ThrillRide

 


 

Islands of Adventure

The Adventure Begins.

Inscribed on an arch over the Islands of Adventure's Port of Entry boulevard, those three simple yet portentous words speak volumes. On the most obvious level, they welcome guests with spine-tingling promise, but they also convey a sense that the concept of a "theme park" is being transformed.

As a multi-billion dollar facet of the new Universal Studios Escape in Orlando, Florida (a destination resort that also includes the Universal Studios Florida movie theme park, the CityWalk retail, restaurant and entertainment center, and the Portofino Hotel, opening in September, 1999), the Islands of Adventure have established a new high-water mark for the amusement industry. Never before has a single theme park combined a jaw-dropping level of thematic detail with searing, world-class thrill rides the way the Islands do. Down every path, around every turn, I was left continually amazed by each new discovery, both large and small. From the gooey, candy-coated charms of Seuss Landing to the scream-weaving machines of Marvel Super Hero Island, this Technicolor pleasure dome is simply unparalleled.

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The Port of Entry itself sets the tone. The exotic aura created by the blending of various far-flung architectural styles - Mediterranean, Arabic, Asian - tells you that what you're about to experience borrows from the familiar but puts it all together in a way you've never seen before. And the intricate touches with which the Port of Entry has been crafted are just the first indication of how fully realized the entire park is.

Entering the park proper, you walk up towards the central lagoon and there it is, spread out before you... To the left, the upraised launch tunnel and swooping green track of the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster. Across the waters, the palm-tree framed edifice of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. At the distant right, the red and blue curlicues of the intertwined Dueling Dragons. And to our immediate right, the riotously colorful Seuss Landing and its signature Caro-Seuss-el. After so many months of breathless anticipation, I couldn't believe I was actually standing before the genuine article. Friends, it was love at first sight.

I'll take you around the park counterclockwise, saving the best for last.

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Each Island is separated by footbridges that serve to properly isolate them into distinct environments and as you venture into Seuss Landing, you not only see it coming, you hear it coming. One of the park's unique sensory treats is the way it uses music to enhance the emotional tenor of each zone, a savvy touch from a company well-versed in film making. Welcome to Seuss Landing, the giddy score that swells in volume as you approach, pushes all the right buttons.

This Island is ostensibly the park's kiddieland, but to call it that is a grave injustice. Full-sized Thrillseekers are welcome on all its attractions and to pass them up would be folly. Take a good look around at the way the park's creators have brought Dr. Seuss's creations to 3-D life; there's not a single straight line to be seen. Even the metal poles that delineate the ride queues have been bent into Seussian curves. Extremely cool.

The Landing's Centerpiece is the Caro-Seuss-el, a gorgeous 47-foot-diameter merry-go-round handcrafted by D.H. Morgan with 54 ridable critters. There's Cowfish from "McElligot's Pool," Elephant-birds from "Horton Hatches an Egg," AquaMop Tops and Twin Camels from "One Fish Two Fish...," Dog-a-lopes and Mulligatawnies from "If I Ran the Zoo," and Birthday Katroo from "Happy Birthday to You." Even if you're not familiar with the beasts, you'll still dig their fanciful look. And each of the "animals" has some sort of guest-activated feature; the thing I rode allowed me to wiggle its nose as we spun. I can't say I'm big on carousels, but I was definitely bummed when this one came to a stop. "Can't we ride again?!"

Just across from the Caro-Seuss-el is The Cat In The Hat dark ride. I'd long since forgotten the details of this particular story, like Thing 1 and Thing 2, but they all came rushing back as we traveled through the 18 show scenes in our six-person "couch." Through the use of animatronic characters, projected animation and loads of trippy lighting effects, we are placed smack-dab in the middle of the tale as first-person participants. And that ride vehicle, man, it's a feisty sucker. Dr. Seuss' works have always been mighty surreal as children's stories go and the Cat's wacky couches pull some surreal moves of their own. Wait till it starts making like a Tilt-A-Whirl... Even the pastel color palette in and outside the ride is totally faithful to the good Doctor's illustrations.

When you're ready to cool off a bit, hop onto a flyin' fish. On the One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish spinner, we pilot three-person fishies up or down as much as 15 feet, trying to avoid gettin' nailed by the ride's "squirt posts." A punchy rhyming tune initially tells us when to climb and when to dive - "One Fish, Blue Fish, up, up, up!..." but towards the end of the cycle, all bets are off and ya never know where the next aquatic volley is coming from. Heeheehee! Only the most jaded won't get totally slap-happy on this contraption.

