Islands Of Adventure
Hogwarts ‘n’ All
Islands Of Adventure is the second and the newest of the Universal Orlando Resort theme parks. Opened in 1999, this park is divided into sections called Islands. You don’t really notice that the areas are Islands because you walk across small bridges without even noticing it. Being a modern park, everything is Hi-Tech and exactly what today’s thrill seekers are after.
There are more fun things to do for children in this park compared with its sister park Universal Studios but Islands Of Adventure is still not as child friendly as the Disney World parks. For families with children aged 10 and over, the 2 Universal Resort parks are essential on an Orlando trip.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Islands Of Adventure is home to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts and it is where the first phase of the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter was opened. The Hogwarts building is absolutely stunning and no wonder that area cost over $250million to create. Universal Studios is home to Diagon Alley and the Escape From Gringotts ride. The Wizarding World is too important to be included within this review of IOA so it has it’s own section. Visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter section to find out about the rides, shops and restaurants.
In Toon Lagoon…
…look around for these cartoon speech captions. They make a great picture for your holiday album and there is bound to be one that seems like it was made especially for you or your other half .
They are quite high off the ground and people tend to take family photos with a person standing directly below these captions. The problem is that they are high so the photo ends up looking like the caption is about 5 feet above your head and it doesn’t look great.
The photo of my Dad above was taken with him standing not directly under it but about 4 or 5ft in front of it. This makes it look like it is just above his head. When taking the photo, try to bend down a little while you take the picture. This will bring the caption lower to the persons head, thus giving a great result.
Another great photo opportunity in Islands Of Adventure is again at Toon Lagoon. This funny photo op with a very naughty cartoon dog – Marmaduke makes a great memory.
Here you can see what looks like my two boys being dragged down the street by an ‘out of control’ hound. If you tilt your head 90 degrees to the left you will see that the dog is really above the 2 boys and they are just holding on to the leash that is hanging down.
I always see people stood around this area trying to work out what it supposed to be but it does make a good photo, especially if you get the facial expressions right.
…to take a picture or have a chat when you see this statue. The statue can be found just before you enter or leave Hogsmeade from Hogwarts Express end. I stood right behind this statue to take a picture once and the whole statue suddenly turned into one enormous fountain. It happens without much of a warning and the statue is controlled by an actor.
The statue was asking a lady some questions and then the statue started to countdown from 10. I should have realised something was going to happen. A good tell tale sign I should have spotted was the floor all around this statue was soaked and it was a hot day. The statue can be really funny so it is worth hanging around to watch him trick park visitors.
Meet Marvel Super Heroes
If you hang around near the Spider-Man ride in Islands Of Adventure you may get to see an explosion of Marvel Characters ride into the park. Multiple times a day they ride in to pose for photos and autographs. Wolverine and Captain America are regular visitors to the area and they have all the time in the world to meet park guests.
The Rides of Islands Of Adventure
For the Harry Potter rides of Islands Of Adventure, visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
A very fast and thrilling ride will be waiting for you just to the left as you enter the park. This coaster is definitely the number one ride to head for in Islands Of Adventure. I would not recommend it as your first ride on a real steel rollercoaster. this one could put beginners off for life. I used to love this ride a lot but as I have gotten older, I sometimes come off the ride with a it of a headache. It does shake you around a lot so younger, fitter riders may not feel a thing.
Most rollercoasters usually take a slow clunking climb to the top of the track in order for the coaster to be able to perform the first big gravity drop. This usually propels the ride around the remainder of the track. The Hulk is totally different because as you start the slow ascent, the alarm sounds and a malfunction is reported. Then off you go – blasting straight up the track reaching a speed of 40mph in 2 seconds. If you have ever been on the Rita ride at Alton Towers, the Hulk starts off a little bit like that but not as extreme
A great ride for hardcore riders but if you are a little worried about riding the Hulk, try a few other smaller coasters first. This is a great way to build your ride confidence.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster has a height requirement of 54″ or 137cm.
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
If you are even slightly afraid of heights this wouldn’t be the ride for you. If you don’t mind being wrenched from the ground at break-neck speed and flung to the peak of this tall tower in 2 seconds, you will love Doctor Doom’s Fearfall.
The only one fault I can find with this ride is that it is over way too quickly. Other similar rides in other parks tend to give you more up’s and down’s. The ride is basically one fast thrust upwards, a drop down and then up once more and slowly down again. That is it, it’s over so it doesn’t last long enough for me. I would only go back on this ride if there were no queues over 5 or 10 minutes because of the duration of the ride.
