Monday, March 17, 2008

Islands of Adventure--You're Gonna Get Wet

Islands of AdventureWe're finally back in Anchorage and though I'm in the midst of 47 loads of laundry and a stack of mail to rival Everest I'm ready to blog like crazy--but you knew you were going to have to hear just a little about our adventures, right? It's either that or I'm going to invite you over to sit through 35 hours of family photos, memorabilia and in-depth video footage of A Small World and alligators (though not alligators at A Small World--now THAT would be something).

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I may have mentioned my love-hate relationship with theme parks. I mean they’re fun and all—no griping about The Happiest Place on Earth here, no sirree—but I really wasn’t interested in seeing parks other than maybe the Magic Kingdom where the Mouse Himself resides.

You’ve probably heard that Universal Studios operates theme parks in California and in Florida but the one in Florida has two parks: one is the studio tour with rides and attractions but the other is an amusement park called Islands of Adventure. It’s built around a pond and has different areas much like Disneyland has but instead of Tomorrow Land and Frontier Land it’s got The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park and Seuss Landing.

We arrived and in an orderly fashion (we’re nothing if not orderly) worked our way around the park counter-clockwise so we started with The Incredible Hulk, a serious roller coaster that scared even Spencer. You know when you see a net stretched out beneath the twirling track, filled with items that have dropped from the cars that you have no business going on such a ride. I repeat, no business. But ride they did (they meaning everyone but Lily and me--I was glad to have an excuse not to ride, "I'd better stay back with Lillian, you guys go on ahead and get killed without me") and Spencer came off a bit shaky and twitchy. Yea, he’ll need therapy.

But next stop was Dr. Seuss Land which (I hate to say it) just didn’t do it for me. I mean Dr. Seuss is kind of cute and playful and all but something about walking through a world lined with twelve-foot Sneeches and Truffula Trees kind of freaks you a bit. Who was it that thought that what every kid needs is a real, live Wocket in their pocket? I love the Cat in the Hat as much as the next mom but to see him life-sized next to a beer-bellied man wearing a “Thing 1” t-shirt takes me to places I just don’t want to be.

Islands of AdventureBUT . . . before you think it wasn’t worth the $420 admissions price (GASP! And don’t get me started on their nine dollar hamburgers) let me describe the rest of the park. The Lost Continent was completely converted into the adventurous ruins of an ancient Greek temple. Fountains, torches, statues, crumbling stones, it had it all and was MOST impressive. Not quite $420 worth of impressive, but a good start. The highlight was probably Poseidon’s Fury where you wind your way down into the belly of the ancient temple to encounter curses, phantoms, pyrotechnics, fountains and laser shows of Biblical proportions. Make that pagan proportions.

Islands of AdventureThen there was the Dueling Dragons. I have never seen a theme park create such a set up for an attraction. You walk through a bona fide castle, complete with dungeons, torch-lit stone archways and vine-covered arbors to get to the double-track coaster where you dangle from one of two cars that curl and swoop through the air in a series of near-misses at speeds of nearly 800 miles an hour. It's the roller coaster that breaks the sound barrier.

When I saw this sign here warning riders to remove their prosthetic limbs before boarding that should have been the cue for my brain to turn on and for my feet to step out of line but I actually rode this one, with my removed flip flops tucked safely beneath me. I thought I’d be fine but the minute we were cranked up to the top and released I closed my eyes and prayed, “Please make it stop, please just make it stop!” I went to my Happy Place and withdrew from the reality around me as we whizzed through the loops and spins, my eyes closed the entire time and my heart beating so fast I got light headed. When I finally came to a stop at the platform it took me a minute before I was ready to stand without feeling like I’d pass out. I guess the Dueling Dragons will have the distinction of being the last roller coaster I will ever ride. Well, I guess I did ride the Flying Unicorn which Lillian and I loved—I’ve determined that that’s more my style.

