the making of islands of adventure

The Making of IOA: Marvel Super Hero Island

You could be forgiven for thinking that Marvel Super Hero Island has come to us from another planet. Though not as mysterious as the goings-on at Hangar 13 in Roswell, some of the early creative work on the project took place in a “secret, abandoned” warehouse in Burbank, CA. The island was designed to suggest that it was a ship that had landed on a lagoon in the middle of Orlando. The Marvel universe, with heroes and villains ranging from Thor to Doctor Doom to the Incredible Hulk, is certainly more alien than the family-friendly crew assembled over at Disney–or any other theme park, for that matter. And the island’s centerpiece, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, with its seamless blend of motion-based and 3D technology, is unlike any other attraction on the planet.

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The Making of IOA: The Lost Continent

The Lost Continent is that rarest of theme park venues–one with no tie-in to any films, books, or comic strips. It is divided into three very different zones: The Lost Continent, which has an Atlantis theme, Merlinwood, which evokes the world of King Arthur, and Sindbad’s Village. Continue reading

The Making of IOA: Toon Lagoon

It’s hardly unusual for a theme park to draw its inspiration from pre-existing pieces of pop culture. But even on these terms, Toon Lagoon is a hugely complex project, according to producer Chris Stapleton. It features over 150 characters from 80 comic strips, spanning the century. “We go from the Yellow Kid to Zippy the Pinhead,” laughs Stapleton.

It’s a visual explosion, a 3D Expressionist collage, which sends zany characters and bizarre architectural details spinning in all directions. Consider King’s Row, dedicated to the King Features comics. Every venue features its appropriate comic-strip reference, whether it’s Cathy’s Ice Cream Parlor, the sandwich shop Blondie’s: Home of the Dagwood (with a facade made up of a towering Dagwood special), or a newsstand dominated by an image of girl reporter Brenda Starr. Elsewhere, one encounters a singing Betty Boop, a boatful of Vikings straight out of Hagar the Horrible, and the inimitable Krazy Kat. Naturally, the fabrication of all this scenery was a huge challenge, notes Tom Lloyd of Adirondack Scenic, Inc., which, along with the Florida-based company Sightline, was responsible for fabricating the scenery in Toon Lagoon. Reid Carlson was the senior art director of Toon Lagoon exteriors.
John Martin, who worked on the design of exterior lighting park-wide, designed the lighting for King’s Row. He says his goal was to “make the characters come to life at night, make King’s Row really bright and beautiful. I wanted to add color that would not necessarily be there during the day, so the area would be transformed at night.”
Martin’s design broke down into two basic approaches. “You have accent lighting; you find an inconspicuous place for it–behind a tree, on a roof–then you work to make it clean and nondescript. Then you have character fixtures, which are part of the interior design.” Character fixture design for Toon Lagoon was done by Ken Daniels of the firm KDLD; the in-house character fixture coordinator was Wendy Wood.

