Universal Orlando - Islands of Adventure
On this visit it felt like Universal's Islands of Adventure was a little bit less busy than it was last year. Most of the rides (apart from Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the water rides in Toon Lagoon) had very short wait times. Of course, a bit reason for the slightly lower crowds was that more people were next door in Universal Studios Florida enjoying Diagon Alley.
Like many rides, The Incredible Hulk Coaster had a wait time of less than five minutes. The worker let me pick my seat and I ended up having an entire row to myself. That made it a lot easier to hold out my arms and rock out on the Hulk Coaster. :-)
Doctor Doom's Fearfall, on the other hand, was a different story. The wait time advertised 15 minutes, but the actual wait was at least double that. To make matters worse, AFTER riding it I saw that the single-rider line was open. With this ride you have to ask the workers about the single-rider line as the entrance to it is through the arcade and the ride's exit. For pretty much every other ride in both parks the single-rider line is right next to the regular line queue.
The good part was that after I exited the ride Doctor Doom himself was walking down the street. That was just a case of being in the right place at the right time.
On this trip the Jurassic Park area had a couple of noticeable changes. For starters, the Jurassic Park gate from Toon Lagoon into Jurassic Park was missing. There were also construction walls in this area and quite a bit of activity behind the walls. Is this area going to see some sort of expansion, possibly in conjunction with the next Jurassic Park movie, Jurassic World, when it's released next summer on June 12, 2015?
Another major change to Jurassic Park was the addition of several carnival-style games of chance. Across the path from them is still the time-share booth. Unfortunately this means harassment from the time-share workers on one side of you, and minor harassment from the Jurassic Park game operators on the other. At least this time around the time-share people weren't nearly as aggressive as they have been in previous years.
The Discovery Center in Jurassic Park was fairly quiet this time. Downstairs, the wall where you could use the scanners to hunt for fossils was behind a construction wall. Is this just being refurbished, or are we going to see a new type of activity in the Discovery Center?
The Jurassic Park River Adventure boat ride was fun as always, but parts of the ride are really showing its age.
On a side note, it would be great if the workers for this ride weren't so hostile against people using cameras. For some reason they'll let me take all the photos that I want do (except for the Tyrannosaurus rex at the end), but they'll harass me over the P.A. system the moment I start recording video. They claim that I'm not allowed to use cameras "for my own safety," but that's a load of garbage. I used a small, hand-held camera that was wrapped to my wrist, and that was when sitting in the back row with space on both sides of me. Also, 98% of the ride is a slow-moving boat ride. The moving sidewalk in the parking deck is a more dangerous experience, and you frequently see more people doing stupid stuff on that versus the boat ride.
That's just Universal being anal about people using cameras. They do that on pretty much all of their rides and shows. They're also hostile about my hats, too. The workers will even begin to harass me about not wearing hats even BEFORE I've boarded the ride. Come on, people. Let me sit down on the ride first and get situated before you harass me about common sense material. And no, I'm NOT going to keep my hat between my back and the seat. I've lost hats that way. They also get deformed and ruined that way as well. I'm going to hold my hat securely in my hand as I always do. I have yet to lose a hat that way, even on the most intense of roller coasters. My own method has NEVER failed me, and that's with literally decades of experience.
Hogsmeade was pretty busy but not packed like it was last year. This area still draws a lot of crowds, especially with the opening of the Hogwarts Express train station linking this land to the new Diagon Alley next door in Universal Studios Florida.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was fun as always. When riding this one in the mornings the wait time was ten minutes or less. Later in the day we also noticed that this ride just didn't seem to have the bigger crowds like it did last year.
As it was mentioned earlier, if this ride is a little bit too intense for you, you might be able to handle Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts better. The new ride is a little bit tamer and easier to handle for those people prone to motion sickness or the more aggressive movements here on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Fans of the Dragon Challenge roller coasters will be pleased to know that the line queue for the Hogwarts Express train station at Hogsmeade provides a few new views of the red and blue roller coasters. This helps make up for the fact that the coasters no longer duel like when they were the Dueling Dragons. It doesn't help by much as the dueling factor was what made the coasters so awesome, but it's a little step towards making it better.
Finally, The Cat In The Hat ride in Seuss Landing has also seen a *slight* modification. After over fourteen years of having the cars spin somewhat violently during certain scenes in the ride, the cars no longer spin! Universal FINALLY changed the ride to make it more appealing to a much wider audience. Now The Cat In The Hat is a lot more enjoyable and it's more like any other family-friendly dark ride in the Florida theme parks.
Now it'll be so much easier to take pictures on the ride. Oh, wait a second. This is Universal. They're not going to allow any photography on any ride, no exceptions. At least Disney isn't hostile against cameras and on-ride photography . . .