Who Has Been to Universal Orlando?

This fall Mrs. HeyHomie and I are going to Walt Disney World, and we’ve set aside two days to go to Universal Orlando.

We’re going to do everything right as far as maximizing time and minimizing waiting in lines (arrive early, buy tickets at home to avoid having to buy them there, ride the most popular attractions first, and go on the days with the longest scheduled operating hours).

I’ve made a list of can’t-miss attractions both at Islands of Adventure and the Studios Theme Park. These lists are based on my viewing of the web site and my own vague memories of the Studios from nearly 10 years ago (I haven’t been to IoA). However, I’d like to discuss my ideas here on the SDMB and hear from people who have been there.

Is there anything on my lists that I should scratch off? Is there something I’m overlooking? Also, are there any out-of-the-way, overlooked, interesting or fun things to see or do there? Finally, what are some good places to eat at there? We want to have at least one table service meal each day.

Here are my lists:

Islands of Adventure
[li]Hulk[/li][li]Spider-Man[/li][li]Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsway Falls (maybe)[/li][li]Popeye’s Bilge Rat River Ride (maybe)[/li][li]Jurassic Park River Adventure[/li][li]Dueling Dragons[/li][li]Poseidon’s Fury[/li][li]Sinbad’s Voyage (if time permits)[/li][/ul]
Universal Studios Theme Park
[li]Men in Black: Alien Attack (did this replace the King Kong Attraction?)[/li][li]Back to the Future[/li][li]Twister (this replaced the original Ghostbusters attraction, which was a fun attraction AND was based on one of my favorite movies :frowning: )[/li][li]Earthquake![/li][li]Jaws[/li][li]Shrek[/li][li]Jimmy Neutron (did this replace the original Hanna/Barbera attraction?)[/li][li]Terminator 2:3-D[/li][li]Nick Studios (only so I can get SpongeBob’s autograph)[/li][/ul]

Any thoughts/suggestions? Any other advice?


The general consensus among the locals is that IOA has the better rides. You MUST do Spiderman.

I’ve only been to IOA, but if you have two days, no reason you can’t spend one day at one park and the other day at the next park.

If you haven’t been there in 10 years be prepared, it has changed! A lot! You now have covered parking, yeah! A very nice bonus in Florida. No little tram ride from your car any more, now you park and walk to the gate, not as bad as it sounds, it’s all nice and covered with moving walkways most of the way. Then you walk through Citywalk, bunch of restaurants and stores.

You’ve already picked what I would consider the best rides, and yes Jimmy Neutron replaced the old HB movie. Word of warning about Jaws and Poseidon’s Fury, these are very temperamental rides that breakdown at least a few times a day, so if you happen to pass by and they’re working, take advantage.

Unless you have kids the Nick Studios part is not going to impress you, at least based on your other choices, and you should be able to catch up with Spongebob throughout the park, he’s very popular. I’m pretty sure you can check with the park and they’ll tell you the times and places where Spongebob is going to be appearing.

MIB did not replace King-Kong, for the life of me I can’t think of what’s in the old King-Kong building, maybe nothing yet. MIB is back behind Back to the Future in a new, for you, part of the park.

Oh, I just thought of something, I really enjoy the Woody Woodpecker rollercoaster in the kids area, past the Barney and Fievel part. And since you’re going to be there in the summer you HAVE to stop in the Curious George water park, also back in the kids area. Now THAT’s fun, look out for the giant water bucket drops. Hint, bring a bathing suit, or dry clothes to change into, but you’ll appreciate the refreshing dunking. There’s also a water slide in Fievel, and it’s surprisingly fun.

Can’t think og anything else right now, as you can probably guess I live in Orlando.

Well, just thought of something else, don’t know what it’s called, but in IOA there’s one of those tower rides, like Tower of Terror in MGM, where you sit and you get shot straight up about 100 feet, very nice ride, you actually get a couple of seconds of free fall.

And if you do get to the Popeye ride keep in mind you will get soaked. Plan accordingly.

I was at Universal Orlando 3 or 4 years ago, so there is probably a lot of new rides there that I haven’t seen.

My personal faves were Terminator (which uses some really neat mixes of CGI and live actors together with physical effects in the salon).

Twister was quite good too IMO.

Back to the Future was a stomach turner (for me at least) which I recommend doing before lunch.

