Home Button Places Button Theme Park Button Other Stuff Button Video Button Wallpaper Button

Universal Orlando Resort -- Islands of Adventure

Index
Islands of Adventure
The Lighthouse of Alexandria, the icon of Islands of Adventure

When Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, it was the equal to any Disney Park in the world. It was technologically advanced, it's themeing was unsurpassed, and almost every attraction emptied out into a gift shop.

Attractions like Spiderman and Poseidon's Fury are techno wonders. Hulk is one of the best coasters in the world. Seuss Landing brought the world of Dr. Seuss to life for the first time. Jurassic Park allowed you to explore the world of dinosaurs without getting eaten by an attraction. Toon Lagoon brought all your Sunday Comic Strips to life.

But, something happened. Or rather, Nothing Happened. In the intervening 10 years, there have been no significant changes to the park. Not until 2010, when Harry Potterland opened, had there have been any changes to the park that someone who was here in 1999 would recognize.

Further, the park isn't being kept up as well as it should be. The colorful, whimsical buildings in Seussland have faded, and needs a paint job. Main Street Persia (i.e. Port of Entry), which was once a themed marvel, is now just a walk to get to the park itself.

To be fair, Islands of Adventure is the Disneyland of the East. It was built on the available land that Universal had, and it does make good use of the space. But looking at the park now, the lagoon is rarely used for anything, and is just so much wasted space. It could have been made smaller to expand the park.

The stagnation in the park is the main reason I took a hiatus from Universal Orlando. Now, it's waiting for the park crowds due to Harry Potter to diminish. And with the current expansion into USF, it could be a while...

400px UO Map
Map of Islands of Adventure. Click on the map for a larger view...
Map ©Universal Orlando

Entrance

Islands of Adventure's icon is a Lighthouse of Alexandria replica, which tower 130 feet above the Port Of Entry.

Entrance
0710SE_13340I261409 0710SE_14520I261527 0710SE_14530I261528 200209FNO_485C05153 200305FL_462C02180 200305FL_500C02225 200305FL_504C02225 200310FL_299C30204 200310FL_286C30202 200405FL_05C03205 200812FL_1313P19195 200305FL_461C02180
Back to Top

Port of Entry

The Port of Entry is a brilliantly themed marketing area, and the entrance to Islands of Adventure.

While it's a Persian Main Street USA, it somehow seems to lose its charm when you enter the stores that line both side of the venue...

Still, it's a richly themed area, representative of what Universal Orlando is capable of...

Port of Entry
200305FL_573C04143 0710SE_13350I261411 200209FNO_486C05154 0710SE_14460I261525 200305FL_459C02175 200209FNO_545C05172 200305FL_444C02174 0710SE_13370I261411 200305FL_445C02174 200305FL_446C02174 200209FNO_546C05172 0710SE_14450I261523 200305FL_457C02175 200305FL_458C02175 200209FNO_446N04174 200305FL_581C04154 200305FL_582C04154 200305FL_583C04154 0710SE_14470I261525 200305FL_460C02180 0710SE_14490I261526 0710SE_14500I261526 0710SE_14510I261526
Back to Top

Marvel Super Hero Island

Oh, the irony. In building Islands of Adventure, Universal went out of their way to license other properties that weren't owned by Universal, but didn't have a theme park of their own. Dr. Seuss, the Jay Ward/Paramount characters...

...and Marvel.

And so in 2009, just before Harry Potter becomes a reality, Disney announced the acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, essentially putting Disney Characters into Islands of Adventure...

Marvel Super Hero Island is a place right out the comics. Geometric, generic, colorful. Two of the signature attractions of IoA are here, and arguably two of the best attractions in the Orlando area, Spiderman and Hulk. Both of which, are Disney char... Oh, never mind.

I can attest that Spiderman is a techno-wonder, and for years I considered it the premier attraction in the Orlando area. But years in the theme park biz is a long time, and I think the new Star Tours matches the experience. While Star Tours doesn't have the ability to literally change sets and spin 360 degrees, it's motion and ability to seamlessly change the story (but not the story line) is impressive. And man, it's Star Wars! But I digress.

Since I am a certified coaster chicken, and have the Woody Woodpecker keychain to prove it, I can only take testimony from people I know who've ridden it and declared it one of the best coasters, ever. And in designing the coaster, they made it roar. Instead of filling the support structure, they left them empty, and they literally roar when the coaster screams down the track.

Now, for Marvel Super Hero Island, this is good. Hulk does roar. Hulk should roar. But the problem is, Hulk roars in Seuss Landing. Hulk roars in Toon Lagoon. Hulk even roars in parts of Jurassic Park. It is stepping on the theme of the other islands.

