5/22/09 - Islands of Adventure

This is the 2nd part of our day at Universal Studios. They technically have two theme parks. Of course, to make more money, even though they are right next to each other, you are charged extra to go to each.

We hit this half of Universal around 2:00 after spending about 5 hours in the first half. The parks closed at 6:00, so we actually skipped over some stuff to make sure we were able to see the main points we were interested in.

Our first trip through Islands of Adventure was Seuss Landing. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and am now attempting to pass on that love to my daughter. Getting to walk through a world that appeared to be designed by the good Doctor himself was awesome. Several of my favorite books were featured with characters "life-size" lining the walks and buildings that came right off the pages of some of the best books.

We actually didn't ride anything in this area of the park as they were all for children and didn't look all that interesting. We instead went on through to the Lost Continent area of the park. This area had three attractions, and we actually passed on all of them. The roller coaster was passed because I had never been on a roller coaster before and once again, wanted to make it through the rest of the park. There was a live action stunt show that we passed on because we didn't think it would be all that exciting (We learned at Hollywood how wrong we were). Finally, there is a walking tour of Poseidan's ancient temple. We assumed this would be a "history lesson" and although we love museums, we were more interested in riding non-roller coaster attractions. Reading reviews, and since seeing a video of what it is about, I think it might have been one of our favorite things of the park had we actually done it. If you make it to the park, please go through this attraction for me.

Jurassic Park was next in the park and we finally came to a ride we wanted to go on. Although I wanted to go on it more than Cristi. We asked the guy at the front if you got wet on this ride as we had seen several people walking around drenched from head to toe. He said that you got "a little more wet than Jaws". The thing is that at the Jaws attraction, you don't really get wet. So we decided to go on this ride, almost blindly, only knowing that we would be on a boat going through water. Beyond that, we had no idea what to expect. Of course, those that have gone on it, or know anything about it know that at the end of the ride, there is a probably 50-70 foot drop where you get pretty wet, especially if you are sitting in the front row...which we were. Cristi has a fear of heights, so as soon as we came to the ledge, she immediately grabbed my arm and held on for dear life. We both enjoyed it, and if we had known what was going to happen at the end of the ride, we probably would not have ridden it. I'm glad we were clueless.

As we went through Toon Lagoon, we picked up a quick bite to eat and headed on through to the Marvel Super Hero Island, taking note of the log ride and raft ride. The main reason we were at this park was for the Spiderman 4-d Adventure and we were not disappointed. This was the very same concept as the Shrek and Simpsons ride, only the "car" you are in actually makes its way through the theatre and you are treated to different scenes on different walls. On top of the three dimensions you experience, the movement seemed very real in comparison to the orientation of the screen. Basically, when the screen went sideways, you felt like you were sideways. Also, the additional effects, including blasts of air, water spray and intense heat made this one of the best rides we were on. I will say this, if you are prone to even the slightest of motion sickness, I highly recommend taking ginger or some sort of motion sickness remedy before this ride (as well as most other 3-d rides).

After Spiderman, we weren't going to ride on the Dr. Doom or Storm ride as hundred foot drops and spinning around while spinning in circles are not something we are interested in. Since that was the end of the park, we went back and I went on Ripsaw Falls in Toon Lagoon. Cristi didn't want to get wet (this is funny in a second) so I went on this by myself. Luckily, I was back row for this which I was pretty sure would prevent me from getting super wet. Quite possibly one of my favorite rides of the day, there are multiple short drops and a very smooth ride in general. And to top it off, outside of a little bit of spray from the big fall, I was pretty much dry at the end of the ride.

After the log ride, we managed to get lost trying to find the exit (this was a recurring theme all day that I have simple not mentioned due to the frequency that it occurred). While lost, we came across the raft ride and since we assumed we were headed to the car, we decided to jump on one more ride. After we were in line and about to get on the ride, we realized that this is where all the drenched folks had come from. If you have never been on a raft, you know what I'm talking about. Why I didn't put two and two together before this, I have no idea. I was okay with getting wet, but Cristi on the other hand wasn't excited about it. Even still, she knew I wanted to ride and she was a trooper and stuck it out. Luckily, we managed to avoid most of the worst parts of the ride, and the worst that either of us got it is Cristi got targeted by the water cannons at one point in the ride.

Now that we were fairly wet, we didn't want to get in the car all wet, so we were going to walk around a bit more and on the way out we passed Hulk. Now, I will say again, I have never been on a roller coaster that can truly be called a roller coaster. Mini-mine train at Six Flags doesn't count I've been told. The problem was that I didn't want to leave a theme park, having spent so much money to come all this way and not ride on a "TRUE" thrill ride. Finally, I talked myself into it and got on. I can't believe I waited that long to get on a roller coaster...that thing was AWESOME. I will say, had it not been for the motion sickness pills I had taken earlier, I probably would have either passed out or thrown up or both as I was still a little sick when I got off.

After riding that roller coaster, I then wanted to go back and ride the Mummy ride at the original Universal since we had passed over it earlier in the day. Cristi agreed only if she got to go see Shrek again. On our way out, we stopped and got a churro, made it to Shrek and headed to Mummy. When we got there, I started handing Cristi stuff out of my pockets only to find out that the camera was no where to be found. I was still on an adrenaline high from the Hulk, so I wanted to get on Mummy and forget about the camera assuming that someone had already taken it home as a souvenir. Cristi on the other hand was heartbroken immediately realizing that we had "lost all of our memories from that day and we'd never get them back" (she can be dramatic at times). Being the husband that I am, we retraced our steps.

Now, I did not mention that this happened at 5:30. By the time we checked the Shrek theatre, and walked back over to the other park, it was 5:55, and I wasn't going to ride any more coasters. We found the camera at the Churro stand where I had emptied my pockets to get to my wallet. The lady there had sent it to lost and found and we picked it up with no problems. Identification was easy as there were pictures of Cristi and I in it.

After that adventure, it was time to leave and get some well earned dinner. We were both exhausted and the conversation was basically dead as we both barely had the energy to lift our food to our mouths.

That is our Monday story for the Universal Parks. I'll have more followup posts about Hollywood Studios and a few other interesting (I think they are interesting) stories.

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