My Trip Report Part 2: IOA, Hard Rock Cafe (verrrrrrrry long and detailed)


<font color=blue>Toss her some tic tacs and take h
Jan 9, 2001
Me - Alida (35)
DH - Jaime (38)
DD - Katie (6)
DS - Austin (5)

Day 4: Friday March 2nd, 2001: IOA, Hard Rock Cafe

Up and at ‘em for Islands of Adventure. Dressed the kids in their swimsuits and arrived at the park about 9am. Was immediately blown away by the Port of Entry theming. Just beautiful! I could have spent a long time browsing through the shops here. The glimpses of treasures offered in them made me want to explore. We stopped at the Croissant Moon Bakery for breakfast. DH and I had breakfast sandwiches with egg and bacon. They were pretty large and a better value since it included a drink for under $5. The kids had giant muffins, but didn’t finish them because they were too antsy to get going. Price for all was around $20. I enjoyed people-watching through the round window while eating. It’s interesting to notice all the different types of people you see at a theme park. Saw several women wearing very high heels (ouch!) and some with leather on. That’s gotta feel great when it’s 80something degrees and the sun’s beating down.

Turned toward Suess Landing first. I fell instantly in love. I was ready to sell the farm and pitch a tent here. I have always adored anything Suess, so this was like a small dream come true for me. Every detail was perfect. We bypassed “If I Ran the Zoo” and rode the carousel first because that is what the kids wanted to do. I usually don’t ride on carousels because I am a plus-size lady and self-conscious about climbing up on the horse, but there was hardly anyone around so I said “what the heck.” All 4 of us rode side by side and had a very nice time. It was a Kodak moment.

They wanted to ride “One Fish Two Fish” next, but it was still fairly cool out and I didn’t want them to get wet just yet (hey, I just made a Dr. Suess rhyme), so we decided to come back later for that. Rode “Cat in the Hat” and enjoyed it. Would have preferred a bit less spinning around since I never felt like I got a good look at the various story scenes before the cart jerked in the other direction (this ride reminded me of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney, only “wilder”). Spent a few minutes in the gift shop after the ride and bought a Cat in the Hat sweatshirt. I was hoping to have it sent back to the hotel so I wouldn’t have to carry it around all day. After I had already paid, the clerk reminded me that my purchase would not be at the hotel until the next day. We were checking out early the next morning, so I ended up carrying the bag around. Good thing he reminded me of that or I might have had to leave the sweatshirt behind if it hadn’t arrived yet when we had to check out. I did receive a free coin holder in honor of Dr. Suess’s birthday. I chose the Grinch. That was a nice little surprise. How often do you get anything for free at a theme park?

We were too early for the Circus McGurkus sing-a-long show, so we pressed on. We all noticed the tracks for Sylvester’s…Machines overhead and the cars that would occasionally drive around them. Even if they never open the ride, I think the tracks and cars are interesting to look at.

Crossed the bridge into The Lost Continent area. Wow! Really wonderful theming here too! First thing we came to is Poseidon’s Fury. The park map stated that shows started at 10am and ran continuously. We arrived about 10:10 but were told the attraction would not open until 11am because they were having trouble with one of the projectors. (((Sigh))) I was starting to wonder if we would ever be in the right place at the right time for any of the shows.

Kept walking past Mythos, which looked very intriguing, but we didn’t go in. Spent a few minutes at the Mystic Fountain. The kids were reluctant to get closer after seeing it squirt water at another child, but they did talk to the fountain from a safe distance. The fountain kept asking them to come closer but they wouldn’t! Finally, DD put her hands on her hips and said “I’m not coming over there! You’re just going to squirt water at me you naughty fountain!” to which the fountain replied “Oooooooohhh Katie’s giving me some attitude!” It was a pretty funny moment. Had I been sans-kids, I might have hung around a while and traded one-liners.

Next we wanted to see Sinbad, but the first show wasn’t until 12:30 (((sigh))) so we kept moving.

I wanted to ride Dueling Dragons and do baby-swap, but DH was not interested (((sigh))). He offered to wait for me while I rode, but I just couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for riding it alone. To me, the most fun thing about going to a theme park is sharing the experience. I like getting off the ride and saying “Wow! Wasn’t that awesome?” It just takes a lot of the fun out of it when you’re doing things alone.

We kept moving.

