March 21, 2007
Islands of Adventure
Wednesday was the day of our Universal Resort visit. We met up with Josh and Daniella just before we got to Islands of Adventure so that Daniella could get our free parking with her Season Pass. We arrived later than I had wanted to, but oh well. Once we arrived I picked up our tickets and Josh and I headed to Guest Services, which took forever, but they were very kind to us and refunded my non-refundable tickets so we could get cheaper tickets to both parks with Josh & Daniella’s season passes. I had paid $63 for IoA tickets, Josh & Daniella were pass holders and there was a special deal that they could get us 1 day, 2 park hopper tickets for only $41 each. So we got our tickets and met Jeff inside the gate. That took a bit of time, but at least there was the opportunity to go to Universal Studios later.
After meeting up with Jeff we decided to head back to Dueling Dragons, by way of Suess Landing, as we took pictures and goofed off. We also stopped by the talking fountain and the restrooms on the way. Eventually we made it to the Dragons. The queue was massive, though I was told by Jeff that it had been shortened since it originally opened. It was very well themed, but we rushed past most of it. The sign in front said it had a 10 minute wait. Yay! Or was it…
We planned to have me and Jeff in the front of Ice, and Jon and Josh in the front of Fire. The line was all the way in the station, but they were only running ONE train on each side. This made waits very long. Then, as we were getting ready to get on, they decide to add another train to each side, which took a few minutes. Then they had to test the trains. As we were finally getting on, and Josh and Jon were sitting on Fire, we were stopped as some VIPs were going to ride in our spot. That was annoying. Not that the VIPs were there, I didn’t mind that, but we’d waited so long and timed everything just right, waited thru 1 train operation and them adding a new train, only to have to wait again. Put the VIPs in the middle, where there wasn’t any type of wait.
Dueling Dragons–So we made it on to Ice Dragon. I don’t get why people were underwhelmed with Ice Dragon. I liked it well enough, and thought it was loads of fun. Both trains sync on the lift and then drop, with each drop splitting in different directions. Ice then dives down to the right and up into a high banked turn just before hitting a zero G roll under Fire’s airtime hill. Then you flip up into a cobra roll, with the first part of the inversion right by the castle wall, which makes you feel as if you’re heading into the wall. The timed loop and corkscrews were both really cool, and the layout of Ice is solid. Then we got in line for Fire Dragon. Fire dragon drops to the left then up in to an Immelman before it’s airtime hill over Ice’s zero G roll. You hit another inversion before dropping into the dueling loop/corckscrew section before hitting one final corkscrew and hitting the brakes.
After riding both sides we met up with Daniella and the baby. We should have started taking advantage of Child Swap way earlier than we did, but Josh waited for us at the overlook as we all got in line for Fire. Fire is definitely better in my opinion with the pop of air over Ice’s zero-g roll.
Leaving the Dragons area, we headed over to the Flying Unicorn, taking more random and silly pictures along the way. Islands of Adventure is a very immersive park. They did need to paint, dust, and add something new, but the park was really great. Flying Unicorn had very little wait, and Daniella decided to sit this one out totally. We should have Child Swapped, but didn’t.
Flying Unicorn–Fun, for a Vekoma Roller Skater. Not thrilling, but not bad at all. I liked the station as well as the landscaping. They were actually running 2 trains on this coaster. Oh, and the Wheel Chair access on the back of the train was interesting.
As much as I dreaded them changing part of the land to a Harry Potter themed area, I hoped they would leave the other part of the Lost Continent just they way it was and just expand the Medieval part for Harry Potter, as I’d hate to see the Middle Eastern part lost. After Unicorn we went to Jurassic Park. The first thing we did was eat and get our All You Can Eat wrist bands. The 2 park deal also gets you one meal at Citiwalk so for around $65 we did both parks and ate. Not a bad eal. I got a veggie burger. Jeff said he wouldn’t have recommended this place for food, but it was actually pretty good.
At this point we decided to ride water rides, all of which are near each other. The first one was Jurassic River Adventure. I’d ridden Jurassic Park The Ride in Hollywood and liked it. I liked parts of this one better, and parts of that one better. They both have their strong points.
Jurassic River Adventure-Jeff and Daniella skipped this one. The queue is massive (and was apparently made to be even more massive, Jeff pointed out) but the wait wasn’t long. There are a few differences in this one on in the outside section, and as you go up the lift, the forced perspective wasn’t on this one to make you think the lift was longer. That was really cool on the Hollywood version. I knew what was coming up with the T-Rex, but I like how Hollywood did theirs better (although the falling crate as you enter the building was better than the falling Jeep in Hollywood). I knew from prior experience that we would not get very wet.
We took more pictures and then left Jurassic Park for Toon Lagoon. I have wanted to ride Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls for ever so Jon, Josh, and I headed there next. The wait was kind of long, but the ride is rather long, so I didn’t mind.
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls-Yes, there are parts that felt unfinished. Yes, it needed dusting. Yes, I’d have liked to have ridden without the painful backrests and with the steeper drop. But the ride was still good. They needed to fix some of the garbled audio as well. But the drops were fun, the final drop and airtime were cool, and the fact that all of me except my shoes got wet still amazes me. It wasn’t a really hot day, but getting drenched on here didn’t make me uncomfortable. Even if Jon complained. Oh well…
Since we were already soaked, the only other water ride was Bilge-rat Barges. Daniella wanted to ride this one, as Jeff once again sat out, and Josh cared for Lilly. The line was very short, the queue was really long, but we were on in a full boat with a bunch of others in no time.
Popeye & Bluto’s BilgeRat Barges-Probably my 2nd favorite rapids ride I’d ridden at that point. I still liked Disney California Adventure’s better, but this was a close second. Of course we got soaked, and the themeing was fun. I do like how they had a place to put your stuff to keep it dry in the middle. My favorite scene was the octopus cave. Very wet and fun, but only if it’s warm enough.
