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  1. So we get of the Hogwarts express and arrive at Kings cross. It's crazy, literally just like a London station. The posters on the walls, to the bins, the constant train announcements, and they even had buskers!? It's just themeing to a whole new level. We then walked out of Kings Cross to enter Diagon Alley. You turn a corner around a brick wall and then boom. There it is, Diagon alley. Literally one place everyone has there phones out taking constant pictures. So real, just like the movies. Every little detail thought about. And same with the Wizarding world, such an amazing atmosphere, the music is perfect and has live performances. This area seems a lot more immersive with it being smaller, and the fire effect going off ever so often as well is cool. Escape from Gringotts Yes the whole experience starts from the queue with a lot of rides at Universal, but this whole queue is seriously amazing. Whole queue is well themed and has lots of entertainment, including 2 pre-shows! The single rider queue skips all of this out, so make you sure you go through the main queue once to see it all! Onto the actual ride, again, its amazing! Beaten by the original FJ and Spiderman in my opinion, but the quality of the 3D on the ride is amazing. It does have quite a few rollercoaster elements in there as well which is cool. It was my brothers favourite ride ever. Revenge of the mummy Had no idea what to expect for this one. Walking through a very dark and atmospheric queue line. It ended up being one of the rides I rode the most at universal, most re-rideable, so so fun. More of a rollercoaster than a dark ride, it starts as a slow dark ride but soon turns into more of a rollercoaster. Really good theming, and the fire effects are amazing. Loved it <3 No 3D involved. Twister Very very dated, but it still had some pretty cool effects and is pretty interesting. The main part of the ride was over very quick though, did expect it to go on for longer. Good decision for it to go if I'm honest, it is very dated compared to the rest of the park and I'm sure Jimmy Fallon will be a lot lot better. Hollywood rip ride rocket Was really good, such a fun and unique coaster. Did find it slightly rough in some places, but it was nice having just a lapbar because of the freedom and found the seats pretty comfortable. Music made it really unique and it had quite a few near misses. Men in black: Alien attack So men in black was a shooter, competing with only dual and tomb blaster this is my favourite shooter. Again this was all proper theming, no screens involved. The ride system was pretty cool, lots of spinning round which actually had a bit of force to it Just a fun ride, I liked it. Simpsons ride Next up was the Simpsons ride, and yeah, It was alright. It was one of worst rides I did at Universal but that doesn't mean it was bad, it's just it was competing with some amazing rides. It basically lifts you up into like a curved Imax screen and you go on a rollercoaster journey, with 2 pre shows before the ride as well. I would of loved to of ridden it when it was back to the future. The Simpsons building and whole area is amazing, the Simpsons theme gives it such a good atmosphere. It also has buildings you can go in like the Kick-E-Mart or Moe's as well as Simpson meets and greets. E.T Adventure Next up was ET which was an old dark ride with all proper theming, no use of screens. You sit on a bike which is pretty cool which is suspended from the roof (a similar ride system to Peter pan at Disney from what I remember) At the end of the ride is says goodbye to each individual rider, as you give your name before you get on the ride. Whilst it is a good ride, it is dated and is a ride I could be seen used for development (similar to Twister and Disaster.) In between ET and the Simpsons there is a childrens area home to Woody the Woodpecker coaster, a barney show, a curious george play area and another play area. Maybe it's just because it was quiet while we were there but this area was always completely dead, and didn't really have a lot there apart from the coaster. It would be nice to see this area updated similar to Seuss Landing in IOA, or even a major ride put in there. Transformers 3D The moment you walk in the queue for this you know it's a new ride, and know its going to be a good one. Using the same or very similar ride system to Spiderman at IOA, it didn't disappoint. Not a lot to say about it really except it was very good, and that it used a good mix or real theming and screens similar to spiderman. Do prefer the previous 3 dark rides I've mentioned but this was really good. Shrek 4D Pretty good bog standard 4d cinema, very similar to Angry birds. Not a lot to say about it really, but it was good, and pretty funny Terminator 2: 3D Really didn't expect a lot from this, just a 3D cinema but was actually pleasantly surprised, it was very good. After a pretty long pre show (with live actors) we then got rushed in to a massive 3D cinema/ theater which was a mix of live action and 3D and loads of effects. Very impressive Thats pretty much it for Universal, unfortunately we didn't get on Despicable me Minion Mayhem the whole time we were there as it always had a high queue time, wether