that is the same kind of thing without the good preshow. Is Bill Paxton a stoner? Twister looked SO amazing during the actual show, but again, how cool can you get when you've blown your entire budget on 30 seconds? Meh...5/10.

Shrek 4D: This was about what I thought it was gonna be. The 3D was not nearly as intense as some other 3D experiences in terms of the feeling of true 3D depth, but it was pretty good. However, the person who did the writing for Shrek 1 and 2 must have written the script for this before Shrek 3 and 4 (especially 3) writers got ahold of the franchise. It still had most of the clever, sharp, and not totally for kids humor that made the first two movies great. I was happy about that. Also, the movie posters for made up movies starring characters from the Shrek movies were great. They made me laugh while waiting in line, which is always a good thing, especially in that kind of heat. 6/10.

Men in Black: My husband whooped my butt in our car, but our car totally stomped the opposing car. I mentioned in part 1 of all these reports that the Buzz Lightyear ride feels flat compared to this ride, and after riding MIB, my husband definitely agreed. He was very impressed with the theming and special effects, and even the cars looked better and felt more solid. I'm glad I got to ride this again because although I don't care for the shoot em up type rides, I forgot just how great this ride looks and how much detail is involved. Express pass was a good thing on this ride. 7/10.

Simpsons: I don't recall having a difficult time seeing the bottom of the screen on this ride during my last trip, but my husband said he had the same problem as I did this time around. Don't know what was up with that. The Itchy and Scratchy safety video at the beginning of the ride is the best ride safety video ever. I didn't get sick feeling on this one this time either, and the length of time spent actually riding something for once was nice compared to some of the other rides we hit. 7.5/10, express pass helpful.

There is a "free magic show" on one of the town streets, but when you get into the theater, they are basically using simple magic tricks that you can purchase in their shop. Actually, I thought some of these tricks were pretty neat and bought some for my nephews, and my husband wanted the flaming wallet trick, but it was a bit pricey. There was air conditioning, so it was a win anyway. Hehehe...

I noticed that Universal has some really good food. There are actually a few sit down restaurants, and there are some awesome franchise eateries in the park. There is a Starbucks (yay), and there are actually two Ben and Jerry's places. We went to one designed to look like an old malt shop, and they had these awesome full sized sundaes for not even 7 bucks. I got a hot fudge brownie sundae that was absolutely scrumptious, with an extra large brownie, tons of fudge, and a huge helping of vanilla ice cream. The cookie sundae that my husband had was apparently delightful as well, although I was too absorbed in my own tasty treat to notice his food. If you're not planning on riding anything else for the day, I'd highly recommend one.

It took us a few trips to Universal to make it to the Despicable Me ride and to see the fireworks/fountain show for the Universal 100th anniversary. On our last night there, we saved our energy and headed out to the park around 7 pm. After a quick stop to pick up some Simpsons Kwik Stop specific gear for friends and family, we picked a spot for the fireworks show. While their fireworks are never going to be the Disney fireworks, the show was still so cool. A class act, this show. I loved it, and I'm so glad we didn't miss it.

I am also glad we got a ride on Despicable Me. Despite Express passes, the line for Despicable Me does not favor the Express riders. Throughout our visits, the line was always at around 70 minutes to wait, and each time we got in line, the regular line was moving, moving, moving, and we were NOT moving. Ever. Finally after the fireworks, the line went down to 45 minutes, and Express lane was actually moving. The preshow was adorable and very funny, and the ride itself was a blast. It was charming, exciting, funny, cute...I've never seen Despicable Me all the way through (have missed the first half every time I've seen it), so I didn't realize how awesomely amusing the minions are. I love minions. Now I know how Gonch feels. 8/10.

I know there is more, and although I took a lot of notes while I was there, I just can't do any more typing!!! This was a great trip, and although we were frequently thwarted by weather concerns, there were only two super hot days (one day we attempted Sea World because we love Sea World and I wanted the Journey to Atlantis credit, but it was so friggin hot that we were there for only about two hours and then gave up without ever making it to JTA...total waste. Sea World needs some shade). We're probably going to start going on the off season, but this actually wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. We had a fantastic time.

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Monday, July 23, 2012 11:27 PM

Great trilogy of trip reports, Bunky. You even took NOTES? Now THAT'S CoasterBuzz loyalty right there. lol

If the second construction you are speaking of is near the Men in Black ride, then it's going to be an extension of the Harry Potter land from IOA. A train will take riders from IOA to this area of USO for another big Potter ride. That sounds like a fib, but it's true.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:29 AM

Hey, they've got the room for it, and I remembered speculation that there was going to be a train and a Gringotts vault ride/coaster type thing, so it would make sense.

It is honestly not so much about CoasterBuzz devotion (though I am devoted to my fellow Buzzers) as much as I write anyway (usually short stories and poems), and I wanted to make sure I recorded some of the moments I liked for the future. Plus, I like reading people's trip reports and writing trip reports. I used to write trip reports to some extent before I even joined up on CoasterBuzz, though not to this extent or in this much detail.

I can't wait for all the improvements Universal is going to make. My husband was a little bummed out that we couldn't see when Jaws popped out of the water for our anniversary (Mallrats fans will get it), but I reassured him that someone will eventually reboot the franchise with a pointless but successful remake, and Universal will make a much better, much scarier ride to enjoy.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:18 AM

bunky666 said:

...we are only on video for about 10 seconds total. The rest of it is POV shots, most of them being animated POV instead of real footage.

That would be very disappointing considering the cost. Nice TRs.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:03 PM

Thank you Kpjb.

The video was indeed disappointing, but I try not to think too deeply on these things. I got to ride my 100th, I have video of it, and the video DID have full ride stats on it and our names. That's a pretty nice souvenir of a 100th ride. Although I am a little salty that I only paid a few dollars more for a collectible time turner necklace plated in 24k and housed in a collectible clear glass (?) case. Pretty bad that they're charging nearly the same price for a video that matters only to the riders and isn't even a full ride worth. Okay, so yeah, it kinda sucks. Hehehe...

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