Thrills, chills, magic, and adventure are around every corner at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ theme park in Orlando, Florida, one of the incredible 2 theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort.
If you’re wondering what to do at Islands of Adventure™, know that it boasts larger-than-life attractions and unforgettable fun for visitors of all ages. It also happens to be the home of the largest and tallest launch coaster in all of Florida, so if you love thrill rides, you’re in the right place!
Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ has repeatedly been named the #1 theme park in the world, and by the end of this article, you’ll understand why!
As a Universal Orlando annual pass holder, I’m about to share the unmissable things to do at Islands of Adventure™, as well as all the practical information you need to know before you go. I’ve also sprinkled in some of my best tips and tricks throughout to help you make the most of your trip.
Are you ready, adventurers? Let’s go!
Overview of Islands of Adventure™
Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ theme park is located at Universal Orlando Resort, a quick stroll away from Universal Studios Florida on the other side of CityWalk, Universal’s shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.
Islands of Adventure™ is the ultimate vacation destination for ride lovers and features some of the best thrill rides at any of Orlando’s world-renowned theme parks. There is something for everyone at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, so even if you’re not a fan of sudden drops, twists, and turns, you’ll find countless fun things to do here.
There are 8 distinct areas, the “islands” of Islands of Adventure™, where you’ll find unique adventures waiting for you:
- Port of Entry – This is the first land you’ll come across at Islands of Adventure™, and it’s where most of the park services are located, including lockers, ATMs, First Aid, and Lost and Found. Themed after a Mediterranean market with its very own scaled-down version of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Port of Entry immerses you in the adventure the moment after you pass through the turnstiles.
- Marvel Super Hero Island® – Beloved Marvel comics come to life on this island, where you can meet heroes (and villains) and take on thrilling attractions like The Incredible Hulk Coaster®, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®, and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall®.
- Toon Lagoon – The perfect place to cool off from the Florida sun, this part of the park is themed after classic cartoons, like Betty Boop, Bullwinkle, and Popeye! Its 3 attractions all involve water, so yes, you will get wet! But in this heat, who’s complaining?
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong – While home to just one ride that shares the same name, Skull Island: Reign of Kong brings you into the jungle, where you’ll have a close encounter with Kong himself.
- Jurassic Park – One of my personal favorite lands at Islands of Adventure, Jurassic Park is adventure personified. Get up close to larger-than-life dinosaurs in this uniquely themed area, but consider yourself warned: some are friendlier than others! 😉
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ • Hogsmeade™ – Hogsmeade™ is the one half of the magical Wizarding World that’s located at Islands of Adventure™ and is a must-do for Potterheads everywhere. Even if you’re not a fan of the Harry Potter books, you’re bound to fall in love with this incredibly immersive land.
- The Lost Continent – What it lacks in rides, The Lost Continent more than makes up for in experiences and dining! It’s where you’ll find Mythos, an award-winning, elegant full-service restaurant in Islands of Adventure™ serving up a celebrated blend of Mediterranean, Asian, and American cuisine.
- Seuss Landing™ – Little ones especially will adore this Dr. Seuss-themed land with its delightful design, scrumptious snacks, and family-friendly attractions, like The Cat in the Hat™ and The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!™ Yes, you can even try Green Eggs and Ham here!
What to do at Islands of Adventure™
With so much to do and see at this amazing theme park, I’ve narrowed down the top 10 attractions for you, so you can make a game plan for your day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, and easily fit in all the fun!
1. Speed through the skies on The Incredible Hulk Coaster®
Not for the faint of heart, this high-speed, high-intensity roller coaster boasts 7 inversions, including a zero-gravity roll, cobra roll, vertical loops, and 2 corkscrews! The Incredible Hulk Coaster® in Marvel Super Hero Island® is one of the first things you’ll see when you arrive at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ – you can’t miss those iconic green tracks.