As for units, Martin says, “We used a lot of Phoenix CSI fixtures. Their advantage is their throw lengths–you can push across 100′ successfully with color. Also they generally have good implementation of color accessories. We also used a nice small floodlight from Sill, a European manufacturer, that is sold in the US through Hydrel. The Sill has a metal halide lamp, but in a reflector environment with five different reflector beam spreads. They offer a variety of accessories to go in front. We also used a lot of PAR-38 metal halide accent fixtures.” The design was hooked into the Strand ParkNet system.
“The biggest single issue in Toon Lagoon,” concludes Martin, “was that there were no standardized details. Every 10′, the facades change–in nature, construction, approach.”
King’s Row is also a sound design challenge of tremendous sophistication. “It’s a music zone, which is shaped like a dog’s leg,” says audio software producer John Rust, adding, “I wanted to put a stereo soundtrack down the length of it. In that soundtrack, there are 14 point-source speakers, down the length of the area. Let’s say Betty Boop is singing ‘I Want to be Loved by You’ on the top of her piano. At the same time, her piano player is performing a solo on a separate track. Up the street a bit, all the dogs from various comic strips are sitting in a fountain, and they’re barking to ‘I Want to be Loved by You.’ Further up the street, Blondie and Dagwood are singing fragments of their theme [from their 1950s animated cartoon series]–they’re putting their melody against Betty’s song and everything else. Across the street, there’s Hagar the Horrible, with a glee club of drunken Vikings, singing original music and lyrics about how awful it is to be a Viking. There are 14 of these vignettes playing up and down the street, which requires two Fostex hard drives running in synch.” As in the rest of the park’s exterior locations, Bose speakers are used.
In contrast to King’s Row, the adjoining area of Sweethaven, dedicated to Popeye and his friends, was designed as a respite for visitors. It features Wimpy’s, for hamburgers, and Popeye’s three-story-tall boat, named Me Ship, The Olive, which has a number of interactive treats for guests, including the Cargo Crane, where one can shoot water at people on the nearby Bilge-Rat Barges ride. The softer look comes from the use of character fixtures, which use round, frosted globes for the most part, says lighting designer Pat Gallegos. “They’re decorative street lamps, mainly lanterns with a nautical flair, hung off oars, posts, and buoys. For the purposes of saving money, we came up with a set of variations on a theme–we called them the Fab Four. We used one globe, worked into four design considerations, with six different mountings–such as a chain, a bracket, or a pendant.” Project designer with Gallegos on all the Toon Lagoon projects was Aram Ebben.
Other key personnel in Toon Lagoon include project architect Robert Pennypacker, area development architect Brett Lemmon, the architecture firm CRSS, audio hardware director Asher Blum, and hardware audio designer SPL.
By any stretch of the imagination, Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a watery park–ride after ride offers patrons the chance to get wet (not an unattractive prospect, given Orlando’s frequently tropical temperatures). But even by these standards, Toon Lagoon is particularly damp. The main reasons for this flood of activity are the water rides, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.

Both rides are similar in that they hook their thrills to comic narratives involving kidnapped heroines; riders encounter numerous vignettes on the way, featuring audio-animated characters. But each has its own unique architecture and structure.
Ripsaw Falls, says Stapleton, is “an aqua-coaster–half roller coaster/half flume ride.” The hook: Snidely Whiplash kidnaps Nell, and Dudley tries to save her. Guests ride along in the water–a 400,000-gallon lagoon–encountering nearly two dozen vignettes laying out the storyline, until the ride climaxes in a 75′ drop (at a 55-degree angle) and a thundering splash that sends guests 15′ below water level.
The building that houses Ripsaw Falls (credits include concept designer Steve Lodwick and production designer Denise Imhoff), is a crazy construction in the Jay Ward manner. The ride is dominated by a Mount Rushmore-like facade, which features the faces of Dudley, Nell, Inspector Fenwick, and Dudley’s horse.
Gallegos says that the biggest challenge of lighting Ripsaw Falls was “integrating it with a very complicated building. Standard construction techniques don’t lend themselves to buildings that are purposely off-angle. One big challenge was to get the mountain lit in a dramatic way without blasting into the eyes of the people on the ride or in the queue line.”

