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  1. 13th June 2023 (Universal Studios Florida) Today, we did the other park at Universal Orlando that we didn’t do yesterday; Universal Studios Florida! My grandparents didn’t join us today, but those of us who did go were excited to get back into the park and ride a combination of previous classics like Revenge of the Mummy and new attractions like Fast & Furious: Supercharged! As with yesterday, we left our villa at just gone 8am and arrived at Universal Orlando at around 9:15am: After walking through CityWalk and entering Universal Studios Florida, we got into the park itself at around 9:30am: After entering the park, we noticed that a certain major coaster was on only a 10 minute queue, so my sister and I headed over to ride… Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was on only a 10 minute advertised queue time, which seemed almost unheard of based on our previous experiences at Universal, so my sister and I decided to give it a go. As promised, the queue was very short indeed, and we were on the ride within 10-15 minutes or so. I was interested to get back on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, as I’d always remembered enjoying it to varying degrees on previous visits. It provided the first time I ever remember experiencing airtime on a coaster when I first rode it back in 2014, so the novelty of the airtime, height and lap bars made me think it was the best thing since sliced bread. I liked it a bit less in 2016, but it was still a ride I thoroughly enjoyed and was pretty fond of compared to most. But how have 7 years of additional coaster experiences treated it? Well, I’m afraid to say that riding more coasters has massively lowered it in my estimations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got a relatively decent layout, with 1 or 2 nice bits of airtime, but there was less airtime than I’d remembered, and it was a lot rougher and more uncomfortable than I’d remembered. The ride jolted and bashed us about considerably throughout, and I almost felt like I was getting punched in the stomach entering and exiting the various brake runs. Overall, I’m sorry to say that Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was a bit of a disappointment for me; it’s got a fair layout, but it was a bit too rough and uncomfortable for me (and my sister seemed to agree), and even as someone who’s done under 100 coasters, it just feels somewhat outclassed in the height/airtime/lap bars genre by numerous other rides I’ve done including Mako, Silver Star, and VelociCoaster. I know that sounds a bit petty and negative, so I apologise for that, but that’s how I felt: After Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, we met back up with my parents and noticed that a new ride we hadn’t done was on a short queue, so we headed towards… Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Race through New York had only a 5 minute advertised queue, so we decided to have a go on it. The queue ultimately ended up taking a lot longer than advertised, with us instead waiting around 30 minutes. Most of that was in the living room-type bit after the actual queue, though, so I guess it might not technically count as part of the wait. We were intrigued to ride Race through New York, as it was a new ride that we’d never done before. But how was it? Well, I’d heard starkly negative reviews for this attraction before coming, and I must say that I don’t think it quite deserves the level of vitriol often directed towards it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the greatest ride ever built, and it’s pretty far down the list of draws within Universal Orlando for me, but I thought it was a perfectly fine simulator in isolation. Admittedly, there could have been a bit more going on in terms of smellpods, effects and such, but for what it was, I thought it was all right. It was nothing particularly groundbreaking, but it was perfectly fine for what it was, in my view: After Race through New York, we headed just down the street to what is a slightly more noteworthy draw of the park (in my view)… Revenge of the Mummy Revenge of the Mummy was on a 25 minute advertised queue, so we decided to take a ride. We were initially concerned about the queue taking far longer than 25 minutes, as it nearly filled the queue line and looked far longer than we’d ever queued for Revenge of the Mummy before, but it in fact took only 15 minutes; as with many rides at Universal, the queue was constantly moving at a rate of knots, and the operations were absolutely top-notch! Based on yesterday and today, I honestly reckon Universal Orlando is right up there with Europa Park for operational efficiency and queue moving speed, of the parks I’ve done! But how was Revenge of the Mummy? Well, I’d remembered it being a decent ride 7 years ago, but if anything, it was even better than I’d remembered; this thing is absolutely awesome! There are 2 really decent pops of airtime, the ride carries great speed throughout, it has some really fun twists and turns, and overall, the coaster itself was great fun! Not to mention that the dark ride experience with the theming and special effects was absolutely top-notch; it’s a wonderful overall experience, and the fire in particular is absolutely immense, with Revenge of the Mummy’s use of fire easily being my favourite of any attraction I’ve ever seen use fire! Overall, I thought Revenge of the Mummy was a fantastic ride; it’s not quite as good as the new IOA duo from the previous day, but it’s definitely solidly entered the 9/10 tier for me: After Revenge of the Mummy, we initially headed towards Diagon Alley to ride Gringotts. However, the ride was showing as “Delayed”, as was Fast & Furious: Supercharged, so we instead headed to ride… Transformers: