I went to Universal Studios Florida yesterday since I had two days off from work and a season pass so why not. Spring Breaks are starting for schools so it was pretty busy at the park, but not too crazy for the most part. There were some long lines, but there were plenty of rides without too much of a wait. Plus since I was by myself I got to walk as fast as I want to which is pretty fast. The day started off rough as I waited for over an hour to ride The Hulk, but then I started using the Universal app and hitting up the shorter line rides. Granted this only works well as a strategy for a season pass holder since I'm not trying to hit every ride on every trip I'm just trying to get some rides in. So lets talk about some of the rides that Universal has.
The Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon
This isn't the best ride in the park, but it is kind of the most impressive. The Minions ride and Shrek both do a similar thing, but nowhere near as well. It's six rows of riders and about 15 people across and all on one platform for a 3D ride. The motion in this ride is super smooth and very effective. The fact that they can do that so well with such a big platform is impressive and the ride does a bunch of different stuff. The 3D projections are really good. With the 3D glasses over my actual glasses the effect is kind of hurt, but still really good and people like to buy into the stuff coming at them. It feels like a real thrill ride and is worth the wait. One thing that really helps the wait is the loading system which is color coded and lets you sit down and rest in the “green room” before getting back into line. Good stuff all around and it always had a short line or used virtual queue so I hit it up a bunch of times.
Kong Reign of Skull Island, Fast and Furious
I'm going to group these two together because they both use the same ride system and are similar. But they are also very different in that I think one of them is great and the other is pretty bland. Full disclosure my mom has the opposite view of the rides. I think Kong is awesome. The 3D effects on the screens are there, but not hugely over the top. The story moves well between the screens and the water spray effects are used very well in the second scene. The third scene is where the ride becomes awesome and why my mom doesn't like it. There's a screen on both sides and stuff happening on each side as well, but the main battle can be tracked by following Kong and his fight with the T-Rex effects the car and bumps it around. After a fast paced chase you get knocked off the cliff and the ride makes you feel like it's happening so well. Then the most important part of the ride occurs as you turn the corner and see the Kong animatronic which is impressive as hell. Make sure you take off the glasses to really appreciate the animatronic.
Fast and Furious doesn't use any 3D effects and uses a bunch of screens to tell a story. The opening scene is acted so flatly by Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez and it just kind of drags before you move into the fast paced chase part of the ride. Action happens on both sides with either side getting a different set of actors beating bad guys. It ends with a ramp jump that feels good and that's the end. It's a pretty short ride and doesn't really do a whole lot of anything cool. You don't have to follow the action and the CG parts of the video don't look very good. I will say the line section has two show sections where a cast member interacts with a video which was good both times I've gone through it.
Kong just has more going on and a more solid story its built upon, not to mention better work put in by the actors. And that kills me to say because I'm a big fan of the Fast and Furious movies. The ride just doesn't do much of anything, especially when it uses the same ride system as Kong which does more stuff with it. Especially considering Fast and Furious makes a fuck ton of money.
The Simpsons Ride
This is just a great motion simulator ride. It lampoons theme parks in a fun way that the Simpsons is so good at doing, and it does it while still providing a good ride as well. As an older ride it's rougher than Jimmy Fallon, but with a smaller ride vehicle it does feel more visceral, and the story of the ride lends itself to stuff being more rough as Sideshow Bob is trying to kill you. Beyond just the lampooning of theme parks you do get a good bit of Springfield near the end of the ride going through the town and seeing all the characters you love, if you like the show. It's still airing and kind of relevant, but not like it used to be. I think everything about the ride is good enough to overcome the Simpsons losing relevance, especially since a large part of the park is themed around the Simpsons. It's a really fun ride and I hope it stays around.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
I love this rollercoaster. Getting to choose your own music for the ride is so cool. I've done it with five of the different songs so far and the only bad choice so far has been “Paralyzer” although “Devil Went Down to Georgia” is close because the best part of that song is kicking in as the ride ends. NERD's “Rockstar” is my favorite so far while “Sabotage” and “Hellagood” are both really solid choices. As I keep going back I'm going to try out more of the choices except for country. The ride itself is cool. The vertical lift hill is fast, but just feels dangerous and builds the excitement well, especially with a well paired song. The first drop doesn't look like much from the side, but it feels intense as hell and the loop with a barrel roll in the middle is so awesome. Sometimes the braking system kind of interrupts the flow of the ride, but I've had some rides where the brake sections don't need to go and the ending part of the ride is so awesome. A really fast paced intense coaster with a lot of inversions, and a lot of banked turns, including a 90 degree bank which doesn't go into a turn it just gives you the cool feeling of falling to the side.
