Universal's Islands of Adventure 11/23/02

Associated parks:
None

Monday, November 25, 2002 8:49 AM

I think I've mentioned this before, but IOA is the best theme park ever. Disney should be worried, because the new kid in town does what they do, only better.

First off, I'll mention that we visited the park on the last of four days in Orlando. We stayed on-property at Universal's fairly new Royal Pacific Hotel. The hotel is pretty top notch, and being a short walk away from City Walk and the Universal parks makes it a great place to stay, isolated from the Orlando cheese found everywhere else.

Staying on-property has some perks. First off, your room key is like gold. It gets you to the front of all the lines, a 20% discount at the big gift shop in IOA, priority seating at City Walk restaurants and you can use it as a charge card to bill stuff to your room, from pretty much anywhere on the Universal property. Very convenient.

It was "chilly" by Orlando standards, the temperature topping out around 64, but certainly not uncomfortable. We started the day on Spiderman, which for Stephanie lived up to the hype I had been placing on it for roughly a year. It's absolutely one of the best theme park rides anywhere.

From there we bounced to Hulk, right to the front of the line, for a back seat ride. I still love that launch. The train I was on (all three running) was really rough, as if the guide wheel springs were shot. I watched the individual cars shift laterally all over the place throught the turns and loops. Caused a spot of head banging here and there, but still made for a good ride.

They hadn't opened the rest of the park yet, so we headed over to Cat in The Hat. Yeah, it's a goofy drug trip, but I still think it's kind of fun.

At this point we were pretty starving, and encountered an all-you-can-eat deal in Seuss landing for $10. It opened at 11, so we had to go kill about 15 minutes or so. We found the third and fourth DDR machines of our trip in the arcade next to the Fantastic Four Cafe. They were setup for five songs each, the USA at $1.25 and the MAX2 at $1.50. I haven't played a lot lately, but comfortably advancing at the 5 and 6-step level. It was fun because without local mallrats, people thought we were really good and watched. Ten songs later, we headed back for lunch.

And it was a damn fine lunch. Fried chicken, mashed taters, roast beast (ham), s'ghetti and meatballs, breadsticks, corn on the cob, fries, giant desserts... so much good food.

After a lap around the park, we hit up both of dueling dragons, which were unfortunately only running one train each. Not a big deal I suppose, but a ride with seperate load/unload has much longer intervals with only one train. Fire is still the stuff, easily one of the most intense inverters out there. Ice isn't bad either, but Fire takes the prize.

After that, we headed back for a nap. This being the sixth park in three days, we needed a little break.

About two hours later we returned to the park, my camera in tow. It's such a beautiful park to roam about in. We did find that Pteranadon Flyers was closed for seasonal maintenance, which was a bummer, but went about our business on the water rides.

First off was Dudley Doo-Right's Ripsaw Falls. I don't think there's a better flume out there. The theme is fun throughout, and the final splash down is crazy airtime-filled finale that should be manditory on all flumes. Great stuff.

After getting yelled at for dragging my significant other on the ride (;)), we headed over to Jurassic Park for the River Adventure. It's one of my favorite rides because it's just so massive in scope. The T-rex is awesome to see, and no photographs of it do it justice.

We dried off a bit and rode the Flying Unicorn. I wonder if Cedar Point wouldn't have been better off with this Vekoma model instead, because the capcity is better (two trains) and it's just a hair longer. This is what family rides should be.

The rest of the day's events aren't clear as far as order goes, but I know it went something like this. We landed back in the Marvel area, where the heroes came out to play (and KMFDM blasted across the midways, if you can believe it). Got some good photos of us with the good and bad guys, including my girl Rogue. We skipped on Captain America because the dude needs to get back on the Super Treadmill.

We did Poseiden's Fury, which was cool for the most part (the water vortex in real life is stunning), but the projected video parts were kind of lame. Explosions and water, that's cool. Our "tour guide" was also a cutie and really into the show.

Have you heard about the talking rock/fountain in the Lost Continent? Basically it's a dude somewhere with a voice harmonizer harassing little kids and squirting them with water. It's absolutely hilarious and the guy behind it (or woman, who could I suppose be anywhere in the park) was really good.

A stage show in the midway basically went through the entire Grinch story, and I have to say that the makeup of the actors was as good as, if not better, than in the Jim Carey movie. I assume this was their first public performance of the show (it was, afterall, the first day of "Grinchmas"), but they were really quite outstanding.