Also mandatory is a stroll through the If I Ran The Zoo interactive playground. Divided into three sections - Hedges, Water and the New Zoo - Gerald McGrew's little maze is Nifty Squared. Be sure to investigate every nook and cranny; there are 19 different "things to do." I won't spoil any of the surprises, but keep in mind that some of the wild life in this zoo can spit with the best of them.

I can't vouch for the food served in the Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous, but peeking inside was worthwhile. The three-ring decor, right down to the table lighting fixtures, is as colorfully whimsical as everything else in the Landing. And overhead, you can see some of the Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Driving Machines chugging along the inside perimeter of the tent. Sadly, the Driving Machines were one of the planned attractions that didn't get completed in time for the Islands' debut, but they're promised to be online in 2000.

Onward to The Lost Continent.

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We're greeted at both ends of this Island by suitably ominous stone griffins bearing flaming torches. The Lost Continent is really three "continents" in one - Grecian, Arabian and Medieval European. To the right is the stunning Mythos restaurant, the park's five-star eatery. If you're not ready for consumables, you'll still want to explore the interior and make a reservation for a later meal. Served by gods and goddesses ("Demeter" was our lovely and gracious wait-goddess), the food here is as unusual as the surroundings. I snarfed down a wild salad prepared with a superb cherry vinaigrette dressing and topped it off with a dessert touched by higher powers - the raspberry creme brulée... that was good eatin'.

Right across from Mythos is Poseidon's Fury: Escape From the Lost City. Unfortunately, all I got to do was look at the monumental exterior of this walk-through show (shown below, left and right), but from those who did get to try this one on for size, I heard nothing but good things. Foremost among the spectacles encountered during this battle between Zeus and Poseidon is a passage through a 42-foot, 17,000-gallon horizontal vortex of water.

Continuing deeper into the Lost Continent, we come upon the Arabian section. The major attraction here is a requisite stunt show called The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad and it is a resounding dud. To be fair, this live-action and special effects "extravaganza" is still finding its bearings and I'm sure it will improve over time. But as I saw it, the Eighth Voyage played like a bad Power Rangers episode - hammy, cornball dialogue, cartoonish monsters and a lot of yawn-provoking, chop-socky combat. The show's elaborate, multi-level set is something to behold and the comic juggling warm-up act was terrific. But if there's one place in the park where there's room for improvement, this is it.

Luckily, there's far more entertainment to be found right outside the entrance to the Eighth Voyage arena. Hang out near the stone fountain and watch as the fountain's smart-aleck "spirit" engages passers-by in conversation. And if you don't want to get wet, don't stand too close.

The rest of the Arabian bazaar, Sindbad's Village, is a fine place to shop, play a game or pick up a snack before moving on to the Lost Continent's main draw: one of the Islands' most infamous attractions, the Bolliger & Mabillard-designed Dueling Dragons inverted rollercoasters.

A lot of theme parks have magnificent B&M coasters; none of them have a queue entrance like this one. The first time I laid eyes on the "life-size" sculptures of the snarling Ice and Fire Dragons, I had to stand still and gape. But I regained control of my legs the second I saw a pair of trains plow through the most intense of their near-miss encounters on the central vertical loops. Wow.

As most of you have already heard, the line to get onto these suckers is practically a walk-through haunted house in its own right, which most clearly illustrates one of the park's defining features: just about every ride is presented as the climax of a carefully written tale. The Dragons' "backstory" is to be discovered as you walk through what the park has billed as the world's longest and most elaborate ride queue: 3,180 feet of twisting trails.

The exterior portion of the queue winds through Merlinwood Forest, where we can watch the Dragons perform their nasty business. Various signs, hung by locals long gone, warn us to keep away (to no avail, of course). Eventually, we enter Merlinwood castle, where the Dragons have taken up residence. Inside the first chamber, the stained glass windows at the far end come to life and Merlin himself recounts the legend of the Fire and Ice Dragons. Seems these two ancient monsters have been endlessly fighting to rule over the kingdom and those who have strayed into their domain have met with a most unpleasant end. Only if the bravest of the brave can ride, and thereby tame one of the beasts, will the kingdom be saved.

