Every Friday I look back at one of the notable roller coasters I have been on in my travels…

Today is the turn of the iconic The Incredible Hulk at Islands of Adventure (one of the theme parks within the Universal Orlando Resort). Back in 1999 Islands of Adventure opened in Orlando and my family had no plans to visit the brand new theme park, in fact they didn’t know it existed. I was 12 years old and not particularly interested in roller coasters, none of my family members would go on them anyway so I didn’t get pushed into trying a big one. I went on the rides at Chessington, in the UK but they were a world away from anything I saw in America that year.

We visited Universal Studios and unfortunately (or in retrospect fortunately) my brother managed to fall over in wet playground section of Woody Woodpecker’s Funzone and get a huge nose bleed. Poor child. Universal pulled out all the stops, giving us merchandise, taking me and my dad to the front of the line of all the rides (including Jaws and Back to the Future RIP) and free tickets that we could use at Universal Studios OR the brand new park next door Islands of Adventure. Later on when we had a free day we decided to make the trip to Islands of Adventure, which now is one of my favourite theme parks in the world.

Close up of The Incredible Hulk
Close up of The Incredible Hulk

Back in 1999 I was suitably impressed, with no expectations this place looked amazing! I had been to Disney World, it’s what had always excited me previously and I thought that was the beginning and end of immersive attractions at the time. Between Jurassic Park River Adventure and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, I think I probably truly started my descent into becoming a theme park junkie. However, I was not yet a coaster freak. Looking up at The Incredible Hulk, I had never been so scared of something intended as a form of entertainment in my life. Sure, me and my pre-teen friends would get dropped off at Chessington World of Adventures and ride Rameses Revenge 50 times in a row but for some reason that was nowhere near as intimidating as The Incredible Hulk. I remember they bigged up the fear factor by including a room afterwards dedicated to people feeling sick, although I can’t find any evidence online so maybe that was just a joking story my father told me.

So I chickened out. I was 12 years old and I would have had to ride that thing alone without ever having been on anything bigger than the Vampire at Chessington (a fairly tame suspended family coaster). Looking back, it’s pretty understandable. I remember the shadow of that ride and the possibility of going on it was in the back of mind the entire day I was in the park. I thought about that ride a lot and I really regretted not going on it. Finally, with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure, I had an opportunity to convince my family that they wanted to visit Florida again.

Incredible Hulk at Islands of Adventure
Incredible Hulk at Islands of Adventure

This was before I had taken the leap of travelling by myself and nobody else I knew wanted to spend their spare income on going all the way to Orlando. I was incredibly excited to visit the Wizarding World, but a big part of me was so intent on going back to Islands of Adventure to write the wrong of chickening out 11 years ago. It was amazing, I enjoyed the ride so much and the backstory of my journey to finally riding it means I probably rank it higher than I should objectively.

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