I am here to discuss one of my favorite parts of Wincon: The Thursday Outing. I'd like to give a little background information and then announce where the con is planning to go this year! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.
What is a Thursday Outing?
The Thursday Outing is an off-site activity, meaning that we leave the hotel and venture into the host city for some local fun. In fact, the outing takes place before the con has even begun. The trip is organized by Wincon attendees, for Wincon attendees, but it is not officially part of the con, so the cost of the event is not included in your registration and the trip is not considered a con space.
There are often other off-site outings that crop up as attendees find things and places they want to explore in our city. If you are interested in finding out what other outings are taking place, or what we have done in the past (ghost tours! karaoke!), check this tag.
Who should attend the Thursday Outing?
EVERYONE. No, really. For first-time attendees, it's a great opportunity to get to meet some fellow fangirls before the whirlwind of Wincon officially picks up. For Wincon vets, the outing is great way to see some of the city! Once the con starts, it can be hard to tear yourself away from official programming—the panels and the Fandom Lounge are just that enticing—so getting to the con a little early to make the trip (if you can) is well worth it.
In past years, the outing has included visits to aquariums, wax museums, and tours, so we try to cover a variety of interests when planning things, too.
When is the Thursday Outing?
This year, the Thursday Outing falls on October 16th. To maximize theme park time, we will be leaving early morning on the 16th, so you'll want to get to Orlando on Wednesday to attend!
Where is the Thursday Outing this year?
This year, we're in Sunny Central Florida, and that means THEME PARKS. Get excited.
Universal Studios bills itself as home of the movies. It is also home to the newest of the Harry Potter areas, Diagon Alley. In terms of rides, there is one outdoor, inverted roller coaster; two indoor roller coasters; and many hydraulic and show-based attractions. Some of the other things you can find at Universal Studios include the Terminator, Transformers, Shrek, and the Mummy--basically, all of Universal's successful movie franchises.
From September to November, Universal Studios also runs Halloween Horror Nights. During Horror Nights, the nighttime park is transformed into haunted houses and "scare zones" (haunted house elements such as creepy performers and mist/fog in the streets), while most rides remain open. It's an adult event, so there's lots of drinking, shows get raunchier, and it's a largely 20-30s crowd.
If you are interested in Horror Nights, a benefit to going to Universal Studios is their "stay-and-scream" ticket program, a service that discounts Horror Nights tickets to individuals who visited Universal Studios. This year, Thursday night stay-and-scream tickets are $42 (prices vary based on expected crowds, with weekend nights being the most expensive). In contrast, general admission to Horror Nights is $96, so there's a pretty significant discount when buying both. Additionally, you would not have to use your stay-and-scream ticket on Thursday. You could purchase the stay-and-scream ticket for any date you wanted to attend the event during your vacation—these are date specific, unlike daytime Universal Studios admissions tickets, which can be used any day—and use your theme park admission (purchased at the same time) for Thursday.
NOTE: Diagon Alley will NOT be open for Horror Nights, so if you are reading this and considering attending that event only (and not our Thursday outing), keep that in mind.
Islands of Adventure
When compared to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure is more filled with thrill rides. A number of their attractions are roller coasters or intense rides. They are also home to Marvel Super Hero Island, Seuss Landing, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade. Due to the recency of Diagon Alley opening at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure tends to be the emptier of the two parks (this was not always the case), so if you are looking for a quicker day, this may be your best bet.
If Harry Potter is not a major draw for you and/or you are not a fan of thrill rides, this is probably not the park for you.
Universal does offer a parkhopper pass, so that you can enter both parks in one day. This does increase the price of your ticket, so it's important to note that there is plenty to do in one park to have a full day. However, to ride the Hogwarts Express between the parks, a valid multi-park ticket is required.
One day, one park ticket: $96
One day, two park ticket: $136
Two day, two park ticket: $176
What's the plan, if I'm interested in attending?
If you are interested in attending, we will be taking a cab from the hotel to Universal's CityWalk. CityWalk provides easy access to both parks. The parks open at 9 AM and they're about a 25-30 minute drive from the hotel. We will meet in the lobby at 7:45 AM and the cab will be leaving at 8:00 AM. Once we're in CityWalk, you're free to choose your destination and take the parks at your pace. Because people are interested in seeing more or less of the parks, you are responsible for finding your way home. We don't want to limit anyone's experience.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave 'em below!