The story goes that as a rider, you’ve volunteered to participate in General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross’s medical experiment, where he plans to create super soldiers. Experience Dr. Bruce Banner’s transition to the Incredible Hulk with a Hulk-a-fiction of your own, and by that, I mean a 0 to 40 mph launch in under 2 seconds at the start that will have you screaming your head off.
You’ll be zooming through the skies at speeds up to 67 mph (yes, you read that right!), and the views are phenomenal. That is if you’re not too afraid to open your eyes up there!
On my first-ever visit to Islands of Adventure™, I was a bit confused by the locker system, so first-timers should know that you will need to put your bags and any loose items like sunglasses or keys into a complimentary locker before entering the queue. This goes for all the thrill rides at the theme park. When the ride concludes, you can pick up your belongings at the exit.
Height restriction: 54 in (138 cm) or taller to ride
2. Solve the crime at The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man® ride at 📍Marvel Super Hero Island® may have been built back in 1999 and renovated in 2012, but it’s still one of the best rides today. With high-flying thrills and nonstop adventure, it’s no wonder this is the attraction that put Islands of Adventure™ on the map.
Step into the pages of the comic pages with a visit to the Daily Bugle, where you’re assigned to cover the latest crime in New York City. The greatest villains in the Spiderman universe have teamed up to steal the Statue of Liberty, and it’s up to you to find Spiderman in time to save the city.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man® combines 3D simulation with a moving vehicle and was the very first ride to do so! The ride has won a ton of awards for its innovation and technology, and it’s amazing enough to still be wildly popular today, 24 years after it opened.
Wait times for this ride can get pretty long, as can the queues for other popular attractions at Islands of Adventure™. I’ve included a whole section for you later in the article that goes over the best ways to save time and skip the line!
Height restriction: 40 in (102 cm) or taller to ride
3. Scream your head off at Jurassic World VelociCoaster
The first word that comes to my mind when I think of the times I’ve ridden Jurassic World VelociCoaster is WOW! This attraction is unlike any other rollercoaster you’ve even been on, trust me. If you thought #1 on our list was intense, wait until you hear this: VelociCoaster reaches 70 mph in 2.4 seconds.
Not only has this rollercoaster in the 📍Jurassic Park section of won several awards, but it’s also the tallest and largest coaster in the entire Sunshine State. On board, you’ll brave 360-degree inversions, a zero gravity stall, an extreme 80-degree drop, and 12 seconds of air time – that’s 12 seconds where you’re literally weightless, floating out of your seat!
The state-of-the-art technology really sets VelociCoaster apart from other roller coasters. Even the vehicles themselves were designed to intensify thrills. While wait times do tend to be long, and VelociCoaster does not currently offer an Express Pass line, the queue is an attraction in and of itself and will keep you captivated as you wait until it’s your turn to take on the apex predator of coasters.
One of my favorite parts of the ride is that there is only a lap bar. Some of the older rides at Universal Orlando Resort, like The Incredible Hulk Coaster®, utilize shoulder restraints, which can feel claustrophobic to some, myself included. The lap bar makes for a much more comfortable (and exciting) experience, and no, you won’t fall out!
Height restriction: 51 in (130 cm) or taller to ride
4. Get wet at Jurassic Park River Adventure
There’s no denying that sometimes the classic rides really are the best rides, and Jurassic Park River Adventure is just that! A staple at Universal’s Islands of Adventures™, this beloved water ride takes you through 📍Jurassic Park on what starts as a relaxing river raft ride… and goes haywire at the end.
It just so happens that a giant T-Rex is looking at you like you’re the tastiest snack on board, and the only way to escape is a gnarly 85 ft (26 m) drop. Yes, you will get wet on Jurassic Park River Adventure, but that’s part of what makes it so wonderful! When those Florida temps creep up to 90+ ° F (32+ °C), there’s nothing nicer than a big ol’ splash.
There is no storage on the ride itself, but there are lockers outside the attraction available for a small fee if you want to put your stuff away and keep it dry, which I highly recommend!
