Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Park Review
Let the adventures begin.
With the exception of Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure was our favourite of the two parks. What’s not to love? It is such a wonderful, exciting and colourful place. It has a relaxed vibe about it and therefore a great alternative to other parks in Orlando.
There’s super heroes, witchcraft and wizardry, dinosaurs, a Hulk-tastic rollercoaster, brilliant water rides and so much more. And let’s not forget the infamous Hogwarts Castle. I won’t lie I thought I was mainly going for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but actually this park, Islands of Adventure is so much more than that. It really is a park for all the family.
Are you ready to explore? Let’s go…
I think it’s great that you can walk between the parks, that the only thing separating the fun is the CityWalk. Unlike other theme parks in Florida everything is really accessible with no additional transport required once you’ve parked and made your way in. It really did feel like we were wandering through streets rather than a theme park. I love that everything is so close together. The theming is incredible, it’s a park for all the family. And the staff, everyone goes above and beyond to help you.
Whether you’re staying on site or parking at the CityWalk be sure to give yourself time to walk through to the parks, especially if you are arriving early for entry. And, be sure to check the opening hours before you set off, especially since we last visited Hagrid is now in town! I cannot wait to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. I guess that means we need to plan a return trip. Is next year too soon?
What is there to do in Islands of Adventure?
So much. I am glad that we had an itinerary for this park as well as Express Passes. I would highly recommend both. We definitely experienced longer wait times in Islands of Adventure than previously in Universal Studios. There is quite literally so much for you to do. A sensory overload, in a good way. With iconic characters from movies like King Kong and Jurassic Park – its a must visit. The boys had a long list of attractions they wanted to ride and I’m pleased to say they were all checked off. We even rode some rides twice.
So you have roller coasters, experience rides, shows, The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle as well as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade to explore. Which is just as incredible as in Universal Studios. We really love everything about Harry Potter, especially as you can continue to cast spells in Hogsmeade Village. And if you didn’t pick up a wand in Diagon Alley be sure to visit Ollivander’s in Hogsmeade. Don’t forget to look up, the level of detail and theming is not to be missed.
Can you do Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in one day?
Yes. Yes you can but only if you are prepared to be in the park from early morning to when the park closes. In my opinion. Or miss out some attractions if you are visiting on a busy park day or weekend. It is indeed possible but personally I would recommend one day in each. Which is what we did, although those two days very much blended in to one as we had the 2 Day Park to Park Ticket. We also stayed onsite at Cabana Bay Resort which enabled us to enjoy Early Park Admission. This additional hour made all the difference.
As we had the 2 Day Park to Park Ticket we enjoyed Early Park Admission at Universal Studios and then made our way over to Islands of Adventure via the Hogwarts Express. We spent the rest of the morning wandering around Hogsmeade, riding both the Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Before enjoying the rest of the park. Starting your day in Hogsmeade would be my recommendation.
George’s favourite were of course the Marvel Super Heroes. As the heroes drove through the streets on motorbikes George was in awe of them and couldn’t believe they were walking through the streets. This is an hourly display, great for Marvel fans. We also visited the Spider-Man meet and greet at the Marvel Alternivese Store – which was a great experience. As the characters wander about in this area freely it really does feel different to other parks, sometimes its just about seeing them rather than meeting them. I think. George was happy standing and watching from afar.
Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Storm, Green Goblin and Doctor Doom are the Marvel super heroes you may encounter during your day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You will also find numerous character zones in Islands of Adventure including: Classic Comic Book Characters, Dr. Seuss Character Zone and the Raptor Encounter. The only characters missing for me are from Harry Potter, now wouldn’t that be awesome.
Our favourite rides at Islands of Adventure
For those that love rides, you won’t be disappointed. This park has them in abundance. And they’re all different. Completely unique. Themed so well and had our family feeling totally immersed in the rides. We came off each one wanting to ride them again and again. The following rides were our favourite and ones we would recommend heading for…
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – be prepared to get very wet.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster – one for the thrill seekers.
Jurassic Park River Adventure – in the words of my 8 year old. Jurassic Park was very cool.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong – Mr H says it’s the best ride in this park.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – we thought this was very Universal’s version of Flight of Passage. A brilliant ride.
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. You’ll be wearing 3-D glasses for this one. Look out for the drop!
Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Park Review
Where to eat and drink at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
We visited The Three Broomsticks for Breakfast on our second day. This is the place where Harry Potter had his first taste of the sweet wizarding drink Butterbeer. Inside you’ll notice details such as cast-iron chandeliers, weathered wood beams, and balconies brimming with curious bric-a-brac. Very authentic. So immersive. And don’t forget to visit Moaning Myrtle in the toilets! We found it to be Quite expensive and if truth be told we weren’t that impressed, that said we all left with full bellies as the portions were big. I have been told that the lunch menu is much better.
We wanted to try the croissant moon bakery and cinnabon but sadly never made it. Instead we favoured a walk out into the CityWalk and to Voodoo Doughnut. We just couldn’t resist, such a great price. We paid around $8 for 3 each time and if you are lucky you can sit inside and enjoy the decor. And maybe grab another to go. We also wanted to eat at The Cheesecake Factory but never managed to. Huge regret. The food looked so good.
How do the Lockers work?
I almost forgot to tell you about the lockers in the Universal Parks. They reminded me of how they work in the Seaworld Parks. Great invention and for the most part free of charge. If you are riding the Incredible Hulk or any of the Harry Potter rides you will need to first secure your bags in the lockers. Be prepared for small spaces with very little air especially in the Floridian heat.
There are staff on hand to support you if you are struggling. Don’t panic. Mostly they are free for a set period of time however you do need to pay for the Hulk lockers if you go past 30 minutes. They charge anything from $2 to $20. The instructions on the screen are easy to use, you use your finger print to open the locker so you don’t have to worry about losing a key. For some you do need to remember your locker number. I forgot on one ride and it took me a good 20 minutes to wait for a member of staff to help me.
What would we do differently?
- Book a photo-pass. We didn’t and I know that we missed so many ride and character photos. I try not to think about it as we love our Disney Ride photos.
- I would recommend spending more time wandering around Toon Lagoon. It was a really fun area of the park but as we were restricted to two days we literally stormed through.
- Spend more time wandering around Hogsmeade and doing a little shopping inside the shops – I never did get to try Butterbeer fudge and honestly I still kick myself for not picking some up. And whilst here be sure to ride the Hogwarts Express.
And that’s our Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Park Review. I hope you have enjoyed reading our thoughts from visiting Islands of Adventure. We had a great two days. It was an awesome adventure. If you’d like to read about our Magical time over in Universal Studios then you can read our review here.
I know absolutely nothing about either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure (apart from the Harry Potter bits) so this post and your previous one are super helpful as we’re hoping to go there in a couple of years once we’ve saved up enough. It sounds like you might need a bit longer than 2 days to really take it all in? It looks like so much fun. Bookmarking this for future reference so I can start planning in advance. Gorgeous photos too – it doesn’t look busy there at all!
It would have been nice to do 3 days but we’re not ones to stretch these things out as there’s just so much to do out there. I think 3 days with early access and express passes would be a great way to do it.