Paul, Brett and Ashley have left, so Marie and I are on our own. This allowed us the opportunity to leave the friendly confines of Walt Disney World, and head over to the relatively unfamiliar Islands of Adventure. Let the record show, I really enjoy Islands of Adventure while Marie could take it or leave it.
This particular trip to Islands of Adventure was for one reason, and one reason only: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We knew crowds had been light at Disney World and were hoping it would carry over to Islands of Adventure in some capacity. After looking at those terrifying crowds that I outlined in The Game Changer, I was prepared to wait 2 hours for Olivander’s Wand Shop and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.
We arrived shortly after the 9:00 AM park opening, and made a b-line towards The Wizarding World, and specifically Forbidden Journey. After dropping our belongings into a locker we were on our way for what was listed as a 10 minute wait. The reality is, this is the wait before you enter the castle. Once in the castle you can probably have an additional 30 minutes depending on the time of day. However our first trip saw us wait around in the pre-show rooms to take everything in while we let others pass us. I was a bit worried about fitting in the seat but I had no issues.
On to the ride itself – I won’t be the first person to review it, but I do think this is the game changer that I referenced earlier. It’s the best ride in the country. I haven’t been to a theme park overseas so I can’t speak to that, but it is thorough, uses a variety of special effects, and blends things together seamlessly. A hybrid of Sum of All Thrills, Soarin’, and Indiana Jones Adventure, it is truly an amazing achievement. What’s puzzling is that Islands of Adventure now sports the two best rides in Central Florida yet it’s entirely possible that it would rank 7th in attendance for 2010. With a few modifications, I think Islands of Adventure could exist as a Disney caliber park. What would those modifications be you ask?
- Replace The Hulk and Dragon Challenge with less thrilling, highly themed experiences
- Eliminate any spinning components from The Cat in the Hat
- Add more family friendly experiences
Back to point 2, we discussed the top 50 attractions in Orlando all the way back on Episode #005. In this episode I mentioned that The Cat in the Hat is overrated. I was turned off by the unnecessary spinning of the attraction before, and after going on it again today, it’s a higher quality attraction than any Fantasyland dark ride, and is second only to “it’s a small world” for scope and scale (I’d rather ride The Cat in the Hat).
Back to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the shops were cramped (this was expected), Flight of the Hippogriff isn’t meant to fit two adults in the same seat, and the queue for Dragon Challenge is more than acceptable despite those that criticized the changes. I also tried Pumpkin Juice and Frozen Butterbeer. The Pumpkin Juice was weird, especially on a hot August day, but the Butterbeer was quite good. It does seem that most of the flavor is in the foam, but I don’t think I could persuade them to give me a cup full of foam.
While in Islands of Adventure we also hit up Mythos for an early lunch/way of getting out of the heat. As mentioned earlier, Marie isn’t a big fan of this park, and the heat was really getting to her today. I wound up doing several things on my own while she sat in the shade.
**Speaking of Marie, I hate her computer – I just tried to post this article with a bit about Epcot but the internet connection timed out so I have to re-write it.**
We left Islands of Adventure a little after 3. We headed back to the condo before making our way into Epcot for the evening. We attempted to ride both Soarin’ and Test Track before getting dinner, but Soarin’ seemed to be having technical issues causing our wait to be about 75 minutes. We were in Concourse 2, and the A section wasn’t working. I’m not sure if there were any issues with Concourse 1, but the queue was slow regardless.
I reached out to our twitter followers in hopes of getting ideas for dinner. Brett suggested we go to Liberty Tree Tavern or Electric Umbrella. Apparently he has never been to Epcot. Listener Bladdernose suggested Germany, while Ashley suggested France. We tried France but it was booked up and we wound up at Restaurant Marrakesh. The food was good, the music and belly dancing was entertaining, but ultimately the cost was just too prohibitive. We each had an entree, no appetizer, no booze, no dessert, and we had the Tables in Wonderland card. Our check came to $65, and it most certainly wasn’t a $65 meal.
We finished our day with Illuminations and a trip to WalMart. Our last full day is tomorrow, unless of course we get caught up in a hurricane and are “forced” to stay down longer.
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