PRO TIP: Sitting in the front row will ensure you’re soaked! Stick to the middle rows (and sit in the middle) if you’d like to keep the water to a minimum. You can also purchase ponchos in the park to stay dry or bring your own from home!
Height restriction: 42 in (107 cm) or taller to ride
5. Ride on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™
There are a handful of rides at Orlando’s theme parks that I, as well as many other locals, consider the absolute crème de la crème – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™ is at the very top of that list.
Combining the storytelling element of a dark ride with the thrills of a coaster, this one-of-a-kind attraction is one of the most popular things to do at 📍The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. In fact, it’s probably the most popular attraction of the 2 theme parks combined! It’s one of the 3 (and a half) Harry Potter rides in the Hogsmeade™ section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, and definitely the best, in my opinion.
Embark on an adventure through the Forbidden Forest, where you’ll meet the magical creatures Hagrid looks after, as well as Hagrid himself! The ride doesn’t utilize any screens, only special effects, which is a nice change from the many screen-based rides at Universal Orlando Resort.
It’s considered a family-friendly rollercoaster, with a top speed of 50 mph and no inversions, but it does pack a punch. If this still seems a bit too hairy for you, you might like #7 on our list!
With no Express Pass line, you’re going to have to wait patiently for this one, so I recommend heading straight there when the park opens or taking advantage of the single rider line if it’s available.
Height restriction: 48 in (122 cm) or taller to ride
6. Don’t miss Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
One of the best photo spots in 📍The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade is Hogwarts castle, of course! But it’s a whole lot more than just a pretty backdrop. Inside the Hogwarts castle, you’ll find Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, a thrilling dark ride that takes you on a daring adventure with Harry Potter and his friends.
Danger lurks as you explore the school’s dark corridors, castle grounds, and even the Forbidden Forest. I found this ride a bit scary, even as an adult. Not in the same way someone would find a roller coaster scary, though – it’s more so the state-of-the-art technology and intensely realistic effects that truly make you feel like you’re part of the story.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ is the quintessential Harry Potter ride starring your favorite heroes (and villains). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fabulous queue, which takes you through iconic parts of Hogwarts, like Professor Sprout’s greenhouses, Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and the Gryffindor common room.
You will need to put your belongings away in a locker prior to riding, but the locker is free of charge for the duration of the ride!
Height restriction: 48 in (122 cm) or taller to ride
7. Have fun with your family at the Flight of the Hippogriff™
Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ is the park for thrill rides in Orlando, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do for those who prefer something tamer! Flight of the Hippogriff™, also located in 📍The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, is a kid-approved, family-friendly coaster with just the right amount of thrills for younger guests or more cautious adults – no judgment here.
With a top speed of just 29 mph, Flight of the Hippogriff™ is perfect even for those who typically steer clear of anything remotely resembling a rollercoaster. On this lovable ride, Hagrid teaches you proper etiquette for approaching a majestic Hippogriff, a creature that is part eagle and part horse.
The views on the ride are really fantastic too. You’re zipping by Hagrid’s Hut and above his pumpkin patch! I love how all the buildings in Hogsmeade are snow-capped, and the wintry village looks so stunning from above.
Height restriction: 36 in (92 cm) or taller to ride
8. Be part of the story on Hogwarts™ Express
In case you didn’t already know, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ is split between the 2 theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort: Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™. With park-to-park tickets, you can take a magical train ride on the Hogwarts™ Express that takes you from one to the other!
For die-hard Harry Potter fans, this experience really is a must. The windows make it seem as though you’re actually aboard the Hogwarts™ Express, and the scenes “outside” vary each time you ride. At Islands of Adventure™, you’ll take the train from Hogsmeade Station and arrive at Kings Cross Station outside of Diagon Alley™. You can ride it back as well.
I consider this half of an attraction (which is why I always say there are 3,5 Harry Potter rides in Hogsmeade™) since although it is, at its core, a means of transportation between 2 theme parks, this train ride is magical enough to deserve the title of attraction in my eyes.
