Islands of Adventure trip report – February 2014 (Hogwarts Express inside Hogsmeade Station, Starbucks, Cat in the Hat + CityWalk updates)
My family and I visited Islands of Adventure (IOA) this past weekend. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the lower 70s.
Prior to entering IOA, I took a few photos of the changes taking place in CityWalk. Construction was progressing on the new Starbucks location. In addition, signs for the new Vivo Italian Kitchen are posted on the construction walls in the former Pastamore spot. Further along in CityWalk, the Universal Studios Store is under refurbishment, and a temporary store has been built in front of the old one.
[wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 41 new full-screen images at the bottom of the post.
Antojitos is now open for business, and this Mexican restaurant’s frontage dominates the sky. It also appears that the area in front of Margaritaville is being worked on, with prominent signs directing guests where to enter the Porch.
Islands of Adventure
After entering IOA, I noticed the new Starbucks was open in Port of Entry. The architecture on the outside of the building blends in well with the area. Inside, the coffeehouse is tastefully decorated and the staff is very friendly. This Starbucks location inside IOA also provides free wifi.
Rousing changes have taken place in Lost Continent, where the scenery near the entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade is forever transformed. The midway games are permanently closed and fenced off for construction on the Hogsmeade Station for the Hogwarts Express. The visible alterations above the construction fence include a weather vane on top of the station and finished roofs. The structure closest to the wall now appears to be ready for brick and, as seen from the Dragon Challenge coaster, has framing for a walkway to its entrance. My husband was able to take a few photos of the new Hogsmeade Station from Dragon Challenge.
One photo that was a complete and extraordinary surprise to us was the Hogwarts Express train actually parked inside Hogsmeade Station. We were unaware of the fact that the train was in the station and were lucky enough to take a picture while zooming past it on the coaster.
Crowds were moderate on this beautiful day at IOA. The posted wait times for most of the attractions were under 30 minutes, with 45 minutes posted for Forbidden Journey.
The water on the wet rides was very cold, requiring a poncho to help reduce the chance of getting soaked. Using our Photo Connect Star Card this visit, we were able to download some funny photos of my husband and son riding Ripsaw Falls wearing their ponchos.
Since my son thoroughly enjoys Dr. Suess books, videos, and TV shows, the Cat in the Hat ride in Seuss Landing is a favorite. This family-friendly dark ride takes guests through the classic book by Dr. Seuss. The queue of the ride, although indoors, is designed so that guests are outside Nick and Sally’s house, with the final stage of the queue being entered through the porch. Excerpts from the book are projected on the walls, and guests can see the children looking out the window on that “cold, cold, wet day.”
The ride vehicle, which is designed to look like a couch, spins and adds to the whimsical, wacky feel of the attraction as you see first-hand what antics the Cat, Thing One, and Thing Two get into with Sally and Nick, much to the chagrin of the neurotic fish. Flashing lights and spinning animatronics all enhance the ride experience. Even though I’ve ridden this many times, I notice new aspects of it each time. My favorite scene is in the bathroom, where toilet paper is strung everywhere while the Cat is taking a bubble bath and the fish is swirling around in the toilet.
Like the book, the ride ends with the children’s mother coming home after some clever and frantic cleaning is done by all the characters. Although there is a lot of spinning on this attraction, the Cat in the Hat is a must-do ride for just about anyone visiting IOA.
It was a wonderful day spent with my family at the park. I’m thrilled with the progress that is being made on Hogsmeade Station, and, yet, I’m becoming impatient for its completion. I look forward to the changes I may encounter on my next trip and hope that you, too, will soon be able to enjoy Islands of Adventure.
Islands of Adventure trip report – photo gallery
Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery.
[sws_author_bio user=”MaureenDeal” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Maureen” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]