Islands of Adventure – We have started hearing rumors about what happens inside the Hogwarts Express on its drive between the two different parks. According to the latest rumors, there are 6 different shows that will play randomly. This makes sense to me since, in the books, they seemed to get to the train station relatively early in the day, but didn’t arrive at Hogwarts until dusk. With that amount of time there could probably be 6 different shows plus an inflight movie or two.
…And time to sell us a bunch of candy, too. (Image from Pottermore)
Universal Studios Singapore – After being delayed for a day because of semi-truck transporting a whale carcass dumping most of its blubbery load onto the one access road to the resort, the theme park welcomed its 10 millionth visitor to the park with the usual fanfare, parades, and whatnot.
SeaWorld – There is a saying that the rich get richer. During this last week, SeaWorld decided to sell off a bunch of shares of the chain in order to get several hundred million dollars. These shares in the company aren’t even close to half of the company’s shares, so anyone who wants to do hostile takeover can settle back down now, as 50.1% of the shares will never go on sale until Blackstone wants to unload them…so this was a plain and obvious money grab. But, if you have ever wanted the 99% to make the 1% regret their choice to make an easy buck, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) bought some shares of SeaWorld to be able to attend shareholder meetings and make a stink every three seconds for SeaWorld to release their killer whales, which PETA always seems to be trying to find ways to do. It makes me giggle just thinking about it, considering SeaWorld didn’t have to invite that into their house and let them wreck the bathroom while the paint was still drying. (Still, be careful what you wish for, PETA people. For everyone else, if you really want to do something to help animals, there's probably an animal shelter in your community that could use your time and money. Or your home as a new home for an abandoned animal. That's more important work than PR stunts.) So, anyway, SeaWorld now has a bunch of money, so maybe they'll spend some of that on rides and stuff…otherwise we might notice when Blackstone execs walk away with a high percentage of the cash.
Walt Disney World - Disney's holding another big press event this week, promoting the all same old stuff that's been open for months at the parks. But there's a new Monsters University skin on a monorail! Hey, that's new. We'd offer you pictures of the media festivities, but once again it seems that our invitation to a Disney World press event got lost in the mail. Funny how that always seems to happen.... Here's some hand-out publicity video about stuff that's not yet open, though:
Star Wars – While this is a little coarse for work, it did play on network late night TV, so it can’t be all that bad. While we don’t get any interesting news bits about the upcoming movies, we do discover a couple of things, one or two…at least…and it’s pretty funny if you let it play through to the end… Andy Kaufman asked: what is funny? His answer was “silence”. I think my answer is “anger”.
Las Vegas – MGM has decided to give the Excalibur and New York New York casinos an improved street side atmosphere, since most foot traffic goes past the front of the MGM on that side of the street and past M&M world. The New York New York side of the street is going to get a Hershey World and a bunch of restaurants that should be able to pull in some of the foot traffic. The plan is to build a new path that forces people off the sidewalk and strategically through retail areas all of the way down to the City Center. This goes along with a new concert venue that is going in behind New York New York, that will be the largest in Las Vegas. Unlike some other places that will go unmentioned, this deal was completed and approved over a three martini lunch and the final paper work was signed and registered before dinner. And if we know about it, there are probably already three bulldozers moving dirt around the area.
[It's Robert, jumping in for a moment. Here's the really big news about the NY/NY development: Vegas is getting a Shake Shack! It'll be the first Shake Shack in the western US, but more importantly, it means that there now will be a town that has both Shake Shack and In-N-Out! The ultimate fast food burger taste test can become reality! Of course, Denver will continue to have neither, so you're still pretty much screwed here, Jeff. Sorry.]
Six Flags Fiesta Texas – The Iron Rattler has some POV action! To be honest, I am a little disappointed about this. It seems fairly slow with three different bursts of speed before the break run which seems extremely high in the air. After drooling over The New Texas Giant and Outlaw Run, this seems very tame. But, keep in mind, they may still be using the “slow wheels”, so actual speed when it officially opens may be a little faster.
Nurburgring – The Ring Racer was seen doing test runs during this past week. If it finally does open, it will lose its four year reign as the Fastest Roller Coaster in the World That Has Never Opened.
My favorite rumor thus far: In an effort to address the problems facing Animal Kingdom's notorious Yeti and to promote Disney & Pixar's Monsters University, Expedition Everest will enter a short refurbishment to replace the Yeti with the Abominable Snowman from Monsters Inc. Instead of swinging at guests, he will welcome them to the Himalayas and offer them snowcones. Don't worry, they're lemon.
