Islands of Adventure Trip Report


One of the parks I have loved and admired my whole life is Islands of Adventure, just the level of theming and awesome attractions shames other parks into hiding. I am very pleased to have visited it during my recent trip to Florida, and I hope you enjoy this trip report!

First Impressions:

Oh my gosh, how does this not beat Cedar Point every year for best theme park, this is a work of art! In my opinion, this is America’s DisneySea, because the level of theming and immersion in this park is as good as it gets!

Hidden Gems:IMG_2095

I had a really good time just walking through Seuss Landing. The creative team behind IOA really pulled out all of the stops coming up with gags and ideas for this land. Walking through there, really does make you feel like a kid again, and like you are in a world taken directly out of the works of the doctor himself.

Even the Cat in the Hat dark ride, which I wasn’t planning on riding, was just, well, fun. Even though it wasn’t the most intense, or technologically advanced, it was just a goofy, fun ride. Oh, and the fact that everything in the ride, and the ride op spiels rhymed like in a Dr. Suess story was a nice touch.


I only really have one thing to gripe about, and for me it’s a big one; the water vortex wasn’t working. 😦 Besides the grand finale, the most “blown up” moment of that attraction is the water vortex effect. I’m sad to say, that after the wheel spun out of the way, I let out a sigh of disappointment as I saw a bare blue tunnel ahead.

Hogwarts Express Construction:

One of the ground breaking attractions under construction for the WWOHP expansion, is a Hogwarts Express train linking both parks. Now, Universal is being VERY sercretive over this, as I went so far to ask cast members about the 4+ cranes onsite, and they said “I don’t know, it’s magic?” Now I could’ve gone and been a real jerk and went on about “Are you sure it isn’t a London expansion, and a Hogwarts Express linking both parks?” But we were at the front of the line for Olivanders and we were going in.

Night-Time Spectacular Construction

Okay, while not really construction, this is a story worth noting. Multiple survey markers/buoys have been placed in the lagoon, and many of us believe that Universal might be trying to cash out on the epic-ness of IOA with a night-time show. Remember this is purely rumour, because these buoys could have other purposes.

IMG_2205 IMG_2249

And now, onto the full report!

IMG_2120We started the day like most do, by making a beeline for the Wizarding World, Forbidden Journey only had a 10 minute wait, and it pained me that my family was rushing through the queue, while I was trying to enjoy the details, and figure out how effects were achieved.

Overall the attraction was great, but with all of the hype surrounding it, I felt it didn’t live up to the insanely high expectations I had going into it. I felt like to much of it felt fake, and staged, while it had no overlying story and not much interaction with characters from the films. That said, it is a great achievement for the industry, and is putting heavy pressure on rivals to step their game up.

Dragon Challenge, (Dueling Dragons,) was closed until 1 for some reason, so we waited in the longest line of the day; Olivanders. You won’t believe how many times I was asked, “What attraction is this?” and, “Where’s the ____ ride?” in that queue by some family behind us. I don’t even think they knew I was an enthusiast?

With low crowds, we didn’t really have a strategy that day, so we went to Seuss Landing and did a few rides just because we could, then backtracked to the Lost Continent. We ate at Mythos, which by the way is the only and best place you should eat at the park. The food is amazing, and atmosphere is unmatched, and believe me when I say, that every good thing you have ever heard about this place is true.

We then experienced Poseidon’s Fury, which was good, except for the fact that the water vortex wasn’t working. Even though I knew the storyline, the thrill of exploration takes over, and it ends up being a very enjoyable, and unique experience.

We actually headed to the other side of the park after that, enjoying all that Marvel Superhero Island had to offer. While a lot of people find the atmosphere cheap and tacky, I feel that it worked for the story they were trying to tell. Hulk and Dr Doom were fun, but Spiderman really stood out, not just in the land or the park, but in the industry, because in my opinion, it does a better job than Forbidden Journey of making the world inside of the attraction seem real. There were more real effects, more real sets, and it was hard to figure out the secrets to the effects, where in Potter, you can see other ride vehicles and the mechanism behind it.

We worked our way back around the lagoon, walking through Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park. We weren’t in the mood to get soaked as it was only about 15 degrees Celsius at the park.

