Florida Guide > Universal Parks
The Hulk (at Islands of Adventure)
As you drive up to Universal Islands of Adventure you will catch yourself mulling over the thought of a roller coaster with 7 inversions. That’s enough to come in at 5th place on the list of the world’s greatest coasters. You’ve done the research, and still can’t decide if you believe what people have been telling you. Is it really that good, or bad, depending on your point of view? Seven inversions! That’s seven times upside down. On one ride …
Well before you even get to the Islands of Adventure turnstiles you’ll hear the screams coming from the green steel that reaches up into the sky. Occasionally you'll see the coaster swooshing round.
Once you are through the turnstiles and inside the park you can't help but be drawn to the Hulk. It dominates the skyline. At first sight your thoughts are drawn between wondering if it really does start out upside down, then trying to count how many times it goes inverted round the first set of loops, then watching with open mouth as it drops, pops a huge vertical loop and then dives underground through a spray of water. It appears a half second later and whizzes smoothly off out of sight.
Riding the Hulk brings on the usual massive swing of emotions that all good coasters produce. The longer the queue, the more time you have to contemplate what's in store. As you get closer to the moment of truth you have time to think about whether to queue the extra bit for the front seats. If you are riding it for the first time it's probably not worth it. The first time you ride the Hulk is such a sensory overload that queuing for the front seat isn't necessary. Better to save the time and then ride it again.
You're face will turn through every shade of green as you watch the Hulk glide slowly to a stop in front of you, your features eventually settling to a ghostly pale white. You'll feel your pulse going crazy, your heart trying to escape through your worryingly dry lips to avoid the madness about to ensue. It can almost feel like an out of body experience as you shuffle over to your seat, your sweaty palms slipping as you try your hardest to pull the shoulder harness one click tighter. Just one click. It feels too loose. You're still trying to get that extra click as the Hulk glides smoothly away. Before you know it you are slowly pitching upwards to the mechanical clank-clank-clank sound of the chain and ratchet.
You watched the ride a dozen times while plucking up the courage to ride it. You know that it appears from the tunnel at one heck of a belt, and upside-down, but how can that be? Clank-clank-clank. Something doesn’t add up. It's only moving slowly. Clank-clank-clank. This isn't what you expected. Clank-clank-clank. Your heart beats. Clank-clank-clank. There’s the end of the tunnel but …
The acceleration quite literally takes your breath away. You are twisting. Are you really twisting? And then you fly out into the bright Florida sunshine. The ground is in the wrong place. No, there it is. Now the sky is where the ground should be. Your brain is in overload. It refuses to accept what your eyes, if they are open, are seeing. Everything seems to straighten out, but then as soon as you catch your breath the world flips again and you loose all sense of which way is up or down. The ride is only a few seconds old and already you love it.
You go breathless again as The Hulk dives towards the ground, and then begins a huge, slow, arching loop. The ground slowly gives way to the sky. The sky slowly gives way to the ground. You catch a glimpse of the people on the walkway, watching, just like you did only a short time earlier.
The next set of twists, turns and loops gradually bleed away the initial energy, the inertia carrying you very smoothly through each manoeuvre. You find yourself revelling in the smoothness of the ride. The seamless transition between left and right, up and down. Before you know it you feel the brakes bringing you slowly back to walking pace. You stop.
Your whole body tingles with adrenalin as you lift the harness, and you try to remain as composed as possible as you walk away from the ride. Your brain is still struggling with simple tasks like up and down. Left and right are too difficult. You follow the rest of the people, the jelly leaving your legs as they start to come back to life.
Ride it again?
Author: Steve Harrison
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