So what if the Universal theme parks are sorta knock offs of what Disney created? Disney raised the bar for everybody. I applaud Universal for their Orlando efforts. We did both parks in one day, which was about right, though, to our disappointment, both parks closed at 6pm - far too early for the ticket price. Still, we moved at a brisk counter-clockwise pace through both parks, starting with Universal Studios at 10am before moving on to the Islands of Adventure around 2pm. Although the parks closed at six, our shuttle was not due to pick us up until eight, which left us at the mercy of City Walk, the entertainment area in front of both parks. There you could find liquor, food, coffee and souveniors at astronomical prices. But I'm getting away from myself. Our first stop was the Universal Studios park. Note that Lady T____ is sporting a comfy fleece-like pull-over and long pants. I was forced to wear a t-shirt and shorts. Unfortunately, the morning cold in Orlando that day never warmed up and I was chilled most of the day.As previously mentioned, we moved in a counter-clockwise pattern, hitting first the Shrek 3D adventure, one of many 3D films we saw during our vacation. That was located at #3 on the map below. From there we headed through Kidzone and World Expo in search of the interactive Men in Black ride. On the way there was a construction obstruction fence with all the Simpsons characters.After the interactive MIB ride (no pics), we went on past the Fear Factor attraction (no pics) to the Jaws ride (no pics). It should be noted that Odie was right, the Jaws ride sucked. The charming part about the old Jaws portion of the Universal tour in California was that the animatronic shark appears only once, to great affect. The Orlando Jaws ride has an animatronic shark every few feet to the point where it just gets boring. Our tour guide was panicking way too much about the robot sharks and I wanted to toss him overboard and take control of the vessel myself just to have a more soothing ride, but alas, I noticed that he wasn't actually steering the boat.
After Jaws, we stopped in at a burger place with the below statue and enjoyed a $10 burger and fries with a $3 coke.We then made our way to the Mummy rollercoaster where we ran into these towering Egyptians. They were amazingly agile and refused to talk. The actual Mummy coaster was pretty decent. It launches you forward, stops, goes in reverse, makes you think it's over when it's not and then sends you through the flames of hell....and yet, it's still too short.
After the Mummy coaster, we went to the Twister attraction and experienced a F-5 or something. The winds did not quite pull my arm hair from my arms, but it did manage to spray me with a fine mist of simulated rain. Ironically, although several rides warned that passengers would get wet, this was the only one that lived up to that promise - though we were simply standing in one place. (We avoided most rapid style rides that threatened to drench us.)
Although Universal Studios was enjoyable enough, I couldn't help but think the Islands of Adventure was where the real fun was at:Okay, so this wasn't our picture (it was still daylight when we left the Studios park), but it conveys the obvious, that Islands of Adventure has more rides. So that's where we had to go.For details, click on this map for a detailed view.Again, we proceeded on a counter-clockwise course, going through Seuss Landing - a place that would produce innumerable "oohs" and "awes" from American girls, but which the Japanese girls find frightening. Lady T____ was pretty freaked out and disgusted during our time in this land and refused to climb on any rides. We didn't stop long enough to take many pictures, so I found the one below online:Though she still wanted her picture taken. The next land was The Lost Continent, which had the most overwhelming atmosphere, particularly the Poseidon's Temple attraction (again, photo found online).I call it an attraction instead of a ride because there was nothing to really ride. The audience moved from chamber to chamber as the guide went through an adventure between the Greek god and a made up evil rival. The setting was great, but the rest of it was ultimately pretty dull and silly.Later, we rode one of the highlights of the park: the Dueling Dragon coasters. There were two coasters which, at synchronized points, came within a couple of feet of each other. It was the type of coaster where the seats hung below the track, and unfortunately, Lady T____ had to clench her toe-fingers desperately throughout the ride to keep her heel-less sneakers from flying off her feet. (online photo)In between the Dueling Dragons and the Hulk coaster (below), we rode a dinosaur gliding thingy (no pics) and a Jurassic boat ride (no pics) with a log ride type free fall at the end. The latter was well worth it and, despite the warning sign, we did not get wet. We barely made the Hulk coaster, though, as the park was closing. It was, perhaps, the most outrageous coaster of the trip with several loops and the most to offer in g-forces.
After the hulk, there was only enough time to roam around admire some of the scenery. Betty Boop is some dame.As I mentioned, the park closed two hours before our shuttle picked us up. It was cold at that point and we both wanted a place to sit, which led us to the Starbucks for a cup of joe and a hot chocolate. Sadly, the two hours we had to kill before our ride put a slightly frustrating end to an otherwise pleasant day.
NEXT UP: EPCOT, MGM, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom....really.