Islands of Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure (commonly known as Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure) is a theme park in Orlando, Florida. It opened on May 28, 1999, along with CityWalk, as part of an expansion that converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort. The slogan for this theme park, along with Universal Studios Florida, is Vacation Like You Mean It, introduced in 2013 as Universal Orlando Resort.
The park's overall theme is that of a journey of exploration, where guests depart from a main port to visit themed islands, all emphasizing adventure. Initially, the park had six islands. On June 18, 2010, the seventh island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (themed to the popular Harry Potter franchise), officially opened at the park. This is Universal's largest investment since opening. In 2013, Islands of Adventure hosted approximately 8.1 million guests, ranking it seventh among United States parks and eleventh worldwide. The eighth island, Skull Island, is currently under construction, and is expected to open in Summer 2016.
Like Universal Studios Florida next door, Islands of Adventure has not limited itself to Universal's own library. Except The Lost Continent, Port of Entry, Jurassic Park, and Skull Island, the remaining park areas are based on characters licensed from rival studios, many of whom did not own theme parks of their own. Some of these include Seuss Landing (Dr. Seuss Enterprises), Toon Lagoon (Jay Ward Productions and Paramount Pictures), and Marvel Super Hero Island (Marvel Entertainment).
Before Islands of Adventure was built, the site was originally planned as a shopping mall called Galleria Orlando. Plans were first drawn up for the mall in 1985, but it was ultimately canceled in 1990.
During the construction of the park, Universal opened a Preview Center (known as the Islands of Adventure Preview Center) at adjacent Universal Studios Florida. Opening two years before the new theme park, the Preview Center was designed to give guests a sneak peek at some of the themes and attractions for Islands of Adventure. The attraction was located in the Paradise Theater building located in the New York section of Universal Studios Florida, next to the Kongfrontation attraction. In the attraction, guests would walk through various rooms themed to the various "Islands" in the new park. The final room stated when the Islands of Adventure park would open, and showed guests Universal's future plans for the Universal Orlando Resort. The Preview Center was closed shortly after the opening of Islands of Adventure.
Islands of Adventure had a soft opening beginning March 27, 1999, during which visitors could preview the park at a discounted price while the staff conducted a technical rehearsal and worked on the "finishing touches." During this soft opening, guests were informed that attractions might open and close throughout the day without notice and that some attractions might not be open at all. Initial plans were to open the park in mid-May, but this was ultimately delayed until May 28, 1999.
After the enormous capital expenditure required to build Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, and the resort hotels, Universal sought to overtake nearby Walt Disney World in attendance. However, with the addition of the second park, new resorts, and entertainment district, the resort was named Universal Studios Escape. Essentially, it seemed that visitors were confused by the name, assuming that Islands of Adventure was a new area added to the already-existing Universal Studios Florida theme park. For the first two years, attendance did not rise as expected. By 2001, the marketing was revamped, clarifying that Islands of Adventure was indeed a second, completely separate park with new rides and attractions. Universal Studios Escape was renamed Universal Orlando Resort, and ended up being the only resort in the Orlando area to actually have an increase in attendance after the September 11 attacks on the United States. Despite this, the attendance of the resort failed to surpass the attendance of the Walt Disney World resort.
As with almost any amusement park, older attractions are sometimes removed to make way for newer ones. At Islands of Adventure, some have simply been closed with no replacement like Island Skipper Tours while others like Poseidon's Fury were changed from their initial concept to the attraction that operates today.
Islands of Adventure consists of seven themed "islands," only one of which utilizes movie tie-ins with Universal Pictures. They are, in clockwise order from entry: Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing. An eighth island, Skull Island: Reign of Kong is currently under construction and expected to open in Summer 2016.
Port of Entry is the park's main entrance and is home to many shops and services including Guest Services aptly named The Open Arms Hotel. The park's centerpiece, Pharos Lighthouse, is also located within Port of Entry. Each night, this real, functioning lighthouse sends out a bright beam to lead visitors to and from the park's gates. Like many theme parks using the "hub and spokes" format, this entry Island contains no rides, and is primarily noted for its restaurants and shops.
Marvel Super Hero Island is notable for its comic-book styled architecture. Many of the building interiors are created in what could be considered comic book perspective, with exaggerated lines and angles. Meanwhile, many exteriors are painted in a special paint which appears to change color based on the angle from which it is viewed – sometimes purple, sometimes orange. Perhaps most notably, the buildings are all labelled generically, as one would expect the buildings in the background of a comic panel to be: "Store," "Shop," "Food," and "Comics," instead of detailed names and logos.
