Universal’s Islands of Adventure may be open seven days a week, but every day is Sunday when you’re in Toon Lagoon! A land like no other, Toon Lagoon transports you through your favorite morning funny pages, delivered in crisp, vibrant color.
Whether you’re swinging over on a web from Marvel Super Hero Island or veering your expedition vehicle away from the foreboding drums of Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Toon Lagoon will greet you with an unmistakable thought bubble marquee surrounded by its trademark water jets.
As the name implies, Toon Lagoon is wet. Like, soaking, dripping wet. Around every corner, there’s an opportunity to combat the relentless Florida heat with a healthy dose of H2O, either by boarding a water vessel bound for a turbulent river, or by walking around the abundance of water features splattering kids (and kids at heart) from above, below, and sideways.
An island without equal, Toon Lagoon offers numerous ways to shop, dine, explore, and SOAK in a three-dimensional, colorful fantasy.
What to Do
First, let’s follow our favorite Royal Canadian Mountie, Dudley Do-Right, as he braves the 75-foot precipice of the eponymous Ripsaw Falls to save his beloved Nell Fenwick from the dastardly clutches of Snidely Whiplash. Unlike its peers, this is a literal log flume, asking guests to step into logs traveling through a sawmill. This ride — which is not for the faint of heart — is a delight for thrill-seekers and toons alike. Not only is the finale the most thrilling and hydrating free fall in the park, but the journey is chocked full of visual gags and puns that would even make your dad groan. As the narrator will soon remind you: A Mountie always gets his man! (But not always his girl).
PRO TIP: Does that Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls drop look too intense? For those averse to extreme thrills (or getting wet), there is much joy to be had in standing on the bridge at the foot of the drop and drenching the logs below with water cannons, at only 50 cents a pop!
A less towering yet equally wet experience lies just next door at Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. Stay strong to the finish as you follow another lovable hero through the most wrathful rapids the Sunshine State has to offer. Dimwitted Bluto has taken Olive Oyl yet again and diverted your barge into the Hurricane River. Rescuing Olive Oly will require close encounters with a cephalopod (look it up!), waterfalls, ship cannons, and a healthy dose of spinach, all culminating in a daunting finale with a splashy finish. Without as intense a plummet as Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, this adventure’s colossal river raft can seat 12 mariners, so entire families can join in on the fun.
Just like Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, your tamer companions can keep themselves occupied on water jets mounted right at the entrance of the ride. Keep an eye out to splash the barge with your friends on it — if you don’t mind the awkward car ride home!
PRO TIP: From my many years riding these rides, I’ve noticed that Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls tends to have the longest wait times, so my tip for aspiring seafaring Toons would be to ride that one first to minimize the amount of time you spend shivering in an air-conditioned line soaked to the bone!
What to Eat
No matter your craving, there’s a great chance you’ll have it satisfied in the Comic Strip Cafe, the culinary anchor of Toon Lagoon that serves guests — dry and soaked — a fulfilling serving of theme park mainstays (burgers, pizza, and chicken sandwiches), as well as some selections of Asian Cuisine you can’t find elsewhere. Adorned with colorful imagery straight from the newspapers, this spot is a sure bet for even your pickiest of eaters.
For those with an appetite for the out-of-this-world, direct your attention to Blondie’s, whose staple (alongside a diverse offering of sandwiches and hot dogs) is the Dagwood — a sandwich fit for a foodie. Piled high with baked ham, turkey, roast beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and mustard, this is the perfect boost to power you through the rest of the day — and probably the week as well!
Toon Lagoon’s last savory delight is Wimpy’s, and like Popeye’s gluttonous friend, the selection is substantial — rounding off our appetizing tour of this land with samplings of Wellington and plant-based burgers.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Grab an outdoor seat by Wimpy’s to dry off and to experience unrivaled views of Popeye’s Bilge-Rat Barges and their soon-to-be soaked riders!
