Universal's Islands of Adventure
|Slogan||Let Yourself Woah|
(as Universal Orlando Resort)
|Location||Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida, United States|
|Theme||Islands with myths, legends, dinosaurs, cartoons, superheroes, children's stories, and Universal franchises|
|Operated by||Universal Parks & Resorts|
|Opened||May 28, 1999|
Universal's Islands of Adventure (originally Universal Studios Islands of Adventure) is a theme park located in Orlando, Florida. It opened on May 28, 1999, along with CityWalk, as part of an expansion that converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort. The resort's slogan Vacation Like You Mean It was introduced in 2013.
Islands of Adventure is modeled after a journey of exploration, where guests embark on an adventure to visit a variety of themed islands. Initially, the park featured six islands. A seventh, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, was added in 2010, themed to the highly successful Harry Potter franchise. It was Universal's largest investment since the resort's founding in 1990. The expansion led to a significant increase in attendance, and in 2013, Islands of Adventure ranked seventh domestically and eleventh internationally after hosting approximately 8.1 million guests. The eighth island, Skull Island, opened on July 13, 2016, and is themed to the King Kong franchise.
Like Universal Studios Florida next door, Islands of Adventure has not limited itself to Universal's own library, because it licensed other characters from rival studios, many of whom did not own theme parks of their own, as attractions and lands. Some of these include:
- Dr. Seuss properties (Dr. Seuss Enterprises)
- Harry Potter book and film franchise (J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment)
- Popeye (King Features Syndicate and E.C. Segar)
- Pre-2009 Marvel Comics (Marvel Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company)
Before Islands of Adventure was built, the site was originally planned as a shopping mall called Galleria Orlando. Plans were first drawn up for the mall in 1985, but it was ultimately canceled in 1990.
During the construction of the park, Universal opened a Preview Center (known as the Islands of Adventure Preview Center) at adjacent Universal Studios Florida. Opening two years before the new theme park, the Preview Center was designed to give guests a sneak peek at some of the themes and attractions for Islands of Adventure. The attraction was located in the Paradise Theater building located in the New York section of Universal Studios Florida, next to the Kongfrontation attraction. In the attraction, guests would walk through various rooms themed to the various "Islands" in the new park. The final room stated when the Islands of Adventure park would open, and showed guests Universal's future plans for the Universal Orlando Resort. The Preview Center was closed shortly after the opening of Islands of Adventure, the space that was used for the preview center is now a locker room and the queue for Revenge of the Mummy.
Islands of Adventure had a soft opening beginning March 27, 1999, during which visitors could preview the park at a discounted price while the staff conducted a technical rehearsal and worked on the "finishing touches." During this soft opening, guests were informed that attractions might open and close throughout the day without notice and that some attractions might not be open at all. Initial plans were to open the park in mid-May, but this was ultimately delayed until May 28, 1999.
After the enormous capital expenditure required to build Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, and the resort hotels, Universal sought to overtake nearby Walt Disney World in attendance. However, with the addition of the second park, new resorts, and entertainment district, the resort was named Universal Studios Escape. Essentially, it seemed that visitors were confused by the name, assuming that Islands of Adventure was a new area added to the already-existing Universal Studios Florida theme park. For the first two years, attendance did not rise as expected. By 2001, the marketing was revamped, clarifying that Islands of Adventure was indeed a second, completely separate park with new rides and attractions. Universal Studios Escape was renamed Universal Orlando Resort, and ended up being the only resort in the Orlando area to actually have an increase in attendance after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
|1990s||The first concepts for the Islands of Adventure park are conceived by MCA Recreation Services. Known as "Cartoon World" designed by Universal Parks & Resorts co-founder Robert Ward, the park would feature rides and attractions based on Marvel Comics, Dr. Seuss, and Warner Bros..|
|1993||Universal releases the blockbuster film Jurassic Park on June. Its success resulted in a Jurassic Park attraction opening in Hollywood followed by the second version at Islands of Adventure when that park opened. On September 16, Universal announces plans to add a second theme park and several resorts at its Florida complex.|
|1995||Construction is expected to begin on Islands of Adventure.|
|1997||Construction finally begins on Islands of Adventure. Shortly after, the Islands of Adventure Preview Center opened at the adjacent Universal Studios Florida, replacing The Screen Test Home Video Adventure. It allowed guests to preview all six original islands at Islands of Adventure and their rides and attractions within. The Preview Center also included Universal's plans for an expansion into Universal Orlando Resort.|
