Universal Studios Travel Report: LOTS OF NEW STUFF!!!
So my Cheeky Little Monkeys, I was at Universal on Holiday a couple of weeks ago with the mini Psychotik. Had some real good fun. It’s changed so much since the last I was there back at HHN. I was impressed at the progress that was made on the City Walk. Lots of new things springing up all over the place. We got to see the new Beetlejuice Graveyard Mash Up show. It was amazing. The new Diagon Ally area is looking so swell. You can see a lot of things are finished. I didn’t get to visit MegaCon this year. It was so crazy busy we got stuck on I-4 in a traffic jam for an hours and a half! But anyway, let’s get on with the review.
City Walk Construction
I’m very excited to see the big additions rolling into City Walk. I remember back a few years when they did some minor updates and tweaks, but this…this is a complete overhaul and new looks. Seemed like construction was going good. Very fast it seemed. It had only been a month maybe two since I had heard about the transformations taking place. I could be wrong. Pastamore had already been changed into the Red Oven. This new pizza concept looked a little better than Pastamore. I wanted to stop in and see how it tasted, but time didn’t really permit the stop. I did see the new Cold Stone up and busy. A few of the other places looked like they were coming nicely such as Anajito’s, The Universal Studio Store rebuild, The expansion to Margaritaville, and the new Starbucks. I didn’t get a good look at some of the others like Bread Box, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, or Cowfish. I think when this is all done, it’s going to look fantastic. I’m sure by now the Starbucks and a few other minor projects are done. Like I said, construction was moving very fast.
Cabana Bay Resort
Well, while we were there it was still getting some finishing touches, but from what i saw it looked great. The Cabana Bay is actually now up and running. It opened a week or two after we left. Would have loved to stay there as the pictures I’ve seen make it look fantastic. I will be staying there next year especially if the price holds. $100 bucks a night sounds like a lot, but your average cost for a hotel on I-Drive that isn’t on site is going to run you about $80 soooo…Yeah! You may not get the express pass that the other hotels give you, but you still get the convenience of being on site which is what I would like. Plus the whole retro thing has me totally sold!
Beetlejuice Graveyard Mashup
This was one of my highlights to the weekend. We hit it once a day for the whole weekend. Little Psychotik loved it so much. It was very refreshing to see the new show. It is totally more music driven than joke driven and a lot more fast paced. I love it! I have a video I will be posting below of the show. I thought the addition of Cleo and Phantasia would be a bit hoaky. Adding in Monster High style characters with BJ…ehh…But it was actually very entertaining. The two sets that I saw of each character were really entertaining. Thought about vaporating on stage and asking Phantasia’s number…but I think seeing a large top hatted gentleman appear on stage out of nowhere…would have caused a panic. And what kind of example would I be setting for the little one…using your powers in public…that’s just bad parenting! The best musical number I think in the whole show is the one between Drac and Phantasia. The whole Possession is 9/10ths of the law gag comes back and if strangely funnier this time regardless of being shorter. Over all…you all need to run out and catch this show. It’s totally worth it.
Diagon Alley/ London Expansion
I was surprised the amount of things I saw. I mean I guess the angles in Universal prevent them from completely obscuring a lot like they did in IOA with Wizarding World. Construction looks beautiful at this point. I’m super excited for this area. If you go to the Fear Factor live show you get a real nice looks right down Diagon Alley. It was still being heavely worked on through there, but it still looked amazing. From what I’ve seen on the concept art this area is going to quickly be my favorite and I’m going to love having both of these areas together as an experience. My cosmic friend Samhain and I promised ourselves to take a trip and do the whole experience. Shop for wizarding stuff, take a trip on the Hogwarts express, go to Hogwarts….we are nerds! Editors Note: Yes I realize as a Cheshire Cat I can just go to the real Hogwarts…I have been to the real Hogwarts…how ever it’s on thing to go to the real thing and see how that is and a complete other to live the adventure as you cheeky little monkeys interpret it!I think everone is going to have the best of times when this bad boy opens its doors. You all won’t want to miss it!