As it got dark we headed back to Dueling Dragons for another lap on Fire, front seat. They now had two trains running on each side and it made a huge difference. We didn't get the illusion I was hoping for because Ice got a little behind, but wow does that ride kick ass. The free lockers for the camera were also cool. What a great system.

Back around through JP and Toon Lagoon, we jumped on Spiderman and Hulk again. As the park cleared out, we wandered back to Seuss Landing for some night photos before ending the day at the big gift shop, where we dropped about a hundred bucks (and this was after our 20% off).

I should note that the Univeral Express system seems to work just like Disney's Fastpass. Both are good systems if you ask me, and if you're going to do queue management, this is how you should do it. The pay-extra schemes found at the Six Flags parks are insulting by comparison.

After the park closed, we went to City Walk to eat at the Italian restaurant there. Really good stuff! The ice rink was also open for the start of Grinchmas.

Overall, I love IOA and had a good time staying on-property. They make it very easy for you to spend all of your money there without ever leaving, and quite frankly, I'm OK with that. Everything is world-class at this complex. It's not cheap, but really I don't think we would've spent any less on a trip elsewhere.

Make plans to visit and stay at Universal!

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"Climbing as we fall, we dare to hold on to our fate, and steal away our destiny to catch ourselves with quiet grace" - The Stairs, INXS

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Monday, November 25, 2002 9:04 AM
any chance of seeing any pics? there can never be enough IOA pics about!
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Monday, November 25, 2002 9:18 AM

Do they only open certain sections of the park at opening? If so, which sections open first and when do the other sections open? I don't remember them doing that the last time I was there.

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Sue Barry
CoasterSue@aol.com

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Monday, November 25, 2002 10:16 AM
Glad you had a great time! After staying at a Universal property [Portinfino] during my last excursion, I can safely say that I'll never stay off-site again. The many perks more than make up for the expensive lodging -- and the lodging itself is magnificent.
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Monday, November 25, 2002 10:16 AM

You didn't skip every queue with your room key, did you?

IMHO Dueling Dragons minus the queue is merely a coaster ride...

-'Playa

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The CPlaya 100--6 days, 9 parks, 47 coasters, 2037 miles and a winner.....LoCoSuMo.

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Monday, November 25, 2002 10:33 AM

....but 'Playa, I've NEVER seen the queue even backed up past Ice's (Blizz to friends) room.....the majority of the theming is wasted pretty much all the time because the park *thought* that dueling B&M coasters wouldn't tear through a queue like a Dragon on raw flesh. I mean, the rooms for Fire and Ice are awesome, but nobody's ever in them 'cause they just "Walk on by"....

Ice may be *just another inverted Beemer*, but Fire Dragon (Pyrrhock) has the best LAYOUT other than Great Bear.....and MORE intensity....

Glad you enjoyed MY homepark, it IS awesome....;)

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Monday, November 25, 2002 10:36 AM

That's because you usually avoid the park during Spring Break and I didn't.

-'Playa

(who skipped it the first time with Universal Express and thought it sucked)

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The CPlaya 100--6 days, 9 parks, 47 coasters, 2037 miles and a winner.....LoCoSuMo.

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Monday, November 25, 2002 11:26 AM

Yes, I do have photos, and some of the night shots are pretty cool. Some day shots aren't that cool, because unfortunately the sun is rarely in an ideal position this time of year.

Sue: They had it roped off at the Toon Lagoon-Marvel border, but I'm not sure if they had the Seuss-Lost Continent border also closed off. I thought it was odd too, since the video in the hotel room suggested starting from the back of the park. ;)

I don't know how anyone could not be crazy about the Dragons, especially Fire. My appreciation for the ride since last year had lessened, only to kick my ass again after a few rides. I can't get enough Fire. How many inverters have airtime hills like that?

The queue, while very cool, does seem a bit long, and outright insane with the outdoor portion. They did realize that the capacity had to be on the order of 2400+ pph, right? That ride eats people.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"Climbing as we fall, we dare to hold on to our fate, and steal away our destiny to catch ourselves with quiet grace" - The Stairs, INXS

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Monday, November 25, 2002 11:32 AM

My first ride sucked because I missed all the queues and Fire didn't duel at all. Without the dueling, it's not so great.

Of course, I still had three or four other days to visit the parks--so I got much better rides. Personally, I still give Ice the edge because I am very, very partial to cobra rolls and not so wild about Immelmans.

