North America Theme Parks / Zoos International
Universal Studios (Florida)
There are two parks in the Universal, Orlando resort; Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. To be honest I much preferred Islands of Adventure because it seemed to appeal more to my tastes, but that is not to say that there isn't a lot to like about the Universal Studios park, what with such big names as The Simpsons, Shrek and Men ... in Black to keep you entertained. The rides seem to be much more about special effects and demonstrating what can be done in the world of movies as well. There are five areas to the park, each with a unique theme, which makes it much easier to walk around.
Once you have walked through the rather grand gates of Universal Studios, you immediately arrive at Production Central. I thought the name meant that this area would be where all the special effects type rides would be, but it is not the case. I think there are actually studios here just behind the rides, which may be the reason for the name, but these aren't publically accessible.
There are three rides in this area of the park. The first is the brand new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride. Not so much a ride as a 3-D experience. I had never heard of Despicable Me before visiting this ride, but from what I can gather it is a children's film complete with lovable characters and fun storylines. It doesn't matter if you haven't seen the film - it won't spoil your enjoyment of the ride. I loved it and thought it was very clever and a lot of fun. The only thing I will say is that you should try and get a seat in the centre of the auditorium because we found that the 3-D aspect worked at its best from a direct angle. The second ride is another 3-D adventure, well actually 4-D, Shrek. The ride starts off from where the first film finished, but again you don't need to have seen the film to enjoy the ride. We were a bit disappointed in this one because the 4-D aspect means that your seats move to increase the interaction with the film, but we found that the seats made such a noise that it took away from the film. These two rides are both suitable for children and I think that they'll enjoy both of them, although Despicable Me is only for people over 40 inches tall.
The last ride in this area is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, which is a full on white knuckle roller coaster. I am much too much of a wimp to go on such a ridiculous ride as this, but my husband went on it and couldn't decide what was worse - the vertical climb up to the first big drop, the sheer length and number of turns and loops, or the fact that you don't have over the should straps! I personally loved the fact that you are recorded during the ride and you can watch the video back afterwards, it certainly made for hilarious viewing for me! You can buy the video if you want. There are also free to use lockers at the ride entrance to store loose items. If you a single rider - definitely mention it as you join the queue because quite often you are able to skip to the front.
There are a couple of restaurants and bars in this area, but none really of note - they are more places that you can grab a quick snack. This is also the area where the parade starts and finishes and that you can meet your favourite characters throughout the day, including the Simpsons and Shrek.
As you leave Production Central you go straight into New York, which is actually visually quite impressive. It does indeed look like the set from a movie though, complete with the sky scrapers and the narrow streets - you can even stop for a quick break on the benches of Central park. In fact we enjoyed wandering around the area as much as anything else.
There are two rides here though; Twister . . .Ride It Out and Revenge of the Mummy. The Twister Ride is a special effects show type ride which is quite good, although there is an awful lot of build-up that isn't quite rewarded with the mega ending you are anticipating. It is good though and worth a visit. There are no height restrictions on the ride, although it is very loud and may be frightening for younger visitors. The mummy ride is an indoor roller coaster which takes places mostly in the dark. My wimpishness doesn't extend to rides that I can't see so I happily went on this one (I know it doesn't make sense, but there you go). It is quite thrilling although there are no loops in it, but there are things that you don't expect, which adds to the thrill. If you can, get a seat at the front of the carriage as it is slightly more adrenaline pumping and much more fun. The ride is only suitable for those over 48 inches in height and you'll have to put loose articles in one of the lockers before riding.
There are a couple of shows that round off the available entertainment in New York. The first is the Blues Brothers Show, which is mildly entertaining and takes place on one of the street corners in the area. It is usually quite popular and you can stay for as long or as little as you like. The other one is the Delancey Street Preview Centre. This is a bit hit and miss because it is a place where you can go and watch a show under network consideration and rate it. There were none playing whilst we were there, but you have to qualify to be able to take part though.