Mardi Gras 2014
We had a blast this year! The best I think I’ve been too. The little one had so much fun. I even got to catch one of the concerts. The theme this year was “Around the World in 80 days” so it was very much so Steampunk…which was totally awesome. All different modes of transportation where shown…ah you should have been there. I did manage to get pictures…however the sheer awesomeness of the parade drained my battery and I didn’t get the whole thing…poo poo. We ended up catching A Great Big World. They were surprisingly good. I enjoyed them a lot as did Jazz. Check out their music. They do the song “Say Something” with Christina Aguilera. They have a new single too called “Already Home” and another called “Everyone is Gay” Check them out they are worth it. They are easy listening. They are not hard at all, but they are good at what they do, and their music has meaning unlike a lot of bullshit that is out there.
New Dinning Plan
So i found out that the Meal Deal is gone…which is sad. However the new prepaid meal service isn’t to shabby either. It’s a way I could see totally controlling cost and still very much so worth it if you plan it right. Now I didn’t use the fancy expensive one. They do offer one that is a bit on the pricey side but would be perfect if you were on a date with a fancy lady or just had a lot of money. That one includes a snack, an extra drink, a quick service meal and drink, and a sit down fancy restaurant meal. The one that my little companion and I got costed $35 for the day for both of us. We both got a snack, and extra drink, and a quick service meal. The best values are if you get them at Mels Drive in at Uni and The Three Broomsticks at IOA. They also have a Coke Freestyle Souviner cup now. It’s cool, I wish i would have gotten it. Much better deal than the other cup. 13.99 for the day covers as many refills for the day at a Coke Freestyle machine. There is a chip in the bottom of the cup that tells the machine its ok to dispense. TECHNOLOGY!!!
Our overall experience was a great one. It was so great being there all weekend and getting to enjoy everything. All of the new attractions were up and running. It was the first time there with a pass for Jazmin’s Autism. Editors Note: I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned that before. The little Psychotik is Autistic. That is not to say she is not normal. Dad and Mom are far from it. Really she is just on a different wave length from everyone else. Really this is a conversation for another time, and I will revisit it.The staff was very accommodating and sweet as could be to her taking everything into consideration. Living in this town, you forget that there are people out there that understand the condition and work with it on a daily. Universal earned so many cool points with me. I can’t wait to see what else Universal has in store for us this year. It’s going to be great.
Until Next Time, My Cheeky Monkeys,
Universal and IOA Update for February!
Hi Freaky Darlings! I’m gonna try to make a general update on construction for Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando one a month. I figure this will be easier to keep up with. Not to say that if something really cool comes up I won’t post it earlier, but I would love to just have a monthly article for this. This year is going to be big. Lots of construction. I thought there was a lot last year….no buddy! This year takes the cake!
The Simpsons Update
Last September, I started seeing rumor mill about The International Food and Wine Festival restaurant closing to make way for a new Simpsons themed eatery. Well rumor turned to truth and then grew to rumor…AND EXPLODED!!! Now we sit at beginning of February and all sorts of construction is going on. Rumor mill says you have this to look forward to: The Krusty Burger, Moe’s Tavern, Kentucky Fried Panda, New Simpsons Flat Ride near MIB, and Other Facades. I’m really excited for this experience. I’ve always been sort of luke warm toward The Simpsons. Mainly because of Back the the Future. But I think it’s high time to let go of old grudges. Simpsons are here to stay, and the sooner I get savvy with it…the better. It’s really not that bad of a ride, I just miss BTTF… Anyways…I’m not too sure about Kentucky Fried Panda, but i can’t wait to sit down to a Krusty Burger. I’m curious as to what the new Flat Ride is going to be…Supposedly it’s supposed to be like the Dumbo ride…we shall see…
Transformers The Ride 3D
A long, long time ago…in an article far away…I spoke of the demise of Building 44. Shortly after that came the news that we were actually going to have a Transformer ride for the east coast. Now months after that construction is in full swing and we are looking at a possible summer opening. I’m so stoked for this ride on Multiple levels. First off, it’s the Transformers. It may be Michael By’s Transformers…but it’s STILL the Transformers. Second it’s a dark ride modeled after The Amazing adventures of Spiderman, IOA’s best ride. If you don’t believe me, the proof is in the pudding. I’ll post a ride video below just so you can see. It’s also worth mentioning their exists rumors of the Monster Cafe being axed for a Transformers Themed eatery. I really hope this isn’t the case. I love the Monster Cafe with all of my heart. To me, it’s a rich part of not only film history…and not only Universal’s history…but the park as well. It reminds me of the hey day for whatever reason…probably because it’s themed after old movies? I don’t know. That’s all I on this front for now.