IMG_2236We made our way back to the Wizarding World. I rode both sides of “Dragon Challenge” next, (it will always be Dueling Dragons with me.) But, unlike many enthusiasts, I actually enjoyed Fire/Chinese Fireball more, because I have just discovered, how much I LOVE the corkscrew inversion on inverts. The exaggerated motion and slight pop of air and freedom of being pushed out of your seat make it the most enjoyable inversion in my opinion. Oh, and my sister and I lit up when the ride ops accidentally dispatched both sides at the same time, we almost thought they were going to duel, until they slowed down the other lift.

We re-rode Forbidden Journey and Spiderman after Dragon Challenge, then left the park to dine in Citywalk, and that was basically it! Be sure to check out my Universal Studios Florida Trip Report, and my work in progress Busch Gardens Tampa Trip Report!

Cedar Point vs, Six Flags Great America?

I has become obvious to me, that although the Six Flags Magic Mountain-Cedar Point rivalry still stands, a new rivalry is beginning to emerge; a Cedar Point-Six Flags Great America battle. Seeing as Great America is the closest non-Cedar Fair big-ticket park, it only makes sense that they’d be going at it.

From the 2011 to 2013 seasons, both parks will have opened their own;

  • Waterpark expansions

In 2011, Six Flags Great America opened Riptide bay, the first major expansion to their relatively new waterpark. Feature 4 capsule drop slides, a Proslide Tantrum, and a surf simulator, it’s a great add-on to Hurricane Harbour.

One year later, Cedar Point built a Proslide Octopus Racer, called Dragster H2O, as well as repainting many other slides to give the area a fresh new feel.

  • Night-time show 

2012 was a big year at the Point, as not only did they open their new waterpark mat racer, and Dinosaurs Alive, but the big new attraction is their night-time experience, Luminosity; Ignite the Night! Featuring live dancers, music, and new lighting packages on Power Tower, Giant Wheel, and Millenium Force. This new show really lights up “the point”

Meanwhile, Six Flags Great America has bounced back with their similarly named night-time show, IGnight: the Grand Finale, and it promises to be an exhilarating spectacle to end a day at the park. Many descriptions say it will include some pyrotechnics, and if they cheap out on them, I know I’m not going to be the only one disappointed.

  • Wing Coasters 

Although the B&M wing coaster model only made it’s debut a couple of years ago, they’re really starting to be a hit with parks, (and guests,) as for the 2012 season, 3 parks built new wing coasters, with one of the being Six Flags Great America with X-Flight!

But, in 2013, Cedar Point will open Gatekeeper, their record breaking wing coaster. This one will take records for world’s tallest, and fastest wing coaster, and is stealing X-Flight’s trademark key-hole openings, with zero-g roll fly-overs of the front entrance.

Who knows, if this trend continues, we may end up seeing the removal of Six Flags Great America’s observation tower, in favour of a Sky Screamer? Or maybe an up charge walk-through attraction? If anything, competition stimulates growth, and come on, wing coasters, night-time spectaculars and water park expansions all in three years? Sounds like a competition to me!

Six Flags 2013 Rumours

Although the big Six Flags announcement has yet to happen, we’re already starting to see huge piles of rumours regarding what will be announced by Six Flags. Lets take a look at the latest Six Flags rumours;

Six Flags Magic Mountain

There has been lots of speculation around what SFMM has in store for 2013, an the appearance of coloured steel beams backstage has only fuelled those rumours. Although may think that the beams are for a slingshot upcharge attraction, that leaves us wondering, “What about Full Throttle?” Since the name and features were supposedly leaked at WCB, we have heard countless rumours about length, speed, inversions, but if all of these are true, Six Flags Magic Mountain may have another winner on their hands!

Six Flags New England  

One piece of news that is making the rounds, is that Six Flags New England was recently granted an exception to the normal height limit, allowing them to build a rumoured 400ft tower swing ride, similar to the other Sky Screamers at other Six Flag parks.

Six Flags Over Texas

Since the announced removal of Flashback and Texas Chute Out, we’ve heard many rumours of what may take up this plot of land next season, but one rumour that has gained traction is the introduction of a similar tower swing ride to what is planned for Six Flags New England.