Like New York, this area is as much about the theme as anything else and it is pretty good. I have been to San Francisco and all the local things are there - Fisherman's Wharf, Ghiradelli's Chocolate shop, a street car track. There are none of the big sites like Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge, but the things that are there make it seem more genuine in an odd way. There is a 'harbour' which sits on the Universal lakeside and is a great place from which to watch the nightly firework show. There is also a giant shark hanging overhead which you obviously have to stick your head in the mouth of and have a picture taken!
There is only one ride here and it is Disaster, which is billed as 'A Major Motion Picture Ride . . . Starring YOU!'. It is quite good, although there is a lot of preamble. This is made bearable by the amusing man who presents it. It is suitable for everybody and you may be chosen to take a starring roll or (if you do what I did and hide behind a really tall man) you can just be one of the extras. The end product is quite amusing and the whole thing probably lasts about 25 minutes.
The other thing to do here is watch Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue, which is a rock and roll monster show. Cue lots of cheesy jokes, popular songs and even a few fireworks. It is actually pretty good, and a perfect way to have a nice sit down without missing out on anything. Shows are at regular intervals throughout the day and last about 30 minutes each.
This area is also sort of half way around the park so it is a great place to stop for lunch. The designers have obviously also considered this as there are plenty of places to get something to eat. There is a huge pizza restaurant that does pizza by the (rather large) slice for a few dollars and there are various sweet shops and food stands selling everything from sodas to giant turkey legs (which seemed to be very popular).
There are only two rides in this part of the park, but they are two of the most popular I would say in the form of The Simpson Ride and Men in Black Alien Attack. You can expect a queue for both, but there is plenty to look at in the queuing system so it isn't too painful. In the queue for The Simpsons Ride, they actually play episode of the show, which makes the time go remarkably quickly!
The Simpsons ide is a kind of simulator where you are in a roller coaster carriage and you swoop and soar over Krustyland. It is very good and quite clever. It also feels a bit different from your usual run of the mill simulator which is good. If you are small, sit on the front row though so your view isn't obscured.
The second ride here is the Men In Black one which is fully interactive because you even get a gun to zap baddies and you compete against other players in your cart. It is worth paying attention as you walk around the queuing area as there are instructions on what to do once you are onboard and there are even special hints and tips for what to do to get bonus points. It is fun although they seemed to be having problems when we visited and the ride actually broke down whilst we were in it. Not a problem and these things happen, but it did annoy me (and it was very out of character for the Universal folks in general) that they didn't apologise or give an explanation, instead just leaving us there until it was fixed.
TheWorld Expo area has a sort of carnival feel to it, especially near The Simpsons Ride, where there are lots of little games to play (for a price of course), such as whack-a-mole, catch a duck and throwing a ball through a hoop. The games aren't too expensive (around $3 a go each) and there are lots of Simpsons themed prizes to win, although you might want to avoid it if you have already blown the budget!
===Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone===
There are lots of rides throughout Universal Studios that are suitable for kids and that they will love, but this area, as you would expect is entirely geared towards younger visitors. There are things that will appeal to all ages of children and the characters featured here include Woody himself, Curious George, ET and Barney.
As seems to be the theme in this park, there are a couple shows you can watch, the first one features animal actors although we didn't watch it because there were only four show times on the days that we were there and none of them suited our timetable. I imagine that there are more shows in the busier summer months. There is also a Barney show but since it is advertised as a sing along, clap along walk in the park we decided that we were probably a little too old for it.
We did have a go on Woody's Nuthouse Coaster, mainly because there was no queue. It has only a 36 inch height restriction, which tells you just how tame it is. Young daredevils will love it though and there are puzzles and things to complete in the queue which is quite good.
We also went on the ET ride which basically involves you sitting on a flying bike and helping ET get home. Again it is a fairly tame ride with 34 inch height restriction, but it is very pleasant and you wait in line in the forest which is pretty funky.
