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  1. #1

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    Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    Greetings fellow micechatters,

    Two days back from a six day trip to Orlando including an unprecedented two (TWO!) days at Universal Orlando and an equal number of nights at Halloween Horror Nights, a first for me.

    We, me and the girl, were last in Orlando in late May, hoping to make soft openings of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We missed it by about two weeks. So fueled by latent frustration at my previous failure and a long simmering desire to see Universal's Halloween Horror Nights (and the draw of late October, off-season crowds), I booked a shorter trip to Orlando from October 17th to 22nd.

    This would be my first trip to the area not monopolized by Disney, with only one day devoted to the Magic Kingdom and a half-day jaunt to Typhoon Lagoon, something else I'd always wanted to do. Every time I go back to central Florida I spend less time at Disney. The last trip I spent two full days at the parks, the trip before that five full days. Consider me the object consumer Disney is losing to other attractions through neglect and marketing over new attractions.

    I bought the internet only Universal 2 day park to park access with Halloween Horror Nights access passes, so the first day was intended to be, in this order, start off at Islands of Adventure to see Harry Potter and the usual favorites, skip over to the Studios for the favorites there, then hop back over to Islands to see Harry Potter at night (this would be the only night we were there that it would be open after dark), then back over to the Studios for HHN (hereby mercifully acronymized).

    Pics (of varying, though mostly low, quality):

    The entrance into Citywalk, I always get excited right about here.


    Citywalk.


    Islands of Adventure lighthouse.


    I love the theming in Port of Entry, it really is on par with DisneySea level.










    That castly thingy on the horizon? That's where we're going!


    But first, a walk through Seuss Landing.






    And Lost Continent.




    This is the area poised to be overtaken by a Harry Potter expansion, if the rumors hold true. It is an amazingly well themed area, but there's also little to do other than midway games and a sparsely attended Sinbad themed stunt show.


    Here we are!






    Sweet, sweet butterbeer. More on that later.












    Onto the main show, the Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter.
    In queue:








    House Points.










    The verdict? The queue is wonderfully immersive and the ride itself is enthralling. I'm very seriously considering it replacing Haunted Mansion as my favorite dark ride now. It's thrilling, well-detailed and technologically advanced. We rode it at least seven times during our stay. (big tip: the single rider line is often ten minutes at best. Almost no one knows of it, and there are no signs for it, so the regular public is oblivious. Just make sure you go through the regular standby queue at least once so you don't miss all the details.

    Back into Hogsmeade.




    Three Broomsticks:




    This is the only shot I could get of these cool projections that would appear very occasionally as you sit in the Three Broomsticks. They would only last a couple of seconds, but would be shadows of an owl flying or pots and pans magically flying around or a house elf working, very cool. Its the type of detail you don't see at Disney anymore.


    Hog's Head Pub.




    Inside Zonko's and HoneyDukes.










    Up next, more Potter porn!
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  2. #2

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    ah I was at UO yesterday but didn't go in because it was so darn busy! lol

  3. #3

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    Part Two, day one continued:

    Dragon's Challenge queue.




    That famous Ford Anglia.


    The titular Goblet of Fire.


    The Tri-Wizard cup.


    Flight of the Hippogryff queue.


    Hagrid's Hut.




    After riding Potter 3,427 times, we decided to do the IOA usual suspects.
    Spiderman.




    Cat in the Hat.


    Then off to the studios, where I took very few pictures. . . .So ignore the massive gap in the report.

    Jaws.




    Anyway, four undocumented hours later, it was back to Islands of Adventure to see Harry Potter at night, which was every bit as cool as I thought it would look.

    Sun setting on Hogwarts.








    Magical night shots of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.
















    Bonus IOA night shots.
    Marvel Superhero Island.




    Lost Continent.




    After taking in the whimsy of Harry Potter at night, it was over to cap a very long day with some Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.




    We barely made it through one house-Legendary Truth, and a few scarezones before we packed it in, exhausted and still jet-lagged. We would have to wait for Universal day two to get more Hauntin' in.

    Next day was our one day at Magic Kingdom. Still to come. . .
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  4. #4

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmay View Post
    the regular standby queue
    It always amazes me how many Disneyheads make this mistake.

  5. #5

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    i want to see the rest of your report! woot woot!

  6. #6

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    Great photos! WW really does seem to be a tour de force from Universal...with the kind of wow factor once expected from Disney. Sadly the ride opened just before I left Florida and I was too busy to visit then...so it will likely be a few years before I can try it out. Hoping CarsLand and a trip to Tokyo are adequate consolation till then
    Down with the Hat


  7. #7

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    Huzzah! I made the venerable micechat roundup!

    As for day two, I debated on the merits, site acceptability, etc. of including my Magic Kingdom and Typhoon Lagoon (day 5) reports in the Universal section, but this is still overall a Universal Orlando trip report, so I think I can squeak it through.

    And for those looking for more Potter pics, Day four is loaded with 'em too.

    Magic Kingdom-
    We slept in this day, a Monday (which Disney planning sites will unanimously tell you is the worst day to go to the Magic Kingdom) because we knew we were going to be there until at least 9 PM anyway for the Wishes fireworks.

    The lines, as generally expected, were not as short as I'd prefer them to be, but then I generally prefer lines to be non-existent so there's often little helping that. As usual, lots of Brits in attendance. I believe they are on staggered Autumn breaks back home, and a lot of them are no doubt flocking to the area to see the home town phenomena Potter finally get his own themepark attraction(s). I love the British, simply hearing them speak is way more enjoyment for me than it probably should be, and you can't swing a dead cat anywhere in Orlando without hitting a British family. They're polite and reserved, generally, and seem to have a better mindset about enjoying their holiday rather than being stressed out and angry about everything, every lack of service, perceived or real, that occurs like so many vacationing Americans too.

