Featured Story: Vacation Plans at Universal and Universal Islands of Adventure

Spotlight - Universal and Universal Islands of Adventure


Written by Journalism Staff Reporter Aubrey Voitel

Have you ever had somewhere you wanted to go so badly that you were willing to do anything to go? Well, that has happened to me now. Perhaps you’ve heard of Universal and Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando Florida? Two fabulous parks dedicated to immaculate theming and thrill rides galore. The two parks themselves are split into a couple of different themed sections respectively with their own rides and restaurants. Now, both parks are set up differently with the themed sections. Universal Islands of Adventure has Hogsmeade, the Lost Continent, Suess land, Jurassic Park, Toon Town, and Marvel Comics. Hogsmeade has three rides including Hagrid's Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I suggest, however, if you wish to ride with Hagrid, you will need to get there early or have a Fast Pass. The Harry Potter fans swarm that ride like it was the last sip of water on earth. It gets crazy. The other two generally do not have long lines.  

Moving on to the Lost Continent, there are no rides there. They used to have a show, but now it is just cool restaurants. Suess Land has a few rides, which include the Caro-suess-el, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and the high in the sky Suess Trolley Train Ride. Now we can dive into the land of dinosaurs with the Jurassic Park section! Starting off strong, we have the VelociCoaster, a high speed, tight turns, upside down sometimes, accelerating ride! By far the most popular ride in Islands of Adventure besides the Hagrid Ride. It is a masterpiece of engineering, truly one of the best rides ever made at Universal. On a duller note, we also have the Jurassic Park River Adventure. It is a water ride full of dinosaurs and thrilling views.  

Now we can make our way over to Toon Town! A cute little town full of all our favorite cartoons from “back in the day” as the kids say now. (for the record, I love those cartoons even now) Within Toon Town, you will find a fan favorite water ride, Dudley Do-right's Ripsaw Falls! This is an absolutely amazing log ride where there is no way you can get off dry. There are mini waterfalls, tons of drips as you walk through the line, and of course, the famous hill. You fly down that hill at astonishing speed before you are boosted up a mini hill and slammed down into a huge wave of water. I was dripping wet when I got off this ride. (Also, I was soooo cold) Though Ripsaw Falls isn’t the only water ride in TFon Town. You could also ride Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-rat Barges. Not far from the two water rides you can also find Skull Island Reign of Kong. Skull Island is a virtual ride with 3D glasses.  

Moving on to the final section of Islands of Adventure, we make it to the Marvel Comics section. Inside Marvel Comics you will find four rides. Two of those rides are flat rides, which means that they aren’t roller coasters. The other two are different with one being virtual and the other being a roller coaster. The first ride you see is the Amazing Adventures of Spider-man. This ride is another 3D ride that requires you to wear 3D glasses. Next on the list is my personal least favorite, Dr. Dooms Fearfall. Many of you may call me a coward for fearing this ride due to its height but I honestly hated it. I have never been a fan of towers, this one being no exception. It was terrifying and totally not worth riding. (In my opinion. You may like it) Now the next two rides are quite close together so depending on what you think is fun, you might go either way. On the right you have Storm Force Acceleration which is a spinning ride. It is very similar to the teacups at Disney. On your left you have the Incredible Hulk Coaster. Hulk is a fantastic launch coaster. It is thrilling and terrifying at the same time.  

Now that you have seen all the rides in Islands of Adventure, it is time to hop on the Hogwarts Express and ride on over to Universal. Even though Universal has far less rides than Islands of Adventure, it still has some fan favorites. As you exit Kings Cross Station and take a left you will stumble across the entrance to Diagon Alley. For all of the Harry Potter fans reading this, yes, it looks like the movie. As you move through Diagon Alley, you come face to face with Gringotts. Inside Gringotts, you will find the virtual ride, Escape from Gringotts, which for me, was a 10 out of 10. A brilliant virtual experience. Moving out of Diagon Alley and to the left once more, you will find MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. This is an interactive shooter ride in which you sit in a car, and you hit aliens using your laser gun. If you try hard enough you can hit the car across from you and you can make them spin like crazy. (For the record, we spun a lot) Continuing on our route we now stumble upon the Simpsons Ride. This is yet another virtual ride. (This one makes people nauseous so watch out if you have a weak stomach) Then directly next to the Simpsons is a very boring spinning ride called Kodos’ Twirl’ n’ Hurl’. (You will not hurl. This was a very disappointing ride) Moving right along, we can find E.T. Adventure tucked into a little alley. This ride may sound like it's going to fall apart but it is definitely worth a ride. It was super fun and relaxing flying around on my little bike with E.T. Now depending on which direction you go, you may hit the rides in a different order than I'm about to explain, but for the sake of finishing this article I am just going to go in the order I went while in the park. So, moving to the next ride we come across Illumination’s Villain-con Minion Blast. Look, I know this ride is new, but it was pretty bad. You just stand on a conveyor belt and shoot targets with a big and bulky laser gun. It was super boring and not very handicap accessible. My mom's wheelchair kept getting stuck on every turn.  

Now we have finally made it to my favorite ride of them all, Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket! This ride was absolutely amazing! This is a thrilling coaster that takes you up up and away while blasting your favorite tune! Yes, that’s right, you get to listen to a song of your choice while on this masterpiece of a ride. However, the song selection has dwindled quite a bit, going from 30 choices all the way down to five. Though as a recently made member of the coaster society (sort of) I can give you a way to listen to just about any song you want while on the ride. If you google it, you can find a secret song list. Memorize the number that goes with your song. This will be important. Now, when you get on the ride, immediately pull your lap bar down. Do NOT wait for the ride attendant to do it for you! Then look at the little screen on your lap bar. At the top of the screen there will be a Rip Ride Rocket logo. Hold down that logo for exactly 10 seconds. Do NOT let go! If you let go this hack will not work for you! After holding down the logo a keypad will pop up. Enter the number you memorized earlier and click enter. There you have it! You can rock out to your favorite song on my favorite ride!  

As much as I like Rip Ride however, we still have four more rides to get through! Next up is Race through New York Starring Jimmy Falon. While I personally didn’t ride this ride, I can tell you that it is another virtual ride. Very similar, if not the same as King Cong, Spider-man, and others. Our next ride is another one of my favorites, Revenge of the Mummy. This can be a very intense ride for some, so I suggest not riding it unless you can handle sharp turns, upside downs, and heat. Because the ceiling does indeed light on fire. You will most likely get off this ride having no idea what just happened. (I was so confused because somehow my ponytail had fallen out and I had no idea when that happened) Though maybe you need a bit of a break? Our next two rides are once again virtual. These two rides are not very popular and I only rode one of them. The two rides are Transformers the Ride 3D and Fast and Furious Supercharged. I rode the Fast and Furious ride, and all I can say is bring some earplugs. That ride was horrible and loud. Now I have not ridden the Transformers ride, but I haven’t heard good things about that one either.  

Well, that’s all folks! That was my spiel about Universal and Universal Islands of Adventure. Two very fun parks that I one hundred percent recommend you visit. If you do decide to visit, come find me, and let me know what you think!