On the Jaws boatride sitting on the outside seats close to the water makes things more intersting, as well as somewhat wet. :slight_smile:

Earthquake was pretty lame I think.


My own thoughts (very IMHO):

Skip Poseidon and Twister - both very boring.
If you are going to do Popeye, DEFINITELY wear a bathing suit and/or clothes that will dry quickly - YOU WILL GET WET!!!
If you get to IOA early, get a fastpass for Hulk, then go straight to DD - there will be no-one there, and you can ride over and over - they have pathways open from side to side, so when you get off one side, you can go straight to the other, skipping a lot of the weaving through the queue.
I think IOA is just about the only park that I go on just about every ride - so definitely be prepared for a full day.


Be sure to purchase the “fast track tickets” this means you don’t have to wait in any lines. You get to jump ahead of the lines. It is only like $5 more a ticket. Well worth it.

As far as eating…there aren’t any good restaurants to dine in out that way except Hard Rock Cafe which is a little pricey (especially if you have kids) The food is good and the portions are better then a T.G.I.Fridays or Bennigans.

Don’t know what your budget is or how many people are going, but we did the VIP tour a few years ago (my aunt got the tix for us for free) and it was awesome. It costs $100 IN ADDITION to your ticket, but you jump ahead on all the major rides. I know that that sounds very expensive, but personally I’d rather pay $100 extra and forego a few breakfasts or dinners out than to stand in line for hours on end to enjoy a two minute ride. Your call.

Another alternative is to stay at one of the on-site hotels and get the jump-in-line privilege. Of course, if the park isn’t too crowded, you may not need to do this.

As far as the rides go, we only hit Universal and I would recommend Terminator and Back to the Future. I thought Jaws was a waste of time.

I work there. Contact me off-board. :smiley:

Yeah, not a chance. I rode one of those at Cedar Point and just about lost my lunch. :eek:

FTR, we don’t have kids, so there’s no need to consider them into the equation.

screech-owl you’ll be hearing from me soon. But not now because I’m late getting back to work…:smack:

No. This opened before KK was closed. As to a replacement, nothing has been officially announced. Much speculation, but nothing yet.

Not opened yet. Looking forward to this one!!!

Yes. Very similar ride with updated characters.

I’ve never seen a SpongeBob character. Have seen Liza, Donnie, Tommie, Angelica, Chucky, Woody, and Crash Bandicoot (I think - the orange wolfish character with the megaphone), as well as a few others.
Mythos restaurant. Utterly fantastic chocolate desserts - very droolicious. Food is very good, too.

Earthquake and Twister- I found both rather boring and not worth the wait.

Spiderman-I loved it. Note-this ride spins and swerves and may induce motion sickness. Addittionally, though the car only rises 10 feet or so in the air, effects make it seem like the car is rapidly rising and falling hundreds of feet.

MIB-again, car spins

Back To The Future-sit on an inside seat in the front. The car doesn’t move from its base, but lurches (sometimes violently) from side to side and from level to tilting.

Poseidon-You must be tall or in front to see anything. At one point steam completely fogs glasses. much standing no seats. Aslo, as a fan of mythology many of the innaccuracies annoyed the heck out of me.

Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall- strap in. The seats accelarate at maximum speed to the top of the tower(giving you a brief view of the whole park). The seats then free fall most of the way back down. Then, race back up almost to the top and fall again.
Ride is short (I’d guess 20 seconds or so) but exhilirating. Is considerably more comfortable than Spiderman, MIB, or BTF.
Marvel Supers Parade- as a comic fan I loved this. Especially the actor in the Doctor Doom armor. The man knew the character and loved his job. I found this to be true of all the character employees. They all gave the impression of being very happy to walk around as these people and thrilled to be payed for it.

SpongeBob Squarepants-You can get your picture taken with him. None of the roaming characters charges for pics. They happily strike a pose keeping with the character’s personality.(I’ve got a wonderful shot of Doc Doom strangling my Mom.)

Sinbad- I liked it. (no spoilers) I was upset that Sinbad was caucasian and beardless. Worse, none of Harryhausen’s creations are in the show. However, it was a good show. As a former member of a medieval battling society, I find most combat stunt shows (the Medieval Times restaurant for example) hideously unrealistic-strikes are aimed at opponent’s weapons or shield, there are multiple occurences of the fighters locking swords and pushing in something like arm wrestling etc. The Sinbad show contained none of these. All weapons were used as they would be in a real fight.
Note-the Sinbad theatre has a roof but no walls. If you’re looking to sit in an airconditioned room and watch a show, try T2.

