Universal/IOA 3/12 and 3/13

Associated parks:

Sunday, March 17, 2002 7:41 PM

Despite driving a grueling 16 hours from Ohio to Orlando, Rob (CBuzzer "Robodud") and I arrived at IOA bright and early the next morning, and more than ready to get on some coasters after nearly 5 months of torturous withdrawal. Our first stop: Incredible Hulk. We got there just as the ride opened and walked right onto one of the first trains of the day. What a great ride…the launch felt faster than I expected for only 40 mph, the elements were smooth, there was even a smidgen of airtime after the midcourse brakes. Another plus: the ride ops were friendly and did a pretty good job of getting the trains out efficiently when we rode.

My only complaint: the cartoon volume in the queue area could have been about 100 decibels quieter and still would have been easily heard above the crowd noise. As we got off the ride, we noticed that the line was growing rapidly, but that’s also to be expected for a ride located right next to the park’s entrance. We decided to move on and come back to the Hulkster later in the day.

Continuing through Marvel Super Hero Island, we came to Spiderman, and seized the opportunity to get on it with no wait. We got in line, only to hear an announcement that the ride would be down for about ten minutes while they reset something. Considering the 40 minute wait time later in the day, we felt lucky to get on it as quickly as we did. As for the ride itself: the combination of 3-D effects, simulator, and a dark ride made Spiderman very unique and fun, even to someone like me, who knew close to nothing about the Spiderman cartoons or comics. I give that ride a strong two thumbs up, although I think after riding it once you'd know what to expect if you ever re-rode it, and it might lose its novelty pretty fast. The unexpected twists and turns was what made the ride so neat.

Next we made our way through Toon Lagoon, and decided to give Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls a try. Judging from the outside of the building (yeah, yeah, I know..don't judge a book by its cover) we expected a cute little kiddie ride, but it proved to be the coolest log flume I’ve ever been on, and the wettest one at that. We got off the ride completely drenched, but the water was clean and the day was getting hot, so it was fine by us.

Since we were already soaked and we had just entered the Jurassic Park area of IOA, the J.P. River Adventure seemed appropriate to ride next. River Adventure wasn’t quite as good as I thought it would be, based on all the hype back when it was built, but it was still a fun ride and some of the animatronics were really lifelike...or at least what I'm guessing would be lifelike, considering that they’re all dinosaurs and there's that whole extinction thing to work with. Watching the boat come down the chute, it seemed like you would get really wet on this ride, but in reality we were greeted with just a small sprinkling of water compared to Dudley Do-Right’s.

We made a stop at the Jurassic Park Discovery Center just to see what was in there. It looked like it was intended to be more fun for little kids, and we x-rayed plastic dinosaur eggs for a while, but got bored pretty quickly. They had good food upstairs in the discovery center though, and an air conditioned eating area with a great view of the park, so we ate lunch there on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Next stop was Camp Jurassic to try and sneak on the Pteranodon Flyers without borrowing a little kid, but the op said to come back the next day right around opening and we could ride.

Moving on to the Lost Continent, we decided to take the Flying Unicorn for a spin. It was a fun little kiddie coaster, was pretty fast, and had some fun turns. Our next ride was what we'd been waiting for all morning: Dueling Dragons. I can’t say enough good things about this ride. The ride itself was great. Fire was definitely our favorite; it felt like it had more sustained G’s, airtime, and better elements in general. Ice seemed to be the tamer of the two, and the big turn after the first drop was pretty boring. There were too many straight-aways and turns that could have been spiced up a bit. We rode Fire about ten times in all, and Ice about four times, with our longest wait being about 15 minutes during a one train operation on each side.

Now it's time to be picky... My first complaint about this ride: the queue line was about 5 miles long and it was hard not to run into things in the dark building after being used to the brightness outside. My second complaint: safety on the ride. Our first ride on Fire, we witnessed something truly disturbing: a kid tried to carry his book bag across the platform and leave it in the station while he rode the coaster. The ride op picked it up, walked over to the kid, and told him he had to take it on the ride, even though they were only on a one-train operation on each side at the time. The op then takes the kid’s book bag, stuffs it between the kid’s shoulder harness and the one on the seat next to him, and instructs him to hold onto the strap with one hand. We were amazed and frightened at the same time. I don’t know who makes the policies there regarding what can and can’t be carried on a ride, but it seemed like an accident (and a lawsuit) waiting to happen. Later that same day, we watched the ops hold onto a camcorder for someone who was afraid it would get hurt if they carried it on the ride. I also have a couple nitpicky complaints about the efficiency of the crew on this ride.