-'Playa

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The CPlaya 100--6 days, 9 parks, 47 coasters, 2037 miles and a winner.....LoCoSuMo.

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Monday, November 25, 2002 11:34 AM

Jeff said:

That ride eats people.


Well, they ARE Dragons after all....;)

But in response to 'Playa....I found Ice to be the "favored" ride after my first *few* trips to IoA, but Fire has aged gracefully as can be, while Ice IS becoming bumpier and bumpier....since the maintenance on both would be *assumed* to be similar, I'm gonna stick with layout as the main reason Pyrrhock has taken over the the title "Most Favored Dragon"....it's still smooth as a baby's bottom...

*** This post was edited by rollergator on 11/25/2002. ***

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Monday, November 25, 2002 12:10 PM

Jeff Said:...and KMFDM blasted across the midways, if you can believe it...


That caught me by surprise as well... :)

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Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.

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Monday, November 25, 2002 4:56 PM

How about those Marvel Superhero thongs for the ladies? One for each day of the week.

There is a God, LOL!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 4:47 AM
I actually waited an hour to ride Dueling Dragons and had to wait through most of the castle. Let me tell you, it gets really clausterphobic in some parts of the line where it is just tunnels. It is amazing how much a few days difference can make in the lines there though. The hour wait was on a Saturday on President's Day weekend before the Daytona 500. Went again two days later and Dragon's was a walk-on. Nice to see an IOA trip report again. We only see em during the winter.

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Bob Hansen

A proud CoasterBuzz Member

Wanna Ride A Woodie?

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 4:49 AM
Jeff, how was the front desk service at the Royal Pacific? We went back in July and it was very frustrating. Our check-in time was at 11 and we didn't get a room until 4, and that was after much running around and calls. I think the place had only been open for about a month so they were probably still working the bugs out. Glad to hear you had a great time. IOA is truly a world class place. I might not even visit the mouse the next time I'm in Orlando.

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Syntax Error

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 5:20 AM

KTS, you mentioned something that I don't think I've ever noticed before-we only hear about people going to BGT and IOA during the "off-season." I wonder, is that because enthusiasts are busy hitting the seasonal parks over the summer with the knowledge that the year-round parks can be visited at other times? I can tell ya, it's not like IOA and BGT aren't crowded in July.

I miss IOA. I miss the Dragons. I miss the Unicorn. I miss Hulk. *books flight to Orlando*

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http://www.rockandrollconfidential.com

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 7:40 AM

SyntaxError - the stated check-in time for all on-site Universal hotels is 4PM. Perhaps you were mislead, or had some sort of promised deal, but they generally don't make rooms available until then. the wife and I have got lucky before (snagged a room before noon at the Hard Rock the week it opened, but it was only half-full), but you can't count on that.

Jeff, in regards to the ice rink - is it at City Walk? It's for park guests, correct? - and can I assume skates are available for rent? (I don't think we have room in our carry-ons for our skates - and even in Canada, I doubt they'd allow us to bring them on the plane anyway, being deadly weapons and all).

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Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 7:59 AM

I *could* post the occasional summertime TR to IoA or BGT, but c'mon, I'm busy booking flights myself...;). Besides, it's not like I can go to HW or IB in December, lol.....(well, I guess I "could", but that would make for a really boring TR)..."everything was closed, we went home"...;)

Yes, during the summer, we are BUSY trying to get to seasonal parks....ain't that right Joey?....

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 8:55 AM

Yes, check-in time is 4, which is really in line with pretty much anywhere I've ever stayed before. Seeing as how the hotel is hardly at capacity this time of year, there were plenty of rooms ready, so we were in at 11 that morning. They were polite and helpful, and the use-your-room-key-for-everything is the coolest thing about staying there.

There is, by the way, still a lot of new paint/carpet glue smell there.

The ice rink is down by the water at the base of the quasi-amphitheater at the middle of City Walk. It did appear they were renting skates. Anyone can use it, I'm sure, as admission to the City Walk area is free anyway.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"Climbing as we fall, we dare to hold on to our fate, and steal away our destiny to catch ourselves with quiet grace" - The Stairs, INXS

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 9:13 AM
Now that you mention it I think I remembered my times wrong, we were told 4 but didn't get the room until after 6, we got there at 11. We weren't all that upset about it, knowing that it was a new hotel running at capacity.

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Syntax Error
The Play of the Year

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002 9:19 AM
I agree Jeff, IOA rocks.
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