Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drive-In Golf Is A Hole In One! (Part 2 Of My Trip Report)

©2012 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

As with my last post, the following update comes courtesy of my recent anniversary trip to Universal Orlando Resort.  My wife and I went on two separate nights and played both courses at Hollywood Drive-In Golf.  Although we did not set course records with our scores, we had a blast.  The courses are especially good for killing a bit of time when everyone is rushing out of the parking garages at park closure.  I would like to thank my wife, Jennifer, for assisting with this blog post.  Lets get started, shall we?

Hollywood Drive-In Golf, located in City Walk at Universal Orlando Resort, is a diversion worth trying out.  There are two courses that you can take advantage of, either The Haunting of Ghostly Greens, a haunted/horror movie based course, or The Invasion of Planet Putt, a sci-fi based course.  It was said that the sci-fi course was more difficult, but the haunted course was more scenic.  However, both courses offered a variety of obstacles to deal with to reach the hole.

Even though the operating hours offer the option for you to play from 9am-2am, it is illuminating to play after dark on both courses.  There is a discount of $3 per person if you choose to play both courses and pay in the same day.  They offer a rain check if you do not want to play them both in the same day, but just be sure you hang on to your receipt.  However, if you decide to play only one it will cost you $13.99 a person for adults and $11.99 for children, but adding in the other course will cost you a total of $24.99 for adults or $20.99 for children.  The clubs are also brightly colored with neon green and purple, as well as the holes on each hole being lit up outlined with lights.  If you want a souvenir, you can purchase a golf ball with various colors or graphics to remind your experience.  Don’t forget to ask for your discount if you are a Universal pass holder or a Florida resident.  I also noticed that you can find 10% off discount cards at many of the restaurants around CityWalk. Now, on to the courses! 

Now Playing: The Haunting of Ghostly Greens

As you move from the first hole to eighteenth on the haunting course you see ghost in the hedges and watching over the course.  Watch out for the blast of air and water coming your way as you move over the bridge of one whole as you go by to complete the hole.  There are many special effects and gadgets along the way which capture your ball to take it up to be taken to the drop zone to be let out far or near the hole depending on the way it may go. Continuing to move through the maze, haunted trees, and grave yard sceneries all offer something eye catching to make the course more enjoyable along the way.

The haunted house at the 18th hole offers an obstacle that calls for the right force and aim to hit the right spot of the broken stairs for your ball to go inside to complete the last hole of this course, but if you don’t hit it just right or hard enough it will come right back to you to repeat your shot as many times as you need to make it in. There are many other times that if you do not hit the ball hard enough or at the right angle it may come back towards you to call for a repeat of your shot, but hang in there and don’t let the ghostly haunts scare you away. The sceneries and effects take into account some of the funny aspects of old and new horror movies alike. This was a memorable adventure throughout this neon course with purple greens.

Now Playing: Invaders from Planet Putt

Let’s take a trip to the sci-fi adventure incorporating components from the early sci-fi to ideas we still think of today.  From the start of this course till the very end (where you reach the monster’s mouth) there are twists and turns along the way.  The greens stand out with bright green with bright yellow and orange added in along the way to highlight areas of the course, as well as the outlining lights which make the shape of the layout standout.

A tri-level circle hole is the starter that gets your journey underway for this course.  There is a large robotic structure that is the center of attention for this course with its multiple arms stretched out in different directions.  Moving throughout the course you will be greeted by little alien figures, stars, pumpkin or alien head scare crow and a giant bug, but don’t forget to keep a look out for the big eyed cows with the random noise that it’ll make as you walk on by.  No sci-fi scene would be complete without some UFO’s along the way, a space ship to enter into and even a farm area with a barn and corn crop for those ever so famous crop circles.  Other aspects included don’t leave you short of fun with the circle of bars that act like a trap, a psychedelic old television to capture your ball and watch it on the screen as it goes on through, objects suspended up by squiggly monster arms and even an old outhouse along the way. There is a three eyed monster waiting for you at the end with its mouth open wide and tongue stuck out ready for you to hit the ball inside its mouth.  It’s not so easy though because there is a twist at the end as a circle area containing the hole is continually spinning within.  These old school sci-fi scenes and effects make this course a fun filled course worth a look.  It was worth the time and experience to make some memories from our trip to play this course and its neighboring one.

