Universal’s Retired Attractions

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So we’ve already had a look at some of the old Disney attractions that are no longer with us and today we’re going to take a look at some of Universal’s retired attractions!

Back To The Future: The Ride was a simulator ride where you were riding in the DeLorean being chased through town! The ride then closed in 2007 before being replaced by The Simpsons Ride in 2008.

 

Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue was a live stage show that took place throughout the day and is well known as a ‘classic’. This closed in 2016 shortly after Disaster! – A Major Motion Picture Ride…Starring YOU! which closed in 2015. Both of these attractions closed down to make way for the all new Fast & Furious: Supercharged that is due to open in 2018!

Jaws was a legendary attraction in my opinion. I was only small when I went on this and it scared the life out of me when the shark sliced through the waves next to our boat! Sadly, Jaws closed in 2012 to make way for Diagon Alley which opened in 2014.

The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera was a simulator ride that takes on you a wild goose chase to save the characters that had been kidnapped! It closed in 2002 to make way for Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast in 2003. This was also a simulator ride but this time you’ll see Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Odd Parents and Hey Arnold before closing in 2011. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem then replaced it in 2012.

 

Back in 1990, Universal opened Kongfrontation, which in case you haven’t already guessed, was based on King Kong! A simulator ride that helps you evacuate Manhattan Island but Kong manages to grab your tram before dropping you when he’s fired on by police helicopters. Kongfrontation closed in 2002 and then in 2004 it was replaced with Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride.

Ghostbusters Spooktacular was a 20 minute stage show that began in 1990 before being replaced by TWISTER…Ride It Out which opened in 1998. Twister allowed you to step straight into the action of an action-packed film right in the middle of a tornado at it’s peak! Twister closed in 2015 to make way for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon due to open this year!

Nickelodeon Studios opened in 1990 and was a great place for the kids to have an in depth tour about different sectors of Nickelodeon and their production. This closed down in 2012 to be painted blue the following year. This was to prepare for Blue Man Group which opened in 2014!

Alfred Hitchcock: The Art Of Making Movies was a part 3-D film, part live action show which closed in early 2003 making way for Shrek 4-D in mid 2003 that still stands today!

The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show was huge when it opened in 1991, featuring several cowboys performing stunts and explosions. In 2003 the show closed and was later replaced by Fear Factor Live in 2005.

What other attractions are you missing from Universal?

Smiles Included…

Louise

Top Secrets at Universal Studios

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Most of the parks have their own little secrets which lots of people may know about. If you don’t know about them, I’ll fill you in, but remember…it’s a secret!!

Let’s start off with Universal Studios:

To enter into either of the Universal parks you have to go through CityWalk anyway, once you’re in, head over to Blue Man Group and you will see a little single entrance with barely any queue with staff members there to scan your ticket to head straight into Universal Studios.

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Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has real banana trees grown outside..why? Because minions love bananas of course!

Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It allows you to choose your own song from the list each time you ride, but did you know you can play a secret song?! Simply hold down the logo for 10 seconds and enter in any 3 digit code for your secret song to begin!

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Over at the Revenge of the Mummy, there is a hidden statue of King Kong just inside, paying tribute to the original attraction. So he never actually left, he was just hiding!

Let’s shoot down some of the parade path over to Men In Black: Alien Attack. If you get there on a busy day and end up queuing, try jiggling some of the handles on the laboratories…

If it’s a quiet day, ask a team member for a tour of the ground floor of the immigration room. They may or may not be kind enough to do this with you! 😉

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It’s time for the bit you’ve all been looking forward to, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Here at Universal Studios you’re in Diagon Alley representing London. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot Kreacher the house elf peeping out over Diagon Alley.

Traditional red telephone boxes through Diagon Alley have their own little magic trick. You can go in and dial 62442 (MAGIC) and be transferred through to the Ministry of Magic!

If you look closely you might also notice there’s a few references to Jaws throughout Diagon Alley such as the the record shop has a record in the window titled ‘Here’s to swimming with bow legged women’. There’s also telescopes made of jaws and a set of jaws inside the window of the apothecary shop.

If you’re looking to experience Harry Potter and the Escape to Gringott’s then you will get to see all of the goblins hard at work. If you get the chance, talk to Griphook the head goblin and ask him questions. Maybe even ask him about the dragon! 😉

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Now that you’ve escaped the safest place on Earth, why not take a trip on the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade?!

There’s lots to look out as you walk through the queue area but don’t miss platform 9 3/4 because you can actually walk through the wall!!