|1999||Islands of Adventure begins soft openings on March 27. Islands of Adventure is officially opened on May 28 with a grand opening ceremony, with the islands Port of Entry, Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Super Hero Island. The Islands of Adventure Preview Center at Universal Studios Florida is closed shortly afterwards.|
|2000||Flying Unicorn and Storm Force Accelatron debut in the park's The Lost Continent and Marvel Super Hero Island areas, on May and June 29, respectively. The annual GrinchMas event begins in the park's Seuss Landing area and in Universal Studios Florida in December.|
|2002||Universal's Halloween Horror Nights event is held for the first time ever at Islands of Adventure on October. Each "island" is transformed into a different twisted world: Port of Entry into Port of Evil, Seuss Landing into Boo-Ville, The Lost Continent into Island of Evil Souls, Jurassic Park into JP Extinction, Toon Lagoon into Treaks and Foons, and Marvel Super Hero Island into Island Under Siege.|
|2004||Halloween Horror Nights is held in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida in October.|
|2006||Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines is rebuilt into a new concept and officially opened as The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride in June.|
|2007||Universal Studios and Warner Bros. officially announce on May 31, the seventh island at Islands of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, at a joint press conference with an expected opening of late 2009 or early 2010.|
|2008||Flying Unicorn and the Enchanted Oak Tavern closed on July 7 to be replaced by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.|
|2009||Universal officially reveals The Wizarding World of Harry Potter's attractions on September 16, including Zonko's, Honeydukes, Owl Post, Dervish and Banges, Ollivander's Wand Shop Experience, Frog Choir, Triwizard Spirit Rally, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods, and Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff, which will replace the Dueling Dragons and Flying Unicorn rides. Oh, The Stories You'll Hear! opens on October in the park's Seuss Landing area.|
|2010||Mat Hoffman's Aggro Circus debuts on March in the park's Toon Lagoon amphitheatre, the theater's first show since Mat Hoffman's Freakin Crazy Stunt Show in 2002. Dueling Dragons is closed for its final transformation into the Dragon Challenge on May 5; Ice is renamed Hungarian Horntail and Fire is renamed Chinese Fireball. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter begins soft openings for the general public on June 1. The grand opening ceremony took place on June 16 with book series author J. K. Rowling and film series actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, James and Oliver Phelps and Bonnie Wright attending. John Williams conducted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra into many songs of the first film's score, including the film series' prologue, which he composed. The seventh island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, officially opened on June 18. The area is Islands of Adventure's biggest investment since the park's opening. After five years, Triceratops Discovery Trail is finally reopened to the public for a limited time on December 13, speculated to further remain seasonal during peak season.|
|2011||One of the roofs on Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls catches fire on January 1, causing immediate evacuation of the ride. The ride resumed normal operations on March 3, 2011. Universal announces a major refurbishment of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride on May 19, with plans to re-master the ride film in high-definition as well as to update the ride's technical system and to replace all of the projectors with new 3-D digital projectors.|
|2012||The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man re-opens after refurbishment.|
|2014||A Celebration of Harry Potter, an annual three-day weekend event celebrated on the last weekend of January, debuts at both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on January 24. The Hogwarts Express Hogsmeade station opens on July 1 as well as the King's Cross station at Universal Studios Florida, connecting park visitors to both Harry Potter-themed lands via a full-scale replica of the train that appears in the Harry Potter film series. Dr. Seuss's ABC opens on August 24 with 26 big blocks with the letters of the English alphabets in the outdoor playground.|
|2015||Skull Island: Reign of Kong is announced on May 6 as a new land/attraction based on the 2005 film King Kong, opening in the summer of 2016. On May 7, Universal announces a partnership with Nintendo to bring their characters to either Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure park. Raptor Encounter meet & greet attraction officially debuts on May 22. The Incredible Hulk roller coaster closes on September 8 to undergo refurbishment.|
|2016||The Incredible Hulk's refurbishment is completed early April with the placement of the final track piece, and on May 9, Universal revealed new changes to the coaster, which includes a new track, story line, ride vehicle and entrance. Without any press release, Skull Island: Reign of Kong officially opens as the eighth island of Islands of Adventure on July 13. The Incredible Hulk reopened on August 4.|