Six Flags Great America

The park recently released this image via their Facebook page, proving that we will see something new at the park, but the scale of it, we don’t know. Great America could simply be getting 6 new shows like SFOG did this season.

Six Flags St. Louis

Now, this one is pure RUMOUR, because absolutely nothing about this one has been confirmed. But people are saying, (Screamscape) that the park’s shoot the chutes Tidal Wave, will removed soon to make room for something new, possibly a relocated Flashback from SFOT.

Remember, these are all just rumours, we’ll have to wait for the big Six Flags announcement to learn what the chain REALLY has in store for what is looking like a very exciting 2013.

2012 Attraction Removals

As the major announcement dates for 2013 coasters come nearer, I’m starting to see something unfortunate happen at many parks, COASTER REMOVAL. Now, I know the world we’re in, the old must make room for the new. Here are a few current, newsworthy examples.

Cedar Point

It has been long known, and disliked that Cedar Point was planning to remove Disaster Transport and the Space Spiral observation tower rides to make room for the park`s 2013 coaster Gatekeeper, but sadly those plans have come through as both rides have seen their last days of operation.

Kings Island

Yes I know, this has been commented on before here on PureCoaster, (read my other post here.) In short, Son of Beast has been SBNO since 2009, and although many enthusiasts were hoping for a refurb, it is now slated for demolition.

Six Flags Over Texas

It was just announced that Six Flags Over Texas will be closing 2 attractions on September 3rd. One of these is the park`s boomerang Flashback, which will supposedly be rotated to another Six Flags park for the 2013 season. However, the news that a second ride will be closing really saddens me, as that ride is Flashback`s neighbour Texas Chute Out, certainly a classic ride and seeing that there aren`t a lot of parachute towers out there, this ride will be missed.

Six Flags New England

Although nothing`s been confirmed, but rumour has it that Six Flags New England will be saying goodbye to their sky coaster Taz`s Daredevil Dive to make room for what will supposedly be the world`s tallest tower swing ride. The park has been granted an exception to the current height limit to build a tower swing similar to the SkyScreamers at other Six Flags parks, except the proposed height would be 400ft tall.

Despite the removals, I’m really excited to see what the amusement industry has to show us for next season. Keep checking PureCoaster for news on 2013 coasters!

2nd Photo by Six Flags Over Texas

Weird Coaster Lifts

Every roller coaster ever made needs some way to give the train momentum. Usually, that comes in the form of a drop. But, drops require height, and how do coaster trains reach that height? With lift hills! But, a bunch of manufacturers have said to themselves, “Does it have to be a hill” and have created some wicked ways of lifing riders to that first drop. Lets take a look, at some weird lifts:

Zamperla Volare Rotating Lift

One odd lift system I’ve encountered in my trips to theme parks is the spiral lift found on Zamperla’s Volare flying coaster. Instead of a linear chain lift, a central rotating structure makes contact with your car and pushes you up the spiral track.

Max RPM Ferris Wheel Lift

This lift hill, found at the shuttered Hard Rock Park/Freestyle Music Park, features a one-of-a-kind “ferris wheel lift.” Trains exit the station and enter their own little section of the wheel, then it rotates so you move around the centre and end up at the top. Once at the top, you are pushed forward out onto the running course of the coaster.

G-Force Loop Lift

I don’t think it gets any weirder than inverting ON the lift. On the Maurer Sohne created G-Force at Drayton Manor, riders are puled up the first half at the loop, and once at the top, you are set free from the lift and you finish the loop and go through the rest of the coaster’s twisted layout.

Which lift hill do you like?

First and Third Photo Credit RCDB

New for 2013 Wooden Coasters

Over the past month or so, we’ve heard plenty of rumours of where we’ll see new coasters for next year. But some coasters that have become very evident are some new wooden coasters. Lets take a look at some of the new RMC and GCI projects for next season;

The first, and by far the most obvious one is the Rocky Mountain Coasters project at Silver Dollar City. The rumoured name for this coaster is the Outlaw, as hinted to in the attraction’s teaser site: From what we can see so far, this ride looks like the New Texas Giant’s successor, with a super steep drop, intense banking, and the one thing that’s got everybody talking: the zero-g roll.