Moving deeper into the castle's endless recesses, we pass through all sorts of nearly pitch-black rooms and the further we go, the creepier it gets. In one long chamber, the frozen bodies of knights long dead hang overhead, icicles dripping off their corpses like daggers.

Soon the craggy walls start to close in... and they become ever more encrusted with hundreds of bones and skulls, arranged in morbidly elaborate fashion. We're nearly at the point of no return where we must choose our fate: freeze or burn.

Once inside the dimly-lit loading dock, we can see just how lovingly these Dragon trains have been designed. The claws that curl up beneath each seat, the way the front rows form the creatures' open jaws, the scaly cowlings around the top of the vehicles... My favorite detail? Each Dragon's over-the-shoulder restraints are color-coded - warm yellow for Fire, cool blue for Ice - except for those on the first cars, where they're pink on both Dragons... because they're the beasts' tongues. Exceptional.

The best way to ride the Dragons will no doubt be the source of endless debate, but my vote goes either for the Fire Dragon's rear row or the Ice Dragon's front row. The first near-collision happens as FD lunges over the top of Ice's first inversion and looking down from FD's back seat as all those feet swing up to hit our dangling limbs is furiously wicked. Plus, the Fire Dragon course features a weird new high-G element that's best appreciated in the far position: halfway through the layout, the trains begin an inversion but while we're still upside down, they tip to the side and whip us through a horizontal spiral. Sweet.

Ice, on the other hand, serves up two moments that are front-row musts. Entering Ice's Cobra Roll, you can almost hear your toes scrape the rock as we scream past the castle walls. And, before we hit the vertical loop, Ice makes a beeline down a long straightaway, giving us plenty of time to watch as Fire's trains barrel right at us. Awesome.

But no matter where you sit, you're in for a fine time. Bolliger & Mabillard simply don't know how to build a disappointing coaster. As promised, the coasters do properly "duel;" if one train is ahead of the other upon release, its lift pauses to allow the second to catch up. And one more thing... there ain't a single trim brake in sight.

Some of you may need a stiff drink after wobbling off the Dragons, and the Enchanted Oak Tavern and Alchemy Bar is conveniently located just across the way (it's no surprise that you can find plenty of adult refreshment throughout the Islands; Universal's parent company is Seagram). If you're in the park after dark, watch as those eyes in the Oak's massive truck slowly change colors. And be sure to look up at the beautiful stained glass canopy inside the Tavern's peak.

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A majestic stone gateway rises over a path that leads directly into a dense primeval forest. Welcome... to Jurassic Park. This Island, based on Steven Spielberg's eye-popping film, is IOA's most elaborately landscaped, and it's home to far more than just an East Coast version of Universal Studios Hollywood's Jurassic Park: The Ride.

As we move deeper into the foliage, we can hear the trilling, squawking and guttural rumbling of prehistoric life lurking somewhere out of view. Huge eight-trunked palm trees soar overhead; a tropical drumbeat floats through the air. Folks, we are in the movie.

The first impressive treat is the Triceratops Encounter. In this far-out display, we're escorted into a Feed and Control Station where one of the Park's dinosaur care-givers brings us face-to-leathery-face with a 24-foot-long, 10-foot-tall Triceratops. Have the Islands of Adventure wizards managed to actually regenerate a bona fide dino? Not yet; this one is just a robot. But it is the most lifelike robot you've ever seen. As "Cera" gets her check-up, she bobs her head, lifts her leg, extends her tongue; she groans, whimpers, blinks, burps, sneezes, shuffles, even, ahem, expels waste. One lucky guest is invited to touch the animal and it reacts accordingly. As we walked out, I overheard one young feller ask, "is that a real dinosaur?" Yes, it's that convincing.

Next up is the Discovery Center, built from the same blueprints used to create the sets in the JP film. This air-conditioned respite from the heat is filled with "infotainment" exhibits, including one set of booths where you can virtually combine your DNA with that of a dinosaur in a bizarre genetic cocktail. The procedure involves a "brain scan" and a painless, yet somewhat surprising DNA extraction from your outstretched palm. And after crunching the numbers, a final computer screen projects the very amusing, if inherently unstable, results.

You can also run various tests on a dinosaur egg to see what's inside, watch a 'raptor hatch, and pass a high-tech scanner over an excavated wall to examine the fossils hidden beneath the surface. All in all, the Discovery Center is an excellent way to take a breather. But enough with the mild; it's time to get wild.

