Epic Universe Isle of Berk – Dragon Racer’s Rally and Fyre Drill

Updates:

  • 2024-04-24 – Added note about Silver Dollar City’s RiverBlast.
  • 2024-04-25 – Over on my Facebook Page, Joel E. left this comment: “the Mack rides version also uses a conveyor belt loading system which gives its higher capacity then the interlink version at lost island”. I did not realize there were two manufactures of this type of ride, and ass-u-me’d the Epic one had to be the same as the one at Lost Island. The wikipedia entry for Epic calls it a “Splash Battle” ride, and the wikipedia entry for Lost Island calls theirs an “Interlink Splash Battle”. Do we have any confirmation on who makes the one going in to Epic – Mack Rides or Interlink? If it’s Mack Rides, then the version I mention at Silver Dollar City truly is closer, not only in how it will be set up, but by manufacturer. It seems there are only four of the Mack version in all of the USA right now.

Previous UOR Article: Garden Walk maps.

Today, Universal Orlando Resort released official information about the upcoming Isle of Berk land at the upcoming Epic Universe theme park, basically confirming what folks have been speculating about for many months.

You can see a CGI fly through of the land on their official YouTube page:

This land will feature three rides and a show:

  • Hiccup’s Wing Gliders (a family coaster)
  • Dragon Racer’s Rally
  • Fyre Drill (slow moving boat ride where you can squirt water at other boats and targets)

Roller coasters can be fun or painful. Family coasters like Hiccup’s Wing Glider are generally less abusive, and therefore more pleasant to ride than the extreme (and sometimes painful) coasters. Thrill fans will likely be unimpressed by it. Coasters like this are a dime a dozen – there are plenty of fun roller coasters across America, so this one will likely only seem special to fans of How to Train Your Dragons due to the theming it will have.

It is the other two rides I wanted to comment on here. We have both of them here in Iowa at the Lost Island Theme Park in Waterloo. That park opened in 2022, and I have photos from the past two years in my gallery:

https://themeparks.disneyfans.com/LostIsland/index.html

From looking at concept art and the CGI video, Universal’s version of these two rides will have better theming and better queues but the ride experience should be the same. Here is what you can expect.

Fyre Drill (Awaati Battle at Lost Island)

This is an unusual ride that could be quite fun in the right situation. At Lost Island, the boats hold eight people — four facing out the left side, and four facing out the right. There is a water gun in front of each rider, and a round crank wheel that is used to squirt water. The water guns can be aimed a bit.

Awaati Battle at Lost Island (7-15-2023).

The boats are designed to be loaded from either side, but at Lost Island all eight riders board from the right side and four can cross over to the other side from the front or back. Loading is done with the boat out of the water on a conveyor belt, similar to other water rides.

Awaati Battle load area at Lost Island (7-15-2023).

The speed of the boats is slow. I’d estimate they are as slow as, say, “it’s a small world” at Disney. This is not a thrill ride. There are no lap bars or seatbelts. While there may be some speed adjustments that could be done (speeding up water flow to increase hourly capacity), I would still expect this family-friendly ride to be slow at Epic Universe. (Like, you can walk faster than the boats go, on the pathways around this version.)

As the boats slowly wind through the course, there are times when it curves and you can find yourself facing another boat. This is when it can get fun, as riders in each boat do their best to aim their water guns at the other boat. When this happens, the folks on the opposite side of the boat miss out. In the photo below, you can see the left boat is facing a walkway where they could squirt at guests walking along that path. For the right boat, you can see there is another place where a boat “could” have been at that moment allowing that both to have a target on both sides.

Awaati Battle boats face each other at Lost Island (8-27-2022).

At Lost Island, the timing seems to be pretty random, so in our rides, we have found times when we only faced another boat once during the entire ride. This makes it less fun.

Along the way, Lost Island has some small set decorations which you can squirt at, but as of 2023 they did not have any type of interactive targets to aim for.

Awaati Battle decorations at Lost Island (7-15-2023).

