The towering lighthouse with the blazing fire at the top, modeled after the ancient lighthouse of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt, marks the gates to Islands of Adventure and the beginning of your adventure. This striking structure is only the most obvious of the metaphors used in an eclectic blend of architecture and decor that evokes the spirit of wanderlust and exploration. At the base of the lighthouse a series of sails, like those on ancient Chinese junks, shade the ticket booths for the park.
Through these gates lies Port of Entry, a sort of storytelling experience that combines evocative architectural motifs and haunting music to build your anticipation as you enter more fully into the spirit of discovery. Universal's scenic designers have outdone themselves on this one. To centuries-old Venice, they've added images of Istanbul, a soupçon of Samarkand, a touch of Timbuktu, and a dash of Denpassar to create a ravishingly beautiful example of fantasy architecture. Hurry through in the morning if you must, but if you are among the last to leave the park, you should really linger in Port of Entry and drink in the atmosphere.
As you marvel at the architectural details and the exquisite care with which the designers have "dressed" this sensuous streetscape, pay attention to the sounds that swirl around you. In addition to the chatter of your fellow adventurers, you will experience one of IOA's "next level" touches. Like all the other islands in the park, Port of Entry has its own specially composed soundtrack that unfolds as you walk along, drawing ever closer to the Great Inland Sea. But there are other inspired aural touches as well, like the muffled conversations from dimly lit upper-story windows hinting at intrigue and adventures unknown. It's a very special place.
Tip: See if you can find the gambling hall, dance studio, "Lost Explorers" club, former fire department, and jail-broken prison.
Port of Entry serves some more mundane purposes as well. Before you pass through the gates you will find, on your left, a pale green building that houses Group Sales. If you are the leader of a group of 20 or more, this is the place to pick up your tickets. To the right of the ticket booths, you will find a Guest Services walk-up window marked "Will Call." Stop here if you have arranged to have tickets waiting for you. Nearby is the only ATM in Port of Entry, so if you are in need of ready cash, make sure to stop here before you enter the park. Other ATMs are found in The Lost Continent, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Marvel Super Hero Island.
Once past the ticket booths and the entrance turnstiles, you will find a spacious semicircular plaza. Directly ahead of you is a large stone archway. The fantastic facades of the buildings to either side hide a variety of Guest Services functions.
To the left of the archway are ...
Restrooms. Because there are some things you don't need to carry on your adventures. Nearby are phones and a phone card vending machine.
Lockers. There are four bays of electronically controlled lockers here. Rental fees are $8 for the day for smaller lockers and $10 for family size, both with in-and-out access. The machines accept bills and credit cards.
Stroller & Wheelchair Rentals. "Reliable Rentals" has a large sign outside informing you that all the jinrickshaws, gliders, submersibles, and tuk tuks are either out of service, decommissioned, hired, or, in the case of the time machine, "stuck in the 6th century." Fortunately they still have strollers ($15 for singles, $25 for doubles), wheelchairs ($12), and electric convenience vehicles ($50) for rent. Slightly more elaborate strollers, called "kiddie cars," feature a kid's steering wheel and cup holders and rent for $18 and $28 respectively. All prices include tax. A $50 refundable deposit is required for wheelchair and electric convenience vehicle (ECV) rentals, or you can leave your drivers license or a credit card imprint.
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