Posts Tagged ‘review’

Hogwarts Express REVIEW [Minor Spoilers]

by on July 2, 2014

Hogwarts Express review

All aboard the Hogwarts Express at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

As PotterWatch wraps up with the approach of Diagon Alley’s July 8 official opening date, I’m proud to present Touring Plans’ first in-depth review of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. During the recent VIP preview week, I spent nearly 12 hours exploring the expansion at Universal Studios Florida, and was the only member of the media to successfully ride the Gringotts attraction three times. I’ve distilled that first-hand experience into the following Hogwarts Express review, which will appear in edited form in the 2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, as well as other affiliated titles.

Bear in mind, the following opinions and information are based on a preview of the attraction, and is subject to change once the area is open to the public. BEWARE: Minor spoilers ahead.

Hogwarts Express

4 1/2 STARS

 

APPEAL BY AGE

  • PRESCHOOL 4 stars
  • GRADE SCHOOL 5 stars
  • TEENS 4 stars
  • YOUNG ADULTS 4 1/2 stars
  • OVER 30 4 1/2 stars
  • SENIORS 4 stars

 

What it is Transportation attraction with special effects.
Scope and scale Super-headliner.
When to go Immediately after park opening.
Special comments Expect lengthy waits in line. A park-to-park pass is required to ride.
Authors’ rating A moving experience; Not to be missed; 4 1/2 stars
Duration of ride 4 minutes.
Probable wait­ing time per 100 people ahead of you 7 minutes.
Loading speed Moderate.

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Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts REVIEW [Minor Spoilers]

by on July 1, 2014

 

gringotts review

A panoramic view of the majestic Gringotts bank lobby. (photos by Seth Kubersky)

As PotterWatch wraps up with the approach of Diagon Alley’s July 8 official opening date, I’m proud to present Touring Plans’ first in-depth review of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. During the recent VIP preview week, I spent nearly 12 hours exploring the expansion at Universal Studios Florida, and was the only member of the media to successfully ride the Gringotts attraction three times. I’ve distilled that first-hand experience into the following Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts review, which will appear in edited form in the 2015 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, as well as other affiliated titles.

Bear in mind, the following opinions and information are based on a preview of the attraction, and is subject to change once the area is open to the public. BEWARE: Minor spoilers ahead.

 

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

5 STARS

APPEAL BY AGE

  • PRESCHOOL 2 stars
  • GRADE SCHOOL 4 stars
  • TEENS 5 stars
  • YOUNG ADULTS 5 stars
  • OVER 30 5 stars
  • SENIORS 4 stars

What it is Super-high-tech 3-D dark ride with roller coaster elements.
Scope and scale Super-headliner.
When to go Immediately after park opening or just before closing.
Special comments Expect loooong waits in line; 42″ minimum height requirement.
Authors’ rating The ultimate realization of “Ride The Movies!”; Not to be missed; 5 stars
Duration of ride 4 1⁄2 minutes.
Probable waiting time per 100 people ahead of you 4 minutes.
Loading speed Moderate-Fast.

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Universal Dining: Mama Della’s at Loews Portofino Bay (Photo Review)

by on November 4, 2013

Mama Della's photo review

The chickens welcome you to Mama Della’s!

With Bice, The Palm, and two Emeril’s — not to mention Pat O’s, Jimmy B’s, and Mr. Gump’s — the Universal Orlando Resort packs in more name-brand dining options per square foot than anywhere else in Orlando, including the sprawling Downtown Disney. With so many restaurants within steps to each other, a few are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Last month I returned to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel for a photo dining review of Mama Della’s Ristorante, one of my favorite underrated eateries inside Universal’s hotels.

Mama Della’s is located on the lowest level of Portofino Bay Hotel’s waterfront plaza, between Sal’s Market Deli and Trattorio del Porto. You can self-park at the hotel, and the restaurant will validate; or park in Universal’s main garage and take a scenic water taxi from CityWalk.

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Universal Orlando Merchandise Video Review: Interactive Marauder’s Map from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

by on October 19, 2013

All those who have seen or read the Harry Potter stories have probably wished they had a magical Marauder’s Map to surreptitiously surveil their kids or co-workers. Since opening in 2010 with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando‘s Islands of Adventure, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods (located at the exit of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride) has stocked souvenir Marauder’s Maps that, while handsomely detailed, are decidedly inert.

As of a couple weeks ago, Filch’s has begun selling a new electronic interactive version of the Marauder’s Map that is exclusive to Universal Parks and the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. The new maps, which retail for $59.95, feature light-up footsteps and sound effects that are triggered by a “magic” wand.

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Hollywood Brown Derby Tests New Lunch Menu

by on August 4, 2013

Waygu beef burger with house-made fries

Waygu beef burger with house-made fries

Last week I saw an advertisement in the Disney Hollywood Studios times guide for some limited time lunch offerings at The Hollywood Brown Derby, so I decided to invite my friends Mark and Kendra along to a brunch this past Sunday. I tried going the week before, but the waiter informed me the chef refused to serve me off the lunch menu because it was 5 o’clock (lunch hours are 11:30 to 3:00) and he had already packed up the prep work for lunch. Okay, whatever. More on that later.