|2017||Dragon Challenge closed on September 5, with a new Harry Potter roller coaster experience to take its place in 2019. Permits are filed on December 28 for the new Harry Potter roller coaster under the name "Project 942" relating to "foundation designs for a future pre-engineered metal building and construction of three motor control centers."|
|2018||Construction continues on the new Harry Potter-themed coaster, described as “a new generation of thrill ride.”. The majority of track work has been completed as of August 2018.|
|2019||Construction begins for a Jurassic Park-themed roller coaster; many areas of the themed land was walled off, moved to a temporary location or removed completely. A Celebration of Harry Potter was not celebrated as Universal focused on the construction of the Harry Potter-themed roller coaster. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure was announced as the name of the roller coaster that will replace Dragon Challenge. The grand opening ceremony of the attraction took place on June 11 with Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, Rupert Grint and James and Oliver Phelps in attendance. Robbie Coltrane, who portrayed Rubeus Hagrid, was not in attendance, however, he recorded video messages for the occasion. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opened on June 13.|
|2020||Universal Parks & Resorts announced the closure of the resort effective March 15 due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Florida, initially until the end of the month, later expended to April 19, then May 31. On May 22, Universal announced the official reopening of the resort for June 5. Universal Orlando Resort reopens after almost almost three months since closing, due to the coronavirus, with safety guidelines implemented in order to prevent contagion. On September 28, after over a year of an extended construction phase going unacknowledged by the theme park, Universal Orlando officially announced the newest addition to Jurassic Park, the VelociCoaster, for a Summer 2021 opening.|
As with almost any amusement park, older attractions are sometimes removed to make way for newer ones. At Islands of Adventure, some have simply been closed with no replacement like Island Skipper Tours while others like Poseidon's Fury were changed from their initial concept to the attraction that operates today.
Islands of Adventure consists of eight themed "islands", the majority of which are based on licensed intellectual properties, with only two lands based on original Universal Studios works. They are, in clockwise order from entry: Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.
Port of Entry
Port of Entry is the park's main entrance and is home to many shops and services including Guest Services aptly named The Open Arms Hotel. The park's centerpiece, Pharos Lighthouse, is also located within Port of Entry. Each night, this real, functioning lighthouse sends out a bright beam to lead visitors to and from the park's gates. Like many theme parks using the "hub and spokes" format, this entry Island contains no rides. It has dining options including Croissant Moon Bakery™, Backwater Bar, The Grinch™ & Friends Character Breakfast, Confisco Grille™, Starbucks®, & Cinnabon®. It has such shopping options including Port Provisions™, Island Market and Export™ Candy Shoppe, DeFoto's Expedition Photography™, Port of Entry™ Christmas Shoppe, Ocean Trader Market™,& Islands of Adventure Trading Company™
Marvel Super Hero Island
Marvel Super Hero Island is based on the superhero characters featured in Marvel Comics. The area features comic-book styled architecture; many of the building interiors are created in comic book perspective, with exaggerated lines and angles. Many exteriors are painted in a special paint which appears to change color based on the angle from which it is viewed – sometimes purple, sometimes orange. The buildings are all labelled generically: "Store," "Shop," "Food," and "Comics", etc.
The area is home to a variety of dining outlets and merchandise shops. Food and beverage items can be purchased from Cafe 4 and Captain America Diner. Merchandise items can be bought from a variety of themed stores including Spider-Man Shop (The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man), Marvel Alterniverse Store, Comic Book Shop, and Oakley.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster confronts visitors as they enter the area with an attention-grabbing roar. Hulk is a high speed launched steel roller coaster which has a top speed of 67 miles per hour (108 km/h). It closed on September 8, 2015, for major refurbishments and reopened in summer 2016. Storm Force Accelatron is a teacups ride themed after X-Men. Doctor Doom's Fearfall is a pair of S&S Power Space Shot attractions themed after the Fantastic Four. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a 3-D simulator ride based on the character Spider-Man. The ride is set in New York as Spider-Man prevents The Sinister Syndicate from taking the Statue of Liberty. "Meet Spider-Man and the Marvel Super Heroes" is a meet-and-greet attraction, where guests can meet superheroes including Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops and Rogue, Spider-Man, and Captain America.
