Islands of Adventure

Editorial: Suggestions are Universal

  • I didn’t get to go on it this trip (I wasn’t waiting “95 minutes”), but I did think of a way they could make Skull Island feel more like an actual “island” rather than just a stand-alone ride. That is, ironically enough, another location just kinda sandwiched precariously between Reign of Kong and Jurassic Park River Adventure not doing anything but impeding the flow of traffic between the two attractions – that location is… Thunder Falls Terrace.TFT is currently themed to JP (which already has 2 restaurants AND a handful of snack kiosks) but could easily be rethemed to match the newer attraction (and ideally either moved back or reconfigured so as not to take away from said attraction (which according to both the park map and the official park app, lacks any kind of gift shop as well).
  • I know HHN is their big seasonal draw, but they really need to give guests a REASON to visit the resort over the holiday other than ONE parade (“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade”) and TWO shows (“Blues Brothers Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”). Yes, you can argue that “Hogsmeade” section of Islands of Adventure is already generically “Wintry,” but surely there are at least some holiday songs\stories in the Wizarding World.

One thing they can do almost immediately without much effort on their part is switch out their regular “Shrek 4-D” film with “Shrek the Halls” (and while they’re at it, run “Scared Shrekless” in October).

  • Actually, they need to ditch that dated movie altogether as that franchise has been dead for over a decade now – the characters don’t even appear in their afternoon parade! Seriously, if they are really pursuing a “Secret Life of Pets” project, THIS is the place to put it as it is directly across from other Illuminations Animation property “Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.”
  • Speaking of “parades,” I stayed late in the park this afternoon JUST to see their “Universal Superstars Parade” and I was extremely disappointed I did. They had 4 floats: Despicable Me, Spongebob, Hop and Dora\Diego (using the same floats – and probably performers as well – they use in their various “party zone” times). That’s it, that’s the whole parade. No exaggeration. No Shrek\Donkey, no classic monsters or even Dr. Seuss characters – it’s literally over in less than 10 minutes.
  • Sites like “Theme Park Tourist” love to deride The Lost Continent, and while neither of its attractions are any good, it is still one of their best lands theming wise (somewhat disjointed, but still very well done). Then we have two areas that have awesome attractions and crappy theming: Toon Lagoon and Super Hero Island (the first is kitschy and visually incoherent – the very definition of “sensory overload” in the worst possible way; the second, while still tacky, manages to far more cohesive and thematically consistent but practically screams late-90s).
  • I had other things to say, but my notebook got damaged in the rain storm. I guess that’s enough for now…
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Categories: editorials, entertainment, florida, Islands of Adventure, news, Orlando, Universal Studios | Leave a comment

Easter is Universal: Part 2

I follow the path out of Hogsmeade station and up the slight hill to the village proper. I’ve already done the castle ride and believe me I wasn’t about to do it again. I was up for a Butterbeer. I stopped at the rapidly growing line in front of the red wagon they sell them from, and as I was waiting a woman in a HP island uniform came by and asked who was “paying with CASH” which was myself and about three other people. She took our orders and told us to wait with the others in “the shady area” in front of The Three Broomsticks.

Sure enough, the same woman came back several minutes later with our drinks. I sort of wish they’d given us straws as it would make it easier to drink on the go, but since they didn’t I had to find someplace to sit down to drink it. The only open space I could see through all the people was at the base of a small stage outside “Flight of the Hippogriff.”

The second I sat down, I could feel a hand on my back.

“You’re not allowed on the stage,” the voice behind me said sternly.

As I try to recover and reassess my options I can see a young man who was also booted from the edge of the stage. I couldn’t tell if he was a teenager or a college student, but he makes eye contact with me anyway.

“I guess they must be preparing for a sh…dude, what the FUCK is WRONG with you?”

I don’t know why people keep asking me that – it’s never actually a “question,” and they clearly don’t care about the answer.

I’ve never had any real interest in comic books or roller coasters so Marvel Superhero Island had little to offer me. I did decide to try The X-Men themed “Storm Force Accelatron” as it was only a 15 minute wait. However as I snaked through the line, I grew increasingly irritated by a series of high pitched beeps that weren’t loud so as much as persistent and ultimately forcing me to leave the queue just so my headache would go away.

It’s 3pm, and I’m sitting on a concrete wall near Port of Entry watching various families getting their picture in front of the generic “Today’s Specials” statue outside Confisco Grill – the place I decided I’d be eating at when I left this morning – while waiting for my head to clear.

It was against my better judgement, but I went into “Poseidon’s Fury” while waiting for the next showing of The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad. The special effects were pretty cool, but the atrocious “acting” (by both the live host and the pre-recorded deities) made the “story” all but impossible to follow…not that it really mattered. I came out of the temple and realized I wasn’t THAT interested in reliving Sinbad’s “voyage.”

That brings me back to where I started this post – Hogsmeade Station. The line back to London moved just as quickly as its counterpart, but the theming didn’t seem quite as elaborate. Also, the movie on the train wasn’t nearly as good (not that the one into Hogsmeade was great, this was just worse).

Long story short: “Revenge of the Mummy,” “DISASTER,” and “Transformers: The Ride” still had long lines as did “Minions Mayhem” but when I walked dejectedly up Hollywood boulevard I ended up accidentally walking into a “third” line which claimed to have a “5 minute wait” (considering I was the ONLY person in it). When I tried asking staff members (back at the entrance as there wasn’t anybody back where I’d initially seen the sign) they told me there was “no such wait time:” it was either “85 minutes” for regular admission OR “60 minutes” for Express Pass holders. I left again and due to them cornering off the streets for their Mardi Gras celebration, I ended up in the same queue – this time there was someone stationed there.

“Yeah, the sign’s ‘accurate,’” she said with a shrug. “It’s the ‘Stationary’ line, for riders who want to see the film, but don’t want to do the motion sim” (kind of like how SeaWorld does with their “Wild Artic” ride).

“I guess I can handle that,” I said (considering the alternative was nearly an hour and a half wait).

The actual wait was probably closer to 10-15 minutes (even though I was still the only person in line), but aside from some of the usual 3D tricks, the attraction itself wasn’t all that bad. I left the ride into a small minion “dance party” and into the Minion store (meaning it was EXACTLY like every other gift shop in the resort…but with slightly more Minions stuff).

Anyway, now it was getting time to think about dinner so I went back to Kings Cross Station and just as I was finally about to board the train to Hogsmeade, I was pulled out of the front of my row and moved to another line on the opposite end of the platform. No explanation just an ominous “you must come with us” and that the end of the discussion.

Was it REALLY because they were “short” in this other row…or because someone in my original car didn’t want to share a cabin with a “crazy person” – either way I got no complaints from the people in my reassigned car.

I arrive back to Confisco Grill at Port of Entry at 6:09pm and as I go to enter the restaurant, I see a small red sign on the door reading: “open 8am-6pm.”

Great, now what? There’s a Starbucks and Cinnabon directly across from where I’m standing. I could go back to Superhero Island try Café 4 or Seuss Landing and go back to Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-Pendous which I had lunch at last time I was here.

Nah, I was too tired to backtrack and it was going to get dark soon so I figured I’d just start walking back to the trolley stop. As I approached the stop, I could see the trolley coming from the opposite direction and I knew I made the right decision…

Categories: florida, I-Ride Trolley, Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Universal Studios | Leave a comment

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