The JP River Adventure is similar but not identical to its California counterpart. We start what's intended to be a gentle cruise past some dinosaur habitats in massive yellow 25-person rafts. After climbing a small lift, our craft floats around a 180-degree turn and a pair of wooden doors swings open. John William's epic musical score swells.

Everything goes as planned for awhile, but as we approach Hadrosaur Cove, one of the submerged beasts surges up and knocks our raft off course. Bad news. As sirens blare, we veer into the Park's industrial "backstage" area and it's clear that all hell is breaking loose. The angry shrieks of roving carnivores, the shredded electrified wires, the splintered remains of a patrol boat all signal trouble dead ahead. One stunt missing here is the West Coast's ride's falling jeep effect, but in its place we get something equally pulse-racing: Just before entering the towering cement structure of the pumping station, we've gotta pass beneath a suspended animal transport crate... and the dino inside is most agitated. The box menacingly lurches and just as we're beneath the metal cage...

We begin crawling up a steep lift within the darkened confines of the station and telltale signs of dinosaur-inflicted damage are everywhere ya look. If you want a really good scare, be sure you grab a seat on the left side of the raft; a toothsome 'raptor makes a most violent appearance.

At the top of the station, something huge takes a swipe at the walls, leaving three gaping scars. A herd of spitters spray us with paralyzing "venom." And around the final bend, what's that growling behind a curtain of mist? Yes, it's none other than the King of All Dinos, Mr. Thunder Lizard himself. We move inexorably closer as this monstrous T-Rex roars with earsplitting ferocity. Just before he can lean down and swallow us whole, we tip over and plunge.

85 feet down, that raft lands hard, sending up an amazing plume of water and soaking nearly everyone on board. It's almost as much fun to watch as it is to ride.

Last, but far from least, is Camp Jurassic, a thoroughly splendid place to explore. There are loads of mysterious caverns, slides, rope nets and observation towers to investigate. One hidden section has dino footprints embedded in the ground and you'll most definitely want to step on 'em. There's fun aplenty to be had firing water guns at some spitter head targets and other guests alike. Camp Jurassic also boasts one of IOA's most unexpectedly popular rides, the Pteranodon Flyers. These suspended two-person vehicles take you on a circular flight around the Camp, giving you a prehistoric bird's eye view of the Island; it's short, but sweet. Be warned: the low-capacity nature of this keen little diversion has meant that long lines form quickly, so if you want to take a spin, head for the Flyers as soon as possible.

Haven't gotten your fill of wet fun? Good, 'cuz the next Island is all about wet fun. Very wet fun. Toon Lagoon awaits.

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Crossing a glaringly bright yellow bridge, we enter a comic strip world come to life. Toon Lagoon celebrates a whole bevy of 2-D luminaries like Popeye and Olive Oil, Dudley Do-Right, Dennis The Menace, Beetle Bailey, Blondie and Dagwood, Cathy, Hagar the Horrible, Krazy Kat, Flash Gordon and my personal faves, Rocky and Bullwinkle. Observe well and you'll be able to count nearly 80 individual characters in this colorful cornucopia.

Comic Strip Lane is the main thoroughfare through this Island and its shops and eateries are all themed around these familiar characters. Humorous touches abound: the over-stuffed sandwich that beckons from the entrance to Blondie's: Home of the Dagwood snack center; the "dialogue balloons" that hang from the street posts (be sure to take advantage of these for some photo ops with your pals).

But Toon Lagoon will be most cherished, especially on a hot Summer day, for its two superlatively sopping-wet rides, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges.

Ripsaw Falls would be generically called a "log flume," but that doesn't come close to describing this H20-propelled dark ride through a 'toon-charged rescue mission to save Nell (Dudley's main squeeze) from the treacherous grip of evil Snidely Whiplash. Stand on that yellow bridge, soak up the phenomenal view of the ride's snowcapped mountain peaks and churning Falls and see if you don't agree that this is the best-looking ride in the entire park. When one of those spiffy red and yellow logs drops out of the mountain, only to disappear beneath a "dynamite shack" and reappear as gushers of water explode in all directions, I guarantee you'll be scrambling towards the entrance.

