Islands of Adventure: A review by Dan

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, July 24, 2004 5:54 AM
"Turn left for fire! Turn right for ice! I know not which is sound advice."

"Unicorne hair to lace your shoes, between two dragons you must choose."

"Turn right for ice! Turn left for fire! Pray your luck does not expire."


Did you enjoy my Universal Studios TR? Good! Here comes my Islands of Adventure review.....

Woke up next day in my swanky Royal Pacific hotel room after having had a great first day at Universal Studios. Today I was headed to IOA, so I got up bright and early. Got to the entrance an hour before opening- which turned out to be a good move on my part. The brochure said that the park opens at 9:00am, but they went ahead and opened at 8:00am instead- sweet!

Upon entering the park I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the heavy duty themeing. This truly is an amazing park to look at, absolutely pristine detail to all themed areas! I made my way towards Marvel Superhero Island. I couldn't wait to experience Spider-Man the ride, but I came to The Incredible Hulk coaster first. No line had formed yet, didn't even need to use my express pass- not to worry, I used it plenty later on.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster: B&M sitdown (floored)

This coaster is definately a good news/bad news situation. Fortunately it's mostly good news. The good news is that the themeing is flawless, great queue line (which I didn't see much of, thanks to my trusty express pass). You board the coaster in a gamma testing facility which Bruce Banner is in charge of. As you start up the lift hill you hear Banner exclaiming "I think it's going to work this time". Looks like he spoke to soon. Next we hear a female computer voice saying "Warning, cooling system failure"! This is followed by a sudden launch at about half way up the lift hill. The first part of this ride is a real winner! You launch up out of the gamma core and into the first drop. Then into that trademark HUGE cobra roll. This is followed by a loop and down into a mist filled tunnel. Then into another loop followed by a series of banking turns. This is where the bad news comes in- the second half of this coaster is un-remarkable. Unfortunately what starts off great, fizzles out after the mid-course. The second half of the ride is nothing but one big (and not very intense) turn onto the end-run. However, this lackluster finish doesn't really diminish the fantastic first half of the ride. Rating 8

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man!!!

This was the ride I came to experience more than any other ride. I had heard so much about how great this ride was that I just couldn't wait to try it for myself. Everything I heard was right, in fact- they were understatements!!! This ride had already formed quite a line- key card in hand- I made my way to the express entrance and was on in less than 5 minutes. I was thoroughly impressed with the themeing here. The queue line wound it's way through a replica of the Daily Bugle office bulding. This included offices with desks, computers and file cabinets- and even a dark room! All of which looked stunningly authentic! There were also monitors with J. Jonah Jameson spouting drivel about Spider-Man being a menace. Anyway, I grabbed my 3-D glasses and boarded the 6 person car. Supposedly you are a reporter out to get a story on Spider-Man's attempt to capture a rogues gallery of villians. Doc Ock, Electro, Hydra, Goblin and more- all join forces to take down Spider-Man- and your right in the middle of it! However, these villians don't like the fact that your helping Spidey, so they decide to off you too!!! Not to worry, Spidey to the rescue!!! Let me just say here and now that this is easily the greatest theme park ride ever created!!! The ride's FX are achieved through a combination of 3-D film, cars that have the ability to move in a lot of different ways- including spinning out- and unbelievable motion simulation!! You are wisked through a world were a plethora of 3-D villians try to do you in at every turn. Spidey comes to your rescue in spectacular fashion. Highlights inlude Spidey landing on your car, Doc Ocks flame thrower in your face, actually feeling Hydra splash water on you and much more!!! The last part of this ride left me utterly speechless!! Your car is wisked up the side of a skyscraper- this looks and feels real!!! Your car is now being swung around by Spidey who is trying to keep you out of the reach of the villians. I cannot even begin to describe this sensation- it's so amazing!!!! The last part where your car plummets down the side of the skyscraper and is caught in Spidey's web- just inches from the pavement- had me believeing I was actually falling!!! Way to go Univesal!!!! There is nothing to compare with this ride anywhere in the world!!! Rating 10+

Dualing Dragons

After getting off Spider-Man, I decided to head straight for the Dragons. I should start by saying that this ride is located in the extreme back of the park. Many patrons have trouble finding it which makes for non-existant lines during the first couple of hours of operation. I got 10 rides (5 fire, 5 ice) in an hour without even using my express pass. Once again I was overwhelmed by the extrodinary themeing in use. The castle queue line was extremely long and beautiful to look at- walk through. I loved the voice which tells the story of the two dragons which terrified the kingdom, and are still at large to this day (according to the story anyway). The themeing is so pristine that you'll feel like you've actually walked into the pages of a King Arthur novel. As you reach the loading station the voice tells you to "Turn left for fire- turn right for ice, I know not which is sound advice". Actually, there are quite a few lines that the voice uses- too many for me to recall them all- but they are all classic, and enhance the themeing greatly. Now, on to the ride.... I chose fire first, I rode in the front. Let me say that there is no describing the senstaion of having the feet of the passengers on the other train pass to within a couple of feet of your own while going through a loop. The dueling sensation is spectacular and makes this coaster one of the all time greats. Fire starts off with a banking turn and up over the ice train below. Ice starts off with a more intense turn into a barrel roll with the fire train passing just abouve- this is the first dual. Fire then proceeds into a barrel roll of it's own, while ice heads into an intense cobra roll. Next, both trains meet in the most spectacular part of this ride- the looping dual!!! Both trains rocket up the track towards each other and into the twin loops. This brings your feet so close to the feet of the peeps on the other train that you could almost touch them!!! This sensation is unbelievable!!! Both trains then head into corkscrews that again have them wizzing past each other, though not as close this time. This is where the trains take seperate paths, both go into a series of turns and and inversions leading onto the brake run. Now for the big question- which do I prefer- fire or ice? The truth is I really can't choose. Both are great, ice seems more intense to start off with, but fire seemed more intense towards the end. Ratings ice 9, fire 9. Ride rating as a whole 10! Now, choose your dragon and let the dual begin!

