Top Secrets at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We poked our noses in at Universal Studios yesterday so now it’s time to pop next door and nose a little bit more.

We’ll start off in Marvel Super Hero Island where there are red phones dotted around that you can pick up and listen to various options on how to report different crimes.

All the buildings have been designed with all of the Marvel characters. The artist Adam Kubert has secretly signed his first name into each painting with the exception of Storm from X-Men.

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Some of the Marvel characters ride into the park on quad bikes at the top of the hour but quickly disperse to get ready for their character meet and greets.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster has lots of games to keep you entertained throughout the queue on a busy day but don’t forget to listen out for the roar as you shoot out of the slingshot launch tunnel!

Doctor Dooms Fearfall has prints of his victims, the Fantastic Four, on the floor! There’s also a little cubby hole underneath the Osborn Industries sign. If you stand there and listen carefully, you will hear two thugs planning their next stunt!

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Just across the road at Captain America’s Diner, you will see Thor’s hammer stuck in the glass and if you head inside, Thor will be over the other side, mid-throw.

Time for some Jurassic Park now and if you look carefully just outside the exit of Jurassic Park River Adventure, on the shelf there is a Barbosol shaving cream tin which represents the tin that contains the dino embryos in the film.

We’re gonna jump across back to by the entrance now into Seuss Landing where it all looks a bit different and crazier than the rest of the park! There are no straight lines and all of the buildings are unorthodox.

As you enter into the area, you will see McElligot’s Pool on the right hand side. One of the fish in the pool is special and if you toss a coin into it’s mouth, you’ll see what happens next..

“Young man, young man, you’re sort of a fool. You’ll never catch fish in McElligot’s pool”

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Moving swiftly over the The Lost Continent, you will find a mystic fountain which you can talk to. He will tell you jokes and riddles, but you won’t want to get the riddles wrong…!

Let’s go over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter now but this time we’re in Hogsmeade! Ladies, if you’re wanting a toilet break, now is the time to go. If you listen carefully you will be able to hear Moaning Myrtle!

Olivander’s is the place to be if you want to become a wizard with your very own wand and if you’re lucky, the wand may even choose you! You can then head off to some of the spell locations dotted around the area and cast some of your own spells!

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Just outside of Olivander’s is the Owl Post station where you can post a letter of your own to anywhere in the world with the official Hogsmeade stamp before heading back to Diagon Alley on the Hogwart’s Express. Don’t forget, the journey is a completely different experience this way!

So there we have it, some of Universal Islands of Adventure’s secrets. What else have you found on your travels?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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New Universal Patents

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Over the weekend we have discovered that Universal City Studios – which is the sister patent-filing division of Universal Orlando Resort have some possible new patents which points toward some really cool things that could mould the future of Universals attractions.

The new patents seem to indicate a strong connection with the Nintendo and Marvel brands. Some even point towards water rides which would make sense seeing as Volcano Bay is due to open in the summer!

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It looks as though Universal have been busy bees when it comes to these new patents, they have filed 5 patents since October to November, all looking at different, unique ways to allow guests to have a better experience.. A lot of them are based around interactivity and how they could maybe base rides around the Mario Kart and Iron Man brands. Now I would LOVE to see a Mario Kart ride!! There is even some speculation that the music aspect of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster may be bought to a water ride at Volcano Bay!

I have taken a look into the 5 patents and what they could involve:

Drift Racers – This patent instantly points straight at Mario Kart. This looks like it would be a two-rider car based attraction with one passenger seated in-front of the other. Each passenger will have a different experience as the front driver would have a steering wheel and pedals which will control some aspects of the ride and the rear passenger will have an array of buttons to use throughout the ride that can affect the car they’re in and also impact other cars on the track. – Imagine attempting Rainbow Road in real life 😉

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Simulator ride – This one looks as though it would be an interactive experience and sort of points towards an Iron Man theme. It looks like it would require guests to get in to a ‘flying simulator’ on a moving track which will look like a suit (probably helmets, chest and arm pieces etc). The patent states examples such as flying through asteroid fields and fighting dragons that may cause sensations in the suit such as heat and vibrations from explosions and dragons. Now I know Iron Man doesn’t have a reputation for fighting off dragons but the images in the patent quite closely resemble Iron Man.