What was originally looking like an extreme over-banked curve, is now looking like the first inversion on a wooden roller coaster since Son of Beast’s loop! Plus, this particular inversion continues after inverting, because it has a pullout in the same rolling fashion!

I don’t know why the park doesn’t just announce the ride officially, because the gargantuan lift structure is visible from the nearby steam train. But, on the upside, it gives us websites easy access to construction photos! This coaster is definitely one to watch!

On a lesser note, when Cedar Fair opted out of selling California’s Great America, they promised, and we all knew that they would be adding new rides and roller coasters to replace the ones that were removed in the past decade. So, for the 2013 season, it looks like they’re finally pulling the trigger on the planned GCI wooden coaster! The planned coaster would be located at the park’s entrance, and wrap around the Star Tower observation ride. The layout sort of reminds me of the recent Wodan at Europa Park.

We’ve already seen land clearing for this ride, plus some rather obvious signs, so we can pretty much guarantee seeing this ride open next year!

Check out the leaked layout, and I think that the first drop curving around the observation tower will create some great photos in the future! (Image by Screamscape)

Finally, Six Flags recently announce that the Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas will be closing on August 5. Is this leading to a Iron Horse treatment to turn this ageing woody into the Rattler: Reborn? Hopefully this will reopen with a new track profile next year because the New Teas Giant transformation looks fantastic, and I can’t wait to see what RMC might have in store for the Rattler, especially with it’s unique terrain.

That’s all we know about wooden coasters for next year, so far. So far, which project sounds the most intriguing?

1st and 2nd Photos by Theme Park Review

Universal Orlando Resort’s Current Projects

After just opening their New-for-2012 offerings, Universal Orlando Resort has already started on projects for the coming seasons! Lets take a look at what Uni.’s got planned for the future;

Soundstage 44/Transformers

Quite recently, Universal has demolished the vacant Soundstage 44. Due to the rapid demolition, and the recent openings of the famed Transformers rides in Hollywood and Singapore, many think we will see another incarnation of the Transformers ride be built at Universal Studios Florida. Based on aerial imaging, the show building for Transformers would fit, however they would need to dig deeper before putting in the foundation due to the three levels in the current ride.

More Potter?

Remember when Universal announced that they would be greatly expanding the current Wizarding World? Well, that expansion may be coming in the form of a Diagon Alley/London area taking the place of Jaws. Many blueprints and permits have been leaked that suggest this will happen. An additional note on this project is that we may see a Hogwarts Express link the two parks, as one station would be in Hogsmeade at IOA, and another would be in “London” at USF. We’ll just have to wait to see what will become of the Jaws wasteland.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Out of all of these projects, the only one we can confirm for sure is Universal Orlando Resort’s newest resort hotel; Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This will be UOR’s fourth resort hotel, and it has a planned opening date of sometime in 2014.

The theming for Cabana Bay Beach Resort

….will evoke the driving vacations so many Americans grew up enjoying with their families – spending time at sweeping motor courts just off the highway, where families relaxed and played after a long day’s drive. The new hotel’s hip, vintage look will be accented with bold design, dramatic, clean lines, bright, period colors and touches of neon.

The released concept art for the suites reflect the theme;

Presumably, this resort will be built at the intersection of Turkey Lake Road, and Hollywood Way, across from Islands of Adventure, (in the orange highlighted area.)

The resort will feature 1800 rooms; 900 standard rooms, and curiously, 900 family suites. Based on the fact that they say this resort will feature “900 family suites” I think that this is meant to be a direct competitor to Walt Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort. It should be noted that this will presumably be the cheapest hotel on property for Universal, especially if they intend to compete head-to-head with Disney’s value class of hotels.

All three of these projects seem interesting to me, and I’m really excited to continue to watch these projects grow and develop.  Disney’s got some tough competition!

First Photo Credit Inside the Magic

Universal’s Potter Madness

Back in 2007, Universal announced that they would be building a the first new “island” at Islands of Adventure. That island came in the form of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Now Universal took this very seriously, and they worked tirelessly to make this accurately themed, even going so far as to collaborate with the book series author J.K. Rowling. The end result, is by far the new gold standard for theme park lands and attractions. In fact, the land’s biggest attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is often regarded as the world’s best dark ride, surpassing IOA’s own Amazing Adventures of Spiderman.