Finally in this zone there are a couple of themed play areas featuring Curious George and a character called Fievel, who is a mouse that I have never heard of! The whole zone has been planned for children very thoughtfully and it is lovely and bright and very engaging.
To complete the theme, there are plenty of places to get brightly coloured sweets and drinks or a souvenir featuring your little ones' favourite characters.
Lots of the rides in this park are wheelchair accessible and many of the show type rides have assistive listening or sign language interpreted shows, so that everyone can enjoy them. Just pick up one of the maps as you enter the park because they have details on them of which rides offer extra assistance and you just speak to the ride operator at the entrance.
It is also always worth mentioning if you are a single rider at the queue entrance because you tend to be able to jump to the front of the queue if you are.
It is worth picking up one of the maps anyway because it is much the best way of planning your day so that you get the most out of it. They are really handy to have and give all the information you need about the rides themselves (height restrictions, locker availability, opening times) and the other things in the park (food/drink, toilets, cash machines etc).
The park is predominantly non-smoking, however there are designated smoking areas throughout the park. There are seven of these areas in total and they all have plenty of ash trays and seating and are well sign posted. It's a great idea and I strongly recommend you stick to them because you will be told off otherwise.
The parks are exceptionally clean. I was amazed at how so to be honest, because you'd think with that many people, there'd be some rubbish somewhere, but no. There are always bins everywhere and you often see part of what must be an army of cleaners picking up bits of rubbish here and there. It makes it such a lovely place to wander around.
There are plenty of places to get something to eat and it caters for all kinds of things from snacks and quick bites to full blown meals. I didn't think the prices were that bad to be honest - certainly much less than I thought they were going to be. You are free to bring in your own food though if your budget doesn't extend to theme park prices, although expect to have your bag checked when you enter the park and to have to wait in line to do so.
In terms of ticket prices for getting in to the parks, it is an absolute minefield depending on what you want. You can get tickets for just Universal Studios, which are about £50 for one day, although the daily price does go down the more days that you book. The best value if you are staying for a week or more is to get a pass that allows you unlimited entries into a number of parks. This is particularly good because I don't think you need more than one day to see everything in Universal Studios to be honest, so you'd be better combining your ticket with something else. We paid about £150 each for a fortnight long ticket that got us into Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Wet n' Wild water park. There are also untold numbers of places you can get tickets from but I would add that it tends to be cheaper if you buy them in advance.
For any more information, the Universal website is excellent; www.universalorlando.co.uk
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Wizarding World Of Harry Potter (Florida)
I have reservations about the fact that our English Jewel that is the Harry Potter series, a multi-million pound best-selling series of novels and movies, has a resort in Florida. Boris Johnson has expressed his disdain for the fact and complete bafflement at why it was not placed in London. Of course, Warner Brothers own the ... rights to the movies, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located in the Universal Studios resort, Orlando. Seeing as the resort is a tribute to the movies and the creators are based in the US I can understand the thinking. Florida is the destination of all places magical, Walt Disney's Magical Kingdom just a few miles south from Orlando in Kissimee and Spook Hill known for the ghostly road where you park your car at the bottom of the hill, release the handbrake and the car begins to slowly roll....uphill! Creepy.
All that aside. I'm here to review The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- How to Get There -
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a relatively small themed area nestled right at the back of the Universal Studios resort in Orlando, Florida. The parking is in a huge multi-storey carpark with themed levels e.g. We were parked in Jurassic Park's level. There are walking escalators that take you right over the road and straight into the resort. There are a number of bars and restraunts with a large multi-screen cinema located just outside the ticket booths and you do not need to purchase park tickets to access any of these areas. The resort is split into two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. You can purchase tickets for one or both of the parks. To get into Harry Potter World, you need to go to Islands of Adventure.