The area is home to a variety of dining outlets and merchandise shops. Food and beverage items can be purchased from Cafe 4 and Captain America Diner. Merchandise items can be bought from a variety of themed stores including Spider-Man Shop (The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man), Marvel Alterniverse Store, Comic Book Shop, and Oakley.
The Incredible Hulk confronts guests as they enter the area with an attention-grabbing roar. Hulk is a high speed steel roller coaster which has a top speed of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h). It closed on September 8, 2015 for major refurbishments and is expected to return in Summer 2016. Storm Force Accelatron is a teacups ride themed after X-Men. Doctor Doom's Fearfall is a pair of S&S Power Space Shot attractions themed after the Fantastic Four. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a 3-D simulator ride based on the character Spider-Man. The ride is set in New York as Spider-Man prevents The Sinister Syndicate from taking the Statue of Liberty. Meet Spider-Man and the Marvel Super Heroes is a meet-and-greet attraction, where guests can meet superheroes including Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops and Rogue, Spider-Man and Captain America.
In late 2009, The Walt Disney Company (Universal's biggest competitor in the theme park market) announced that it had sought to acquire Marvel Entertainment. Universal announced that Marvel's new ownership would not affect Marvel Super Hero Island, and Disney CEO Robert Iger acknowledged that Disney would continue to honor any contracts that Marvel currently has with Disney competitors. In March 2012, Iger revealed that Disney had begun preliminary concepts of incorporating Marvel's properties into their parks, although no major negotiations with Universal were announced. Hong Kong Disneyland has since announced an expansion to its park featuring characters from the Marvel Universe. Disneyland in California has also since incorporated meet-and-greet Marvel characters into the park and an Avengers Super Hero Half Marathon Weekend. Only Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney and Shanghai Disney are barred from having Marvel characters in its parks, due to contractual obligations to Universal and Universal's use of Marvel characters in the region. However, this only includes characters Universal is currently using, other characters in their "families" (X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc.), the villains associated with said characters, and the Marvel name. This clause has allowed Walt Disney World to have meet and greets, merchandise, attractions and more with other Marvel characters not associated with the characters at Islands of Adventures, such as Star-Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Toon Lagoon is geared toward both kids and adults, and is based on the characters of King Features Syndicate and Jay Ward. The area focuses on water-based rides (hence the name) and features 3 counter-service restaurants.
Toon Lagoon features three main attractions. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls is a traditional log flume combined with roller coaster track based on the Dudley Do-Right character. Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges is a river rafting water ride themed after Popeye the Sailor saving Olive Oyl from Bluto. Me Ship, the Olive is a kids' playground built in and around Popeye's ship. The three levels of the ship all contain a variety of interactive elements including cannons and hoses which can further soak riders on the Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges ride. Mat Hoffman's Aggro Circus is a live seasonal BMX stunt show at the Toon Lagoon Theater which operates during spring break and summer.
Set just after the time of the first Jurassic Park film, the area has some thrilling rides and has discovery-based exhibits. The character of John Hammond even puts in an appearance in the preshow which was shot during the making of the motion picture. The Island takes place under the guise of the "real" Jurassic Park: a theme park / zoological park focused on dinosaurs. As such, the area is filled with the attractions and exhibits one would find in the "real" Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park features five main attractions. Jurassic Park River Adventure, constructed by Superior Rigging & Erection, is a water ride that is based on Steven Spielberg's hit film Jurassic Park and Michael Crichton's novel.
Triceratops Discovery Trail (formerly Triceratops Encounter) is a walkthrough attraction where guests can get up close and interact with a full-scale animated replica of a Triceratops, while a "veterinary technician" performs a semi-annual exam on the Trike. The attraction actually features three different Trikes – Topper, Chris, and Cera. All 3 are female. Chris was named after a member of the team that created the dinosaurs who died before the attraction opened. Spar Aerospace (now known as MD Robotics) was contracted to construct the three robotic trikes, each of which are 9 metres (30 ft) long and 3 metres (9.8 ft) high. Universal requested specific requirements for the robots including the ability to replicate breathing (through synchronised rib cage movements), sneezing, snorting, urinating and flatulating. Due to maintenance and staffing issues, the trail was closed off in 2005. However, after five years, the attraction reopened in December 2010 for seasonal operation.
Pteranodon Flyers is a steel suspended roller coaster manufactured by Setpoint USA. Riders join the queue located within Camp Jurassic. Pteranodon Flyers features three two-seater cars suspended on a track. The cars are pulled up a hill and then travel a circuit around Camp Jurassic at low speed before returning to the station. Due to the low capacity of the ride, only those who are between 36 and 56 inches (91 and 140 cm) or those with a child of that height may ride. The Universal Express pass cannot be used on this attraction due to the ride's low capacity. A similar ride, Canopy Flyer exists at Universal Studios Singapore.
