Continuing from Part 1, we’ll continue our walk around the Islands of Adventure, this time hitting Jurassic Park. Thanks for not sending me any hate mail over the first Universal post. Even if you’re one of those Disney Diehards that have absolutely no interest in giving anyone other than the Walt Disney Conglomerate your credit card dollars, I think it’s fun to check out what else is out there. It’s fun for me anyway. You can always request a refund from Duffy@easywdw.com. But I would just remind you that the bear is not as friendly in real life as he is at his Meet and Greet.
Jurassic Park River Adventure was arguably Islands of Adventure’s best-themed attraction prior to That Which Will Only Be Referred To As The Game Changer.
I’ll try to bring Tom along to take some on-ride pictures one of these days. But this one is basically Splash Mountain with Dinosaurs and a Bigger, Faster Drop. You may remember me mentioning that Universal is basically Disney World with faster, more technologically advanced rides and cast members that won’t say hi to you.
Jurassic Park is also home to Pteranodon Flyers, one of the industry’s most bizarre attractions. You can see on the sign that riding requires a child between 36″ and 56″ tall. If you don’t have one – you can’t ride.
Blame it on a capacity worse than Astro Orbiter over at Magic Kingdom. You’ll often see Pteranodon with longer posted waits than any other attraction at Islands of Adventure or its sister Park, Universal Studios.
But should you have a child in that height range, it may be a particularly fun experience to share.
I stood at the entrance for about 30 seconds reading the sign and taking a few pictures of other people’s kids. I saw at least a dozen adults get turned away from the ride because it’s just not that common to see an attraction where your height disqualifies adults from riding an attraction. Because of the long waits, you probably want to head here shortly after visiting the Wizarding World in the morning or at the end of the night. The posted wait at the ride is almost always 45+ minutes, even if it’s actually shorter. This helps the poor cast member manning the front entrance to gently turn people away, if they even want to get in line after seeing the wait time.
I’ve honestly never been on. I ordinarily creep around the Park popping up unexpectedly and asking, “So can I borrow your kid for a minute?” For whatever reason, no one has obliged.
Similar to The Boneyard at Animal Kingdom’s DinoLand USA, Universal has Camp Jurassic.
I don’t think anyone does playground gazebos as well as Universal.
It also provides a nice vantage point for overly edited pictures.
But the kids can run around on rope bridges and whatnot, potentially exhausting some energy that they really have no use for.
And slides. I was impressed with the theming. You can see the extent of the rockwork and the dense vegetation juxtaposed with the exposed show building for Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park is also home to one of the two best quick service locations at Islands of Adventure.
Which serves some of the same food as The Three Broomsticks over at Wizarding World. During the “off-season,” it’s ordinarily just open for lunch (and can be closed all day), so you may want to hit it in the afternoon and save Three Broomsticks for dinner.
As previously mentioned, when Universal is “dead,” it’s dead. Even on an “uncrowded” day at Magic Kingdom, you’re going to run into a ton of people at Pecos Bill and Cosmic Ray’s.
There are a few people, but certainly not a lot.
Here’s the menu:
It should look similar to Cosmic Ray’s and Flame Tree Barbecue.
I opted for the $13.99 Chicken and Ribs Combo. That’s the $7.99 souvenir mug with 89 cent refills on the right. Another nice thing about Universal is that with my Premier Pass, I save 15% on food. Disney doesn’t offer a similar discount at Walt Disney World. Also with the Premier Pass, I get complimentary valet or preferred parking, a “free” ticket to Halloween Horror Nights, free CityWalk club access, free Express Pass entrance on participating attractions after 4pm, and a bunch of other stuff as explained here. If you’re considering visiting, you may want one person in your party to carry a Preferred or Premier Pass to save on parking, merchandise, food, etc. You’ll want to run the numbers – just be aware that it’s out there.
Anyway, the chicken was extremely dry. I’m not sure if that’s the norm or not. I was surprised with how good the corn. Roasted to perfection and they also supply a cube of butter along with salt and pepper.
The Ribs were better than Cosmic Ray’s and as good as Flame Tree Barbecue. You can watch them being prepared.
The problem I experienced was that the line sort of works like a buffet. You tell the first cast member what you want to order and then proceed to the single register to pay. With people that speak four words of English and have no idea what they want to order in front of you, you may end up standing there with food that’s only getting colder for a while as you wait to pay.
And as an added bonus, you can watch people getting splashed on Jurassic Park from the comfort of your table.
Or outside. Be careful that you don’t walk through the splash zone with food like I almost did though. Your chicken is liable to get a lot more moist.
Also in Jurassic Park, you’ll find Pizza Predattoria:
And Burger Digs:
Unlike Walt Disney World, which really does have a pretty decent selection of fast food, Universal is more or less more of the same at most places.
And their toppings bar isn’t quite as elaborate as Cosmic Ray’s or Pecos Bill, but you can load up on as much lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes as you like.
And there’s the whole dining with dinosaurs thing.
Or outside, you have a gorgeous view of the rest of the Islands.
Downstairs, you can visit the Discovery Center.
This area reminded me a lot of the post-shows for Spaceship Earth and Journey into Imagination.
Here, you select an egg and move it over to the contraption to be “analyzed.”
You then turn the nobs to perform tests. At the end of your test, you’ll be shown a chart and it’s your job to figure out what dinosaur is inside the egg. It might be kind of fun for the younger set.
Over at DNA Sequencing, you may recognize the character from the movies.
Here, you’ll select a few traits about yourself, stick your face to the brain scan, scan your hand for DNA…
And potentially get a picture yourself as the ugliest dinosaur to (allegedly) roam the earth.
And a little trivia game for exactly three people.
But there’s definitely a little history lesson here, which is what reminded me a little of Epcot.
Along with “interactivity” that Disney seems to be so obsessed about.
I occasionally see people professing that the Universal theme parks aren’t as detailed or themed as well as Disney’s.
I’d disagree with that for the most part. This walkway in the back of Jurassic Park, which nearly no one walks, could just as easily be at Animal Kingdom.
I’d take this over the concrete jungles that are Old Fantasyland or Tomorrowland.
Another example of Animal Kingdom inside Islands of Adventure.
But I liked the Discovery Center – it’s sort of like a miniature museum exhibit that would be a nice way to spend some time in the afternoon on a hot day.
Don’t worry about the merchandise front. Universal offers a ton of stuff themed to the Islands and attractions. Here’s a taste:
And you can purchase ride photos. As far as I know, Universal doesn’t offer anything like PhotoPass.
I’m surprised Universal doesn’t have more options at their kiosks. They all seem to offer the same churros, popcorn, and ice cream bars.
Another option a few steps away.
This time with Hot Dogs at least.
And a fruit stand.
I guess these are all a little different – but you’ll basically find the same three stands on each of the other Islands.
Another for the sake of thoroughness.
Last one I promise.
Hopefully they’ll mix things up a little bit in the future.
Rock climbing rounds out your options here in Jurassic Park.
Sorry if I’m boring you, but here’s the last dining option:
The Chicken Wings sound intriguing.
So that’s Jurassic Park. Next, we’ll head over to The Wizarding World