Interesting facts about Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando Florida
Universal`s Islands of Adventure is a theme park located in Orlando, Florida. It opened May 28, 1999 as part of an expansion that, along with CityWalk Entertainment District, the Portofino Bay Hotel, and Hard Rock hotel, converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort. The park`s overall theme is that of a journey of exploration, where guests depart from a main port to visit six islands, each having its own distinct theme, but all emphasizing adventure. On June 18, 2010, the seventh island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (themed to the popular Harry Potter franchise) officially opened at the park, its largest investment since opening. In 2009, Islands of Adventure hosted approximately 4.5 million guests, ranking it #9 among United States parks.
Like Universal Studios Florida next door, Islands of Adventure has not limited itself to Universal`s own library. The park has licenced other characters from rival studios, many of whom did not operate theme parks themselves. Some of these include The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss Enterprises), Harry Potter (Warner Bros.), Dudley Do-Right (Jay Ward Productions), Popeye the Sailor Man (Paramount Pictures) and Spider-Man (Marvel Comics, part of The Walt Disney Company).
During the construction of the park, Universal opened a Preview Center (known as the Islands of Adventure Preview Center) at their adjacent Florida theme park. Opening 2 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.
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 re-vamped, 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.
 Timeline of notable events
* 1994: The first concepts for the Islands of Adventure park, including a Silver Surfer themed roller coaster and a Batman themed section, are conceived by MCA Planning and Development.
* 1996: Islands of Adventure is officially announced, with a planned opening date of either 1998 or 1999.
* 1997: The attraction Islands of Adventure Preview Center opens at the Universal Studios Florida studio park, replacing The Screen Test Home Video Adventure. It is meant to serve as a preview for the IOA park, and includes previews of all six original islands at the park and their rides and attractions within. The preview center also includes Universal`s plans for an expansion into Universal Orlando Resort.
* 1999, March 27: Islands of Adventure begins soft openings.
* 1999, May 28: Islands of Adventure is officially opened 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, May & June 29: Flying Unicorn and Storm Force Accelatron debut in the park`s The Lost Continent and Marvel Super Hero Island areas, respectively.
* 2000, December: The annual GrinchMas event begins in the park`s Seuss Landing area.
* 2001: Universal delays the opening of Sylvester McMonkey McBean`s Very Unusual Driving Machines, which they had originally intended to open with the park, indefinitely due to technical and safety issues, as well as the ride`s manufacturer going bankrupt.
* 2002: Mat Hoffman`s Freakin Crazy Stunt Show opens in the park`s Toon Lagoon amphitheatre. The Toon Lagoon Rock N` Roll Bash is moved outside.
* 2002: Island Skipper Tours is closed.
* 2002, October: Universal`s Halloween Horror Nights event is held for the first time ever at Islands of Adventure. 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: Mat Hoffman`s Freakin Crazy Stunt Show is closed.
* 2004, October: Halloween Horror Nights is held in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
* 2005: Triceratops Discovery Trail, also known as Triceratops Encounter, is closed down due to maintenance and staffing issues, and is left abandoned.
* 2006, June: 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.
* 2007, May 31: Universal Studios and Warner Bros officially announce Islands of Adventure`s seventh island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, at a joint press conference, with an expected opening of late 2009 or early 2010.
* 2008, July 7: The Flying Unicorn, as well as the Enchanted Oak Tavern, are both closed due to Harry Potter construction.
* 2009, September 16: Universal officially reveals the Wizarding World`s attractions, including Zonko`s, Honeydukes, Owl Post, Dervish and Banges, Ollivander`s Wand Shop Experience, Frog Choir, Triwizard Spirit Rally, Flight of the Hippogriff, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Filch`s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and Dragon Challenge, which will replace the then-still operating Dueling Dragons rides.
* 2009, October: Oh, The Stories You`ll Hear! opens in the park`s Seuss Landing area.
