Photo Trip Report

Nov. 27, 2012

I got up early two days after my birthday and got on Florida's Turnpike on my way to Orlando. I had purchased annual passes to the Universal Parks and Busch Gardens and SeaWorld and wanted to treat myself for my 30th birthday. But 10 miles after leaving town, my car made an indicator sound, and I noticed that my engine was running hot. I pulled off the highway and just made it to a gas station before my car shut off. I called a tow truck. Two hours and $400 later (ouch!), my radiator was flushed and the cap secured (apparently that the cap had not been secured after my last oil change a few days before), and I was on my way again.

About three hours later, I got to the park, parked in the garage, made my way along the long paths, picked up my pass and finally entered the park.

Eleven years. I had waited 11 years to get back to this park. My first trip reports on this site are from my Florida trip in 2001. A lot's changed since then, and not just at the parks. I started off on Incredible Hulk, which was my favorite Florida coaster back then. How has it aged? I got in line. The ride was practically a walk-on. I waited one train and boarded in the back row. The launch is smooth and fun and even gave me a slight tickle in my stomach. I'd missed that feeling. The inversions are huge and awesome. The turn after the loop is forceful, though there's a little bit of rattling after the turn and the first corkscrew. The rest of the twist and turns are quick and filled with force. There's a slight breather in the block brake, and then it's a corkscrew and a few turns before the final brakes. Hulk is just as fun as I remembered.

I rode it twice in a row and then met with my friend Michael, who showed up a little after I did. I was starving, so we went next door to Cafe 4, a cafe themed to the Fantastic Four. I got a slice of pizza and a Powerade and downed the pizza so fast I almost didn't get to take a picture.

We went to the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which had been upgraded to HD screens since my 2001 visit. We walked right on to the front row of our vehicle. I love this ride. The story hasn't changed, which is just fine by me because it's really fun. The effects are great, and I love the better projection system. Spider-Man's a must-visit.

We walked through Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park on our way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We went to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and went on the castle tour, which is for non-riders. The castle is themed extraordinarily well. After touring the castle, we went to Dragon Challenge, which I remember as Dueling Dragons. They don't duel anymore, which is relatively new, so that's a shame, but they're fun anyway.

We put our things in the free lockers and got in line. We started on Fire (now called Chinese Fireball) because I remember that being better. We rode in the back row. This coaster packs a punch. The first drop is a steep sweep to the lift into an Immelmann. Then it's got a hill that gave a hint of airtime and then it dives into a second Immelmann. My feet were tingling from the high G's. The straightaway into the loop is short, and there are some more forceful turns and a couple of corkscrews. Excellent coaster.

We went to Ice (now called Hungarian Horntail) and hopped right in the back row after simply waiting for our train to come to the loading position. The ride drops to the right and enters a big overbanked turn. Then there's a great zero-G roll, which was much nicer when Fire swooped over you (or under you, since you're upside down), but those days are over. The cobra roll is forceful and has a nice snap in it. Then there's a long, dull straightaway into the loop. A turn, corkscrew, more turns and the brakes. Just as I remembered, Ice isn't as good as Fire, but it's still a really good coaster.

We grabbed our things and toured the Harry Potter area. I'm not familiar with this franchise, so Michael tried to explain things to me. I guess I know what movies I'm renting. We made the loop around the park, stopping at the talking fountain in what's left of the Lost Continent and Mythos to get pictures of the building and the view. We passed through the crazy Seuss Landing. Then we rode Hulk, which had no wait again. We wandered around the park catching up and taking pictures. Then I rode Bench: The Ride. We rode Hulk again and called it a day.

It was great to get back to Islands of Adventure after so many years. Now that I have an annual pass, I plan on making several visits.