Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Universal Orlando: Island of Adventure 2012

So, this was the park that we visited on Day 1. Actually, I wasn't planning to visit this park on day 1... I was planning to visit Universal Studio Orlando. When we were rushing through Universal City Walk, I was so focused on walking as fast as possible. I didn't stop to read directions. I just followed the crowd. We were kinda late (according to my schedule) and we still need to pick up our tickets from the will-call kiosk. When we're done with our tickets, we walked to the turnstiles and of course ...  there were huge lines already. It was still 8.30 AM. Amazing, isn't it? During this time we began to realize that we're actually lining up in front of Island of Adventure instead of Universal Studio. I wasn't prepared. No itinerary for the day ... I just kinda know what attractions that I wanted to ride the most. 

Entering Universal City Walk
Look at that crowd!

I kept thinking how I should have noticed that we're heading to Island of Adventure since we took this picture. Oh well ... I thought the two park gates were located next to each other. 

See the logo? 
Universal Studio Orlando was far on the back =P
Anyway, once the park was opened, we were rushing to Harry Potter World. To my surprise, seemed like most of the crowd were heading that way too. To make it worse, Harry Potter World was located at the back of the park, so it was quite a long walk. We burned a lot of energy already in the morning =P However ... when we were close enough to see the Hogsmeade gate and the dazzling Hogwarts Express, we felt like we gained new energy LOL It was so pretty! We felt like we were in a different world! It didn't feel like a theme park! The view was quite breath-taking. 

Hogsmeade Gate
Hogwarts Express

So we continued on ... and got to our first ride for the day. Then we made our first mistake. We didn't know that for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we had to put all our stuff in a locker. No loose articles are permitted in that attraction. Well, the chair actually has a very small compartment, but trust me, you don't want to take your chance, line up all the way, and ended up getting sent back to the locker. The locker room was pretty crowded. We were so clueless in the beginning, and no one was there to help, yet somehow we were able to learn the system. I think they do offer free locker just for 30 mins, but we assumed the whole experience (meaning the line) gotta take longer than that. Especially we learned that loose articles weren't permitted in the famous Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster too. We figured out we could just pay for 2 hours and finish the whole Harry Potter rides. To our surprise, the whole locker experience took almost 15 mins *rolling eyes* There goes all our efforts rushing to this attraction!

When lining up for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we were actually taking a castle tour. I don't really remember the sequence, but I remember we saw the statue that was in front of Dumbledore office, Dumbledore office itself, the Sorting Hat, the Defense Against Dark Arts classroom, the Greenhouse, the Mirror of Erised, the Triwizard Cup, the moving paintings, and the fat lady painting who was supposed to guard the entrance to Gryffindor's tower. It was dark (except in the green house), so taking pictures was quite a challenge for us.

The Green House
Moving Paintings
This is the vehicle for the ride. Please pardon our bad picture.

The ride itself was quite fun. It has motion sickness warning, however my husband actually enjoyed the ride. In the beginning, we were running around in the castle corridor. Then we were flying and fighting the dragons (I think this is a scene from the Triwizard Tournament book 4) and ended up in a Quidditch game flying around to catch the Snitch. Then suddenly the scene changed as Dementors appeared everywhere! One Dementor took a very strategic position and fell in front of me. I screamed like crazy LOL So warning parents, the ride is quite dark and scary =P As we all know, in the end Harry performed his "Expecto Partronum" spell and expelled all the Dementors. Ah, happy ending =)

After this we went straight to Flight of the Hippogriff. The line wasn't too long, only around 20 mins. While lining we could see Hagrid's hut, the giant pumpkin patch, and Hogwarts from a far. This is a small roller coaster. However, it was pretty fast and fun. We took the first seat and we enjoyed it very much. On our second and third time riding this attraction, we learned that we can actually put our big bag pack in between our knees on the vehicle. So you don't need locker for this ride. This ride is one of my favorite.

posing while waiting

Then .. we went to the famous Dragon Challenge. The line was minimal. Maybe because not many people (especially parents with kids) want to ride this roller coaster. I was scared in the beginning, but I remembered how I conquered Flight Deck, and thought that I could do the same with Dragon Challenge =) While lining we saw a lot of Harry Potter's related stuff.

Banner for Harry and Fleur 

My husband posed with the Dragons

We can get a good view of the castle from here

Mr Weasley's Flying Car
 I was able to snatch a close up picture of the Chinese Fireball (Red) vehicle too.

The Chinese Fireball

And ... it was awesome! I love it! It was even better than Flight Deck. I mean, Flight Deck was pretty rough... I felt the vehicle's movement, how we were thrown from side to side and all... but the Dragon Challenge ran really smooth. I felt a little dizzy after because of all the spinning but I was ready for the other dragon (the blue one). Unfortunately, my poor husband was not. He felt a little sick. So instead we toured Hogsmeade and its wonderful selection of stores. We even stopped and tasted the famous ButterBeer. Can you believe that there was a line to buy ButterBeer?

Charming Hogsmeade
Enjoying ButterBeer
Quidditch Balls
Posing in front of one of the magical stores
Hagrid's Monster Book
Ollivander's Magic Wand
Owl Stores
Three Broomsticks
Chocolate Frogs and Honeydukes
More Hogsmeade 
Thanks to ButterBeer, my husband was all healthy again =P So we continued on to the other part of the park. We assumed that we were done with Harry Potter World (although later that day we learn that we will never be finished with it). The next destination is Jurassic Park.

The gate
The first attraction that we went to was the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. If you watch the movie, this Discovery Center is modeled after Mr. Hammond's original Visitor's Center. It was nice and cool inside. We saw Dinosaur's eggs, fossils, and even this cute little Triceratops! I was very surprised because this little guy seemed to be able to detect my movement. When I moved my hand trying to stroke his back, He turned back and "sniffed" my hand. Just like a real dog! If this was a robot, they did a really good job programming it.