Harry Potter Phase 2
We’ll there isn’t much official as they have not made any official releases. Even since the last time we chatted this, we are still technically running off of rumors. Construction has begun though, and we can discuss the speculations. Of course there is a big ass building to house the huge ride through Gringott’s Bank. The only other named project is the Hogwart’s Express that will connect the two Harry Potter Areas. Still no exact details on how it will work, but rumor mill is pointing to something like the Kong 3D attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. As far as other rumored attractions…well they are the same as last time. It’s Diagon Ally and Kingscross Station. Shops so far are as follows: Ollivanders, The Leaky Caldron, and Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. Hopefully we will hear more closer it is to open.
One last random rumor that hasn’t panned out yet before I go. This one I’m not sure how to feel about it. Mostly I hate it. Supposedly, Toon Lagoon is up on the chopping block. Not sure why. They recently. a couple of years ago, had to do extensive work on Ripsaw Falls. Then again, the maintenance is pretty high…anyway…It is rumored that a Middle Earth attraction is on the horizon. Really there is nothing more than hearsay and whispers at this point. Just know it’s out there. Only other one to report is the possible rehashing of Posiden’s Fury to a sort of Grinch Attraction. Again, not much to go off of.
Mardi Gras 2013
ONE MORE THING!! Mardi Gras is upon us, and they have announced the bands and concert dates. Here they are:
|FEB 9||LIFEHOUSE||MAR 2||DEMI LOVATO||APR 6||KOOL & THE GANG|
|FEB 16||STEVE MILLER BAND||MAR 9||MONTGOMERY GENTRY||APR 13||PITBULL|
|FEB 17||BOYS LIKE GIRLS||MAR 15||SEAN KINGSTON||APR 20||THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS|
|FEB 23||TREY SONGZ||MAR 16||MATCHBOX TWENTY|
|MAR 22||AUSTIN MAHONE|
|MAR 23||PHILLIP PHILLIPS|
|MAR 30||PAT BENATAR
& NEIL GIRALDO
Pick your dates and get your tickets. It’s always fun and you won’t want to miss it!
That’s all for now my Freaky Darlings. Hopefully by next time, I will have more to say. I was using this one to catch up. Next go round, we should have more. Stay tuned for more madness to come. More Psychotik Crew Profiles, and maybe some real news type stuff to boot!
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,
Editor Note: Be sure to check out these neat sites! They are where I got the info for this article!
Universal Orlando Home Page
Spiderman Get’s a Makeover!
Good Morning, My Freaky Darlings! I’ve been dying to talk about this for some time now, but the craziness that’s called life has prevented me from doing so. My favorite ride at Islands of Adventure recently got a little more than your average refurbishment. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman got a new look, and let me say it was damn impressive. Normally, when you see a ride go down for refurbish, it’s just paint and a few minor tweaks. Universal announced almost a year ago that the ride was going to get a big retorque. Not only were they going to redo the old screens and bring them up to date with new High Definition ones, but they also planned to introduce a more realistic ride video. I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to ride the new tricked out Spiderman ride since that tidbit of info went across my screen. Last week, I got my chance! Before I get into this though, let me take you on a trip back to what made the ride so special before it had the “Pimp My Ride” experience…
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ( 1999 )
When Islands of Adventure first opened back in 1999, this young Psychotik couldn’t have been happier. I was finally going to get to go to a theme park involving my childhood hero’s, The Marvel Comic’s Superheroes. I was excited for Jurassic Park Island too, but I could have spent ALL DAY in Marvel Island. I remember the first ride I wanted to go on was Spiderman, unfortunately my cousins wanted to ride Doctor Dooms Fear Fall (Something I didn’t mind at the time. Their first choice was The Incredible Hulkcoaster. Which since I was less experienced with rollercoasters, I was absolutely terrified of! I knew the Fear Fall would take that idea right out of their head) So alas, I had to wait. When we did get to ride it, we had to wait like 2 hours. (Average wait time back then…and you people bellyache over 30 minutes) It was soooooo worth it. A 3D romp through the pages of my favorite superhero! HOW COULD YOU GET ANY BETTER!?