Universal could easily improve this ride by having things to aim for that do something. From looking at the concept art, this seems to be the case. It even looks like there might be some things that squirt back.

At Lost Island, there are also some free water canons along the walkway. This lets other visitors pump their water gun and try to squirt boats as they slowly pass by. Since the boats move quite slow, if someone is doing this, and if they have good aim, you will get drenched. It’s one thing to try to squirt someone on a river rapids ride (they are likely already drenched) as it briefly passes under water guns there, but in a slow moving boat ride like this, expect to get drenched if Universal has similar water canons.

Awaati Battle sidewalk squirter at Lost Island (8-27-2022).

Above, notice you can turn the crank (just like on the boat), but there is also a foot peddle that makes it squirt on its own.

At Lost Island, these water canons are free. If they have them at Epic Universe, I expect they will be “pay to play” like the ones at Ripsaw Falls at Islands of Adventure.

The slow speed of the ride itself will likely be boring to anyone who expects this to be like a log ride. It is not. Also, those who like slow moving boat rides (like “it’s a small world” or Pirates of the Caribbean or whatever) but to not enjoy being sprayed with water will probably want to skip this one. I expect Epic’s version will see much higher crowds than at Lost Island, where folks seem to skip it and move on to more thrilling attractions.

We’ll have to see how much applies when Fyre Drill opens at Epic Universe.

See photos of the Lost Island version here:

https://themeparks.disneyfans.com/LostIsland/LostIsland2023/Awa-Water/AwaatiBattle/index.html

Update: For something much closer to what Epic is building, check out Silver Dollar City’s RiverBlast attraction. In addition to being heavily themed, it also features interactive water-activated targets along the route.

Dragon Racer’s Rally (Amara Aviators at Lost Island)

This was another type of ride I saw for the first time at Lost Island, though much like the boat ride, these exist at other parks already. It is a basic spinner ride that raises up, similar to chain swings and other rides, but with a twist. A literal twist. In addition to tilting (like chain swings do), each seat has “wings” that you can tilt independently. You can tilt one up and one down and flip yourself over (or even spin, once you get the hang of it).

Amara Aviators at Lost Island (7-15-2023).

Lost Island has one tower, and Epic Universal will have two. Lost Island’s version is basically un-themed (just some decal type decorations giving it a steampunk gear look) while the Epic Universe one looks like it will have some nice dragon theming.

Amara Aviators ride seats at Lost Island (8-27-2022).

Since this ride type is relatively new, it should be a fun new experience to most riders. But, if you are not wanting to flip and spin, it ends up just being a similar experience to many of the spinning swing type rides found everywhere. (We have a much taller spinner at the other park in Iowa, Adventureland, but it does not tilt or have the flipping that this type of ride has).

I expect this will be a great fun thrill for anyone who likes spinning and flipping rides.

See photos of the Lost Island version here:

https://themeparks.disneyfans.com/LostIsland/LostIsland2023/Udara-Air/AmaraAviators/index.html

Thoughts

Since both of these rides exist here in Iowa, I cannot say I am too thrilled about them making up 77% of the rides at Isle of Burke. BUT, I am interested in seeing the theming and details that Epic Universe adds to these off-the-shelf rides. As a big fan of theming, great details make a “ho hum” ride much more interesting to me.

I will say that, in visits to Lost Island, I mostly just walk by Awaati Battle. It’s not a ride I would wait a long time for, and it’s not fun when the boats are mostly empty with no one to squirt at, or to squirt back at you. I fully expect to stand in a line “no matter how long” to ride it at least once at Epic Universe, but unless there are some amazing scenes along their route, I don’t expect it will be a “must do.”

Your milage may vary, of course. Something considered “ho hum” here in Iowa might be much more exciting at Epic Universe.

I can’t wait for the 2025 opening to happen so I can find out.

Until then…

Addendum: If you stay at any of the on-site hotels at Universal Orlando, be sure to check out my Garden Walk maps. They show walking routes, water taxi docks and more.