On the other hand, the Bilge-Rat Barges is a log ride, as horizontal as Ripsaw Falls is vertical. The story: Bluto kidnaps Olive Oyl and Popeye goes off to rescue her. The guests become Bluto’s captives on a whitewater raft ride that sends them speeding over rough waters at a rate of 16′ per second. Guests passing by Popeye’s boat find themselves on the receiving end of water cannons, then pass into Octopus Grotto, where they encounter an 18′-tall, 14′-wide creature with five 10′ to 12′-long tentacles bulging with water. Then they are whirled into a fully operational boat wash where, in all likelihood, they will get completely soaked.
Lighting for both rides required a mixture of architectural and theatrical approaches–the former for the attractions’ exteriors and the latter for the many character vignettes. Gallegos, the principal designer on both water rides, says, “Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges is integrated into the whole area development. It’s a show for the people riding it and for people watching it as well. The challenge is to create an environment that works for both groups.”
The key is keeping lighting focused, “as carefully as you can,” he adds, “because there aren’t any good framing projectors designed for outside use that give a tremendous punch. There are a few, but they’re expensive and don’t get used much.” Instead, he chose to work with outdoor PAR cans, both metal halide and halogen. “Then it’s a matter of using glare shields, and also using the landscaping to do your masking for you–working units into rocks, hiding them with bushes.” The project was greatly aided by a dimensional model of the area, built by Universal when the project was still in the planning stages. “We spent quite a bit of time with it,” says Gallegos, “putting pushpins into it, indicating where our lights would go in order to develop the lighting story agreed to by the project team.”
Speaking of Ripsaw Falls, Universal staff lighting designer Tim Linamen says, “The vast majority of the units used for lighting the interior scenes are [ETC] Source Four PARs and ellipsoidals.” He adds, “We used a lot of Lumiere Cambrias, the exterior architectural fixture, both inside and outside, because they’re so compact, and the lamps are relatively easy to change. A lot of Altman PARs are used for exterior scenes as well. Also, because some of the show scenes are exteriors, we used CSIs [outdoor floodlights by Phoenix] located around the venue’s exteriors to provide general illumination for the whole area.” Other key lighting suppliers, for both water rides and the Sweethaven exterior lighting, include Environmental Lighting Associates, Lumiere Manufacturing, Hydrel, Altman, Bega, Columbia, Tokistar, McPhilben, Architectural Cathode, Times Square, ETC, Mole Richardson, Rosco, and RLH Enterprises. Strobes were provided by Diversitronics, Flashworks, and High End Systems. Special F/X Lighting provided dichroic color filters. Dimming is by Strand, with relays by Micro-Lite. ETC provided lighting control on the ride.
One key ride moment comes just at the big drop, when riders make the big plunge into a shack filled with TNT that “explodes.” The drop is accompanied by popping strobes, which create just the right disorienting touch. This moment is also the chef d’oeuvre of Show Technologies, which produced 13 special effects and 19 show action systems for Ripsaw Falls. As the riders plunge, the explosion is simulated by a series of effects; the walls and roof move in and out, signs spin, the smokestack twirls, a chicken leaps in the air, making frightened noises. There are also sound effects, plus fog and water cannons. The vignette is complicated enough to have a dedicated control system, which is triggered by the approaching log vehicle.
Signal Perfection Limited handled the installation of the sound systems on these rides. Both rides make use of a wide array of sound equipment, including speakers from EAW, Anchor, Atlas Soundelier, NEAR, Soundscape, Crest amplifiers, Fostex hard drives, Symetrix mic preamps/voice processors, and Shure microphones. Other contributors include AMT, Best, Bitree, Entrelec, Hoffman, JL Cooper, Middle Atlantic, Rane, Slorus, and White. One key piece of equipment was the Wet Series of speakers from Community. Lighting and effects are controlled by the Anitech system, with sound effects under the control of Marshal Long Acoustic control, with an Allen-Bradley PLC calling all the shots. Animation and show control for both rides was provided by ITEC.