When I visited my parents two years ago I rode Hulk before it was redone and it was a head rattler, now it's smooth again and a lot more fun to ride. The addition of the music in the car as you're going down the track is really cool. I don't know if any ride will ever top the first time I rode this coaster and it goes from being a normal lift hill to propelling you up the rest and into an inverted drop. That is my favorite theme park memory of all time and it's so fucking cool. The rest of the coaster whips too with a cobra roll being fucking awesome as well as a bunch of other inversions as well as some mist elements as you're close to water as well. It's just a great coaster with a lot of fun elements.
The Mummy's Revenge
This is really fun indoor rollercoaster, but it also borrows a lot of elements from dark rides and blends them together very well. It does so many things other rides don't and it's very cool. When you have to wait the ride queue tells a very good story that leads into the ride itself. It does have some rough stops on the ride, but they do kind of fit with the story being told so it's not that bad. It's got some backwards stuff, rotates the cart on the track and has a propulsion lift up the hill instead of a chain lift. It's got a fun section of classic rollercoaster type stuff and then stops you. Imhotep kills the woman in the control room, the entire ceiling bursts into flames and then you are dropped down into another rollercoaster section before coming to the end of the ride. This ride does a great job of telling a story in a rollercoaster and is just such a cool ride and is probably my second favorite ride in the park right behind the next ride I'm going to talk about.
The Forbidden Journey
This is my favorite ride in both Universal parks. It's a great combination of screens and animatronics, and it has a really cool ride vehicle as well. There is a lot of action with the screens and it creates a lot of fake free fall feelings and it does it very well. There is an animatronic of the whomping willow on the ride and it looks really fucking cool. It also tips you very far backwards when seeing it and makes it feel super creepy. There is a segment with a lot of dementor animatronics that is pretty creepy as well in a good way. This ride just does a great job of mixing screens with live action elements and making it feel like there is a lot more movement and action than there really is. It's just a really impressive ride in every way.
Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls
The animatronics on this ride are pretty basic and nobody cares about Dudley Do-Right anymore, but the actual ride is good. It's a really good log flume ride with a bunch of fake big drops. I like that the big drop goes into an uphill section before you go down again and get the real big splash. And let me tell you it delivers a big splash. I was soaked after riding this ride. It was an 80 degree day starting at 10 AM so it didn't matter, but if you are there in the colder times don't ride this ride without a change of clothes or being will to spend five dollars for the people dryers that the park has. It's also a pretty tight fit for adults. Thankfully there were only four people in my flume so I left an empty seat between me and the rider ahead to fit in better, but it's fun and worth the tight fit.
This ride has a bunch of really cool dinosaur animatronics. But most importantly it has the Jurassic Park theme playing while you pass through the gateways and that's probably the coolest moment in all of the rides in the park. There are a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs to enjoy on the tour with the Hadrosaur ones being the coolest as they pop out of the water and surprise you. Once you get shunted into the restricted area it gets even better. A raptor cage nearly drops down on you and people who don't know its coming react in a great way. A bunch of raptors and dilophosaurus animatronics line the bath through the building. Then T-Rex comes out and you make the big drop which is cool. The second time I rode it some guy had his hat on and they stopped the ride til he took it off which meant I got to look at the T-rex animantronic more which was cool.