Nobody wanted to ride the Flying Unicorn. (((sigh))) We kept moving. Just like labor pains, the (((sighs))) are getting closer together.

We started crossing the bridge into Jurassic Park. DS was thrilled about walking through the gates with the torches, just like in the movie. DD planted her feet ½ way across the bridge and went into her crying hysterics again. She thought the whole area was going to have dangerous dinosaurs roaming through it, like in the movie. I blame DH for this 100% because he is the one who let these kids watch Jurassic Park, over my protestations. DH had to pick her up and carry her the rest of the way across the bridge. It took about 15 minutes to finally get her calmed down enough to proceed.

First we checked out the Discovery Center. Both kids enjoyed this a lot. They liked being able to compare this real-life place to the movie. I decided to take this opportunity to sit down and adjust my attitude, which had been going in the wrong direction. Felt somewhat better after that short cooling off period. DH and the kids explored here for about 15 minutes.

All except DD wanted to do the River Ride, so we headed that way next and stopped off at the Triceratops Encounter on the way. I really didn’t understand what this was supposed to be about. The park map reads “Take a walking tour of dinosaur feeding and weighing stations and enjoy a fascinating look at a dinosaur veterinarian at work.” We used the FOTL/Express entrance and walked right through the feeding and weighing station areas. There were CMs at both stops who just kept waving us ahead through the line. We ended up at the Triceratops barn where we watched it for a couple of minutes. Neither child wanted to get very close. Then the robot quit moving and the “vet” explained that he needed to give the Triceratops a shot and we wouldn’t want to watch where he had to give it, so everyone had to please step outside for just a minute while he did that. I have no idea if this was part of the show, or if the thing truly did stop working and they had to quickly fix it. We stepped outside and waited about ½ a minute before deciding not to continue waiting. Not that the attraction was really boring, it’s just that we went to Dinofest in Chicago a couple of months earlier and I think everybody got their fill of seeing animatronic dinosaurs then.

On to the river ride……..

DD understood that she did not have to ride and we proceeded peacefully through the express entrance and did the baby-swap. I rode first with DS. He loves all things dinosaur and was enthralled with eyes as big as saucers. When things started to get a bit scary, I held him close and I quickly covered his eyes with my hand at the final moment when it looks like the T-Rex is going to get you. I just decided at that instant it would be too scary for him and, after DD’s emotional scenes, I couldn’t stand the thought of having another crying child to deal with. DS didn’t seem to notice or care that I had covered his eyes at the crucial moment and made it through the drop with no problem. DH rode next and enjoyed it too.

By now we were starting to think about lunch. Since we had skipped a few things in Lost Continent, we decided to backtrack there. Made it to Poseidon’s Fury about 11:45, used FOTL which was very nice because the line was long. Waited inside for about 10 minutes.

I really had no idea what to expect here. I just knew it was some kind of special effects thing. The first part of the show where you’re herded into the outer chamber was confusing. The kids really couldn’t see much, but thankfully it was brief. We couldn’t see much in the next room either because we were stuck at the edge behind a large group. I was too focused on keeping DD calm to really pay much attention to what was being said about Zeus and Poseidon, but I liked when the portal opened up to the spinning water tunnel. DD was reluctant to go into the tunnel, but by now this was wearing on DH’s nerves too and he pretty much told her to get moving and she did and was fine. I thought the water tunnel was way cool. I have no idea how they do it, but I’ve never seen anything else like it and was impressed. We were able to see a bit more in the final room, but still not 100% since we were again stuck behind some tall folks. DD was crying by this time (not at anything scary in particular, just at the loud sounds and being afraid in general) but thankfully the show was loud enough that we really couldn’t hear her and she didn’t disturb anyone else. She had calmed down by the time the show ended.

The area outside Poseidon was beautiful and I would have liked to linger here and really have a good look, but the Sinbad show was at 12:30 and we had just enough time to get there. We took off like the Bradys on their quest to deliver the blueprints. The show had just started and there were plenty of seats. We sat about mid-way down on the far right side – huffing and puffing, but thankful we had managed to be on time for something. The kids were a bit startled at first by loud cannon explosions, but soon got used to it and really enjoyed the show. DD smiled and laughed and that was music to my ears. Finally – something she wasn’t afraid of! I thought the show was OK, nothing spectacular. But the kids had a good time so it gets an A+ for that on my scorecard.