The cartoon's renowned brand of pun-infected humor seasons the entire trip. For instance, the first lift takes us past the establishing scene of Mr. Whiplash carting poor Nell into "It's All" Mine (yuk, yuk). And I loved the none-too-subtle neon sign that announces Snidely's "Hide-Out." Every time I rode, I caught more clever touches. But the laffs come primarily from this flumer's unexpected maneuvers. At one point during the trip, we enter a pitch-black tunnel only to hear the chug-chugging of an approaching train. Sure enough, the single elevated light of a steam engine hits us right between the eyes; a collision is imminent. What happens next I won't say, but you'll be thinking "coaster," not "flume ride."

And Ripsaw Falls' last drop is even better than the River Adventure's piéce de resistance. After curling over the top, we plummet down through the roof of the dynamite shack and 15 feet beneath the surface of the water. Lost in the midst of a swirling fog, we leap back up and plow over a small hill, finally splashing into the Falls' 400,000-gallon lagoon. Most delectable.

But when it comes to getting drenched, nothing else at IOA (or almost anywhere else) can match the truly perverse Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges, the subject of its very own Ride Review.

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It's safe to say that when push comes to shove, Marvel Super Hero Island will be what folks talk about most, for in this zone we find what IOA's creators call "the greatest ride ever built." Of course, they are referring to The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, and they are right; it is the greatest ride ever built. But we'll get to that in a minute.

This richly-hued glass and steel metropolis captures the sensibilities of the ever-popular comic book genre perfectly. Sharp, angular and vaguely Art Deco, it blends the visual styles of innumerable pulp fictions into a glamorous package. With the first few inversions of the Incredible Hulk coaster and the spiky twin towers of Doctor Doom's Fearfall as a backdrop, the panorama as I approached this Island from Toon Lagoon made my heart sing.

Enter the Arcade and see the charred brick holes in the walls, battle damage from some Good Vs. Evil conflagration. "Marvel" at the polished metal MSHI emblems embedded in the street. Dig the strolling, posing X-Men (including the babe-a-licious Phoenix). Before I'd taken a single ride, I loved this Island.

The three rides themselves are among IOA's most intense. Doctor Doom's Fearfall, an S&S Sports Power-designed Space Shot attraction, is predictably stirring. Contrary to some early reports, these puppies are firing on all cylinders and rocketing vehicles close to the towers' 200-foot-tall peaks. If you're familiar with this sort of thing, you're pretty much prepared for what to expect. A couple of key differences: we board inside an enclosed dock and the pre-launch moments are filled with the ominous voice of the Doctor explaining his latest creation. In a nutshell, he's engineered these towers to "drain our fear," ready to harness it for some later purpose, I suppose. And just before we go skyward, a mist is ejected overhead.

If I sound less than enthusiastic about the Fearfall, it's only because this attraction is as close to "off-the-shelf" as anything at IOA. Don't get me wrong, it's a literal blast. But compared with everything else, including Seuss Landing's rides, it seems, well, ordinary.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster, on the other hand, is most assuredly not ordinary. The third Bolliger & Mabillard ride to grace this resort, Hulk enters the record books as B&M's first launched ride. And though the launch system (a huge array of over 200 spinning rubber tires) is almost laughably low-tech, it does the job in a remarkably effective way.

This ride's queue is another winner. Stainless steel ramps, bubbling glass tubes of green fluid, and glowing, humming gizmonics create the interior of Dr. Bruce Banner's lab, where he struggles to perfect his Gamma-Ray Accelerator. We, as Thrillseeking guinea pigs, are to board the stunning green and purple test vehicles, ready to take a shot out the Accelerator tube.

If you want to get G-forced out the wazoo, right in the back. But for a smoother ride and a view to die for, head for the front, which is what I did over and over again.

Right out of the station, we immediately start by heading up the tunnel, nice and slow. Spinning warning lights and a blaring alarm prepare us for the beginning of the "experiment." Banner's voice, on a loudspeaker, sounds optimistic; things are looking go-

Wait, something's gone wrong! With unnatural force, we race up faster and faster and the second our ramjet clears the edge of the Accelerator tunnel, we whip right into a Zero-G Roll, over 100 feet off the ground. No other coaster in the world gets the ball rolling with a stunt like that.