Camp Jurassic is a children's play area centered around an imported 50-foot (15 m) tall Banyan tree. It features a variety of play elements including slides, nets, water cannons and fountains. Pteranodon Flyers' queue is located within Camp Jurassic.-->
Skull Island: Reign of Kong will become the eighth island at the theme park, based on the 2005 film King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson. It is currently under construction and is expected to open in Summer 2016. This marks the return of King Kong to Universal Orlando, after Kongfrontation closed in 2002 at Universal Studios Florida.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most recently opened island at Islands of Adventure, themed around the Harry Potter universe, authored by J. K. Rowling. It officially opened to the public on June 18, 2010. On May 31, 2007, Universal Orlando announced that it had secured the rights from Warner Bros. and from British author J. K. Rowling to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Islands of Adventure. The 20-acre (81,000 m2) island features attractions, shops and restaurants set inside such locations as the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village and the iconic Hogwarts Castle. Ground breaking began in 2007, with the official opening scheduled for June 18, 2010, as announced on March 25, 2010. As part of the promotion for the then-upcoming area, a behind-the-scenes documentary on production of the park section is included on the Blu-ray and DVD release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
In the Wizarding World, there are five main attractions. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the section's signature attraction, is located inside Hogwarts Castle and takes guests through scenes inspired by the Potter books and films.
Dragon Challenge, previously known as Dueling Dragons, is a pair of intertwined inverted roller coasters.
Flight of the Hippogriff, previously known as Flying Unicorn, is a Vekoma junior roller coaster.
The Hogwarts Express is a train ride that transports visitors between Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida.
Ollivanders is an interactive shopping experience based on the Harry Potter Ollivanders wand shop.
There is also a singing Frog Choir and a Triwizard Spirit Rally held in the town center. These events feature Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang students.
In 2012, the Jaws attraction at the nearby Universal Studios Florida park was demolished to make way for the expansion of the Wizarding World, based on Diagon Alley/London settings from the book. The Hogwarts Express connects the two "Wizarding Worlds" in each park. The expansion officially opened on July 8, 2014.
This island is themed to ancient myths and legends, and is divided into two smaller sections. The first section is ancient Arabian marketplace called Sinbad's Bazzaar, while the second is mythological Grecian-Atlantis-style Lost City. Formerly, the Lost Continent included a medieval section Merlinwood, but much of that area was re-themed for the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Today the area contains two live-action shows. This land is also home to Mythos, which is one of two full-service restaurants in the park and was voted winner of best theme park restaurant by Theme Park Insider for six successive years between 2003 and 2008.
There are three main attractions in the Lost Continent. The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad is a live-action stunt show located in the ancient Arabia section. In front of this show is The Mystic Fountain that entertains and interacts with guests.
Poseidon's Fury is an indoor special-effects show located in the mythological Greek section.
Seuss Landing is specially geared towards small children and is based on the works of author Dr. Seuss. It has several Seuss-themed attractions. There is also a Green Eggs and Ham Cafe and Circus McGurkus restaurant. As in the books, one of the unique characteristics of this area is that there is not a single straight line anywhere. Palm trees bent by the winds of Hurricane Andrew were even installed in the area to continue this theme.
The area is home to a variety of dining outlets and merchandise shops. Food and beverage items can be purchased from Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous (The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride), Green Eggs and Ham Cafe (opened seasonally), Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop, and Moose Juice, Goose Juice. Merchandise items can be bought from a variety of themed stores including Cats, Hats & Things (The Cat in the Hat), All The Books You Can Read (The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride), Snookers & Snookers Sweet Candy Cookers, and Mulberry Street Stores Trading Co.
Seuss Landing includes six attractions inspired by Dr. Seuss' books. The Cat in the Hat is a dark ride that takes guests through the Dr. Seuss story of the same name. The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride is a twin-tracked tour above and around Seuss Landing. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is a spinning ride with a musical riddle that will help riders escape water-spitting fish. Caro-Seuss-el is a Seuss themed carousel. Oh, The Stories You'll Hear is a stage show based on the Dr. Seuss books and characters. If I Ran the Zoo is an interactive play zone for kids.
Islands of Adventure has a number of costumed characters. The following is a list of characters that may be seen in the park:
Several attractions in Islands of Adventure allow guests to utilize Express Pass. This pass admits users to a separate line for the attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. Express Pass is not a virtual queuing service. Instead, passholders may enter the "Universal Express" line whenever they wish. This price of this pass is not included in the charge for park admission.