It was lunch time so we tried out the Enchanted Oak. In hindsight, I wish we had gone back to Circus McGurkus, but live and learn. The Oak itself was pretty cool. The idea of eating inside a tree was appealing (not sure why). We easily found a table then I went up to get food for the kids and myself. DH went up after because I didn’t think I could carry that much (I would have been right). I got the hickory chicken plate and split one of the kids ribs meals (the only choice offered for kids??) for them. Turns out that was smart because they barely touched their food. I paid $8.95 for mine (not including drink) and didn’t care much for the chicken. The outside was tasty enough, but inside was flavorless. Probably should have gone back to the condiment cart for LOTS of barbeque sauce, but didn’t. I did enjoy the corn and cornbread muffin.

I was not happy with the service here, but I don’t fault the restaurant itself. When I got up to the counter, I was waited on by a surly-looking young woman who made it very clear by facial expression and tone of voice that I was imposing upon her. I had to remind her 2 times that she had forgotten something, to which she responded by acting like it was a huge effort to go back and get the missing item. Then she gave me sweetened ice tea instead of the unsweetened that I ordered (but of course I didn’t know that until I sat down). Since I had already waited in line about 15 minutes, I wasn’t willing to endure another long wait to go back up and exchange it for the right thing. I ended up dumping most of that expensive lunch and feeling very unsatisfied. DH got the same thing as me and did like the chicken.

DH had now changed his mind about Dueling Dragons so we went there next. Both kids were fine with baby-swap and they thought the castle and theming were cool. I went first and decided to ride Ice, but I really didn’t have a preference. Just ended up that way. Only had to wait a couple of minutes after using FOTL. Being a single rider on a roller coaster is always awkward anyway, but then I had the further embarrassment of not being able to buckle the seat belt because I was slightly too large to fit in the standard seat. They stopped everything, I got off and waited until the next train. Then the CM escorted me to the special seat for larger people before the little gates opened for the other riders. I felt very much “on stage” and embarrassed with all those people watching and wondering what was going on. The special seat fit much better. The whole thing was embarrassing and could have been avoided if I had just tried out the test seat in front of the ride, but I didn’t see that seat near the Express entrance and didn’t think about it at all until I got on the ride. Oh well, at least I did get to ride Ice and it was pretty cool (pun intended). I love roller coasters anyway and this was a good one.

I met DH and the kids in the very **small** baby-swap waiting room (more like a closet). He went to get in the line and I sat down on the bench with DD next to me and 2 other girls next to her. DS sat on the floor. The tiny room was packed with kids who insisted on screaming at each other so it wasn’t too pleasant. Then the screamers left and DD started a game of Simon Says with the 2 girls on the bench. Then they left and another couple of kids quickly grabbed their spots on the bench. Meanwhile, there was an older couple who had been standing just inside the doorway. The woman started saying under her breath that the man had missed his chance to sit down and it was really a shame that he couldn’t move fast enough to get a seat when his knees were so bad, and blah blah blah blah. Unfortunately, I hadn’t brought my violin with me, it was so very sad. We got up and walked out so those poor people could have our seats. Never mind that they were already standing there when I arrived and the bench was completely empty at that time. Obviously they needed it more than I did. We waited a few more minutes outside in the queue area until DH came out.

One amusing thing I saw while waiting in line to ride: there are signs posted everywhere stating that you have to remove all items like sunglasses, hats, backpacks, etc. before riding. There was a group of teenage girls in front of me in line who kept their backpacks on right up until getting on the ride. If you’re not familiar with the Dueling Dragon coasters, let me explain. You sit in a chair with your feet dangling. After everyone is loaded on, the platform lowers and the train leaves. These girls get on the platform and set their backpacks down right in front of their seats and strap themselves in. Duh. The ride was delayed while the CMs collected the backpacks and found somewhere to store them. The girls thought this was sooo funny and couldn’t stop giggling. Apparently they don’t teach reading at Brittany Spears High School.

The kids still didn’t want to ride Flying Unicorn, so we headed back through Jurassic Park. I was surprised that neither of them wanted to try Pteranodon Flyers or Camp Jurassic. I would have thought these would be great for them. At this point it was approaching 2:00 and quite hot. They were anxious to reach Toon Lagoon and get wet.

