Universal Orlando Weekly Round-Up AND Disney Higlight

Universal Orlando Weekly Round-Up AND Disney Higlight

Postby Infinite Mickey » Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:54 pm

Welcome to the Universal Orlando Resort Weekly Round-Up Topic! Here I will be hosting a Saturday News Round Up, that may or may not be early in the morning.

BTW I will have a small Disney Highlight at the end of each one.
Ready To Visit Your Gringotts Vault?
This story comes from Theme Park Insider, but I found it on OI Universal Center. Basically what this story is is the proposed story of Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts. Article is below. SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

Written by Robert Niles
Published: February 3, 2014 at 2:29 PM

We first described Diagon Alley's Gringotts ride back in December 2011, but we've learned much more since then about this roller coaster/dark ride and its queue.
Visitors to Diagon Alley will see the Gringotts facade rising at the end of alleyway, with a fire-breathing dragon atop. You're visiting Gringotts to open an account and get your own vault but, of course, because this is a theme park, you can expect something to go terribly wrong. (Update: Perhaps it should have gone without saying, but if you don't want to know what happens, for heaven's sake, quit reading this post now!)

Image
The Gringotts Bank exterior, from the Harry Potter films.
Walking inside the bank building, you'll step into a small Entry Hall with three chandeliers before entering the Bankers Hall, the elaborate main hall filmed inside London's Australia House for the Harry Potter movies. The Bankers Hall will be lined by animatronic goblins behind the tellers' desks. From this room, the queue will split, with the regular queue heading outside to a large supplementary queue located behind the Gringotts show building. Universal wants to keep the line of waiting visitors out of Diagon Alley, given its tight spaces, so the back-of-house, exterior queue will expand as needed to keep the start of the line at the Entry Hall. Universal Express pass holders will skip this exterior queue and go straight from the Bankers Hall into a hallway of Gringotts offices, where the "regular" visitors will end up after navigating the exterior queue.

The offices will include a Security Office where you'll have your picture taken (yes, more souvenir sales!), before ending up in Bill Weasley's office. Here the queue will split again, though both lines will see the same show in this office. Bill Weasley (portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson in the movies) will appear in his office, much as Christopher Walken appears on stage next door at the Disaster! attraction. Weasley will welcome you and tell you about how to get your own vault at Gringotts. After his presentation, the doors on the far side of his office will open, leading your half of the queue to one of the two waiting elevators.

These elevators will take you down 30,000 feet to the subterranean Gringotts vaults — juuust like those "hydrolators" at Epcot's The Living Seas used to bring you up from the bottom of the ocean. ;^) Once "down" at vault level, you'll pick up your 3D glasses in a tunnel-like room, before climbing a spiral staircase to the load platform. (I'm still looking into what the wheelchair bypass will be. Update: There's an elevator for that.)

The loading area is a large cavern, with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. (You'll find a child swap waiting area off to one side, in a holding cell.) There are two track channels for the ride and the ride vehicles are twin, 12-person, open-air cars, arranged in three rows of four. Each row is placed slightly higher than the row in front of it, in a "stadium seating" effect. The look of the cars is very Victorian, with a smokestack on each car, individual lap bars, and six Dolby speakers per seat for on-ride audio.

Image
The ride vehicle for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
You're to ride your car down to see your newly opened vault. After the load platform, the two track channels merge to the south, then bearing to the left and entering Scene 1. In this scene, you'll face a brick wall, with two tunnel entrances, to the left and right. You're really facing a 3D screen, though, and here's where it all starts to "go terribly wrong."

Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort appear, cursing you and declaring that you'll never emerge from the vaults alive. Actuators will make your car bump up and down before the track below the first of the twin cars will drop, coming to rest at a 40-degree angle. Then, the track under the trailing car will begin to rise, matching the 40-degree angle of the leading car.

Within a moment, the car then drops 70-80 feet into the tunnel, for a kinetic ride section through a stalactite-filled cavern, with a small bunny hop and a hard right turn before we hit a block brake in preparation for the next scene. On a 3D screen, a car with Bill Weasley pulls alongside us, then we're also joined by another car, with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Trolls attack, knocking Bill, Harry, Ron, and Hermione out of the way before attacking us. Shaker tables rattle the cars before we go through the Thief's Downfall, with its fogscreen and water spritzers.