So there’s some of the secrets that I know of! Do you have any that haven’t been mentioned?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Sugarplums Sweetshop Now Open At Universal’s Diagon Alley

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I kept meaning to post about this but Star Wars kind of got in the way and then our good friend Geoff but for those of you who love a bit of Harry Potter I’m pleased to be able to share a little bit of information regarding Universal’s new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley.

From today visitors can get there sugar hit by visiting Sugarplums Sweetshop, its sells everything from Chocolate Frogs to Butterbeer Fudge, there’s something every wizard can enjoy!

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Sugarplum’s has many of your favorite sweets from the wizarding world including some new treats like Butterbeer Fudge and Pumpkin Cakes.

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And you’ll definitely want to pick up some Fizzing Whizzbees, Exploding Bonbons and Pepper Imps.

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Sugarplum’s Sweetshop is located where Shutterbutton’s used to be in Carkitt Market behind Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Quality Quidditch Supplies. You can now find Shutterbutton’s next to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions.

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I’m practically salivating already!!! Which sweets are you going to try first?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Happy First Anniversary Wizarding World Of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It seems like only yesterday I was talking about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opening at Universal Studios…but it wasn’t, it was a year ago. Today the popular land is 1 year old and shows no sign of slowing in popularity.

Check out these awesome stat’s that we posted in May.

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What do you love most about Diagon Alley?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Happy 5th Birthday The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter! What’s Next?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Hard to believe, but last week The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade celebrated its 5th birthday! Located in Universal’s Orlando Resort at Islands of Adventure there is no denying that this Harry Potter themed land really raised the bar!

J.K. Rowling herself had final approval on all aspects of the land even down to the taste of the Butterbeer and this attention to detail plus Harry Potter’s popularity made it a massive success.

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The obvious step was to extend the Wizarding World and hence last year we were treated to stage 2, Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley followed on from where Hogsmeade left off. Again the attention to detail was amazing but the introduction of interactive wands and the Hogwarts Express took it to a whole new level!

But what’s next? I asked members of the Orlando Attraction Tickets team what they’d like to see next at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Rachel

I love the Hogwarts Express its such a clever way of linking the two parks together but I’m a thrill seeker… what I’d love to see is a second option to get from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. In the books (and films) Ron and Harry make their own way to Hogwarts by using Arthur Weasley’s Flying Ford Anglia! Its a crazy ride with lots of twists and turns perfect for a roller coaster!…

Frank

I’d like to see them add a Wizard Duelling stage show. A mixture of live action and special effects. Similar to what they do at The Blue Man show. I love all the attractions and rides but some live entertainment wouldn’t go amiss.

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Jamie

With Wet N’ Wild closing at the end of 2016 and conjecture suggesting it will make way for a hotel I’d love to see the new hotel themed as Hogwarts Castle. All the rooms could be themed as per the house you book i.e Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin or Ravenclaw! The main restaurant could be like the main Hall featured in the films.

Imagine the look on childrens faces when they entered a real life Hogwarts Castle!

Kelly

I really like the Knight Bus, I think it could be a pretty simple but cool ride. I was thinking along the lines of the Simpson’s Ride, a 3d experience where you zig zag in and out of London.

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Louise

I’d like them to be able to provide us with brooms that actually fly!!!

There’s always one!!!!

Who knows what the future of the Wizarding World holds in store for us Muggles but one things for sure… it will be exciting

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Yes Interactive Wands At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Are Cool!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

What is this?

10730221_902175283127589_5586109338008875308_nOne of our customer described it as “Lots of fun” another as “amazing” but what is it?

When Universal Orlando decided to expand the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade they knew they’d have to make it bigger and better. For those of you who’ve been to the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios you know they definitely delivered! Not only is the staging superb but they added a fire breathing dragon and a fully working Hogwarts Express!

However for me its the little things that make it such a success and that brings me back to my original questions, what is the symbol above?

What is the symbol?

Well this symbol denotes that you can use the new interactive wands here! Yep thats right Universal, the clever so and so’s, have created certain areas within both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that will react when certain “spells” are cast.

Where?

When you purchase your interactive wand at Ollivanders (either shop) you’ll be given a map which details all the interactive spots in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, make sure you use the map as there are tons of spots that you’ll miss if you just follow the crowd.

How?

Follow the map, when you reach the interactive point (symbol above & below) take a good look at it. The symbol will tell you exactly how to cast your spell.

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This particular spell is to make a feather float. You’ll notice that the symbol has words written around the edge, these are the “magic words” that you’ll need to perform, as per the books the magic words used to make things float is “Wingardium Leviosa” however you don’t just need words you’ll also need to know what to do with your wand. You’ll notice in the middle of the symbol is a strange mark, this mark is actually your instructions for what to do with your wand, a “u” movement and then a swish downwards for this spell and a flick.