Hollywood Drive-In Golf is an excellent addition to Universal Orlando Resort.  We really enjoyed playing both courses, but have to give a nod to The Haunting of Ghostly Greens as being our favorite and choice if you can only do one course.  I recommend giving them both a shot and deciding for yourself which course you find to be superior. 

Thanks for looking at this continuation of my Anniversary Trip Report!  If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them here or tweet me @MrX_381, my wife @UGAGirl23 or @Parkscope.  You can also find us on Facebook!

All pictures not marked otherwise were taken by my wife and me. Please excuse the quality as they are from our iPhone. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Verbolten Documentary: From Dreams to Screams

Thanks to Screamscape for this link. A really good look at how a regional park builds and operates a themed attraction.

If you haven't yet, make sure to find a POV video to Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Spiderman/Transformers like attraction: DarKastle.

New HHN Permit Filed: More Questions than Answers

Universal filed a new Halloween Horror Nights maze permit today.  The problem is, the project name is the same as it was before "HHN 2012-BLD44 Herc&Xena.  It looks as if Universal is playing games with us again!

So, is it for Soundstage 33 or the Parade Building?  Casting and a few moves backstage suggest the Parade Building. I guess we will find out soon enough!

Follow us on Twitter @Parkscope and @CaptMichael87

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Alice Cooper Goes 2 Hell 3D" 4 Universal HHN 2012

Tonight on a webcast, Alice Cooper has announced a new HHN maze for the 2012 season, per HHN AddictOrlandoUnited and Inside the Magic. The maze will be in both Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood.

Last year Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare was a maze in Universal Studios Hollywood, where each room was based on a song by Alice Cooper.

Not much more is known until Universal releases more information, but until then here's the 1978 episode of The Muppet Show with Alice Cooper.

I seriously hope this is in the maze.

Potter Waterfront Plans 7/23/12

Parkscope friend and fanboi deity, "Lee" has provided us with the plans for the new London Waterfront.

©2012 Universal City Development Partners LLC.  All Rights Reserved.
Please credit Lee and us when you use it.
As you can see, the waterfront will a nice smooth arc with pillars which resembles the Albert and Victoria Embankments found in London.  What is new is that it appears that there will be water or planters between the new waterfront and London.  There also appears to be a fountain feature (or a plinth for a statue).  This should look very nice when complete and should make people forget about the very cluttered Amity waterfront.  It will also be a nice place to watch Cinematic Spectacular from.

So far, two segments of the new wall have been poured, and they are currently working on the third.  There are eight segments of the new wall in total.  The reasoning for the dewatering seems to be apparent now because they will be doing considerable work to this area.

Perhaps a few details can be gleaned from the little of London/Diagon Alley we can see in the picture as well.

Hope you enjoyed this nice surprise.

Follow us @Parkscope on Twitter.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Evening Extra Magic Hours Slashed

According to the official Walt Disney World website, it appears that 3 Hour Evening Extra Magic Hour periods have been discontinued. Beginning in January, Extra Magic Hours will only last up to two hours post park closing. Extra Magic Hours in the morning, which allow Walt Disney World Resort guests entrance an extra hour prior to park opening, will remain the same.

 These changes come after Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours for the evening were reduced dramatically in the past year, and while normal operating hours for guests remain woefully short of previous years when closings would often be 10 PM at the earliest.

 Strangely enough, curtailing hours in Walt Disney World comes after internal support of Disney’s Leap Year events that boasted record crowds and support from leadership. This support, of course, is wished to continue and it is rumored of Disney creating more “after hours” events that revolve around entertainment and guests being allowed extra time (perhaps up to 24 hours, again) in the theme parks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I have a confession to make: I really don’t care for anything horror related. I’ve never seen a Saw movie, never touched any Screams or anything by Rob Zombie. The closest I’ve come was Shaun of the Dead, which lets be honest, is on the horror scale up there with the Bratz movie (for different reasons, of course).


This also means I’ve never cared for, let alone been to, a halloween amusement park event. No Halloweekends, no Fight Fest, and especially no Halloween Horror Nights. Could it be my life is chaotic as it is, and I demand control at all times? Or that I naturally wish everyone is good and pure? I could fill several sessions worth of topics with my psychologist on this.

