Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges is a river raft ride manufactured by Barr Engineering and is located at Islands of Adventure. The ride opened with the park on May 28, 1999, and is located in the Toon Lagoon section of the park across from Dudley-Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls. In this review I will be looking into the ride experience as well as giving my thoughts on it!
To get to the entrance of the ride, you will pass under a bridge that on both sides gives a great view of the ride as it starts. Here there is an option to pay quarters to spray riders with guns.
If you want to ride, you will enter the queue to the left of the attraction sign. The queue takes you Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges tour offices. This is far from the most immersive queue in the park, but it still has some nice stuff to look at while you wait. As you get closer to boarding, you head down a ramp where a ride safety video plays on repeat. You will then board your raft on the turntable loading station.
After leaving the station, you will depart through some small rapids before coming to a quick fork in the road. Your raft will take the path with the rapids named Hurricane River. The raft will then traverse the rapids, throwing water into the raft at unsuspecting riders. It then passes under a ship with water pouring from the top of it. This will soak a couple of unlucky riders on the raft. Your raft will then go right by Me Ship, The Olive, where guests on the play structure can spray unsuspecting riders. Then the raft goes in a cave where Popeye is attacking a large octopus before going up the ride’s main lift hill. As you ascend up the lift hill, there are little sprayers that will get you a little wet. You then drop off the lift hill, go through some rapids and another bigger waterfall that falls on a couple riders in the raft, before the ride ends and you unload from the raft. You will then exit out into the rest of the little Sweet Haven area that surrounds the attraction.
My Thoughts: This ride got me more wet than any other water ride has ever gotten me. I expected to get wet, maybe soaked, I did not expect to get absolutely drenched from head to toe. The ride is fun, except the fact it was hard for me to enjoy it and know what was going on because water kept getting thrown on me. Despite me getting soaked, I thought the theming was fantastic and the ride experience is way above any raft ride you would find at your typical amusement park. Comparing it to Kali River Rapids over at Animal Kingdom though, both of them have their pros and cons but I would take Kali River Rapids quite frankly though. It was just more enjoyable, and although Popeye has better theming during the ride, Kali has a better queue, has a big drop, and has a better ride layout.
Tips: On an average day, this ride should be around a 15-20 minute wait. If it’s an extremely hot day though, the line could reach up to 30-45 minutes. If it’s not an extremely hot day, I would ride in the middle of the day when it is the hottest out so you can get a nice cool down. If it is or you know it is going to be extremely hot and you want this to be a priority, go here within the first or last two hours of the day. If you want to stay as dry as possible, I would heavily recommend wearing a poncho. They do sell ponchos at a gift shop near the ride. Another tip is at the beginning of the ride when the ride takes off, a lot of water will seep into the bottom of the boat soaking your shoes. To prevent this, put your feet up on the elevated bar in the center to keep your feet and shoes as dry as possible. Also, if you don’t want to wear a poncho but want to dry off quickly, there are large dryers at the exit of the ride that can be used for an small fee.
Final Thoughts: Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges is a great river raft ride that well deserves to be in Islands of Adventure’s lineup of water rides. Despite getting completely soaked, it was a fun ride and worth going on once. If it’s a hot day and/or you feel like getting VERY wet, go ahead and take a ride! If you don’t like getting wet, then I’d recommend you stay away from this one!