Observations from Islands of Adventure: May 23, 2013

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029Even though I usually visit Disney parks I decided to spend a day over at Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort. We arrived just after rope drop and headed straight for Spider-Man. Okay, I know that most people head straight for Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but since there is early entry for hotel guests and we weren’t there first thing when the park opened, we knew it would already be packed and decided to skip it. Spider-Man, however, is always a must do for me, especially since last year’s update with digital projectors.

I had heard that Spider-Man added a fourth Stan Lee cameo, and I was anxious to find it. Honestly I can’t even tell you which one was new since I hadn’t spotted all the other ones before…but on this ride I found all four appearances! You can spot him driving the dump truck that almost hits you near the beginning of the ride, and then 3 other times he is a person on the streets you can see in the background of the scene. Looking for this hidden bonus made riding an attraction I love even more engaging.

034We had about an hour to kill before our 11:00am reservation for lunch at Mythos and spent most of it wandering around the park looking at details and taking photos. Islands of Adventure is so beautiful and detailed…it’s a great place to explore!

We also made the one stop that I always have to make in the park, we got Butterbeer! Even though we were on our way to eat, there is always room for Wizarding World’s delicious signature drink. The carts all had ridiculously long lines, but we walked right into the Hog’s Head,¬†and there was no wait at all.

044It was now time for lunch, and we were the very first table seated for at Mythos. The restaurant is gorgeous inside and offers a spectacular view of the park. The decor and view alone would make it worth a trip, but the food and prices make it an even bigger hit! I know my view of low prices is a bit skewed since I spend so much time in theme parks, but entrees were all under $20.

I ordered Shrimp Cocktail and Mythos Beef Medallions. The Shrimp Cocktail was okay. It was over-seasoned and a disappointing portion for $9.99. However, the Beef Medallions were amazing! They were perfectly cooked and delicious. The mashed potatoes that came with them were also fantastic. This was one of the best meals I have ever had inside a theme park and it was only $16.99! On top of the reasonable prices, as a Premier Annual Passholder I also received 15% off of the bill.

056I was apprehensive about wasting time at a table service restaurant during our short day in the park, but from the time we walked in the door to the time we walked out it was less than 30 minutes. We didn’t feel rushed at all; it was just very efficient service, and they in no way sacrificed quality for speed.

After lunch it was time to hit the water rides! We specifically chose Islands of Adventure because we wanted to go on all the water rides to get soaked. We even came prepared and wore bathing suits under shorts and shirts so we could stay comfortable. It was a very crowded day, and lines were long (close to an hour for everything), but since we only planned to do 3 attractions, we didn’t mind the wait.

First we headed to Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. The posted wait was 60 minutes, but we only waited about 20. I had never waited in the queue for Bluto’s and enjoyed looking at all the details and little scenes they had set up. It wasn’t anything fancy or interactive, but as a Popeye fan I really enjoyed it.

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls had a bit of a longer wait, but just like at Bluto’s I had a great time exploring the queue. I’m not sure guests who didn’t watch the show would appreciate the wait as much, but we had a great time! And, as always, the ride was fun, and we were soaked!

030Last was Jurassic Park River Adventure. The ride recently reopened after a refurbishment, and I was anxious to check it out. I was stunned at how great some of the dinosaurs looked. Many had completely new skins and had obviously had work done so they were moving much better. There were still a couple that looked rough, and I got the feeling the ride rushed to reopen due to crowds and they weren’t quite finished…the T-Rex at the end was even missing an arm and had a giant hole where it should have been! Overall, though, the ride looked really good, and I’m hoping they will fix the last few things soon.

After Jurassic Park we had a little while longer to spend in the park and decided to explore Camp Jurassic. I had never spent any time in this area and assumed it was just a children’s play area. While it is a play area, it is amazingly detailed. We found so many great things to do! There was a giant cavern with waterfalls and lights, hidden climbing areas that went all the way to the top level of the area, net bridges, water guns…it was fantastic! We ran around for over an hour, got lost several times, and had a blast. I highly recommend visiting Camp Jurassic and looking around whether with or without kids.

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Posted on May 29, 2013

11 Responses to “Observations from Islands of Adventure: May 23, 2013”

  • I’m glad to hear that the Jurassic Park ride has been refurbed. Last time I rode it in late June or early July, the raptors were spitting hydraulic fluid rather than water, resulting in at least one person having to go to the hospital, and myself having to shower at health services. I haven’t kept track of the rides refurbishments since then, and I’m sure the problem had been fixed before now, but its nice to hear that they’re maintaining it.

    Also, there is ALWAYS room for Butterbeer ;)

  • I haven’t been to IoA in a couple weeks, so I don’t know about Stan Lee being the dump truck driver (he didn’t used to be) but there is one more “cameo”: he’s the voice of the exit spiel as congratulating you at the ride’s end.

  • I love Universal :)

  • Your view of prices is right on target where theme park restaurants are concerned. IMO all of the Universal in-park table service restaurants are amazingly affordable compared to similar restaurants in other parks. And I agree, Mythos is wonderful.

    • And if you don’t have a premier annual pass, a AAA card gets you 10% off at almost all Universal eateries (at least, the sit down places, and many of the counter service too). Also, you can make reservations via Opentable and earn points.

      We love the frozen butterbeer. The ‘regular’, not so much…

    • by Scarlett Litton on May 30, 2013, at 10:37 am EDT

      I was really surprised! And I can’t wait to return to Mythos.

  • by Keith C (TheFugitiveGuy) on May 29, 2013, at 5:38 pm EDT

    We were at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure over the weekend, and in general I was impressed with how spot on the posted wait times were when compared to the actual wait times (posted to Lines, of course!) I’m used to the Disney discrepancy between Posted and Actual, so it’s interesting to see how much more accurate Universal could be. It’s surprising to hear that you saw such a large difference, because I don’t think I ever saw them being even 5 minutes off.

    Another noteworthy difference I noticed is how much more time the characters spend with you at meet n greets. Spiderman in particular was great, talking to us for quite a while even with a line outside. And for the group in front of us, he signed a kid’s t-shirt *while it was being worn* (isn’t that a no-no for Disney?)

    This was our kids’ first experience with Universal parks, and luckily they are now old enough to love Harry Potter, Spiderman, and of course Butterbeer. For some crazy reason, my 10-year-old was also pleading to go on Hulk, but I’m not yet ready for her to go on rides that I’m too afraid to go on :)

    Thanks for the tip on Mythos, we’ll have to try that next time. Three Broomsticks was a good lunch option, especially for fish n chips (the kid version is plenty for a not-too-hungry adult).

    • by Scarlett Litton on May 30, 2013, at 10:38 am EDT

      How interesting about the wait times! We felt like they were over-inflated just like at Disney!

      I adore meeting characters at Universal. They are so attentive and fun. And they do seem to have different rules (like with the shirt).