Image copyright Disney. This is my limit for 'horror'.
See, I don’t have much exposure with horror; but I do know of the movies, themes, and memes of horror in pop culture. I know about Jigsaw and playing games, psychos with chainsaws, and summer camp stories. And whatever you do, DO NOT MAKE OUT IN A PARKED CAR IN THE WOODS. Bad news.
As such, I know of the Walking Dead. The popular graphic novel turned AMC show has been a hit for years now. And now it’s part HHN scare house. Ok cool, I could get behind that.

Image copyright Universal. All rights reserved.
But I can’t.
Today I was listening to the GiantBombcast and the topic of the new Walking Dead came up. They praised it’s story telling and the impact your choices have on the world, but mentioned something really really interesting. There are very few zombies in the game. In fact, this is true of the novels and TV show.
The Zombies of the Walking Dead are a means to an end; the Walking Dead could just have easily been a killer asteroid or bubonic plague. The zombies are a means to an end of exploring the nature of human relationships, the bonds of family, and that we are the real monsters. Yet, as I look at the concept and PR release for the HHN house, I just can’t stop thinking Universal just doesn’t get it.

Image copyright Universal. HHN 19, sponsored by Home Depot.
Comedy lets you talk about the uncomfortable topics of our time, action is a pure revenge fantasy against the system or others, and horror has always shown what defines us as humans. Frankenstein, Dawn of the Dead, and yes Shawn of the Dead, show what it means to be human and interacting with a society at large, even one in disrepair.
Universal seems intent on focusing only on the zombie quotient of the Walking Dead. They are erecting a few hallmark locations of the novel and show, adding some zombie actors, then letting you walk around. This will probably entertain enough, but this seems like a waste if it's just a maze.
I am not privy to the plans of HHN coordinators, nor do I offer any consulting work (thank god). But Universal is missing a real opportunity to explore some dark depths of who we are, what we think of our fellow ‘survivors’, and most importantly, what we decide we stand for. I hope Universal has more surprises up its sleeve and really wows me. I hope we see real, honest, smart survivor actors in the house, who make us choose how we want the events to unfold. The best thing they can chose is to limit the zombies to a brief, tense encounter, one that is lead up to by deep character moments and hard choices.

Image copyright Capcom.
Will this happen? Who knows. I'm split. Some of their promotional imagery suggests it might, and a Jim Hill interview gives high hopes. Other bits hint that it will just be zombies, zombies, zombies. If Universal is only interested in the cheap thrill of brain eating, though, why not chose Resident Evil? It fits in with the video game theme of this year’s HHN and probably is cheaper, royalty wise.
I am being very picky right now. But I think it’s something worth thinking about. What if we really introduced some themes of humanity and being pushed to our socio limits. This is such a strong concept that, I think, it could be a haunted house attraction perfect for year around operation...

Project 146 is Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Eight building permits were filed today for Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort which has been given the project name: Project 146.  The permit address is 6550 Adventure Way which puts the new resort on the south-westernmost expansion plot along Turkey Lake Rd..  Permits have also been filed for amenities such as pools and fire pits!  The permits all say its Phase 1 of 1800 room hotel development - phase 1 encompasses 600 guest rooms.  Will be interesting to see how that plays out.

There are three different buildings each containing 600 rooms:

Building A

Building B

Building C

Resort Sign

Fire Pit Amenity

Swimming Pool

SeaWorld Orlando Antarctica Update 7/19/12

Today, SeaWorld released a new teaser video for their forthcoming attraction "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin" opening Spring 2013.

Empire of the Penguin will be the first attraction in Orlando to feature the trackless ride system made famous in theme park fan circles by Tokyo Disney's Winnie the Pooh attraction.  This attraction looks to be a solid addition to SeaWorld and has gone largely unnoticed in a market dominated by Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World.

This year, SeaWorld Orlando debuted a new 3-D 360 degree screen attraction called Turtle Trek which has gotten great reviews. They recently opened a new freshwater environment at Discovery Cove. SeaWorld is quietly making a splash in the Orlando market.  Hopefully it pays off for them.

Welcome to "Youtopia"

What images does your mind conjure up when you read the phrase "Welcome to Youtopia"?  Does your mind recall the ill-fated fruit beverage called Frutopia?  If you are a man, does your mind picture a beer ad full of scantily clad ladies?  Do you picture Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Disneyland?

"Youtopia" is Disney's latest marketing gimmick for Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World and they are finally pushing a "family friendly" Downtown Disney after promising to do so 4 years ago with Kevin Lansberry's "Bold New Vision."

The internet has been torturing me with this "Youtopia" ad for the past few days, and I have no idea why.  I mostly talk about Universal these days, and I certainly have not searched for anything Downtown Disney since I wrote the Pleasure Island article last month.  Strange.

I don't know about you, but the current Downtown Disney is hardly my version of "Youtopia."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

UOR Permit Update 7/18/12: Project 7685

After a bit of a permit drought (Hogwarts Express et al have been issued), we now have a new permit and it's seemingly for Potter.  All Potter permits for Universal Studios have had a project number in the 7000 range.  This new permit has a project number of 7685 and is for "Pre-engineered metal builing system."

No clues are available as to what this is.  The current fee amount is for a commerical building under the Florida Building Code and is $5,356.01 .

Please follow us on Twitter @Parkscope and myself @CaptMichael87.  We are also now on Facebook.  Tell your friends (and maybe even your enemies.)

The Walking Dead Coming to HHN

©2012 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

The hit TV show/comic series The Walking Dead will be coming this year to Halloween Horror Nights 22! Rumored for months, we finally have confirmation today in the form of a website update! With this and Silent Hill, this year is looking to be very exciting so far!

Project 609 = Transformers

UPDATE: The image is now considered to be a fake.  A good fake, but a fake nonetheless.  Whoever did it was very creative.  While the image wasn't real, Project 609 is definitely Transformers and is still slated to open next year.

A picture made a brief appearance online that 100% confirms that Universal Studios Florida will getting the very popular Transformers attraction that recently opened this year at Universal Studios in Hollywood and Singapore.  It also appears that rumored timeline of 18 months is, in fact, accurate.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the project or our updates, but it is nice to finally have some closure.  While we would love to share the picture with you, legally, we cannot.  Out of respect for Universal and copyright law, we can and will only show you things that are public domain.

So now, we wait for an official announcement.  Until then, Prepare for Battle.  Enjoy our temporary website overlay.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Anniversary Trip to Universal Orlando! (Part 1: Background)

When me and my wife were talking about our first anniversary trip, Universal Orlando was not our first choice.  We had originally planned on taking a road trip up the east coast stopping in Washington, Boston, Philly, NYC, etc all while making our way to Niagara Falls.  Somewhere between planning that and May, we bought a house.  Buying the house ate up a large portion of our trip budget (mainly b/c of flood insurance since we live on an island).  When my wife said that we should go back to Orlando and go to Universal, I remembered why I loved her.  This would be her first trip to Universal Orlando ever and my first since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened.

We are not big on planning trips to theme parks because we would rather go with the flow and see what happens.  We began thinking about hotels. Of course, we would love to stay at one of the Universal resorts, but that was not in the cards for this trip. When we cannot stay at a resort at Walt Disney World, we try to get the Hampton Inn by Downtown Disney.  We figure we would give the Hampton Inn Universal Orlando a shot.  We were not disappointed.  While the hotel is a simple hotel, it met all of needs and more.  We were a short 2 to 3 minute drive to Universal property depending on red lights and we got breakfast every morning.  If you are going down to Universal and are looking for a good hotel that doesn't break the bank, give the Hampton Inn Universal a shot.

©2012 All Rights Reserved

As for tickets, with Parkscope Weekend coming up in October and our typical style of a few trips down every year, it only made sense for us to go for the Annual Pass.  We chose to go with the Preferred Annual Pass. With that, we recieve the discounts on everything we need.  If you are someone planning on attending Halloween Horror Nights, you might want to give the Premier Pass a look because it comes with a free ticket to the event.  My wife has vetoed Halloween Horror Nights, so we will be attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this year during Parkscope Weekend.

©2012 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

In case you did not know, we live in Savannah, Georgia.  When we were pricing our pass options on the Internet, we wanted to go with the payment plan.  This allows you to pay for half of your pass up front, and the rest will be billed to you later.  This was a good option for us because of having to purchase two annual passes at once.  Since it came up as an option on the Internet, we should be able to do it at the ticket booth at Islands of Adventure, right?  Right?  I'm not sure what the issue was, but the Team Member assisting us was not able to get the option to come up on her screen.  She kept working with it and eventually called her supervisor on the phone.  Turned out, because we live within a couple of hours of Florida, we were eligible for Florida resident rates!  This was great for us because not only did we get a cheaper price, but the payment plan option.  If you live within a few hours of the resort, it might be worth asking about.

That gives you the basic background.  So, onto some fun in the parks.  Once we had arrived, we headed into Islands of Adventure.  It was probably around 6pm.  After entering the park, we headed directly to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for my wife's first ride at Universal.... she got sick.  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a simply stunning ride.  I know everyone has heard it before but it warrants all the praise it gets.  It is unlike anything else in the industry.  Even though my wife got sick on the ride, she had to ride it multiple times on the trip because it is so amazing.

After a ride on Harry Potter and he Forbidden Journey, we had a Butterbeer and proceeded into Jurassic Park.  Jurassic Park is another area of the park that blows me out of the water.  To this day, I consider Jurassic Park to be my favorite movie.  The land in Islands of Adventure is straight out of the movie.  Every time I go in the place I get chill bumps when the music soars and I pass through the gates.  Ah.. it is simply bliss just thinking about it.  My wife wanted a calmer ride to enjoy since she still was not feeling well and Jurassic Park River Adventure fit the bill.  Like I said, I love Jurassic Park, the River Adventure is the closest experience I will ever have to being in the movie.  I've ridden it a lot and I never felt like I got that wet riding it.  Sometimes I was straight dry after riding.  I do not know if they did anything to the ride, but every time I rode it this trip, I was soaked.

After Jurassic Park, we made our way to Marvel Superhero Island for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.  I love Spider-Man!  I still consider it the best ride I have been on, even with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey existing, but nothing prepared me for the new HD projectors!  I was simply stunned at the detail and rich environments that are now present on the ride.  I did not think it was possible for Spider-Man to get any better, but they did it.  The ride now uses the new style of glasses that you are also utilized on Star Tours The Adventure Continues at Disneys Hollywood Studios and the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride at Universal Studios Florida.  It truly changes the experience for the better.  The changes on Spider-Man are reason enough to head to Universal Orlando Resort this year.

After Spider-Man, we proceeded to Universal Studios Florida because they were open an hour later than Islands of Adventure.  Once inside, we headed straight to Mummy.  The ride was looking pretty good however, the first Imhotep AA was not working.  Overall, I was pleased with the condition of the attraction.  The last ride of the night was E.T.!  For some reason, I have a feeling that this attraction's days are numbered.  I told my wife after our ride that I wanted to be sure to experience it as often as possible.  Since she loved the attraction as well, it was an easy sell.  I hope I am wrong because so much of the classic Universal Studios Florida is now gone, it makes E.T. all the more special.

I think that will wrap it up for now.  Expect more installments in the coming days and weeks.  We will be discussing dining, attractions, mini-golf, etc.  I know it will be a great recap for me and I hope you enjoy it!  If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them here or tweet me @MrX_381 or @Parkscope.  You can also find us on Facebook!

All pictures not marked otherwise were taken by my wife and me.

Halloween Horror Night Site Update 7/17/12

©2012 Universal Orlando.  All Rights Reserved.

Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Night's 22 website has been updated to include Silent Hill and a blurb about the event overview.

On Monday, an iconic Silent Hill nurse was added to the front page.  Unlike the nurse from the Hollywood HHN site, the Orlando nurse is Hollywood's modest twin and has her cleavage covered.  Boobs...the HORROR!

©2012 Universal Hollywood.  All Rights Reserved.

