Welcome to part 2, my list and ratings will now continue.
7/ Busch Gardens
Home to three excellent B&Ms, a good RMC and other mostly decent rides that complement the lineup. Busch Gardens was one of the parks I was most anticipated about.
Well, the rides I can happily say met their expectations. Montu is a fine invert and Sheikra is probably my favourite dive coaster. Iron Gwazi may be the lower of the three RMCs, but it’s still awesome. Cobra’s curse was disappointing but the water rides weee good.
Now, for some reason or another, there felt like something missing here, and for once I don’t think it’s the rides. The place seemed to lack atmosphere for some reason, like there was nothing there. I don’t know why this was the case, but would controversially say some of the UK parks are better in that regard.
Secondly, the operations. Bad, maybe not terrible but still bad. Most coasters were stacking with 4/4.5 minute dispatches that make Merlin’s look like Europa Park :o. The food was ok, but probably the weakest of all the parks out there.
It’s a one day park that can’t be overlooked if you are into decent rides. But I was perhaps expecting a little more.
6/ Sea World
Busch somewhat didn’t fully meet my expectations. But Sea World kind of exceeded them. To some, there will always be controversy held against this park, due to the Orca captivity. However one must remember the park’s mission to preserve and help such wonder lis creatures.
Moving on, the park is certainly taking the right direction now, by focusing more on themed rides and experience to distance itself from it’s original roots. The calibre of attractions are mostly good. Mako is absolute bliss, Kraken definitely one of the better sit down loopers and Journey To Atlantis a well rounded attraction. Mantis wasn’t my favourite coaster, but it packs some interesting elements and Ice Breaker is just one slightly flawed train design from being an ideal family coaster.
Must get on Infinity Falls someday!
5/ Universal Studios
Now, this is where it starts to become more difficult, because basically the top 5 is full of parks I largely adore.
The first (and original) of the two Florida Universal parks. The studios packs a lot into it’s action filled park. Unlike Islands Of Adventure, the park doesn’t feel like it has too many contrasting themed areas, although they do exist. Diagon Alley is definitely the flagship area of this park, with it’s stunning theming, shops, entertainment and culinary treats. Escape from Gringotts is a phenomenal attraction from the moment you join the line until when you exit.
I think Diagon Alley is better themed than Angry Birds Land. Sorry Josh!
The rest of the park is hit and miss I guess. You have older classics rides which feature greater theming and details, then you have the newer stuff which is a lot more screen based. Men In Black was Fun and the ET ride was lovely. Revenge Of The Mummy was adorable and I enjoyed the Simpsons ride for what it was (I like the show). Transformers was ok, but there are better out there. Don’t bother with Fast & Furious, it makes Derren Brown’s Ghost Train look like Rise Of The Resistance! Maybe.
Weirdly enough, Epcot was probably the Disney park on this I was most excited for.
It’s basically a park of two halves. Future world which houses the majority of the park’s attractions in pavillions and world showcase, which I will get back to in a second. The selection is strongly varied. You have the classic attractions which are seemingly more educational and the newer items which are more tied to their catalogue of popular IPs. A blend I think works perfectly well.
Spaceship Earth (not to be confused with Eurosat) is a highly educational attraction and charming one at that. It reminded a little of the Spirit Of London, which was likely inspired by this resultantly. Guardians Cosmic rewind was incredible and felt like a mix between Crush’s coaster and (the Paris) Rock N Rollercoaster.
Mission Space was intense but better than expected and I largely enjoyed Test Track. Living with the land was interesting but maybe drags on a little. I felt slightly disappointed with Soarin to be honest. I ran out of time for Figment.
World showcase is the more unique and picturesque area of the park, featuring numerous themed areas to several countries of the world. Each area is unique, beautiful and even features cast members from that region working there. Numerous places serving food and drink are also there. The pizza in Via Napoli located in the Italy Pavilion was sublime.
Numerous attractions also operate within World Showcase. Frozen Forever After is a highly sophisticated attraction which features stunning animatronics and set pieces. Even if one isn’t a Frozen fan, it’s worth it, so don’t let it go (couldn’t help myself). Ratatouille is almost identical to the one at the Studios park in Paris but still good. The Cabalerros boat ride was an uplifting attraction.
3/ Disney’s Hollywood Studios
We’re on the final three. There’s something I like about parks themed to movies and this place is no exception.