Shake Shack is overrated Robert...Perhaps I'm jaded because the only one I've been to is at Nationals Park, and is subject to stadium markup, but I would choose In-N-Out anyday and everyday, and Five Guys every other day.
Brian, there's a simple solution to the ticket issue---Universal either stops selling the single park ticket, or requires guests to have the 2-park ticket before they get on the train.
Orlando United Insiders are saying that single park ticket holders will have to return to the original train station if they do not choose to upgrade to a two park pass. Ticket booths in the train station will be present for those who want to upgrade. This is not an official news release from Universal, but OI insiders are generally pretty accurate with their Universal info.
Also, I can confirm that there will be ticket booths in the Hogwarts Express station for selling upgrades to two-park tickets. It's in the plans I've seen.
I've eaten at the Shake Shack in the Theater District, and I thought it was amazing -- perhaps superior to In-N-Out. But I'm waiting to test that with a proper side-by-side taste test. Now, we just need to get a Burgerville down to Vegas to complete the Holy Trio of fast food burger joints.
I have not heard that people with a single park pass will be able to ride the Hogwarts Express.
From the way I understood it...the Hogwarts Express is an exclusive perk for those with a multi-park pass...and the ticket windows in the stations will allow you to upgrade your pass right there on the spot.
I would expect that on opening day it will be an exclusive and as the years move on and the demand starts to wane, it will be something you can do a there and back again trip on...but not when it opens...the park needs to make money off of this and what better way to gage how a new expansion is than to make it an upcharge for people with a single park pass.
Then again...if they start having angry crowds over this policy, they might radically change it on the fly...
OU insiders have been reporting that riders with single park passes will be able to ride, but not depart, into the other park. They've reported that Universal mgt. does not want to confuse and anger ticket buyers by refusing them access to what will be an E ticket attraction. Once again, this info has not yet been publicly revealed by Universal.
The more I think about it, the more I think the smart move for Universal is to position the ticket booths at the exits of Hogwarts Express. That way, you can ride with a one-park ticket, which will take you over to the other half of the Wizarding World. But if you want to get out and enjoy that half, you'll have to pay the upgrade.
Being right there in front of more Harry Potter, tempting you to come in? I doubt many parents would be able to resist. It'd be a tougher walk-away than walking away from the entrance to the Hogwarts Express back over in the other park, where you already have a ticket.
I wished I'd taken a closer look at the Diagon Alley plans, to see if the ticket hall was at the entrance or exit of the Express!
Robert: According to OU, those riders with the one park ticket will still have to depart the train once it reaches the next depot, then get back on for a return trip on a different train. So perhaps Universal will make it possible to purchase a 2 park ticket at that point.
I wonder if it will be a long wait to get back on to the train. If they don't figure out how to reduce the wait times for the returning one park guests, people will be upset over the possible deception. Having the ticket booths at the end might sound like a bait and switch. They should warn the guests when they are boarding. Perhaps they should have an two different lines (1) round trips, (2) one way trips.
For the round trips, it needs a different show to tie up the loose ends so the show is seamless. I expect the trip to stop at the other end and wait for while until the next train leaves the station.
Of course, another way to deal with the one way round trips is they add pre-show so the guests get a bonus for their trouble.
I just worry about how peeved guests are going to be if they take the Hogwarts Express to the other park, are required to get off the ride and stand in line again for the return trip, only to find that there is a two hour wait for the return...
Interesting comments on Hogwarts Express. I had imagined single-park ticket holders just staying on board, but if it's true that they will need to disembark, that could be a big time waste(not to mention a great opportunity to sell that second entrance ticket!). As for Magic Kingdom- I am ridiculously excited for the Mine Train, especially after seeing the extended version of that video. It looks like exactly my kind of attraction...
OU insiders have been saying there will be more than two trains running at a time. Trains will be loaded & ready to go as others disembark their passengers. Also the attraction will be very high capacity . Trips will have different scenarios, and there will be lots of info and postings concerning the ride status for one party ticket holders. Even a special seating area on each train to accommadate quick seating for handicapped visitors is included. Looks like Universal is doing their homework in advance to address any issues on what is sure to become one of the most popular attractions in Orlando theme parks. There's lots more info out there on OU on this attraction, but it's spread around on 2 threads that have more than 1000 page sections, so I'm not trying to go through all the past info, this is the best that my memory serves me. They really have seemed to have their info to a T when it comes to the trains.
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