Today, the event overview was updated to include:

On select evenings, Universal Studios Florida® will transform into the nation’s premier Halloween event. Escape infection as you make your way through all-new haunted houses, spine-chilling scare zones and live shows, all while a horde of flesh-eating zombies prowls the darkened studio streets. There’s truly no better way to meet your end than at Halloween Horror Nights.
This confirms that zombies will indeed be featured in this year's event and possibly quite prominently.  Sean offers this observation:
 "What if they're going for a more "interactive" experience this year. Silent Hill is being touted like no other, and the "Your Alternate Ending Awaits" along with "Escape infection" just seems like there could be a touch of that this year. Of course it's probably just PR speak...but it would be really, really cool if they could somehow pull it off."
The entire Parkscope Staff will be attending HHN the first weekend of October.  Plan accordingly.  Also, follow us on Twitter @Parkscope.

Update on Universal's Photographer Problem

The following is an update on yesterday's post about Universal Security stopping people from taking pictures of construction zones.

So, thanks to a poster on Orlando United, we now know what Universal's official policy on photographing construction zones:

You are allowed to take pictures of the park, however if you take pictures of the construction zones we have around any of the parks, the Staff have the right to ask you to delete the pictures or stop taking pictures. Also, you will not be escorted out of the park if you comply to delete or stop taking them.


So there we are. Universal claims that you're not allowed to take photos of construction sites. And if you're taking pictures of them, and they catch you, they have the right to tell you to delete the pictures. And if you don't comply, they will toss you out of the park.

I'm trying to be as calm as possible while writing this post. This is a very disheartening policy, and it is one that I think should be reversed as soon as possible. If Universal continues to hound guests and fans about taking pictures, they run the risk of hurting all the good will and progress they've made over the past two years.

Construction updates from blogs and forums drive excitement in the fanbase, and have people talking about your property all the time. People want to see them more than anything else. They want to watch as projects rise towards the sky and get their imaginations going. Trying to cut that away from people is really not a way to foster your growing fanbase. And without an official blog of their own, Universal doesn't really have any other way to generate excitement.

As we said in our last post, we LOVE what Universal has been doing with their parks. They've made leaps and bounds towards becoming a full fledged destination resort, and we know there are plans to finish that vision. We love what's on the way, whether it be Transformers or more Harry Potter. But Universal needs to realize they have a growing fanbase that is hungry for news and updates on their parks, and Universal shouldn't be stifling that excitement. We have faith the company will realize their mistake and fix this policy.

As always, you can follow @Parkscope on twitter or follow us on Facebook or Google+.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Universal and the War with Photographers

Followers of Parkscope undoubtedly know that we are huge fans of what Universal Orlando is doing right now.  From Potter to Transformers and beyond, we are very impressed.  Having said that, we are bothered and amused by how Universal has been treating theme park photographers since the closure of Jaws and Amity on January 3rd.

Construction walls began to spring up around Universal Studios Florida the day after Jaws closed, and seemingly, security and other forces have been beefed up to prevent bloggers and guests from taking pictures of construction areas.

In Amity/Potter, Universal has actually hired entertainment team members to pose as outrageous caricatures of tourists to bother anyone who even thinks about stopping in the Amity construction tunnel.  Security also roams this tunnel.  If you take a picture, they will ask to delete it.

This overzealousness has found its way over to Cinematic Spectacular construction, to Soundstage 44, and it will undoubtedly find its way over to the Lost Continent when things start happening over there.  We are usually very critical of how Disney operates, but we have not heard of reports of Disney Security preventing/asking guests to stop to taking pictures (outside of an incident at Pleasure Island last year.)  In fact, Disney regularly releases official construction updates via its Parks Blog.  Admittedly, Universal cannot do this until they actually announce the things they are working on.

Guests and bloggers are curious.  Fans at home are also curious and enjoy construction updates.  Construction updates drum up excitement about new projects and are essentially free advertisement for Disney, SeaWorld, and Universal.  As long as photographers are not doing anything dangerous, we say, let them take pictures.  No matter how hard you try, people will find a way to get pictures.  People proved that this past Saturday by getting spectacular pictures of the former Soundstage 44 plot

Let people have their fun.  Everyone will benefit.  Please ease up on guests and photographers Universal.  You are making yourself look bad, and it is not worth it.  You have come so far.  Embrace the excitement around the future of your parks.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Silent Hill House Announced for Halloween Horror Nights

© 2012 Universal Studios. © 2012 Universal Orlando. © 2012 Konami. All rights reserved. 

