Spent almost the entirety of a recent trip to Universal at Islands of Adventure, to really soak it in and try to take a more complete set of photos of the park. It doesn't quite best Animal Kingdom as my favorite theme park, but it's probably a close second with its wonderful atmosphere bolstered by one of the best attraction lineups in the world.
I always try to spend a bit of time in Port of Entry because it's packed to the brim with great thematic details and little Easter eggs to pick up on. It's unfortunate that so many people just blow past this area without giving it a second thought.
For a ride that only sits at 110 feet tall, Hulk looms monstrously over the park entrance. I thought that the clock tower and roof line of the large souvenir shop nicely framed Hulk's cobra roll from this angle just outside the park gate.
Through Port of Entry, the area completely opens up to a panoramic view of the entire park. Did my best to make an interesting composition of this sure-to-become iconic view of Velocicoaster and Hogwarts, by creating a simple focus stack with these cool emblems along the waterfront.
The waterfront area also has some excellent views of Hulk, which more or less commands the entire front half of the park. Though admittedly it doesn't have quite as intimidating of a presence since its roar was heavily dampened during the huge 2016 refurbishment.
I'm a big fan of rollercoasters that have some sort of interaction with guests exiting the ride - whether intentional or not. Anyone getting off of Hulk and quickly walking down the exit tunnel is going to be greeted by this train whizzing by, framed by its own launch tunnel structure. Thought it would make a cool photo.
For one reason or another, I've never been satisfied with any pictures I've taken in Marvel Superhero Island. I noticed a handful of the buildings were glowing in the late afternoon sun, so I decided to break out my tripod and take a long exposure stack looking down the street.
Seuss Landing seems to be overlooked by many for being a little kids area, which are admittedly often afterthoughts in the design of theme parks. But, this area is the opposite of an afterthought - it's a core part of the park and has just as much care and attention to detail poured into it as any other area, down to the organically shaped structures, goofy looking plants, and rhyming attraction spiels.
1/150s panning shots are cool, but why not shoot 1/3s panning shots? This was achieved with the help of my tripod for balancing and an ND1000 filter. This photo is the best attempt out of the couple dozen I shot.
In what was nearly an hour's worth of attempts, I wasn't able to get a radial blur that captured more than either the zero car or a single person sharply. Guessing that's due to a combination of the inline roll's goofy inconsistent heart lining and a lack of control on my part, even with the tripod. So here's a more 'abstract' result, because that's less frustrating to me than a shot that's very nearly what I wanted but not quite.
Camp Jurassic is likely intended to be an area for children to run free, but it holds enough curiosities to make exploring it genuinely interesting. This cavern by the exit of Pteranodon Flyers is a great example - it's a wonderful feature of the park but most visitors probably don't even know it exists.
Hippogriff isn't a ride that I think of much, but it's very nicely themed for a kiddie coaster and is situated among lots of trees with a pathway running all through the ride. Makes for surprisingly nice photos, though I did spend a lot more time back here than I was planning on thanks to constantly changing lighting conditions.
Didn't have the best of luck with sunsets on this trip, but there was this very short lived bit of color as I was passing through Hogsmeade on my last day. By the time I got out my tripod to take a longer exposure most of the color had already vanished.
Lost Continent feels a bit lost at the moment, being anchored only by Mythos and Poseidon's Fury, two things that I'd guess a very large percentage of people skip. For many it probably serves the same purpose as Port of Entry - just another area to briskly walk through to get somewhere else. Still, Mythos is one of Islands' most beautiful structures, and its waterfront patio is one of the most peaceful places in the park to relax.
The amount of hate that Poseidon's Fury gets is a bit disappointing. I assume people don't like it because it doesn't at all conform to the standards of a modern theme park attraction, but that's exactly what I like so much about it. It's unlike just about anything else you can experience in the US. Excellent camp and a handful of genuinely impressive special effects.
Before even visiting, I knew I wanted a shot of the Hogwarts Castle fireworks shooting off behind Velocicoaster. Decided to set up on the Mythos patio so that the fireworks blast would be a bit more symmetric with Velocicoaster's top hat, and also because it's a slightly more unique angle than shooting from Port of Entry yet again.
Was quite excited to get this shot since it had rained, and I thought I'd get a crazy reflection of the entrance tunnel lights onto the pavement. Not sure how much of a difference it actually made. Maybe I could've shot a bit lower to put more emphasis on the ground lines.
No surprise that the nicest area of the park looks even nicer at night. Wet reflective pavement from an earlier rain shower, with a clear starry sky. Perfect environment to end a day at one of the world's greatest theme parks.