Alright, let’s move on to another park, shall we? Do you remember the time, when every new coaster was exiting and also scary? Back in 2001 – when I visited Universal Orlando for the first time – my “coaster career” basically consisted of the “Gebirgsbahn”, “Space Center” and the “Michael Jackson Thrillride” in Phantasiand. And “Python” in De Efteling. When I saw the green track of the Hulk Coaster for the first time, my only thought was “hell no, there is no way ever I will be riding that thing”
. Two years later I was
riding that thing.
You never forget your first B&M. When it came to coasters with inversions I was used to be beaten up on rides like the SLC prototype in Walibi World. You can imagine my amazement when experiencing the smoothness of this green swiss made roller coaster for the first time. And the whole park blew me away, with attractions like “Spider Man” that are still so technologically advanced that they represent a league of their own. On rides like Popeye and Dudley-Do-Right I learned what Americans mean, when they say “You will get wet”. And when the Harry Potter Area opened some years later, it redefined “immersion” for me.
But we germans are known for beeing champions of complaining for a reason: Over the years and with quite a number of visits, I realized that where light is, there is also some shadow:
- While I do not know any other park that will fascinate first-time visitors that much, “Islands of Adventure” wears off pretty fast. While most of the Disney attractions offer some solid “re-rideability” the rides here are grow old rather fast.
- The park is not very friendly to your stomach. Okay, it’s not a roller-coaster-only Six Flags, but most of the attractions will cause quite some nausea. And there is a lack of “nice” relaxing rides, as long as you do not want to get soaking wet. That’s why I love the new Kong ride.
- “Islands of Adventure” does not give you the “full day of fun” experience like Epcot or the Magic Kingdom (which can also be a good thing). If I hit the park on a slow day, I try to be there early, ride the Hulk, ride Spider Man (Nausea starts to kick in), ride Kong (love it), ride Jurassic Park (got lucky: not soaked this time!), ride Harry Potter (Nausea getting worse), ride the Dragons (I think I need a break now). By then it’s 11am and basically all the “big” attractions are done.
On the plus side, I totally love “Mythos” and no visit to Islands of Adventure feels complete without a lunch at one of the best theme park restaurants. This is something, most Germans will not expect in a Theme Park: great food
. While some places like Europa Park and Phantasialand do offer some great restaurants, most people here will think of “Pommes mit Currywurst”
(french fries with sausage) when it comes to eating in a park.
I also cannot relate to all the themed “lands” in the park. While Harry Potter and Jurassic Park really give me a feeling of “riding the movies” (walking through the Jurassic Park gates gives me goosebumps every time) “Dr. Seuss Landing” was my very first contact with the stories of Theodor Seuss Geisel (fun fact: did you know the german word “Geisel” means “hostage”?). And while I certainly knew Spider Man and the Hulk I never heard of those “X-Men” guys. A batch of Marvel Movies did change that though.
I think “Islands of Adventure” makes a great combination with “Universal Studios” and the “Hogwarts Express” makes reaching each other easy. The attractions are not actuallly “stomach friendly”, especially when you have to cope with the jump in temperature and humidity and suffer from that jet lag that makes you super-hungry at 11am and sleepy all day. But the rides make up by being “oh my god I’ve never seen such a thing in my whole life”.