* 2010, March: Mat Hoffman`s Aggro Circus debuts in the park`s Toon Lagoon amphitheatre, the theater`s first show since Mat Hoffman`s Freakin Crazy Stunt Show in 2002.
* 2010, May 5: Dueling Dragons is closed for its final transformation into Dragon Challenge. Ice is re-named Hungarian Horntail and Fire is re-named Chinese Fireball.
* 2010, June 1: The Wizarding World begins soft openings for the general public.
* 2010, June 18: The seventh island, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is officially opened with a grand opening ceremony. The area is Islands of Adventure`s biggest investment since the park`s opening.
* 2010, December 13: After five years, Triceratops Discovery Trail is finally reopened to the public for a limited time, speculated to further remain seasonal during peak season.
* 2011, January 1: One of the roofs on Dudley Do-Right`s Ripsaw Falls catches fire, causing immediate evacuation of the ride and an unknown return.
* 2011, March 3: Dudley Do-Right`s Ripsaw Falls re-opens for the first time since the fire in January.
 Former attractions
Main article: List of former Islands of Adventure attractions
As with almost any amusement park, older attractions are sometimes removed to make way for newer ones. Some will simply close, not to be replaced, while others will be changed from their initial concepts, sometimes significantly.
 Closed attractions
* Island Skipper Tours (1999–2002), a transportation service using one of three uniquely-themed water taxis to shuttle passengers between Port of Entry, Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon.
* Enchanted Oak Tavern (1999–2008), a restaurant themed as an oak that was once part of the defunct Merlin Woods of The Lost Continent, where the oak was in the shape of Merlin`s face. To make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Enchanted Oak Tavern was demolished and closed on the same day the Flying Unicorn closed. The Three Broomsticks restaurant is now located on this site.
 Revised attractions
Poseidon`s Fury, Lost Continent`s special effects show, originally had a different storyline. In this first version, an old tour guide known as The Keeper wove a tale about the great lost city of Atlantis and an epic battle between Zeus and Poseidon. The Keeper led guests to the Temple of Poseidon, where the evil god appeared and welcomed guests to their new permanent home. The Keeper revealed himself to be Zeus in disguise and, after an effects-laden battle, defeated Poseidon. Based on guest polling data, Universal decided to revise the attraction story. Now, guests meet Taylor, a nerdy archaeologist, who guides them through the attraction, albeit slightly differently. Upon reaching the lost city, the party is captured by Darkanon, a new evil god-like being. Fortunately, Poseidon, a benevolent god in this version, comes to the guests` rescue thanks to Taylor`s assistance and defeats Darkanon.
While Poseidon`s Fury`s plot has changed, its arsenal of special effects has remained intact. The battles use water projection screens, fire and water effects, and high-speed set-changing technology.
Over in Toon Lagoon, the island`s show arena has hosted numerous presentations. Originally, it featured a live show with the various cartoon characters of Toon Lagoon. It was replaced in 2002 by a Mat Hoffman-themed BMX stunt show. It has also hosted Bill and Ted`s Excellent Halloween Adventure (during Halloween Horror Nights). It was the home studio of NBC`s iVillage Live television show until June 29, 2007. In March 2010, a show titled "Matt Hoffman`s Aggro Circus" featuring BMX bike tricks started.
The Lost Continent once had a third section, known as Merlinwood, which held the Flying Unicorn and Dueling Dragons coasters. This area has been demolished for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with its attractions incorporated into the Harry Potter universe as Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge.
 Altered concepts
Seuss Landing was slated to open with `Sylvester McMonkey McBean`s Very Unusual Driving Machines`, a track-based aerial ride where guests would drive individual cars around the elevated track. However, it was pushed back due to contractual disputes and safety issues. The bankruptcy of the ride`s original manufacturer postponed its opening indefinitely. In 2006, the track was rebuilt in a new format and finally opened as the `High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride.`
Islands of Adventure consists of seven themed "islands," only one of which utilizes movie tie-ins with Universal Pictures. They are, in clockwise order from entry, Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.