The sneaky designers have placed the Harry Potter World right at the back of the park with (I would call hidden) entrances and exits which meant we actually missed it completely and ended up looping around the whole park. That's ok though, it's right next to Jurrasic Park World - and my 3 year old loved looking at all the dinosaurs.
- Diagon Alley-
The wonky street of Diagon Alley is picturesque with its snowy rooftops and cobbled ground. It is packed full of actors and refreshment stalls which sell the famous Butter Beer and candies. The Hogwarts Express sits at the Entrance blowing steam into the air and looking very impressive for tourists to have pictures taken with the Station Master who calls out to the crowd in his fake British accent. The buildings tower over the street and there's magical music playing which create this illusion that you really have stepped into the real Diagon Alley.
There has been a lot of attention to detail, the buildings look extremely authentic and aged. The cashiers dress like wizards, the shops are cramped and jam packed full of Harry Potter Merchandise. (And you need a small fortune to purchase any of it! More on that later on) Diagon Alley rests in the shadow of the fantastically realistic Hogwarts School of Wizardry and the overall feel is truly magical.
There is not a lot to say about the shops in Diagon Alley, Zonkos (The Joke Shop) and Honeydukes (The Candy Store) are linked inside. They are cramped and there is no space for a buggy, so they need to be left out in the buggy parks located closeby to the shops and the rides. The merchandise is costly and there is little variation to the stock. Zonkos seemed to sell two or three unique items, the rest of the *junk* nestled on the high shelves were props.
Dervish and Banges have all the touristy products, hats, scarfs, jumpers, t-shirts, whole Hogwarts uniforms and lots of odd bits here and there - all at an estronomical price! (One of the jumpers was ~$80!) These products are duplicated over and over in various locations in the park which make you think there is a lot to offer, but when I thought about it, I realised that the actual product portfolio is very small.
The Owlery is fun. A howler screams when the door opens and the high ceilings are swamped with owls. You can even send a postcard (Not unlike the novelty of sending a postcard from the Vatican, but arguably more fun) with a real Hogsmead postage stamp!
Olivanders had a queue the length of the great wall of China when I went. This is because you can have your very own experience of choosing a wand from Olivanders. You'll be given a wand and various visual effects make you feel completely drawn into the experience and when YOUR wand is in your hand, the room glows with beams of golden light and beautiful music fills the air. Worth the long wait?
Well not to worry if it queues aren't your thing, they sell the wands in all the stalls up and down the street anyway. They cost ~$30 each.
The toilets are worth a quick mention - they are fashioned to look like the toilets in Hogwarts and in the ladies toilets Moaning Myrtle screams obuse at the occupants. Delightful.
There are a few shops which are just props, though I suspect they will be developed and open for the public at a later date. It was a treat to see Emma Watson's pink dress from Prisoner of Azkaban next to Daniel Radcliffe's Dress Robes in a shop window. There were also wanted Posters up for Sirius Black.
The highlight of Diagon Alley is the Three Broomsticks. It is the only Restraunt/Bar but does not disappoint. Surprisingly large inside, the ceilings are high and crooked with various shadows of birds and animals. The lighting is dim and the tables and benches are wooden.
The menu was limited. We purchased a Cottage Pie and Fish and Chips. It was a real treat to eat English Food as we had been staying in the US for a month. Yet I must admit that it tasted like something you would get from the school cafeteria. The ButterBeer though was a real pleasure to drink! It was ice cold (or can be served at room temperature if preferred) and clear with huge froth on top. When I first took a sip, it tasted very similar to cream soda, but then I tasted the warmth of butterscotch on my tongue. The froth was sugary. The Butterbeer was incredibly moorish and refreshing.
- The Rides -
There are three rides. Unfortunately I was 22 weeks pregnant at the time I visited with my family and all the rides had warnings for expectant mothers therefore I was unable to ride them and unable to give a comprehensive review of them. There is a ride which looks similar to Nemesis at Alton Towers which is called "Dragon Challenge", there are actually two tracks and depending on which dragon you decide to ride you get a different experience.