Perched on the edge of a cliff, trolls attack again, knocking us off the cliff as the motion base shakes our car, simulating a free fall. Fortunately, Bill Weasley comes to our rescue, saving us before we hit the cavern's bottom. Unfortunately, the white dragon from the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is waiting for us, attacking us with its fire breath. Bill casts an aguamenti spell to save us, again, as guards run into the scene, shooting at us and the dragon.

The dragon climbs away, and we're launched into the next scene, which will bring us to Sirius Black's Vault. We hit a fog blast before entering the vault, where we see illuminated treasure ahead. The car makes a turn to the right, where the physical show scenery opens up a bit, with a large vault area projected along the far wall. We then bear to the left, turning into the next scene, where Bellatrix reappears, casting the Avada Kedavra killing curse at us. Voldemort and Nagini also appear, as he, too, casts the Avada Kedavra at us.

Escaping the killing curses, our car shoots around the corner into the next scene, inside a large 360-degree projection dome. With lava pouring around the darkened room, Harry arrives, riding the dragon. With Bellatrix hiding behind him, Voldemort attacks the dragon, which fights back with his fire breath. Harry then throws a chain onto our car, to haul us out of danger as he flies the dragon away, and Voldemort and Bellatrix disapparate. A Kuka arm pulls away part of the screen, clearing the path to launch us up through a dark tunnel into the final scene. (This is the first change in actual track elevation since the ride's initial drop.)

In the final scene, Harry, Bill, Ron, and Hermione bids us farewell on a screen behind a knocked-out wall, before we emerge back into the loading station. Once out of our car, we will exit down another spiral staircase into the gift shop.

In short, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is Revenge of the Mummy meets Transformers: The Ride 3D, with a Harry Potter theme. So, who's ready to ride?
Source: http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201402/3868/

Sounds Awesome Right?

Pirates of Pandora
This story comes from Screamscape, and was yet again found on OI Universal Orlando, and right now I just want to really shout out to him how good that site is. It is my primary source for Universal Stuff!

If you’ll recall, the upcoming Pandora: The World of Avatar expansion at Animal Kingdom will feature some three or four attractions. The centerpiece of these, the Soarin’-esque Banshee flight simulator, has gotten quite a bit of attention over the past year or so, but now it’s time to similarly shed some light on the D-ticket boat ride through Pandora’s bioluminescent forest that we’ve seen highlighted so many times in Disney’s conceptual artwork.

Here is the very article on screamscape about this.

(2/5/14) I’m not sure how true this one is, but we’ve heard it said that the boat ride going into Pandora: The World of Avatar may be somewhat similar in feel to Pirates of the Caribbean. The fantasy ride through the bio-luminescent world of Pandora may include encounters with animatronic creatures, very cool lighting and projection effects and perhaps a small drop or two along the way to keep things exciting.

As you can see, Screamscape is very hesitant to confirm, so there may be more on this next week.
Source http://screamscape.com/html/wdw_-_animal_kingdom.htm#Avatar
Quick hits: Diagon Alley signs, Harry Potter bathrooms & Seven Dwarfs’ Mine

Over the past week, signs have been added to Diagon Alley. Here is an awesome video by OI Universal's own Dan Hatfield.



After Amity's closure, there has been 2 remaining items, the Jaws Photo Op, and the Amity Bathrooms.Now we’re down to just the one, as Parkscope has uncovered a permit, filed just last week, for internal and external retheming of the bathrooms. Since the whole area is being rebuilt as Diagon Alley, could this new theme be Harry Potter-related?
Image
Amity bathrooms near Diagon Alley.
Parkscope hypothesizes that we’ll be seeing the London restroom that serves as the secret entrance to the Ministry of Magic (as seen in Deathly Hallows, Part I), which would complement the nearby London waterfront perfectly.

