Universal Studios & IOA: 1/20,21,25/03

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, February 9, 2003 12:32 PM
I've been looking forward to this trip for awhile now. The last time I was in Orlando, they were just beginning to clear the land for Islands Of Adventure. Since then, I've heard nothing but rave reviews of the place; so I'm glad I finally got to experience it for myself... this place is amazing.

This vacation was supposed to start on the 21st. However, Ms. Kpjb noticed on IOA's website a few days before we were to leave that Dueling Dragons were to close on the 21st for rehab. After some quick, last minute changes, we were able to leave a day earlier and get to IOA on Monday, the last day they'd be open.

We were able to find a room at a local Best Western for only $29 per night, thanks to an expedia special rate. Also, the hotel in question offered free shuttle service to Universal, Disney and Sea World, so we were able to make it through the week without having to pay any parking fees. Sweet.

Monday, January 21:

Before we left, I bought our Universal tickets through their website. This was able to get the wife and I in to both parks unlimited times for 5 days for $89, less than we'd pay for two one-day passes. This also saved us some time at the gate. When we arrived, I just went to the ATM-looking machine and swiped the card I used to pay for the tickets, and they printed right out for me. No waiting, right in to the park.

Talk about being awestruck, I'd heard of how intricate and deep the themeing ran at this park, but until you see it, it's still hard to believe. Downright amazing. I could not find one detail in the entire park that had been overlooked.

Knowing that this would be our only chance on the trip to ride the Dragons, we decided to head to the right when we got in, to try to get over there early, hitting the walk-on Cat in the Hat ride on the way.

When we arrived at the Dragons, we were greeted with something that would be a common and very welcome sight this entire week: no line. After walking slowly through the queues to try to soak up some of the atmosphere, we walked right on to Fire. Since the ride had no lines, they were offering immediate rerides. We used this opportunity to hop right on to Ice. While on Fire, we sat in the front, and didn't really notice much dueling. The Ice ride, though, was toward the center of the train; and was much more exciting, IMO. Overall impression: great! Ms. Kpjb liked Fire better, I liked Ice better, but they were both world-class rides.

Flying Unicorn next... uhhh... not much to say here. Nice little coaster, add another to the Track Record.

After wandering around the Jurassic Park discovery center for awhile, we decided to tough it out and ride the JP River Adventure. It was only about 70 degrees, a little to chilly for a soaking in my book, but I really wanted to see the animatronics and themeing that went in to this ride. One again, we walked on, and as it turns out, didn't get too terribly wet after all. This is a good attraction, and if it wasn't for the weather, it would've warranted a re-ride.

The wait for the Pteranodon Flyers was about 45 minutes... I'd hate to see what it is when the place is busy. Anywho, we have no kids, so we couldn't go on anyhow. (more on this later.)

We were already wet, so we hit Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. One of , if not the best flume ride out there. Multiple drops and even some legitimate airtime!

After trying to get some food at the Fire-Eaters Grill, the Captain America Diner, and the Comic Strip Cafe (both closed all week) we finally found somewhere we both could agree on, and had some lunch at Cafe 4. (Meatball hoagie and a Gatorade if you must know.)

After a nice heavy lunch, I can think of nothing better to do than to try to challenge my body not to lose it, so we headed over to Hulk. Wow. That launch is just fantastic. As a park maintenance guy myself, I can understand why there aren't any more of these launch systems around. When it's done right, though, it's the best launch around.

Next up: Spiderman. I'd been on simulators like Back to the Future before, and quite frankly, not been really impressed. Yikes! This takes these types of rides to a whole new level. Dark ride + 3-D show + simulator = Wow! The level of synchronization on this ride was mind boggling. One of the most impressive ride experiences I've had.

Then... right when I think this place can't get any better: as I step out of Spiderman, what's blaring (not playing, mind you, but BLARING) over the park's sound system? "Juke Joint Jezebel" by KMFDM: one of my favorite songs ever (and even the mix that I like the best.)

We hit Dr. Doom's Freefall, and completed our round of the park by about 1:30 pm, leaving us until 6 for rerides, shows (that water tunnel thing in Poseidon is amazing), some South Park pinball, and dinner at the Enchanted Oak.

