Everyone else left today so now it’s just Marie, my mother, brother, and I for the next two days. We decided we wanted to do something different today so we headed over to Universal Studios, arriving at around 10:15. In the past we’ve had mixed success getting a guest assistance pass, but they have a very reasonable system in place right now. If you require assistance they will provide you with a pass that will allow you to use the Express Lane if the wait is under 30 minutes, or provide you with a time to return if the wait is over 30 minutes. We used this to help with my autistic brother’s patience with what were moderate to heavy crowds at the park.
Some thoughts on the attractions that we visited (none of these were new to me, but I’m not sure I’ve really voiced my opinions of Universal Studios attractions in this format). This is also the order we did the attractions:
Shrek 4-D: To me, the pre-show and theming are better than the main show. The show is set up during the pre-show that we are going to be tortured, but then the show begins and it becomes another attempt to rescue Fiona. I also think the moving seats are somewhat unnecessary.
Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit: This is a fun coaster, I just don’t recommend pounding a 20 ounce soda prior to riding. The audio track I chose was Evanescence – Bring me to Life and what’s weird is that they don’t have the music cut to fit the ride time, it just ends abruptly. The gimmick with this ride is the ride video. We watched our videos after the ride and they were rather amusing.
Revenge of the Mummy: I felt my mother should experience this for the theming. Her coaster limit is typically Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and she wasn’t exactly thrilled with us when we had her ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Expedition Everest. She went on The Mummy and felt no ill effects. Her one comment was that it was probably too short. For those of you that are familiar with the ride it’s broken down into a few parts. It starts as a dark ride, then it has the longest high speed coaster section, then another brief dark ride element before a shorter coaster section. I pointedly told her that if that final coaster section was longer, she probably wouldn’t feel comfortable riding it and she agreed. Having said that, I would like a bit more thrills in the attraction, but in reality it’s more dark ride than coaster.
Disaster: This is my favorite attraction in the park. It really helps when you have a good “Lonnie”. I’ve seen this 3 times now and I think today’s Lonnie was the best we’ve had yet. The final ride scene (more or less heldover from the ride’s predecessor, Earthquake) is almost inconsequential as the best parts feature the amazing effect of Christopher Walken/Frank Kinkade interacting with the stage props and Lonnie as well as the fast paced banter between Frank Kinkade, Lonnie, and the other crew members. The attraction is capped off by the preview video for the Disaster movie that was being filmed, and it has all the form and design of a stereotypical bad action movie. It’s probably the most underrated attraction in all of Central Florida
Jaws: I appreciate the old Space Mountain style tv ads in the queue. The attraction itself is still solid, but may have outlived it’s relevance to today’s audience. The problem is that the surrounding area seems to be integral to the park at this time. To change Jaws would be changing a much larger section. Having said that, the neighboring theater (formerly home to Fear Factor) is empty so I major expansion/replacement could take up shop in that area of the park.
Men in Black Alien Attack: Of all the shooting games in Florida this one is probably the grandest in scale. I’m more partial to Toy Story Mania, but that’s probably the Disney fan in me. This is a very well done attraction, even if Marie beats me in it every time.
Simpsons The Ride: Another very well done attraction. If I had a complaint it would be that the characters are done with CGI and not the normal hand drawn animation we’re used to on The Simpsons
E.T. Adventure: Another classic but solid attraction, I think E.T. stands up against nearly every Disney dark ride.
Terminator 2: 3D: The special effects in this show are done very well, but Arnold’s poor acting chops are on full display. It has the most special effects of any of the 3D shows in Florida, but I’m not convinced it’s as entertaining as Muppetvision 3D or Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
All in all, I really enjoy Universal Studios but the biggest problem is that the park doesn’t cater to families with young children. It really is for teenagers or young adults. We plan on returning on our next trip (although likely just to Islands of Adventure), but we may not be joined by sister, brother-in-law and nephews for that very reason.
After our day at Universal Studios we headed over to Epcot. We hit up some of the attractions that were missed earlier in the vacation, and had our first meal at the new Cantina in Mexico. The food was decent but the prices were too high. Additionally the service was particularly slow – they need to take some tips from The Lotus Blossom Cafe, they are very effecient at that Counter Service location. I believe this location is owned and operated by the Patina Group instead of Disney which could explain the lack of effeciency, but considering the menu has only 5 entrees (that could easily be condensed down to 3) the food should be ready in a very efficient manor. I’m not sure if things were cooked to order, but that would explain the delays in what was marketed as a “quick service” location.
We capped our day off with Illuminations before hitting up Mouse Gear and heading back to the condo. Tomorrow is our last day and we’ll start it off early with breakfast at Kona Cafe.
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