The Signature Lunch Specialties menu, according to the times guide, included old favorites such as the noodle bowl and famous Cobb salad and three new items: A tuna Niçoise salad, a waygu beef burger with house-made fries, and an open-faced crab sandwich. You could also order off of the regular full Brown Derby menu.

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Review: Transformers The Ride 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood

by on June 25, 2012

Amid the hoopla over the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure, it’s easy to forget that the competition across town recently opened a fantastic new attraction of its own. Here is a preview of our review of Universal Studios Hollywood’s stunning new Transformers simulator, which will appear in the upcoming 2013 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.

Transformers—The Ride 3-D

Our Rating: 5 stars
  • What it is: Multi-sensory 3-D dark ride
  • Scope and scale: Super-headliner
  • When to go: The first 30 minutes the park is open or after 4 p.m.
  • Special Comments: Must be 40″ to ride; single rider line is available
  • Duration of ride: 4 1/2 minutes.
  • Average wait time per 100 people ahead of you: About 3 1/2 minutes
  • Loading speed: Moderate-Fast

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First Review: Buena Vista Street Restaurants

by on June 15, 2012

Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café (menu)

Tom Bricker says:

“The menu seems very similar to Jolly Holiday in Disneyland Park, with the addition of Starbucks. The breakfast was better here than at the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land.”

  • Quality: Good-Excellent
  • Value: B
  • Portion: Medium
Selections

Starbucks coffee, cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing, hot breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches (including roast beef and Cheddar, turkey reuben, and paneer and roasted vegetable), and soups (such as cream spinach, chicken tortilla, or meat stew)

Comments

This new quick-service eatery — named after both the Three Little Pigs and an imaginary songstress trio whose manufactured mementos hang inside — boasts a large open dining area in the Arts & Crafts style. You can get your morning jolt of Starbucks-brand joe (or a venti half-caff soy latte, if you prefer) and grab-and-go breakfast pastries here. Lunch and dinner selections spotlight soups and sandwiches.

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First Review: Cars Land Restaurants

by on June 15, 2012

Flo’s V8 Cafe (menu)

Tom Bricker says:

“Flo’s V8 Cafe serves comfort food. We really enjoyed the New York strip loin!”

  • Quality: Good-Excellent
  • Value: B+
  • Portion: Medium-Large
Selections

French toast, chicken tamales, pork loin, New York strip loin, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, and fruit pies

Comments

Cars Land’s largest eatery serves classic American diner food with a creative Southwestern flair. Breakfast selections feature chicken and egg tamales and caramel banana french toast. Signature lunch and dinner choices include a vegetarian Boca casserole, New York strip loin, and citrus turkey breast, with “ugly crust” apple-cheddar and cherry pies for desert. Memorabilia from proprietor Flo’s past as a famous Motown singer is featured in the décor.

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First Review: Red Car Trolleys on Buena Vista Street

by on June 15, 2012

Red Car Trolleys

Our Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Tom Bricker says:

“The Red Car Trolleys are beautiful!”

  • What it is: Scenic in-park transportation.
  • Scope and scale: Minor attraction.
  • When to go: The first 2 hours the park is open.
  • Duration of ride: About 8 minutes.
  • Average wait time per 100 people ahead of you: 12 minutes.
  • Loading speed: Very Slow

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First Review: Cars Land Overview and Entertainment

by on June 15, 2012

Cars Land

Tom Bricker says:

“Overall, Cars Land was money very well spent. It will be a huge draw for Disneyland Resort for years to come.”

Cars Land is the crowning capstone on DCA’s transformation, and the first major “land” in an American Disney theme park devoted solely to a single film franchise. Tucked in the park’s southeast corner on 12 acres of repurposed parking lot, Cars Land’s main entrance is across from the Golden Vine Winery, though there are secondary gateways in a bug’s land and Pacific Wharf. A massive mountainous backdrop topped with 125-foot-high peaks patterned after 1959 Cadillac Pinnacle tail fins — known as the Cadillac Range — cradles Ornament Valley, home to a screen-accurate re-creation of Radiator Springs. That’s the sleepy single-stoplight town along Route 66 populated by Pixar’s anthropomorphized automobiles.

Along its main drag, in addition to three rides, you find eateries themed to the film’s minor characters such as Fillmore’s Taste-In, serving fruit drinks and snacks; Cozy Cone Motel, with chili, ice cream, and popcorn, all served in conical containers; and Flo’s V8 Cafe, serving creative takes on classic comfort food with a Southwestern twist for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Souvenir shops include Radiator Springs Curios, Ramone’s House of Body Art, and Sarge’s Supply Hut.

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