Sunday, 15 December 2013

I'll Swap My Crab Cakes For Your Fish Tacos.

USA Trip 2013: Blog Post #8

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life” 
― Michael Palin

Seuss Landing
The only part of our first 3 days in Orlando left to blog about is Universal’s Islands Of Adventure (IOA).  Of all the parks we visited on our holiday, IOA had the biggest, scariest, and wettest rides.

One of the big, scary rides that we didn't try.

IOA consists of 6 highly themed lands that are situated around the outside of a lake.  Because of the layout of this rather large park, you are best to spend the day touring in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. 

Unless you are happy to do a lot of extra walking in the hot Florida sun, there is not really any quick, efficient way of hopping randomly between rides or returning to your favourite rides later in the day.  I found this to be a problem, as you don’t always want to do the rides in the order you approach them.  The water rides, for example, are best not done right before lunch (we learnt this the hard way).   If a show is not scheduled to perform, or a ride is having a few technical issues at the time you are passing by (in our case the Jurassic Park Ride), it feels like too much effort to return later in the day.  Lastly, when you take advantage of early entry, you start and finish your park rotation at Harry Potter Land.  This would be fine if the WWoHP wasn’t on the opposite side of the park to the entrance.   I’m probably sounding pretty lazy right now, but try spending a whole day in the Florida heat and humidity, wearing clingy ride-soaked clothing, and you’ll understand. 

Jurassic Park
Touring and layout issues aside, this park is pretty darn cool.  The lands are so different and intricately detailed, that it would be difficult to not be impressed by at least one area of this park.  For pre-school aged children, the most impressive area would most likely be Seuss Landing.  Full of bright, beautiful colours and fun, whimsical rides, this area is as sweet as candy floss.  Jurassic Park Land would also be pretty popular amongst young children as what kid doesn’t like dinosaurs. 

My son's favourite area was Marvel Superhero Island.  Where else can you see your favourite superhero in the flesh before jumping on a ride and helping him save New York City?  For those with similar aged children, I didn’t think the Adventures of Spiderman ride was too intense for my almost 6 year old,  This is with one exception.  There is a part in the ride where a female villainess jumps onto the bonnet of your ride vehicle and snarls at you.  I’m not sure who this creature is (please add her name to the comment box if you know), but her lizard-like face is the stuff that nightmares are made of.  During repeat rides even I closed my eyes 
during this scary part. 

Marvel Superhero Island
A few times a day Spiderman and the X-men took to the streets with their quad-bikes.
Because Disney now have the financial rights to Marvel Comics, I'm not sure what kind of longevity this land has.  If and when they do have to change the theme, it will be interesting to see what they change it to. 

Besides the WWoHP, my favourite land in the whole park was Toon Lagoon.  The ‘toons’ the land is themed after are a bit old school and the theming would benefit from an update.  But what the land lacks in familiarity, it makes up for with two fantastic water rides.   I never tried the Ripsaw Falls flume ride as at that stage of the day I wasn’t in the mood to get soaked to the bone. But going by the looks on Scott and Oskar’s faces, there was little to dislike about this ride.  What I do know is that it has a very steep drop that gives you a very large drenching; nothing that was going to stop the men in my life from doing this ride twice.

The other water ride is Popeye’s Bilge-rat barges.  At one stage we hit a wave so large that it crashed over the top of Oskar’s head.  Once we accepted that fact that we were in for a complete drowning, this ride had us laughing so hard our cheeks hurt. 

There were plenty of great photo opportunities to be found in Toon Lagoon.

The sixth, and final, land is the Lost Continent.  While I found this land to be the least interesting of the six, it is the place where we had lunch that day.  As far as theme park dining goes, Mythos Restaurant has a very good reputation.  I can see why.  The food and drinks were tasty, and Oskar’s fish tacos were a standout hit.  Scott and I both tried to swap our inferior lunches with his, but my son is no fool. 

Crab cakes with parmesan fries and tomato and watermelon salad.  

Fish tacos with potato salad and watermelon and tomato salad

I must admit that the heat and humidity did begin to fray my nerves as the afternoon progressed.  There was a point about about 4pm when I asked Scott to “get me out of here”, and feeling much the same way, he didn’t have to be asked twice.  That is not to say that I don’t think the park is great; we just knew when we had reached our limit.   For those with time up their sleeves, I would recommend touring IOA over 2 half days, rather than one full one.  That way you could ride the water rides straight after lunch, then return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day around the pool.  

My son is very tall for his age.  While he was tall enough for the big rides, I don't think he was mature or brave enough.

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