Florida Theme Park Vacation Days 2 and 3: Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando: My wife and I enjoy two days at Universal Orlando's two theme parks.

From Russell Meyer
Posted November 8, 2007 at 9:18 AM
The second and third days of our Florida vacation were spent touring Universal Orlando. Sunday was spent at Universal Studios, and Monday was spent primarily at Islands of Adventure. Since our last trip to these parks in 2005, there haven't been any major additions, but there were some noticeable subtractions. As everyone is well aware, Back to the Future has been closed for a few months now in preparation for The Simpsons, and the exterior construction walls and adjacent gift shop have been themed to promote the new attraction. Also, as has been noted already on Theme Park Insider, Earthquake is undergoing a renovation to be reborn as Disaster. Also, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls was listed as undergoing seasonal maintenance, but the attraction had just undergone an extensive rehab to add lapbars to the boats, so I was really surprised to see the ride drained and construction walls surrounding the ride.

We began Sunday morning at Universal Studios at Revenge of the Mummy. This coaster/dark ride is still a great attraction, and is destined to be a classic ride. The convincing special effects combined with a very well designed roller coaster has created an attraction that is infinitely re-ridable, and thanks to light morning crowds, we rode a half a dozen times in an hour. Next up is easily our favorite attraction at Universal Orlando, Men In Black: Alien Attack. A lot of people don't really like this ride, but people who are obsessive/compulsive and competitive people like me and my wife cannot get enough of this shooting gallery on steroids. The great job done on the theme of the attraction along with the interactive nature of the ride to me makes this one of the best theme park rides in the world. Not only that, but the frequency that you can continuously ride this attraction is by far the best of any ride in Florida. How is that possible you say? The single rider line of course. Yeah, it's great to sit with all of your friends and family, but what's really fun is to sit in different cars and shoot at each other trying to top each others' score. The ride vehicle layout with two rows of three makes the single rider line move faster than any line in any theme park, so you're never likely to get separated from your friends by more than a few cars. Also, with a little help from numerous online strategy guides, you can hone your skills to the point where complete strangers are asking you, “how in the world do you get so many points?” Between the two days at Universal Orlando, my wife and I easily racked up 50 rides on Men In Black with my wife achieving the highest possible score (999,999) and myself falling just short with 984, 520.

After completing the maximum time permitted by our locker (2 hours) riding Men In Black, we walked over to E.T., which actually had a pretty large line (almost 30 minutes to get on our bikes). We had just watched the movie a few days ago, and this ride still manages to capture the magic of the classic movie. However, the pre-show and ending could use some updating. We next moved on and rode a classic Universal attraction that was down the last time we were in this park, Jaws. This is one of those rides that is also dated, but is such a great ride, and in the absence of a studio backlot tour, fills the void of the special effects extravaganza. We also to a “spin” through Twister, and while it is an impressive effects show, I wonder if the time and energy spent on this well-themed attraction could have been better spent on something better.

We also enjoyed Shrek and the Horror Makeup Show before grabbing a couple more rides on Mummy and dozens of rides on Men In Black until the park closed. We didn't do Terminator 2 3-D or Jimmy Neutron this trip, mostly because the time it would have taken to do those attractions would have taken away from precious M.I.B. time. After the park closed, we did enjoy a nice dinner at The Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel. We had eaten at this restaurant when we stayed at the hotel during our last trip, and really liked it, so we decided to go back.