that was because it has a low throughput or the fact its right next to the entrance I don't know? I really liked Studios, and same with IOA, I loved the whole layout around the lake. I do however prefer IOA with it having my 2 favourite dark rides, better coasters and fun water rides. City walk is such a nice area, and has some nice restaurants as well, although they are pretty pricey It's such a nice way to link the 2 parks as well, it takes less than 5 minutes if you are at one of the entrances. Single rider queues are so so good, normally at least half the wait of the normal line, if not you get on pretty much instantly. A lot of times we got with people in our group as if they can't find a party of 2 quick enough they'll just shove 2 single riders on. Operations on all the rides are seriously faultless. Thought it was worth mentioning that the drink capsules are really worth while here as well. You pay a higher price the first day for the cup but once you have a cup it's only $6 for unlimited refills all day. There are coke freestyle machines literally all round the parks which scan your cups automatically to see if they're active. I've done a review of Busch Gardens Howl O scream if you haven't seen it already, and they will be a Universal Halloween Horror Nights one soon to compare
  2. So it was the first day of our holiday, and waking up stupidly early due to jet lag we arrived at Universal after eating an IHOP. Yum. We got our tickets, and we waited for IOA to open (even though studios opened at 8) not having a clue how busy it was going to be. It opened a bit before 9, and after scanning our fingers we were in. We went straight to the back of the park for the Wizarding World. Seeing the whole area, and Hogwarts for the first time is amazing. Photos, like of most places won't do it justice. So much bigger than I thought it was going to be, looks so much better in person. Not really knowing what to expect for my first proper dark ride (previous favourite being Dual) I was very exited to say the least. Forbidden Journey Was seriously amazing, and in my opinion better than Gringotts. Gringotts may be more thrilling, but as an overall experience Forbidden Journey was my favourite dark. Perfect combination of screens and proper theming, and the ride system is soo cool! Amazed as I came off, I went straight round the single rider queue for another go. Whole area has lots of shops to go in and experiences like live performances. Even if you're not a fan of Harry potter the area is amazing, yes I've seen the movies but I'm really not a fan of harry potter myself, and Forbidden Journey is still my favourite dark ride. The area also has a small Vekoma coaster called Flight of the Hippogriff with insane operations, and then obviously dragon challenge. Dragon Challenge This ride literally never had a queue, the only queue was annoyingly for the metal detectors. If you didn't know, you have to go through metal detectors for both Dragon Challenge and Hollywood rip ride rocket, and I'm assuming Hulk as well which wasn't open at the time. This is so that no personal belongings such as phones can be taken in the queue line. After a really long indoor queue, you then get to the point where you choose Chinese Fireball or Hungarian Horntail (easier to just say Fire and ice still ) They are both really good coasters actually, a lot better than I thought they were going to be! I do wish I rode them when they dueled. The entrance looked amazing back when it was dueling dragon! I personally preferred the Fireball however they were very similar! Re-ride queue takes you straight to the front of the building again, so you don't have to queue to get through the metal detectors again. Great idea. Jurassic park So Jurassic park was next, a really really good experience, especially the inside section and drop. So well themed, and the animatronics are amazing. It was however a really short experience and only had the 1 drop, a lot shorter than I was expecting it to be, especially the inside section. It was more outside than inside. Ripsaw falls Getting all the water rides done at once, ripsaw falls was next, the best looking log flume I've ever seen by far It didn't disappoint. Theming was great, and had quite a few good drops. Lap bars did make it uncomfortable, and I believe it didn't have them when it first opened? Guess they're there for a reason. Theming in this whole toon area is really nice, and the music is cool. Popeye By far the best rapids I've ever done. The theming is amazing, has a themed troff the whole way round. All the water effects make it so so good because of the randomness, lots high speed points and some good drops. I've heard so many times its the worlds wettest rapids, and after 4 re-rides, enough was enough. Still took a few hours to dry off in the heat. Spiderman That facade Spiderman is an awesome ride, mainly screens but lots of scenery which adds to it. Lots of effects including fire, the music is perfect, one of my favourites. The ride system is really cool as well, and theres one point where it spins round loads which is fun. Defiantly my 2nd favourite dark ride I've ever done. Say this about every area but he whole area is really nice, but it was such a shame hulk was closed and the ride was