The Ride Transformers was showing as having a 25 minute queue, so we decided to have a go on it. The queue ended up taking closer to 45-50 minutes, so it was somewhat understated. But how was the ride? Well, I have to say that I thought it was absolutely awesome! The ride was fast-paced, dynamic and full of action, with excellent 3D and loads of brilliant effects, and there was some nice physical scenery too! These Oceaneering 4D dark rides are almost invariably top-notch, from my experience, and I’m looking forward to getting back on Spider-Man later in our trip to compare it to Transformers. Overall, I thought Transformers was an absolutely fantastic dark ride, personally: After Transformers, we sat down briefly for a snack and some respite from the sun. I initially considered riding The Simpsons Ride alone, but I discovered that there was no Single Rider Queue and the standby line was 60 minutes, so I decided against it for the time being. However, we noticed that a ride we’d been pursuing earlier was back open on a relatively short queue time… Fast & Furious: Supercharged Fast & Furious was on an advertised 15 minute queue, so me and my dad made a beeline over there. By the time we got there, it was already up to 50 minutes, but as we’d gone all the way over there, we decided to go for it anyway. We ultimately ended up waiting about 45 minutes, so the posted wait time was pretty accurate. But how was the ride? Well, I was interested to see how it compared to Kong, a similar ride system which had massively exceeded expectations and been a firm favourite for all of us yesterday, and I have to say that it was notably inferior to Kong, in my view. I thought that the ride being in 2D took something away from it compared to Kong, and it just didn’t feel quite as substantial and impressive for me. I did feel that while the movement alongside the big screen itself was clever and surprisingly convincing, and the physical theming was decent in the places where it was present, the fact that the ride only really had the one big screen meant that it wasn’t quite as impressive for me, and I must admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed by the barrage of noisy air cannons at times. With that being said, I had similar thoughts on F&F to my thoughts on Fallon in that while it’s far from the greatest ride ever built, I thought Fast & Furious was all right in isolation, and not quite deserving of the sheer degree of vitriol it often receives. Overall, then, Fast & Furious was OK, albeit not anything spectacular; on a side note, I should also add that I honestly got wetter on F&F than I have on some water rides, with a surprising amount of unexpected water sprays being present: After Fast & Furious, we met back up with my mum and sister and decided to go for a walk around Diagon Alley. Gringotts was still closed, but we just decided to walk around the area and take in the sights for a bit. After that, we decided to go for something a little less simulator-based… Men in Black: Alien Attack Men in Black was on only a 20 minute advertised queue time, so we decided to give it a try. As promised, the queue was not overly long, and we quite quickly reached the pre-show. One interesting thing to note is that unlike other dark rides at Universal, loose articles were not allowed on this one, which I was a bit confused by before getting on. But how was the ride? Well, I was interested to ride it, as I didn’t really remember an awful lot about it from previous trips, and I have to say that I thought it was brilliant! There was great physical scenery, with loads of awesome little details present, the interactivity worked really well, and the spinning added a fun (albeit slightly nauseating) touch! Overall, Men in Black was a great ride; I’d say that it’s easily my favourite interactive dark ride I’ve done: After Men in Black, I headed alone to ride a previous guilty pleasure of mine… The Simpsons Ride The Simpsons Ride was on an advertised 25 minute queue time, so I decided to take a ride. I went alone onto this one, as none of the rest of my family liked the ride previously, and the queue was slightly overstated, taking 15-20 minutes in reality. But how was the ride? Well, I am a Simpsons fan, and the gags and script delivered as they always did, but I must admit that the ride system itself was less fun than I’d remembered, with some very disorientating motions and some pretty jerky moments; it was probably the most intense simulator of the day in terms of the nausea of the ride motions, and I did come off it feeling a tad worse for wear. Overall, then, while the ride film and gags in the queue were as fun as ever, the inherent intensity of the ride system did make The Simpsons Ride somewhat less enjoyable than it used to be for me: After The Simpsons Ride, it was 3:15pm and my family were feeling pretty tired, so we decided to head home for the day: So, that wraps up our day at Universal Studios Florida! It was a great day; I really enjoyed getting back on some old favourites as well as some new attractions, and it was overall really nice to get back to a really great park! I’ve heard quite a bit of negativity surrounding Universal Studios Florida as of late, but I have to say that I absolutely loved the park and still thought that it was brilliant! I have to say that the theming of the park was far better than I’d remembered, with loads of little details and things to look at, and it’s a very nice park to just exist in, in my view, with a nice, relaxed atmosphere. My family agreed, and had possibly more favourable views on it than I did; they seemed to prefer it to Islands of Adventure as an overall park. Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed today’s report! Tomorrow, we’re headed for our first ever visit to Universal’s Volcano Bay!