While I was in Orlando our guide actually helped one of the guests to use their wand, here are his tips to casting spells.

  • Try not to stand in front of the symbol. either behind it or on it will see the best results.
  • Try smallish movements, no big over the top movements… its not what Wizards do!
  • Be patient, it will come, no one said being a Wizard was easy!
  • If you’re having issues talk to a cast member, they’ll be more than happy to help you.

1491583_900386143306503_6798817227309893272_nUniversal’s interactive wands cost approx. $47 each which might seem pretty costly however the joy and look of amazement that you see on childrens faces is totally worth the cost.

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Kings Cross And Hogwarts Express And Diagon Alley, Oh My!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

“Does it look similar?” asked the Universal tour guide, “I’ve never been to London so I can only imagine its pretty close!”

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It wasn’t pretty close, it was spot on. The only difference I could see was that Universal’s Kings Cross Station was far cleaner than its UK equivalent. I’d heard it was pretty impressive but standing in front of it surrounded by my fellow Englishmen the majority of them Londoners my mouth almost hit the ground. The attention to detail really stood out, from the busker playing Sweet Child of Mine on a violin to the voice from the tannoy announcing train timetables, Universal had really done their homework.

Our tour guide was taking us for our first ride on the Hogwarts Express, we were heading from London (Diagon Alley) to Hogsmeade which meant we’d need to find Platform 9 3/4 seems tricky hey!? However Universal have thought this through as well and during the queuing experience using a very clever optical illusion you get to walk through the wall and on to Platform 9 3/4.

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Universal run’s 2 Hogwarts Expresses to manage the demand, each train running in the opposite direction to the other making sure that wait times are kept to a minimum. The train itself consists of approx. 3 long carriages each section has about 3 rooms which can hold 6 people easily. Again the attention to detail in on the train is amazing right down to the material the seats are made out of.

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Depending upon which was you ride the train (Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley or vice versa) determines the story you’ll be shown. I’m not going to spoil the storylines here as a lot of the ride is based around what you see. I will say though that the windows are not the only places to keep an eye out for, although the majority of the stories are depicted via the very clever tv style windows action does also take place on the train. So keep one eye on the compartment door as well.

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The Hogwarts Express is an amazing idea, that has been implemented superbly. Any fan of Harry Potter is going to be blown away by this.

The Hogwarts Express requires a park to park ticket to ride. All Orlando Attraction Tickets Universal tickets include park to park privileges, so if you’ve booked with us, its all board!

Smiles included…

Jamie

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OAT’s Review Of Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts

Hey Thrill Seekers,

As you’ll probably know by my recent posts and the numerous pictures I’ve been popping on our facebook page I recently visited Orlando and in particular the Universal Resort. I was really excited to be able to visit Universal Studios not only to check out Diagon Alley but to also visit and experience the Transformers Ride 3d, Minions Mayhem and the new Simpsons area, all of which had been added since the last time I visited almost 4 years ago.

I was very lucky to be part of a group that was shown around by an official Universal tour guide, the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, especially about the new Wizarding World area and offered up a ton of additional information, one interesting piece was the telephone box found outside Kings Cross station… try dialling 62448 and see what happens!

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Diagon Alley is an amazing feast to behold. The attention to details is amazing and the dragon atop of Gringotts Bank is a brilliant touch, when it breathes fire everybody stops. Gringotts Bank is the setting for the feature ride at Diagon Alley, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and I got the pleasure of riding it, here’s what I thought.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Firstly and straight off the bat, I loved this ride. Its a mixture of 3d technology and an indoor coaster, think Spiderman at Islands of Adventure mixed with a small helping of Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios. The story of the ride is pretty simple really, you’re at Gringotts to open an account its coincidentally right at the same time that Harry, Ron and Hermione are there trying to find one of the Horcruxes! You’re caught in the middle of a wild adventure.

The queue line starts inside Gringotts Banks, to your right are 3 goblins all going about their business, brilliantly brought to life by animatronics you’ll sometimes catch them staring at you, I must admit to feeling like I’d done something wrong when their gaze met mine. At the head of the bank is the chief Goblin who tells you what to expect with sagely advice.

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I would definitely recommend taking your time to have a good look around, the chandelier set in the very center of the room is amazing and the Goblin robots are superbly put together.

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From here we were lead down a long corridor, to our left and right are offices where you’d imagine the Goblins do their work. The doors have the appropriate Goblin name on them, for example “Blordak”.  Approximately half way down the corridor is a camera station where the Goblin workers (cast members) take a picture of you which can be purchased later on for your Bank I.D.

