Posts Tagged ‘Volcano Bay’

Volcano Bay: the Lines, the Waves, and the Waturi

by on October 2, 2017

A few months ago, Daisy took an initial run at Volcano Bay, Universal’s new water park that I still refuse to call the third theme park (sorry, Universal marketing). She did not have a great experience, but the park was new, and it was still getting used to swimming without its floaties. So we gave it a few months and then tried again.

I visited the park on a relatively nondescript Tuesday in August–the 22nd to be exact–and my colleague David Davies was there a few weeks before me, on July 27. This post is an amalgamation of our two experiences, which had a few differences but the same general result: it’s not great, folks.

Arrival

Heading to the Parking Buses Around 4:15 PM

David and I each arrived differently. I was lucky enough to have an overnight stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is where some of the photos of stunning Volcano Bay views in this post came from. For me, getting in was easy: there is an entrance specifically for Cabana Bay guests about 50 feet from the Bayside Tower. Since I entered during Early Entry (more on that in a bit), the entry process was quick and simple.

The alternative for everyone not at Cabana Bay or the neighboring Sapphire Falls is to take a shuttle bus. The other Universal resorts have their own shuttle, and there is one that delivers guests from the parking area. The latter was the path that David took, and he wasn’t too thrilled. Here’s what he says about the process:

“Having to park and go through security on the first floor of a garage is very industrial and non-water-parky. I guess it conditions us to get used to crowds and lines, but forcing driving guests to take a bus isn’t fun and takes a good chunk of time. The bus’s path doesn’t seem especially direct, either, and the buses from the garage (vs. from the hotels) park farther away from the park entrance, so immediately I was feeling second-class. After exiting the bus, we had to corral ourselves into a narrow path and then through through a nicely decorated tunnel to get to the park. Then we had to take an escalator (or switchback path) up a hill to get to the entrance. I know Universal has land constraints, and the workers were doing a good job with the processes dictated to them, but these complexities can make negative first and last impressions on guests as they arrive and depart the park.”

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Can’t Wait To See in 2017

by on December 31, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2017! 2016 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world, containing a wide mix of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. 2017 is already shaping up to be even more amazing. We have a new immersive land that promises to eclipse what Disneyland has done with Cars Land and Universal with Diagon Alley, a new President being added to the Hall of Presidents, and the first of its kind “water theme park.” If that doesn’t get your blood pumping about the next 12 months you may actually be a Host from Westworld, but for the rest of you, here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…

 

# 6 – Pandora: The World of Avatar (Animal Kingdom)

Our long national nightmare is almost over. First announced on September 20, 2011, Pandora: The World of Avatar is nearing completion. Disney is saying “Summer 2017” for this new land, and is going on record saying it is the most immersive area in any theme park. Just from what we can see from what rises over the construction walls and the Blogger-In-The-Sky helicopter camera shots, the land does look STUNNING. The info we’ve been given on the bioluminescent plants in the area along with the experience in the Na’vi River Journey make both seem like “wow” moments. Last year, this fine blog did question what Pandora will be doing in the areas of food and merchandise, two extremely important factors a theme park land needs to deliver on to satisfy its Return On Investment (ROI). These are also two areas that Disney has not released much info on for Pandora. We all know that Avatar the movie – by far and away the most financially successful film in the history of cinema – never really figured out a way to get its fans to buy merchandise the way that Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, and even Star Trek have.

The Flying Mountains of Pandora. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

Na’vi River Journey. (photo courtesy of Disney Parks and Resorts)

One of the most exciting things about Pandora is that it appears the land will be using projection mapping on its incredible rock work. This is something that has never been mentioned by Disney over the course of the Pandora project, but Johnny-on-the-spot bloggers have seen this technology being tested. Your Humble Author thinks projection mapping is one of the areas that Disney is heads and tails above anyone else in the industry right now. Whether on the castle in the Magic Kingdom, the Great Movie Ride facade in DHS, or the jaw dropping Tree of Life Awakens shows at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s use of projection mapping in the parks is amazing.

What looks to be testing for projecting mapping on the rock work in Pandora. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

# 5 – Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (Universal Studios Florida)

Last year Universal fans lost Twister…Ride It Out! along with its Bill Paxton performance that was so mailed in he should have put a stamp on it. In Twister’s place will be the upcoming Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. One of the most underrated aspects of this change, is that the attraction takes place in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, so it is a perfect fit. There are many who do not like Fallon’s broad sense of humor, but his Late Night TV dominance shows there is most likely a much larger group of people who love what he brings to the table (Your Humble Author included). While there have been some debates on how the “flying theater” ride mechanics will actually work, one thing we do know is that Universal is trying something truly different with how people experience the attraction’s queue.

Much like how Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom allows kids to play in a themed area until it is time to ride, Race Through New York looks to have things for adults to do while waiting. There will be a woman’s quartet singing songs, a chance to check out classic bits from from Fallon’s Tonight Show run (including Lip Sync Battle), write your own “Thank You Notes” at an interactive desk, and even get a meet and greet with the Tonight Show’s mascot, Hashtag the Panda.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is designed to get guests to laugh, and comedy is one thing Universal is very good at delivering on. From the criminally underrated Horror Make-Up Show to the non-stop gags in Springfield USA, be prepared to bring your smile when stepping into Universal Studios Florida.

Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon concept art.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in Universal Studios Florida. (photo by @bioreconstruct).

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Universal Orlando Photo Update, June 6, 2016

by on June 7, 2016

Welcome back to another Universal Orlando Photo Update! We’re in the middle of a very exciting time here at the resort, with two attractions opening up in the coming weeks and a brand new resort hotel not too far behind. We’ll start this week’s update with a look at Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium before taking a trip around Universal Studios Florida and a look at some smaller updates, including Fast and Furious: Supercharged and the Hello Kitty Store. Over at Islands of Adventure we’ve got a short look at The Incredible Hulk as well as some new information about Skull Island: Reign of Kong. Then we’ll close our update out with some shots of the nearly completed Sapphire Falls as well as next year’s Volcano Bay. All that and much more, so let’s get started!

Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium

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Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen is Universal’s latest restaurant concept, opening this fall. It replaces the former NBA City concept and is currently undergoing a complete makeover to turn the form basketball restaurant into a chocolate factory.

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The giant windows are leftover from NBA City and will again afford guests a great view of the CityWalk lagoon.

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