There's a small wooden roller coaster called "Flight of the Hippogriff" which my 3 year old went on with his dad. My husband remarked that the ride was faster than he expected and a little rough. My 3 year old absolutely loved it.
The third ride is within the Hogwarts Castle. This is called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. My understanding is that is it some sort of glorified version of a simulator. But the remarkable aspect of this ride is all about the queue line. The line takes you all around Hogwarts on a tour and involves some impressive holographic technology that has been patented with Warner Brothers until 2015 so you wont see anything like it in DisneyWorld!
- Prices -
It cost us about £150 for my husband and myself to take our two children (under 3s are free) to the Islands of Adventure park. Parking cost $15 for the whole day.
Drinks are extortionate at ~$3 each (bare in mind you need a lot of fluid to stay hydrated in the unforgiving Florida sun!) The food at the Three Broomsticks was about $60 for two meals and two drinks. We were able to share our food with our toddlers but we all left the restraunt feeling hungry.
The Merchandise varied in price, but one small chocolate frog cost $10 and that was the cheapest thing I saw. Let that be your guide.
- Is it worth it?-
It's a rip off. A waste of money and gives very little back for what you paid. That is if you are only going for the Harry Potter world, the rest of the Islands of Adventure park has a lot to offer and suddenly it doesn't seem so expensive. I would like to see more shops and more choice of produce, I would also like to see more rides and attractions - a show would be nice! But over all? I would go again in a heartbeat. Despite all it's flaws, it was Harry Potter. For a day, I was in that Magical World and that is absolutely priceless.
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Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Orlando)
As part of our fantastic family holiday of a lifetime to the amazing World of Disney in Orlando we also paid for 14 day flexticket plus passes to Universal Studios parks as part of the package bought through Virgin Holidays. Our tickets allowed 14 day continuous access to Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Aquatica, ... SeaWorld Orlando, Wet n'Wild Orlando and Busch Gardens at Tampa Bay. These tickets were £203 per adult and £191 for children. So for 6 of us were quite a lot of money!
My wife had researched Universal Studios quite a lot before we arrived in Florida and despite visiting the park 20+ years ago with her son and parents wanted to make our visit as memorable as possible including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in fact she even knew how to avoid the welcome meeting by the Virgin reps which you are supposed to do within 2 days of your arrival! So, one morning towards the start of our second week my wife took the long walk to the other area of our Disney resort where we were staying at 830am to see the Virgin rep and to get early admission to Islands of Adventure with free parking permit and free keyring (Yes, we are now all members of the Order of the Phoenix!).
So, from the Port Orleans (French Quarter) of Disney's Riverside resort it was only a 15-20 minute car journey (or would have been if we had programmed the satnav correctly) - we ended up in the main staff parking area with security guards manning the gates and yet again during our stay in Florida heard the immortal words "In 50 yards make a legal u-turn!". What's wrong with that you say? Well, when you are crossing 5 lanes of traffic traveling towards you at 50mph you'll understand. We had to be at the park by 8am and arrived with minutes to spare. We were amazed to find when parking the car that they had spent the time to create an effect on the floor of the car park like you would see on an artex ceiling and wondered how long it must have taken the poor bloke that had done it.
On exiting the car park travellators take you to Islands of Adventure of to its sister park Universal Studios. When we got to the main gates they were still locked and are early entry permits were all checked by their staff prior to the gates being unlocked. As they opened we had to put our tickets in the turnstiles, followed by the daily fingerprint scan (adults only) and bag search. Once through the gates the hundreds of fellow park guests with their early entry passes like us were on a mission with 90% or so heading towards The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. In fact it was like a queue waiting for the doors to open in the January Sales and despite being near the front of the queue we were passed by loads of people and probably only half way to the attraction by the time the first ones were being strapped in. We were in such a hurry that barely noticed any of the attractions in Seuss Landing or The Lost Continent. As we approached we could see Hogwarts standing proudly on a hill and we walked through a street of shops including Ollivanders where you could buy wands including Harry's and Honeydukes where you could buy all sorts of candies (including snot jelly beans, chocolate frogs and witches hats).
