A bit of fair warning: over the next few days, I'm going to be posting about the recent trip that the husband and I took to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. There are going to be a lot of photos. Like, a lot of them. He designed a fair bit of the theming for several of the rides there, so I wanted to take a lot of photos of some of the queue details so that he could have them for his portfolio of work. I tried not to get to geek-heavy with these kind of pictures on the blog, but you know, some of the details are really quite beautiful when photographed up close. Be prepared.
We got into Florida on a Thursday afternoon, and we got into the park around 1:30pm. It was a beautiful day - obviously, much warmer than our winter days in upstate NY, and a dream to walk around in, even when humid. Our first attraction was Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. The husband designed pretty much every aspect of the ride queue (the queue is the area that you stand around and wait in, and also includes all of the theming that you see outside of the ride, like Gru's house itself). It was exciting to get to see it in person!
We had Express Passes, which I highly recommend if you are really into riding the rides, although on our third day we didn't use them so that we could get a chance to walk around the queue and look at the theming. You can barely make out in the photo above this one that the wait time for this ride was 75 minutes, but with our Express Pass the wait was more like 20 or 25 minutes.
The queue takes you from an industrial-looking area with safety posters and bombs hanging from the ceiling, to the interior of Gru's house. There are so many cute details.
Most of the rides that involve video projection require special glasses. While I loved the queue and the design of this ride, it was my least favorite overall. The ride itself jerked around a lot, which I hated. I got more accustomed to this kind of ride as we went on more and more of them, and maybe it was just the fact that this was my first experience, but just no. This was the only ride that we didn't repeat.
We went on Transformers through the Express Pass line, and I really enjoyed it. More on this on the third day, where we went through the regular queue and I took a lot of photos.
Krustyland was just the best. I think that The Simpsons Ride was my favorite at Universal Studios. Everything about it was just so much fun. Once you're through the queue, you enter a room - each ride car holds 8 people. After a short safety video, doors open and you enter the ride car. Once the ride starts, the car rises up. There is an 80-foot domed screen that projects the ride experience - Side Show Bob has taken over Krustyland and is determined to kill the Simpson family by destroying the theme park as they ride the rides. The amazing thing is that the car you are sitting in barely shifts and tilts, yet you really do feel like you are inside of this cartoon. At the end, you fly over and through Springfield, which was my favorite bit.
The theming of Springfield is pretty great. There is a Kwik E Mart filled with souvenirs, including the giant Lard Lad Donut, which you can also purchase at the Lard Lad stand. Moe's, Cleetus's Chicken Shack, and Krusty Burger all have storefronts, but actually combine into a giant cafeteria-style eatery once you go inside. Bumblebee Man even has a taco cart! The Duff Brewery offers more merch. Pretty much everything here involves a store.
This includes Spongebob, who has a store, but no actual ride or attraction to speak of. WHAT IS THIS. #MURICA
Real talk: the E.T. ride is kind of the greatest thing in existence. It made me teary. This is pretty much the only ride in either park that is 100% physical theming and does not involve a video of some kind. It is glorious. You get onto a bicycle, and it flies you through the forest and then to E.T.'s planet. Everything inside is sculpture or animatronic sculpture. There is a lot of blacklight sensitive paint. Mannequins dressed as scientists or police officers. Tiny twinkle lights to simulate the night sky. Fog machines. It has everything that a child of the 80s could ask for in a ride, and I can imagine that if I had been to Universal in the early 90s, I would have flipped out. They just don't make rides that are a completely physical environment any more, and I hope that this one never leaves.
We went to the horror make-up demonstration show thing. It was mostly ridiculous but cute, and our show did involve an elderly audience member from Norway who did not speak any English, so there's that.
We also went to the Terminator 2: 3D live-action show. OMG. I don't know if it's because I just don't care about the Terminator franchise or what, but this attraction does not hold up. There were a couple of cool-looking 3D moments, but for the most part, I was confused as to why there needed to be a live-action aspect to it. It was mostly boring.
Right now, as I type this, Universal Studios is in the process of building an expansion to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which currently runs in the Islands of Adventure park next door. This summer will see the opening of Diagon Alley, and the Hogwarts Express, which will take guests with a bounce-pass between the two parks. To say that I am excited about this development is a bit of an understatement. Stay tuned for my recap of our second day of the trip, where we visited Islands of Adventure, but basically The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which I could not stop photographing.
(THAT'S THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS, Y'ALL!!!! THIS IS A THING THAT IS HAPPENING!!!!)