Toon Lagoon was the biggest disappointment of the day. As mentioned earlier, I had dressed the kids in their swimsuits in anticipation of getting wet here. They love the Dudley Do-Right movie and had great expectations of riding Dudley’s Ripsaw Falls. They both took one look at it and changed their minds. (((sigh))) I was about ready to scream at this point because I was hot too and was looking for any excuse to get wet and cooled off. But then, appropriately enough for Toon Lagoon, the comic-strip thought bubble appeared over my head. “Hey no problem…let’s just head over to the Bilge Rat Barges where we’re sure to get soaked!” It was a MAJOR disappointment when DS wasn’t quite tall enough to ride (he was about 2 inches too short), despite the fact that they have ridden these same river-raft rides at other parks. We had finally found something we ALL wanted to do and weren’t afraid of and would get us cooled off. Kids couldn’t understand why they were tall enough before and not now, and I was just irritated by this point. (((sigh))). Theming was nice here too though. Too bad there wasn’t much for us to do.

Checked out Me Ship the Olive. I took another time-out attitude adjustment sit down for a couple of minutes (although I had to stay inside the ship to find any shade) while DH and the kids explored. It looked pretty interesting, but the kids weren’t into it. They had spied a fountain further up the path near Comic Strip Café and they were begging to be allowed to play around it and get wet, so we let them do that for a few minutes. I felt like it too, but didn’t. Not really sure why. I probably would have been more comfortable if I had.

Ok. Moving on to Marvel Super-hero Island. We did not take any time to look around as we made our way to Spiderman. This section of the park was crowded and we were anxious to get into the air conditioning. DS was completely jazzed about Spiderman. DD was much happier now that she was cooled off, so she didn’t give any problem about doing the baby-swap. FOTL was great here. DH and DS went first. They both liked it. DH was unclear about where they would meet me. I thought he had said they would wait outside, but they waited in the baby-swap room. I got off the ride and went outside. Looked all around and had to make my way back up the ride exit ramp to join them in the waiting room.

Spiderman ride rocked. I had few expectations going in so I was pleasantly surprised. The only “complaint” I had was that the ride jerks you around much more than I would have thought. I was repeatedly thrown against the stranger sitting next to me, which was awkward. Oops…sorry I touched you there! That was scarier than the actual ride. Yikes.

I like drop rides, but we skipped Dr. Doom’s Fearfall (no particular reason). We proceeded to Storm Force Accelatron and that was fun. We like to get our “cup” (or whatever the USF equivalent is – maybe a ½ liter?) spinning real fast. The ride seemed very short, but maybe it’s just because we were enjoying it!

Would have liked to ride Hulk, but after the embarrassment at Dueling Dragons I decided not to risk it again. It was around 3:30 by now. We headed back over to Suess Landing with the intention of riding “One Fish Two Fish” but the kids discovered “If I Ran the Zoo” and that was all she wrote. They were in their glory splashing about in the play area. It’s a warm-fuzzy place where they could get wet and run around and just do kid stuff. DH sat near the water area with them while I went around to the Green Eggs and Ham Café for a cool drink. Sat at a table overlooking the water play area and enjoyed my drink while watching the kids play and have fun, wishing I was a kid again so I could do the same.

We turned back toward Port of Entry after that (never did make it to “One Fish Two Fish”). I wanted to briefly check out a couple of the shops before leaving the park. It was very interesting shopping and I could have spent more time, but everyone else was ready to leave. We purchased T-shirts for the kids and I bought an “Islands of Adventure” music CD. Enjoyed listening to it that night on our in-room cd player.

Decided to have an early dinner at Hard Rock Café while we were close by rather than going back to the hotel and returning. I love Hard Rock Cafés because I love music. I could easily spend hours checking out all the memorabilia, and I always say I’m gonna do that next time, but it just never works out. We were seated quickly and had great service. The Coronas tasted especially good after the past two days. Had the Caesar Salad (very tasty). Used the Hard Rock “All Access” card that I got for free after seeing a posting about it. Used my $10 credit toward the bill. We ended up paying about the same price as our lunches in the park, even with 4 beers.

We were beat by now so we took the path of least resistance across the bridge to the water taxi. Got back to the hotel and everyone cleaned up in anticipation of the early start the next day. The kids wanted to go swimming, but we decided to just turn in early. It was easier to say no after they spent so much time playing in the water at Suess Landing. The pool area of the hotel is very beautiful and inviting. I was sorry that we didn’t have more time to really enjoy it. But that gives me a great excuse to go back…… There was some kind of party or similar going on down by the pool on Friday night with the music turned up. We could hear it, but it wasn’t so loud as to be disturbing. I felt the sound insulation was very good because that was the only noise we ever heard from outside.