The reason we got the early admission passes is because we knew Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey is a very, very popular ride and in our case the queue time was around 40 minutes as you slowly advance towards the entrance to Hogwarts. As you walk through the building paintings start talking just as they do in the films and you are met by holographic images of Harry, Hermione and Ron who describe your mission and followed by Professor Dumbledore. Cars face sideways and you are sat in groups of 4 with full restraints coming down over you before starting on your ride. The cars twist and you can move up, down and sideways up to 180 degrees. It gives you the sense of flying on a broomstick as you fly around Hogwarts and discover what it's like to be playing quiditch and being chased by forces of the dark lord. The ride ends as you are greeted by the whole school applauding your exploits and as you leave the ride you enter a shop where there is plenty of opportunity to buy Griffindore shirts, plaques and various other Harry Potter merchandise and also to buy your ride photo although when we visited the machines were not displaying the photos on the screens.
After visiting the toilets we decided to have breakfast at The Hog's Head where they advertised a full English breakfast for around $10. Well it was edible but certainly not English and none of us eat all of it as just wasn't that good, but it was enough to keep us going.
As we left we took the opportunity of tasting Butterbeer from one of a number of outside stalls in the area with standard cups being around $3 and tankards $10 which were refillable with coke etc from stalls around the park for 99 cents. Butterbeer is certainly an experience with a frothy head which appeared to be whipped cream and the main drink tasting like a mixture of tizer and irn brew.
My mad 8 year old daughter decided that the Harry Potter ride was not scary enough and persuaded my son-in-law's partner to go on Dragon Challenge where you can ride either the red or green roller coaster. Mad is probably not the word as these two fast coasters appear to mingle around each other and although she came off loving it that couldn't be said of my son-in-law's partner who felt rather ill!
We spent quite a while walking in and out of the shops around Hogwarts before heading for Jurassic Park and as we did so noticed that the queues had now risen to 90 minutes and at one point the ride experienced technical difficulties and they were intending to suspend the ride.
Our first stop in Jurassic Park was to the Dinostore and Jurassic Outfitters selling books, hats, collectables, dinosaurs and Jurassic Park logo'd items. The area is also shared by The Jurassic Park Discovery Center where you look at fossilised remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and look at fossil remains on wall exhibits that magnify and identify fossil fragments. You can also look at dinosaur eggs and view the nursery / hatchery.
Our one and only ride in Jurassic Park was the Jurassic Park River Adventure. The queue was around 40 minutes and unlike Disney, Fast Track tickets are extra so we never bought any particularly considering the amount we had spent already! The ride is in the form of small boats with 2-3 guests per seat and 5 or 6 rows long and as you gently meander along the water you enter large gates into Jurassic Park where you are met by a stegosaurus and other dinosaurs that spit water at you. There is also a notice stating that your ride will not go through the section of park containing carnivores (or so you think). Your boat is bumped off course into the restricted raptor containment area where you learn that the power is down and the raptors have escaped. Your boat ascends (steep ramp) to the Environmental Systems building where the raptors are waiting for you and as you attempt to escape you discover a tyrannosaurus rex waiting for you and as it reaches down to gobble you up down the shoot you go! So did it eat you or did you escape - well I'll leave that to your imagination but this was a great ride and at 85ft is nearly 30ft higher than Disney's splash mountain.... and steeper! I would have loved to go on the ride again but with queues being so long that would have been impractical.
Overhead there was what appeared to be a gentle ride - Pteranodon Flyers which looked fun, but not a ride we went on. It is classed as a roller coaster and I could see very little to suggest it was but we were unable to find the ride entrance. We left Jurassic Park and headed for Toon Lagoon.