At the end of the corridor we’re taken in to a room where, using 3D effects, we hear a conversation between a Goblin and Bill Weasley we’re told that opening an account at Gringotts is a good idea as its the “safest place on Earth”.

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From here we move to a new room, which features a lift, the lift is large and can hold quite a few people. The lift begins to take us miles and miles below Gringotts. In reality you don’t move at all but the lift is manipulated to feel like you’re moving. In our group of 10 at least 6 people actually believed we’d been in a working lift such is the realism.

Finally we were at our coaster trains, each train can take up to 12 people, 3 rows of 4 and I found myself in the middle row. We start very smoothly until as readers of the books or watchers of the films will know our hero’s (Harry, Ron and Hermione) are detected. At this point Bellatrix, played by Helena Bonham Carter, appears and fires off some magic at us, as she believes we’re part of the crew trying to steal from her vault.

We’re saved this time by Bill Weasley but of course this isn’t for long when Trolls guarding the vaults mistake us for the intruders and send us plummeting towards the ground. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a great fan of motion rides, they make me feel extremely nauseous and generally the falling to the ground bit (see Spider-Man, Transformers etc) is the bit that gets me but on this ride I’d didn’t feel it. I don’t know if its different technology being employed or the fact its part coaster but I felt fine. Bill again rescues us from the fall and sets us down in a vault where we should be safe.

However the hissing of Voldemort’s snake tells us we’re not. We come face to face with “He who must not be named” and Bellatrix, who quickly fire spells at us and then turn in to black smoke and follow us on to the next cavern. Just when it looks like Voldemort and Bellatrix have the advantage Harry, Ron and Hermione appear riding upon a dragon (the one featured on top of Gringotts Bank) Hermione throws us a chain, and the dragon hauls us up out of the cavern to safety. Which is brilliant illustrated by the a rush of speed from the Coaster part of the ride and we’re shot off through a wall of smoke to safety. Bill is then shown telling us how well we all did and how Gringotts is still the “safest place on Earth”.

The ride is brilliantly aimed at most ages, its not as thrilling as say Forbidden Journey but it offers a lot more family fun. Its definitely worth experiencing.

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Universal’s Hogwarts Express Hits 1 Million Passengers

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Riding the Hogwarts Express was a key part of Universal’s new expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley. The idea of linking Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley via an actual working Hogwarts Express was not only genius, (whoever came up with this concept deserves a massive pay rise) but also the first of its kind at any theme park in the World.

Yesterday just under a month after its official launch the Hogwarts Express welcomed its 1 Millionth rider!

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Reviews of the Hogwarts Express experience have been very positive with the majority of people (UK) really impressed with the attention to detail not only on the train but also at the Kings Cross replica.

HogwartsExpress reviewsThe Hogwarts Express offer 2 totally different ride experiences depending upon which way you ride it, which is a great way of really keeping everything authentic. To ride the Hogwarts Express you will require a multi park ticket, Orlando Attraction Tickets only offers multi park tickets so you’re safe in the knowledge that once you’ve booked with us you can ride like Harry and the gang as much as you like.

Have you ridden it yet, what did you think?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Tears, Confetti, Gasps And Lots Of People, The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Diagon Alley Is Now Open

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Two years of writing about it, researching it and occasionally breaking news about it came to a huge climax yesterday when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley officially opened at Universal Studios Florida!

Potter fans were up bright and early as queuing started at 5am and we’re not talking about a couple of fans we’re talking thousands! They were greeted with a red carpet, lots of confetti, fireworks and some extremely excited Universal cast members.

Universal opened the first stage of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade in 2010 and it amazes me to think that some quarters were stating that Potter was a fad and wouldn’t last, how wrong they were!

Those first through the doors headed straight to the Gringotts Bank where Diagon Alleys signature ride can be found, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Wait times averaged 300 minutes (5 hours) and at its height was 450 minutes (7.5 hours), it had a few moments of downtime but all in all for an opening day the multi dimensional thrill ride did very well.

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The other hugely anticipated ride, the Hogwarts Express proved as expected to be a big hit. Wait times hovered around the 45 minute mark which is pretty good for an opening day.

Throughout the rest of Diagon Alley crowds moved quite freely Ollivanders and the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezers proved very popular as did the centre piece, the fire breathing dragon sat proudly on top of the Gringotts Bank, I’m pretty sure it was the most photographed thing there!

Those who didn’t get there early queued outside the Diagon Alley area for up to three hours, in the afternoon Universal staff started handing out return tickets to keep the crowds moving.

I’m pretty confident that we’ll see Universal Studios hit maximum capacity regularly throughout summer so be prepared to be patient and get used to queuing!

Smiles included…

Jamie

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