  2. 10th June 2023 (Travel) Hi guys. Today was a very exciting day; the start of my 2023 Florida trip! This trip is my first time heading to Florida in 4 years, and my first time heading to the parks we’re visiting this time (Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens) in 7 years, as well as the first time my grandparents have joined my family and I in Florida since 2014. There are so many new rides I’m excited to get on; VelociCoaster, Iron Gwazi, Hagrid’s, Pipeline… the list goes on! We’re here until 24th June, so today’s report represents the first in a series of trip reports posted over 14 days. I apologise in advance, as today’s report will likely be a bit dull; today’s report only covers the travel aspect of our trip. Nonetheless, I’ll start the day off from the very beginning! The start of the trip was actually a lot more relaxed than usual. Normally, our Florida trips begin with either an early morning dash to the airport at 4am or a stay at an airport hotel, but due to the combination of our flight being later than usual (3:40pm) and us going from London Heathrow (a little under 2 hours’ drive from us) rather than the usual choices of London Gatwick or Manchester (easily 3 hours’ drive from us on a bad run), we were able to leave Gloucestershire at a more reasonable time of around 9:45am. The drive was fine; there was no traffic, so even with a brief stop at Reading services, we managed to get to London Heathrow’s long stay parking by about 12pm, getting to Terminal 3 itself (the terminal from which our flight departed) by around 12:30pm after the bus ride from the car park: I’d never been to Heathrow before, and I have to say that it’s one of the most fascinating airports I’ve ever been to! I’ve never been to an airport where you can park so close to the runway before, and seeing all of the planes queueing up in the sky to land is quite a sight! I also have to say that check in and security were an awful lot quieter than I’d ever remembered in the past; security in particular was very efficient and took no time at all to go through! After that, we sat in the departure lounge and ate some lunch before heading to our gate and boarding the plane. Our flight was with Virgin Atlantic, and I have to say that it was really good; we’ve always liked Virgin, and today was no exception! While we flew, I did quite a few different things; I watched a few episodes of Ghosts and Young Sheldon, I did a theme park dot-to-dot drawing out of a book that I got given for Christmas (the drawing was of Parc Asterix!), and I spent some time trying to progress on Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which I recently re-downloaded on my iPad after having not played since I was about 14. Sadly, being a learner driver of 1 year has made me no better at it! Another cool thing I should mention about our flight is that we travelled on an Airbus A350-1000, which my dad helped to design! Initially, it looked like our flight was going pretty well in terms of scheduling. The captain’s announced flight time was around 8.5 hours, which was a fair amount shorter than expected, and we were supposed to land at 7:15pm local time. However… things went awry towards the end of the flight. As we got nearer to Orlando, we were informed that there was an unpredicted thunderstorm in the area, meaning that we were unable to land safely. As such, the plane circled above a patch of ocean just off the east coast of Florida for over an hour while we waited for the storm to clear. The repeated circling formed this interesting paperclip-shaped path on the flight map: The prospect of us being diverted to Tampa was heavily discussed, which would have really put a spanner in the works… thankfully, the storm eventually subsided and we landed, albeit with a fair amount of turbulence, in Orlando about an hour later than expected. The storm also meant that we were held on the runway for the best part of an hour after landing, so we spent about 10.5 hours on the plane in total and didn’t get off until gone 9pm local time. We then went through immigration and baggage reclaim, which were quicker than usual in fairness, and then we finally exited Orlando International Airport to get our rental car. I must say, seeing the grand foyer of Orlando International Airport was nice after the longer-than-expected flight: After collecting our rental car, we drove for around 50 minutes to our villa in Haines City, arriving there at around 11:30pm local time. After that, we unpacked and settled down for the night. So, that was the first day of our June 2023 Florida trip! I’m sorry that this report was so boring; the next one I write will be far more interesting, because it will be from an actual theme park! Given that they are the parks we have 14-day tickets for, I’d expect it to be one of the two Universal Orlando theme parks. Due to us all feeling pretty tired after our late arrival into Orlando, as well as us still needing to handle things like grocery shopping, I’m not necessarily expecting us to do a theme park tomorrow; if we do go to a park tomorrow, I’ll write about it, but I think our first park visit is more likely to be on Monday. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this report; the next one will come either tomorrow or on Monday and will probably be from one of the two Universal Orlando theme parks!