Doctor Dooms Fear Fall has a height requirement of 52″ or 132cm.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Brilliant for anyone over the 40″ height restriction. This ride is a simulator with a massive difference! Most simulators sit on a large arm that is bolted to the ground and move you around while you look at the screen in front of you. The Spider-Man simulator is actually moving around different city locations while Spider-Man does battle with his enemies. The Transformers Ride at Universal Studios uses the same principle.
The ride is also a 3-D ride so don’t forget to grab a pair of 3-D glasses. I was so excited to jump on board I forgot my glass the first time I rode this one. At one point in the ride you feel like you are actually falling down the side of a skyscraper building. Don’t be too afraid though because it is all a brilliant optical illusion. You never really get more than a few feet off the ground.
Spider-Man is a really popular attraction in Islands Of Adventure so the queues can get a bit ridiculous sometimes. Check your Universal Resort App to keep your eye on the wait times. If you have small children, remember about the Child Swap option as described in the Universal Orlando Resort section.
Spider-Man has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.
Storm Force Accelatron
If the thrill seekers in your family have jumped aboard the Hulk ride, head next door to Storm Force Accelatron. This ride is not as fast as the waltzers but it can spin quickly if you have someone in your ride that loves spinning. The riders can actually make the ride spin faster by grabbing the steering wheel in front of you.
The ride is ideal for all ages as long as the riders are tall enough. The wait times are usually never too bad but keep your eye on the Universal Resort App. Riders under 48″ or 122cm must ride with someone over this height range.
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
This ride is a real soaker so this is a ride for a poncho unless you just love getting soaked. There is one large water drop (that you see from the outside) and lots of smaller drops throughout this ride. There is a lot of nice slow sailing around indoor caves packed full of cartoon characters but eventually, the big one comes.
This ride has a great feature that most water rides don’t have. When your boat dives through the dynamite shack and reaches the bottom of the 75ft drop you don’t slow down. This track thrusts you forward and you are propelled along the track at thrilling speeds.
Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls has a height requirement of 44″ or 112cm.
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
This is by far the best river rapid ride around. I have been on all of Florida’s river rapid rides such as Animal Kingdoms Kali River Rapids and Busch Gardens Congo River Rapids but they all pale in comparison to this ride. You will get absolutely soaked so again a poncho is advised.
At one point of the ride, you pass by the “Me Ship The Olive” area where water guns are positioned high above your barge. Annoying park visitors will get to soak you some more!! A great fun ride that always has every rider screaming all the way through.
If you forget to put your valuable items such as phones or cameras in a locker before you board, don’t worry. There’s a water-proof compartment in the centre of each barge but get your belongings back before you exit.
Bilge Rat Barges has a height requirement of 42″ or 107cm.
Skull Island – Reign Of Kong
This is a great ride but to be honest, it is more of a show. The outside of the ride and the queue area is brilliant so you won’t get too bored while queueing. 3D glasses are worn for the main event of the ride/show and things do look very real when the King Kong scene starts.
You may get a few frights while you are queueing so keep your wits about you in the queue area. Islands Of Adventure staff (or could it be Skull Island inhabitants) may be lurking in some of the caves you pass in the line. One of the island locals is an old woman that looks like a witch doctor. This old woman is amazing and it just shows you how far animatronics have come. There will be a lot of tribal chanting in the queue area so that could scare the little ones. There are artefacts and Skull Island wildlife to check out when you come towards the end of the queue and some of these are great.
You board a truck which is basically a large open sided bus. Don’t put your 3D glasses on at this point. Your driver is another robot and he/she is heading off to meet up with some of the scientists working on Skull Island. Before you reach the scientists there are some more great creatures to see hanging around.
Pop your glasses on when you reach the scientists as this is where the action starts. The scientists are attacked by some of the wildlife and your driver needs to get you to safety asap. While he is trying to navigate a way to safety, you come across some of the worst inhabitants possible – a pair of T-rex’s. Luckily for you, Kong makes an appearance and he is feeling very charitable. Kong battles with the dinosaurs and makes sure you don’t end up being main course on the T-Rex menu.
The fight scenes are excellent and the action is ‘kicking off’ on both sides of the bus. Look in both directions while the fight is happening so you don’t miss anything. Once the fight is finished you travel away from the area and come across King Kong again. This time he is a very impressive life size animatronic version. This is a great time to get your phone out and video the great Kong.