Any of you of age should know that IOA has a happy hour in mid-afternoon consisting of half price beers and wines. A real nice touch for a place that has no need to offer you any discounts.

Tuesday the 22nd:

We went over to the studios side on Tuesday. I'll keep this short because I'm developing carpal tunnel syndrome from all of my rambling.

MIB: nice ride. Due to the absence of lines, though, I didn't know exactly how the scoring was done, so I lost horribly to my wife. This was a detail that would be brought up aproximately 56,733 times throughout the day. This finally culminated in a rematch where I am proud to say I beat my wife!

It's amazing how uninteresting rides like Back To The Future and T2 are when you've recently been on SpiderMan. Last time I was down here I thought T2 was great... this time I couldn't wait for it to end.

ET broke every stinking time we got in line for it, but we were finally able to ride, although he did get our names wrong. :(

Woody Woodpeckers nuthouse coaster was a fun little ride, and the kids area back there seemed like a lot of fun. I especially liked the air-powered ball blasters.

The Beetlejuice show was easily the worst amusement park act I've encountered. I'm still baffled how it ended up in this park.

The Horror show makeup and effects show, however, was funny and entertaining.

Hmmmm.... nope, I really don't have anything else to add here.

Friday January 25th:

The last day we could use our passes, and it barely got out of the 40's all day. Went to both parks for some rerides, and for the shows we had missed on the previous days.

Hit MIB, ET, and a few others at the studios, and headed to City Walk for lunch before ending the day at IOA with plenty of rides on Hulk (walk-on front seat) and Spiderman.

We figured this may be a good chance to get on the Pteranodon Flyers since there were very few people in the park. No go. The operator at the entrance did tell us, though, that they let adults on the ride for the first hour of the morning when they open. This sort-of sucked, since we had been there two mornings at open and didn't know, but oh-well... now you all know, anyhow.

Went on all the majors again, stared sadly at the manlift sitting across the DD entrance, and hit Storm Force Accellatron just as they were closing for the night.

All in all, this may have been the best park experience I've had. The rides are top notch, never saw a speck of litter, there's a bathroom about every ten feet, and they're all clean. The themeing and detail are still hard to believe.

Normally I find myself complaining about the high prices at major chain parks, and Universal's certainly were the highest I've ever encountered. I honestly didn't mind in this situation, though. I would rather pay $3 for a drink and have this level of experience than pay $2 and have it be just some rides plopped down on a tract of land. This is when I truly realized how much I liked this place, I felt like I wanted to give them my money to thank them for building such a wonderful park.

Nothing much else I can say. 10/10.
*** This post was edited by kpjb 2/9/2003 6:03:49 PM ***

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Sunday, February 9, 2003 2:30 PM
Glad to see you had a good time at my all time favorite park. Did everything on spiderman actually work beacuse when I was there sometimes some of the little effects weren't working. Like the blowtorch for the hobgoblin or when they throw water at you for hydroman.

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I hope they kill that iron yuppie. Thinks he's so big. The great homer simspon

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Sunday, February 9, 2003 8:02 PM
I've never been on Spiderman and had both the water effect and the fire effect working on the same ride. It's always been one or the other.

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www.coasterimage.com

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Monday, February 10, 2003 11:34 AM
Well, on Monday they were both working for me on both rides.

When we went back on Friday, the water wasn't on, but I think that it was because it was only in the 40's most of the day. They also didn't have the water effects on throughout the park, both in scenery and on rides like One Fish... .

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If you could just see the beauty... these things I could never describe. Pleasures and wayward distraction; is this my wonderful prize? --Joy Division

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Tuesday, February 11, 2003 5:54 AM
I take it you were down there for the AIMS safety conference. I wasn't able to make it this year (the last one I attended was in Houston in 2000). How was it? I'm already starting to work on the boss to send me next year.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003 1:21 PM
Actually, I didn't go to AIMS this year, either. My wife and I coincidentally scheduled the vacation to start the day after AIMS ended.

Lucky me, they sent me to Cleveland for a week when others got to go to Orlando. Still trying to figure out what went wrong.