On Monday, we devoted a majority of our day to Islands of Adventure. We started with a few rides on the Hulk. This is the only launching B&M coaster with a unique layout. It's the only B&M coaster in the world that has three inversions (zero-g roll and cobra roll) before you get to a standard loop. The launch is not really that powerful, but does the job of pushing the train up the Gamma Ray Tube life hill and through the first portion of the coaster. We then moved on to The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. This attraction could be well served with a slight update to make it more relevant to the popular film series, but it's still a great ride. The last time I rode this attraction, I felt that it was better than Curse of DarKastle at Busch Gardens Europe, but now I think BGE's ride is a bit better, especially with the upgrades they did to the ride after its first season. Nonetheless, Spiderman is definitely a can't miss ride that will have everyone wanting to ride it again and again. We rode three times before moving on to Jurassic Park. We weren't in the mood to get soaked, so we did skip Bluto's Bilge Barges in favor of the less wet Jurassic Park River Adventure. I was surprised to see that while the ride was operating, one of the most striking animatronic dinosaurs (the ultrasaur) was undergoing rehab. The ride was still fine, but I missed the gentle ultrasuar swooping over the boat.

Next up was Dueling Dragons. These coaster are a great example of the brilliance of B&M. Both coasters are amazing in their own right, and together, they offer a roller coaster experience unmatched. I really enjoy riding Ice Dragon in the front seat and Fire Dragon in the back seat, and we were treated to a number of rides before moving on to Poseidon's Fury. Poseidon's Fury has a great “WOW” factor, but there's just something missing from this effects spectacular that keeps it from being a “must see.” We then moved on to Seuss Landing and the only new attraction to Universal Orlando since our last visit, the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. It was a very cute ride with a number of different audio programs, but while riding it, I wonder what could have been if the original Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Unusual Driving Machines could have been fully developed. While in Seuss Landing, we also rode Cat in the Hat and I rode One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish alone, because my wife didn't want to get wet.

We had made reservations for Mythos earlier in the day, and it was now time to enjoy the “World's Best Theme Park Restaurant” for the second time. We enjoyed number of the specials of the day including the pizza of the day (chicken, sausage, and steak), the Pastabilities (steak with vegetable alfredo sauce) and the risotto of the day (spinach with parmesan-crusted chicken). Everything was excellent, and the prices are tough to beat considering the quality. Why pay $8 or more for a hamburger or fried chicken when you can enjoy a wonderful sit-down meal far just a bit more. Our experience this trip has not changed our opinion of Mythos, and we will continue to make it a part of any trip to Islands of Adventure.

After lunch, we came to the realization that we had already ridden all of the major attractions in the park, and really weren't in the mood to ride any of them again, so we ended up spending the rest of the day riding Men In Black. We really enjoy Universal Orlando, but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and The Simpsons cannot open soon enough. A lot of the attractions at both parks are a lot of fun, but most of them cannot be ridden over and over again, so the new additions coming over the next few years will go a long way in allowing Universal to keep pace with Disney for Florida theme park supremacy.

From Iris Hernandez
Posted November 8, 2007 at 11:39 AM
Hooray for the competitive spirit!!! I am glad i am not the only in the world that likes to ride MIB just for the fun of competition. And that single riders line is so awesome for that particular ride too. Again, great trip report.

From Brian Emery
Posted November 8, 2007 at 11:43 AM
Very nice, keep the updates coming…


From Anthony Murphy
Posted November 8, 2007 at 1:11 PM
Very nice!

I really gotta try that Mythos when I go there next time! It seems to be super busy as well (which isn't a bad thing). I do agree with most of your views on the rides except MIB. I think its only so so and prefer Buzz's over this (I know I am probably in the minority here)

Another intersting thing is that I am not as impressed with Hulk as other people are on this site. I guess my lost. I prefer Kraken at Sea World and Dueling Dragons.

Again, good job!

From Don Neal
Posted November 8, 2007 at 1:58 PM
Sounds like fun, I love Universal Orlando. I would love to do a MIB marathon like that some time. But my wife is usually good for repeating a ride but once. Sounds like a blast though.

I can't wait to go visit again next year. This time we're taking the kids, maybe my son and I will be able to sneak in multiple MIB rides while the girls do their thing. :D

From Mark Walker
Posted November 10, 2007 at 3:28 AM
What's you're top score on MIB?

Great report!

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