spreadsheets and suitcases

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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 2: Islands of Adventure

on November 4, 2015

This picture about sums it up…


The Adventure Begins…

There are a variety of ways to get to Universal Resort from WDW.  This page on Mousesavers.com details them nicely.  We took the option of the Mears shuttle.  I called about a week ahead of time to reserve 4 RT fares, which were payable to the driver in cash.  The agent told me that morning pickups happen every 30 minutes at the :20 and :50 minute marks.  Evening pickups would be on the quarter hour, in a designated area near the regular taxi stand.  A Mears shuttle picked us up from Art of Animation at 8:15 on the dot- we lucked out and got a private van.  We paid the driver for the round-trips, and he gave us vouchers for the evening ride.  It took about 20-25 minutes to get there, so we were at the gates about 10 minutes before the park opened at 9am.  We were only about 10 families back, so in a great position to book it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade as fast as possible.  DH grabbed a map to orient himself and we went over the plan for the day.

After a brief ceremony to officially open Islands of Adventure, we were through the gates and power-walked to the way back of the park.  I was so excited to see Hogwarts Castle in person!  We had decided that since there was no way to go back to the hotel for a midday break, we would take the stroller in case DS’s little legs got tired.  So we parked that sucker in the Stroller Parking for the Castle, and made our way through the line for Forbidden Journey.  We had a brief wait, less than 10 minutes, and then we got to the part of the ride where we could make Child Swap arrangements.  DD and I moved ahead to board, while the park worker took DH and DS (who of course, was too small to ride) to a waiting area near the front of the line.

OK- this ride was AMAZING.  The effects were really immersive, I screamed my head off, and really enjoyed myself. My DD….did not love it.  She really hated the spider area.  I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.  We got back to the Child Swap area so my husband could have his turn, and, when given the opportunity to ride again with him, DD declined!  I didn’t want to leave the kids to their own devices this early in the day, so I didn’t go on with my husband, and he did the ride alone.  The kids and I went outside, and just next to the castle was Flight of the Hippogriff.  This was a “family coaster,” and the kids went together while I waited for DH.  There was no line 🙂 DH came of out Forbidden Journey just as the kids came out of Hippogriff.  DS wanted to go on again, so DH went with him, because DD and I had a date with Dueling Dragons.

She liked this ride a lot more than Forbidden Journey!  I loved it as well, having ridden it back when it was called Fire & Ice (they just “rebranded” it to fit the Harry Potter theme).  Boy, the interior part of that ride queue is REALLY dark and curvy- we were holding hands at one point and walking with the other hand outstretched to avoid bumping into something.  We rode the blue dragon- The Hungarian Horntail.  We met up with DH and DS after the ride, and the little one wanted to go on Hippogriff AGAIN!  So I went with him, and it was a cute ride.  The theming of the whole area is perfect.

It was about 10:15 at this point, and we were almost done with Hogsmeade, having done 6 rides already- not bad.  Time to eat something and do a little shopping while the crowds were still light.  We made our way to Honeyduke’s and got some candy, including a glass Honeyduke’s candy jar to take home, and I went and got a frozen butterbeer.  It was good, a bit sweet for me, so it took me a while to drink it.  I sipped as we took pics and made out way out of the area, with plans to come back later for the Ollivander’s Wand Shop experience.


Me and the Conductor of the Hogwarts Express 🙂

Our next stop was Seuss Landing, and boy, was my son HAPPY!  He just loved that place.  We rode the High in the Sky Trolley, he took a spin on the Caro-Suess-El, and we all went on Cat in the Hat, with nary a wait longer than 5 minutes.  He decided to reserve the right the ride One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (a Dumbo-type ride) until later- he was unsure about whether he would get too wet from the random little sprays over the ride.

High in the Sky Trolley

High in the Sky Trolley- a very pleasant aerial loop around Seussland

We continued on our counter-clockwise loop, and arrived at Marvel Super Hero Island.  My husband was very pleased with the visual effects in this area.  DD and I headed straight for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which was just as intense and immersive as I remembered.  She liked this ride much better than Forbidden Journey, ironically, because what she didn’t like about that ride was…the spiders. <hands up emoji>

DH and DS got in line to meet Spider-Man himself, and DD and I met Storm and Rogue.

They asked me about my long-distance superhero flying skills when I said I was visiting from Hawaii.

They asked me about my long-distance superhero flying skills when I said I was visiting from Hawaii.

We made plans to come back this way for more walking around and just taking in the details- the remaining rides (Dr. Doom’s FearFall and Storm Force Accelatron) didn’t interest any of us.  And The Incredible Hulk was closed until January 2016!  I was kind of relieved, actually.  We walked right through Toon Lagoon (don’t worry, we’d be back there), en route to our next stop.


We stopped for an early lunch at Thunder Falls Terrace in the Jurassic Park area.  We had corn chowder, and all picked off of a ribs-and-chicken platter, and a salad.  We took the opportunity to change into our bathing suits and rubbah slippahs, because we were prepared to get wet!  Starting with JURASSIC PARK River Adventure!  I hummed the movie music as I literally skipped toward the ride, which again, had just a minimal wait.  DD came with me while DH took DS to Camp Jurassic, an interactive play area.  He LOVED it so much, and still occasionally asks to go back there, nearly 3 weeks later.  We escaped the T-Rex and the velociraptors, and got a good splashing on the big drop.  Then it was time for DH and DD to ride, while I played with DS at Camp Jurassic.  When it was time for them to come down the big drop, I dragged DS over there to get a picture.


