TR: Universal Orlando 10/7/05
This was to be a really long day. I was going to head to IOA in the
morning alone, and meet with my wife at the Studios, then we'd both go
to HHN. Valet was a must to save some walking at the end of the
night. I hit Guest Services first to get the details about Stay and
Scream. It would have been easier if she had just came out and said
that both parks were part of the peak nights, but I eventually got the
info I needed.
So, off to the best ride on the planet, The Amazing Adventures of
Spider-man. Wow, there's a line out the building. Not good. No
single rider line, not good. Me without Express passes, not good. I
guess they got won't open single rider lines with medium crowds in
hopes to sell more exresses. I decided to skip Spidey for now and
headed to Toon Lagoon. I had a rain coat, since the forecast wasn't
good. I donned it and headed to the best river rapids ride on the
planet, Popeye's Bilge Rat Barges. The nice girl doing expresses,
allowed me to use the express line as a single rider. This line is
set up so express users basically cut into the line near the end, with
no explanation, so you get plenty of bad looks. The ride was great as
usual, and I luckily stayed fairly dry.
At this point, I started to think about the day as a whole. Should I
go all the way back to Dueling Dragons, walk through the huge queue,
and get a few rides, or should I save my feet for later. I chose to
conserve, and stopped at Jurassic Park, which amazingly had a 30
minute wait. I threw in the towel and headed back to the entrance. I
decided to hit Spidey, which ended up having aobut a 20 minute wait.
Great as usual, but I do miss the original super-aggressive version.
I did the short walk to the Studios. First up, a half empty
Terminator preshow. Great show, as usual, but no motorcycle. Is it
gone for good? It looked like the track was missing, but I don't know
After a snack, I decided to go to Shrek. They now have the second
theater, but seem to split the crowd into haves (Express) and
have-nots. So, the theater I was in line for had packed shows. I
can't imagine the Express theater was full. A strange way of doing
things, but I guess paying $200+ a night for a hotel, or $25 extra,
should get you something. I missed a theater by 4 people which really
sucked, and made me realize I'd be late meeting my wife. After the
awesome show, I turned on the phone to my wife wondering where I was.
She was already at the globe, after a short cab ride. I got her and
we headed to the main attraction, the Mummy!!!
***** SOME SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We rode the USH version of the Mummy last October and we both loved
it. And my mother-in-law getting off the ride with a huge wall of
hair sticking straight up in the air was a highlight of the trip. I
knew this version was supposedly much better, so I was REALLY e***d.
I had heard about a fake ending, which really upset me for spoiling
reasons, but always figured that there was no way it would be as
grandiose as to really fool anyone. I was thankfully right, as the
fake ending is very cool, but sure won't fake anyone out.
The queue is better the Hollywoods, and has the convoluted 3 queues as
many at Universal do: single, express, and normal. We got on after
about 10 minutes and into the ride. The initial Imhotep animatron is
freaking incredible. The way he pops out was very impressive. The
best animatronic scene ever. The treasure room was very cool, and the
surprise was great, although they should put some mufflers on the
airlines. The closing wall was very well done, and a neat trick.
The scarab turnaround is the only part seemingly identical to
Hollywood. At this point I thought the rest of the ride was coaster,
WOW was I wrong. The second turnaround with the spirit following you
is another great idea, and the launch was most impressive. I still
can't figures out how the mouth is done. I can't imagine a wall comes
down for the projection at first, and it is too good to be done on
fog. I can only guess it's actually projected on the ceiling behind
the rest of the head, and just done REALLY well. Regardless, it's
very well done. Hell, even the coaster part had better effects. Not
to mention the serious lateral air pop at the top. The Mummy images
were animated with some lasers which I don't recall in Hollywood.
Then came the fake ending. Obviously fake from the beginning, but
still another great Imhotep animatron, some gore, and lots of fire.
The Brandon Fraiser ending really ruined the whole immersion, but
that's minor. This ride is unbelievably well done. Tons of state of
the art effects, a family coaster, and incredible animatrons. It
blows away not only the Hollywood version, but anything Disney has to
offer. And I can't see Everest comparing either.
