Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park combines exciting and crazy rides, cinematic magic, unique activities, and fun entertainment to create a place where everyone can easily find enjoyment. From the exhilarating rollercoasters, to the wet and wild water rides, the activities at Islands of Adventure only get better the more times you do them. For anyone seeking a more relaxed experience, there are some great shows with live performers and special effects, the immersive world of Harry Potter, and numerous places for children including Seuss Landing, a Dr Seuss themed area that has rides and playgrounds. Theme park trips can take an entire day, but there are plenty of places to eat and sit down before planning the next move. Islands of Adventure is not only a great attraction for kids to create fond memories, but it’s also where adults can rediscover their inner child.
- Thrill Rides – Islands of Adventure really caters to thrill-seekers. The most famous and popular ride is The Incredible Hulk Coaster, a rollercoaster that speeds around the track at above 100km/h, going upside down and performing tight corkscrews. There isn’t a bad seat on this rollercoaster and guests will want to ride it over and over again. Dr Doom’s Fearfall uses gravity to create an exhilarating experience. Riders are shot up in the air a little over 40 metres high, where they spend a few tense seconds trying to enjoy the view with the inevitable plunge looming over them. The plunge is definitely the defining moment of this ride, and you can literally feel your stomach jump to your throat when plummeting back down to earth. The theme park also has the 3-D Spider-Man ride that takes visitors through a hectic multimedia adventure with twists, sharp turns, realistic special effects, and characters from Spider-Man.
- Water Rides – These rides also bring a lot of excitement, as well as the possibility of getting a little splashed or seriously drenched. The Jurassic Park River Adventure lets visitors enter the world we all wanted to experience when watching the film. Riders float through the park, seeing mechanical versions of the friendlier dinosaurs and the not-so friendly ones. The ride ends with a huge 26 metre drop into the water below that manages to wet most riders. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popey & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges are the other two water-based rides. These also provide plenty of splashes and exciting drops into water. Ripsaw Falls and Bilge-Rat Barges also have water cannons positioned in certain areas. Anyone watching from a particular spot can pay one quarter to shoot these cannons at people on the ride, which is easily one of the best spectator sports in the world.
- Seuss Landing – The Dr Seuss area is perfect for children and can also be quite fun for older crowds. The Seuss-themed carousel contains creatures from Dr Seuss’ stories, which children can ride and animate at the push of a button. The Cat in the Hat ride takes guests on an exciting adventure through the famous children’s story, twirling around and bumping through the house with Thing One and Thing Two. The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride is a slow-moving train that acts as a tour of Seuss Landing and as an interactive story. There’s also a ride with water called One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, where riders control their fish up and down to avoid getting sprayed. Along with the various fun rides, Seuss Landing also has playgrounds for children.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – This section of the theme park transports guests into the world’s most immersive replication of Harry Potter, made famous by the novels and films. Walking onto the Harry Potter island really feels like stepping into a whole new world. Rising high above the rest of the park is a replica of Hogwarts, where entry to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride can be found. The line for this ride moves through various rooms in the school that have been designed and decorated for authentic realism. The ride itself is a multimedia adventure with Harry, Ron, and Hermione that can be thrilling, exciting and a little scary at times. There are two other rides located outside: The Dragon Challenge rollercoaster, which is a high-speed ride with corkscrews and vertical loops, and the Flight of the Hippogriff Ride, which is a more family oriented and gentler rollercoaster around the grounds of Hogwarts. The main stage has regular performances throughout the day that are interesting to watch, and the theme park has recreated Hogsmeade, allowing visitors to enter stores like Zonko’s (toys and gags), Honeydukes (candy), and Dervish and Banges where wands, robes, and other Harry Potter merchandise can be purchased. Also, be sure to grab a Butterbeer or Pumpkin Juice on your way through.
- Shows – Islands of Adventure also provides some excellent shows. These are good moments to sit down, relax, and enjoy unique entertainment not found on the television or computer. The Eight Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Showfeatures real actors performing stunts; explosions and fireworks; and humorous moments. Sit in the front rows for a more unique and potentially wet experience. Poseidon’s Furyis another equally entertaining show that uses more multimedia and special effects than Sindbad. There are also some funny moments in this show, particularly from the ‘tour guide’ played by an actor. Seuss Landing also has shows throughout the day that are great for families with young children. Visitors are able to see characters from the Dr Seuss books and watch them get up to all sorts of mischief and funny exploits.
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2 Park Admission (Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida)
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Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Booking online will save $20 on all multi-day tickets.
- Show Times – Islands of Adventure’s shows run at certain times during the day. These can change day-to-day, so make sure you check online or at the entrances to confirm what time each show is being played at during your visit.
- When to Go – The theme park is usually busy year round with increases in numbers during summer, school holidays, and weekends. To avoid large crowds, visit during winter or while most kids are still at school. Florida doesn’t get too cold in the winter, so the water rides will still be enjoyable. However, go on these rides before the sun sets.