In late 2009, The Walt Disney Company (Universal's biggest competitor in the theme park market) announced that it had sought to acquire Marvel Entertainment. Universal announced that Marvel's new ownership would not affect Marvel Super Hero Island, and Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged that Disney would continue to honor any contracts that Marvel currently has with Disney competitors. In March 2012, Bob Iger revealed that Disney had begun preliminary concepts of incorporating Marvel's properties into their parks, although no major negotiations with Universal were announced. Hong Kong Disneyland has since announced an expansion to its park featuring characters from the Marvel Universe. Disney California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort in California has also since incorporated meet-and-greet Marvel characters, as well as an Avengers Super Hero Half Marathon Weekend at the resort. Both Hong Kong Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have opened Marvel attractions since the acquisition, with Iron Man Experience at the former and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! at the latter. Both attractions officially opened in 2017. Only Walt Disney World Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort are barred from having Marvel characters in its parks, due to contractual obligations to Universal and Universal's use of Marvel characters in the region. However, this only includes characters Universal is currently using, other characters in their "families" (Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc.), the villains associated with said characters, and the Marvel name. This clause has allowed Walt Disney World to have meet and greets, merchandise, attractions, and more with other Marvel characters not associated with the characters at Islands of Adventure, such as Star-Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Toon Lagoon features three main attractions. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls is a traditional log flume combined with roller coaster track based on the Dudley Do-Right character. Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges is a river rafting water ride themed after Popeye the Sailor Man saving Olive Oyl from Bluto. Me Ship, the Olive is a kids' playground built in and around Popeye's ship. The three levels of the ship all contain a variety of interactive elements including cannons and hoses which can further soak riders on the Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges ride.
Skull Island is the newest island at the park, having been opened in the summer of 2016. The area's sole attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, opened on July 13, 2016. The attraction and island mark the return of the King Kong character to the Universal Orlando Resort, after the Kongfrontation attraction closed at Universal Studios Florida in 2002 to make way for the Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride.
Jurassic Park is themed to the film series of the same name. Set after the events of the first film, the area undertakes the guise of the John Hammond's dinosaur theme park featured in the series. As such, the area is filled with the attractions and exhibits one would find in the "real" Jurassic Park, including thrill rides and discovery-based exhibits.
Jurassic Park features five main attractions:
Triceratops Discovery Trail (formerly Triceratops Encounter), which closed in 2012, was a walkthrough attraction where guests could get up close and interact with a full-scale animated replica of a Triceratops, while a "veterinary technician" performed a semi-annual exam on the Trike. The attraction featured three different Trikes – Topper, Chris, and Cera. All 3 were female. Chris was named after a member of the team that created the dinosaurs who died before the attraction opened. Spar Aerospace (now known as MD Robotics) was contracted to construct the three robotic trikes, each of which are 9 metres (30 ft) long and 3 metres (9.8 ft) high. Universal requested specific requirements for the robots including the ability to replicate breathing (through synchronised rib cage movements), sneezing, snorting, urinating and flatulating. Due to maintenance and staffing issues, the trail was closed off in 2005. However, after five years, the attraction reopened in December 2010 for seasonal operation before it was permanently closed in 2012.
Pteranodon Flyers is a steel suspended roller coaster manufactured by Setpoint USA. Riders join the queue located within Camp Jurassic. Pteranodon Flyers features three two-seater cars suspended on a track. The cars are pulled up a hill and then travel a circuit around Camp Jurassic at low speed before returning to the station. Due to the low capacity of the ride, only those who are between 36 and 56 inches (91 and 140 cm) or those with a child of that height may ride. The Universal Express pass cannot be used on this attraction due to the ride's low capacity. A similar ride, Canopy Flyer exists at Universal Studios Singapore.
