Friday, October 28, 2011

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure - Florida - USA

The Islands of Adventure Park was the Best Theme Park award winner for 2010 and 2011 and is therefore the more popular park in Universal Orlando, home to the better rides and also the 2010 Best New Attraction award for the new Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We had two days to spend in total within this park and had decided to leave the Wizarding World until the last day in order to finish on a high.

We began our first day taking an immediate left to the entrance of the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster ride that was unavoidably hurtling overhead as you enter the park with a short queue and obviously an immediate quick win to get the theme park ball rolling! After putting our bags in the locker we waited a little more than the 10 minutes estimated waiting time so as to ride at the front and it was everything that I had hoped for, really fast and windy to get those endorphins flowing.  Following this we ventured into the crazy comic strip land that was home to the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride, a spectacular ride in a moving vehicle with special effects and all in 3-D!  We were impatient enough to go on as single riders but by some bizarre circumstance we still ended up next to each other!  Completely impressed by everything going on around us we left the ride buzzing and anticipating whatever was coming next.  The Doctor Doom’s Freefall ride quickly shot us up to the top of the tower and raised the heartbeat but was over in a flash!

The Hulk Ride entrance

The Hulk Rollercoaster in action in the background

Really engaging and colourful buildings everywhere
Doctor Doom's FearFall by night

Entrance to the Spiderman ride by night

The weather was hotting up quite quickly and what better way to combat the heat than by getting completely wet?  The log ride attraction was backed up with a queue of around 45 minutes so instead we did the other water attraction with a Popeye theme which we could go straight on.  It was one of those rides where you sit in a large circular raft and bash your way through a course all the while getting gratuitously soaked by automated sprays and park-goers from above.  It wasn’t that enthralling but good fun all the same and definitely achieved the goal of getting wet as we were absolutely soaked afterwards.   It made sense to do the log ride straight after and although there was a bit of a wait it was worth it for when we finally sat in the log car and made our way through the river down the minor drops and up and over the main event which was a lot steeper than envisaged!  Great fun and yet more of a soaking!

The Popeye ride

The Log Ride

Jurassic Park was the next zone we wandered into.  The main ride had a pretty large waiting time so we decided to head down into the Jurassic Park Discover Centre (largely aimed at kids) and messed around for a while.  Kate managed to turn herself into a dinosaur and we generally battled children over hands-on but subtly educational exhibits.  Following this we had some food then joined the queue for the Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride which was great fun.  We were riding with some hillbillies, one of whom consistently reiterated that he genuinely thought that the animatronic T-Rex towards the end was genuinely going to eat him although not in those words, very amusing!  It was good fun seeing the dinosaurs brought to life along with some good special effects and a few scary moments thrown in for good measure!
A fossil and I

In the Discovery Centre

Kate has a brain transplant

The Kateosaurus

We were fortunate enough to walk past the Poseidon’s Fury show shortly before it was due to begin so we checked it out.  There was some good showmanship from the actor and an abundance of special effects as we were taken through Poseidon’s underground watery layer.  There were great uses of fireballs mixed with the footage being projected onto waterfalls in front and around us.  We made it out alive and safely into the imaginative, colourful and crazy land of Dr. Seuss.  Here was also home to a sweet shop with many treats and snacks that were enthralling just to look at although try telling that to the 10 year olds that were in there pulling on their parent’s purse strings!  We found our inner child and rode the incredibly slow rooftop ride around the park which to its defence provided excellent vistas of the park.  Next we hopped onto the merry-go-round on which there was a woman managing to breastfeed as she went round, reminiscent of South America as we had often seen breastfeeding women multitasking in bizarre situations to our amusement and infinite respect.        

Taken outside Poseidon's Fury

Entering Dr. Seuss Landing

There were some great views of the park to be had

Breastfeeding on a merry-go-round

Having fun on the merry-go-round

All sorts of treats in the sweet shop

The Sinbad show was surprisingly good.  We didn’t really know what to expect but arrived to an impressive set and sat directly in the splash zone and covered our valuables with rain jackets.  There was comedy and action from the start and we revelled in the special effects, the stunts and the clever showmanship.  Inevitably at one point we got soaked but we weren’t complaining in the heat. 

The set for the Show

Statue outside the NBA restaurant

Cookies amassed with the free meal deal during our stay!

We had really enjoyed ourselves at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and it is clear why it has been voted at the best theme park for the last two years.  I was so impressed with the individuality and invention that had gone into each ride, making the use of every feasible technology on offer be it 4-D effects of water, fire, wind and movement or hurtling around on a rollercoaster.  Our experience of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure was so amazing that it required a post of its very own and follows this...

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