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Functional mat racer – This is one for the water rides. It looks as though it could be equipped with lights, a screen and audio! How hi-tech is that!! The patent suggests that the lights could be used for various reasons such as ‘to illuminate the riders’ path or light up the water beneath them to help set the environment they are in.’ The patent states that the mats could come with display and audio elements that could “show images of other riders in the ride experiencing a thrilling section further along in the ride while a speaker may play captured audio from those riders to build anticipation,” It also suggests that you may be able to save your preferred lighting and music choices to a ‘park identification bracelet.’

Slide entry system – This patent looks as a new entry in to a drop slide – my guess is that this will be effective in Volcano Bay. It looks absolutely terrifying but also pretty thrilling! The glass enclosure will slowly fill with water before the trap door opens. The patent states “Not only is this thrilling for the rider, but the image of the rider being enclosed in a fluid-filled space may also provide excitement to the observers” Now that would be one for true thrill seekers.

Boom coaster – This points towards a ‘arm’ and it’s ability to attach to a vehicle that looks as though it is on a track system (but is actually controlled by a separate arm) If this is confusing just picture yourself on a coaster with a element of the story being that your path has been destroyed or there’s a break in the track that you need to ‘jump’. “Because the passenger may believe that the simulated ride surface controls a path of the passenger vehicle, the passenger may fear or anticipate that the passenger vehicle may crash or otherwise incur damage as a result of the elevated gap” Many people have taken it upon themselves to say this looks like it could be a Donkey Kong themed ride using the mine cart idea’s. What do you think?

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Although these patents seem pretty well thought out, theme parks file patents on a regular basis and many are not acted upon straight away and some not acted upon at all. I thought it was worth having a nose into these ones though as they all seem pretty fitting due to the opening of Volcano Bay and the proposed Nintendo land.

We will definitely be keeping our eyes peeled.

Smiles Included..

Jess

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Islands of Adventure Top Attraction 2016

Hey Thrill Seekers,

No surprise here with the top attraction at Islands of Adventure, it is of course Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey.

This magical attraction is really out of this world. Your journey will consist of visiting loads of iconic places throughout Hogwarts such as Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor common room, Defence against the Dark Arts classroom etc.

You will also soar above the grounds alongside Harry Potter and his friends, meeting amazing creatures along the way.

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There is so much technology involved in this attraction that it really makes it a one of a kind ride that you 100% shouldn’t miss when visiting Islands of Adventure!!

Second Place: The Incredible Hulk Coaster – This coaster will enable you to actually experience the feeling of being the Hulk himself. This is a quick ride.. you will reach up to 67mph taking on zero gravity rolls, twists and turns.

Third Place: Skull Island; Reign Of Kong – Get involved in the 1930’s expedition which is caught in the middle of a battle, King Kong will beat his chest, roar and make it very, very clear that you are in his home.

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Fourth Place: Dragon Challenge – Choose your dragon, will you go for a Chinese Fireball or a Hungarian Horntail? This is a amazing ride where two coasters will intertwine as they twist and loop, nearly colliding with each other. Three times throughout this ride the two dragons will come within 18 inches of eachother!!!

Fifth Place: Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges –  Be prepared to get wet! As you set sail you will help Popeye rescue Olive from Bluto. You’ll encounter dangerous white water rapids and even a 18 foot tall octopus!

Smiles Included,

Jess

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The Incredible Hulk Coaster Begins Soft Launch

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It’s close… its soooooo close. The return of the lean, green, adrenaline machine is just around the corner. We mentioned last week that the walls had been taken down from around the queue area which was always a good sign of things to come.

