Islands of Adventure trip report – September 2013 (Starbucks, Hogsmeade Station, JP midway games & more)
My family and I recently visited Universal’s Islands of Adventure and spent a fun day at the park. I noticed several changes as construction continues on a few fronts, starting right away at the entrance.
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In Port of Entry, construction walls surround where Arctic Express was located, next to Cinnabon. Rumors are the Arctic Express is being renovated into a Starbucks. It was difficult to see any details of the progress in this area due to the high construction walls, but Dan grabbed a peek just last Thursday, and to us it seems like this project is a lower priority for the park. No big deal really, since Croissant Moon Bakery just across the way serves coffee and pastries.
The more exciting projects of course is the ongoing construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade Station, which is evident from the Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show, and visible above the construction fence near the Lost Continent midway games.
Only the top portions, or a small aspect of the Hogsmeade Station construction, can be seen from these locations. The best view of the new station construction continues to be from Dragon Challenge in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Luckily we were able to capture some photos of the entire Hogsmeade Station construction from different vantage points including multiple angles from Dragons Challenge.
From these photos, it appears a significant portion of the framing of Hogsmeade Station is complete along with the beginning stages of framing walls. You can also clearly see the tracks of the Hogwarts Express running between IOA and USF. And if you look closely toward Universal Studios on the photo’s horizon, you can see the Hogwarts Express train cars stored in a lot near Rip Ride Rockit.
As a huge Harry Potter fan, it is thrilling to see the progress of this new feature and the immersion experience it will offer fans of the books and movies.
In Jurassic Park, I noticed the Triceratops fossil rock outside the Discovery Center has added signage indicating the type of dinosaur fossil and the time period it could be found. Construction of the midway games near the queue to River Adventure has advanced significantly since my last trip. A tall camouflaged covered construction fence hides the games area from public view, but I was able to secure photos showing the structures of the game booths in place.
It appears that this area could be ready in the near future. Rumors indicate this is just the beginning of a new expanded Jurassic Park section of the park. This change of scenery and the opportunity for games and themed merchandise in Jurassic Park will definitely bring a new feel to this section of the park.
Another change I noticed: the additional snack/drink carts that are usually scattered around the park during the summer were no longer present. In addition, the lines to the food and drink carts still in place were relatively short, like the butterbeer carts in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I also observed the seasonal Green Eggs and Ham counter-service restaurant in Seuss Landing and Wimpy’s seasonal counter-service restaurant in Toon Lagoon were not open.
Throughout my visit to Islands of Adventure, it was obviously apparent that it is the beginning of the off-season with the relatively short wait times at most of the attractions. With 30 minutes posted for the standby line for the awesome Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, 15 minutes posted for the award-winning Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, less than 15 minutes for the attractions in Seuss Landing and only 5 minutes for the attractions on Super Hero Island, this time of year is a great time to visit Islands of Adventure. These low wait times enable guests to repeatedly experience the thrills of the attractions along with spending more time just enjoying what the entire park has to offer.
In addition to Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando continues to update existing areas and add new entertaining components to CityWalk. Still under construction is the now permanently closed Latin Quarter area, with rumors saying a Mexican themed restaurant will be put in its place. Construction walls are also up around the Pastamore Marketplace (the counter-service portion of the restaurant, not the table-service portion) where they continue to update and reconfigure the pedestrian area and walk-up service for this restaurant.
I hope you will soon get to experience Islands of Adventure and CityWalk and see the exciting new features and the updated, enhanced attractions.
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Islands of Adventure trip report – photo gallery
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