There’s a certain level of science to planning your theme park trip. And also to be able to adjust that plan once your feet are on the ground.
For me, it begins weeks out. I log on to the various apps and monitor the ebb and flow of wait times. I haven’t gotten so obsessed with it that I’ve created a chart or anything – though I did give it consideration. For now, I just try to get a feel of the trends.
Sure, the wait times for the most popular rides tend to jump up and stay up as soon as the park opens. We’re talking the Hagrid’s, the Velocicoaster or the Rise of the Resistance type rides.
But when planning our most recent trip to the Universal Orlando Resort, there was another attraction that seemed surprisingly impervious to the ebbs and flows of other rides.
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Shortly after the Islands of Adventure Park opened each day, the average wait time for the Pteranodon Flyers jumped up to 45 minutes. It then basically stayed in that general range all day.
Pteranodon Flyers is located in the Jurassic Park section, and it appears that the flyer is one of the favorite rides in Universal’s Islands of Adventure that isn’t among the park’s many roller coasters.
I think some of the lack of wait time fluctuation can be ascribed to the proximity to the Velocicoaster. While the big kids ride the roller coaster, the smaller ones can ride the Pteranodon Flyers. But I think there’s more to it than just that.
We stayed in a Universal hotel and had access to the park’s early hours. On three different days, our plan was to hit Hogsmeade first. Afterward, we’d slide over from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And finally to Jurassic Park to catch the flyer before the wait times jumped up.
However, it never worked out. The wait time doesn’t stay low long.
What is Pteranodon Flyers?
Located in Jurassic World, the Pteranodon Flyers is a ride designed specifically for kids. It also has a handful of confusing bevy of height requirement rules that we’ll get to later.
The two-person ride vehicles carry riders under the 10-foot wingspan of a pteranodon, a prehistoric flying reptile that lived in what is now the Midwest United States.
Sometimes referred to as a prehistoric bird, a Pteranodon was neither bird nor dinosaur for scientific-y reasons we don’t need to go into now.
They are also not from the Jurassic Period, but I think we can safely chalk their inclusion in Jurassic Park to John Hammond’s (the Jurassic Park creator) overall sloppiness and not an issue with Universal itself.
The ride is a gentle glide high above the Jurassic World Area of the IOA. With no sudden jerks or stops, it’s billed as a great ride for kids who aren’t ready for rides with more thrills.
The gentle attraction, combined with the Camp Jurassic play area, is an excellent introduction to rides that are more than the lift and spin of Dumbos or Magic Carpets of Aladdin or the Kang and Kodos Twirl and Hurl.
Is Pteranodon Flyers a roller coaster?
No. Not in the literal sense, anyway. It’s officially listed as “kid friendly” on the Universal website. Although, I think an argument could be made that under the broadest sense of the idea, it is kind of a coaster.
The riders glide under the wings of a pteranodon quite high up in the air, dangling from a track. It’s a great ride for a view of the surrounding area. You do pick up some speed. But there are buffers in the curves that keep you from really whipping around the track.
The ride is billed as something slight and gentle for kids. However, you are dangling quite high up in the air over Camp Jurassic during portions of the ride.
I imagine there are more thrills there than some might expect. Not everyone was built to be comfortable with their legs dangling 30 to 45 feet in the air.
Can adults ride Pteranodon Flyers?
Now we come to the crux of the issue. Basically, adults can only ride if they are accompanying children.
When we were there, Universal had an employee stationed at the entrance to the Flyers. Their job was to explain the – in my opinion – unnecessarily complicated height requirements for the flyer.
At one point, several sets of parents, two park employees and a handful of kids had convened at the entrance to the ride, working out who needed to ride with someone, who could ride alone and who couldn’t ride at all.
Here’s the policy:
- Min height 36” (92 cm)
- Max height 56” (143 cm) or accompanied by a rider who meets requirements
- Under 48” requires a supervising companion
Translated in English, it means you have to be at least 3 feet tall to ride. But you can’t be taller than 4-foot-6 unless you are accompanied by someone under 4-foot-6. Anyone shorter than 4-feet must have a supervising companion.
It’s ideal for kids and tweens up to the age of 12. Look, I get that they don’t want to muck up the queue for a kid’s ride with a bunch of adults.
However, Flyers is really, really cool with a great view of the park and the VelociCoaster. It is an enjoyable ride that a lot of people who don’t have kids in the three-foot to 4-foot-6 range would enjoy.
It would be a good ride for all ages, not just kids.
What about Camp Jurassic?
It’s a great little play area, a place where kids can get a reprieve from the theme park formula of bursts of excitement surrounded by a lot of walking a standing in line. The Universal website calls it a mega recreation area, a multi-level prehistoric playground where kids can have “mammoth-sized fun”.
I found it a nice, comfortable place to rest as the kids were able to just play in the dark caves and amber mines, dinosaur-capture nets and on the swaying suspension bridges.
Between this and Popeye’s ship and Seuss World, there’s quite a bit for kids to do in Islands of Adventure that doesn’t require a long wait in line. I liked that a lot.
Have your young ones tried the Pteranodon Flyers? What did they think? Let us know in the comments!