Islands of Adventure and City Walk
If cats in hats,Whos and Loraxes interest you, Seuss Landing is the place to be. This section of the park throws you smack dab in the center of the world of Dr. Seuss. As you walk through notice that there are no right angles in this section, just as Dr. Seuss’ illustrations portrayed.
Not a horse will you find on this strange and wonderful carousel ride. All creatures on it are Seussical in nature. It’s truly a treat for the carousel rider and if you can handle the spinning and the speed (this one moves quickly), you really must give it a whirl.
The Cat in the Hat:
You’ll become part of this beloved story as you take a ride right through it. The scenes of the book come to life right before your eyes on this slow-moving, conveyor-belt type attraction. Warning here: don’t try video taping this on your cell phone or camera. They don’t take kindly to it and they are always watching!
If I Ran the Zoo Playground:
I’m a big fan of spots where parents get to rest while the kids have some fun. This spot does the trick. Probably won’t work too well if your kids are ten or older but plenty to see and do here for the younger kiddos while mom and dad grab a box of popcorn and a beverage.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish:
“Way up high, way down low…” Those are the opening words you’ll hear as this ride takes flight. It’s basically Disney’s Flying Dumbos ride with Seussical fish instead of elephants. That said, we love this ride because of the music and the ‘refreshing’ surprise that awaits you if you aren’t paying attention to the song.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!:
Reading the title of this ride is probably the most interesting thing about it. It’s really just a slow, elevated train ride around Seuss Landing. If you have young children, they’d probably get a kick out of it but if the wait to ride is more than 10 minutes, I would not ride this in the day, I would not ride this during May…well you get the idea.
THE LOST CONTINENT
For those into the mystery and wonder of mythology, The Lost Continent section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure is just the ticket. While there are only two attractions here, both are must sees.
Take a guided tour of Poseidon’s world where danger lurks at every corner. It’s up to you to help unlock the mystery of the lair and to help Poseidon recover his trident. There are lots of amazing special effects here some loud and potentially scary to younger children. If you have any concerns at all, don’t take them through it.
The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show:
Join Sinbad on a voyage filled with treasure, bad guys and sword play. This is another of those great ways to get entertained and to get a break from a long, hot Orlando day. The special effects and stunts are again spectacular but are also loud and potentially scary for those little ones. It may not affect them as much because this is an outdoor theater so take them in and if things aren’t going well, getting out really isn’t an issue.
Dinosaurs in the 21st century? You bet! It’s prehistoric pandemonium as you run into some of the biggest, meanest creatures this side of the Cretaceous period. Welcome to Jurassic Park.
Yet another one of those great adult resting places. There’s enough prehistoric fun for the kids to work off any excess energy while the parents get a chance to catch their breath.
This is one of those rides that looks good enough until you wait in line for an hour to ride it. The ride loads extremely slowly because there are only three cars that can carry only two people each running on the track. The most exciting part of the ride is the climb out of the main loading area. After that, there really is nothing to justify the wait. The line for the ride is also hidden pretty well so you can’t truly see how long your wait will be. Enter the queue at your own risk but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Jurassic Park River Adventure:
This is the reason why we really go to the Jurassic Park section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Fans of the movies will absolutely love this ride. You can feel your heart start pounding as soon as you pass through the gate where this boat tour of creatures from the past begins. Just like the film, the tour seems harmless enough but things go terribly wrong. I promise that you will survive but I can’t guarantee that you emerge from this voyage completely dry.
Take a trip back to a time when Saturday morning cartoons were actually drawn and weren’t CGI. Toon Lagoon is a real treat for kids and adults alike.
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls:
This seems to be your every day, run-of-the mill flume ride but it really isn’t. You become part of a Dudley Do-Right cartoon as he works to save Nell from Snidely Whiplash. The show really makes the ride fun and the final hill is like nothing I’ve ever ridden. Keep in mind that there is absolutely no chance that you get out of this ride without getting wet so prepare prior to getting in line.
Me Ship, the Olive:
It’s Popeye’s boat but I don’t know how seaworthy she is. This children’s play area is two-tiered and as waterful as they come. Bring a change of clothes if the kids are going to hang out here. It’s either that or break out the credit card and hit one of the shops surrounding you for a dry wardrobe.
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges:
Just in case you aren’t wet enough already, you can always ride Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. It’s a rough and tumble raft ride that will rock, roll and douse you all along the way. Again you might want to have an extra dry outfit or rain poncho handy if you are going to take this ride.
MARVEL SUPER HERO ISLAND
Some of Marvel Comic’s greatest heroes come to life in the Marvel Super Hero Island section of Universal’s Islands of Advdenture. Fans can meet them, ride with them, and just flat out enjoy them.
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman:
Enter the halls of The Daily Bugle and prepare for a wild, 3-D adventure with our favorite webslinger. This attraction was one of the first of its kind combining a moving car, hydraulics, and 3-D movies into an awesome attraction. The effects are mind-blowing and worth the wait if you haven’t forked over the cash for the Express Pass. Trust me on this one, true believers.