Like everything else at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Ripsaw Falls and the Bilge-Rat Barges are likely to raise the bar for others attempting to create similar rides. “The Bilge-Rat Barges and Ripsaw Falls are the next generations of the raft ride and the log flume ride,” says Stapleton. Just make drip-dry clothing a priority when you visit the park.
Without a doubt, the best-named attraction in Toon Lagoon is the Pandemonium Cartoon Circus. This live stage show offers plenty of what the title promises. The cast includes such well-known names as Bullwinkle, Rocky, Bluto, Olive Oyl, Woody Woodpecker, Broom Hilda, Dagwood, Blondie, Boris Badenov, Natasha, Beetle Bailey, and Snidely Whiplash (actually, live actors in character costumes designed by Alyja Kranich) in a fast-moving revue filled with singing, dancing, and slapstick.
On a circus-style set designed by Bob Harris, all sorts of things happen: Dudley Do-Right and Nell star in a knife-throwing act; Betty Boop descends from the flies on a crescent moon and dangles by an arm and a leg; Blondie and Dagwood circle the stage on rollerblades. Linking all these episodes is a through-line featuring Dudley in pursuit of Snidely, who has kidnapped Nell. Other creative personnel include producer Scott Helmstedter and executive producer Tom Geraghty. Scenic production was by Piper Productions. Costumes were built by Custom Characters, John David Ridge, and USE Costume Shop.
Clearly, the show has been conceived in the spirit of Broadway razzmatazz, and the New York connection continues in the work of lighting designer KB Associates, with Jason Kantrowitz as project designer. Kantrowitz assembled a sizable rig that blends moving lights and conventional units to create an overtly theatrical design that grabs the audience’s attention even during the show’s many daytime performances. Blue, pink, and yellow hues wash the stage. The runway is lined in red light bulbs. A series of R40 strips at the rear of the stage feature glass filters in red, yellow, and blue. Gobo effects and strobes underline key comic moments, while three followspots send beams racing around the stage.
One interesting choice made by Kantrowitz was the Clay Paky Stage Line 300 moving light. “It’s a punchy little unit, perfect for creating eye candy,” he says. Universal staff lighting designer Linamen says the choice “was born of a maintenance issue, because Clay Pakys are such durable fixtures. They’re usually more expensive, but that particular line was within our budget.”
Other key parts of the lighting design include approximately 274 ETC Source Four units, 20 Altman 65Q fresnels, 15 Altman R40 light strips, 12 GAM Products TwinSpins, 220 TRP Star Strobes, hundreds of City Theatrical lighting accessories, and followspots by Lycian. The lighting is controlled by an ETC Obsession, although the entire show is controlled by SMPTE timecode. Other key lighting personnel included programmer Jim Ohrberg, production electrician Chuck Haigler, and board operator Mikey Rau.
The show’s sound system also underwent considerable revision. Bob Owens of SGA Audio Design and Services was brought in to rework the original mono system created by another designer and installed by SPL. The original design consisted mostly of a large center cluster of EAW speakers; Owens added more equipment to create a surround system. “I put EAW KF400 stacks on the left and right of the proscenium on the floor, and also Meyer MSL 4s with PSW 6 cardioid subwoofers. I also used EV SX500s for surround speakers.” Owens also used the Meyer SIM system to EQ the space. Other pieces of the sound installation include Crest amps, a Peavey MediaMatrix processing system, and a Yamaha PM-3500 console. The designer adds, “The show operates off an Akai DR-16 hard-disk unit, with a 360 Systems instant replay for certain slapstick sound effects triggered by the operator on visual cues.” The soundtrack for the show, which is pre-recorded, was created by Audio by the Bay.
Sourced from Entertainment Design, Nov 1, 1999

The Making of IOA: Secrets of the Signage

For more than 25 years, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory —    with its many visual wonders and thematic units — has exercised the imaginations of young and young-at-heart viewers alike. Such magic-wielding worlds as Willy Wonka’s are typically confined to movie land. But movie viewing isn’t the only way to experience paradise. If you’re seeking an off-screen Eden for all ages, you might consider visiting Orlando, FL’s Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park.

Located adjacent to Universal Studios Florida ®, the billion-dollar Islands of Adventure was conceived in 1994. “We were looking for thematic content for a second park; we were looking to build large ‘islands’ that would house attractions,    restaurants and merchandise shops,” explains Steve Leff, Universal Studio Inc.’s (Los Angeles) graphics manager.
To create the park’s six islands, Universal went to great pains to find themes that appeal to both children and adults. The science-fiction/fantasy film Jurassic Park ®provided the details needed to create one island. Another island was born after Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P., La Jolla, CA, granted Universal permission to use Seuss characters. At the same time, Universal contracted with Marvel Comics, New York, to use Marvel    Super Heroes, as well as King Features, a division of the Hearst Corp., New York, to incorporate “Sunday Funnies” characters. The park’s “Port of Entry™” and “The Lost Continent™” islands are themed to reflect adventure, exploration, trading, myths and legends. From these contract agreements, Universal acquired enough content to build a new park. Steve recalls, “We wanted to go into the fantasy realm and create worlds based on the thematic properties we collected from outside sources.” To ensure the detail of each island, it took Universal approximately five years to oversee and complete the project. The park celebrated its grand opening May 28, 1999.