My other complaint is that they don’t check the height of anyone at the ride’s entrance, so kids get on the ride and after the harnesses are locked and the train’s ready to dispatch, an op will spot a kid who’s too short to ride, all the harnesses are unlocked, the kid has to get off and be measured, then all the harnesses must be re-locked and re-checked. This happened at least once almost every time we rode, and it amazed me that they don’t just have someone with a height stick at the entrance to save them all that hassle. As a result, there would be two trains running on each side, and the ride would stack almost every time we were in line. I’m not trying to toot Cedar Point’s horn, but Raptor’s crew very rarely stacks trains, even during a 3 train operation. It was very frustrating to stand there waiting for them to fix their intervals every time, and a line that would be a 5 minute wait at CP was a 15 minute wait at IOA. I think they could learn a few things from the Raptor crew when it comes to loading/unloading procedures.

After a few rides on DD we decided to head over to Universal and ride a few things. Twister was a cool ride, but a little short considering what they played it up to be, Men In Black was an awesome ride, very interactive and exciting, and Terminator 2 - 3D was also great. We left shortly before the park closed and came back to IOA the next morning to re-ride the coasters. We got in one ride on Hulk, one on Pteranodon Flyers, and 7 on Dueling Dragons, all in the span of one hour. Lines were growing and the day was getting hot, so we left early in the afternoon.

Overall, the park was great. It wasn't too hard to find things, their attention to detail was amazing, the park was clean and well run, and all the employees were very friendly. Rob and I received several comments about our Millennium Force shirts, mostly from people who weren't aware that a coaster over 300 feet existed. I bought a Lemon Chill, but sadly, the person who sold it to me didn't know what the park is getting next year..

*** This post was edited by KicksTheSky on 3/18/2002. ***

Sunday, March 17, 2002 8:09 PM

IOA was an overall great experience!! I especially liked the "MisPlaced WalMart Greeters" at the entrance of Dudley Do Right. Universal sure did a great job on the detail of the park. I'm still remembering the leaf imprints on the concrete in Jurassic Park, the bones in the dungeon of DD, and the imaginary world of Dr. Suess.

I would recommend getting the two-day pass so you can do everything you want to and then some in both Universal parks. Oh yeah and see if you can beat my first-time score of 215,500 on MIB. I think that isn't bad for a first timer considering the rest on my team averaged 50,000 pts. ;)

***Why can't all parks have a Millennium Force?***

Monday, March 18, 2002 7:36 AM

I was down at IOA a month ago and I had the same complaints about Deuling Dragons that you did. You would think with 2 B&M coasters running there would never be a line but they keep stacking the trains all the time and constantly have 5 minute dispatch times. Get the Raptor crew down there to show them how it is done!

I also wore my M-Force T-Shirt one of the days I was there and got SEVERAL comments on it. I have one that has all the stats on it and people were just amazed that such a coaster even existed. I told one guy in line for Hulk that the Hulk was only about a third as high as M-Force and he darn near fell over. The other day I wore a SFGAm shirt and didnt get too many comments except from people from the SFGAm home area.

As far as the two park pass, I did one better and got the 5 park 14 day pass. I got Seaworld, both Universals, and Busch Tampa with that along with a water park we didnt bother visiting.

BTW sorry for stealing your name :)

Bob Hansen

Bolliger/Mabillard for President/VP 2004

Monday, March 18, 2002 1:47 PM
From the countdown to the final trip I was so excited for you two, and I'm glad you enjoyed this park as much as I did. I MISS IOA!!

403 Laps

Monday, March 18, 2002 4:21 PM

Hey Kara, thanks :) I'm working to put together a fun slideshow of our trip on my website. I'll leave a link on here whenever I get that done.

Can't wait for them Ohio parks to open :)

Monday, March 25, 2002 11:50 AM

Im going to Universal and IOA in June. I cant wait. It looks so awsome.

some people dont even know Ohio exists, so I can imagine some not knowing about the Millennium Force.

Fear the Wrath of the Phantom! Phantoms Revenge, Kennywood park, West Mifflin Pennsylvania.


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