Skull Island has a height requirement of 36″ or 91cm.
Jurassic Park River Adventure
All you can see of this ride from the outside is the water drop at the end but don’t worry too much about that. The drop looks scarier than it actually is and you don’t really get very wet. If the kids can’t ride because they are under 42″ tall, use that Child Swap facility mentioned in the Universal Orlando Resort section and you will save a lot of time.
You are cruising down a slow river when the Jurassic Park gates open (I love this bit) and off you head into the era of the dinosaurs. Some of the dinosaurs do seem a bit man-made early on in the ride but have patience because they do get better. Half way round the tour you always seem to get knocked off course by a plant eating dinosaur (I must raise this as a complaint the next time I visit) Anyway if this happens to you, your boat is then sent into the ‘usually’ secure area of the meat eaters. This is where the real fun starts.
The Dinosaurs now look very real and the robotics of the Raptors and the T-Rex are brilliant. The final and best part of the ride is when the T-Rex appears and he looks very angry too. Rex looks and sounds amazing as he comes forward to feed on you and your fellow riders. Don’t worry too much as this is the part of the ride where you make your watery exit to safety. You will be glad that big drop was created!!
Jurassic Park River Adventure has a height requirement of 42″ or 107cm.
There are some complex restrictions for this ride so don’t jump in the queue thinking you are fine to ride. You need to be aware of the restrictions in advance.
- Two riders can ride at one time and the height guidelines are 36″-56″.
- If you are over 56″ tall as most adults and children are, you must ride with a person that fits into the 36″-56″ range.
The ride queues can get really long, even on a quiet day in Islands Of Adventure. I have seen wait times of up to 2 hours. The reason for the long wait time is the fact that only 2 people can ride on one carriage. There aren’t too many riders on the track at one time so this is a slow process. You can set a Virtual Line for this ride via the Universal Resort App. It is obviously a ride for children and it is a very nice, smooth glide through the air.
The Cat In The Hat
Suitable for very young children. The Cat In The Hat ride is a popular attraction of the colourful Seuss Landing area of Islands Of Adventure.
The ride is generally a slow ride but it does spin fast at various points. You will need to hold on to smaller children. When Little Brit was just6 months old, we took him on this ride. The ride attendant told us we couldn’t hold on to him. As soon as the ride started we ignored the attendant and held Little Brit throughout the ride. It was a good job we did or he would have went flying out of the car, cartoon style!
Your carriage travels through the storybook world of The Cat, Thing One and Thing Two with the odd appearance of the fish.
Cat In The Hat has a height requirement of 36″ or 91cm to sit alone.
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
What a mouthful!! As with all of the rides in the Seuss Landing area, this ride is themed from the books of Dr Seuss. Dr Seuss books are more popular in America than in the UK so you might not recognise every character and prop in this area. The ride is for really young children but adults can accompany them.
At first glance you would think that this is a very tame ride with a few ups and downs along the way but this is a serious soaker of a ride. I went on with Little Brit when he was 3 years old. I didn’t bother wearing a poncho and lived to regret it. When we got off the ride and located Mrs Brit, she thought we had fell in a pool somewhere because we were absolutely soaked through.
High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
(another mouthful) Great for the very young and also for babies but other than that, its not too exciting. There is always a slow moving queue for this one as with all of the rides in this area. This is because it is the only area dedicated to the younger visitors in Islands Of Adventure.
The ride is a slow moving train ride around the area of Seuss Landing. There are 2 different rides to be had because there are two different tracks to ride. While you are riding you will hear a well known Dr Seuss story being narrated over the speakers. You will travel around some attractions and through some of the buildings of Seuss Landing.
Seuss Trolley Train has a height requirement of 36″ or 91cm.
The Shows of Islands Of Adventure
A great show this one although I seem to like it a lot more than Mrs Brit does but hey, everyone is different I suppose. The queue area is not lit very well and smaller children might not like the dark corridors too much. Get the torch on your phone ready to navigate the corridor.
During the show, you are trapped in a tomb and the Professors assistant is trying to help you find a way out. As with all actor-led shows, this show is great if you get a really good actor and Poseidons Fury never disappoints. The show is also partly a tour as you walk from cave to cave in search of the exit. The attraction is full of explosions, pyrotechnics and special effects. I love the part of the show where you get to walk under the sea when the water parts. If you stand near the front towards the end of the show you’ll feel the extreme heat from the explosions.