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Well yesterday we got reports from across the pond that people were actually riding the beast in what is called a soft launch period. A soft launch is basically a trial period, there aren’t definitive opening dates and the ride can be stopped at anytime for further testing etc. but its great news and really means that a full opening is just around the corner. Here’s what people were saying about the new and improved Hulk;

 

 

These are just a few of the really positive reviews coming out of last nights soft launch. We’ll keep you updated as soon as Universal confirm an official opening date.

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Hulk Coaster Begins Live Testing

Hey Thrill Seekers,

One of Orlando’s most popular coasters has been offline since September last year, regularly consider one of the premier coasters in Florida fans of the lean, green, speed machine have been patiently waiting for its return… and it looks like it might be soon!

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Yesterday at Universal’s Islands of Adventure eagle eyed theme park goers spotted the Hulk being tested with humans in it. Made up of staff members and human dummies the Hulk coaster made several runs of the track which is obviously good news when it comes to a launch date.

The testing of the ride with actual people in is usual the final step before either a soft launch or a media day. I CANNOT WAIT!!!

You can find out more about what to expect from the new Hulk by reading this.

Smiles included…

Jamie

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What’s Next For Universal’s Marvel Island?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We got to see a nice update on Friday night of how everyone’s favourite green coaster was getting on. The new and improved Hulk Coaster will be up and running this year with a new queue experience and a smoother ride but with the Hulk getting a fancy makeover what do Universal have in store for the rest of Marvel Island?

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Well lets jump aboard the rumour train and take a look…

What we’re hearing is that the Hulk revamp isn’t the end of Universal’s planned makeover of this area. Dr. Doom’s Fearfall, Storm Force Accelatron and Cafe 4 are all apparently going to make way for a new state of the art Avengers Attraction!!!!

Rumour has it that the new attraction will use the same format and technology as the very popular Harry Potter and the Escape fro Gringotts.

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Now avid reader of this blog might remember a post I wrote quite a while ago stating that as Disney owned the rights to Marvel any update to this area would require Disney’s approval. I remember stating at the time that it was unlikely Disney would approve any additions to this area however we’re hearing from a few reliable sources that Universal and Disney may have actually come to understanding! We’re expecting to hear more once the Hulk Coaster reopens in the summer.

One thing we know for sure is that the refurbishment of the Hulk Coaster means that Universal are definitely not looking to give up this land any time soon. Yay!!!

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Universal Confirm Temporary Closure Of The Incredible Hulk Coaster For Refurbishment

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Back in July we reported that The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure might be subject to a makeover well over the weekend Universal confirmed that our suspicions were indeed correct.

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Widely considered as one of the best coasters in Florida guests will be able to ride the green beast up until the 8th September. Reporting via their own blog Universal stated;

We want to let you know that The Incredible Hulk Coaster will be getting some great, new enhancements to its storyline, ride vehicles and overall experience.

That work means we’ll have to close the attraction beginning Sept. 8. It will roar back to life next summer and we’ll keep you posted on the details. In the meantime, be sure to check out the other great, thrilling, experiences at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, including Dr. Doom’s FearFall, Dragon Challenge, Jurassic Park River Adventure and more.

I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at plans for The Incredible Hulk Coaster, and I can tell you the overall experience is going to feel more immersive and high-tech. But don’t worry—the attraction will still have the same “Incredible” personality that makes it one of America’s most popular coasters.

We’ve been speculating about what the upgrades might be and believe the following are a distinct possibility;

New Trains – Looks like Universal will be updating the Hulk’s trains the most sensational tidbit is that the new trains may not have the over head restraints associated with the Hulk but a lap restraint made by B&M which would free up riders arms!… How long do you think you could wave your arms in the air?

Launch – The Hulk Coaster is renown for its fast launch start, the update is said to also involve updating the technology that provides that 0-40 mph boost.

Queue – We’re also hearing that a new queue experience will be on the cards. Perhaps with a totally new story.

We’ll obviously know more when Universal begin to update us.