Jurassic Park

I take it this is the parks signature ride. A boat tour through robotic dinoland. Again the themeing is awesome, everything looks so perfect. You board the boat and your off through Jurassic Park. Along the way you'll encounter a Brachiosaur and a stagosaur which are brought to life quite nicely by animatronics. Next you encounter a Hadrosaur which manages to push your boat off course into the Raptor holding area. Now you'll start to see the real stars of the show, the carnivores. Your boat heads up inside the building encountering Raptors and Spitters along the way- one of which sprays you with water. Once at the top of the lift you meet up with a T-Rex and plunge downward to a rather soaking finale. Rating 9

Dr. Doom's fear fall: S&S thrillshot

Having ridden Tower of Power at SFoT, nothing else even comes close. This thrillshot is well themed, but the ride itself is nowhere near as good as the bigger SF thrillshot. The ride shoots you up which gives you a good view of the park. It then lets you bob up and down a bit before bringing you back down to earth- so to speak. There's no freefall from the top of the tower like on S:ToP. Rating 6

Poseidon's Fury

I just loved this FX filled guided tour through Poseidon's temple. I know this sounds like a broken record- but the themeing is sensational. I also loved the theme music that plays in the queue. A rather large group of peeps is ushered into the first chamber where you meet a rather good comedic actor explains that he is assisting the professor whom he hasn't seen in awhile. They discoverd this chamber within Poseidon's temple and believe there are others. The assistant then explains that Poseidon was opposed by the evil lord Darkanon who wishes to posses Poseiden's trident. Another chamber opens up where the adventure continues as the assistant discovers the trident which summons a goddess who in turn opens a new portal to yet another chamber. Cool water effects here. In the next chamber we are confronted by Darkanon who demands the trident be handed over to him. The assistant places the trident in the hands of a statue of Poseidon which inturn frees the real Poseidon. This is all done with professional actors on film which is projected on the water. Poseidon and Darkanon then have it out in a FX filled showdown that left the entire audience applauding. Poseidon wins of course, and explains that he has granted you passage to the surface. A really cool adventure with brilliant acting by professionals and great FX. The film is projected on falling water which makes the actors appear to tower over the audience. Combine this with some live pyrotechnics and you have a great attraction. Rating 10

The Cat in the Hat

More for the kids- this attracion takes you on a trip through the world of Dr Seuss. The ride puts you inside the Cat in the Hat book via track cars. You'll encounter all the characters including the Cat himself. Good use of theming, but again- it's more for the kids than the adults. Rating 7

Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls

This is one mean log flume ride. Encounter all the characters from the cartoon series while you go on a wild an wet flume ride. Cool themeing, but this ride is all about getting wet- and that you will! That last drop is great! Got me soaked! Rating 9

Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges

If you didn't get soaked before on Ripsaw falls, you will on this river rapids ride. I rode this near closing time when they were giving re-rides galore. I wound up going twice in a row- so I got double soaked!! Anyway, this ride is themed to Popeye and Bluto and all the rest of the gang from the Popeye cartoons. It is easily the wettest rapids ride I've ever been on. There's no way you'll avoid getting soaked on this ride- it doesn't matter what seat your in! Rating 9

Overall park rating 10+

This is the perfect themepark. Beautifully themed with great rides and attractions. No doubt more attractions will be coming in the future. Spider-Man alone is worth the price of admission- but there's plenty to see and do, and plenty to explore. The themeing must be seen to be believed.

Great job Universal!!! *** Edited 7/26/2004 1:17:41 AM UTC by Dan1***

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Sunday, July 25, 2004 11:57 AM
Another great review, Dan. You really bring it all to life. Since there are no new coaster specials on Discovery chanel, I guess I'll have to settle for your TR's.
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Sunday, July 25, 2004 12:08 PM
If you liked Poseidon now, you'd have loved the original storyline. The newer version is cool and all, but they dumbed it way down.
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Sunday, July 25, 2004 10:37 PM
Thanks for reading guys!!! I try to include as much detail as possible on rides as Fab as Spider-Man and Dualing Dragons.
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Sunday, July 25, 2004 11:12 PM
Please correct me if I have mis-remembered but didn't the original Poseidon's Fury have the more interesting ending with the one last trick?

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Sunday, July 25, 2004 11:31 PM
The only thing keeping me from dreaming about this place every night is that by the time I go the summer season will be over!

Great TR.

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