We checked the line for Spiderman but it was too long for the moment, so we headed to Fear Fall instead. They’re short, but I always like S&S towers. Jon wasn’t impressed.
Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall-The queues here are really amazing, and this was no exception. What was a longer wait than I’d like was made better by the highly themed indoor queue. We finally got on, and I liked how you’re in a pit that you’re launched from. I also liked the fog and Dr. Doom’s announcement. The pop of air at the top was fun, but this was an underwhelming drop tower over all.
Next up was the one coaster I’d been waiting to ride. HULK. We had to stop so Daniella could change Lillian. I really wish we’d have done Baby Swap on this one to get 2 rides, but we didn’t. The line was at the bottom of the ramp, but moved fast. There was mold in one of the themed water containers, and I learned some interesting things about some of the themeing. We didn’t wait for the front, but were about 2 rows back.
Incredible HULK–I finally saw what all the fuss is about. The launch into the inversion was really good. The coaster was paced perfectly. It was intense, while not being too intense. I liked the order of inversions as well. You drop down and into a cobra roll before hitting a vertical loop. Then there’s a corkscrew and more twists and turns before and after the mid course brakes. Then another corkscrew and that was it. Hulk is a great coaster. Jon liked it as well. I can now see why this was so highly regarded in years past.
We stood around a bit and took pictures, and then decided to suck it up and ride Spiderman. This time we were going to do Baby Swap as both mom and dad wanted to ride. The queue is very well themed and fun to walk thru. The wait was probably about 30 minutes. The ride was outstanding!
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman-The setup was really cool. The 3-D effects actually worked with my regular glasses on. Although some things needed to be dusted as was an epidemic at the park, the overall ride experience lived up to the hype for me. The fall was really well done as well. I loved it so much, we got back in line with Baby Swap and rode it twice in a row. More parks need something like this.
So after our 2 rides on Spidey we headed over to Suess Landing. The Koontz family wanted to take Lilly on the Caro-Suess-el while we waited. After Jon got some ice cream, Jeff and I got in line at Circus McGurkus, which proved to be a mistake. Josh quickly joined us, but we stood in line for almost an hour for some pizza. Granted, the Pizza was good and we didn’t pay extra, but it was too long to wait. But we were stuck in line. After eating we headed over to the High in the Sky Suess Trolly Train Ride, newly opened after being closed since the park opened. Jon sat it out, and the line was long, but it was an interesting ride, of which we didn’t bother with riding but one side. I wanted to go to Posidon’s Fury next, and even though the line sign said it was a 15 minute wait, it was well over an hour, so we skipped it. I hoped it would be there when I got back down to Islands. I really wanted to try it. At this point, though, if we wanted to ride Mummy we had to head over to Universal Studios.
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida, aside from being very different in atmosphere from it’s Hollywood counterpart, was also very different than Islands of Adventure. It was great, but it was just very, very different. And more crowded it seemed. We headed first to Mummy’s Revenge. We did Baby Swap, but were allowed to wait in line together.
Revenge of the Mummy–This was a very different ride than the Hollywood version. I liked the one in Hollywood, but the theme and everything was so different on this one. I liked this one better. The queue is more fun. I scared one woman with the air blowing out of the floor gag. That was cool. The ride it’s self is not so different than Hollywood’s, but the themeing is better, and this one is larger. You start in a themed section and are then launched into the first section of the ride, which is in the dark. I loved the fake ending, but the very ending, like the Hollywood version, was kind of a let down. The 2nd time we rode was just as good.
We stopped again for more pizza, without the wait this time. I love the chocolate mousse cake things at Universal. That’s worth all you can eat alone. We wanted to tride Men in Black, but I needed my Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster credit credit. We headed over there first. Basically another Roller Skater. Fun, yes, but not as fun as waiting in the queue. Josh sat this one out.
By the time we got off the park was closed. No MiB for us. We left the park taking pictures the whole way and made our way over to CityWalk. We sat near the Latin restaurant and pondered where we’d eat. We decided on Pat O’Briens, which we really didn’t count on being Cajun Cuisine. It was still good. After dinner we said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. Jon and I ventured out quickly that evening and went to 7-11, but decided to turn in early.
Thursday morning came…and went. We slept in. When we got up, we headed to Downtown Disney for some shopping, this time discovering the East side and all it had to offer. It was way more crowded than the West side. This time at Wolfgang Pucks, where I had Sushi and Jon had Seared Tuna. Both were very good. We picked up our gifts and headed out to Josh and Daniella’s. We got stuck in traffic, and after hanging with them for a while, since we’d ate before we shopped at Disney, it was time for Dinner, so we took them out to a local place with really good food.
After dinner, we went back to Downtown Disney to pick up Mouse Ears for my mom’s boss, and then went to Citiwalk so I could get a Wallet and Jon could get some stuff. We ran back in to the girl from Guest Services we met the very first nite and chatted a bit before we headed to our room, packed up our stuff, checked out a nite early, and headed back to DeLand. Josh and Daniella offered us a place for the nite so we could check out of Ghetto Motel 6 and be an hour closer to the road. We spent the evening watching The Prestige, which was an odd movie, before going to bed.
Friday morning, we headed north. I slept the first few hours (and thru all of Georgia). I took over in South Carolina, and we got caught in Rush Hour traffic in Charlotte, which set us back an hour 30. Then we hit road work a little further out of Charlotte that set us back another hour. We finally made it back to WV around 11pm Friday nite. Great week, great food, great fun, and I can’t wait to move to Florida. I found some prospects, now I just need to go down there and get hired.