***** END SPOILERS
We immediately got in line again. Using the single rider line. This
time, the timing was screwed up, and we stalled at every block in the
ride. Thankfully this wasn't our first ride. My wife complained, so
we all got another ride. After a few more, we decided to get our
stuff out of the nifty thumbprint lockers and go to Jimmy Newtron,
which was new to my wife. After feeling really guilty for riding this
being on a kid-free vacation, you know because I've been judged as
such a bad parent by ***agers and childless ***s, we did the
chicken dance and got a few souveniers. It was now time for Halloween
We went through the gate near the Rat Run and tried to figure out how
the hell to get to the mazes. I realize that they are set up for
really big crowds, but they need to rethink their evenings. Folsk
that show up early to beat the crowds should not have to walk through
really long empty queues for no reason. Cold Blind Terror's entrance
was in sight, but I think it was about a half mile walk to actually
get to it. And there sure weren't any signs to help.
It was a bit different this year. You didn't really get an early
entrance with the stay and scream. IOA apparently opened at 5:30, so
the crowds slowly filled up, but weren't bad at first.
We ended up heading in to Where Evil Hides first. You went into the
sound stage, that was an outside set, then went into the old house
setting, nothing really unusual. Surprisingly, you went up real
stairs to the attic area where granny was sitting there reading and
looking at you petting a guy impaled on a nail bed. I'm surprised
they'd put stairs into a dark house. Nothing really stood out about
this maze. One long hall full of open doors, but no scareactors. Oh,
I do recall the guy in the attic on bungees jumping up and down into a
pit. Pretty cool. I was told about half way thorugh that I couldn't
film, even though I don't use a light and have an old camera that does
great in low light. That person apparently radioed ahead about me
because a very ***y woman ran me down outside the maze and told me
no filming. They were pretty hard core about it this year. I'm not
sure why. I tried a few other times. Obviously showing my camera as
we entered. I was stopped at the entrance once, but usually got a
third or so through before one person got pisssy. So, I have a little
footage of each house.
Next, after a long pointless walk, was *** Ruins. A Medieval themed
maze full of monks running around. Again, a fairly generic gothic
maze with nothing very unusual. Don't really remember much about this
We then made the winding walk back to IOA through a weird section full
of vendors selling mediocre food. I had a chicken sandwich that was
sorta grey and bland. Getting to Suess Landing, we turned right to
the anticipated Terror Mines. A great idea, using the heavily themed
Psiedon attraction for a maze. But, they used most of the long queue
as a dark queue. WOW, great idea. I got a hat, with 3 LCDs on it
that were triggered in maze. Of course, the light didn't come on at
first, I don't know if that was on purpose or not, but the whole water
vortex room was pitch dark, wet, and even has some nice knee high
walls placed in it for further chaos. What a shitty start. Finally,
the light came on, and we started our walk through main show room,
that had some fire effects going off behind some curtains, and a few
scareactors. The light varied in the way it worked, and was cool, but
the maze was pretty short and the monsters were generic.
We skipped Cold Blind Terror since it just wasn't worth walking back
to it with the really bad reviews.
There were tons of cool orcs with swords walking around in the fog
there. One guy was hiding in a wall, but never got a good scare. He
was very into his job, which was nice to see.
We bought a jello shot that truly was a shot, and we walked around to
Jurassic Park. I really wanted to ride Fire Dragon, but figured I
couldn't use the exit entrance, so I skipped it. It was getting
crowded anyway, so we headed to Body Collectors. Another maze that
showed that buying Express not only let you skip waits, but skip long
walks too. I mean REALLY long walks.
I had high hopes for this after seeing it at the top of everyone's
lists. It was decent. The creepy guys in suits were neat. I never
watched Buffy, so I missed the connection. This house had some serious
gore. ONe chick was alive, and having here spine removed. A few
other***surgeries. There was a morgue section and lots of body
parts, natch. The ending mirror section was quite disorienting,
especially with the duplicate creepy suit guys working together. I
ultimately had no idea what was real and what was a reflection. VERY
We then headed to The Skool. We had a very long walk, again, totally
skipped with Express. Since we used the Stay and Scream, we figured
the Express would not be worth it. Granted, it was the right choice,
but avoiding the long queue walks would have been nice, but
ultimately, this was the only real ...
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