The very first thing I wanted to do upon entering the park was ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I was impressed with how quickly the line moved (the predicted 75 minute wait turned out to be about 40 minutes) and the queue was delightful. I would not consider myself a HUGE Harry Potter fan, but I do like the universe, and in particular have always wished I could visit the castle. So I was very charmed, trying to take it all in as we shuffled towards the ride.
I did not dislike the ride itself, but I can't say I loved it as much as I wanted to. The flying sensation is great, and I did like the scary moments coming face-to-face with the dragon and dementors. Still, we rode it twice and I wasn't able to make much sense of the plot. It seemed as though they tried to cram way too much chaos into one ride - The dragon, the spiders, Quidditch/Malfoy, dementors - All on top of one another, without much transition between scenes. There was also a bit with the Whomping Willow, where Hermione screams, "Look out!" But there was either a malfunction on the ride today, or I just missed something, because the tree was not "whomping" or moving at all. It was just a large, intimidating tree. The ride vehicle faced it for a moment and then turned away.. Does it normally do something more threatening than just stand there? I'll also say that I was put off my the motion simulator. Specifically, the ride's habit of doing an intense rocking motion, where you are tossed onto your back, and then swung back forward until you're facing down again. I do not normally get motion sickness, but that made my stomach turn, especially the second time I rode it several hours later.
My biggest concern was Dragon Challenge. I was already disappointed to learn that the coasters no longer duel, and to see that the statues had been removed. It was very disappointing to walk through the queue and see all its former glory reduced to cave walls. The queue was also very unkempt - I do understand that this was a Saturday and the park was pretty busy, but all throughout the queue, there were overflowing trash cans and (squeamish beware) a puddle where someone had gotten sick, that had not been cleaned up! I've been to IoA many times and have never seen anything like that!
Then, something happened right before the loading dock that I found a bit disturbing. I am curious as to what other members here will think/know about this type of situation.
We had made it to the line for second row and had one party ahead of us before we would board. Suddenly, there was a huge commotion, and I saw that a guest standing in line for the front row had fainted. Other guests immediately began calling for an employee, but there was no response. In fact, all employees seemed to have vanished, even the ones who were previously checking shoulder restraints right in front of us. I can only hope their disappearance was some kind of protocol, because it seemed very odd to me. A guest shouted for a doctor/nurse and eventually another guest came forward - Not sure if they were a medical professional or not. The man had regained consciousness and was trying to stand up, but there was obviously something wrong with him. The possible doctor/nurse (definitely a guest, not an employee) tried asking him some questions, if he had low blood pressure, diabetes, etc. He seemed too confused to respond. She began asking everyone around if they had anything with sugar, and immediately several guests handed over some candy. She helped the man get seated with his back against a wall, and urged him to eat some chocolate. Several minutes later, an employee finally appeared on the other side of the gate (where a full train of very confused riders had been waiting for launch). A girl in front of us frantically informed the employee of the sick guest, and the employee responded that it was "being taken care of." Several more minutes later, they sent off the train that had been waiting, filled another train, sent that one off, and then we boarded. The man was still sitting against the wall with a couple guests kneeling around him, but I did not see any park employees or medical personnel come to his aid. Unfortunately I did not find out what happened after that.
I was very confused by all of that. As I said before, my only thought is that there must have been some reason all the employees on the loading dock went missing while a guest lay unconscious by the gate. I know they probably are not supposed to touch a sick/injured guest or anything like that, but where did they go? Why did 15+ minutes pass without anyone but fellow guests tending to the man? It seemed that he just fainted for whatever reason, but what if it had been a serious emergency like a seizure?
I contemplated speaking to someone about the incident, but admittedly wasn't sure what to say. I also wanted to comment about the disarray of the queue, but I didn't end up addressing it to anyone. (I regret this now, but we were just trying to move on with our day.)
The last thing that got to me was not very dramatic compared to that, but was just strange and again, disappointing. Just before park closing, we dashed to ride Forbidden Journey for the second time. I got off the ride feeling a bit nauseous and ready to go home. On our way out of Hogsmeade, we saw two men holding signs and inviting us to a magic show. I had commented earlier that I thought a magic show would be fitting at WWoHP, so it didn't really occur to me that a normal show wouldn't be taking place within a half hour of the park closing. We were ushered into a tiny room, where the "magic show" turned out to be a fifteen minute long sales pitch for magic tricks you could buy in the shop. It was more annoying than anything, but we felt like we had been tricked.
Anyway, those were my foremost thoughts regarding WWoHP. I didn't get to try the butterbeer or eat at the Three Broomsticks, but I'm sure I'll be at IoA again relatively soon, and maybe I'll get more out of it.
