Jump to content

Islands of Aventure / VelociCoaster / Hagrids - November 2023


Recommended Posts

Universals Islands of Adventure


(For all the pics)

Ah, nice to be back at one of my favourite parks. Well themed, good mix of dark rides, water rides and thrills, and pretty well considered in terms of having plenty of things for kids scattered throughout.

I've been here before, so less urgency to see everything (I skipped over the water rides), that will make this trip report a bit shorter.

For those unfamilar with the park, it has a few themed lands:

Port of Entry. The "main street" of the park, with a bit of exotic explorers theme, with plenty of gags.


Marvel Super Hero Island: Built before the whole MCU thing / Disney, its a real animated looking area with oversized cutouts and stylised buildings. And because of the terms of the licensing agreement, Disney cant use these characters in their parks lol.


Toon Lagoon: Errr, more comics I guess, but these are the ones you'd see in newspapers, like the Phantom, Popeye (But no Garfield or Peanuts it seems!)


Jurrassic Park, needs no introduction,


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Islands of Adventure was a good park, but just didn't get the attendances it needed. Potter turned all this around.


Lost Continent. The only non IP zone in the park, but part of it was swallowed up by Potter, and the two attractions it DID have are now closed. Hopefully this gets redeveloped.


Seuss Landing. The most kid friendly area of the park, wonky and full of colour.


But lets cut to the chase, everyone probably wants to know about Jurrasic World Velocicoaster



Yep it lives up to the hype, a highly themed, properly intense launch coaster from Intamin that is just a polished experience from start to finish.



The story goes that in their quest to further thrill guests, Jurrasic World have decided to build a roller coaster in a raptor pen, where you can see them up close. The queue is well themed, a highlight being the medical room where a couple of raptors are in a crush getting their daily check up, and the room actually smells like antiseptic.


There's also windows onto the launch track, with transparent screens showing raptors chasing each launching train.


Just before the station you have to put your stuff in a locker, activated with your park ticket (and if your ticket is on your phone, they give you a card with a barcode to use instead.

The final bit of the preshow is hilarious, with Owen the raptor trainer ranting about how the whole concept of a coaster in a raptor pen is a terrible idea and you should all leave, and Claire the manager saying it will all be fine and perfectly safe.


There's a separate queue for the front row in the station, with not too much extra wait due to the speed they dispatch, so its worth doing once or twice. My tip, front right is the best seat, because on a few of the elements that side seems to get banked up more.

As for the coaster.

Before the launch is section with raptor pens either side of you, with screens showing them thrashing around inside, bumping the cage walls etc and workers keeping them at bay with cattle prods.

A good launch leads into an Immelmann with strong airtime at the top (think DC rivals loop), dive down steeply into a rocky tunnel (and the rockwork on this ride is really good, with sharp spiky bits that you feel like you're going to hit.


Next comes a dive loop, followed by a bunch of quick twisted turns, transitions, and a couple of airtime hills all crammed in. You are constantly rising and falling and avoiding rocks, so there's a real element of surprise as you work through this section. There are a few raptor statues perched on the rocks, but they sort of blend in, so you really have to look for them.


Eventually you hit the 2nd launch, which really spices things up. A top hat with ejector leads to a steep drop, a high speed S bend at ground level, and then a very long zero g stall which has you hanging upside down for a few seconds.



Next comes a 720 degree helix, but the 'helix' is interruped with elements, so theres this fake out reversed banked turn, then a wave turn (imagine a sideways airtime hill)


And then for the wild finale, a speed hill over a lake, followed by the "mosasaurus roll", which is like a more agressive version of the roll on ST, really dunking you down and throwing you to the side, so you cant help but grab the bar. A quick couple of turns and you hit the brakes. 



I think the name of the element is a gimmick though. I get the feeling the intent was that there was supposed to be a jaws style animatronic jumping out of the water when the train goes past. They totally should do that.

Pretty awesome overall, the two halves have their own character. Fast transitions and confusion on the first half, big grand elements on the 2nd half.


Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure


A real 1-2 punch with the park having this as well. Imagine the fun of Jet Rescue spread out over 1.5km of track.

The park is onto a winner, with it consistently having a a posted wait of 60-90 mins. Again though they tend to overstate, i saw a wait of 70 min but it was more like 45.

The first bit of the queue is themed well too, full of magical creature classroom stuff.


By magic they have duplicated flying motorbikes for everyone to join hagrid on for a lesson on magical creatures in the forbidden forest.


The final room in the queue I thought was clever, Imagine standing under a deck, with people riding motorbikes and doing doughies above you. They used some form of projection to simulate this. Ocassionally too you'd see silhouettes  other creatures like giant spiders appearing to walk above you.


Loading is done by a moving conveyor, so this ride really does have huge capacity, its just that demand is high too because its a good ride.

The first bit has a  short launch then a drop down then a bigger launch, and a few quick turns at ground level.

Eventually the track enters hagrid's hut, when a blast ended skrewt (imagine a giant double ended scoption shooting fire out of its ass) shoots smoke at you.

With that you launch again, up into an airtime hill through a castle ruin, down a curved drop into a tunnel, more ground level turns, another launch, and even more turns. Already at this point the coaster part has been pretty substantial but there is more to come.


The track continues into a short foggy tunnel through a rocky outcrop, with a crashed car on it, surrounded by cornish pixies. Well they have designed the sightlines well here, because the shape of the outcrop is good enough to disguise a vertical reverse stall, like a little baby tower of terror. Obviously you get to go up higher in the front seat, but i never got that sadly.

You travel backwards, with a high speed track switch sending you up into a helix, and by the time you have had a moment to process all that you have reversed into a show building.