There are no height restrictions to ride, so it’s great for the littlest witches and wizards too!
9. Have a blast at Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges®
Toon Lagoon at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ boasts not one but two amazing water rides that’ll have you smiling big and soaking wet by the time you disembark! First up is Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges®, a traditional raft ride that’s a ton of fun.
You’ll climb aboard a cartoon-inspired raft on a mission with Popeye to save Olive Oyl from Bluto! Beware: there are lots of rough rapids ahead! The group-style seating of this ride is part of what makes it such a good time – you’re sharing a circular raft with other guests, so you’re all laughing and having a blast together! Oh yes, and you’re all getting equally soaked.
Guests not on the ride can shoot water at riders from The Olive® ship, so watch out for extra splashes coming your way! Once you’re off, you can return the favor from the ship yourself.
Height requirement: 42 in (107 cm) or taller to ride
10. Save a damsel in distress at Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls®
Combining roller coaster thrills with log flumes, this water ride is another must-do in 📍Toon Lagoon, especially during Florida’s hottest months! Similar to Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges®, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls® also involves saving a damsel in distress from danger. But I promise the somewhat trite plotline doesn’t take away from the excitement of that thrilling 75 ft (23 m) drop at the finale!
There are some really silly easter eggs on Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls®, mainly poking fun at beloved Disney attractions like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the now-retired Splash Mountain. As a shameless Disney adult, I find these touches to be absolutely hilarious. The ride itself is full of humor, so in addition to a lot of water, you’re in for a lot of laughs as well.
PRO TIP: I recommend knocking out both water rides in Toon Lagoon at the same time. There are dryers available (aptly named People Dryers) for a fee of US$5, so you can dry off afterward if you decide to forego a poncho or a change of clothes.
Height restriction: 44 in (112cm) or taller to ride
You’ve got an idea of the lay of the land now, so let’s talk tickets! A basic ticket at Universal Orlando Resort is one park per day. Both Islands of Adventure™ and Universal Studios Florida are jam-packed with attractions, entertainment, and fun things to do, so you can easily spend a full day in either theme park.
Park-to-park tickets are a popular option for visitors, as you can hop back and forth between both parks. If you’re okay with sacrificing a few of the attractions on our list, you can absolutely do the 2 theme parks in 1 day, although I can’t guarantee your feet won’t fall off after all that walking – mine have certainly felt that way before. 😆
|Adult Entrance||Kids Entrance|
|One Park||Starts at US$109 per person for 1 day||Starts at US$104 per person for 1 day||Book tickets|
|Park-to-Park||Starts at US$164 per person for 1 day||Starts at US$159 per person for 1 day||Book tickets|
|Express Pass||Starts at an additional US$90 for 1 park and US$120 for both||Starts at an additional US$90 for 1 park, US$120 for both||Book tickets|
|Express Unlimited||Starts at an additional US$105 for 1 park and US$135 for both||Starts at an additional US$105 for 1 park and US$135 for both||Book tickets|
Universal Express Pass
Although it’s a bit of a splurge, with a Universal Express Pass, you can skip the regular line altogether, and there are 2 options available.
A regular Universal Express Pass allows you to skip the line at each participating attraction once, starting at US$90 per person. Serious ride enthusiasts may prefer the Universal Express Unlimited Pass, which starts at US$100 per person and lets you skip the line of participating attractions as many times as you’d like!
Unfortunately, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™ and Jurassic World VelociCoaster do not have Express Pass lines, but the wait is well worth it for both of these, as they are some of the best rides I’ve been on in my entire life!
Getting to Universal’s Islands of Adventure™
In this section, we’ll go over transportation to Islands of Adventure™ from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) and from within Universal Orlando Resort, as well as information about parking.
From the airport
Islands of Adventure™ is within the Universal Orlando Resort, just 15 miles (25 km) from the Orlando International Airport (MCO). The drive takes around 20 minutes.