Camp Jurassic is a children's play area centered around an imported 50-foot (15 m) tall Banyan tree. It features a variety of play elements including slides, nets, water cannons and fountains. Pteranodon Flyers' queue is located within Camp Jurassic.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade is themed around the Harry Potter universe, authored by J. K. Rowling. It officially opened to the public on June 18, 2010. On May 31, 2007, Universal announced that it had secured the licensing rights from Warner Bros. and Rowling to incorporate the Harry Potter franchise to Islands of Adventure. The 20-acre (81,000 m2) island features attractions, shops, and restaurants set inside such locations as the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village, Diagon Alley, and the iconic Hogwarts Castle. Ground breaking began in 2007, with the official opening scheduled for June 18, 2010, as announced on March 25, 2010. As part of the promotion for the then-upcoming area, a behind-the-scenes documentary on production of the park section is included on the Blu-ray and DVD release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
There are five main attractions in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
There is also a singing Frog Choir and a Triwizard Spirit Rally held in the town center. These events feature Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang students.
An expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, based on the Diagon Alley and London settings from the series, opened on July 8, 2014, at the adjacent Universal Studios Florida park in the former site of the park's Jaws attraction. The Hogwarts Express attraction connects the two areas of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in each park.
The Lost Continent
The Lost Continent is themed to ancient myths and legends, and is divided into two sub-sections; an ancient Arabian marketplace called Sinbad's Bazzaar, and a Grecian-Atlantis-esque Lost City. Formerly, the Lost Continent included a medieval section Merlinwood, but the majority of that area was re-themed for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Today the area contains one live-action show. This land is also home to Mythos, which is one of two full-service restaurants in the park and was voted winner of best theme park restaurant by Theme Park Insider for six successive years between 2003 and 2008.
There are three main attractions in the Lost Continent. The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad was a live-action stunt show located in the ancient Arabia section and was closed on September 15, 2018. In front of this show is The Mystic Fountain that entertains and interacts with guests.
Poseidon's Fury is an indoor special-effects show located in the Lost City section.
Seuss Landing is based on the works of author Dr. Seuss. The island features several Seuss-themed attractions, especially geared towards small children, as well as a Green Eggs and Ham Cafe and Circus McGurkus restaurant. As in the books, one of the unique characteristics of this area is that there is not a single straight line anywhere. Palm trees bent by the winds of Hurricane Andrew were even planted in the area to continue this theme.
The area is home to a variety of dining outlets and merchandise shops. Food and beverage items can be purchased from Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous (The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride), Green Eggs and Ham Cafe (opened seasonally), Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop, and Moose Juice, Goose Juice. Merchandise items can be bought from a variety of themed stores including Cats, Hats & Things (The Cat in the Hat), All The Books You Can Read (The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride), Snookers & Snookers Sweet Candy Cookers, and Mulberry Street Stores Trading Co.
Seuss Landing includes six attractions inspired by Dr. Seuss' books. The Cat in the Hat is a dark ride that takes guests through the Dr. Seuss story of the same name. The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride is a twin-tracked tour above and around Seuss Landing. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is a spinning ride with a musical riddle that will help riders escape water-spitting fish. Caro-Seuss-el is a Seuss themed carousel. Oh, The Stories You'll Hear is a stage show based on the Dr. Seuss books and characters. If I Ran the Zoo is an interactive play zone for kids.
- Seen in Port of Entry
- Woody Woodpecker
- Puss in Boots and Kitty Softpaws
- Alex, Gloria, King Julien and the Penguins from Madagascar
- Po the Panda from Kung Fu Panda
- She-Ra from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
- Seen in Marvel Super Hero Island
- Seen in Toon Lagoon
- Popeye the Sailor Man and Olive Oyl
- Betty Boop
- Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose
- Beetle Bailey and Private Zero
- Dudley Do Right and Snidely Whiplash
- Seen in Jurassic Park
- Seen in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Frog Choir
- Hogwarts Conductor
- Triwizard Spirit Rally
- Seen in Seuss Landing
Universal's Express Pass
Several attractions in Islands of Adventure allow guests to utilize Express Pass. This pass admits users to a separate line for the attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. Express Pass is not a virtual queuing service. Instead, passholders may enter the "Universal Express" line whenever they wish. The price of this pass is not included in the charge for park admission.
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