Huge photo gallery update

The Theme Parks gallery has been updated with a batch of photos from Lost Island Themepark in Iowa:

http://themeparks.disneyfans.com

The Other Places gallery has also received a huge update, adding photos taken as far back as 2015 from events and places in Iowa, Texas, Illinois and more.

http://misc.disneyfans.com

These include:

  • Amana Colonies – including Wurst Fest 2023
  • Living History Farms – including Christmas
  • Jolly Holiday Lights
  • Blank Park Zoo “Wild Lights” Asian lantern festival
  • Trek Fest in Riverside, Iowa
  • Texas Pinball Festival
  • Galloping Ghosts Arcade near Chicago
  • Pella Tulip Time
  • …and probably more.

There are still dozens of galleries to be sorted and added, but this is at least progress.

Lost Island Theme Park – beyond expectations in Waterloo, Iowa.

In summer of 2022, America got a new theme park: Lost Island Themepark (as they spell it, without a space). This park is an addition to the well-established Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo, Iowa.

The Lost Island water park is highly rated (at least according to USA Today, which has ranked it Top 10 in the country for several years in a row). It currently sits in the #2 position:

https://www.10best.com/interests/explore/10-best-outdoor-water-parks-us-readers-choice-awards-2022/

The theme park has high standards to live up to.

We visited Lost Island and were stunned at how deep the lore and theming of the park goes. It practically has its own language, with most rides, shops and eateries having names we couldn’t pronounce (and, unfortunately, couldn’t remember).

The park is divided up in to “realms,” representing Fire, Earth, Water, Air and Spirit. The layout is wonderfully reminiscent of World Showcase at Epcot, with an entrance area that leads off in both directions as it circles a small central body of water.

Instead of a “Main Street,” there is a huge open plaza. Down at the end, across the water is their “castle” — a large Ferris wheel called “Alzanu’s Eye.” It is perfectly framed as you approach the ticket booths from the parking lot.

Each area has a restroom and a food location. There are two indoor sit-down food spots, one drink stand (with adult beverages and snacks) and the others are smaller snack stands (all but one with shaded seating beside it).

Knowing where you are in the park is quite easy — the light posts are different in each realm, as is the color scheme and even walkway details. You will see giant green leaves in the Earth area, and blue waves in the Water area. You can find steampunk gears and cogs in the paths of the Air realm, and animal tracks in the Spirit realm.

Theming here is well beyond that of a Six Flags style park, and on par with what you’d expect at SeaWorld Orlando. While it doesn’t compare to the fully immersive environments of Disneyland or Islands of Adventure, fans of theme and detail will find plenty to keep them entertained if they decided to go down the rabbit hole of exploring Lost Island lore. (How many Tamariki statues are there, again?)

Most of the rides are standard theme park flat rides, though only a few (such as the bumper cars) seemed generic. All the rest all themed versions to match the realm they are in. For example, a children’s spinning ride themed to a giant fish, representing the Water realm of the park, next to a mini Space Shot type ride, with a fire theme to represent that realm.

Two of the rides have indoor queues and preshows. One, a standard Space Shot style drop tower, has a decorated queue with a video preshow before boarding. You cannot see the loading area from outside — it was enclosed, similar to how Doctor Doom’s Fearfall is at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.)

The other is a 4-D motion base shooting dark ride which featured a themed queue, video preshow, and animatronic preshow. The ride itself goes through physical sets with projector and real targets to shoot at, along with mist, wind and fire effects. During video sequences, the vehicle motion base is active making it feel like a motion simulator (think Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure). Fans of dark rides will be very surprised at how good this one is.

There is even a phone app that will award you with badges and achievements as you visit different areas of the park. There is much here to learn about and discuss.

As time permits, a full review of the park will be added, along with over 1000 photos taken during the visit. A nearly-full 360-video tour of the park may also be shared, depending on how well the video turned out.

To be continued…

See: www.thelostisland.com