So, if you haven’t seen my “addendum” to the Studios visit for the shows, make sure you see that one first.
We did have a bit of a “preview” of Islands of adventure on the Sunday, but with 90 minutes to go until the shuttle we wanted to take and queues 30-50 minutes we decided not to risk riding anything and come back the next day, figuring it wouldn’t be quite so busy.
This paid off, we only saw queues of around 20-30 minutes or so on the Monday. The layout of IoA is simple enough as to not get lost. We started with Superhero Islands, where else?
Although the “bones” of the theming in Superhero Island are good, the Cutout super heroes I thought looked pretty cheap and detracted from the theming.
The Hulk I found to be an extremely pleasant coaster, and if rebuilding it is what has made it this smooth, then RipRideRocket needs to be becomeRipRebuildRocket. I was however left disorientated at the end (I think this was more dehydration and not the coaster’s fault).
Next up was Spiderman. I felt this was on par with Transformers in Studios in term of combining live action, film and Simulation. I had few, if any, problems with the 3d as they were the new style glasses.
I’m not keen on Drop Towers, and the 25 minute wait successfully dissuaded my Fiancee from dragging me on there, so we headed to Cartoon Lagoon.
As my Girlfriend was opposed to riding a water ride (although I successfully negociated that she would ride JP) there didn’t appear to be too much here for us. It was nice to see Hagar, Phantom, and a few other old favourites… but this just seemed to be “Just a bunch of random successful IP”
Next up on the journey was Kong. If there’s any experience that truly has the spirit of the Universal Recreation Department it is Kong. He was there pretty much at the beginning (when the Tour became more than just a sideline) and its good to see him updated for today.
In line with Universal’s current oft used “trick”, the trucks are taken into Skull Island where ride is combined with 3D movie. This is an all ages ride though with no restraints, so there’s none of the intense movement that other similar rides do… but its no spoiler at the end to say that Kong is there in his full Animatronic form, linking the old universal with the new. He is impressive.
We then headed over to Jurassic Park. The river adventure was great, although the Ultrasaurus looked a little tired, the other dinosaurs looked very lifelike and the final tyrannosaurus attack was well done. Well worth the 35 minute wait.
The Visitors centre was a bit of a letdown… I was expecting it to be just like the movie… and it just seemed to be a bunch of cheap science centre rippoffs.
Now, on to Hogsmeade. I can see why this (along with Diagon alley) is seen as the model for theme parks to emulate. We did sample the butterbeer and it was nice… However, Universal, you need to sort out the whole unlimted drink think. I’m a full supporter of the no-cokie-in-the-wizarding-world policy, but some other drink needs to be offered to souvenir cup holders to help stave away dehydration… just some butterbeer or something will do.
Olivanders… I can’t deny I enjoyed this, but it does just seem to be an elaborate way of pushing parents into making a purchase that they may not want. The actors are certainly skilled, and the theatrics of “wrong wand” amusing… but there really isn’t that much to it.
We were there for the final day of Dragon Challenge, and its passing will surely be lamentable. The ride on Blue itself was smooth (if again disorientating - again I blame creeping dehydration due to the lack of ICEE in Hogsmeade) and a great inverted ride, on par with Nemesis and Nemesis Inferno. I hope another park salvages them (even if they wont duel or be together). As I mentioned in the comments on the article, its sad to see its passing, but without the Dueling, it doesn’t have its “jaybang” or reason to exist anymore.
Now, the moment you have probably been waiting for… Forbidden Journey, our last real ride in the park (if you exclude the Hogwarts Express). The University of Glasgow, my alma mater is jokingly refered to as “hogwarts” due to its architectual style… I would be suprised if Universal didn’t spend some time looking at our main building as the arches, carvings, and windows looked awfully familiar. This ride seems to be the pinacle of Universals “trick”, with the additional live effects very welcome. When it comes to “riding the movies”, Universal certainly has it figured out.
Not wanting to ride Posiedon’s fury, and having felt a bit too big for Seuss land when we walked through it the previous day, we headed back to the Studios park for souvenirs and the shuttle back to base.
Overall, I think I felt a bit let down by Islands of Adventure. I felt like I did everything I wanted to do in about half a day, whereas Studios I had to come back to (and would have gone back to MK and studios again if I had the opportunity). The rides are solid.. but the park seems more cramped, and the theming not quite up to studios/MK level. Don’t get me wrong, its above any regional park standard, but its clearly second fiddle to the studios.Tweet
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