One of the first parks I hit up on my recent trip to Orlando was Universal Studios Florida; aka Crane Land, or Construction World. The entire resort is undergoing massive renovations, and the amount of tower cranes on site proves it.
I’m going to write a different kind of trip report, where I talk about overall impressions and thoughts in a few paragraphs, then some construction photos. The more in-depth TR is at the end.
The overall feel of the park to me was, a classic studio park that has failed to evolve as a whole over the years. In my opinion, the studio look shown in the flat facades and studio soundstages everywhere is kind of worn, and even DHS and USH do a better job with the studio theme. Also, based on the fact that most of the park’s next round of new attractions are still under construction, there wasn’t a whole lot to to, and we ended up leaving at about 3 o’clock, after riding most major attractions twice or three times.
This isn’t so much a hidden gem as a surprise to me, but I really, really enjoyed Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Just from a POV, you assume it’s just another coaster. But, after three rides, each one with an awesome soundtrack, I was wishing there were more Maurer Sohne X-Cars around. The elements of the layout were executed so perfectly, with a perfect balance of height, speed, g-forces, twisting turns, and airtime.
I also enjoyed Disaster, as much as I’ve heard complaints about the attraction. Walking through the queue, you really don’t know what you’re in for, but despite the short ride portion, it was a great experience attraction, with a hilarious host.
Men in Black Alien Attack, although a great ride experience, has a queue that in my opinion could have been executed better. The facade was a bit worn, and whilst walking through the queue, and seeing the cement walls, you could tell that most of the attraction’s budget was put into the ride itself. Considering the nature of the queues at Islands of Adventure, the queue for MIB just wasn’t up to par with the ride itself.
With a targeted opening sometime around June, work is proceeding at a breakneck pace to get Transformers The Ride 3D up and ready. The base show building is complete, with work now taking place around the exterior theming and the interior attraction space. During my visit, theming pieces were being placed on the exterior of the show building, and we can safely assume that most of the work effort is now being focussed on the interior.
With no known opening date timeframe, or an official announcement for that matter, we don’t properly know what Universal is building. But with the rumours of an immersive Springfield-land swirling, this is the mystery project a lot of enthusiasts have their eyes on. I don’t watch the Simpsons, so I can’t really comment any more.
Harry Potter 2.0/London Construction:
With multiple cranes working on this expansion, there was lots of activity on the construction site. The main show building for the Gringotts Bank Coaster was almost enclosed, with the opening giving us a peek at some track and theming elements. Meanwhile, across the plot, the Hogwarts Express station had some vertical construction under way, with the first signs of pillars starting to show.
For those of you who were here for the construction pics, so you can stop now. Next, I’ll detail my day a bit more, and provide a few more park pictures.
As I said earlier, the park was pretty empty, as most major rides were a walk on. We hit Despicable Me first, (yes, that was the longest line we waited in all day, at a whopping 20 minutes.) The queue signs were witty and funny, and the queue video was quirky. “Do you have what it takes to be a minion? Lets see if you can think like one!” Overall, I think it was a fun attraction for the whole family, and in my opinion, I think it embodies the type of attraction that the studios deserve, with just enough theming inside, and the studio soundstage outside.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was a virtual walk on, with the peak wait for the day at 10 minutes. I picked Paralyzer by Finger Eleven, and The Rainbow Connection for contrast, and they both worked shockingly well, providing different ride experiences. The rock and roll accentuated the intensity, while the Rainbow Connection made it feel peaceful like a B&M hyper.
Man, Revenge of the Mummy is SCARY in Orlando. Yes, I’ll admit, this was my first time there, and comparing this to the one in Hollywood? Wow, this took every aspect of the original, and made it 10x better, and scarier. Even though I knew the layout, and the SPOILER, (fake ending,) this ride scared the living daylights out of my sister and I. Personally, I think the fact that the excavation site part of the queue was empty and even creepier than normal added to it, but despite the opportuniy to ride multiple times, it was unanimous that we’d had enough Mummy for the day, and we moved on to the San Francisco section of the park.
In my opinion, the San Francisco part of the park is the best themed, it really transports you to a time and place. Unfortunately with Disaster as it’s the area’s anchor attraction, this part of the park is often looked over. We ate at Richter’s, and did Disaster. Personally, it felt like a toned down less themed version of Posiedon’s Fury next door, but none the less, it was just more of a fun experience that after completing, you realize parks should have more of. I think this really is a throwback to USH and the feel of the real studio, and the interactivity and behind the scenes aspects really make me feel like I’m back in LA, (make up your minds Universal, San Fran or LA?)
Men in Black was all that it was hyped up to be, if not a tad predictable. The elevator effect was in use, (yay,) and I got the best score in my car both times, enough said. The theme was a bit cheesy at times, but I have to hand it to the team behind it, as this is probably as good as shooters are going to get.
The Simpsons was virtually the same as in Hollywood, ET was fun, and that actually was it. I left the park at about 2:30 having done everything on my to-do list. Thanks for reading!