Universal Islands of Adventure
By Chelle Koster Walton
Prepare for your family trip with this handy guide to Universal Islands of Adventure.
Islands of Adventure beefed up the thrill aspect of the Universal parks, and therefore is popular with 'tweens, teens and adults. Nonetheless, it provides for all ages with comic-book motifs, a good selection of rides and blockbuster shows the way only movie studios can do 'em.
The best place for small children is "Seuss Landing," where they can take a ride aboard whimsical couches through the pages of the book Cat in the Hat, ride the "Caro-Seuss-el" merry-go-round and another squirt-cooled ride called "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," and hop onboard the "High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride." You can meet the Cat in the Hat himself in Seuss Landing as well. Stop for a bite at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous, complete with costumed characters, or Green Eggs and Ham Café, where, besides a green eggs and ham sandwich, they can order burgers and "frings" (a fries and onion rings combo).
Dinosaur fascination begins at an early age and although the "Jurassic Park River Adventure" ride is too much for small kids, they can ride on "Pteranodon Flyers" (must be at least 36 inches; no guests over 56 inches unaccompanied by a child) and check in to "Camp Jurassic" playground.
"Me Ship, the Olive" is a Popeye-themed play yard. To get an eyeful of park characters, stroll down Toon Lagoon. Restaurants and shops here follow the theme with Blondie's, where you can order a Dagwood sandwich, Wimpy's for a hamburger today, Betty Boop Store and Toon Extra for comic book character memorabilia.
When your kids are ready for rides with more wallop, take them on the top pop "The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man" (40-inch height requirement); the "Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls" flume ride (height requirement: 44 inches or taller); "Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges" (must be 42 inches or taller to ride); "Storm Force Accelatron" (must be 48 inches or taller to ride); and - the ultimate - wet, wild and hair-raising "Jurassic Park River Adventure" (height requirement: 42 inches).
Stay for the nighttime show, Universal's Cinematic Spectacular.
Terrific for 'Tweens, Teens and Upwards
Around age 10 the dare factor enters in, so it's time for Island of Adventure's top guns: "The Incredible Hulk Coaster" (must be 54 inches or taller), "Dr. Doom's FearFall" (52-inch height requirement) and "Dragon Challenge" (height requirement is 54 inches).
Adults traveling without kids will want to explore adjacent Universal CityWalk, with its live entertainment, nightclubs and celebrity chef restaurants. Within Islands of Adventure, Confisco Grille & Backwater Bar provide a pleasant al fresco area for watching and sipping. Pastamore serves Italian cuisine in a Mediterranean setting. Next door, the NASCAR Sports Grille has sandwiches, pasta and ribs. For fine dining within the park, try Mythos, set in a plushy cave with a menu of new American specialties.
Universal offers a number of different ticketing options, including multi-day packages, VIP access and annual passes. Plus, those who stay at Universal Orlando's on-site resorts and hotels can take advantage of the opportunity to skip the regular lines.
To order tickets and for more general information, log on to www.universalorlando.com.