Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida
After seeing the lack of heavy crowds in the Disney parks, we weren't expecting any major lines in either of the Universal theme parks.
We arrived at the parking plaza about a half hour before the parks opened, and it was practically deserted. There were workers waiting in the toll booths as a couple of cars approached to pay for parking. The special handicap parking lot was a little bit busy considering the lack of cars arriving at the parking structure, but that wasn't a problem. We made it to Universal's Islands of Adventure and were inside of that park in no time.
Taking advantage of the lack of crowds, my brother and I went on the Pteranodon Flyers twice with no wait, and then went through the Dueling Dragons castle and rode the Ice and Fire dragon coasters also with no wait. The no-wait trend continued as we went to Seuss Landing and went on The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride and The Cat in the Hat, both with no waiting in line. Awesome.
There was also no line for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. In the distance you can see the construction of the new Hollywood Rip, Ride, RockIt coaster over at Universal Studios Florida.
At one point early in the day the Incredible Hulk Coaster had a twenty-five minute wait. Marvel Super Hero Island was the busiest area of the park though the crowds soon spread back to the rest of the rides. That long wait for the Hulk coaster didn't last for too long.
Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls also had no wait, and that was during the middle of the day. It's funny watching people try to duck to avoid the water despite the fact that they intentionally got on one of the wettest and best raft rides in the world, a ride that virtually guarantees that you will be soaked.
After enjoying Toon Lagoon and taking a trip along the Jurassic Park River Adventure (also with no wait), we headed out of the park and went next door to Universal Studios Florida.
The new Hollywood Rip, Ride, RockIt roller coaster looks great from outside the park. I cannot wait until this one opens!
Universal was still celebrating Mardi Gras, and the decorations were still up along the streets in the Production Central, Hollywood and New York sections of the park.
The new stage area between Jimmy Neutron and Twister looks outstanding, and this will be a perfect spot to watch the trains as they race by on the new roller coaster.
Some of the Mardi Gras theming in the New York section of the park. This area stayed quiet while we were in the park that day.
My brother and I went through the Revenge of the Mummy single-rider line and were on the ride within a few moments. The main stand-by line had about a twenty of so minute wait to it. It wasn't anything extreme, but it tends to move very slowly depending on the number of people using the Universal Express system.
We actually didn't notice this until our second pass through the park, but the shark on display in front of Jaws was missing.
Jaws had about a ten-minute wait. The actual line wasn't that long, but it seemed like they were loading and dispatching the boats slowly. The ride itself was fun as always.
Along with the neighboring E.T. Adventure, Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster also had no wait. What was mysterious were the people still using the Universal Express line-skipping system even when you could see that there wasn't a single person in the entire stand-by line queue. Why use that system when it's clearly not needed? The world may never know.
There are only three children in sight in Fievel's Playland. This area is normally packed during the busier seasons.
Standing by Mel's Diner, we can see that 8th Avenue is nearly completely empty of people. This area is a good shortcut for going across the park and usually isn't that crowded during busier days, allowing for a brief escape from the crowds.
And of course, the Hollywood section is also relatively empty.
A few minutes after park closing showed that absolutely nobody was back by the Men in Black: Alien Attack ride. The park was very quiet back there.
The same is true for Woody Woodpecker's KidZone. This was taken just a few minutes after the park officially closed, and you can see that this area of the park was deserted. The busy times would still have people collecting their children and strolling around in this area.
It's cruel to close the park at 6 pm while the sun is still high in the sky, but that's the off-season for you. The shortened hours really aren't that bad considering the significantly shorter wait times for the rides. You can actually accomplish more in a shorter amount of time with a lot fewer people in the park.
And new to Universal CityWalk is an upstairs food court complete with a brand new Whopper Bar for Burger King. We went upstairs and took a look at everything, and while the seating area was a little bit small, the fast food stands looked as good as they normally do outside of Universal. The sad thing was that this day was actually the grand opening of the Whopper Bar, but you wouldn't have known it upstairs in the food court. There weren't any grand opening signs or anything. There was only a group of people (upper level workers) in casual business clothing off to one side and having a meeting. There weren't any special promotions, sales, or anything! We didn't learn of the grand opening of the Whopper Bar until watching the local news later that night on TV.