Wednesday, March 5, 2014

And the OTHER Universal Theme Park

Am happy to report that I successfully did everything I wanted to do in the main Universal Orlando park before it started raining.  Indeed, I'm back in my hotel room now, and the promised showers have not yet materialized (although they've threatened).

Actually, I probably could have finished with the park an hour or so earlier, but the earliest shuttle back to my hotel wasn't till 4:10, so there was a lot of killing time.

There are three reasons why there was a lot of killing time:  (1) Tuesday in the middle of March when the park is mostly empty; (2) when you enter the park, you can pretty much go straight or turn right -- I figured everyone was going straight so I turned right; and (3) single-rider line.  OMG, single rider line.  With the single exception of the Simpsons ride (more on that later) I didn't spend more than, like, 5 minutes in line for anything.  (This fact made me totally unwilling to wait around 45 minutes for the Despicable Me ride.  No single rider line and a movie I've never seen?  Heck with that.)

My first ride was the Simpsons.  It was supposed to be a ten-minute wait, but honestly, I didn't see anyone in line ahead of me and the couple I came in with.  We were standing around a waiting area watching entertaining Simpsons waiting area stuff all alone for some time.  Eventually, 4 more people came in behind us.  Even more eventually, they decided to take us in the ride.

It's one of those motion simulator rides -- it looks like they have ten rooms, each room has a simulator.  You don't actually leave the room -- the simulator (and the film in front of you) just makes you think you do.  They put you in an antechamber where you watch a safety video, and then the doors open onto the simulator.  I sit in the front row and two people sit down next to me.  One of them is large.  We're supposed to push down the grab bar until it clicks, and the woman to my right is pushing down on that thing hard enough to cut off circulation in her legs, but it isn't clicking.  The woman running the ride tries to push down on the bar (it's a number of inches in the air above my lap), but it won't click.  She finally gets it down -- or maybe not.  She then tries to activate the ride vehicle's doors -- they come down from the sides (like a DeLorean, sorta).  They won't come down.  I don't know if they're malfunctioning because the lap bar isn't really down or what.  But the attendant pushes on the doors and they go down, and we're good to go.

The ride starts.  The car starts "moving" and the film shows us Sideshow Bob taking over the ride and planning to kill us all and then the doors fly open again.  I'm thinking that if Sideshow Bob actually wants to kill us, this is not a bad plan.  But this is not, in fact, how the ride is supposed to operate.  The attendant says she'll give us a different car.  We're sent down the hall to another room.  We have to sit through the safety video again.  The doors open to the simulator and, this time, the attendant sends us back into the antechamber -- the antechamber doors had opened prematurely and there was still a group in this simulator.  Now I'm starting to wonder if the malfunctions on the last simulator were not related to the woman being unable to put down the lap bar -- maybe this is just a seriously wonky ride in need of maintenance.

Props to the designers of this ride, though (the designers on the entertainment side if not the mechanical side).  Of all the motion simulator rides I was on yesterday and today (including Spider-Man, Transformers 3-D, and even that signature Harry Potter attraction), this one was the best executed.  It may just be that animation is the best suited to this medium, but it worked perfectly, and our little carload of riders genuinely enjoyed ourselves.

After that, well, this is how nice the park worked with me walking in the wrong direction and using the single rider lines:  big outdoor Rock 'N' Roll-ercoaster, The Mummy ride (indoor rollercoaster in the dark) twice, Men in Black ride (like Buzz Lightyear -- you get a laser gun and get to shoot at things for points while you ride it) also twice, Transformers 3-D, Hollywood Horror Make-up show, accidentally in the front of the line to meet Bart Simpson, accidentally watched the Spongebob mini-parade, accidentally watched a mini-parade for some characters I'd never heard of (but they looked like paramilitary bunnies), lunch, and a nice stop at Caffeine Land (aka Starbucks).  All easily, comfortably, in about 6 1/2 hours, with time to look (but not waste money) in the shops, and make a lot of use of the free-while-you-ride lockers.

So, other than Terminator 2 3-D being "not operational at this time," and having to wait for the Rock 'N' Rollercoaster to become re-operational at the time I wanted to ride it, and the mishap with the Simpsons ride, and there being no damn ASL interpreter at the allegedly interpreted performance of the Horror Make-Up show (I was hoping for the practice), it was a pretty damn good day.

Come to think of it, any day without a cockroach is a good day.

No comments: