After spending the previous four days around the Walt Disney World Resort and it's parks, our group was ready to move on to the other major theme park destination of Central Florida, Universal. It seemed upon entry into City Walk that it was going to be far busier at Universal than it was at the Disney Parks because of the large crowds weaving through the queue for temperature screening and security, but then I remembered that this was for everyone heading into City Walk and both theme parks. Upon entry into the parks, the crowds felt more on par with the Disney Parks. The first day of the Universal portion of the celebration was spent at Islands of Adventure, which to this day remains one of my favorite theme parks to visit.
To kick things off, we decided to go ahead and wait for a ride on Hagrid's Mystical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Because of the desire to help with distancing, they used part of the former Sinbad show theater for the queue, which was interesting and sad at the same time because of the show ending a while ago, and now you just see the set gathering dust. While I totally get the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise, and the success the Wizarding Worlds have had since opening at Universal, there is a part of me that will always miss the old Lost Continent as it originally was.
That being said, even if part of that missing the old lost continent includes missing the old Dueling Dragons, I still find that Hagrid's was a worthy replacement. It may not be the most thrilling coaster, but it really is such a cool ride, from the low to the ground, zig-zagging layout, to the incredible animatronics that are placed along the course. Seeing how Universal created this makes me excited for a project in the works that we'll get to in a bit.
After Hagrid's, we took a ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which has been a personal favorite ever since it opened. I'm really hopeful that other parks will look into attractions similar to it that can give an incredibly immersive experience.
So if Hagrid's is any indication of what Universal can do for future roller coasters, then the new coaster being built in the Jurassic Park area should be a huge hit! It looks phenomenal based on the layout, and seeing some of the more unique elements that Intamin is putting into this coaster makes me think it will really stand out from other coasters in Central Florida. I also love the way they have the scenery adding to the close encounters you'll experience while riding. The interaction of the ride with the bridge will also be really neat to see when that becomes available again. I imagine it'll be a very popular photo spot! Can't wait to come back to give this ride a spin in the future!
After checking out some of the progress made on the new coaster. We took a ride on Kong, which I still like, but I have to admit that the plastic shields they had up for COVID protection made it a bit harder to see on the ride because of glare and a sort of distorting that would happen from the shields and your 3D glasses. While I totally get that this is done to try and keep visitors as safe as possible, it'll be nice when the pandemic is finally over and such devices will no longer be needed.
We also took a spin on Spiderman and Hulk, which are also personal favorites. I still dig the new soundtrack that came with the rebuild of Incredible Hulk, although the coaster seems to be working on getting back to the similarly rough experience that the previous version had before it was replaced. I kind of which they could have utilized B&M's newer style restraints for this coaster, although I may be in the minority on that one as the general consensus seems to be negative toward the vest style restraints.
Before we left for the day, we saw that Hagrid's line wasn't too bad (around 30-40 minutes if I recall correctly), and thus decided to go and give it another ride. This was a great to end our day at Islands of Adventure as the sun was setting during this evening ride.
Before the celebration ended though, we had one more day and one more park to visit.