But as for the rest of the park, I’ll skip most of the other details: the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad pyrotechnic stunt show or the Jurassic Park River Adventure that drops you from 1000 feet into a swirling pool (at least that’s what it felt like). It was kind of like Disney’s Jungle Cruise on crack—instead of cute little head hunters and pythons and robotic elephants you get full-sized bloody-fanged dinosaurs coming after you to delight and thrill.

Islands of AdventureThen there was the Toon Lagoon section where we made the mistake of riding Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. If you thought there was water on the Jurassic river ride just wait until you hit this one—it’s like psychotic version of Splash Mountain. You get wet the minute you sit down and it doesn’t stop until you get out—they even have a place where people can put quarters in water canons and blast at the passengers as they float by at the end of the ride. As if there was any place that I wasn’t wet (see for yourself--that's us after the ride). You should have heard the words I used on the guy that shot me, he learned the meaning of fear when he saw me coming after him.

Best ride? The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, where you go web-slinging with Spidey himself through the help of 3-D glasses, great effects and a spinning car on a track. But I’ll stop here, if you’re one for theme parks you can go to Islands of Adventure and expect a great time, it’s clean and well-kept, the rides are entertaining and the place is made to put you right there with the action.

But bring your own food--and a very large towel.

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30 comments:

Robin said...

I think, no, I KNOW, that my rollercoaster days are well and truly over - I got nauseous just reading about yours!

Lis Garrett said...

Your boys look NONE too happy to be so wet! What an adventure!

Edi said...

Well you are more brave than I...I can barely do a kiddie roller coaster and that is no lie!

It's pretty bad when the kids will go on rides I won't even try - good thing they have a dad also.

Sheila said...

Sounds like it was a trip of a lifetime for your family. And the more memories you have like that, the better.

Still, I just can't handle roller coasters anymore. I loved them as a kid, and used to think my mother pathetic for sitting on the sidelines and waiting for us, but she did.

Now it's me on the sidelines while Daddy takes the girls on the coasters. And I'm quite happy with it being that way!

Maryann said...

You're so funny. I love the way you write.
It's been ages since I visited Disney. I think it's time for a return :)

Heather said...

Sounds like a (water) blast. We've never mafe it in the parks at Universal. We usually just hit Disney and City Walk during the day. We're wild like that.

Amber M. said...

Sounds like so much fun!!! Glad you're home safe and sound.

Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings said...

Looks like an interesting and fun place!

$9 burgers?! Whoa!


I tagged ya:

http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2008/03/am-i-weird.html

Lissete said...

My husband loves roller coasters! He used to drag us to O-town annually. I.do.not.do.roller coasters! Not even the Unicorns. I do like Spidey and my nephew LOVES the Popey ride, that one will drench you way more than Dudley!

Sounds like you had a great time! That launch was AMAZING!

Good & Crazy said...

I hear you about not loving theme parks, we're still smarting from our own $400 admission price for a one day 'adventure'. Disneyland gets more drab and more ho-hum each time we 'venture'. We'll stick with the local small town park, honestly it has better rides! (And an Arby's)!

WomensDaily said...

When my bf and I went to Disney, we didn't even eat in the park at all except to buy a drink. We felt no need to spend all that money that would cost $4 elsewhere. We ended up living off granola bars and eating when we got back to the hotel. However, we would do it all over again. Disney is amazing. :O)

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Dr. Seuss Land?!? As if his books aren't enough of a drug trip.... Wow. That might send me over the edge.

Lisa said...

We never made it to this park and I wish we had. As I get older, I am not so much in love with the coasters. Sounds like a really fun time!!

Janet said...

I love roller coasters. The forward kind - can't do the things that spin around and backward (see comment about the simulator). The only time I went to Disney World was in 1980 for our senior trip. Epcot was under construction. None of the other extra parks had even been thought about. Space Mountain was cool but I had to ride it with a boy who had a crush on me (I did NOT return the favor).
I think a giant cat-in-the-hat would be quite off-putting, adn i really don't want to know about Thing 1. Or 2.

nottryingforaboy said...

