Florida 03/22 – Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Day 6

Today we decided to once again deploy the hire car, as we wanted to waste as little time as possible, on possibly the most intense day of the trip.

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Unlike yesterday, Universal Studios as a whole was exactly how I pictured it, with the only exception being that CityWalk was far larger and more impressive than I’d assumed.

I actually quite enjoy the, parking lot, central hub, CityWalk, then pick your park set up of Universal Orlando, it really helps gradually build your excitement as you press forward.

If travelling under that doesn’t increase your heart rate then you might be on the wrong website.

The right of passage lighthouse shot. Islands of Adventure really is beautiful in places, anywhere but Toon Lagoon actually.

That’s your greeting as you enter the park itself, stunning, just try to ignore that Hogwarts is now located behind an Intamin launch coaster.

And that’s exactly where we are heading, (the Intamin, not Hogwarts) but not before one of the most physically demanding theme park journies of our lives, and that’s coming from someone who sprinted the length of Busch Gardens last night.

It’s not that long of a walk distance wise but there was just so many people and things you had to keep dodging around in the intense Florida sun. I wouldn’t want to visit the park when it’s near capacity in the hotter months.


Finally though we made it and it was time to experience the 2nd best coaster in Florida and 17th best coaster in the World, currently, according to me. It’s statements like this that make me not bothered it took me so long to visit Orlando, the coaster game only got truly World class in the last couple of years and now it seems almost unfair that VelociCoaster and Iron Gwazi live about an hour from each other.

Let’s start with the theme. I love it to pieces, in fact, the more I think back to it the more I miss and appreciate it.

Sticking an Intamin multi launch coaster in a raptor paddock and having them hunt us is totally something out of a Jurassic Park/World film. The queue videos are all so iconic, I find myself saying “welcome to the VelociCoaster” on an almost weekly basis. The raptors in the queueline are amazing, as are all the fictional and not so fictional ride posters in the locker area.

Quickly speaking of the lockers, they are handled almost perfectly at VelociCoaster. You place your items, all of them, in lockers about 10 minutes before boarding the train. This means you can have your phone for most of the queue (for photos and K-pop). It also means locker and metal detection faff doesn’t affect the loading of the coaster, a win win situation.

Now onto the coaster itself, it’s amazing, but neither the best multi launch coaster in the World or even the best one from Intamin.

I’m certain this opinion comes from my preference for intensity, and I’m almost certain VelociCoaster was designed to be somewhat tamer as to not wreck the masses on what will be one of the most ridden coasters on a yearly basis.

That’s not to say VelociCoaster doesn’t have moments of intensity, in fact let’s enter the paddock and go on a virtual ride through. This will need to be much less descriptive than normal because describing VelociCoaster moment by moment won’t do it justice.

The first half of the coaster reminds me of Taron, but with added inversions.

This equates to a fun launch, followed by a couple decent inversions, some twisty stuff, a twisted airtime hill that kicks ass, even more twisty stuff and then a drop down into the second launch, exactly like Taron.

It’s from the entry to VelociCoaster’s second launch that things start to get truly interesting and it begins to ride much more like Intamin’s finest multi launcher Taiga.

The launch, rolling, from 40 – 70mph is brutal and must be one hell of a wake up call for those thinking VelociCoaster was going to ride like its first half throughout.

Next up is the 155 foot tall top hat, providing the strongest moment of airtime on the coaster and an amazing ride back down it for those in the back seats.

Zero G Stalls are always great fun and that’s what follows the top hat, before you are sent hurtling into what I’ve heard described as the Maverick section.

A crushing overbanked turn transitions into a vicious change in direction over water. While it doesn’t ride as intensly as the moments on i305 or Maverick it still rather alarmingly attempts to throw you out of the train.

Another overbank then lines you up for the single greatest moment of VelociCoaster, easily one of the greatest inversions on the planet, maybe even slightly better than the death roll, the Mosasaurus roll.

So while VelociCoaster has slowly been stepping up the intensity as it goes, this inversion is something else and feels like we’ve skipped many steps on route.

The Mosasaurus roll hits so damn hard that it’s even impossible to prepare for on rerides. The inversion is taken so fast that your being won’t even know how to comprehend it, all while the coaster is also trying to launch you sideways out of the train into the water below.

