The Nomads revisited the Universal Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida. We went the first time on a pure Harry Potter experience. You can read the post on it to understand how it is divided among two parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. This time we visited Universal Islands of Adventure.
First, I want to start out with a little description around operations. What I mean is ticket cost, ride maintenance and line wait times. We went in the month of November. The temperature was warm in the first half and then cooled off in the second half. When we went to Islands of Adventure, it was still warm. When we went to Universal Studios it was cooling off but it was not cold. Well, that depends on your temperature tolerance. To The Nomads, we are accustomed to warm weather, anything below 75° Fahrenheit (24° Celsius) is cold.
I am not sure if it was because most kids are in school or if it is because November is considered the off season and the hours are shorter, but…the park really did not have very many people there. To The Nomads, that was a definite plus. I am not trying to depict a ghost town here (cue the tumbleweed). But, it simply was not crowded.
The wait times for very popular rides like The Incredible Hulk were only 10 to 15 minutes. They have enough rails, chains and line area for a 60 to 90 minute wait. We found this to be pretty consistent around the entire park. This means, in our opinion, that you should save your money on the Fast Passes because you will not need them.
Now, one thing to note, when going during off-season, is that you should check the ride maintenance schedules. Some rides may be down for maintenance. We did not find this to be the case when we went. But, it is possible.
Also, since it is off-season, the park closes earlier. This actually did not matter to us because the lines were so dang short! We rode every ride and watched every show that we wanted to and then went back and rode some rides again because we had the time. However, this is a word of warning, if you plan on eating at the park, DO NOT WAIT until the end of the day. They begin closing down the eateries about 30 minutes or so before hand. So, I would plan to eat lunch there but not dinner.
Okay. Enough about operations…onto the attractions! When you walk up to the gate, you are met with a tall lighthouse like structure. At night, it actually projects and rotates lights from the top. When you pass through the gates, giving your tickets and registering your fingerprint on a scanner, you are met with a port town that looks like it has Caribbean and Arabian styles mixed together. You can find shop after shop in entrance.
You continue on past the port town area and you begin to hear roars and screams. That is the Incredible Hulk Ride in a section called Marvel Super Hero Island. As soon as you cross the bridge, you see Marvel super heroes everywhere. They are painted on the rides, the walls and there are even some walking around. We saw Dr. Doom, Cyclops, Wolverine, Captain America, Spiderman, Rogue and Storm. I really wish they would have had Magneto. They did have a cutout of him and, of course, I had to get a picture with him.
We jumped on board the Hulk Ride first thing. Let me tell you this beforehand…DO NOT have anything in your pocket. If you have a wallet or a set of keys, they will send you back to the lockers and will not let you ride. The lockers are free for a certain amount of time and they are locked and opened with your fingerprint (you just need to remember your locker number).
The Hulk Ride was exhilarating! It is one of my favorite roller coasters. It has twists, turns, loops, spirals and loops with spirals. When you get in the ride and you begin to clink, clink, clink your way up, you wait for the drop to get started. Spoiler Alert! It launches you like a rocket and it is fast! I believe those who get motion sickness can ride without issue. I have found it is the back and forth jerking that causes that reaction on rides. This has no back and forth. It is all forth! However, anyone with a weak heart or low blood pressure, consider sitting this one out. Again, I really liked this roller coaster.
Exiting The Incredible Hulk, if you veer to the left, you will see an Incredible Hulk Mobile on display and then the Storm Force Acceleration. Think Tea Cups on steroids! This one is not for the motion sickened riders. Mama Nomad and I waited while the boys spun themselves silly.
We walked on down Stan Lee Blvd, past the Cafe 4 (Fantastic 4 Themed Cafe) and to the Dr. Doom Fearfall. This ride shoots you 200 feet up into the air and then drops you! It catches you and then drops you again and again and again. You kind of feel like a yoyo actually. The whole time you are anticipating that the ride will shoot you back up. As you get to the bottom, the tension mounts and you wonder “will it shoot us back up or not?” Well…you’ll have to ride it to find out. I do not want to spoil it for you.
Continuing on our path we came to The Amazing Spiderman ride. This is a high-definition 3D ride that takes you swinging with the web slinger through the streets as he fights villains. When you enter, it is through the Daily Bugle. You pass by writers’ desks and Daily Bugle signage. You can feel J. Jonah Jameson’s presence in the room. Makes you want to sit down and start typing even though you are not a reporter. The graphics are stunning as are the effects. You feel like you are swinging, flying and falling. 3D rides sure have some a long way.