Smiles included…

Jamie

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My 3 Favourite Universal Moments

Hey Thrill Seekers,

With Universal’s “moments” media campaign in full swing today’s post is about my own #UniversalMoments. I thought I’d take the time to relive 3 of my favourite and most memorable times at Universal Orlando Resort.

I’ve been quite privileged to have visited Universal’s Orlando parks numerous times over the past few years. I visited once as part of a family holiday and the rest have been for work (yes I do know it doesn’t sound like work). Everytime I visit I’m blown away, I have tons of awesome memories but today I’ll only bore you with 3. 🙂

The Hulk Coaster

On my very first visit to Orlando, on the very first day we decided to head to Islands of Adventure, to this point I’d never been on a roller coaster. Unwittingly my first ever ride was the HULK!

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I’d done absolutely no research so the fast start took me totally by surprise! I remember vividly the huge smile on my face as I was launched into the bright lights of Orlando… A memory that I will never forget!

Hurricanes

Nope not a coaster or a crazy new attraction… Hurricanes are a cocktail that I sampled at Universal CityWalk on one of my first ever familiarisation trips! Served in a Pat O’Brien’s logo glass and garnished with an orange slice and a cherry, the fruity red concoction was created during World War II when liquor such as whiskey was in low supply. In order to purchase just one case of these liquors, liquor salesmen forced bar owners to purchase as much as 50 cases of rum, which was plentiful. In an effort to use the abundance of rum that Pat O’Brien’s acquired, the recipe for the Hurricane evolved with the help of an eager liquor salesman. The name came soon after when a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp was used to serve the fruity rum cocktail.

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These bad boys helped make a Universal Memory in the fact that I can’t remember much after the second one. I’m told though it was an awesome night! 🙂

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I think people who know me would agree that I can be quite cynical at times. I’d been reporting on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for 2 years when I finally got to see the finished article…

I was blown away…

The attention to details amazed me and I couldn’t help but smile. Universal, I knew, had set a new benchmark when it came to theming.

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When I walked into the area for the first time I happened to be behind a group of Brazilian school kids who were on a trip. There faces said it all… BLOWNAWAY. I’ll never forget the first time I walked in and soaked up the full atmosphere and although I don’t work for Universal I felt immensely proud to be their partner.

So there we have it, my 3 Universal moments… what are yours?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Are Universal Planning A Hulk Coaster Makeover?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

For just over 15 years now the Hulk Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure has been widely regarded as one of the top attractions in Florida. Its legendary start (0-40 mph in 2 seconds) and numerous loops make it a thrill seekers favourite however technology changes and we’re hearing that perhaps Universal think its time for an upgrade.

Permits submitted on or around the 26/06/15 and spotted by the very talented guys at Parkscope seem to suggest that a major project is on the cards consisting of an interior demolition, renovation and a brand new project trailer.

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This project is widely rumoured to involve the Hulk coaster and we’re looking at a total overhaul of the ride including a new queue experience.

What this could mean?

So, as always, nothing has been confirmed with Universal but from what we’re hearing we could be looking at;

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New Trains – Looks like Universal will be updating the Hulk’s trains the most sensational tidbit is that the new trains may not have the over head restraints associated with the Hulk but a lap restraint made by B&M which would free up riders arms!… How long do you think you could wave your arms in the air?

Launch – The Hulk Coaster is renown for its fast launch start, the update is said to also involve updating the technology that provides that 0-40 mph boost.

Queue – We’re also hearing that a new queue experience will be on the cards. Perhaps with a totally new story.

When will this happen?

Well the ride as already been opening up to one or two hours later than usual which is said to be part of the update. We’re possibly looking at some major downtime from next month, possibly towards the end of August until November or December. December is notoriously busy so I wouldn’t imagine they’d want one of their most iconic rides out of action then. We also believe work will continue into 2016.

Remember though this is still just speculation as Universal have confirmed nothing. We’ll obviously keep you updated the more we hear…

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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