We nose-dive right into a vertical loop and a giant Cobra Roll over IOA's lake. Blasting through a mist-enshrouded tunnel beneath the MSHI bridge, we scream around the launch tunnel and head for the second half of Hulk's course, behind the boarding station. And there we'll find three more inversions and a super-gnarly scramble off a brake run. Manna from Heaven.

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And then, there's Spiderman.

We enter the Daily Bugle building, home to the newspaper where mild-mannered Peter Parker earns his keep as a freelance photographer (that is, of course, when he's not serving the public interest as the web-slinging wall-crawler known colloquially as Spidey). As we pass through several rooms and watch a video presentation, we learn that the Bugle's hotheaded publisher, J. Johan Jameson, has created a prototype reporter transport vehicle, the "Surveillance Communications Patrol," or SCOOP. There's even a little model of the multi-wheeled car on display under a glass dome.

Posted newspaper headlines tell of major disturbances caused by the city's Sinister Syndicate: Doctor Octopus, Electro, Hydro Man, Hobgoblin and Scream.

The place is eerily deserted. As we find our way down the halls, through the photographic darkroom, past the reporters' bullpen, all we see are signs that everyone's left in a big hurry. Phones ring unanswered; computers are left running with unfinished stories on the screens; a doughnut languishes half-eaten on a desk.

Eventually, a chaotic television news report frantically confirms the worst: the Sinister Syndicate is on a rampage and has stolen the Statue of Liberty with Doc Oc's Doomsday Anti-Gravity gun. Jameson wants reporters on the story NOW... but they're nowhere to be found.

Guess who he picks to give the SCOOP a test run? We're hustled out of the building where we can grab our "night-sight goggles" and get a crash course in riding the SCOOP. (Pay close attention to the animated video above the final boarding zone; it's a riot.)

With an elevated subway train screeching overhead, the outer door of the SCOOP closes and we prowl onto the grimy city streets. Rounding a bend, we see the projected Spiderman symbol flash across the brick walls. Jameson, via one-way radio, tells us that can only mean trouble.

The SCOOP makes another turn and we're facing a grand city nightscape. Where the set ends and the projected images begin I can't say, but the 3-D effect is unreal. And when Spiderman himself leaps from building to fire escape to the front of our vehicle, where he lands with a resounding thud, you'll go bananas. This is as cool as cool gets, and it's just the beginning.

Our SCOOP plunges forward and we come upon the gathered Syndicate, catching them off-guard as they dismantle the Statue of Liberty. Once they see us, they're in pursuit and the SCOOP kicks into high gear.

From this point on, it's total mayhem. Electro jabs a two-pronged power wire right into our eyes; Hobgoblin hurls flaming pumpkins; Doc Oc bursts through a wall, showering us with bricks, and turns on the heat with a blow-torch-tipped tentacle. And all this happens while we race through the city, our vehicle rocking, rolling, spinning and careening in every direction. Real fireballs, sprinkles of water, moving set pieces...

And when they finally turn the Anti-Gravity gun on us and the vehicle flies up into the air... well, that was a moment I'll remember forever.

The climax of the adventure is already legendary: the bad guys hit us again with the A-G gun, this time removing its effect. And from forty stories above the city, we fall straight down.

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25 large-format projectors and dozens of smaller projectors, all utilizing a new 3-D film technology called "moving points of convergence," helped to make this magic possible (To find out more about the technology and how the animations were created, visit the Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co. "web" site.) And when combined with the state-of-the-art ride vehicles, the acres of moving sets, the pyrotechnic effects, etc., you've got what Mark Woodbury, IOA's vice president of design and creative development, calls "the 'next-threshold attraction' which represents the evolution of immersive entertainment."

You haven't lived until you've ridden Spiderman.

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It was clear from the remarks made at the May 12th media preview by Edgar Bronfman, Jr., The Seagram Company's CEO, and Steven Spielberg (one of the park's creative consultants, shown at left), that everyone associated with IOA's development takes immense pride in what they've accomplished, as well they should.

And the years to come will prove to be even more spectacular. In Fall of 2000, the resort will open its second hotel, the Hard Rock, followed by the Royal Pacific in 2001. Still more are on the drawing boards.

And the new park itself? New rides are currently being developed, along with an entire additional Island. No one will definitively say what we can expect, but I hear that jeeps may soon be roaming through Jurassic Park and that Seuss Landing may be making room for the Grinch.

The Adventure Continues...

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© Robert Coker.
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