Today at the Silent Hill press event at Comic Con, the first official house of Universal's 2012 Halloween Horror Nights was announced.  Both Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood will be getting houses based on the video game turned movie franchise, Silent Hill.  Universal and Silent Hill creator Konami will be working together to bring Silent Hill to life at Halloween Horror Nights.

Watch Universal Orlando's Jim Timon and Hollywood's John Murdy announce Silent Hill:

At the event, it was announced that the houses will feature "movie quality sets."

Keep checking Parkscope for future updates on Halloween Horror Nights and follow us on Twitter @Parkscope.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

UOR Permit Update 7/12/12: Project 609 & 722

Project 609 looks more and more like Transformers with each passing day.  Earlier this week, it was updated by reviewers who mentioned:

 "More information required on the type of waste (oily waste?) discharging into maintenance pit drains and Ride Lift Pit drains"
And today, the Building Plan Review person updated it saying the building is a "threshold building."  Threshold Buildings are:
"What is considered a threshold building with regard to architecture?A threshold building is any building greater than three stories or 50 feet in height, or which has an occupancy classification that exceeds 5,000 square feet."
Transformers in both Hollywood and Singapore go vertical instead of horizontal like Spider-Man.  To go vertical, Transformers employees the use of elevators/lifts.  As you can see, Project 609 is looking like it will be Transformers.  So much so, that we decided to call it yesterday based on the permit and our sources.

A tower crane was assembled on site yesterday.


Project 722 is moving right along with infrastructure and foundations being the main focus.  These are things that are virtually invisible as most of it occurs at or below ground level.  We are still a little bit away from actually seeing vertical construction.

In the past 2 weeks, things have gotten exciting along the forthcoming London Waterfront.  Last week a cofferdam was installed, and a segment of the new wall was formed up.  Recent;y, that wall segment was poured, and today, it was inspected (and passed.)  There are still many sections to be built and formed, but it looks like they are going for the look of Albert Embankment in London.  Yesterday, crews also began dismantling the old wall.

Today, the South Florida Water Management District issued the dewatering permit that will now allow PCL to dewater the lagoon below Dragon Challenge where Hogsmeade Station will go.  Dewatering will also take place where Platform 9 3/4 is planned to go.  This permit was a big step and will now allow progress to resume in places other than Gringotts and the waterfront.

Speaking of Gringotts, plan revisions were submitted, but it seems like things are still going smoothly on the part of the project.

Project 7448 has been awaiting the submission of revisions, but with everything Universal is working on right now, it is understandable that they have not gotten to that yet.  Project 609 and Hogwarts Express are the big picture right now.

As for the Hogwarts Express.  The permits are ready for all three projects.  While the two stations have to wait for dewatering, The Connector (track) foundation layout will likely start as soon as possible as they have quite a bit of work to do to connect both Potter areas.

As always, please follow us on Twitter @Parkscope and @CaptMichael87 for updates on these projects.

WWoHP2: Hogsmeade Construction Update 7/12/12

Mr. X was in Hogsmeade today to get one last Butterbeer before returning home to countdown the days until Parkscope Weekend in October.  While walking through Lost Continent, he noticed that the construction walls had been expanded all the way to Sinbad from the psychic tent.  According to Mr. X, you cannot see anything happening from the park side of the wall, but last weekend, Teebin at Orlando United said work had begun.  Sadly, much of this project will be invisible to us without helicopters.  Expect the psychic tent and other buildings to come down once crews clear the landscaping in the way in the area behind the walls.  Universal probably once to squeeze every last second of use out of these buildings while they wait for demolition to near.

In addition to the construction walls, the South Florida Water Management District issued the dewatering permit to Universal which will be used to dewater the areas where Hogsmeade Station and Platform 9 3/4 will eventually be.

Also, this morning, we found the mass grading permit for the Hogsmeade expansion that was filed back in May.  Today, a building permit was added for walls that are related to the grading project.  One would assume that means construction walls.

Now, pictures and a nifty diagram!

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London Waterfront Construction 7/12/12

Mr. X is at it again.  This morning he got pictures of the first section of the new London sea wall along Universal Studios Lagoon.

It looks as if Universal may be recreating the area called Albert Embankment in London.  Here is a picture for comparisson:

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