Jurassic Park River Adventure entrance sign

Designing the park 
Under Steve’s guidance, Universal’s seven-person graphics team created design concepts for Islands of Adventure’s more than 2,100 signs and graphics. The designers’ first task was to name the park’s attractions, restaurants and shops. Steve explains, “Many facilities had not yet been named. And since we had to design signs for these facilities, we needed to first create names to put on the signs.” Once the nomenclature was established and legally approved, the designers began creating concepts for the park’s main-identification and large-scale signs. To establish the signs’ placement on various buildings, as well as to ensure the appropriate structural and electrical components, Universal designers worked closely with outside architectural and engineering firms.
The team’s primary goal was to ensure the graphics complimented the overall theme-park environment. Steve says, “Park graphics should blend in with the facility’s overall theme. However, they should not blend in so well they go unnoticed by the visitors.” Another design goal was to differentiate the appearance of the islands while maintaining a uniform wayfinding system for the entire park.
Early planning, hard work, skill and outside help from a number of graphics-design and architectural and engineering firms allowed the Universal team to accomplish its goals and create what it considers “coffee-table-book graphics.”
Upon completing the project’s design concepts, Universal mailed letters to approximately 50 qualified sign fabricators requesting information about their shops’ size, capabilities and product  offerings. The fabricators were also asked to send photos and shop drawings of prior, heavily themed project work. From this feedback, Universal narrowed its search to 25 companies. Steve then traveled to each location and interviewed the candidates. He says, “I wanted to get a feel for the companies and select the island(s) for which they could produce the best graphics.” For example, to produce the signage for “Toon Lagoon™” and “Marvel Super Hero Island™,” Steve sought electric-sign shops. Many of the signs for these two islands incorporate fabricated aluminum, Plexiglas ®and internal neon illumination. Likewise, he sought shops with experience fabricating foam and fiberglass sculptures to complete the signage for “Seuss Landing™” and “The Lost Continent.”
The signshops were then asked to bid on the project, as well as submit technical proposals outlining how they would plan and complete the job. Once Universal received the proposals, it matched qualified fabricators with the appropriate project work. The number of sign fabricators and vendors assigned to each island was determined by the amount and type of work required.
One of the many Dueling Dragons signs

Managing sign production 
Fifteen-year-old Design Communications Ltd. (DCL), Boston and Orlando, FL, fabricated all signs for “Port of Entry” and “The    Lost Continent.” According to Steve, DCL’s proposal stood out because the company’s found-parts coordinator could visit ship yards and salvage companies to seek ship and airplane relics for “Port of Entry,” which features an adventure-and-exploration theme. Also, DCL’s foam- and fiberglass-sculpting experience made it the perfect sign fabricator for “The Lost Continent.” DCL was the only company chosen to fabricate signs for two islands.
The signshop began fabricating signs for “Port of Entry” in February 1998 and “The Lost Continent” in June 1998. Approximately 480 signs were produced for both islands. DCL President Mark Andreasson says his shop’s biggest fabrication challenge was creating so many one-of-a-kind, large-scale signs. “We’re    accustomed to producing large-scale signage — for shopping malls, stadiums and airports — which is repetitive in nature. For the Islands of Adventure project, however, we had to create many completely unique signs that were complicated to engineer and fabricate,” Mark explains.
Project management, Mark says, is the key to overcoming such fabrication challenges. To manage the Islands of Adventure job, his shop broke the project down into small parts and assembled in-house teams. Approximately half of DCL’s 110 employees worked on the project during its peak time. Any work not assigned to an in-house team was subcontracted. DCL hired approximately nine subcontractors to share the workload and more than 100 vendors to supply materials and miscellaneous items.
Good project control helps overcome any production and communication challenges that might arise when a signshop has to monitor the progress of both in-house and outside production. Mark advises that communication between shops remain open at all times. When working on a job of this size and nature, sign-makers should keep the project’s scope in mind throughout fabrication to limit rework. “It’s important for sign fabricators to encourage conceptual designers to spell out what they want. By doing so, fabricators can keep a job’s parameters from changing,” Mark says. To ensure profitability, sign manufacturers should also track a project’s every detail and cost, as well as maintain good documentation and update shop drawings.
Hogsmeade Sign....one of the newest signs at the park