 Port of Entry
The Pharos Lighthouse marks the park`s entrance.
Port of Entry is the park`s main entrance and is home to many shops and services, including Guest Relations. The park`s iconic 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 popularized by Disneyland, this entry Island contains no rides, and is primarily noted for its restaurants and shops. Its main features are the Confisco Grille restaurant (one of two full-service restaurants in the Park) and the Islands of Adventure Trading Company, the park`s primary gift shop. An attraction information board is located near the shore of the lagoon.
* Islands of Adventure Trading Company
* Ocean Trader Market
* DeFoto`s Expedition Photography
* Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe
* Island Market and Export Candy Shoppe
* Port Provisions
* Confisco Grille
* Croissant Moon Bakery
* Arctic Express
 Marvel Super Hero Island
Marvel Super Hero Island has rides inspired by Marvel comic books, and focuses primarily on thrilling rides. The island features such Marvel characters as Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and some villains such as Doctor Doom, M.O.D.O.K., Hobgoblin, and Kingpin. 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 Robert Iger acknowledged that Disney would continue to honor any contracts that Marvel currently has with Disney competitors.
Marvel Super Hero Island is notable for its unique, comic-book styled architecture. Many of the building interiors are created in what could be considered comic book perspective, with exaggerated lines and angles. Meanwhile, 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. Perhaps most notably, the buildings are all labelled generically, as one would expect the buildings in the background of a comic panel to be: "Store," "Shop," "Food," and "Comics," instead of detailed names and logos.
 Rides and attractions
* Incredible Hulk Coaster,High Speed roller coaster with speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) Opened: 1999
* The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, a 3-D simulator ride set in New York. Opened: 1999
* Doctor Doom`s Fearfall, a pair of Space Shot towers from S&S Power. Opened: 1999
* Storm Force Accelatron, a faster version of the traditional "teacup" ride manufactured by Mack Rides. Opened: 2000
* Meet Spider-Man and the Marvel Super Heroes, a super hero meet and greet attraction.
* Spider-Man Shop (The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man)
* Marvel Alterniverse Store
* Comic Book Shop
* Cafe 4
* Captain America Diner
 Toon Lagoon
Toon Lagoon is geared toward both kids and adults, and is based on the characters of King Features Syndicate and Jay Ward. The area focuses on water-based rides (hence the name) and features 3 counter-service restaurants: Comic Strip Cafe (offering Italian & Chinese Cuisine, Burgers & Dogs, and Fried Chicken & Fish), Blondies (home of the famous Dagwood), and Wimpy`s (only open during peak seasons) & All On Mulberry Street.
The Island is rigged with dozens of water props that squirt at visitors and can be interacted with if so desired. In addition, visitors have the option of further soaking those who are riding on board water rides by squirting them with water guns, activating water cannons, and more.
 Rides and attractions
* Dudley Do-Right`s Ripsaw Falls, a traditional log flume combined with roller coaster track based on the old cartoon & movie Dudley Do-Right.
* Popeye and Bluto`s Bilge-Rat Barges, a river rapids ride.
* Me Ship, the Olive, a kids` playground built around and in Popeye`s ship.
* Mat Hoffman`s Aggro Circus, a live action stunt show at the Toon Lagoon Theater.
* Gasoline Alley
* Betty Boop Store
* Toon Extra
* Cyber Connect Internet Access
* Comic Strip Cafe
* Cathy`s Ice Cream
* Blondie`s: Home of the Dagwood
* Wimpy`s (Popeye and Bluto`s Bilge-Rat Barges)
 Jurassic Park
Set just after the time of the Jurassic Park movie. The area has some thrilling rides and has discovery-based exhibits. The characters of John Hammond and Ian Malcom even put in an appearance from time to time. The Island takes place under the guise of the "real" Jurassic Park: a theme park / zoological park focused on dinosaurs. As such, the area is filled with the attractions and exhibits one would find in the "real" Jurassic Park.