Source http://www.parkscope.net/2014/01/uor-permit-update-new-potter-projects.html
Disney Highlight
Although the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train keeps getting pushed back and back – we’re now hearing an opening date of May – Disney is finally opening up a bit more on what it promises will be the highlight of its New Fantasyland expansion. Over on the company’s official blog, it’s showing off lots and lots of the little details that, when taken together, will create a highly immersive queue and interior scene (don’t forget: most of the ride will take place outdoors).
Image
Seven Dwarfs Mine queue.
The “sturdy logs, crumbling bark, rough wood planks, thick beams, smooth rocks, and rusty hinges” that are shown off are all hand-crafted by the Imagineers – highly impressive and worth checking out.

Source http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/galleries/2014/01/all-in-the-details-sculpting-a-seven-dwarfs-mine-in-new-fantasyland-at-magic-kingdom-park/#photo-1

Just a huge shout out to OI Universal Center for providing me with this info. Go visit the site. It's Wonderful and the best source for Diagon Alley Stuff.
OI Unversal Center http://www.orlandoinformer.com/

DISCLAIMER!

This could be true or false, and don't go blaming anyone if it is false!!!!
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Rumor Spotlight. Not much else.

Postby Infinite Mickey » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:09 am

The story I'm spotlighting this week really sounds like what Universal does with their construction teams.

Exponentially increasing construction? Eh – business as usual

Last month, word broke on Orlando United that a fifth hotel would start construction later this year; once all the work finishes up on the impending Cabana Bay Beach Resort – which has its soft opening in just a few weeks’ time – all the construction crews would essentially move over to the plot of land that sits in between Royal Pacific Resort and Cabana to break ground.

Image
The fifth plot of land lays between Cabana Bay and Royal Pacific.

On the one hand, this is pretty much standard operating procedure for Universal these days – we’ve already heard stories of the construction companies currently heading into the home stretch on Diagon Alley being told to pivot overnight to Islands of Adventure, to work on either the Jurassic Park or King Kong expansion, after all. And when Universal’s parent company, Comcast, proudly proclaims that it’s going to be spending half a billion dollars each and every year for the foreseeable future on its American theme park locations, one can only expect such a string of back-to-back projects.
On the other hand, though, this is nothing short of a breathtaking development. Universal originally thought it would’ve had enough business on-hand to erect hotels on all five of its plots shortly after the 1999 expansion to the full Universal Orlando Resort, but it had to make do with just three (Royal Pacific Resort opened in 2002) until just this year, when the hand-over-fist business of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter finally accumulated enough capital and consumer demand. That the fabled fifth (and final?) hotel would open just 12 or 18 months after Cabana – which contains, in and of itself, nearly as many rooms as the first three properties combined – is the biggest indicator yet of Universal’s finally having “made it.”
But it does leave one incredibly fascinating question: just what, exactly, would this new hotel be?

The guessing game begins: Luxurious or ultra-budget?

All three of the original resorts – Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific – are what is called in theme park parlance deluxe resorts. The name comes directly from Disney, and so, too, do its constituent parts: bigger rooms, more robust theming, direct (and free) transportation to the parks. There’s also the little matter of Universal making unlimited Express Passes free to all deluxe resort guests, which is nearly enough to justify the hotels’ otherwise exorbitant room rates.
For Cabana Bay, of course, Universal is heading into the value and moderate resort territories, with smaller rooms, no direct access to the parks, and, most (in)famously, no complimentary Express Passes. This now covers three of Walt Disney World’s six(!) resort categories, which means that a fifth hotel could conceivably go in any of the remaining directions: deluxe villas (which are, essentially, “vacation club” timeshares), camping/RV/cabin grounds, or a traditional value resort (Cabana, with its larger family suites, would technically fit Disney’s “value plus” designation).

Image
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the sole “value plus” property.