People are describing the Mosasaurus roll as a tamed down, modern recreation of Maverick’s infamous heartline roll. If that’s true then I can absolutely understand why that element was removed, but I still want to experience it either way…

That was VelociCoaster, and I love it, just not as much as I would have if it rode like its second half for the whole coaster. But then I do really like how it slowly builds up the intensity and then ends with one of the most intense moments on any coaster… I’m torn OK? VelociCoaster was one of the hardest coasters ever when it came to ranking it…

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

From one amazing Intamin multi launch to another.

But getting to it wasn’t without issue, and it turns out it was all due to locker related faff.

We entered the Wizarding World and much like its Japanese counterpart it was so busy that you couldn’t even move. After powering past many people we finally got to the entrance of Hagrid’s, but then we had to follow staff members holding up signs all the way out of the Wizarding World into the Lost Continent, this isn’t looking good…

After queuing our way back into the Wizarding World, at some point we were batched as our group into the lockers room, which was an absolute mess, but never mind we’ve made progress. But no, after leaving the lockers room we were instructed to enter the official stand by queue for Hagrid’s, which was no where near coming out of the entrance. Meaning we have just queued nearly 30 minutes and already got a bad impression of the coaster and Wizarding World in order to use lockers, there’s got to be a better way guys…

Enough moaning, how was the coaster? Incredible.

Hagrid’s just has to be the best family coaster on the planet and even holds up very strongly amongst the World’s other multi launch coasters. 7 launches (with the final one kicking ass), a powerful drop track, a reverse section, animatronics and some of the best theming that I’ve ever seen, this monster seriously has it all.

I absolutely adore this technological marvel of a coaster and wish we had gotten more rides on it over the trip, which I’m certain we would have, if VelociCoaster didn’t exist.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

In order to end the debate of if Forbidden Journey is one of the greatest dark rides ever created, or just a robot arm bouncing about an inch from a blurry screen to make you sick (like it was in Japan), we subjected ourselves to more locker faff.

I’ve no idea what the Japanese were doing wrong, I’ll put it down to the language barrier and their one using 3D glasses, but my God, I actually like Forbidden Journey now.

It actually has a story, isn’t just blurry screens an inch from your face, the robot arms aren’t trying to murder you every 2 seconds and the queueline is actually really cool and not an absolute chore.

The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman

Don’t be too upset though Japan, you have the better version of Spiderman.

In order to end the debate of if Spiderman or Transformers makes better use of the ride system we knew we needed to ride both at the Orlando resort. And yeah, either I’m getting jaded with extremly high tech dark rides (quite possible) or Orlando’s Spiderman doesn’t hit anywhere near as hard as the Japanese one, your move tomorrow Transformers.

Incredible Hulk

Next up it was time for Hulk, the second B&M sit down in two days, and it wasn’t great…

Firstly the queueline was not what I was expecting, concrete, rust, loud noises and 40 second poorly animated Hulk transformations on TVs were just a bit disappointing after experiencing VelociCoaster’s and Hagrid’s queues earlier.

The station, which I assumed would have a really great atmosphere, didn’t, it was just loud again.

Then the coaster itself. It wasn’t Kumba bad but it wasn’t good. The launch was fun, then it was just inversions and giving me a headache.

A clear one and done coaster, in a park that contains 2 of the most rerideable coasters on Earth. At least it looks nice.

The Cat in the Hat

After a quick lunch of ice cream and nothing else in CityWalk, we re-entered the park and first made our way to Seuss Landing to check out The Cat in the Hat dark ride.

It wasn’t good by any means, but it was so not good that it was rather enjoyable, especially on a trip with some of the World’s greatest dark rides.

Poseidon’s Fury

Next up was something special, that I still feel lucky to have got to experience.

Poseidon’s Fury, the park’s special effects heavy walkthrough had been closed since the start of the pandemic and had only reopened about 2 weeks before our visit.

Yeah it’s a bit cheesy and silly in parts, but I really enjoyed it, the effects were great and I couldn’t shake off the feeling of how cool it was that I was experiencing a piece of Universal history, that felt like it had opened just for us.

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

Then it was time to check out the Toon Lagoon water rides, which we had left until this point in the day, sun going down, park dying down, as earlier on they had some of the worst queues in the park.

The next 2 hours or so will never leave my mind and might forever go down as one of the funniest in my coasting career.

It begins by walking up to the entrance of Ripsaw Falls, worrying about what to do with our bag. “Do you have lockers?” we asked the staff member. “Yes we do, 5 dollars.” was the reply. It appears the bag is taking the falls with us then.