boarded off. Most of hulk was still there when I was there, but as I was there it was getting taken down. Dr doom fearfall 2 S&S towers next to each other. Was really looking forward to this as I love drop towers and had never done a launching one before. I really enjoyed it, and the airtime once you get to the top is amazing. Single rider worked really well on this with it being up the exit, so no one really knows about it Seaus Landing A really really nice kids area, defiantly the the nicest I've ever seen. Did a few of the rides including the cat in the hat dark ride which was nice. It then of course had the Hogwarts express which takes you to Studios, such a fantastic idea and is really handy. Not once did we spend the whole day in one of the parks, so this is great to take you from each one, when it doesn't have a queue. Overall I loved IOA, its seriously such a beautiful park with such a good atmosphere. The whole park is superbly themed and has some great soundtracks just walking around the park. It's home to my 2 favourite dark rides, 3 great water rides and good coasters. The only downside in my opinion was the lack of rides, it really doesn't take long to get it all done especially during quiet days like when we visited. Was such a shame to see Hulk closed but I'm looking forward to visiting again to ride that and Kong The journey continues at Studios... http://forum.maniahub.com/blog/76/entry-750-universal-studios-orlando-october-2015/
  3. Good Morning all of you wonderful people! It's finally here and I'm very excited to officially announce plans for our First European trip to Disneyland Paris! The date of the event is provisionally set for the Weekend of Saturday 5th - Sunday 6th September 2015! As usual you have the power to change the date. As you can see it's the whole weekend, due to the extent of the trip and likelihood is those driving will be going Friday night! Please take note if you plan to stay with us overnight, it will be your responsibility to book your own rooms/ flights and unfortunately if your under 18 we cannot help you with this! If you were to come under no circumstances will TPM get involved and take responsibility with your stay, and if you did go you would also need written permission from a guardian just for the sake of border control! This trip has been set in mind as an over 18's event. I understand some of you may be disappointed about this but due to the meet being outside the country it complicates matters too much! As this is the largest scale of a meet TPM has ever attempted some advanced planning for those who are interested and want to go will need to take place. I will help you as much as I can with groupings and questions and answers about the trip and I will go into much further detail on this with those who want to go. Depending on your circumstances some may have to pay some money up front to their 'group leader' so things can get booked The Outline of the day/s will be as follows: Meet At the Central plaza outside sleeping beauty's castle on the edge of main street USA at 08:15 am for those who want to make use of magic hours on an annual pass and if not then meet at the same spot at 10:15 am This will give people a chance to sort out their tickets. We will ensure during the day for those who may want to sort out an annual pass that you will get the chance in the day as the rest can watch a show or parade by the castle Please bear in mind we will leave without you if you are late as it’s not fair on time keepers! If by any chance you happen to miss this meet point due to travel arrangements or just plain lateness you can either phone or text so we can arrange to meet you. As members have found out! We will then go and enjoy our day in the Disney Parks. I know not everyone will want to do some of the rides/ shows at Disney. If you decide to not come on please be polite and wait for everyone to come off and chat to other members whilst you are waiting. Or go off and do another attraction as long as you’ll be back after the group has finished riding the attraction. Please respect other people’s wishes who wish to ride certain things that you yourself may not be too keen with. During the day, around half 1, we will stop for a bite to eat where you can go and eat where you like and we will arrange where to meet after everyone has finished eating. (Who knows we might all want to eat the same thing anyway ) After lunch we will group together for the Official Group Photo for the day and continue going round the park. Around 7-8 we will have a quick snack somewhere to keep us going and then continue riding the attractions people want to do until the park closes. . At 10pm We will watch Disney Dreams. After this you may head back to your hotels or join me by heading out for a bit of nightlife in the Disney village until 1am. The Sunday we will meet at the same time and place as the Saturday but instead at 10:15 we will meet by the tower of terror in the studios park and basically continue what we were doing Saturday until people need to start leaving to make their flights or crossings. I will be handing out my phone number for everyone who is attending the meet that day, should there be any problems. We aim to stay together as a group for the day, going from one activity