I love the details. thanks. We've been to WDW twice with the kids, but haven't done universal yet. (I think they might still be too young?) But you sure make me want to go now!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Welcome home! It sounds ... and looks ... like you had loads of fun!

Good luck with all the laundry, mail, blogging and everything else you need to catch up on :) !!

Shelley said...

I am a rollercoaster junky. My youngest is now 18 months, and I have always been either pregnant or with nursling in tow every time our family has visited a theme park. This year I'm leaving the baby with a friend and enjoy the park with my hubby and the rest of the gang!!! I can't wait. Don't know if I want to do Disney World, though. I'm perfectly happy with Six Flags that's only a 90 minute drive!

Vicki said...

Whew...I'm exhausted and a bit queasy after reading this! I've lived within 40 miles of Central Florida's theme parks for the past ten years, and I've never been to Islands of Adventure. Now I'm glad I can say that; I believe I'll just hang on to my cash!

Hotomom said...

Wow what an "adventure". We leave for Florida in 3 weeks for our Disney adventure but unfortunately our kids aren't old enough for Islands of Adventure. One question, how was the weather? I know strange question but you never know what to pack :-) Glad you made it back, can't wait to hear more.

luvmy4sons said...

What fun! Great stuff!

Kacie said...

I had the same reaction as you when I was on Dueling Dragons! I was praying the entire time. I don't like crazy roller coasters much.

The Spiderman ride was really cool!

But, overall, I don't think the park is worth paying hundreds of dollars. I enjoyed Universal Studios and Sea World much, much more.

Sounds like you had a great time!

Scribbit said...

Hotomom, it was rather cool while we were there on the east side--in the mid-70s. Which isn't bad, but you get a little wet and there's always a breeze so the park felt pretty cold when the clouds came.

The west coast was more around 80 which is my perfect temp.

You'd want to pack a jacket of some kind--and Kennedy Space Center was VERY windy.

Kacie--I don't know that any park could justify $428.30 of admission, you're very right. We had frequent flyer tickets for the trip, which is why we chose Florida rather than Hawaii, but with the high costs of parks, food, hotel, tolls, etc. it worked out to be about the same price as if we'd gone to Hawaii and bought our tickets.

But my kids of course feel differently, and Andrew too, because they love the parks. Me? Not so much though this one was pretty impressive.

c.rachel said...

My hubby and I went there with our friends about 7 years ago. After that raft ride, we were just sooooo wet, that just went on it again. Should have brought some soap and shampoo for the ride.

chelle said...

hehehe You are totally hilarious! Love the descriptions!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Oh god, that's a lot of money. I think I'd rather spend it on an AWESOME meal, and spend the fun at the beach. :)

Welcome home, seems like you had a great time!

Vaughanville said...

Welcome home and I agree...the BEST ride was most definitely Spiderman. My stomach rolls a little even now thinking about it! Now THAT says fun don'tcha think? LOL

Michele

Melissa Markham said...

I am not a big rollercoaster fan either. I enjoyed them for a brief period as a teenager and now I enjoy watching them go by. My hubby loves them!

We are thinking about going to Disney, but it is overwhelming with all there is to see and do!

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Goodness gracious, what a great review of the park! I'm giving our 4yo another year to grow up a bit more (and for Mom and Dad to save moolah!) and then I guess we're gonna HAVE to travel to either FL or CA to visit the big mouse and Universal.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Goodness gracious, what a great review of the park! I'm giving our 4yo another year to grow up a bit more (and for Mom and Dad to save moolah!) and then I guess we're gonna HAVE to travel to either FL or CA to visit the big mouse and Universal.

allrileyedup said...

I *love* Islands of Adeventure! You singled out my favorite rides too! The dueling dragons and spiderman. Can't wait for my kids to get older so I can take them!