The main story line follows Doc Ock and the rest of the Sinister Syndicate (Hobgolblin, Shreik, Electro, and Hydroman) stealing an experimental levitation gun from Stark Industries. J.J. Jameson not having any reporters left to cover this mess, sends you and your other fellow riders in the experimental SCOOP vehicle. Now the SCOOP is supposed to be the most amazing invention to hit media. Capable of going anywhere, and getting any shot…how could anything go wrong? Well, after a warning from your friendly, neighborhood, wall crawler…the screwy thing takes you right into the hideout of the Sinister Syndicate. And in true J.J. fasion, he opens his big yap and get’s you found. From their the Syndicate tries it’s best to catch you while Spiderman tries to save your silly ass. You first encounter Electro, who gives you a rather…eh hmm…”Shocking” experiance (No ladies he didn’t pull his pants down…family friendly) From there you rattle on over to a room withe a tank where you have a close encounter of the symbiotic kind. As you are trying to escape, Doc Ock fires a few levitation blasts over head making some pieces of the stolen Statue of Liberty float above you. Escaping down, what seems to be a sewer way, Spidey and the SCOOP get a few second break before you are attacked by Hydro. As you get hit by a flying pipe your sent to a room where Doc Ock busts through a brick wall to roast your hide (I mean it too…) From there you jerk back and forth before you bust out onto the street. Think your safe, think again! Hobgoblin tries to blow you away with some pumpkin bombs (I must also add that he has one of the most quotable lines from the whole ride! lol) Spidey saves you from getting blown up, but unfortunately finely get’s bested by Doc Ock and you get blasted with the levitation ray sending you up, up, up…all the way to the top of the sky scrapers. Spiderman tries to web you down sending you on one bumpy ride as you get pulled around through the air while a fight ensues. The end result? The Doc reverses the effects of the ray, sending you on a simulated 450 foot free fall! Spidey spins a web just in time, setting you on the ground where you can get safely back to the Daily Bugel! So tell me…What could possibly be wrong with this ride entailing an overhaul?
Simply put, it was made in the 90’s! The animation wasn’t the best, the 3D was sort of fuzzy, and there were even a few scenes (that up until now) you could completely tell what was going on unless you were a seasoned veteran. STILL!!! This ride was completely innovative and way ahead of it’s time. Even after the release of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey some, including myself, still held this ride in higher regards. Now that you get the idea for the ride, let’s talk about what they did to make an epic ride even better…
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman: The Ride ( 2012 )
To start off with, like I said, they added some High Definition screens to provide a much better picture and better 3D effects. Then they totally remade the ride video to look more realistic AND have even more depth. The difference between the two is just staggering. Were the old video made the rooms have a bit more depth, the new ride video really gives you the feeling of being in a wide open space. With much better video and the HD screens you are able to see all of the scenes the way they were meant to be seen with no blurring. You don’t even get the weird cross-eyed effect that most 3D attractions give you. The new way that the characters are all presented are just out of this world as well. You can actually see the stitching on Spiderman’s glove. Doc Ock has a sort of combination between Spiderman 2 version and the comic book. Shreik just looks absolutely terrifying. You can even make facial expressions out on some of the other characters!
In addition to all of the above mentioned, sound effects and the ride soundtrack were made much better. The soundtrack now has a much more modern rock and roll tone to it. The added sound effect of squealing tires and many others add even more to the experience. Quite possibly one of the coolest additions for fans is the appearance of Stan Lee! (If you look at the couple running away when Doc Ock levitates the theater marquee and then again at the final scene with the man in the green sweater….you will see Stan “The Man” Lee) I just couldn’t believe how different the ride was, but at the same time how it was still my old childhood favorite. You could say the ride was…well…”Amazing!” (I will post a video of the ride below from Coaster Force…Mind you it in no way captures the overall effect or feel. But if you are veteran as I am, you will see some of the changes that have been made.)
In closing, I encourage all of you to make a trip to ride the new version of the ride. I assure you, it is worth the trip. Any self-respecting Spiderman fan will just love it. That’s all for now my Freaky Darlings…I’m rather liking this regular posting thing! Now I just have to think of some more to talk about…alas…this is the only problem.
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,