How to Plan to Get Wet
Toon Lagoon is a fascinatingly diverse land, but the constant presence of water means if you want to make an extended stay here, make sure you are prepared to GET WET! For most, this means bringing a poncho or wearing clothes you don’t mind getting absolutely soaked. Better yet, if your group includes a rider without the inclination for a good drenching, prepare to give them all of your belongings. Shoes are required on the rides, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come prepared with sandals or water shoes to avoid the dreaded *squish squish squish* of a wet pair of socks.
PRO TIP: If you’re planning to get wet, go all the way! Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Jurassic Park River Adventure (next door in Jurassic Park) are all next to each other, so when I plan to do water rides, I tend to do all three back-to-back-to-back, either at the beginning of my day so I can dry off in the sun, or at the end so I can change into dry clothes faster. There are also dryers available for purchase near each of these water rides!
Another important consideration is what you plan on doing next. Once you’ve been properly doused, consider spending some time basking in the sun. In other words, don’t make a beeline right to Marvel Super Hero Island’s The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, where the usually inviting hallways of the Daily Bugle might be found to be a little chilly. Instead — consider trying your skills at one of Toon Lagoon’s many midway inspired games: Whack-a-Mole, High Striker, Top Glow, Hot Shot, or Bank-a-ball offer alluring timesinks. If you’re still wet once you’ve won that treasured stuffed plush, you can also trek to the nearby outdoor play areas of Jurassic Park’s “Camp Jurassic”.
Tips for the Landlubbers
Not everyone in your party may have a poncho in their back pocket, so for those you’ll be handing your wallet and phone as you board a watercraft, there are plenty of landlocked activities in this land to keep their interest, especially surrounding Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.
If you walk past our favorite sailor man, you’ll find an oft-ignored area of the park brimming with character and personality. The anchor (wink wink) of this nook is Me Ship, the Olive. Your younger sailors can play with interactive instruments, climb nets, and slide around while you take in the breathtaking panoramic sights of the Islands of Adventure lagoon. Better yet — child and adult alike can hop on the totally complimentary water cannons to the delight (or despair) of the river raft riders below!
To the left of Me Ship, the Olive, marked with a sign “Lagoon Viewing (no outlet)” is a winding walkway giving you even greater views of the surrounding vistas (especially the brand new Jurassic World VelociCoaster) and a plethora of jokes and props that are worth seeing for yourself. I almost never pass up an opportunity to spend some time here; this lovely shaded respite is perhaps the most overlooked niche in all of Universal Orlando Resort. For those Toons seeking some comic relief, this area will let you relax in relative isolation before embarking on your next thrill.
Making Memories (Photo Ops, Character Meet & Greets, and Shopping)
Before you disembark, don’t forget to collect some memories of your stay here!
For comic enthusiasts, Toon Lagoon is the best destination in the state of Florida to get your photo taken with the hosts of characters that used to keep you company while you scarfed down cereal waiting for the school bus.
There are many iconic photo opportunities throughout Toon Lagoon; the most popular is an optical illusion with Marmaduke seemingly pulling you straight out of a comic panel.
The various speech and thought bubbles sprinkled along the main walkway also provide memorable photographs, as do roaming character favorites: Popeye, Betty Boop, Olive Oyl, and even Woody Woodpecker have been known to saunter through this island. With enough photos, you’ll be able to put together a comic strip of your own (featuring you as the star!)
For those that prefer tangible souvenirs, consider poking your head in the Betty Boop Store or the aptly named “Wossamotta-U” – in addition to a keepsake, you might just find a character browsing the wares!
MY RECOMMENDATION: While you look for a character to pose with, try to find Billy! He’s wandered out of a Family Circus panel, but luckily he marked his trail!
In closing, Toon Lagoon is the perfect excursion for the first-time Islands of Adventure attendee or the journeyed passholder; a refreshing reprieve from the Florida heat and a treasure trove of secrets and jokes. I hope these tips and tricks serve your next trip well — soak responsibly!
What’s your favorite spot in Toon Lagoon? Let us know in the comments below!