 Rides and attractions
* Jurassic Park River Adventure, a highly-themed "water-based attraction" through the various dinosaur paddocks of Jurassic Park, culminating in an 85 feet (26 m) drop away from the jaws of a menacing T-Rex. Opened: 1999
* Pteranodon Flyers, a children`s low-speed, suspended roller coaster which takes 2 riders at a time around the sky above Camp Jurassic.
* Camp Jurassic, a children`s play area centered around an imported 50-foot (15 m) Banyan tree.
* Jurassic Park Discovery Center, a replicated (but not entirely duplicated) version of the Visitor Center from the film. Features various hands-on exhibits aimed mostly at kids, including a trivia game show in which guests compete, hatching Velociraptor eggs, and other educational, interactive exhibits.
* Triceratops Encounter/Triceratops Discovery Trail (name changed in 2003), where guests can get up close and interact with a full-scale animated replica of a Triceratops, while a "veterinary technician" performs a semi-annual exam on the Trike. The attraction actually features three different Trikes- Topper, Chris, and Cera. All 3 are female. Chris was named after a member of the team that created the dinosaurs who died before the attraction opened. Due to maintenance and staffing issues, the trail was closed off in 2005. But after a total of five years, the attraction reopened in December 2010 and it is now a seasonal attraction.
* Dinostore (Jurassic Park Discovery Center)
* Jurassic Outfitters (Jurassic Park River Adventure)
* Pizza Predattoria (Jurassic Park Discovery Center)
* The Burger Digs (Jurassic Park Discovery Center)
* Thunder Falls Terrace (Jurassic Park River Adventure)
* The Watering Hole
 The Lost Continent
This island is themed to ancient myths and legends, and is divided into two smaller sections. The first section is ancient Arabian marketplace called "Sinbad`s Bazzaar", while the second is mythological Greecian-Atlantis-style "Lost City". Formerly, the Lost Continent included a medieval section, Merlinwood, but much of that area was rethemed for the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Today the area contains two live-action shows. This land is also home to Mythos, winner of best theme park restaurant several times by Theme Park Insider, and one of two full-service restaurants in the park.
 Rides and attractions
* The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, a live-action stunt show located in the ancient Arabia section.
* Poseidon`s Fury, an indoor special-effects show located in the mythological Greece section.
* The Mystic Fountain, a fountain (located in the front of The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad show) that entertains and interacts with guests.
* Treasures of Poseidon (Poseidon`s Fury)
* The Coin Mint
* The Pearl Factory
* Historic Families - Heraldry
* Star Souls - Psychic Reading
* Mythos Restaurant (Poseidon`s Fury)
* The Frozen Desert
* Fire Eater`s Grill
 Seuss Landing
Seuss Landing is specially geared towards small children and is based on the works of author Dr. Seuss. It has several Seuss-themed attractions. There is also a Green Eggs and Ham Cafe and Circus McGurkus restaurant. One of the unique characteristics of this area is, like in the books, there is not a single straight line anywhere. Palm trees, curved by the winds of Hurricane Andrew, were even installed in the area to continue this theming.
 Rides and attractions
* Caro-Seuss-el, a carousel
* The Cat in the Hat, a modern dark ride based on the book.
* If I Ran the Zoo, an interactive play zone for kids
* One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, a spinning ride with a musical riddle that will help riders escape water-spitting fish.
* The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, a twin-track tour above and around Seuss Landing.
* Oh, The Stories You`ll Hear, a show based on the Dr. Seuss Books.
* 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
* Mulberry Street Stores Trading Co
* Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous (The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride)
* Green Eggs and Ham Cafe (Closed till further notice)
* Hop On Pop Ice Cream Shop
* Moose Juice, Goose Juice
 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Main article: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Officially opened to the public on June 18, 2010. On May 31, 2007, Universal Orlando announced that it had secured the rights from Warner Bros. and from British author J. K. Rowling to bring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 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 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.