    But I digress, and woefully so.

    Obligatory Main Street Station pumpkin shot.


    Obligatory Main Street Castle shot.


    Assorted Halloween decorations.






    Partners.


    My favorite dark ride of all time, now challenged for the mantle by Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:




    And in its more natural, and seasonally appropriate, state: at night.




    As an aside here, I'd like to point out how great it is at the Magic Kingdom that you can still ride the originally themed Haunted Mansion during the Halloween season. While I like Nightmare Before Christmas, it's always somehow felt more Christmas than Halloween to me. I'd also like to point out how nice it is that at the Orlando Mansion, the ghost host is free to utter his lines without every rider in the room joining along.

    Random bit of theming from the Jungle Cruise.

    While riding the Cruise, I got arguably the best Skipper I've ever had. He ws funny, appeared to be improvising at times, veered far off the official script and generally just had a great presentation of the show. I was going to compliment him to guest services at the end of the day but forgot his name. Hopefully next time.

    Everything in themeparks looks better at night (at least to me).


    Not enough pics of the backside of the castle, its so much more detailed back there.


    The real highlight of this section of the report is going to be for Pirates of the Caribbean flash picture fetishists. I don't normally use flash pictures, but after 8 PM, while nearly every paying visitor in the parks was clogging Main Street and the hub to secure a viewing spot for the fireworks, not only did we walk on Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain all within a space of 15 minutes, but we were given our own boat on Pirates, and no one was on the ride within three boats in front or behind us. So I flashed away, content to just ruin the show for myself and no one else.

    How many decades have these guys been at it? SOMEBODY MAKE A MOVE!!


























    The beauty of Pirates is that it's so well and thoroughly themed that even with flash on it looks great. Most dark rides look terrible when pictured in high light, because they depend heavily on the dark to hide blank walls, ride systems/tracks, backstage areas or rely on effective lighting to set a mood.

    Say what you will about Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, and there is plenty of constructive criticism to make about it, but it looks amazing at night, the best in the Disney parks empire.


    Wishes/castle at night.


















    A last, night lighted view on the way out, capping off a swell day at the 'ole Magic Kingdom.


    Next day, no parks! Mini golf, the Orlando way.
    Last edited by jimmay; 10-27-2010 at 09:27 AM.
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  8. #8

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    So, I don't care how lame it is, how childish or unsophisticated, I love mini golf. I always have. Maybe someday, I'm 30 now, but maybe someday I'll mature to normal golf like is expected of adult males, but for now I'll stick with themed mini golf, thank you very much.

    Orlando has three 'brands' of mini golf with multiple locations for each franchise. Congo River mini golf is themed to Africa, with a crashed plane, appropriate vegetation and 'explorery' elements around the course, Hawaiian rumble golf is themed more tropically, with a volcano the central thematic element (all of them have a central hill in the middle with waterfalls cascading from it and tunnels running through it, it appears to be the central design accepted in the industry), and Pirates Cove Adventure Golf, my personal favorite, themed to what else, pirates.

    They're cheap, take no more than hour or two out of a busy holidaying schedule, and are a nice relaxing break from the parks.

    Pirates Cove.


    Appropriately, I accompanied every mulligan ball with a cry of 'Yarrrr!'


















    There are wee lizards all over Florida. Skittish little rascals.


    'Yarrrr!'


    This is Congo River mini golf:




    We didn't do Hawaiian Rumble golf, the reviews on tripadvisor are not kind, and its the most expensive of the big three mini golf providers, but of the two, I give props to Pirates Cove. They were the original of the three, and in addition to being well-themed, they have a few simple animatronic figures as show-pieces. Congo River isn't a bad experience either, however, and they boast their own draws-live alligators that can be fed for a price (2$) and a clever scavenger hunt to find 'hidden' elements on the course for a prize at the end (usually a discount on another round of golf, thereby encouraging people to stay and play another round). Pretty smart, really.

    We saw some movies on day two as well. I know a lot of people frown on this, applying the idea that "I can see movies at home, I'm not wasting my vacation on them." But time off for me is time off, whether in Orlando or home in cold and windyville. And if I have time off and want to enjoy it, why not spend it doing things I like?

    Day Four-back to Universal, Harry Potter, and Halloween Horror Nights. . .coming soon.
    Last edited by jimmay; 10-27-2010 at 09:30 AM.
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  9. #9

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    This is a very entertaining TR! I would so have gone mini-golfing too. Those courses look really nice.
    Sig by Poisonedapples!

  10. #10

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    Thanks for the compliments, guys. Day four and five are still coming. I'd prefer to get it over on the second page so simply pulling it up doesn't crash people's computers, so feel free to post randomly for the next five posts.
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  11. #11

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    well i will comment then! lol

  12. #12

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    In 4. . .
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  13. #13

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    3. . . .
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  14. #14

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    2. . .
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

  15. #15

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    Re: Jimmay's hastily cobbled Universal Orlando, WWoHP, and HHN trip report!

    1. . .
    Forget 'Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln,' Samantha Brown is Disney's most sophisticated animatronic.
    ________________________________________
    Disney/theme park Park Trips:
    Disneyland Anaheim: 1983, 1987, 1994, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012
    Walt Disney World: 1997, 2007, 2010
    Tokyo Disneyland: 2009, 2012
    Disneyland Paris: 2010
    Hong Kong Disneyland: 2012
    Universal Orlando: 2007, 2010 (twice!)
    Efteling:2011
    Lotte World: 2012

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