Florida Guide > Universal Parks
Islands of Adventure.............a history.
Islands of Adventure is the 2nd theme park in Florida owned by Universal. This park opened in 1999.
However, the concept for Islands of Adventure was in the planning even before Universal Studios opened.
Jay Stein was the recreation chief at the time and he had a rough outline in place by the time the first theme park opened but the park did not actually get started until 1996.
I well remember seeing the park being constructed during our visit to the area in 1998 and being in awe of the scale of what was obviously going to be a humdinger of a roller coaster. Today I still marvel at Incredible Hulk as I enter the park.
There was a preview of Islands in a theatre in Universal during this time. As I remember it, you walked through 6 rooms each representing a different area of the embryonic park.
Of course, we now have a new area known as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And what a runaway success this has been.
Islands was planned to be like walking into a giant cartoon with its bright colours and graphic styling.
They have not relied on their own films to make the attractions but many of them are licensed from other studios.
Several ex Disney employees were involved in the imagineering of this park. They had walked away from the mouse over their disatisfaction over their perceived scaling down of the Animal Kingdom park.
Islands of Adventure had a period of soft openings before it officially opened in may 1999. Despite this (and just like the original Universal park) the first 2 years saw a distinct underperformance in visitor numbers.
After that they have used clever marketing to draw the crowds in to this park and on a recent visit Islands seemed more popular than Universal.
In recent years Island Skipper tours has closed down and Poseidons Fury has undergone major changes. Merlinwood has disappeared to make way for Harry and they have introduced the Express Pass. The Express Pass takes you to the front of any queue but has to be paid for.
Speaking for myself, I still prefer the original park which seems less cramped and noisy. It is also beginning to look a bit tired and especially in contrast to the simply wonderful Harry Potter area.
Universal still have 2000 acres to play with and it is rumoured that they have 2 new parks up their sleeve. Also planned are new hotel and a golf course. Look out Disney; they are behind you! ! !
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