to the next, enjoying getting to know people you share very similar interests with, the idea is to just go with the flow and enjoy the day with some awesome people. There will be many photo’s in the day being taken and the possibility of a few video clips. Whilst we cannot force you to stay with the group, it is the general purpose of these meets! You will have my number (and some of the senior teams) if you become split so by all means use it. The meets are a fantastic laugh and everyone is invited, even if you have never posted before or been to any kind of meet at all. If it's your first meet, I understand it can be nerve breaking - but we were all there at one point so know how it feels, please don't let this stop you from attending - Once there you'll be part of the group in no time! Just look at the past trips this year! I will soon be posting up a separate post on possible accommodation locations which you can use to help you decide where to sleep (If your staying for the night.) If however you know where your going already by all means book it up when we confirm the dates this time next week. I know for example I will be staying at an apart hotel by val'd'europe. Once again, everyone will have my phone number so please use it on the day If anyone has any issues or concerns or even nervous about coming, feel free to post here, or PM myself and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you feel like my response is taking too long another member of the team will be more than happy to help. We will all try and help you out as much as we can. Please PM me or post here to say if you’re attending. If you are bringing a mate along with you, please also include who they are so they are not known as ‘Plus 1.’ The events with TPM have been fantastic this year and this one will be no different! Starring (10) Iannem J.S217 Matt Creek Mer Mr. Fish Peaj Rocket Ryan Smidget StevenVig
  4. Despite our slightly stumbly trip back from Mcdonalds, we made it back to the hotel in where Part 3 of the trip shall now entail. After a waking alarm at 7am, packing our bags and everything, we headed back to Disney, this time using Peajy Taxis instead of the train. During the 2nd day at the park, we gain a sixth person to our party, Sam [Lightyear93] as one of my sixth form mates was able to join us for the day [who is currently doing a placement in Paris]. He too has a Disney Pass. After failing to get my lovely chocolate croissant due an arrogant Frenchman in front at Mainstreet, I sadly had to settle for a normal bog standard one [though Alex kindly let me have a bite of his] where our first ride of the day would be Pinoccio's Daring Voyage. And what a loverly little dark ride it was. I've always had a soft spot for the Disney film [for some reason]. 7/10 better than the random knock off at Tivoli World. After giving a little whistle while we worked our way in Fantasy Land, we did the Snow White ride which was nearby. This was another exciting little dark ride which I really enjoyed and definitely had a lot more details and effects than what I had watched on POVs from ages ago and was very enjoyable, 7.5/10. I preffered the Snow White ride to the Pinoccio one, because I think it told the film's story just a little better and showed us more key scenes, eventhough the latter is a little higher on my list of favourite Disney films. In terms of all fantasy land dark ride, I would put Snow White first, with Pinoccio closely following second with Peter Pan third and it's A Small World unsurprisingly being fourth. We will take in a few shots of the Castle [because you can never see too much of the castle], before we check in to somewhere much different. We had problems with our hotel earlier one so were directed to this place which definitely looks a grand giant place. This Place sure looks like it hasn't been worked on for quite a while. It was moments later we were sent to the hotel's library where we waited for our rooms to be ready, just as the television suddenly turned on and told us about a strange incident that took place over 70 years, before we got sent to the service lift where we entered and left the Twilight zone. Twillight Tower of Terror is an absolutely fantastic attraction, highly immersive from beginning to end, starting with the creepy worn hotel foyer with the very much in character bell hoppers, the mysteriously themed library room, the eiry boiler plus the ride itself which is packed with some amazing scenes and effects on top of a drop sequence that upstages even Detonator, the weightless you feel is just amazing. I almost lost my Goofy hat my second go too Definitely the best ride at the resort, best drop tower I've done and my favourite dark ride which shoots straight up to number 1 on my dark ride top 10, where the result of the new credits of high quality dark rides on this trip have placed Hex down to 3rd. 11/10 Now on to an even bigger opinion splitter than Saw The Ride, Animagique. Alex hates this, but Peaj loves this, but what would I reckon to it? The show was alright. It was fun, it was cheesy and featured some good old fashion Disney fun with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and a string of other characters from Disney classics wrapped up in song and dance. It was very interesting how they did all the backdrops and transitions during the show and you can't fault a show that features Mickey in it. 6/10 I would much rather watch this on repeat all day than riding it's a Small World. During our time, we managed to experience Lights Motors Action, which was an absolutely amazing packed action show full of impressive stunts, effects and car chases featuring quite a few Vauxhal Astra cars [Adam's after us]. 