T2- I liked it. Good 3-d. Good mix of live actors and film. However, the best part is the smarmy Cyberdine tour guide. Wonderful actress.
You have any information about what it cost the park to manufacture some of the scenery and costumes? Rather than a traditional suit of armor, I’d like to have one of those Doombot statues in my den. One of the green tunics worn by the FearFall operators would be a fine addition to my wardrobe.

And the Doctor Doom costume used in the parade is a garment fine enough to be married in.

When I went, I could have gone from Hulk to Spiderman all day long and been happy. Earthquake wasn’t so great, the line was way too slow. Twister was decent, Jaws decent, but the lines, again, too long.

Twister is totally weak, don’t even waste your time. Jaws was good, and Earthquake was only interesting because I’m from San Francisco (you get traped in a BART train.) Everything was slightly cheesy, so you sorta have to be in the right mood. It’s been a few years since I was there. When I went they had a pretty cool Alfred Hitchcock exhibit. Is that still there? I picked up a SWEEEEET Bates Motel bathrobe.

I was there about 3 years ago and agree with everyone recommending Spiderman. That was by far the most wonderful theme park attraction I’ve ever been on. I’ll also add my vote to Terminator & Hulk

I’ll comment on the ones that I remember, then overall comments about the park

Over all impression of Islands of Adventure:
I liked it. The architecture of the park is just amazing. From the first little village that you walk into, to the Whoville section, I was just stunned at the level of detail that was in the buildings and landscape. Be sure to look around a lot, as some details escape you the first time. The resturaunts are typical park fair, but the interior design is just so cool. We were only there about 5 hours, and we ate twice, just so we could visit two places. This park gets 2 thumbs up, just for sheer coolness of architecture. I know I spent days back home, trying to figure out how I could make the inside of our bedroom look like the Mythos resturaunt. (that is the tree stump one, right?)

Overall impression of Universal Studios:
I wasn’t as impressed with this park. Most of your time will be spent waiting, with very few things that really will be worth it. The top things I would see would be Men in Black, Back to the Future, and Terminator 2 3-D. The rest is really just filling. We had no problem seeing everything that looked interesting. Be sure to check show times carefully, so that you can see the stuff that you’re interested in. Some shows only happen 2 or 3 times a day, so if you miss it, you won’t get a chance to see it again. So take 10 minutes at the start of your day to sit down and plan everything out, so that you leave time to walk from one place to another, keeping in mind that there will be lines. Also, there weren’t as many places to eat it seemed. I recall that it took more effort for us to find a place that wasn’t totally crowded, or way overpriced. I think this is the day that we ate at the hardrock, just because we couldn’t find anything else.

Have a great time, and enjoy your day at Universal Florida!

My data isn’t all up-to-date, but US did not impress me. Most of the rides had much too long lines, and were either too short or low on thrills. Glad to hear they closed Kong, as it was the worst of the lot.

Thanks for all the replies, everybody. :smiley:

In case I didn’t make it clear enough, I’ve been to Universal Studios, so I’ve actually ridden Earthquake, Back to the Future, & Jaws. Loved 'em all; that’s why they’re there on my list.

Also, since we’re going on a weekday during the off-season, lines shouldn’t be an issue. knock on wood

I’ll definitely add the Mythos restaurant to my schedule.

Is the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue show still going on? That would be a shame if they closed it.

the best ride i have ever been on at any theme park was definitely spiderman - i waited almost two hours in line though- go first thing in the morning or right before the park closes. tower ride is same as any where else. hulk is a must for roller coaster fans, as well as dueling dragons. dudley do-right was a blast - you get very wet. The entire jurassic park section was amazing, and the river ride was so well done i convinced my little brother it was real. don’t sit in the first row or you will get more wet than on any of the water rides.
Universal - back to the future and T-2 were the best, also men in black. twister and earthquake were pretty boring, but good for young kids. kids also loved ET and animal planet live

YEAH!!! Islands of Adventure!!! Mrs. Punk and I actually have season passes to both parks. We are actually going this Friday to hang out. I think that your list is pretty good but I would definetly do Popeye. You get VERY VERY wet but it is an incredibly fun ride.