Well, it is one of the best coasters in Florida, so I guess we'll have to cut it some slack... :-)

Marvel Super Hero Island
200812FL_1338P20104 200209FNO_487C05154 200209FNO_535C05170 0710SE_13650I261427 0710SE_14420I261521 0710SE_14430I261521 0710SE_14440I261522 200209FNO_489C05154 200209FNO_490C05155 200305FL_447C02174 200305FL_448C02174 200305FL_449C02174 0710SE_14330I261506 0710SE_14340I261507 0710SE_14350I261507 0710SE_14360I261507 0710SE_14370I261507 200305FL_574C04143 200305FL_456C02175 200305FL_575C04143 200209FNO_493C05161 200305FL_450C02174 0710SE_14400I261519 200305FL_454C02175 0710SE_14410I261519 200209FNO_492C05155 200209FNO_494C05161 0710SE_14310I261505 200209FNO_495C05161 0710SE_14320I261505 200209FNO_496C05161 0710SE_14300I261505 0710SE_14290I261505 0710SE_14280I261504 200209FNO_497C05161 200209FNO_498C05161 0710SE_14270I261504
Back to Top

Toon Lagoon

Okay, if one of the islands sunk like Atlantis, it could be Toon Lagoon, and I'm not sure I'd miss it. While the thought of themeing an entire area after the Sunday comics is a pretty good idea, I think some things become apparent after it's done.

One, the Sunday comics changes every Sunday. Toon Lagoon... Didn't.

And two, after you read them, you throw them away.

I'm not exactly sure who this area is for, either. Snuffy Smith? Betty Boop? Do kids today even know who they are?

The other problem, is both key attractions here are water rides, pretty unappealing when it's December and 50 degrees, which essentially makes it a walk through to Jurassic Park.

That said, I really like Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges over Kali, I think it is, a better overall ride. Maybe not as themed as well as Kali, but the whole point of raft rides like this is to get wet.

Toon Lagoon
200209FNO_500C05161 0710SE_14810I271004 0710SE_14240I261502 0710SE_14220I261502 0710SE_14230I261502 200209FNO_442N04161 200209FNO_501C05161 0710SE_14210I261502 0710SE_14200I261502 0710SE_14190I261501 200209FNO_499C05161 0710SE_14180I261501 200812FL_1404P20115 0710SE_14170I261500 200812FL_1403P20115 200209FNO_502C05162 0710SE_14160I261500 0710SE_14150I261500 0710SE_14140I261459 0710SE_14130I261459 0710SE_14120I261457 0710SE_14110I261456 0710SE_14070I261456 200209FNO_503C05162 0710SE_14050I261454 0710SE_14040I261454 200812FL_1402P20115 200812FL_1406P20115 200812FL_1407P20120 200812FL_1409P20120 200209FNO_505C05162 0710SE_14090I261456 0710SE_14100I261456 200812FL_1401P20115 200812FL_1400P20115 0710SE_14020I261452 0710SE_14010I261452 0710SE_14000I261451 0710SE_13990I261451 0710SE_13980I261451 0710SE_13960I261449 200209FNO_506C05162 200209FNO_507C05162 0710SE_13970I261450 0710SE_13950I261448 0710SE_13940I261448
Back to Top

Jurassic Park

Once you pass under that arch and into Jurassic Park, you are in Jurassic Park. They've done a very good job of themeing this area, isolating a lot of it from the rest of the park.

The premier attraction here, is again, a water ride. Splash Mountain on steroids. Except most things in the last half of the attraction wants to eat you. I keep getting talked onto this ride. You'd think I'd learn...

Jurassic Park
200209FNO_510C05163 0710SE_14780I270952 200209FNO_512C05163 200209FNO_513C05163 0710SE_13920I261447 0710SE_13880I261442 0710SE_13890I261443 200812FL_1382P20113 200812FL_1383P20113 200812FL_1384P20113 200812FL_1386P20113 200812FL_1387P20113 200812FL_1388P20113 200812FL_1389P20113 200812FL_1390P20113 200812FL_1391P20114 200812FL_1392P20114 200812FL_1393P20114 200812FL_1394P20114 200812FL_1395P20114 200812FL_1396P20114 200812FL_1397P20114 200209FNO_514C05163 0710SE_13900I261445 0710SE_13910I261446 200209FNO_515C05164 0710SE_13860I261442 0710SE_13840I261441 0710SE_13820I261440 0710SE_13830I261440 200209FNO_516C05164 200209FNO_517C05164 200209FNO_519C05164 0710SE_13810I261440 200209FNO_488C05154
Back to Top

The Lost Continent

The Lost Continent is really the only "island" in IoA that came from the imagination of the developers. All the other islands are based on some sort of setting already in media.