This park has clearly seen much expansion and redevelopment in the last 5+ years and I would guess most of it may be for the better. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is more than just an area, featuring some stunning theming, effects and places selling unique beverages. Blue milk was rather nice but pricey. Rise Of the resistance is nothing short of a masterpiece and Smugglers Run is also enjoyable.
The rest of the park isn’t too over shadowed either. The original tower is just spectacular in every way and I hope it’s left alone. Toy Story Land is a pleasant area, Slinky makes for an excellent family coaster and Midway Mania is fun. I prefer it to Maus if I’m honest. Star tours is wonderful and surprisingly doesn’t look out of place despite being another Star Wars ride, Muppetvision is a joyous show.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a genius modern dark ride which perfectly balances screens and physical effects yet almost feels overlooked by the other wonderful additions in this park. Rock N Roller coaster was alright, but it isn’t a patch on the one that used to be in Paris. Shame.
Whilst the park seemingly gets longer lines and potentially lacks some ‘filler’ a lot of the attractions are actually worth their wait IMO.
2/ Animal Kingdom
One of the more relaxing parks you’ll find in Florida. Animal Kingdom may lack the ride selection of other parks have, but it compensates this with some stunning shows, theming and rides.
Avatar Land is one of the most stunning areas ever created. Flight Of Passage is super immersive, I loved it and I’m no massive Avatar fan. The boat ride was nice enough too, alongside exploring the whole area. Kilimanjaro Safaris is both entertaining and educational, to levels Zufari wishes it was. Dinosaur is a great dark ride that I think sometimes gets overlooked by the others and the Kali rapids are mostly decent.
Now, Expedition Everest. The ride looks good, the setting, the theming is all very nice. The ride? I’ve got to be honest was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there are worse coaster out there (much worse), but for me it just didn’t do much and rides like Slinky Dog and Big Thunder I personally preferred.
It has some good shows, I liked Tough to be a bug and the entertainment in the Harambe area. All it really needs now is another major roller coaster to fill in the gap the Primeval coasters left and the park will be great!
And before I announce the winning park, here’s some of the other bits and pieces there are to do, besides the parks.
Old Town Kissimmee- An old western style town with shops, bar, restaurants and more. It’s very American and very lively, however I wouldn’t recommend the Pizza Hut at all.
Disney Springs- It’s basically a giant shopping outlet, but somewhat Disneyfied. It has a vast selection of shops and restaurants ranging from Lego, Planet Hollywood and Raglan Road (an Irish pub). Theres also several Disney based stores there including the giant World Of Disney. More substantial than say the Disney village at DLRP, but maybe lacking the charm.
City Walk Universal- Universal’s answer to Disney springs but substantially smaller. Has a nice vibe and outlets, Voodoo Donuts are nice and I do like a Hard Rock Cafe.
Icon Park- Not a bad place to chill, assuming no crazy people are holding protests but otherwise nothing special. All your usual Merlin midways nestled under one roof. I wouldn’t bother with the 7D dark ride unless your trying to kill time. The adventure golf 2 minutes away is decent though.
I didn’t do the Kennedy Space centre, nor Legoland Florida. I know some of you will be disappointed by this.
And now, our winning park is (drum roll).
1/ Islands Of Adventure
This was probably always the park I was most excited for, but yet it still managed to exceed my expectations.
This place basically has everything I want in a theme park, thrilling roller coasters, immersive dark rides and more whilst perfect nestled within several immersive lands. Plus Mythos, my favourite theme park restaurant without a doubt.
I love Veloci-coaster, which is easily my favourite non-RMC coaster and perfectly blends itself as something between Helix and Taron. Hogwarts is a beautiful area with a stunning dark ride and magical coaster which now makes for an excellent tribute to one the films best characters (RIP Robbie Coltrane).
Pop eye is without doubt the craziest yet stunning rapids out there and I also adore the Jurassic River Adventure, even if it is starting to show it’s age in places. I’m not the biggest of Marvel fans, but Spider-Man was amazing and you could say I’m something of a fan myself. Hulk I enjoyed, but for a 6 year old B&M, it was a little bit rougher than I was expecting, which concerns me slightly. Kong was ok and Zeus’s landing is fun for what it is. Sadly got spited by Dudleys.
Dream trip, complete! Maybe I’ll return one day. Maybe.