It’s somewhat difficult (and utterly depressing, given the effect it’s had on Disney World) to imagine timeshares going into Universal Orlando, however, and there really isn’t enough land to warrant campgrounds. This would ordinarily leave a value resort as the sole remainder, but that’s not taking into consideration the fact that Universal could just as easily build a second moderate hotel – or a fourth deluxe, for that matter. Given just how many families will be flocking to Diagon Alley (and eating at CityWalk’s newer, family-friendlier venues), adding another moderate would make much sense, as well as putting – theoretically, at least – more money in Universal’s pockets.
Here’s the thing, though: the company has shown a keen interest in blurring the demarcation lines that Disney has so fastidiously erected over the past 40 years. Cabana still features an overall level of theming that is nearly impossible to find on the lower-tier Disney properties (with the possible exception of New Orleans – Riverside), along with a host of amenities that is definitely reserved for its deluxe resorts: a 10-lane bowling alley, lazy river, 100-foot waterslide, and a couple of other fun extras. Even if this mysterious fifth hotel were to be placed in either the moderate or value level, the sky would still truly be the limit.

The guessing game continues: Minions, monsters & wizards

While the pricing level is important to consider, it’s much more interesting, of course, to contemplate what the theming will be. Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, Royal Pacific, and Cabana Bay all hew to original – that is to say, non-intellectual-property-based – themes, with more of an emphasis on real-world destinations. Universal certainly could hit this well again, reaching for another luxurious European vacation spot or another exotic island paradise. If the company were truly interested in netting as big a swath of the park-going audience as possible, however, smart money would have to go on an altogether different subject – a Egyptian pyramid, say, or a medieval fortress.

Even here, though, it’s hard to go by past experience to make any sort of educated guess – Universal’s just proving to be so “disruptive” to the industry across the board, from multiple-park-single-ride experiences (the Hogwarts Express) to hotel accommodations. It’s just as likely, given the amount of capital it has to invest and the size of the financial prize it’s going after, that the company will go for an IP.

And this is where things get really interesting.

Imagine staying at Super Silly Fun Land, with a (small) number of amusement park rides in your backyard, or having your room be part of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, or the lobby doubling as Jurassic Park’s Visitor Center. There are a number of in-house properties that contain the appropriate level of atmosphere, architectural detail, and envelope-pushing possibilities, and each would almost automatically guarantee the most popular hotel at all of Universal Orlando, regardless of its resort classification.


Even better – though certainly less likely, given the contractual stipulations that would be imposed – would be an outside license. A Transformers resort, replete with “transforming” courtyards, has a great deal of enticement, as does The Walking Dead (though having a permanent number of zombies patrolling the grounds may provide certain logistical difficulties, not to mention a questionable pool).

Though, of course, the undisputed winner here would be a certain boy wizard who already has a presence in both of the parks and who would provide a nearly infinite number of possible venues or locations to utilize. If Universal would go with Harry Potter one final(?) time, it would instantly have a slam-dunk in both the Imagineering and consumer demand.

Unlikely? We’ll find out by the end of the year, when ground breaks.

Source: http://www.orlandoinformer.com

Other then that, I couldn't find anything else. See you next week.
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Re: Universal Orlando Weekly Round-Up AND Disney Higlight

Postby Djali » Thu May 29, 2014 3:48 pm

Hi Infinite Mickey, this summer I'm taking my boyfriend to Disneyland (CA) for the first time. When he was very young his parents took him to WDW, so he has some vague memories of Epcot - but after that they only went to Universal Studios on family vacations (before Harry Potter)! I've never been. He's asking if the rides I love most - Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - are anything like the Jurassic Park ride and the Spiderman ride. I have no idea. Are all of the rides going to seem like repeats to him, or would you say Disney is different enough that it will be a new and exciting experience? If you were taking someone to Disneyland who had only been to Universal Studios before, what would you make sure they experienced? What rides do you think they should absolutely go on in Disneyland?
 
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Re: Universal Orlando Weekly Round-Up AND Disney Higlight

Postby Infinite Mickey » Fri May 30, 2014 12:47 pm

Disneyland is way different when compared to universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure. For one, Universal has more thrill rides then Disneyland. Another thing, although rides like Popeyes Bilge Rat Barges and Jurassic Park have the same concepts as a Grizzly River Run, respectively, they feel, and are, very different. I think the only thing that he'll notice is that Disneyland has some marvel stuff, like Islands of Adventure.
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