We exited Marvel Super Hero Island and entered Toon Lagoon. This is where you see all of your older classic comic toons that you would find in print and some that made it to TV/Film like Betty Boop, Heathcliff, Popeye, Hagar, Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Marmaduke, Rocky and Bullwinkle and more. This part of the park really brought back a lot of nostalgic thoughts. It was definitely happy and upbeat. One of my favorite things were the word clouds that hung from the light poles. They said different funny things and you could take your pix under them.
Toon Lagoon was more eateries, shops and play places than rides. However, there were a couple of rides…water rides. I am not talking about the ones where you just get a little splashed. Oh no! They are toad stranglers! I am referring to Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls.You will get wet, really wet. They even put whole body dryers, at $5 a time, at the ends of the rides. Not only will the rides get you wet, there are other park guests with water cannons that spray you. Again, you go to Toon Lagoon for rides, you WILL get wet.
We exited Toon Lagoon and entered the land of the dinosaurs – Jurassic Park. This part of Islands of Adventure had the Jurassic Park Ford Explorer tour car on display, a jeep with a T-Rex coming out over it and the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. This place had souvenirs upstairs but it had interactive things downstairs. You can sequence your DNA with a dinosaur’s and create a you/dino mix. There was a place that showed dino eggs and one hatched while we were there. You could move and control the heads of three different dinosaurs and look through their eyes. It was pretty neat.
The Jurassic Park area had Camp Jurassic. This was a place for kids of all ages to play in. it had swings, bridges, fog effects, water cannons, climbing areas and more. Additionally, it houses the Pteranodon Flyers ride. This is designed for younger kids. It goes very slow and glides over Camp Jurassic.
The other main ride in Jurassic Park was the Jurassic Park River Adventure. Instead of taking you through Jurassic Park in a Ford Explorer, you enter the park in a boat. You travel down a river with dinosaurs coming up out of the water and meeting you on the shores. Then you take it indoors and things begin to come unwound at that point. The heart starts pumping, the blood starts flowing and the excitement begins. You do go down a drop that seems like it is 100 feet tall. You do get wet. But it is not a soaker. I rode it and I was ready to ride it again right after. It was a fun water ride.
Exiting Jurassic Park you enter Hogsmeade. I will not go into detail about it here because we covered it on the Magic At Universal post.
After Hogsmeade, you come into the Lost Continent. This area covers things like Sinbad, Poseidon and it houses Mythos Restaurant; rated #1 theme park restaurant in the world 6 years in a row by Theme Park Insider. We did not time things correctly to make the 8th Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show. We did, however, go into the Poseidon’s Fury attraction.
Poseidon’s Fury takes you into a temple of Poseidon led my an amateur archaeologist. You get trapped and you have to go from room to room with new surprises, epic battles (complete with fire and waterworks) and eventually finding your way out the other side. It was a rather enjoyable attraction. But it is not one that I would rush straight to.
Leaving the Lost Continent you enter the topsy-turvy world of Dr. Seuss at Seuss Landing. This place looks like it is right out of the books. The detail that they went through was astounding. We had lots of fun just admiring all of the artistry of the area. Because we are approaching the Christmas Season, they had wreaths, garland, ribbons, bows, lights and trees with ornaments everywhere. I kept feeling like I should stop and sing “Fah who for-aze, Dah who dor-aze” while The Grinch steals Christmas.
They do have shops and bakeries right when you enter. And, The Nomads had to sample the Seuss baked goods. After that we took the High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. I suggest you go on this ride. It takes you over all of Seuss Landing so you can see it from a sky view. It is slow and fit for all ages, as most rides in this part of the park are.
Next we jumped on the Carol-Seuss-el. It is a Dr. Seuss style carousel. It had all manner of Seuss characters to ride and it was the first time I had been on a carousel in over a decade. It was a nice resting ride for me. Then it was on to Red Fish Blue Fish. Noah and Trevor were the only ones to ride it. It was like the Dumbo ride at Disney except it shot water out at you. You are likely to get sprayed but not soaked.
The last ride was The Cat In The Hat. This was a journey straight out of the book. They were really true to form with the story; complete with talking fish. Lastly, we went to the If I Ran The Zoo park area. This was a place to run, play and potentially get wet. It seems to be designed for smaller kids. But, kids of all ages have fun there; including Mama Nomad.
That rounds out our trip to Islands of Adventure. This was a very long post because we were able to get so much accomplished due to the short lines. I am not sure how it is during the other times of the year. But, going in November definitely has my vote!