Islands of Adventure trip report – May 2014 (Hogsmeade Station, King Kong construction + CityWalk update)
I visited Islands of Adventure this past weekend, and to say I enjoyed my time at the park is an understatement. But before I get to IOA, let’s take a quick stroll through CityWalk.
Entering CityWalk from the parking deck, I noticed the construction progress at several locations, including Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and the Bread Box, which are taking over the space formally occupied by Cigarz, TCBY, and Katie’s Candy Company. The space for Cowfish – the former upstairs Starbucks location – is coming along, as is the space below for Vivo Italian Kitchen. The Universal Studios Store is still under construction, and the construction walls take a significant portion of the walkway to Antojitos, which, by the way, is now open for both lunch and dinner. And, finally, the ever-popular Margaritaville’s Porch of Indecision is open after being expanded during the past few months.
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These new additions will add to the excellent choices already available in CityWalk.
Islands of Adventure
Entering the enticing atmosphere of IOA, where the roar of the Hulk Coaster can be heard almost far and wide, you don’t have to walk far before you see construction activity.
In Seuss Landing, new walls surround McElligot’s Pond for its refurbishment. As I walked past the Cat in the Hat ride, I checked with a Team Member for any updates, since the ride did not spin last month. I learned the ride is spinning now, but much less frequently. I felt something was missing last month when riding this whimsical attraction without the extra movement, so I am glad to hear it’s at least partially returned.
In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, large stones similar to the ones at the entrance to Flight of the Hippogriff can be seen on either side of the fenced area near the new Hogsmeade Station. Readers who follow Orlando Informer’s Twitter may recognize these from IOA’s rumored King Kong construction site, as seen here:
High construction fences still consume most of the pedestrian walkway between the exit of Lost Continent and the entrance to Hogsmeade. Of course, you can see glimpses of buildings, trees, and the new train station above the fence. It’s exciting to think those walls will soon come down and reveal another adventure beckoning us.
Honeydukes has expanded into the former Zonko’s space since my visit last month. Although efforts were made to blend the new area in with the old by using complimentary paint colors and architecture, I feel the space seems more like an after-the-fact addition rather than an extension of the existing theme of Honeydukes. This new space does help alleviate the crowds at checkout, though, and it includes colorful displays of delicious candy and unique treats.
I also noticed the outside of the shop has not changed, with Zonko’s still painted on the building and gags displayed in the windows. I hope it stays this way, as homage to the former joke shop.
Although still an unofficial feature, I was very happy to discover that Universal’s free wifi in the parks has expanded since my last visit, and I was able to connect throughout Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida during my recent visits.
A fence is now erected near the Thunder Falls Terrace restaurant in Jurassic Park. As noted above, rumors say this construction area will be the new King Kong section of the park. The old Kong attraction in Universal Studios Florida (Kongfrontation) predates my move to Orlando, so this island will be entirely new for me. I look forward to what exciting adventures this addition will bring to the park.
As I was browsing the Islands of Adventure Trading Company in Port of Entry, I came across a very nice display of framed, signed, and numbered prints and artwork pertaining to the Harry Potter franchise. One particular print caught my eye – a map of Diagon Alley. Another item was a framed one-way ticket from London to ride the Hogwarts Express via Platform 9 3/4. A third framed item was the envelope, letter, and school supplies list Harry Potter received after being accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
All these prints, unframed, were available starting around $100 during the salute to Harry Potter weekend in January. Unfortunately, I became distracted and did not check the current prices of the framed versions.
The crowd levels this trip were pleasantly low. I was stunned that the posted wait time for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey‘s standby line was only 15 minutes. It was 35 minutes for the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, 30 minutes for Dudley Do-Right’s Rip Saw Falls, and only five minutes for Jurassic Park River Adventure. The mid-morning temperatures were warm in the 80s and very humid.
Universal Orlando continues to upgrade their parks for the enjoyment of their guests. Whether it’s the refurbishment of an attraction or the addition of a major component to their parks, exciting adventures await your family now and in the future. I look forward to my trip next month to Islands of Adventure, and I hope your family will be able to visit and enjoy this ever-changing park soon.
Want to know the latest of what’s happening with Diagon Alley, including details about the current Today Show sweepstakes to win a trip to the grand opening? Check out our complete guide to the new area. Or join the discussion anytime in the OI Forums.
Universal Studios Florida trip report – photo gallery
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