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Islands of Adventure

This is the newer of the two Universal Studios Theme Parks, and it is divided into 5 distinct areas. One word of warning is that many of the Thrill Rides have a minimum height requirement of 54", so if your kids are just below this they will either have to be content with "The Cat in the Hat" type rides, or leave this park a year or two until they are older. It will take a very full day to cover the whole park, but as it is just next door to Universal Studios, you can walk between them both, so 3 days should be sufficient to cover both parks. Plan to spend a full day at each, with the final day shared between the two parks to recap the rides you enjoyed the best.

To make the most of your time, use the free Universal Express system. This is similar to the Fast Pass system used by Disney, and allows you to get a ticket which is printed with a time for you to return to the ride to join the express line which saves queueing for too long. You can only have one Express ticket running at a time, but once the time has expired, you can get another one, so if you're careful with your planning you can avoid queueing all day

Super Hero Island - this part of the park is themed around the Super Heros from Marvel comics. This area has the most popular rides in the park, so do it first before the crowds build up.

The Hulk - is an awesome rollercoaster which turns you upside down, twist and bends, and at one point takes you crashing down into the ground. If you stop to watch this one, you probably won't ride it but it actually doesn't exert too many forces on the body, and as it's quite a long ride (well long in roller coaster terms) it makes the wait worthwhile.

Dr Doom's Fearfall - On this, you sit in a chair which is fired to the top of a 200 foot tower as 12G. When you get to the top you fall (under gravity) and experience total weigtlessness which lifts you out of your seat. Exhilarating doesn't begin to describe this ride and the view is tremendous, but not for people with bad backs or motion sickness.

The Adventures of Spider-Man - This is the newest ride, and it's a sort of combination of a roller coaster (but a very mild one) and a 3D simulator with amazing special effects. This one shouldn't scare too many people and as you're sitting in a car, even children should be OK if they can hold someone's hand

Toon Lagoon - This is mainly an area of shops and cafés and children's play areas themed around comic strip characters. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls is a log flume ride on which you will get wet. The pocket ponchos are a good idea if you don't want to spend the day in soggy pants, otherwise leave this one for later in the day.

Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges is another ride with a high probability of getting wet so do them both together and you won't be uncomfortable for too long.

Jurassic Park - Themed to the film, the main attraction is a river ride through a pre-historic land in which dinosaurs roam. The animatronic animals are very realistic, but if you have small children you should warn them that it gets a bit scary when they pretend one has escaped. At the end of the ride the boat plunges down a slope into a pool, so expect to get wet, and there is quite a scary twist just before the boat plunges down

Lost Continent - Poseidon's Fury is a show with some amazing special effects. It's inside (and underground) so it's a welcome escape from the heat.

The Unicorn - is a fairly tame roller coaster (no inversions) but kids can ride it alone (aprox 6 years and over) and there is a great spot beside the track where you can film their faces as they ride

Duelling Dragons - the other famous roller coaster is also here. This is actually two separate roller coasters which are built in such a way that the tracks inter-twine. You ride one of the dragons (Fire or Ice) as it battles for supremacy). Apart from the usual twists, turns and inversions, there are several points where (if you have your eyes open) it looks like you are going to collide with the other dragon coming head on towards you. Don't worry about being at the front (which has a longer queue) as the ride is designed so that everyone gets a good view of their impending doom with heart-stopping clarity. Apart from emptying your pockets and leaving your hat behind, you should note that on this ride your feet hang free, so sandals are out of the question as they would fly off Not for the faint hearted!

Seuss Landing - this area is mainly for the younger ones although a surprising number of American adults seem to regress to some second childhood when they visit here. I don't think the Brits really get Dr Seuss, but the rides are fun, especially One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish where (if you know the words of the song) you can control your boat to avoid a soaking.

For details of opening times and special events, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.


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