In the show building, the walls and ceiling appear to be writhing with devils snare vines all around you. Great concept, but you can see the shed roof and trees ''cutting off" at the ceiling line quite clearly here, which undoes some of the immersion despite the money they would have spent.

But a couple of seconds later, the whole track drops a few meters (Much like Thirteen  at Alton or Namazu at Vulcania), and you exit the darkness into the open air.

Then one last launch, the most powerful of all. The coolest feature is a trail of light and smoke along the side of the launch, giving the impression of rocket fuel (or in this case "dragons breath" giving you the power needed to accelerate.

A couple of final high speed turns and you hit the brakes, and join a conga line of 3 or 4 trains rolling into the unload station, also with a conveyor belt.


Overall this ride is excellent. Good level of intensity on the coaster bit, and the way it hides both the reverse stall and the drop tracks as suprises on the way, integrated seamlessly into the pacing works really well.

The level of theming is high for the most part, aside from perhaps the indoor show building (from the outside it looks like a shed too, guess it needs more trees to cover it?)


As a final note, I saw perhaps the most chaotic good, but non condonable behaviour ever at a park. On one of my rides i was in the singles queue, but it was moving slow. You get most people in even groups, which can make this line crawl.

A group of people ahead of me decided to cut into the main queue sneakily. I was thinking they were just line jumping, but of course, I was not going to cause a scene and complain.

But, the plot twist came when they were at the front. When the grouper asked them how many, each of them said one, one, one, one.

Net result, was that 8 people got cleared from the singles queue in the space of a minute lol.


Skull Island: Reing of Kong


This is the only other 'new' ride for me was this. It's an immersive tunnel attraction, or rather a few of immersive tunnels in sequence. You ride in a tour bus that stops in long cylindrical rooms with screens either side. There's also a motion base, so at each of these points stuff happens on screen, before you drive off into the next.

 The studio tour at Hollywood has an abridged version of this (Where the tour shuttle will drive into a building shake table with screens either side)

The queue is well themed, through a dark temple.


A highlight is this giant worm in a glass cabinet moving about, a taste of all the other mutant things you'll see on Skull Island.


You board your tour bus and from there set out on your jungle expedition.


The next few minutes can be described as various battles and attacks from giant creatures, with a liberal amount of water being squirted at you every time something gets decapitated or shot, ugh.

Overall, decent I thought, but I think the limitations of the bigger vehicles and the longer time spent at each screen makes it feel a bit less frantic than other screen based dark rides like Spiderman or Transformers.

Incredible Hulk Coaster


Tell a lie, technically this is 'new' since they replaced all the track since I last visited. The queue has been totally refreshed and looks great, with lots of neon scientific equipment, too bad you cant take pics, since the lockers are before you enter the queue, so no phones.

Onboard, the launch tunnel has been fitted out with LED screens, showing energy pulsating around the train before you launch.

Forgot how darn intense this ride is, with positive G forces that dont let up, and huge elements. And of course that zero g roll straight out of the launch tunnel is a great start to the ride.

Cat in the Hat


A bit of a sleeper hit. This ride goes through the story of Cat in the Hat, with the words being recited, with each scene being an animated version of a page of the book. A real delight actually.


A note on food. I had the "Green eggs and ham". Basically potato gems, with scrambled eggs (with chives to make it green) and diced ham and some cheese. Actually a filling breakfast option.



Amazing Adventures of Spiderman


Always a favourite, and now in 4K (I've done the 4K version in Japan, good to experience it in English)

Still holds up well, and the re animated sections have more background gags to spot.

Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey


A great ride from a physical standpoint, after all, being flung around on a robotic arm whilst following a track is real technical achievement. But since then, the newer Harry Potter rides have done a bit better in terms of storytelling, leaving this one feeling a bit chaotic.

I guess you cant blame them, this was the first HP ride ever built, so it seemed like they were trying to fit as many things in there as possible. Quiddich? Dragons? Dementors? 

Still a great ride, just wish more parks would do them, and with more themes (At this point, I think its only WB World Abu Dhabi that has done one)


These days you can now get 'warm butter beer' in the area, but I thought it tasted like white hot chocolate mostly.






I had a laugh that Heathcliff was mentioned....Heathcliff comics are absurd:






And thats IOA for another decade likey.



Edited by Gazza
  • Like 2
  • Love it! 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I loved IoA back when I'd visit. It used to be my favourite Florida park and, at the time, my favourite theme park, with my favourite roller coaster being... Duelling Dragons!

Which quickly changed to Hulk on our second holiday. We had four holidays there - 2004, 08, 09, and 2012 I think. Each time we'd have the unlimited entry US/IoA/SW/Aquatica/BG tickets.

This was obviously before Skull Island, Velocicoaster, and Hagrid. We did catch HP on our last one, which I found okay but very jarring. I grew tired (and a bit sick) of being thrown in front of giant screens at the time so looked to the side to see how the ride worked.

I think that was the time when we managed to go on Hulk 19 times in a single day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went in 2022, and was so impressed with the 2 newest coasters. Miraculously I was on Hagrid's at 8.10am the day I went, I expected a couple of hour wait to get on. Hagrid's would be amazing at night I imagine, as would Velocicoaster.

I got a pretty rough ride on Hulk, which was surprising, I was front middle, but my two friends on the end seats were fine. 

The park is great, it will be really interesting to see what they do with Lost Continent. Hopefully they retain Mythos at least, that was a fun place to eat. And with Epic Universe coming, which is bigger than both parks combined, the future is looking bright.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, DJKostya said:

I really need to go back to IOA, last time I was there was 2006, Duelling Dragons was still duelling then (which was awesome!)

I got to experience that too, it was awesome - and the long queue walk, people were lost in there when I went. What a loss, it's a shame they couldn't keep Dragons and still get Hagrid's. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.