Thursday, May 30, 2019

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour 172 - Cedar Point's Food Is Good Now?

We're talking about the hottest topic in all of themed entertainment this week: Cedar Point! Step aside Star Wars. This week it's Joe and Jeff as they talk about their annual Memorial Day Weekend Cedar Point trip. We discuss the new BackbeatQ restaurant, enhancements to Magnum and Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Melt, Steel Vengeance, what Cedar Point needs in the future, and more!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Islands of Adventure Turns 20

Today is the 20th Anniversary of the opening of Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. Islands started as a direct response to feedback on Universal Studios Florida with its more adult, real life, and indoor attractions. This new park would focus on kids and family friendly properties, feature outdoor attractions such as roller coasters, and get people wet.

Original plans called for "Cartoon World" with Dr Seuss but also D.C. Comics characters, Looney Tunes, and even for The Simpsons. Six Flags renegotiated for Looney Tunes and D.C., effectively locking those characters out of the park while The Simpsons and Gracie Films were not willing to play ball.

During development the focus of the park shifted as Jurassic Park The Ride opened with critical acclaim in Hollywood and an islands theme was adopted. Marvel Comics (seen as second rate at the time) signed a lifetime deal with the park as did many smaller cartoon characters. Jurassic Park made its home at the new park as the star attraction and a new original land based on myths and legends was developed (no it wasn't the same plans Disney had for Animal Kingdom).

Construction started in 1997 for CityWalk and Islands of Adventure for opening in 1999. Islands opened with 13 rides (including the Island Skipper Tours) and three shows. In the intervening years a small coaster, a flat ride, and the much delayed Seuss Troll ride opened but none brought back the crowds after the September 11th terrorist attacks. IoA and USF languished at around 5 million guests a year, each, for nearly a decade. Then a certain wizard came to town and changed theme parks forever.

Islands of Adventure is and has remained one of the best parks in the country. While we take it for granted now the combination of thrills, theming, and design was never before seen. Remember IoA was the first park to receive a full, custom soundtrack. Nothing shows the excitement and wonder better than Sean Flaharty's pre-opening day video of the park. In the video Sean shows us the famous IoA model, construction footage of the park, and a pre-opening day tour. The energy and amazement is palpable and quaint, with many guests not knowing what each attraction is.

Other sites have more great Islands of Adventure info. Theme Park University has a series on the never built original concepts for the park and Theme Park Insider dives into the history of Potter in the park.

This year for the 20th Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opens and a new Jurassic Park experience is on the horizon. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for this amazing theme park.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour 171 - Earl the Squirrel

Joe is joined by Brian from Inside Universal this week to talk about his visit behind the walls at Hagrid's Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure. We also discuss chicken "corn dog" nuggets, HHN29's Depths of Fear, Jurassic Park construction, horitcultre, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge pricing, and more!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Hagrid's Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure May 20 Update

Photo courtesy of Inside Universal.

Hagird's Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure officially opens in three weeks. In our latest, and last, update we'll look at the finishing touches along the ride path, the outdoor queue, the indoor queue preview released today, and speculate on Team Member and guest previews. As always many thanks to Inside Universal and Bioreconsturct for the photos and coverage. If you do not already make sure to follow them.

The entrance sign for Hagrid is nearly installed and complete. Moss has been applied and the fiber-optics are installed!

What I like is the small bit of stained glass below which brings some color and pop to the sign, something sorely missing from Dragon Challenge.
Construction is nearly done! Staining of the sidewalks is finishing up on May 7 and the sound barrier mural painting has started. Continuous testing started this past week and trains are dispatching roughly every 20-30 seconds, giving this ride an hourly capacity of over 2000 guests an hour.

The outdoor queue is complete and installed and follows a similar path to the Dragon Challenge outdoor queue. And yes, there are NO metal detectors, so while you will need to store bags you won't have to empty out your pockets.
What's that? Yes, it's a unicorn! Hidden during the final portion of the ride the unicorn will bid us good luck and farewell after we touchdown in the ruins.

This past week several media outlets were invited by Universal Orlando to preview the queue. Hagrid took over the ruins on the outskirts of Hogwarts Castle and uses them to take care of his creatures. Inside guests wind through a newly laid out queue finding equipment, books, and creatures. Soon guests enter the first preshow where Hagrid and Arthur Weasley repair and discuss the motorbike that guests will ride on. After the first preshow there is another bit of queue before a second preshow, one that Universal is keeping secret for now.

Inside Universal has a great write up of the event and Orlando Informer put together a fantastic video looking at the ride and queue (see above).
Photo courtesy of Inside Universal.
With the ride quickly approaching opening everyone is wondering when the ride will preview for all guests. At this point the only guaranteed date to start riding is June 13, the grand opening date. But if you're traveling prior to then there's a possibility the ride will open for limited previews.

Right now the ride is still under the control of Universal Creative. The final major milestone for the attraction will be when the control of the ride is transferred from Creative to the Universal operations team. Rumors point to this occurring on Memorial Day weekend. After transferring to operations the ride will continue to run through testing and training the team members. Once the operations team feels comfortable with the ride they will begin Team Member previews for the attraction. These usually last a handful of days with the final day of Team Member previews ending in the late morning. Only then, and if they feel comfortable, will the ride open in the evening for guest previews.

To speculate it is likely Team Member previews will occur the week of May 27 with guest previews starting the following week, the first full week of June. Guest previews are unlikely to occur the few days prior to June 13. Islands of Adventure closes at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11 for the media event. June 10 and 12 the ride will likely be closed for media impressions, on ride photography, and to prepare for the grand opening for guests.

It has been fun to share with you all the construction and of this attraction and hope to see you in the parks!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour 170 - Brit in a Speedo

It's Alex and Joe this time to talk about news, rumors, and trip reports! We cover the Kings Island giga coaster, Dollywood's newest addition, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, more Hagrid, and more! Then we discuss Alex's trip through the south, including his first ever visit to Animal Kingdom, before Joe talks about Kennywood's pass holder preview day and a quick stop at Hersheypark.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Unannounced Jurassic Park Attraction Update 5/7/2019

Construction on the unannounced Jurassic Park attraction continues with land clearing continuing in the area formerly home to the Triceratops Encounter and Raptor Encounter. Along the lagoon front deep pylons and footers are installed for the new bypass bridge and coaster.

For a reminder this is the rumor coaster layout.

The eye in the sky Bioreconstruct is back with updates from the construction project.

Here you can see the three former Triceratops Encounter enclosures are in various states of demolition. The old Raptor Encounter area is totally gone and the two buildings at the top of the image are the old queue for the Triceratops Encounter attraction that was used as a break and changing room for Raptor Encounter.

Current status of the new bypass bridge opening this summer. This new bridge will act as access to the new attraction in front of the Discovery Center and as a way to cut between Lost Continent and Jurassic Park during nighttime shows in Hogsmeade.

While under construction the Raptor Encounter has moved next to Pizza Preditoria in the old Jurassic Park River Adventure extended queue.

The unannounced Jurassic Park attraction is expected to be a new roller coaster designed by Intamin AG. The coaster is rumored to be the fastest in central Florida once it opens in early 2021. It will feature multiple inversions, two high speed launches, and extended airtime.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour 169 - #dadstuff

Everybody rock your body right, Banks Lee's back, alright.

Joe, Mike, and Banks talk about Universal Classic Monsters house, HHN29's leaked rumored lineup, the Today Cafe, avocado toast, Disney Hollywood Studios' 30th Anniversary, the bad new DHS logo, and Banks' tour of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge!