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This is a recap of our trip to Universal Orlando, specifically the Island of Adventure. In town a couple of days before a conference taking place at the Loews Portofino Bay, we had time to experience the Universal Orlando. We don’t have kids, so you’ll notice many of the ride breakdown consist of the more intense rides.
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster – this was a thrilling high intense roller coaster. You are launched up and over the first rise. It's a sit down roller coaster with twists and loops.
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong – A 3D ride, very similar to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but not quite as jerky. The main difference is instead of a small train car, you share a very large “truck” that sits in a large room with screens on both sides.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure - A river ride with a large drop at the end. Prepare to get wet. Well themed.
- Jurassic Park Discovery Center – a semi replica of the Discovery Center from the Jurassic Park movie franchise. Geared towards kids, there are dinosaur-centric interactive setups to explore.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – A combination of 3D plus a semi-intense coaster with lots of jerks. This was the first roller coaster I took for this trip to Universal Orlando and I was impressed!
- Dragon Challenge – An interesting take on coasters because there are two different coasters, one for each ferocious dragon. The difference is one coasters has more twists and turns while the other coaster is faster.
- Poseidon’s Fury – This is a guided tour in a large group that takes you thru several rooms. Experience rain and pyrotechnics. We checked out this attraction with low expectation, but left fairly impressed.
- Three Broomsticks Restaurant – One of the more popular sit down restaurants with fairly good food (given we’re in a theme park). There was a short wait, despite having an early lunch.
First off, probably biggest draw for visitors is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade. The theming of the school and all the rides was very very impressive. Much better themed than any at Disneyworld. Every aspect of the theme has been well thought out. If you have kids, prepare to spend $40 on a wand to experience the fun interactions at various storefronts.
We finished the park in a 3-4 hours, with the free Universal Express Ticket we got from staying at an on premise Universal hotel. The best strategy for visiting Universal’s Island of Adventure is to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first. The lines in the morning are short as visitors slowly arrive to the park. That’s also where the Universal Express ticket accepted in as many rides.
Thirsty? Unless you really want the themed water, the water they themed as Gilly Water is a whopping $4.50, compared to the standard Nestle water bottle that costs $2.50. Or better yet, come prepare with your own bottled water at a fraction of the price. But, if you want to try something unique and sweet, I recommend the Butterbeer (alcohol free).
Though we didn’t take any rides, the theme of Seuss Landing was fairly impressive. Dr Seuss Cat in the Hat is a book that almost child reads (or gets read to) at some point, so it’s sentimental to see the theme at the amusement park.
Parades and/or fireworks, unfortunately this park does not have any parades or fireworks. There is a parade in the sister park Universal Studios Florida.