Now, in a surprising twist, Universal has announced the creation of two more Wizarding Worlds at Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Studios Japan. Both will feature the same high levels of immersion as the one in Orlando, and the famous Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction. The Japan version will be the first to open, because no attractions need to be removed like in Hollywood due to space constraints.

Another point I find interesting is that not only does Universal plan on building these two new Wizarding Worlds, but greatly expanding the current one in Orlando. Rumours point towards this expansion actually linking Universal’s 2 Orlando parks via a Hogwarts Express train attraction that would go backstage from the existing Wizarding World to the supposedly planned Diagon Alley section replacing Jaws in the Studio park.

Is Universal going TOO far with Harry Potter? Now, I understand that it produces massive cash for them, but if it’s in every single Universal park, then it won’t be special. Like Jurassic Park or Revenge of the Mummy, they are just cookie cutter rides placed in each park, even the brand new park in Singapore! If Universal continues at this rate, we may see the Wizarding World being built into new parks like the ones planned in South Korea, and Russia.

Personally, as long as there is some differences between each Wiz. World, I’m okay with it. Like, if the one in Hollywood ends up being the exact same as the one in Orlando, (minus the dueling roller coaster,) I’ll be pretty mad! We’ll just have to see what Universal is going to do with this amazing concept.

Manta vs Manta

The second interpretation of the Manta coaster concept just opened at SeaWorld San Diego, and seeing as they are so different, I think it’s just about appropriate to compare them on PureCoaster. Now, I’m going to compare them in three subtopics before the poll, just so we can learn a little about these coaster cousins.

Type of Coaster:

The original Manta at SeaWorld Orlando is a flying coaster by B&M, meanwhile the new Manta at SeaWorld San Diego is a MACK launch coaster. These coasters couldn’t be more different when it comes to classification, and layout. In Orlando, you see four inversions, one of which is a gargantuan pretzel loop. On the other hand, in San Diego it’s very low to the ground with lots of tight high speed curves.


What is to me the most iconic thing about these coasters is the splashdown. The one in Orlando is very grand, and very showy, meanwhile the new one in San Diego is more subtle, and likewise more realistic. Both are very unique effects that have become a sort of trade mark for SeaWorld.


Seeing as they are different makes of coaster by different manufacturers, the trains for these coasters are quite different. The stylized B&M flying coaster trains in Orlando have a grand manta ray at the front of each train, plus cute smaller mantas at the front of each car, and on the MACK mega coaster trains in San Diego, they have a beautiful, gigantic manta at the front.

Personally, I think the original Manta in Orlando better mimics the sensation of being a manta, but due to height restrictions in San Diego they were forced to modify the concept, and in my opinion, they got a less than spectacular result. My vote is to the flying coaster at SeaWorld Orlando.

Photos by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment

Stand Up Coasters, a lost generation.

Stand up coasters, you all know them. Back in the day, they were a top innovation with roller coasters, being able to ride standing up added another element of thrill to a ride. But sadly, now stand-up coasters seem disregarded and neglected. Not the individual coasters, but the overall design. It’s been over a decade since a new stand up coaster opened, and I’m starting to think we might never see a new one again. Lets take a look and learn a little bit about this classic class of forgotten coasters.

Three coaster manufacturers produced this class of coaster, and between B&M, Intamin, and Togo, 16 of these classic coasters were made, and 13 are still operating.

The stand up coaster concept was first unveiled to the world by now defunct Togo in 1984, with the also now defunct King Cobra at Kings Island. Then, in 1986, Intamin entered the market with Shockwave at Six Flags Magic Mountain, (later “rotated” to Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Astroworld, and currently in storage at Darien Lake.) But this was still before the famed B&M was formed. After Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard broke away from Intamin, they created Iron Wolf at Six Flags Great America, (now located at Six Flags America under the name Apocalypse.)

Since each manufacturer made their debut in the market, I’d have to say B&M’s stand ups gained the most traction, and once they had hit their stride, they produced great coasters such as Chang, (now Green Lantern,) and Riddler’s Revenge. The last stand-up coaster ever built was also a B&M, and that was the 1999 Georgia Scorcher, at Six Flags Over Georgia, in 1999, over 10 years ago!