Much of this area was sacrificed for Harry Potter, where both the Unicorn and Dueling Dragons coasters being usurped by the new land. Virtually everything beyond the Sinbad theater is gone.

Sinbad, a live stage show is still here. It's got humor and action, and isn't that bad of a show.

The premier attraction in Lost Continent now, is Poseidon's Fury, a walk-through special effects show. It's pretty impressive, from water screen technology to a water tunnel that you have to see to believe. Recommended.

The Lost Continent
200209FNO_520C05164 200209FNO_521C05165 200209FNO_522C05165 200209FNO_523C05165 200209FNO_524C05165 200209FNO_525C05165 0710SE_14770I270948 200209FNO_526C05165 200209FNO_527C05165 200209FNO_532C05170 200209FNO_534C05170 200209FNO_528531C05170 0710SE_1371013780I261430 0710SE_13700I261430 200305FL_576C04143 0710SE_13680I261429 0710SE_13690I261430 200209FNO_533C05170 0710SE_13790I261438 0710SE_13660I261429
Back to Top

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I haven't visited Potter yet, since I have no desire to deal with the crowds until they die down.

However, one must comment on the changes made to Dragon Challenge (nee Dueling Dragons.) This coaster used to be a unique dual coaster, which would actually weigh the trains, then launch them so the trains meet in several places, with guests passing within 18" of each other.

Well, guests were asked to secure items, and Universal even provided lockers, but repeatedly stupid people refused to store their things. This resulted in cell phones and other objects being thrown from the particularly rough coaster, sometimes causing severe injury to another passenger in the other, dueling vehicle.

So this coaster neither duels, nor challenges any longer. It may as well be two separate coasters now.

All because of stupid people. sigh.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
200812FL_1381P20112 200812FL_1380P20112 200812FL_1379P20112 200812FL_13741378P20112 200812FL_13701373P20112 200812FL_1369P20112
Back to Top

Seuss Landing

When IoA first opened, Seuss Landing was brilliant. Bright colors, whimsical, no straight lines. Even the trees were bent. It truly brought the world of Dr. Seuss to life.

It was also one of the reasons I decided to take a hiatus from Universal.

By 2008, 10 years after opening, the place looked terrible. The paint faded, and the lack of maintenance was appalling.

The Cat's Hat, once a brilliant red and white, was a faded red and dirty white. Every structure on the island needed a paint job. It was pretty sad. I hope they've fixed the problem...

Seuss Landing
0710SE_13400I261415 200305FL_577C04143 0710SE_13630I261425 0710SE_13620I261425 0710SE_13610I261425 0710SE_13600I261424 0710SE_13590I261424 0710SE_13580I261424 200812FL_1368P20111 0710SE_13570I261424 0710SE_14750I270922 200209FNO_536C05170 200209FNO_537C05171 0710SE_13560I261424 0710SE_13550I261423 200812FL_1357P20111 200812FL_13611367P20111 0710SE_13540I261423 200812FL_1354P20111 0710SE_13510I261420 0710SE_13520I261421 0710SE_13530I261423 200209FNO_540C05171 200209FNO_541C05171 0710SE_13500I261419 200812FL_1355P20111 200209FNO_538C05171 0710SE_13490I261419 0710SE_13480I261419 200209FNO_539C05171 0710SE_13470I261419 0710SE_13460I261418 200209FNO_542C05171 200812FL_1462P20151 200812FL_1465P20152 200812FL_1463P20151 200812FL_1466P20152 0710SE_13430I261417 0710SE_13420I261416 0710SE_13410I261416 0710SE_13440I261417 200812FL_1346P20110 200812FL_13471353P20110 200812FL_1459P20151 200812FL_1460P20151 200209FNO_543C05172 200209FNO_544C05172 200812FL_1345P20110 200812FL_14551458P20151
Back to Top

Overall, I like Islands of Adventure, though I do think there's a lot of wasted space in the Lagoon, as well as the lack of an overall theme to the park. It is also heavy on water rides, which won't draw many guests during the colder months of the year.

The park never did gain the dominance Universal was hoping for, still falling behind Walt Disney World's least visited park. Even with Potter increasing attendance by 30%, IoA still falls to Disney's Hollywood Studios by close to 2 million visitors per year.

Revisions:
  • 05/06/2010 - Entire page re-imaged, pictures added
  • 09/13/2012 - Update to v3
  • 12/31/2012 - Update to v3.1
  • 09/01/2014 - Update to v3.2