I just visited Islands of Adventure over the weekend and had a fun time exploring the park and noticing the changes since my last visit.
As I walked through CityWalk on my way to Islands of Adventure, I noticed that the Endangered Species store is gutted, and rumors indicate that Starbucks will be moving into this space. I also observed that construction continues in the old quick-service portion of Pastamore restaurant. According to OI’s sources, this renovated area will be a new Universal restaurant concept, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, and the logo has a flame with a “R” in the center of it.
[wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 32 new full-screen images at the bottom of the post.
Previously we had reported that the new balcony you can see in the photo above would be a second story for Red Oven. We’re now being told that, when Starbucks moves down to the first floor to take over the Endangered Species space, another new restaurant will be added to CityWalk in Starbucks’ old place, and that the new balcony you see here will be part of that restaurant. Of course, as usual, Universal hasn’t released any details about their CityWalk construction plans, and won’t likely do so until a few days before the new venues open.
Further down the way, a large crane was lowering beams onto structures rumored to be a new Mexican-themed restaurant at the former location of the Latin Quarter.
Moving into the park, work continues in Islands of Adventure’s Port of Entry at the previous Arctic Express (next to Cinnabon). It’s rumored this will be another Starbucks location for Universal.
With Cinnabon and Starbucks next to one another, this will be a good place to grab a quick breakfast early in the morning before exploring the park.
Progress also continues in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The structure of Hogsmeade Station can clearly be seen over the top of the construction walls between Lost Continent and the entrance to the WWoHP. Walking through the queue of Dragon’s Challenge, guests can get a glimpse of the construction.
If you are up to the challenge, the best view of the Hogsmeade Station construction occurs while riding the Dragon Challenge coasters. We didn’t take the ride this month, but we sure did last month and got some great shots. Here’s a look at Hogsmeade Station as seen this past weekend, followed by an aerial shot we got last month:
You can view September’s IOA trip report to see more.
In Jurassic Park, the new midway games appear to be in the final stages of construction and hopefully will open soon. Cleverly named signs are positioned on top of each gaming kiosk. I was able to get a good view of the kiosk from the back at the queue to Jurassic Park River Adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing this new feature in this section of the park and the prizes that guests can win.
Crowd levels were somewhat busy during the fall holiday weekend (Monday was Columbus Day for U.S. residents and Thanksgiving for Canadian residents), and ride wait times reflected this fact. Most of the major attractions including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Jurassic Park River Adventure, and Rip Saw Falls had posted wait times of 30-45 minutes, and the Incredible Hulk Coaster had a posted wait time of 25 minutes. Lines at the butterbeer cart in the WWoHP were long, and I tweeted that if these guests had read OrlandoInformer.com they would know the line is shorter in the Hogs Head Pub. It really does pay to be informed!
If you’d like to learn more secrets to getting the most out of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, see this BIG 5 blog post.
One feature of Islands of Adventure that I enjoy, but that can easily be missed by guests, is the outdoor shows and meet-n-greets in Seuss Landing, WWoHP, and Marvel Super Hero Island. I was able to see part of the fun and whimsical Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear musical show this trip. Many guests easily overlook this entertaining family show due to its location in the corner of Seuss Landing, behind the Cat in the Hat ride.
After this show, guests can meet and greet popular Dr. Seuss characters including Thing One, Thing Two, the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, and the Lorax.
Other outdoor shows that appeal to many guests but are not reflected in the park’s map schedule are the Triwizard Spirit Rally and Frog Choir in the WWoHP. The Spirit Rally, which was entertaining guests while I was in the WWoHP this trip, features students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons performing acrobatics on stage to music from the Harry Potter movies. The Frog Choir, representing each of the Hogwarts Houses, performs several songs on the same stage. It is fun seeing the Frog Choir students reveal personalities attributed to their respective house, especially the student from Slytherin. After these shows, photo opportunities are usually available for guests with each group of performers.
The third outdoor show and meet-n-greet I really enjoy is Spider-Man and the Marvel Super Heroes. These characters enter Marvel Super Hero Island to great fanfare and rockin’ music while riding flashy ATVs. Each character meets and greets guests in a specific location while the music continues to resound over the speakers. At the end of the meet and greet, guides blow whistles and the music changes and an announcer directs all the super heroes to return to their ATVs. In another showy and loud flourish, the Super Heroes drive away in their ATVs. It’s an exhilarating experience for everyone and something the entire family can enjoy.
After the busy times of summer and before the winter holidays begin, October is a great month to visit Islands of Adventure. The crowd levels are reduced along with the temperatures, making a visit to the park a truly enjoyable adventure. It was a fun day for me, and I hope that you will be able to visit IOA soon.
See ya next month!
Islands of Adventure trip report – photo gallery
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