(ed. note — this has been sitting on my computer for about 2 weeks while I had every night rehearsal/tech/show run because I had a photo issue to figure out. Hope you enjoy it)
Ok, so last blog I talked a lot about my difficulties in eating gluten-free at Islands of Adventure (aka IOA). This time I am going to talk about how much FUN I had!!! Before we go much further, I worked at IOA when I was in college, so I have spent a LOT of time around the park. So, this trip was really just about me enjoying the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and (trying to) get pictures with some of the Avengers.
So, you pass through the turnstiles and enter “Port of Entry”. Yeah, they got real creative with the name here. Even if you have never been on a cruise, think of what you THINK a port would be like on some island, and there you have it. Basically, this is a place where you can buy any souvenirs on the way out that you don’t want to carry through the park. Granted, not EVERYTHING is available up here, but a lot of stuff is. There is also a couple of food stands and a sit down dining establishment. Honestly, my favorite part is this sign on a bridge:
Now, if you are like me, you want to get to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as FAST as possible. So, off to the right I went, into Seuss Landing.
I kid you not, Seuss Landing is like stepping into a Dr. Seuss book! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING is in a straight line! The palm trees were brought up from Miami after Hurricane Andrew and they all have these bends that you would never see in nature. None of the buildings have corners either. It is because over a steel frame, the builders then used a polystyrene foam and carved all of the exteriors! (if you want to learn more about how they built this section, check out: http://www.disunplugged.com/2011/03/07/creativity-and-science-collide-inside-seuss-landing/) It is really cool looking and I always feel like I stepped right into the pages of a Doctor Seuss book!! If you don’t have food allergies, pick up some Green Eggs and Ham before heading into the Cat in the Hat ride. This is your traditional “dark ride” that takes you through the story. I prefer to take a spin on “One Fish, Two Fish.” You really have to listen on this ride and steer your fish up or down, depending on what is said, otherwise you might find yourself a bit wetter then when you started. Then of course, there are your Doctor Seuss shops, including a book store to peruse. I did not catch any characters as I almost literally RAN through this part of the park (hey, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with Harry), but I know they have had The Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, Things 1 & 2, and now, the Lorax.
Right after I passed under the sign, I met with what my friend so eloquently called, “The Angry Griffin.” This, and this alone lets you know that you are entering The Lost Continent. Some of the coolest things are in this section!!! And they are not rides! Visually, it has to be my favorite because it uses these mythological types of elements in its design.
There are no rides in this part of the park, but there is one of my favorite attractions, just for what they were able to do with water. Ever walk through a water tunnel? Like, the water is spinning around you and you are NOT getting wet??? This alone is worth checking out Poseidon’s Fury. The lone show of the park is also located here. It is the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show. It is cute, there are stunts, it gets you out of the sun for a little bit anyway.
But for me, the real draw, and the thing I was the most excited for is from a third party vendor. For those of you who do not know,a third party vendor is someone who leases space in the park to sell their wares. And this one is pretty unique. Using a Da Vinci coin press, the Master Coinminters of Mythical Metals will create a custom coin for you to wear. Every time I visit the park as a guest I get one of these. They have over 100 different designs they can press for you, and they have sheets available for you to look at that tells you what each design means. My first coin had a phoenix on it, but I took it off for a doctor’s appointment and lost it. So this trip, I knew one side was going to be the phoenix (“immortal creature, symbolizing regeneration of man’s indestructible spirit), but the second side was the challenge. I went with the kokopelli (“wandering trader, musician and story teller among the many tribes of the American southwest.”). After you place the order, Sir Cumference sets up the press, knows how many TONS of pressure needs to be generated to displace the metal to press the images, gets people to cheer and clap, sounds the gong, then releases the press with a very loud BANG! This area of the park also has a “talking fountain” that you need to watch out for. It spits! ;-)
So, the next section is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am going to just say that it is here, that it is so awesome that it needs its own post, and move on.
If you have seen the movie, you know my next line…..Welcome, to JURASSIC PARK! If you read my previous entry, you know that this is where they have gluten-free quick service meals. The other fact worth noting is that it is located exactly half-way through the park. Happy mid-point! There are dinosaurs in the brushes, vehicles from the movies, the Discover Center from the first movie, a kids area, and the Jurassic Park River Adventures which has a KILLER drop!
And if you ever wondered what life would be like inside a comic strip, Toon Lagoon is for you! This area is very, VERY wet. Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripshaw Falls, and Me Ship, The Olive. ALL of these rides have water elements. But, there are some fun signs with cartoon captions that you can take pictures under, if you remember Marmaduke, you can get a picture of being dragged down the street after him, and there are some characters here to get pictures and autographs with. I did not see them, but they are there.
Lastly, we come to my second favorite part of the park. Marvel Super Hero Island! So, if you did not know, Marvel is now owned by Disney, but through some legal….something….Marvel Super Hero Island still exists. And I am so HAPPY that it does! The best ride I have EVER been on is here (The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man), and it is worth going on once, if not twice. Since I was last there in 2007, they have updated the graphics and smoothed out the ride even more. It is about 50-BAJILLION types of awesome. PLUS, there is the Incredible Hulk roller coaster. This was one of the first coasters to use the electro-magnetic launch, so you get on, move just out of the station into an incline, the magnets grab on and SHOOT you out the rest of the tube and into a loop. It is AMAZEBALLS!! Seriously awesome!! If you want to pick up a couple of comics you can do that, and they have the Marvel Super Heroes, and a couple villains to get your pictures with! Spider-Man is there pretty much all of the time, but Captain America, Cyclopes, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Doctor Doom and the Green Goblin are out and about as well. This trip I SO wanted to take pictures with all of them, got one with Goblin, was taking one with Spidey, went into a pose and my pants ripped from button to kneecap. OOOOPS!!! Thank GOODNESS I was standing BEHIND him when this happened!!! At first, one of the employees offered to go up to the front of the park to buy me a pair of pants sing her discount, but a manager stepped in, another employee gave me her coat to tie around and cover myself, and we headed into Toon Lagoon to find some shorts. This FANTASTIC employee (who I told Guest Relations about, and her manager), took me to 3 different retail locations until we found a pair of pants that I liked and were in my size. Sadly, this adventure met that I was unable to get any more pictures, as I had to head over to the Mouse House to work an evening shift. =(
It was a seriously fun day, you could EASILY spend a day in this park. Hell, you could spend a day in Harry Potter, and I have not even talked about that yet. If you have food allergies, pack snacks because the options are very few, very slim, and VERY far apart. But it is fun and worth the money I spent getting in.