7/10 Then It was Cinemagique which was an absolutely magical show, featuring the story of a man who answers his phone during the movie and is then sucked in to a reel of films from the ages including early black and white films, westerns and even Star Wars. There's also a Damsel in distress throughout the action too where both end up together through film. There's even a few touchy moments too including the end of Toy Story 3. 8/10 Next up was Rock N Roller Coaster, a ride which for me was definitely the most coherant to my occupation due to it's theme on being a music studio. Despite it's split opinions on this rides [some love it, others hate it], I really enjoyed this, from the music studio theme to the launch which felt similar to Rita's but far more pleasant. I love the light sequences and inversions on top of the synced audio throughout the ride which feels like a superior and thrilling equivalent to X at Thorpe [where similar statements about both ride's similarities have been made]. This was [and still is] Sam's favourite Disney ride which is no surprise really, however he wasn't too happy to learn that this ride in the future is set to be re themed in to A spider man coaster, when this will happen I don't know but reckon 2018 once the 25 anniversary celebrations start to wear off and focus comes back to improving the park's ride line-up. From a Rock Tour to a Tour Of Rocks, as we went on the Studio Tram Tour ride. It was an ok ride, nothing special really, very mediocre if I'm honest. The canyon effects with the truck was interesting and the London scenes were an ok distraction, but otherwise the ride was mostly forgetable, 3/10. We also did Armageddon later on. The actual main section of the attraction was pretty impressive, where youre very much in the centre of a working film set featuring loads of effects such as things from the side and ceiling moving and falling off plus several moments of fire interactions so close, you almost believe you're going to burn for the slightest of milliseconds. The pre show however ruined this for me as it was so boring and incoherent and one of the few moments in the day I felt underwjelmed. 4/10 [the preshow is that bad]. After this ride we went off to Planet Hollywood as we were all getting really hungry [the tour having not helped] to eat with the stars. Despite containg some pretty decent movie related theming inside, I was a little concerned at how this restaurant would turn out having read some negative reviews on there recently. However luckilly we had a very good meal, the food was much better than expected although in some cases a little smaller than expected, the burger I had there was excellent. The guy serving us was very friendly and a right laugh, asking if all of us were having a lads holiday thing or something and quesitoning why we went Disney, before we explained why, such a fun restaurant. After this, it was time to parade out of the planetarium structure back in to Disneyland Park in time to catch the daily parade [after Peaj did some pintrading]. I didn't take as many pictures as I had originally hoped [probably because I was filming and the weather was pretty miserable at this moment in time].. Absolutely loved the parade, it's a staple activity for any trip to Disney long or short and is such a great sight seeing all the characters from Pinoccio to Frozen and Disney mascots with all the performers looking so happy and enthusiastic [and as one would hope]. I also love the soundtrack too. After this, we paraded back to the Studios and did Crush's Coaster which proved to be the longest wait of the ride at 60 minutes which in the end we just went for [high popularity+ Low Throughput= Forest Fire]. The first queuing section of the ride is a fairly dull cattlepen [least it;s undercover and features the odd bit of theming], but the indoors bit of the queue is much better due to the range of extensive theming and the Seagulls with their famous catchphrase. Whilst Cattlepen's, Low throughputs and long waits don't often indicate great rides, this was actually fantastic. I loved the interactive elements in the ride and spinning of the car on top of the numerous twists and turns throughout the circuit. This is probably my favourite spinning coaster now [topping even fury just], probably helped that Finding Nemo is another film I strongly enjoy. 