Next we power through the completely empty outside queue before heading inside, all the while trying to fashion some form of waterproof set up for the bag.

There was no need to panic, there was a queue once we headed inside. Leading to either me or Heartline saying aloud, “bit of a queue, Dudley Do”, which to this day is still one of the funniest things ever.

We spent the next half an hour continuing to fashion our waterpoof bag solution, saying “bit of a queue, Dudley Do” and watching the Dudley Do cartoon on the queue tvs, which at the time was hilarious, then it was our time to board.

The seating and restraint system on Ripsaw Falls is one of the worst and funniest on Earth. I’m too chunky to get in, Heartline is too tall, and his wife, who’s now 90% waterproofed bag is in an even worse position. Once we were finally in though, it was quite cosy, but not at all reassuring we weren’t about to get destroyed by the falls.

Ripsaw Falls itself then, on that night, in those circumstances, in that frame of mind, with that group of people, it was amazing.

With my favourite moment being during the indoor section hearing Heartline screaming “Oh no!”, then speakers on the ride announcing, “I seem to have lost my train of thought”, only for Heartline to scream even louder “OH NO!”. Does he know something I don’t? Drop, life ending amount of water on my crotch, all 3 of us screaming, fantastic.

Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

The bag scare and not wanting to get wet again led Heartline’s wife to sitting out Bilge-Rat Barges, which to this day I’m forever thankful for, because what happens next can only be described as a massacre.

Me and Heartline power through the completely empty queue and were directed straight into a boat with 2 other young blokes. They were sitting opposite each other, soaked head to toe, but for whatever reason neither me or Heartline stopped to think why.

Then the boat left the boarding area and we were underway.

The first few corners were fine, your typical rapids ride, a few splashes of water leaping into the boat, nothing to fear!


We pass under a water effect that dumps so much water into the boat that me and Heartline are instantly soaked to the skin, shoes full of water and screaming in shock.

But it didn’t stop there, it was relentless, the next minute of so was non stop effects as wet as the first, not making us any wetter, because that was impossible, but just attempting to drown us.

My memory only truly comes back as we began to climb a lift hill, which had life ending water effects all the way up. I assumed this lift hill was taking us back to the loading area but one look over the edge proved this theory very wrong.

Heartline was now blind, so I had the task of trying to explain it to him. “There’s a drop coming man, and it looks BAD.” And it was…

The tidal wave of water from the drop and then yet more insane water effects proved that it was in fact actually impossible to get us any wetter.

We re-enter the boarding area, the staff seem unphased, the 2 young blokes haven’t made any noise during the ride, me and Heartline are in shock.

Our minds were gone, so we spent the next 20 minutes or so in a toilet, not even the nearest one to the ride, trying to do something, anything, to tame down the situation, but nothing really worked, so let’s go ride Kong.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Dripping wet and leaving foot prints where we stood we slowly strolled through the very cold horror themed queueline of Kong, hoping the scare actors weren’t there because there was nothing we could do if they were.

We boarded the ride vehicle, instantly soaking the seat, and tried our best not to get the people sitting next to us wet too. And then we were off…

Yeah, it wasn’t very good at all. Blurry screens of King Kong punching dinosaurs, while the entire tram screamed at slight side to side jiggling was 90 percent of the experience.

I think the conversation I overheard as we left the ride summed it up better than I ever could. “Why’s everybody screaming?”, “cause it’s scary!”.

After that wisdom it was time for Heartline to do some maths.

We have about an hour left, we need a night ride on VelociCoaster and we still need to ride Flight of the Hippogriff. If we ride VelociCoaster and then run we can join the Hippogriff queue just before it closes and cheat the always 90 minute queue it has, sounds good to me.

A few weeks before we went on this trip Universal posted a POV saying how great night rides are on VelociCoaster, and they weren’t wrong. This already stunning coaster is in fact even greater under the cover of darkness. Even better it even helped us dry off a little.

Flight of the Hippogriff

This meant we were able to run to Hippogriff and queue only 10 minutes for the most cloned Vekoma Junior on Earth.

The perfect ending to a great day at Islands of Adventure, which is a great park with a truly World class coaster in VelociCoaster and a stunning secondary coaster in Hagrids. I do however have to ask how much would I have enjoyed the park if I visited before 2019?

Thank you for reading, click here for day 7, where we visit Universal Studios Florida.

Rollercoaster Ranking – GCI (2022)
Florida 03/22 – Universal Studios Florida

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