Rideshare apps, like Uber and Lyft, are a popular option to get from MCO to Orlando’s theme parks. This requires no advance planning, which means one less thing you have to worry about when getting organized for your Universal Orlando trip.
I’m one of those people who needs to have my airport transfer scheduled well ahead of time. For me, it eliminates a lot of the stress that comes with traveling. The Orlando International Airport can be pretty overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time flying into MCO. This MCO Private Transfer would be my choice for transportation, and I recommend it if you’re traveling with a group.
From within Universal Orlando Resort
Everything is close by at Universal Orlando Resort – you can walk from theme park to theme park through CityWalk! If you’re staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel, you’ll have plenty of transportation options to the theme parks and waterpark, including shuttles and even boat rides from select resorts, so no worries there.
Want to bring your own car? Parking in the garage is US$30 per day, and there is one central parking garage located at CityWalk.
Want to do it all? You can! These are my best tips for saving time at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™.
- Arrive before the park opens – Plan to arrive ahead of the park opening so you’re ready to enter as soon as it does. Then, head straight over to one of the most popular attractions on our list, like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™ or Jurassic World VelociCoaster, to beat the crowds in line!
- Visit on weekdays – Of course, weekends are the busiest days of the week to visit Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, so if you’re able to, I recommend booking a trip on weekdays to enjoy fewer crowds and shorter wait times.
- Utilize the single riders line – The single rider lines at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ drastically cut down your wait time and are a fantastic way to make the most of your day at the theme park. While you will be separated from the rest of your party, it’s 100% worth it if your goal is to do as much as you can while at Islands of Adventure™. Just a heads up, there are times when these lines on certain rides are not open!
- Mobile order your food – Mobile ordering allows you to completely skip the line and place your food order in advance through the Universal Orlando Mobile App at the quick service restaurants at Islands of Adventure™.
- Stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel – I love the Universal Orlando hotels! The theming is amazing, the amenities are fantastic, and they come with some pretty great perks, like Early Park Admission. If you’re staying on property at Universal Orlando Resort, you can enter the Universal Orlando theme parks and water parks up to an hour before they open to the public!
- Buy a Universal Express Pass – In the tickets portion of today’s article, we went over Universal Express Passes and the difference they can make for your Universal Orlando vacation! Please note that 2 of the most popular rides on our list, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™ or Jurassic World VelociCoaster, do not offer a separate Express Pass line.
|🎢 Top attraction:||Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™|
|👧 Best attraction for kids:||Flight of the Hippogriff™|
|🥟 Best restaurant:||Mythos Restaurant|
|🚌 Best shuttle service:||MCO Private Transfer|
FAQs about Universal’s Islands of Adventure™
🎢 What does Islands of Adventure™ have?
Islands of Adventure™ is home to 8 distinct lands packed with thrills, magic, and adventure around every bend. Have a spellbinding good time in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade, meet your heroes at Marvel Super Hero Island® and go head to head with dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.
🌎 Which is better, Universal or Islands of Adventure™?
Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ both offer unique attractions, entertainment, shopping, dining, and fun. Movie buffs will love Universal Studios, while thrill seekers should check out Islands of Adventure™ for the time of their life.
📅 Is Islands of Adventure™ worth a full day?
Yes! I recommend dedicating a full day to Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, as there is no shortage of things to do and see at this thrilling theme park, including world-class attractions like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™ and Jurassic World VelociCoaster.
🦖 What are the 8 islands in Islands of Adventure™?
Islands of Adventure™ boasts 8 themed areas: Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island®, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.
Ready to pack your bags yet? I know I’m ready to head over to Islands of Adventure™ right now – one of the best things about being an Orlando local. We covered a lot of information in this article, so thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end!
From magical thrills in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ to Florida’s tallest and largest coaster in Jurassic Park, countless adventures lie ahead. It’s true that planning a vacation to the theme parks can get a little confusing since there is so much to know before you go, but I’m here to help however I can.
Leave me a comment below with any questions you have.
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