9/10 [if it weren't for the queue and throughput I might have given it 10]. From one PIxar land to another, we headed to Pixar play land to get a ride on RC Racer. Sam poses with Buzz and Buzz Lightyear, The Rc Racer queue line is very well themed, it's a lot like a giant Scalextric track and builds up the ride quite well. Until you reach the indoor cattlepen, least it's still themed though. Rc Racer was a ride I really enjoyed, I loved the ride when it got to the high points during the ride as it offered a bit of air time each moment it did this, shame it was a bit on the short side, 7/10. We didnt do the parachute drop or slinky dog due to lack of time so moved on to something new. [imghttps://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xtf1/v/t1.0-9/11102662_948259215224775_6943918262360886461_n.jpg?oh=7685b2d40106df07c57ba166da4b4a85&oe=55DE2122&__gda__=1440660089_e78f3cdac430b41c58eece2a8f04b6d0[/img] Off to experience the park's latest addition Ratatouille, when approaching the ride you the attraction's own dedicated courtyard which features beautifully themed facade's to the ride and parisian style paving on top of a very picturesque centrepiece fountain. The queueline like most studios rides starts off rather cattle penny but for some reason feels more bearable queuing than most, maybe due to the atmospheric music, posters and bits of theming that are present in the surrounding areas, but then indoors again it becomes much more interesting due to the heavily themed Parisian rooftop style scenery and the interactive Gusteu who comes to life every few minutes in the queue. Ratatouiee for me is a very good dark. Whilst it doesn't quite top Tower & Pirates for me, it is overall a very fun interactive with lots of different features which work to a degree where it makes you feel like you're completely in the action from the kitchen chase to the exploding champagne bottle. 9/10 We entered the shop which like most at Disney is heavily themed plus featuring plenty of merchandise along the way too.It was also here Alex learned his disappointment on how he could've bought his Ratatouille hat for a cheaper price. The Studios Park had now closed for the day and from this moment onwards, I slowly got more of a feeling that the end was nearing, my magical trip to Disney was much nearer to the end. After this we went back to the main park and did another ride on Buzz Lightyear, Sam beat by quite a margin and Peaj dressed as Buzz with the mask and startled quite a few people in the ride's exit. Then we did it's a small world again [the horror] and in the process we had just missed our last chance at getting rides on Casey Jr & The Canal Boats as it was no 8pm. As we planned to leave the park around 9pm [before the crowds rounded up for another viewing of Dreams], we had around just an hour left to experience the magic of Disney and so it was decided we would experience two park staples once more, Pirates & Big Thunder. Pirates was amazing as ever [despite getting the slight stacking thing towards the end again] whilst despite appearing to have capacity problems as just one station was being used, Big Thunder was an excellent end to the trip featuring it's amazing layout in the twilight. Once our ride one Big Thunder was up, so was the Disney magic as it was time to prepare for the long journey back home. After slowly walking through the now lit streets of Main street for the last time this trip, Tom & I shopped around for merchandise in World Of Disney whilst Peaj and the others got food from the earl to eat just before our trip home. The World Of Disney shop is a massive place with loads of merchandise where I spent a good 90 euro or so on things to buy. One thing I have realised since going to Disney is unlike the uk parks, the big gift shops don't sell all the park merchandise so sadly I'll have to get a tower of terror and Rock N roller t-shirt on another visit. And once out of the shop, I said farewells to Sam who left just before us to get a train back to Paris and then reunited with Peaj & co. to eat my last Disney meal, an Earl Of Sandwich which was absolutely delicious and prepped me well for the long journey back. After final loo breaks and filling petrol up at the park's petrol station, we all headed off in the car watching Disneyland Paris slowly vanish and disappear in to the darkness with the smallest of tear in my eyes as the magic was over and we drove back to Calais ready to return to the real world. How Does Disneyland Paris Compare to everything in the UK so far? The park is amazing, it features heavy immersive theming, a great selection of rides, lots of shows and entertainment and decent park hours. Whilst the park has it's fair share of faults, the main park is in the middle of a parkwide refurbishment with scaffolding and closed attractions everywhere and the Studios seems to be an extreme of rides that are excellent such as Tower or poor such as Trams & Armageddon, I hate to admit it but the place wipes the floor with most of the uk offering. The overall magic of disney full of characters, theming and interaction verses the secondary full of rundown, mediocre themed and over kill of cattlepens can't be compared to what's just over the english channel.Then again, Disney has a much bigger budget for about everything, has the privilege of owning much more land and having much less hassling building issues such as landscape and noise pollution due to it's area. The uk themeparks however still win for me in the following categories though: Park Wifi Park Toilets They're easier to get to [mostly] So until my hopeful return here in September, I say Goodbye and head in to the sunlight of the real world once more.
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