After a quick drink my wife had charge of the bags as the rest of us headed for Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. Now when we think of river rapids in the UK at Thorpe Park or Alton Towers it is a gentle ride with the possibility of a few drips on your clothes. Well this is the American style white water rapids where you do in fact get wet, so wet in fact that our daughters were literally wringing out their clothes and I ruined our camera which was stored securely in a pocket in my combat trousers. We all loved this ride and without doubt would have gone back on it if the queues hadn't dramatically increased. There's also the possibility that you'll get splashed from water cannons fired by other park guests, and there's also an encounter with a giant octopus. All in all a fun exciting ride. This would in fact be our last ride in Islands of Adventure.
The one ride I regret not going on at Islands of Adventure was Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls which is a log flume ride with a difference - it has two lanes side by side that drop 75ft - below water level and unlike the normal log flumes where after the drop there is a gentle return to the entrance on this ride you literally whizz through rapids before finally heading back. Unfortunately this is one ride where I truly missed out but with queues of nearly 90 minutes and a rather worried look from my wife - as she thought it was much steeper than the Jurassic Park.
Marvel Super Hero Island had a number of thrill rides - for the insane! Yes, my 8 year old would have loved any ride in this area but no-one was brave mad enough to go on them. Don't take my word - these are the facts!
You accelerate from zero to 40 mph in two seconds flat, with the force equal to that of a jet taking off an aircraft carrier. The world turns upside down as you experience a weightless "zero g" roll. Then you feel a surge in power as you pick up speed and a menacing roar fills your ears. All you can do is hang on as you experience the rage, power and fury of the Hulk, smashing through the sky and plummeting down to earth on a high-speed roller coaster rampage of destruction.
 The Hulk launches riders upward 150 ft. and reaches top speeds of 67 mph.
 The ride has a total of seven inversions and two subterranean trenches during the 2-minute 15-second ride.
Doctor Doom's Fearful
With menacing Doombots watching your every move, you're strapped into your seat. The tension builds. Suddenly the countdown reaches zero and you are rocketed skyward, 150 feet into the air, then hurled back down faster than the force of gravity itself. Doctor Doom's diabolical device has done its work... he collects the fear from your body and sends you on your way, ready to claim his next victim.
 The initial launch at the beginning of the ride uses more thrust than a 747 jet engine and accelerates faster than the space shuttle. Doctor Doom's Fearfall has two towers that each stand 200 feet tall.
Still we had time for both girls to get face painted - the youngest with a princess effect and the other with a joker effect that cost us about $25 in total. After face painting we looked in a nearby shop selling marvel comics and other marvel memorabilia and as we exited came out behind a number of marvel super heroes as they rode off on their motorbikes and sidecars.
As left Islands of Adventure along CityWalk we saw Bubba Gumps Shrimp Company (yes the original on which the film Forrest Gump was very loosely linked) and the Hard Rock Café. In fact Universal advertise the area as The Entertainment Capital of Orlando. It is full of bars, nightclubs, music, special events, drive-in mini golf and 20 screen Cineplex with IMAX and of course shops.
Island of Adventure is full of shops selling gifts, food and drink. T-shirts were in the region of $20-$30 - very similar to Disney prices and for a standard sized soft drink around $3. There is plenty to see and do and enough for the real thrill seeker. If you really want to take advantage of Fast Track, prices are around $20 per person for the Universal Express Pass. This is a wonderful place to spend the odd day or two of your vacation. In our case in addition to a 14 day unlimited pass to Disney.
If you are in a position to visit Orlando I would certainly recommend Island of Adventure. In our case a 14 day pass to Universal was excessive as we only visited 3 parks, so before booking it is vital you plan well in advance. It may work out cheaper per day to book before you travel but you also need to understand what you will achieve. You'll love this park - we did!
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North America Theme Park / Zoo International
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