They had a great time!

By now the sky, which had been mostly gray all morning, had turned ominous.  The skies opened and one of those infamous Florida rains came pouring down.  People were hiding out wherever they could.  I grabbed our ponchos and handed them out- we may have been wearing swimsuits, but our electronics were still in our bags/pockets.  DS tucked himself into his stroller, which of course, had the rain cover on it that I use to protect it while gate-checking.

We strolled to our next stop, Toon Lagoon, to get even wetter.  Popeye’s Bilge-Rat Barges, a raft ride, did not disappoint.  We pretty much all got completely and totally soaked, and loved every minute!  So fun.  Then, DH and DD went right over to Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls for a drenching flume ride experience.  DS and I waited to see them come down their big drop, and enjoyed getting splashed by it.  After they exited, DD begged to go on again, and seeing as the line was pretty short, I agreed to accompany her.  It was great!

Well, now that our soaking was over, we headed to the bathrooms to change into nice, dry clothes.  We put our ponchos back on, because it was still raining on and off.  We made our way back to Wizarding World, which was much more crowded than earlier in the day, with long waits for the rides we had already done.  We headed to Ollivander’s, and waited maybe 10 minutes for the next “show” to begin.  Despite my attempt at telepathically convincing “Mr. Ollivander” to choose DD for the wand demonstration, where The Wand Picks The Wizard, he chose some other tourist.  No matter, the effects were still entertaining.  We went into the wand shop, where DD took a long time picking out one of the interactive wands.  I actually got one for DS as well, but had immediate buyer’s remorse.  $40 + tax for something that he would break pretty soon?  I returned it right away, and he didn’t mind at all, he just wanted more Suess Landing.  Since DD had an interactive wand, she made it a goal to complete all 9 Missions in Hogsmeade.  There are 18 Missions for the interactive wands altogether, but 9 are over at Diagon Alley in Universal Studios proper (she can do those next time).  The Missions were cute, involving saying an incantation while performing specific wand movements, and causing things to happen (flowers to bloom, books to open/close, etc.).  That completed, we said goodbye to the Wizarding World and headed back to Seuss Landing.

'Til next time!

‘Til next time!

Still pretty empty over here!  DS again wavered over One Fish, Two Fish.  We got in the line, then got out.  We decided to do the Trolley again, and had a longer wait- about 20 minutes.  It’s so cute, and we passed over If I Ran the Zoo, which looked interesting, so we went over there after the Trolley.  He had fun in the interactive playground, and we all enjoyed the theming.  What’s that?  Another ride on Cat in the Hat?  Why not- the wait was 5 minutes!  Then we said goodbye to Thing 1 and Thing 2, and to Seussland, stopping to get a sour green freeze drink for DD on the way out.  Boy, was it sour!

We looped back around to Marvel Super Hero Island, and got a few Dippin’ Dots ice creams for the rest of us.  DD and I debated on trying for another ride on Spider-Man, which I was game for, seeing as the line was only 20 minutes, but she ultimately decided against it.  Walking through here slowly was nice.  It really feels like you are in the comics!  Same with Toon Lagoon.  It’s so bright and colorful.

We’d done everything on our itinerary except shop!  One of the biggest stores in the Park is at the Port of Entry, so we headed there.  Objectives: a magnet for me, a shirt for DH, something for each child.  It took a while, and 3 different employees, but we found a magnet that said, “Islands of Adventure,”  as opposed to area-specific ones.  DH wound up getting this shirt:

Merchandise product shoot for internet online store Harry Potter HP merchandise on white seamless

while DD got a pair of headphones (remember, she already had the wand), and DS just wanted a pack of Cat in the Hat playing cards.  Purchases made, we got out of the park and headed to CityWalk to have dinner at Moe’s.  It was super crowded in there, but DD has eagle eyes and fast feet, and she got a table for her and DS to hold while DH and I waited in line.  Dinner was good (not as good as the Moe’s in Hawaii, funnily enough), and we sadly went down to the shuttle pickup area around 7pm.  We thought we were all done with themed rides, having left the park, but we were wrong….

For the Mears shuttle pickup, instead of the private van we had in the morning, there was a large charter bus.  The driver was a character, to say the least.  He was ribbing everybody getting on the bus, telling them that Mickey was mad that we had betrayed him, we were all in trouble, etc.  When we got going, he was calling out Disney trivia questions and facts the whole way back to the World.  I was happy that I knew 99% of the answers.  The best part was, he asked what building we were in at Art of Animation, and when we told him Little Mermaid, he drove us all the way to the back, practically right outside the staircase leading to our door.  He saved us the 15 minutes of walking after a long day, and he got a good tip for that.  Plus, DS had fallen asleep on the bus, so being able to get him into bed quickly was really nice.  Super courteous driver, and this experience makes me more likely to use the Mears service to Universal on our next trip if we do another day there.

Was the 1 day at this park worth all the planning and relative expense?  I say, yes.  It’s a beautiful place with quality rides.  Would I spend 10 days here like I do at Disney?  No- for my family, there’s not enough to do.  We did everything we wanted, on a weekend day, without their paid Universal Express benefit that gets you to the front of the line, AND we left the park 2 hours before it closed.  So definitely, 1 day was enough for us.  We had a blast.

We were back in the room by about 8:30p, because the bus made several stops at other Disney hotels before dropping us off.  Back into The Disney Bubble, we cleaned up and got our stuff ready for Disney Day 1.  I could hardly wait 🙂

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