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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Disney Magic Kingdom and Universal Islands of Adventure

On paper, it looked like a good idea to return the rental car in the Orlando area, and visit the theme parks there before returning to California. My idea was to visit the Kennedy Space Center on the transition. A deluge of storms and a wrong turn on the highway made that plan worthless.

My memories of Magic Kingdom were colored by the 2014 visit. At that time, the crowds were minor, and we could do every ride Bowen could do in 2 days.

This time, the clouds were extensive,and our fast passes of limited use as all the good rides were already taken. The waits were long and the food expensive. The fireworks was something to see, but it disrupted the kids bedtime enough that they were cranky. I feel no desire to ever repeat the Magic Kingdom visits except under some very ideal conditions.

With that, our expectations for Islands of Adventure was muted. The customer service was horrible, with long lines just to wait for the tickets an app that refused to issue tickets! But once into the park it was actually a better experience than the Magic Kingdom. The lines were short except for one ride (the King Kong experience), and more importantly, Bowen loved the Spiderman ride.

The Spiderman ride is a 4D ride, with water, heat, and 3D glasses. The roller coaster experience along with the other sensory inputs were so much fun that Bowen went on the ride 5 times! We tried some of the other rides, like the Jurassic jungle experience, and I tried the Hulk roller coaster, but none of them were as complete as the Spiderman one. We didn't stay too late, but one nice thing about the park was that if you did stay late, the park's lines become even more diminished and it's a much more pleasant experience.

If I had this trip to do over I'd visit the Islands of Adventure first and stay late to that one, and not do Magic Kingdom again. One interesting feature is that while Disney now owns Marvel, Orlando Universl has an exclusive license to use those characters in a theme park, which is why Disney's theme parks don't actually have Marvel characters! Just buy your tickets ahead of time at your hotel or online and you won't have the massive wait we had to get into the park.

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