Checking out the next morning was smooth and easy. A copy of our bill was slid under the door that morning. I had pre-paid in cash so no visit to the desk was necessary. The bellhop arrived within a couple of minutes of my call to take our luggage down. Departed at 8:15am en route to the Disney Magic…….

Some miscellaneous thoughts/wishes:

1. The whole family wore Teva’s. The kids’ Tevas were brand new. They walked for 2 days and did not have a single problem with blisters or sore feet. I highly recommend sport sandals rather than tennis shoes because your feet don’t get too hot and you can get them wet without worry.

2. Both parks were fun and our overall experience was positive. I especially enjoyed the beautiful themed areas of IOA, but I don’t think I’d go back until the kids are older. Tickets cost too much to spend the day bypassing most attractions. Obviously this is just my personal situation. It depends a lot on your kids’ personalities and what they like to do. It was clear to me that I could have saved the $300 we spent on tickets and just taken them to the pool and they would have been happier.

3. I was frustrated that we always seemed to have just missed something or were way too early for it. The way that things are laid out makes it difficult to proceed in any order and still catch the shows. For example, we missed the 1:00 Wild West Stunt Show and the next one wasn’t until 4:15, so we would have had to return to the back of the park to see it. I’m sure there are many things to take into consideration when show times are scheduled, but it seems like there could be a broader selection of show times, especially with some starting earlier (I noticed several didn’t start until afternoon) and possibly a more logical order of showtimes that coincide with the usual paths around the park. I can’t imagine how one would manage it without FOTL and if the parks were more crowded. You’d spend all day walking to and from and waiting in line.

4. Having said that, it also would have been easier to see more shows and re-ride some things if there was some method of transport between the areas of the parks. We would have gone back for the Wild West Show if there had been a quick easy way to get there.

5. Next time I’ll plan at least 3 days at USF so I can take a bit more time to look around, shop and enjoy the hotel facilities. After having FOTL, I doubt I’d be willing to settle for staying offsite in the future. I’m spoiled forever!
Wow, great detailed report!!

So you recommend Tevas, huh? I wondered about those sandals, people on the DIS tips LOVE them! I may have to break down and buy some...



Mother of Michael
Proverbs 3:5-6


<font color=purple>Co-Moderator of the Community and Universal/IOA Boards</font color=purple>

Thanks for taking the time to write such a great, detailed trip report!!!
Leaving for HRH in 3 weeks and all your comments are helpful! Can't wait........
Thanks for the detailed report! We will be there in a month and it's good to see some insight into the park from a "pooh-sized" (borrowed from the DIS boards) perspective.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>We took off like the Bradys on their quest to deliver the blueprints.[/quote]

Too funny! Great obscure reference :D

How big is too big for the regular seats in Deuling Dragons??
It's hard to say. I think it really depends more on your body shape. I am pooh-shaped. I will say that the special chair itself is not any wider. It's only the harness and belt that are adjustable. It was still fairly uncomfortable cramming myself into the seat since it is hard plastic with a divider in the middle.

Robin - yes, Tevas! They are our all-purpose summer shoe. You will live in them, I promise.
I am going to ask a silly question. What is a Teva.

Also, had to laugh when you talked (honestly) about your kids and experiences. We had similar ones when they were smaller. They are now 11 and 10 and we can't wait to go back. Fears are all gone and they can last so much longer.

You will see a big difference when you go back again

Thanks for the compliments minijeanie. I could've left out the parts about how the kids reacted and stuff, but I really think that's the kind of information people want. At least I do.

Teva's are sport sandals. The soles are hard rubber and they have adjustable velcro straps and can take a lot of abuse - sand, rain, whatever.
Great report! Don't know how you can remember all those details though. I plan on posting a report when we get back from our trip in May but doubt it will be as detailed as yours. Maybe I'll just keep your report bookmarked and I can cut 'n paste!!

1996 Bought New House
1997 Local Theme Park
1998 Watched Disney Videos
1999 Painted House
2000 Tent in Backyard
2001 ASMovies !!!
Great report! Where did you get the Tevas? We are leaving for the HRH in two weeks, can't wait!!! How did you like the Magic?


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