Cars full of eager UCF students and their guests began to stream into Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure for the annual Universal Knights as the sun sank westward this past Sunday.
In lieu of Batman’s signature symbol, the Student Government Association logo was emblazoned via spotlight and could be clearly seen throughout the park, including the top of Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. The stars were weak competition to the light of smart phone LCD screens displaying Facebook status updates and Foursquare tags as students took over the park.
Student-exclusive hours in the park ran from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., although the Incredible Hulk and Dragon Challenge coasters closed at 12 a.m. This was much to the dismay of students, who felt they were being rushed out.
Ty Wagner, a freshman business major, arrived at the park at 4 p.m. when students were allowed admittance with their tickets. He had waited an hour and a half for his ticket outside of the Student Union the week before, which paid off at the park because “every line has been short so far.” He was rewarded for showing up early when he found that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had only a two-minute wait time.
Joe Justice, a senior interpersonal/organizational communication major, attended the event for the second time.
Justice said he felt Universal Knights was a good use of the SGA budget. His wait time for tickets was a scant 10 minutes.
“I went in at the last minute, after 10:30 p.m.,” Justice said.
There was some concern about the event being held too close to finals week, but most students did not seem worried.
“It’s not ideal [timing],” Justice said, “but it doesn’t affect me too much. It’s not like we didn’t know next week was coming.”
Tirzah Brittlebank, a senior micro and molecular biology major, said she had a great time and thinks the event is a great part of UCF tradition. Brittlebank has attended Universal Knights at least four times previously.
“I think it’s really admirable of the university to do something like this,” Brittlebank said. “This is an event I look forward to every year.”
Brittlebank was pleased at the short wait times for lines, especially for the Hulk.
“We got to sit in the front row,” Brittlebank said.
Spencer Elliot, a senior marketing major, thinks that Universal Knights is a good use of SGA funds and hopes that SGA continues the event for a long time.
Elliott, who is graduating soon, hopes the future organizers think of including alumni.
“I wouldn’t mind carrying on this one tradition,” Elliot said. SGA has rented out the theme park every year but one since 2003, distributing free tickets and parking vouchers for several days on campus to students for a last hurrah before spring finals. The event attracts thousands of students each year, some waiting in line for more than four hours to receive their tickets from SGA the week before.