Fabricating and installing the signs 
There was no cookie-cutter approach to the fabrication and installation of the 480 signs DCL produced for Islands of  Adventure. Aluminum, fiberglass, Sign•Foam high-density urethane (HDU) and natural wood were among the variety of    materials the shop used to create the theme park’s signage. Fabrication techniques included hand-carving, hand-painting, sandblasting and sculpting. In addition to being one-of-a-kind, each sign was engineered, manufactured and installed to withstand abuse from the park’s many visitors, as well as Central Florida’s humid climate and severe wind load. Mark and his crew completed fabrication and installation of all signs for “Port of Entry” and “The Lost Continent” in 12 months.
Here’s an overview of the materials, techniques and installation methods DCL used to create five of the signs for “The Lost Continent”:
Alchemy Bar: Measuring 6 feet tall, the sign incorporates an aluminum frame structure distressed to resemble aged pewter and wrought iron; cast-resin embellishments, a carved urethane sign band and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) lettersA hammered, stainless-steel mixing bowl cups a 27-liter    Pyrex™ borosilicate-glass flask, which is plastic-coated for    safety and to simulate a hand-blown appearance. A magnetic stirring device — housed within the steel mixing bowl — spins a plastic-coated steel bar inside the flask and stirs 150 pounds of    fluid. To illuminate the fluid, a neon ring is placed inside the    sign’s base enclosure. A faux-finished mounting plate and square, aluminum tube are used to support the structure.
Dragon’s Keep: The 4-foot-tall sign employs aluminum and medium-density overlay (MDO) with carved Sign•Foam. Acrylic, foam and cast resin make up the sign’s 2-foot-tall medallion. Internal neon illumination accentuates the sign’s acrylic push-through letters, which are filled with crushed amethyst. The sign’s acrylic jewel features bevel-cut edges and internal, fiber-optic illumination. The 9-foot-tall tree — in which the sign is embedded — contains a steel structure with a sculpted-foam shape. Painted, fiberglass, epoxy-coat detailing make up the construction’s outer shell.
Frozen Desert: DCL used aluminum and Sign•Foam to prepare the 7-foot-tall masterpiece. The sign’s aluminum patterns are router-cut from successive layers and filled in with cut-glass tiles. Epoxy resin holds the tiles in place. The sign hangs from steel chains attached to a 10-foot-tall aluminum support arm with a foam and fiberglass surface shaped, carved and painted to resemble aged wood. In addition, this support houses six MR-16 electrical lamps.
Oasis Coolers: An aluminum core structure and a sculpted, rigid Sign•Foam lower panel make up the 8-foot-tall sign. Its 1-inch-thick, double-sided acrylic centerpiece features a translucent cloisonné (an enamel decoration) finish. A    custom, sculpted-foam, glass- and resin-coated tapered flagpole supports the sign.
Shop of Wonders: To produce the 9-foot, 6-inch-tall sign, DCL combined aluminum and carved Sign•Foam. The lower arc’s internal, neon-illuminated, foam-carved letters are paint-filled and covered with glass beads. A translucent paint    finish on polycarbonate makes up the sign’s molded sun and moon faces. The sign’s upper arc comprises internal, neon-illuminated, colored-enamel, routed letters. A gear motor and cam device — housed in the sign’s upper arc — allow the center faces to rotate 90 degrees. The sign is affixed to a building with a square-tube steel support.
Steve admits Universal pushed the envelope in specifying the park’s signage. However, he thinks the project’s designers and fabricators overcame the challenges and produced what he considers outstanding theme-park signage. He says, “I think we’ve created the best theme park in the world. Its signage, as well as its architecture, thematic elements, lighting and rides are state of the art. And the public’s reaction has been tremendously positive.”
According to Mark, the park is a sign professional’s paradise because the signs incorporate every imaginable substrate and fabrication technique. Although DCL has worked on a number of large-scale sign projects worldwide, it considers Islands of Adventure to be its most creative and detailed work to date. Mark says, “The theme park’s environment is superior to anything else I’ve ever seen. And it’s rewarding for DCL to have been an integral part of such a tremendous project.” The only way to grasp the magnitude of this undertaking, however, is to visit Central Florida’s newest unique destination. “It’s a smorgasbord of signage,” Mark laughs.
Islands of Adventure main entrance sign