  3. Mer

    Towers Meet 2017

    As always, it was good to see everyone again and be back at Towers I can't believe the gorgeous weather we had for the whole weekend - I've never had that oop north before! Saturday This was a very chilled day, owing to the hot hot weather Started off with Smiler and Oblivion, before going on Hex Was really impressed by the TLC! The audio in the cinema is nice and loud, perhaps *slightly* too loud BUT it's better than being too quiet, especially when you have people talking over it (I always watch it properly every time). I've said this before, but I still always think of that electricBill YouTube video and expect it to say "Fifteenth Earl of S***e" The Octagon looks sooo good now I loved the dry ice rolling down the steps on the right-hand side! Also it was fun going on someone who's never been on before (Paige)! We then had a lovely walk around the Towers, going up on the roof too. It never fails to amaze me how nice the Towers are and the beautiful views you get from the top After lunch we did Nemesis which, of course, was as great as ever and looks gooooood. We then chilled with some drinks at the Coffee Lounge, caught some sun...then headed to Duel to find it was broken (No staff member out the front but the doors were locked shut). So some of us finished off with Th13teen, where the indoor section was nice and cool! Played some Extraordinary Golf afterwards which was good fun as always, and it's nice to see it's been spruced up. Sunday Another beautiful day! Some of the fountains aren't quite lined up...snotty-nosed frog alert! Started off with some ERT on Nemesis (twice in a row, obvs) then got GalacticAir out the way while the area was still quiet Me, Mike, Peaj and Matt happened to get front row, which was just as well as we rode it without VR! I think that's the most I've enjoyed it as "Air" Next up was Duel I was pleased to see that the lighting changes last year (which made several scenes too bright) have been put back to how they were, or at least improved as it seems nice and dark again It was good to bump into Stretchy afterwards, who joined us on a refreshing ride on Congo. There was quite a delay whilst queueing due to someone jumping in the water (apparently they weren't on the ride but climbed over a fence) Despite the lack of waterfalls, it's still just as "rapidy" so we still got pretty wet, and Ryan got the brunt of the "KFC Mega Wave" in our boat After RMT and lunch we went to Intamin Forest, which was all broken Unfortunately Rita reopened so we jumped on that while the queue was short. Rough as hell but at least it didn't destroy my back this time! Then we did Hex again, went inside the chapel afterwards...even came across some Sanctuary theming Spinball was down so we did X Sector...everything looks so nice with sunshine and blue skies! Then it was time...for Battle Galleons! How could we not in such a heatwave?! In the end, it was just me, Peaj and Matt (Mike chickened out ), with some others at the guns around the ride. Was nice to have a cool down...but then, as we were near the station, the ride came to a stop. Right in front of some water guns Turns out someone in the station had got their hair caught in the handle (ouch!) so first aid had to come and help. I'm not sure how long we were actually stuck there, possibly about 15-20 minutes? Peaj and Matt were in the firing line so got drenched - I was actually disappointed out that nobody aimed at me (twas absolutely boiling being sat in direct sunlight) Or maybe the gun just couldn't turn round far enough Was the most entertaining ride I've had on Battle Galleons though! And that was the end of the meet! Some of us chilled in the Splash Landings bar while waiting for the inevitable queue of cars to die down. Newly painted theming is looking good! It was also Marc's birthday on the Saturday, so we surprised him with a card and cake! So I'll end this report with a photo of said surprised Marc: Thanks for reading! (Oh and if anyone's wondering if I will ever write that Europa trip report from the meet last year...I'm getting there )
  4. Hello, first of all I am Spanish, so sorry for my bad English I'm planning to visit Thorpe park on June, I can go from the 6th of june to the 11th, I don't matter when, but I have read that maybe in june, in week days there are a lot of school trips... is it true? Maybe it's better to go on Sunday, for example? I want to wait the less ques as possible. Thank you very much.
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