Nobody really knows why these coasters are no longer constructed. Maybe the manufacturers decided to move on, or maybe it was simply because every park that wanted one, already had one. However, despite the lack of new construction, Six Flags, not one to let a coaster go, is recycling their coasters with their re-born ride rotation program. These rides may be down, but they’re not out. Six Flags has relocated Kentucky Kingdom’s Chang to Six Flags Great Adventure where it’s now known as Green Lantern, additionally, this season Six Flags Great America’s classic Iron Wolf will be reborn as Apocalypse at Six Flags America. I’m glad to see these coasters aren’t being sold for scrap, as I find most of the more modern ones to be quite enjoyable!

In short, stand up coasters are a lost generation of coasters, and we very well may never see a new one built. So lets take the time to appreciate the ones we have before they go, like the classic quote says,

You don’t know what you have, until it’s gone.

Rank the 2012 Mega Coasters

Now that they’re all had the chance to open, I think it’s about time that we put 2012’s literally biggest coasters up together in a CoasterPoll. Yes you heard me right, I’m talking about the MEGA coasters. Now this year, we saw not one, or two, but three new mega coasters open to the world. Now, I’ve heard nothing but good things about all of these coasters, but I think it’s nessecary to talk about all of them.

First, we have Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland. Now, this is a coaster that we at PureCoaster have consistently covered. In short, it’s speed, speed, speed! Every element is executed with speed and grace. To read about the world’s fourth giga coaster, check out our previous post:

Next up, Skyrush at Hershey Park. Now based on Hershey Park’s history with Intamin, it’s no surprise that Intamin built this coaster instead of B&M. The layout for this ride is spectacular, and many are calling it the successor to i305. Airtime, high speed/high g curves, this coaster has a bit of everything!

Finally Shambhala, B&M’s second mega coaster for 2012.

Another instant classic B&M Hyper, and it has plenty of airtime, a cool splashdown element and that unique turn-around element, (I don’t know what else to call it.)

2nd Photo Credit, 3rd Photo Credit

What is Cedar Point Up To for 2013?

Cedar Point hasn’t put in a new coaster since Maverick in 2007, and every year since then, rumors have circulated saying that Cedar Point would be building a new coaster for the upcoming season. Earlier this year, we learned that Cedar Point would be removing Wildcat from the park, in order to encorperate an “expansion to Celebration Plaza.” But, in a recent turn of events, we may be seeing that new rumored coaster come to fruition very soon. Recently, we’ve learned from the Sandusky Register that the park plans on investing a monumental $25 million on a record-breaking, 170ft tall B&M wing coaster, and restructuring the entrance.

However, with this news came a bit of sadness for some, (and me,) as the memo by Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet to Cedar Point’s board of directors clearly states,

Disaster Transport and the Space Spiral both would have to come down if the site plan currently under consideration is chosen.

Now, this is a bit of a “deja vu” for me as the park did in fact remove White Water Landing to build Maverick, but surely the park can find a way around removing such classic rides like Disaster Transport, (arguably the park’s only dark ride,) and the Space Spiral observation tower!

Just the other day, the Facebook page Keep space spiral at cedar point posted this rendering of a possible layout for the new wing coaster, and if this really is the layout, I can see that it WILL impact the park’s entrance like Leviathan does at Canada’s Wonderland, but oddly it doesn’t seem to impact Space Spiral at all, and yet it it slotted for removal.

Additionally,  if the entrance were to be pushed over towards the beach, both Disaster Transport and Space Spiral could be kept! Or, if the layout were to change just a little, Space Spiral’s location could be used as the entrance, and the observation tower could just be relocated like Ocean Motion was for Windseeker!

So in short, the park already removed Wildcat, dropping the park’s coaster count to 16, and now they’re planning to remove Disaster Transport AND Space Spiral, all for rumored coaster? Maybe we’ll see more than this wing coaster next year? Either way, something weird is in the works at Cedar Point for 2013.

One final point I have to make is that many, (like me,) are opposed to the removal of Space Spiral and Disaster Transport from Cedar Point, so there are a bunch of Facebook pages dedicated to raising awareness of the situation! Check out Save-Disaster-Transport-and-Space-Spiral-at-Cedar-Point on Facebook right now!!!