Island Designers and Fabricators 
Port of Entry: The signage for this land of adventure, exploration and trading juxtaposes crude and elaborate elements,    incorporating ship and airplane relics, as well as other salvaged    materials. Senior graphic designer: Wayne Clark, Universal Studios    Inc., Los Angeles; fabricated signs: Design Communications Ltd.    (DCL), Boston and Orlando, FL; DCL’s project manager: Karen    Gorczyca; painted graphics: Jim Neal Signs, Orlando, FL.
Seuss Landing: A wacky, irregular land inspired by the stories of Dr. Seuss, its animated signage is sculpted from foam    and fiberglass and brightly painted. Senior graphic designer:    Cathy Lloyd, Universal; main-identification signs: Jon Richards    Co., Mira Loma, CA; secondary sculpted pieces: Scenic Productions, Gainseville, FL; plaques: Graphic Systems, Orlando, FL; flags and    banners: Olympus Flag & Banner, Milwaukee.
The Lost Continent: The subtly lit signs in this land of myths and legends are sculpted, carved and textured to mimic trees, shields and stone. Senior graphic designer: Stephen Oliver, Universal; fabricated signs: DCL; DCL’s project manager: Angela    Goddard; painted graphics: Jim Neal Signs; flags and banners: Olympus Flag & Banner.
Jurassic Park: Based on the science-fiction/fantasy film, this island incorporates signage made from wood, granite and patented metals. Senior graphic designer: Wayne Clark; all sign work: Architectural Graphics Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.
Toon Lagoon: Inhabiting this island are    larger-than-life, digitally printed graphics of “Sunday Funnies”    characters, including Betty Boop, Blondie, Beetle Bailey and    Popeye. The island also features internally illuminated voice    bubbles and painted, newspaper-shaped walls. Senior graphic    designer: David Woody, Universal; fabricated signs: Heath &    Co., Oldsmar, FL, and Sightline Studios, Starke, FL; painted walls    and graphics: Adirondack Scenic, Glens Falls, NY.
Marvel Super Hero Island: Spider-Man is one of many    Marvel Super Heroes who calls this island home. The island  contains a number of aluminum-backed 3M Scotchprint graphics, which feature various lighting and neon effects. Senior graphic designer: Stephen Oliver; signs and graphics: Architectural Image Manufacturers, Atlanta; Scotchprint graphics: Visual Impessions,    Charlotte, NC.

The making of Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando

Rummaging through the archives here at Theme Park Canuck, we came across a series of articles about the making of Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. These date back to 1998 and 1999 before the park opened. We always wished that Universal created a book about the making of the park, but that never happened. We’ve got features on each of the islands (Marvel, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, and Suess Lagoon), plus one about all the unique signage found in the park. If you’re a theme park buff like we are here at Theme Park Canuck, you’ll find these articles fascinating. Enjoy! Continue reading