Dr. Doom’s Fearfall:
Yet another of those rides that looks like it will be awesome but in the end, it isn’t worth waiting for. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t a horrible ride. It’s just not worth a 20-minute wait to ride. The build up for it in the preshow area gets your heart racing and there is anxiousness as they strap you into the ride for the first time. After that, the 199-foot blast into the air at 40-miles per hour delivers quite a rush but that’s it. Do it once but it really isn’t worth doing again unless the line is short and you have the time.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster:
Ever wonder what it must feel like for David Banner when he turns into the Hulk? This roller coaster does its best to give you that feeling. The Incredible Hulk Coaster is loaded with twists, turns and corkscrews in a ride not for the faint of heart. You barely have a chance to prepare yourself for what’s in store as this gets ride gets crazy before you even reach the top of the first hill. This is one of the best coasters I’ve ever ridden and is a true must for any coaster enthusiast. I recommend waiting the extra time for a front seat, especially if you only plan on riding it once.
Storm Force Accelatron:
Pretty cool name, isn’t it? Truth is we are talking Disney’s Tea Cups ride with a little flash and maybe a little more speed. Cool enough for the tween crowd and the line for it is really never that long so if the mood strikes you, I say go for it.
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
Grab your robes and your wand because we are going to Hogwarts! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the newest section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure and it is absolutely breathtaking. If you weren’t a fan before visiting this spectacle, you most likely will be after.
This roller coaster is not new to the Islands of Adventure. Originally called ‘Fire and Ice,’ Dragon Challenge is a dual-track coaster with plenty of inversions and corkscrews for the coaster fanatic. Make sure to ride on each of the tracks at least once then pick out your favorite.
Flight of the Hippogriff:
This kiddie coaster also pre-existed prior to the creation of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The ride was previously known as ‘Flight of the Unicorn’ and the experience remains the same. It’s a short ride with no big drops but if you’ve got young daredevils that don’t meet the height requirements of the other coasters, Flight of the Hippogriff is just the ticket to get them their thrill fix.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:
The centerpiece attraction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is right here. Right now Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey may be the most popular attraction in either of the two Universal theme parks and it’s easy to see why. The queue line takes us through Professor Sprout’s garden and in through the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. Universal did this attraction right with things to see in every room as we approach the ride. Really take a good look around as you walk through because the line is an attraction in itself. The actual ride is an amped up simulator/conveyor belt hybrid with twists and flips that give you the feel of a broomstick ride. Video displays are combined with animatronics to give you an experience you’ll want to have again and again. If you are prone to motion sickness I still suggest going through the queue line for the experience. They have an exit right before you reach the ride just in case you have second thoughts about meeting Dementors face-to-face.
Other Highlights from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
I don’t do this for the other parts of the park but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter warrants it, especially for certified “Potter Heads.” This section truly is designed to put visitors into the world of Harry Potter. There is a candy store called, “Honeydukes,” where you can buy the famous chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts as mentioned in the movies. You can also pick up a Cauldron Cake or a Rock Cake and some pumpkin juice to wash it down. Next door to Honeydukes is Zonko’s Joke Shop where you can pick up some wonderfully wizardly knee-slappers to try on your friends back home. The most popular store in the Wizarding World is Ollivander’s wand shop. There is literally a queue line to get inside! They have the wands of all your favorite characters inside for you to purchase as a souvenir but if you get claustrophobic, best bet is to hit the wand stand outside the Flight of the Hippogriff.
Potter fans know that the beverage of choice among the Hogwarts inhabitants is butterbeer. Well thanks to the Wizarding World, you don’t need to hop the Hogwarts Express at 9 ¾ to get some. Universal Studios got the blessing of Ms. J.K. Rowling to offer butterbeer to visitors after she sampled the recipe. Butterbeer can be purchased in either carbonated liquid or frozen form. Each gets a layer of non-dairy foam on top, which creates a very pleasing overall taste. You’ll see some pretty long lines at the butterbeer wagons spread throughout the Wizarding World but I’ve got a secret for you. The same stuff is sold inside Hog’s Head where it is air-conditioned and the lines are often non-existent.
DINING IN THE ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE PARK
Much of the dining here is basic amusement park food (burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, etc.) but there are a few other places with different offerings.
Mythos is considered one of the better park restaurants in the nation and offers pork, pasta, and salmon dishes. If you plan on dining here, make sure to get reservations. Confisco Grille & Backwater Bar has international offerings from around the world for those seeking a change of pace in their park dining.
Universal Studios’ City Walk can be an attraction in itself. If you want to take a break from the parks to just shop, drink and eat, City Walk is the perfect place. There are novelty restaurants that suit almost any taste from music to NASCAR to Jimmy Buffett to the NBA. Heck, you can even catch one of the latest movies at the AMC Theatres!
This ends our journey through Universal Studios two parks and City Walk. I hope you found it useful or at least entertaining. Thanks for reading!
About the author: John Errico is a Disney travel enthusiast, devoted father, and an all-around good guy.
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