Jurassic Park Discovery Center

After cooling down in the Discovery Center, we continued on to Jurassic Park River Adventure. We read that this was a very wet ride. You get 80% chance of getting soaked. So we wore our raincoats, hoping that this at least could lessen the damage. It worked! The ride itself was okay. We followed the movie's scenario, visiting the Dinosaurs... in the beginning it was mainly herbivore type Dinosaurs but then something happened and instead of following our correct tourist track, the boat went to a restricted area. Then we saw a lot of raptors inside a warehouse / lab kind of facility. The grand finale was meeting the infamous T-Rex plus the high drop. 

River Adventure

The high drop
Another good part for this ride: there wasn't any line! Well, even in a very busy day, we're pretty sure the line moves fast. Each boat can take around 25 people. Jurassic Park area is good for picture taking too. 

Professor! We just found a Triceratops!

There are other attractions in Jurassic Park, such as Camp Jurassic and Pteranodon Flyers. But those are more directed to children. Well, I was eyeing the Pteranodon Flyers ... too bad they have maximum height restriction for single adult. To ride,  adult must be accompanied by a kid =( Next to Jurassic Park is Toon Lagoon area. The attractions in Toon Lagoon were mostly VERY wet. So we decided to head back to The Lost Continent and watched The Eight Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show and Poseidon's Fury. 

Sindbad Stunt Show

Poseidon's Fury
The Sindbad Stunt Show was pretty entertaining. However, the show used lots of pyrotechnic and fire so it might be frightening to some children. If you don't want to get wet, avoid the splash zone which is located at the front of the right wing of the theater. At the Poseidon's Fury, basically we're following a guided tour of Poseidon's temple. Same thing with Sindbad, this show was dark and full of special effect. I kinda like this attractions. Particularly because of the "believable" scenario. The tour guide was really convincing.

Guess what? Next, we went back to Harry Potter World for our lunch. We ate at the famous Three Broomsticks. The food was good and the portion was big. We like the ribs, corn, and fries. Plus, you get that magical atmosphere in this restaurant. The price was worth it. 

Three Broomsticks!
Before we left for Seuss Landing, we stopped by at the restroom next to Three Broomsticks. Another special well-thought piece, Moaning Mrytle was in the restroom! At Seuss Landing, we line up for the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! Five minutes in line and then we heard the announcement that they might suspend the attraction because of incoming storm. We left Seuss Landing, trying to find an indoor ride. At Marvel Super Hero Island, we saw one of the most wanted ride in this park, The Amazing Adventure of Spiderman. Too bad everyone in the park seemed to head that way too =P We ended up queuing for almost 45 mins.      

This ride has a lot of amazing 4D special effects. My husband loves this ride! When we left the attraction, it was no longer raining. The line for Spiderman was much shorter. We saw the Super Heroes Parade and then took more picture. Some of the attractions that we skipped in Marvel Super Hero Island are the Incredible Hulk Coaster, Doctor Doom's Fearfall, and Storm Force Accelatron. 

Super Hero Parade

The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Then we headed back to Seuss Landing. After around 30 mins wait, we boarded the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! It wasn't worth the wait =P Well, Seuss Landing was more like children's playground. All the rides was for kids. It was pretty for taking pictures tho'. Btw, when we line up the second time for that ride, we heard the same announcement. This second time we were more persistent. Besides, it looked like almost raining outside. At least the queuing area was covered. 

With Seuss Trolley in the background

In line for Seuss Trolley

Next we finally went to Toon Lagoon. We avoided the Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges because we read that the ride was quite mild. We thought that this might be the same type of ride as the Rapids in Great America. We didn't want to get wet for nothing! So we headed to a more extreme wet ride. We went to Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. It looked super scary. Seriously! I was about to bail out, but my husband kinda forced me to ride it *sigh* 

After an approximately 15 mins wait, we boarded a log vehicle with 5 persons capacity. Unfortunately there was only 4 of us in that log. To make it worse, the empty seat was in front of me. I was super scared. I thought, when we fall down, I can't hide behind anyone's back so it would double the scary level. Anyway ... we went up and down .. got some splashes here and there. Every time we went up high, I closed my eyes preparing for the fall. When we're finally at the highest drop ... at first it was scary then it turned fun! Somehow it didn't feel as high as it look. Seriously, the drop was nothing compared to Jurassic River Adventure's drop!

Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls

Well, maybe because it was a double drop instead of a single drop. Plus, it was very fast. I could hardly feel the familiar tingling sensation in my tummy when we were dropped. However, we were soaked! This time raincoats weren't work =P Anyway, that's our last ride of the day. We went home early around 7PM (the park closed at 8PM that day)

Last picture of the day
Overall, this was a pretty exciting park. It was worth the admission price by Harry Potter World alone, IMHO. Our route today was far from efficient, we went back and forth, every time coincidentally passing Harry Potter World =P Coming to the park early was totally worth it. We went through 4-5 major attractions in 3 hours. We can see ourselves coming back to Orlando for this park =)

Anyway ... more posts and pictures of the other theme parks coming! Our next park is Epcot!

PS: It took me a week to compose and write this super long post. At this rate, I might finish with the Orlando trip report in 3 months or so =P     

OH... one more TIPS: If you decide to shop for candies / chocolates at HoneyDukes / Zonkos, they have a complimentary locker service for your goodies so it won't melt under the cruel Florida's sun. So don't worry, you don't need to carry it with you all day long =D Before you leave, you can pick up your goodies at the big store at Port of Entry near the entrance. I thought this is a very nice and well-thought service from Universal.

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