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Tobias's 9/26 - 9/27 TR with the Fam

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,568
Yesterday I got back from what's now become an annual trip to UO for HHN, well it would've been initially. With no HHN, it turned into a regular trip to the parks, which actually turned out for the better since I took my parents along for the trip. They definitely wanted to see HHN after I've been going for the past two years, and there's also the sheer fact that the last time we were at UO together was...2006. Needless to say, a LOT has changed since then, so having no HHN worked for the better since it was easier for me to show all the new things to them without a crazy rush before HHN would normally kick in. We were able to see everything we wanted to see, and my parents definitely agreed that all the changes were definitely for the better. They loved all the Potter stuff, especially Hagrid's, and they really enjoyed the taste of HHN with the tribute store and the two houses.

As usual for my TR's, I'll focus on brand new experiences, and give some general thoughts on some other things. So when it comes to the brand new experiences, let's start off with the brand new stunt show which opened earlier this year!

The Bourne Stuntacular - For my parents and I, we were all familiar with the Bourne films and knew the show was gonna' combine screens and live actors a la' Terminator 2: 3D. But that was about it. We certainly didn't expect the show would be pulled off the way it is, and we were all seriously impressed by this show! The show really pulls off the illusion of watching a live action film with you as the camera, which is honestly a brilliant move for a studio park. At first I thought the show was showing it's hand too early, but then it kept pulling off one little clever moment after another which made my jaw drop. On the technical side, this show is stunning. An as for the story of the show, it works for what it needs to do. An with seeing the show a couple times, I appreciated how they incorporated live footage of the live actors into the film itself.

Now the first show we saw did run into a tech issue during the start of the Dubai scene (complete with the house lights turning on and off for a moment, which I think is a visual cue for the stunt performers that a E-Stop is happening.), but with how fast the host came out on stage and explained the situation, I thought that was part of the show! It wasn't, but they really made the whole process seamless so it didn't feel jarring. They were able to continue the show with the following stunt/scene, and the rest ran without a hitch. An then the second show we saw ran without a problem.

Overall, my parents and I really enjoyed this show and felt it was a nice step up from Terminator. While T2:3D was nice, I felt that show had a nice beginning and end, but the middle dragged something fierce. Bourne flows a lot better, and the entire show is a lot more impressive with the overall effect it pulls off. Finally I have to add, it's so satisfying hearing the strings of "Extreme Ways" kick in at the end.

The other new experiences actually came in the form of restaurants, as we all ate at places we've never been to before, and they certainly deserve a mention.

For lunch on Saturday, we ate at the Leaky Cauldron which definitely had the longest line we waited in the whole weekend (probably 20-30 minutes). For as much as I've been to theme parks, sometimes I can screw up by hitting the place during lunch rush. Thankfully most of the waiting was under cover in Knockturn Alley, and inside the foyer area before the restaurant proper. An as for lunch, it was worth the wait for us. My parent's shared the Ploughman's which they really enjoyed, and I had the Toad in the Hole which I'd happily get again.

For Dinner, we went our separate ways. Parent's went to Bubba Gump which they always enjoy and Saturday was no exception. As for me, I made it a personal goal to finally eat at Toothsome. In 2018 I never made it there, while last year a couple friends and I got a milkshake which was very nice. For Saturday, I got there at 7pm and found myself with a 2 hr 40min wait. Considering the parks closed at 9pm, this actually didn't bother me since I could still enjoy the parks til close, and still get to eat here. (Also, shortly after I got my reservation, it jumped to a 3 hr wait and they had to stop taking them. So lucky timing on my part.)

So after all this time, was it worth it? Absolutely! I had the May Contain Bacon burger with chips, and a Chocolate Cherry Mule which was a nice end of the day drink to have. All of it was quite tasty and I can see why this place can get slammed. It's honestly a winner.

For Sunday, lunch was at a place I kept seeing mentioned on here as a rather overlooked quick service, Thunder Falls Terrace. We've always passed by this place a plenty, but never really looked into eating there before. But with a lot of you recommending this place, we figured to give it a shot. So first off, THANK YOU. This place was a very nice surprise, I had the rice bowl with chicken, Mom had the Chicken Salad and Dad had the Turkey Leg, all of which were really good! I have to mention the turkey leg since for my Dad that is one of his favorite things out there, but in the past several years at home he's had some sour experiences with places overcooking the things, so he hasn't had the appetite for them. Thankfully for TFT, he happily demolished that thing since they clearly did it right, especially with a tom leg since that thing was huge!

So count me in the list that recommends Thunder Falls Terrace, it's definitely worth it for what you can get, and as a bonus the place is nicely themed and it's got nice views of the River splashdown.

