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Universals Islands of Adventure, Orlando
We visited Universals Islands of Adventure in December 2012 as part of our annual vacation in Orlando. The park is located next door to Universal Studios which we also visited during our time there. Of the two parks we preffered Islands of Adventure, as it seemed more fun and ride orientated, which seemed to suit our 6 year old daughter, however Universal Studios is still a great experience.
The park is quite similar to the Disney parks in that it is divided into themed areas. The areas of this park are called:
- Marvel Super Hero Island
- Toon Lagoon
- Jurassic Park
- Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The Lost Continent
- Seuss Landing
The entrance to the park is called Port of Entry, which gives you a taster of what lies ahead. This section contains many different types of shops, great for picking up souvenirs and gifts to remind you of your day at this fun filled park.
Marvel Super Hero Island
You can choose to walk around the park in a clockwise or anti-clockwise route, we chose the clockwise route and headed off to Marvel Super Hero Island.
The first ride you notice is the Incredible Hulk Coaster, a huge roller coaster and one of the most thrilling rides in the park. You go from 0 - 40mph in 2 seconds as you twist and loop through the many corkscrews. A very popular ride best done early morning to avoid the queues, which become quite lengthy during the day.
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is a 3D adventure like no other we had experienced.
As you travel through the ride you witness some amazing special effects and 3D imagery which make you fell like you really are there.
Another popular ride in the marvel section is Doctor Doom's Fearfall. You are launched 150 feet in air and you come back down even faster defying gravity.
The final ride in this part of the park is the Storm Force Accelatron ride. You climb into what looks like a large tea cup. The ride is similar the the Mad Hatters ride at Magic Kingdom, only this one is more adult orienated. I skipped this one, as these sort of rides tend to make me feel sick.
The next section is Toon Lagoon, which contains some fantastic water rides including Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Popeye & Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges.
Both rides are great fun and yes, we got absolutely soaked. Not that we were to bothered as it was pretty warm and this was a great way to cool off.
The other attraction in this section was Me Ship, The Olive, which was a large ship with several levels of interactive playgrounds for kids to explore.
You will also see some of you favourite charcters here including Popeye and Betty Boop.
As the queues very very short or non-existent, we spent quite a lot of time here, prior to moving on to the next section of the park.
Another area we enjoyed immensely was Jurassic Park. Our favourite parts in this sections were the River Adventure, The Pteranadon Flyers and the Camp Jurassic play area.
As you enter under the huge pillars, with the famous Jurassic Park music playing, it really adds to the atmosphere of this section of the theme park.
The River Adventure is a flume ride based on the movie. As you travel down stream, you encounter numerous dinosaurs.
These include Raptors, a Stegosaurus and finally a T-Rex which stoops down to attack you, when suddenly the flume plunges down an 85 drop into the river below.
We went on this ride a few times as the waiting times were relatively short, which was typical with most of the water rides, not only in this park, but others too.
We also found the further forward you sit, the wetter you got on the final plunge, but what the heck!, it was a hot day, so it was a good way of cooling off.
Another ride which seemed very popular was the Pteranadon Flyers. To be honest the queue was stupidly long for such a short ride.
This is a two person ride for a child and an adult. To go on this ride the child has to be between 36 and 56 inches and the accompning person has to be over 56 inches in height.
Camp Jurassic is a large play area with nets, slides and obstacles, it seemed very popular with the younger children.
If you're interested in learning about prehistoric times and dinosaurs, there is the Discovery Centre with lots of information, interactive games and puzzles and of course dinosaurs.
Wizzarding World of Harry Potter
The next section at Islands of Adventure is the Harry Potter themed section called the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter.
This was without doubt the most popular section of the theme park, as it was absolutely packed, sometimes at a standstill as we tried to walk through.
For this reason and the fact the rides weren't suitable for our daughter and we weren't big fans of Harry Potter we decided to head for the next section.
The main attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbiden Journey.
There are also a couple of exhilarating roller coaster rides called Dragon Challenge and Flight of the HippoGriff.
Anyway after a quick browse around and a few photos in front of the Hogwarts Express train we made our way to the next themed area, The Lost Continent.
The Lost Continent
This section is themed after 3 legends, these are Atlantis, Sinbad& Merlin. Our first stop in this section was Posiedens Fury, a special effects show where Posiedons battles the evil Lord.
Although it was quite good, our daughter who was 5 at the time found it upsetting and she cried towards the end of the show.
The other attraction of note in The Lost Continent was the Eight Voyage of Sinbad. This is essentially a stunt show featuring Sinbad the Sailor. It was OK, but there are better stunt shows at other parks in Orlando.
The final section of the park is Suess Landing (however if you walk the park in an anti-clockwise direction, this will be the first area you visit).
As it is based on the childrens books, it is of course aimed at younger children. It is certainly the most colourful section of the park.
The first ride we went on was the High in the Sky Trolley Train Ride which gives you a birds eye view of the Seuss Landing Area. The only drawback with this ride was that the wait time was almost 1 hour.
Another feature ride of this area was the Cat in the Hat ride, again the queue was quite lengthy.
The ride twists and turns and you are treated to some fantastic anamatroics and computer generated images as you spin round.
I have to admit I was quite dizzy at the end of this ride and once was enough for me. Rides that spin round and round aren't my thing.
Other rides and attractions in this area are One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (which is similar to the Dumbo ride in Magic Kingdom), Caro-Seuss-el and If I ran the Zoo (a play area for children).