Boy, was I in for a disappointment when I pulled into the parking garage for Universal Studios. Both parks close at 6. Since it was already 2:30, I decided to go to the Islands of Adventure, amusement park, instead of the Universal Studios. I figure that it takes 2-3 minutes to ride a roller coaster but the different theme rides at Universal Studios probably run 20-30 minutes. I should have paid more attention to the hours of operation when I bought the tickets on line. With no time to spare for lamenting my error, I quickly ran to my first thrill ride.
First stop was Marvel Super Hero Island, where you can find the Incredible Hulk Coaster. Fortunately, this coaster seats 4 to a car, so as I got closer to the front I looked for a group of 3 needing a single rider to jump a few spots in line. The hulk was a fun ride with a lot of twists and a couple spots of air time. I would definitely want to ride it again, if I had time. As I navigated the main thoroughfare avoiding the crowds gathering around characters like Wolverine and Captain America, I headed for the Doctor Doom's Fearfall. For this ride you are seated around a tower structure then the carriage is rocketed 150 feet into the air before you free-fall back down. Then you bounce up and down like a yo-yo for a minute before they lower you down to be off loaded. In my opinion not enough thrill for the amount of time you have to wait in line. Universal also offers a way to cut the line called Express Plus; however you have to pay extra for this.
I quickly walked through Toon Lagoon, since I had no desire to spend any time in the Popeye fun-house ship or to ride the Bilge-Rat Barge raft ride. The next section was Jurassic Park. I did want to ride the Pteranodon Flyers where you would glide above the park in a pteranodon looking glider, but the wait was over an hour. In spite of the long lines for the Flyer, the main attraction was the Jurassic Park River Adventure. Here you ride in a 20 person barge through a river full of animatronic dinosaurs before entering the main research facility. Inside the facility you get surprised by the velociraptors loose in the lab. I also got spit on by one of the dinosaurs. This all builds up to the climax where a T-Rex tries to bite you as you plummet into the lagoon below with a big splash. It was a lot of fun and I would ride again if not for the fact that the sun will be setting soon and I did not want to spend the rest of the afternoon cold and wet.
I believe the next section is still under construction with some Harry Potter themed ride opening in 2010. Good thing the construction was complete for the Dueling Dragons roller coaster because it was awesome! Dueling Dragons are two inverted coasters with their tracks intertwined. There are several spots where the two coasters would race towards each other before banking away. Sometimes the tracks are laid out to seem that one dragon was chasing the other. At the end of the queue, you are forced to make a choice between Fire and Ice. I rode both the front, last and middle cars of each dragon. In my opinion, Fire was the better ride because of the air time and the rolls. However, riding the front car of Ice was more visually exciting. I could have rode them all day long if time permitted.
I wanted one more ride on the Hulk, so I ran through the next two sections, Lost Continent and Seuss Landing. There were no thrill rides to attract my attention; however I stopped long enough to take some pictures. Since this was going to be my last ride of the day, I decided to wait in the line for the first car of the Hulk. It was a rush speeding through the track in the semi-dark not knowing where the next hill or bank was coming. I good way to end the day...almost. Since I did not want to waste any time, I have not eaten all day. I stopped at Universal City Walk section to see at what establishment I wanted to dine. I chose the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant. I thought the newspaper tablecloth with news articles based on the movie was a good touch. The Shrimp Po'boy was really good and the hurricane drink hit the spot. Part of the price of the drink included the souvenir hurricane glass. Since I did not want the glass, I was able to trade down for a souvenir pilsner glass. At the City Walk you can window shop, go to the movie theater or hit on of the different night clubs. After a full day with a full stomach and now a souvenir, I decided to call it a night.