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If you could just see the beauty... these things I could never describe. Pleasures and wayward distraction; is this my wonderful prize? --Joy Division

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003 6:36 AM
I agree with you about Universal. Seemed so boring after IOA, especially since MIB wasn't built yet and ET was closed.

The only ride I really liked was Kong. :(

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003 8:58 AM
How funny... I remember being blown away when I heard Juke Joint on the midway as well, as I mentioned in my TR. Wild stuff.

It's funny that you mention the thing about flaws, because there was just one that I found, and I noticed it on both visits. The area to the storage tracks on Dueling Dragons and Flying Unicorn are ugly. Silly, I know, but I was really looking hard for problems on my first visit!

I found Ice to be a little less exciting than Fire, but Ice does have an amazing moment as it pulls into the cobra roll, looking like it's going to slam into that wall.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"The world rotates to The Ultra-Heavy Beat!" - KMFDM

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003 10:12 AM

We figured this may be a good chance to get on the Pteranodon Flyers since there were very few people in the park. No go. The operator at the entrance did tell us, though, that they let adults on the ride for the first hour of the morning when they open.

I feel kinda gutted now that I never took a opputunity to ride Pteranodon Flyers, I went to IOA when they were doing the soft openings(So No Crowds and no lines except for Spidey, It was pure heaven) Anyway when I saw Pteranodon Flyers I was debating weather or not to ride it as it didnt look that thrilling(Remember when the park first opened, there were no restrictions to riding it) so in the end, I actually decided against riding it, Oh how I wish I took that oppotunity now. I even took a trip to Florida 2 years after that and noticed the restrictions placed on the ride so I couldnt even ride it then, DAM.

However, Its interesting that Adults are allowed to ride it in the first hr of the day, so if I ever get back to Florida one day, I'm gonna remember that :)


so we hit Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. One of , if not the best flume ride out there. Multiple drops and even some legitimate airtime!

There is nothing legitimate about it, That ride HAS AIRTIME, and I experienced it too as well as many other people :) Great Ride too :)

Also did you ride Popeye and Bluto's Rapids(I couldnt see it mentioned in your report) This is quite possibly the best rapids ride in the entire world and its certaintly a blast, Its worth getting drenched for the experience :)

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003 10:19 AM
Well then doesn't that make it legitimate?

I pulled Steph on the ride in 60 degree weather. What's up with Florida?

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"The world rotates to The Ultra-Heavy Beat!" - KMFDM

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003 11:58 AM
At first I thought Juke Joint Jezebel was just going to be a generic dub version with no lyrics... just the pounding beat, then when "the revelation" started, I was just ecstatic. It's like they knew I was going to be there.

We didn't ride the rapids, but tried to get as good a look of it as we could. My wife usually makes me ride these ever since the good ole days when she was the manager of the Rapids at Kennywood, but it was still a bit chilly for a drenching, we just sorta got splashed on the other two water rides, and that was enough.

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If you could just see the beauty... these things I could never describe. Pleasures and wayward distraction; is this my wonderful prize? --Joy Division

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Monday, February 17, 2003 9:27 AM
Just returned from my first visit to IoA on February 14 - actually my first trip to Orlando since 1974! - and was blown away! I have yet to write a trip report but am tempted to do one from a newbie point of view - first trips ever to Sea World, BGT, US and IoA with not a lot to compare them to - and if work wasn't so crazy, I'd give it a shot. Interesting that the best day of the week was the day spent at Discovery Cove and the favorite coaster in Central Florida is not in Orlando. Can I hear it for Montu, y'all?

As for the Flyers, me and my thirtysomething sister rode in the middle of the afternoon and both of us exceed the 54" height restriction that's posted. Next time, check with the ride attendant at the entrance to the queue. The first time we approached, we saw the sign and walked away a bit disappointed. The attendant *had* to hear our discussion but offered no rebuttal. Later in the day, after seeing fully grown folk swinging above our heads, we returned, asked if we could ride and were assured that the height restrictions were waived for the day. We were also forewarned of a 45 minute wait that turned out to be 15. The park was fairly crowded and nothing was a walk-on, even when we used the "line jumping" privlidges provided with our Royal Pacific room keys.

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