 Rides and attractions
* Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the section`s signature attraction, is located inside Hogwarts Castle and takes guests through scenes inspired by the Potter books and films.
* Dragon Challenge, the world`s first dueling inverted roller coasters. Previously known as Dueling Dragons.
* Flight of the Hippogriff, a Vekoma junior roller coaster. Formerly known as the Flying Unicorn.
* Ollivanders, an interactive experience based on the Harry Potter location Ollivanders.
* Owl Post
* Dervish and Banges
* Filch`s Emporium of Confiscated Goods (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey)
"The Three Broomsticks Inn," a restaurant with typical British dishes and "The Hog`s Head Pub" where you can sip on spirits and drinks inspired by those in the Harry Potter stories.
 Universal Express Plus
Universal Express Plus.
Several attractions in Islands of Adventure allow guests to utilize the "Universal Express Plus" Pass. This pass admits users to a separate line for the attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. Universal Express Plus is not a virtual queuing service, where users receive a specific time to return to the priority line. Instead, passholders may enter the Express Plus line whenever they wish.
Universal Express Plus is not included in park admission. There are a limited number of passes available each day and they are often sold out in advance. The cost of the pass varies based on what parks are selected and even what day is selected, with higher prices charged on peak operating days during the year.
Purchasers of the Express Plus pass may use the shorter priority line once per enabled attraction. Guests of Universal`s three on-site resorts— the Hard Rock Hotel, the Royal Pacific Resort, and the Portofino Bay Hotel—may show their room keys for unlimited uses of the faster line for each ride. Also, guests who hold Universal Orlando`s Premier Annual Pass receive the same unlimited privilege extended to hotel guests after 4 pm.
 See also
* List of attractions at Islands of Adventure
* Incidents at Universal parks
1. ^ "TEA/ERA Theme Park Attendance Report 2009". www.themeit.com. 2010-04-26. http://www.aecom.com/deployedfiles/Internet/Capabilities/2009%20Theme%20Index%20Final%20042710_for%20screen.pdf. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
2. ^ futureboy107. "Islands of adventure Preview Center". Video. YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcBNYR79sm0. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
3. ^ "Universal To Offer Soft Opening For Islands Of Adventure". 1999-03-23. http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/archives/1999/stories/032399_03.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
4. ^ "Islands Of Adventure Technical Rehearsal May Continue". 1999-05-04. http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/archives/1999/stories/050499_02.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
5. ^ "Islands of Adventure Announces Grand Opening Date". 1999-05-13. http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/archives/1999/stories/051399_02.shtml. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
6. ^ "Universal Orlando Resort History". http://universalstudios.orlandovacation.com/articles/history-universal.php.
7. ^ Hettema, Philip D.; Mason; William D (1999-01-12). "Patent for the "Set transformation effect" used in Poseidon`s Fury". Universal City Studios, Inc.. United States Patent Office. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=6074307. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
8. ^ Brady McDonald (2009-08-31). "How the Disney-Marvel deal affects Universal Studios theme parks" (PDF). The Los Angeles Times. http://travel.latimes.com/daily-deal-blog/index.php/disney-marvel-theme--5246/. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
9. ^ Majendie, Paul (2007-05-31). "All aboard for the Harry Potter rollercoaster". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2007-06-02. http://web.archive.org/web/20070602182622/http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070531/ts_nm/arts_potter_dc_2. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
10. ^ http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/first_look_uo.html[dead link]
11. ^ a b c Travis Reed (2009-09-15). "Universal reveals details of new Harry Potter park". Associated Press. http://www.ajc.com/travel/southeast/universal-reveals-details-of-138800.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
12. ^ Express Plus Passes http://www.universalorlando.com/tic_express.html
13. ^ Premier Annual Passes http://www.universalorlando.com/annualpass/ap_prem.php.html