Mostly, I am curious about what might have happened on the loading dock at Dragon Challenge - Is anyone familiar with employee protocol for such situations? Any explanation for the absence of employees? It wasn't as if they were present, but keeping their distance. Guests were shouting for help and looking all over. The other train continued to load/unload normally during the whole thing.
I'm also curious as to whether or not the Whomping Willow was supposed to be moving. Hermione seemed very upset about it even though it was just standing there. Perhaps that's just Hermione.
I don't know if that's how people normally act, or if the WHomping Willow is normally like that, and I'm sorry I don't.
This not only protected the employee from interfering and possibly making something worse but also the guest from untrained but well meaning help. It also kept employees from getting sued in a world that is full of entitlement, sue happy folks. Even the most well meaning of people can get sued if something happened and when reported by the park those names become part of a case, you can see where this is going right?
Now I can't say if that is still the situation in said park but it was years ago.
Now, I'm not defending anyone but we don't know the protocol for this situation or this park. Frankly, at least one employee should have stepped forward and offered to call first aid or security at the very least. Not simply ignored it.
As for the Whopping Willow, It seems odd. It's a major show factor, perhaps they didn't know it was broken yet? The other situation is since it was near closing management may have made the call not to take the ride down and simply fix it after closure.
I couldn't honestly tell you.
I have no problem withe the FJ ride, but my wife seems to get a bit dizzy on all motion simulators.
When a component on a ride stops working, they just let it go for the entire day and fix the problem overnight in most cases. At some point, I have experienced every ride at Universal / IOA with something that was not working, but it was always fixed by the next day (except that one staue that refused to go upright in the Mummy) that hadn't worked for a year or so, but on our last visit, it worked every time.
We had MIB shut down mid ride and had to be evacuated after all the lights came on. We were almost exactly half way, so we were the absolute last to get off the ride. We took a bunch of pictures with the lights on, and the cast members actually gave us a mini "tour" on the way out. It was pretty cool to see our favorite ride in a completely different way.
Not sure what the park protocol for the person who fainted is..... TH would probably know more about this as Disney and Uni probably have similar rules.
We had RRR with no music once, the sign in Twister didn't move, a few of the animatronics in ET weren't functioning, Spidey had no spidey signal a few times, one of the sharks wasn't moving in Jaws etc... we have gone so many times over the years and did so much riding, I know every ride by heart.
This stuff happens at all parks, Disney has it's share of non-functioning components, but they have four parks to deal with instead of two.
Something sounds like it went wrong here.. the TMs may not be allowed to 'touch' guests but ignoring a guest in need of first aid is certainly not the correct protocol. If it was bothering me, I'd send an e-mail to Universal at least alerting them of the situation so they can speak to the relevant team and find out what went wrong here.
I have been thinking about the incident a lot so I do think I'll take the advice above and send them an e-mail, if only to notify them of how the situation was perceived. (I could tell I was not the only guest feeling very concerned about the fact that there were suddenly no employees around.) I did figure the cast members are not supposed to touch the guests, or something along those lines, but there was an entire crowd of people loudly demanding to know why the employees had gone missing. It was alarming to everyone, so I hope Universal will look into it and at least make sure someone is around to say "Help is on the way" without disappearing for ten minutes first.
And I also suspected that the Whomping Willow was supposed to be moving. I was not really irritated about that or anything, as I do understand that it happens. I just hoped someone would confirm my suspicion. ;) I did understand the 'plot' as far as the fact that we were taking a tour of the castle, and sneaking off to a Quidditch game, etc. Like Dominick said, what was more confusing for me was how we kept bouncing from location to location without much clarity. How DID we get from the Quidditch pitch to the Chamber of Secrets? It's still a very cool ride, I would never deny that!
Motion simulators never make me sick, though, so that was odd. The only two rides that have ever made me nauseous were Forbidden Journey and Mission Space, the "orange" side. I guess I can handle it up to a certain degree of intensity. Just found it strange, I guess. The Hulk makes me feel like a million bucks, but a motion simulator makes me queasy? Come on.. :P
Thanks again for your responses!
You take these ride stories too seriously.... just kick back and enjoy the Potter overload.
And about the no-challenge-anymore of the dragons, I think they changed it about a year ago because some objects fell from one wagon and somebody on the other wagon got injured. Something like that.
I'm not sure if it is run by Universal or owned independently, but it is a complete waste of 15 minutes and everybody comes out annoyed.
I never noticed it until our last visit. I made a comment along the lines of "Seriously? This is a sales pitch for magic tricks?" after it was over. They were none too pleased and nobody stopped to view their junk on the way out.
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