- Long Queues – There will usually be a wait for each ride and it can sometimes take hours to get a turn on the more popular ones. Plan your day out accordingly. The rollercoasters and water rides should be ridden first if the wait is less than an hour. If not, try coming back later in the day when people have gone home. After the sun sets, the wait time drops significantly. The shows stop running before the rides, typically at 4pm or 6pm, so give these priority if you’re interested in seeing them.
- Food – There are numerous places to eat in the theme park, a lot of which are themed based on where they’re located. Visitors can eat amongst dinosaur fossils at Jurassic Park, in wacky and wonky restaurants at Seuss Landing, in cartoon inspired restaurants at Toon Lagoon, or even at a detailed replica of the Three Broomsticks from Harry Potter. Meal deal tickets, which provide unlimited food from lunch to dinner at certain places, can be purchased online. Islands of Adventure also allows some food and drinks to be brought into the park. Snacks that don’t require heating and bottles of water are some of the acceptable items. Check online for a complete list of what you can and can’t bring. All bags are checked when entering, so any prohibited items will unfortunately get confiscated.
- Shops – Each ride or area contains shops relating to it, where guests can buy various souvenirs like a wand, toy dinosaur, Dr Seuss books, or cartoon plush toys. These shops are a lot of fun to browse through, and there are some reasonably priced items along with more expensive ones.
- Ollivanders Wand Shop – In Hogsmeade is Ollivanders, the wand store from Harry Potter, which fans will note wasn’t actually in Hogsmeade in the books. Forgive the inaccuracy and step inside to experience an intimate show where one lucky audience member is picked out to choose their wand. This is usually a child, so don’t get your hopes up if you look older than fourteen. It’s still fun to hear the witty banter from Ollivander and watch the special effects each time the child waves a wand. If your child is picked, they’ll end up with a wand when the show finishes. Despite how the staff initially act, this is not a free wand. You’ll have to pay the regular price if you want to keep it.
- Funnel Cake – Funnel Cake is a rare dessert delicacy that is almost solely exclusive to theme parks and fairs. It is essentially slices of overlapped doughnut with powdered sugar, cinnamon, syrup, and/or ice cream. There are a few places at Islands of Adventure that sell it. One of these is located at the Port of Entry, which is the first area you’ll visit after entering the park. It’s recommended you try Funnel Cake at least once during your visit.
- Staying Dry – There are numerous rides that you will get wet on. The park has complete body dryers, which you step into and get blasted with hot air. These cost a minimum of $5. To save money, it’s recommended to bring a change of clothes, preferably swimmable, or disposable ponchos to wear while riding the water rides.
- Special Events – Islands of Adventure holds special events at certain times throughout the year like Halloween and Christmas. Check online to see if anything is going to be happening when you visit.
- Night Life – Universal CityWalk has some great bars that serve meals and drinks, which usually have live music, and also clubs with DJs for those looking to end their night with the rising sun. You can head straight from an exciting day at Islands of Adventure to the CityWalk, which stays open until 2am.
- Motion Sickness – Depending on your own body, some or all of the rides can give you motion sickness. One that seems to affect a larger amount of people is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. This may be because of the physical ride moving one way and the visuals moving another. You can never know how your body will handle a particular ride until you go on it, but be mindful of the consequences before lining up.
- Local Bus – Catching the local Orlando Lynx Bus Line is the easiest and most cost-effective way of getting to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. There are three buses that can be caught. Catch line 21 or 40 outbound from Lynx Central Station, or line 21 inbound from Sand Lake Commons to Universal Studios. Take line 37 northbound from Florida Mall or southbound from Silver Star Road to Universal Studios. An all-day ticket costs $4.50.
- Orlando Attractions Transfer – The Orlando Attractions Transfer bus is an easy means of transportation to Islands of Adventure. Unfortunately it only services people staying at hotels in Lake Buena Vista, Walt Disney World, Highway 192W, and on International Drive. If you’re staying at one of those areas, simply book a transfer to Attraction Area B (Universal Studios). The bus costs between 16 and 19 dollars per person for a return ticket.
- Car – Driving to the theme park is another good option. Parking costs $16 for an entire day and $5 from 6pm to 10pm. If you don’t have a GPS, directions to the park from Orlando International Airport, I-4 Eastbound, and I-4 Westbound can be found on the website.
The design for Universal’s Islands of Adventure began in 1991, when it was going to be called “Cartoon World”. After the success of the film Jurassic Park in 1993, Universal decided to add a ride based on the movie. The name was changed to Islands of Adventure in 1995.
Construction of the theme park began in 1997 and it took about two years before it was officially opened on March 28, 1999. Port of Entry, Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Superhero Island were the first areas available to the public.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in 2010, becoming the seventh island. The park faced some minor setbacks including a fire to one of the rides in 2011. The ride was repaired and reopened in less than a year.
Islands of Adventure continues to grow and improve its attractions, remaining a popular destination for people all over the world.
- Before Islands of Adventure was built, the land was going to be used for a shopping centre.
- When first constructed, the Jurassic Park River Adventure’s final 26 metre plunge was the longest theme park water drop.
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure is comprised of seven themed islands, but only one has a direct relation to a movie produced by Universal Studios.
- The park welcomed over 7.5 million visitors in 2011.