March 7, 2013
A day after visiting SeaWorld Orlando, I stayed in the city and went to Islands of Adventure, where I met up with two friends. Jess and his wife, Kathy, were visiting from Michigan. We walked through the Harry Potter land and got in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The line wasn't too long, and the ride's got a decent capacity. The only real problem was the bottleneck at the entrance from people coming and going to the lockers.
I wasn't familiar with this ride, so I was surprised by it. The seating is comfortable, and the ride's simply fascinating. Riders sit in a four-across vehicle that's on an arm on a track. The track winds through the castle, where there are projections, robotic figures that pop out and other interactive features through the Harry Potter universe. It's pretty good. 7/10
We took the long walk around the park and got to Spider-Man, which is as good as ever. We went to Hulk. The line wasn't too long, and we were on shortly. We sat in the seventh row. Great ride, as always.
We were hungry, so we went to the Lost Continent island and got lunch at Mythos. This restaurant is beautiful and has a great oven inside. I ordered the fish tacos, which I really liked. We walked out the back entrance and took in the great views of Hulk across the lagoon.
Kathy walked by a medallion maker who made something for her a few years ago. She ended up buying a gold medallion, and the metal was pressed using an old-fashioned weight. He set the metal in the device and dropped the weight. It looked great, and Jess put it around her neck. We stopped at the talking fountain. Always fun. We walked around Jurassic Park for a break and more views of Hulk.
We walked around to the front of the park and hopped over to Universal Studios. My friends have been to this park several times, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was down every single time. It was down when we got there too, so they were disappointed.
We rode Shrek 4D, a 3D attraction with seats that jolt around during scenes on the screen. I didn't know they moved, so the first time startled me. Water sprays at you when characters sneeze, air blows at your ankles during a spider scene, and the seats bounce around when characters are on horseback. It's a good story, and it's got the funny jokes the Shrek series is full of. 8/10.
We went to Mummy next and got in the single-rider line. I ended up in the front row. This is a fun coaster with two good halves. The first half features fire, the mummy's curse, insects and a backward section. The second half is thrilling, with turns, drops and airtime, all in the dark. I like it.
We stopped at Starbucks for some coffee. We rested a bit, then walked around the park. We saw a Transformers character and Despicable Me dancers. I suggested stopping at E.T. Adventure, which Jess and Kathy had never ridden. It's the same as the one in California, which I rode in 1999 or 2000. It's enjoyable, and E.T. thanks you by name at the end of the journey. I gave the name Davish. Why? Because it's funny hearing E.T. thank Davish for helping his home planet.
Up next was The Simpsons Ride. I really like this ride. While in line, we saw Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit start testing. After The Simpsons, we went to the coaster. It was open! Jess and Kathy would finally get to experience a non-inverting loop. We got in the single-rider line. The capacity on this isn't too great, so our wait was longer than I expected. Jess and I boarded in the back row. Jess liked it, though I think it's a little underwhelming. The loop is the highlight. After that, it's just a lot of brake runs, some turns and a few hills.
The sun was going down, so we went back over to IOA to ride Dragon Challenge. We only rode Chinese Fireball, which we still call Fire Dragon. We got two rides. Great ride. High G-forces and a great layout. The best part is the second immelmann into the helix. Love it.
We got butterbeer after that. I got it frozen, which is the only way I've gotten it because I'm told it's better than not frozen. It sure is good. We wandered through the full loop of the park and then exited. We got on a free water taxi and took it to the south end of the waterway. There are lots of hotels and restaurants here, and Jess and Kathy wanted to take me to a favorite of theirs, Jake's American Bar. I ordered flatbread with cheese and tomatoes. It was really good and filling.
After dinner, I rode Bench: The Ride. We walked back to the parking garage and said our goodbyes. It was great seeing my coaster friends again. I hadn't seen them since my last visit to Cedar Point in 2010. I'm planning on visiting Cedar Point again this summer, so we'll get to hang out again. This was an excellent two-day trip to Orlando.