Finally, for dinner we went to Vivo. We made the smart choice to get the reservation in the morning before things got swamped, and it ended up being a bona' fide winner for all of us! We had the Calamari, Puttanesca, Pasta Primavera, Cacio E Pepe and finished it off with the Panna Cotta. (While I washed things down with the Allegro.) Great food, great service and overall a great way to end the vacation!

Next post is going to be the general thoughts of the trip!
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,568
Now for part 2, the collection of memorable moments and thoughts.

Hagrid has really solidified itself as one of the GOAT's, it's just plain fun no matter where you sit. Ops were consistently smooth as well since we were often walking through the whole queue with very brief stops.

Spiderman is still a GOAT, Forbidden Journey is still solidly behind it. (Also with the new lockers, I did notice a nice amount of mesh being put up for rockwork.)

Kong is still a wonderful attraction, and I loved the ride I had since when we got to the Kong AA there was a kid in the couple rows before us who looked at Kong stunned and said "HE'S REAL!!!" Not only was that adorable, but it helped sell that moment even more!

Cat in the Hat was probably the only downside the whole trip, since sadly it doesn't really spin at all anymore. I can understand why, but the wild spinning gave that ride a unique edge. Hopefully down the line it'll get some sort of update for the better. Meanwhile the High in the Sky Train Trolley ride is still a wonderful little gem, always love riding that thing at night.

For Transformers and Escape from Gringotts, the more I ride them, the more I honestly appreciate them. TF works really well as a high-octane version of that type of ride, and EfG is pretty dang delightful when you know it's more of a dark ride than a coaster.

MIB still slaps, and it remains a personal favorite for my parents. It also has one of the best blasts of AC when you enter through express.

HRRR may be quite the Jekyll and Hyde ride, but this weekend it was giving me some of the smoothest rides I've ever gotten! Even in the very back which kinda' stunned me.

Mummy is still awesome, glad to see the fire effects back on Sunday. An both my parents and I forgot how much airtime this thing can deliver when we were in the back row!

Also got to see the Horror Make-Up show on Sunday evening, and finally got to see Summer Aiello in action. The show is still a gem, and this one felt wonderfully nuttier than usual since the crowd was mainly adults. Also, whoever was wearing the fursuit was hands down the most energetic one I've seen yet, as they jumped straight up and smacked the light fixture above their head, and did this impressive lung straight to the edge of the stage.

Crowds were interesting. Saturday was PACKED, to the point were they reopened Kang and Kodos, as well as Storm Force. But meanwhile on Sunday, it was drastically smaller as it showed by the light crowd at IoA's early entry. Mask compliance was fairly good from my viewpoint, only came across a handful of folks who weren't wearing it.

Now while crowds on Saturday were enough for K&K and SF to reopen, it's very telling that Fast and the Furious remained closed. Granted, that could be due to that ride needing more TM's to operate than a spinner. But still, it remained closed when another attraction being open would've helped.

Weather was surprisingly hot, far more than the past two years I've gone. An Sunday evening we definitely got a light show with a ton of heat lightning everywhere before the parks closed, and then the skies just opened up for the whole night. So we had to deal with a bit of a monsoon and flooded pathways on the walk back to the Hard Rock, so that made for a memorable finish to the trip. (An in hindsight, I think we could've taken a bus back to the resort which would've been much drier.)

All in all, it was a great time at the resort. This trip gave me plenty of time to show my parents all the changes to the resort, so for next year we'll be able to take it easy for HHN proper. We're looking forward to that after the wonderful taste we got this year, and also something to look forward to is the Velocicoaster, which looks bigger and better in person than it does in photos.

- Tobias

P.S. While normally this is my last trip for the year, well in a unpredictable year (and me finding out I just need 3,000 miles to reach M.V.P. status with Alaska -and- I have enough e-credits to essentially fly somewhere for free...), in a couple months I'm gonna' find myself back in Orlando and returning to a place I haven't been to since 2005. I'm heading back to WDW!
 

Tobias

Veteran Member
Feb 25, 2014
1,568
I have to say...I agree with all of your comments. Same excellent experiences for me. :thumbsup:
Knowing what the park had back in 2006 compared to what we have now, it's a night and day difference and for me it's for the better. Back then CityWalk was just somewhere I had to walk in-between to go to the parks. Now it's got a plethora of awesome places I'll happily go to eat at.

IoA continues to be one of the best parks out there, and Velocicoaster looks to strengthen that even more. An the studios still remain solid with rides I just can't help but reride over and over. (Mummy, MIB, E.T.) Plus you've now got a killer one-two punch of shows with HMU and Bourne.

An something that can always be said about the resort is...it's so easy booking everything. Recently I've been getting things arranged for my WDW trip next month, and I'll admit most of it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Getting dining reservations a couple days ago on the other hand...nothing like seeing only a few timeslots left to make things a little stressful. (An in the case of Homecomin', no dinner slots AT ALL.) Thankfully I still got all the places I wanted to hit up.
 
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