Definitive Guide to Islands of Adventure for 2021 (Universal Orlando)


Important Update:  Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Universal’s Islands of Adventure has made operational adjustments since the reopening which include opening / closing hours, attraction restrictions, dining establishments and the temporary halting of parades & nighttime shows as well as character meet-and-greets.

It is highly recommended to check the theme park web site before making plans for your next visit.

 

 

Islands of Adventure is always one of the best theme parks and was named the top amusement park for 2019 by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards with almost 10 million guests visiting this theme park in 2018.  Originally opened in 1999 as part of Universal’s expansion, this park continues to grow and evolve with new and innovative attractions.

In this definitive guide to Islands of Adventure (which has been updated for 2021) you will find information on:

  • Universal’s rides and attractions
  • Parades and shows
  • Places to eat & drink
  • Gift shops and souvenirs
  • Special events
  • Ticket cost for Universal Studios Florida
  • Universal’s hours of operation
  • Universal Express (front of the line access)
  • Virtual Line Experience
  • Parking at the Universal Orlando Resort

There are eight individual “islands” surrounding a central lagoon, each having their own characteristics and theming.  There are a number of different styles of rides for all to enjoy but Islands is famous for is thrill rides including roller coasters and water rides.

One of the things that propelled the popularity of Island was that it was the first home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade).  This area is one of the most popular sections of any theme park throughout Orlando.

In addition to Islands of Adventure being a “thrill” park, it is perfect for young kids as it features a number of rides themed after the Dr. Seuss story lines.  There is also the “Magic Show” in Hogsmeade where Mr. Ollivander typically chooses a young witch or wizard who is selected by a particular want.

  Click here to see our Photo Gallery for Universal’s Island of Adventure 

“The Islands” at Islands of Adventure:

  • Port of Entry
  • Seuss Landing
  • Marvel Super Hero Island
  • Toon Lagoon
  • Jurassic Park
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • The Lost Continent
  • Hogsmeade – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Details on the individual islands as well as their rides & attractions shown below:

Port of Entry

Once you scan your ticket or annual pass and get through the entry gates you are in the Port of Entry.  Just likes its name, the Port of Entry is your first impression of the park and is where “The Adventure Begins”.   

This area contains a variety of shops as well as places to eat or grab a drink.

  • Croissant Moon Bakery: This is a perfect for breakfast, lunch or a quick snack as you can enjoy a sandwich, excellent pastries, paninis and more.  This restaurant is open all day.  Click here to see the menu at the Croissant Moon Bakery.
  • Confisco Grille: Located in one of the more unique buildings throughout Islands of Adventure, the Confisco Grille is a full service, sit down dining restaurant that features a variety of American, Asian, Italian and Mexican dishes and includes a full service bar.  This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner; we highly recommend you try the Fajitas.  Click here to see the menu at the Confisco Grille.
  • Backwater Bar: The Backwater Bar is adjacent to the Confisco Grille at the end of the Port of Entry.  You can grab a cocktail and an appetizer while watching the world go by.  Indoor and outdoor seating is available.  
  • Starbucks: Of course there is your favorite coffee house at Island of Adventure.  Do you think there would just be “Bob’s Coffee” offered?
  • Cinnabon:  Just like your local Cinnabon back home or in your local mall.  Click here to see the menu at Cinnabon.
  • Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe:  You can experience Christmas every day as this store is open all year long .  There are a number of Universal inspired gifts throughout the store so make sure you pass by on your next visit.

Don’t forget to check out all the great places to stay at the Universal Orlando Resort – click here to see all the hotel options.

Seuss Landing

Even this “thrill park” has a great place for kids. This area is perfect for the little ones or even the “big kids” who remember these stories from their youth.  This entire land is based on the characters and stories of Dr. Seuss.   

The design and theming throughout the entire land is amazing and it is very likely you will run into some of Dr. Seuss’s characters from the stories.

  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!:  (Endless Summer favorite) Take a ride high above Seuss Landing and see all the lands at Islands of Adventure on this slow-moving trolley train.  There are two separate tracks which take different routes through the story of the Sneetches.  One route even goes inside the Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous. Due to limited capacity, the wait times can be extensive and will exceed 30-minutes during the typical summer day. See our video of the Seuss Trolley Train Ride.

  • Caro-Seuss-el:  The Caro-Seuss-el is a Dr. Seuss themed merry-go-round where you will ride on one of the characters from the story lines.  Wait times are usually less than 20-minutes for this ride during the summer months.
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: Steer your fish up and down using the on board controls to avoid getting wet (which is exactly what you would want on a hot summer day) on this aerial carousel-style ride.  Wait times on One Fish, Two Fish are usually less than 20- minutes for this ride during the summer months.  Check out our video below.

  • If I Ran the Zoo: If I Ran the Zoo is a fun, interactive playground themed around the story of Gerald McGrew from the Dr. Seuss story lines.  You will find a number of strange zoo animals as you explore this area.
  • Moose Juice, Goose Juice: Grab a frozen juice, a hot pretzel, other beverage or a fruit cup from this quick serve stop which is inspired by Dr. Seuss’s Sleep BookClick here to see the menu for Moose Juice, Goose Juice.
  • Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop:  Hop on Pop is a great place to cool off on a hot Florida day with an ice cream.  Inspired by the book “the simplest Seuss for the youngest use”, you will find a variety of ice cream options as well as snacks and beverages.  Click here to see the menu for Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop.
  • Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous:  One of the most fun places to eat throughout Islands of Adventure.  Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous is a Seuss themed quick service dining area with pizza, buyers, chicken, salads and more.  You will also see The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride pass by while you are enjoying your meal.  Try the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and corn ont he cob.  Click here to see the menu for Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous.
  • The Cat in the Hat:  One of the most famous children’s stories of all.  Hop on a car and ride along with the Cat through this amazing storybook adventure while watching Thing 1 and Thing 2 make a mess of your home.  With Mother coming, will you be able to get things cleaned up in time?  Check out this full point-of-view (POV) video of The Cat in the Hat.

During the holiday season Universal opens a studio right behind Seuss Landing to host the Christmas show, “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular”.  This is one of the best holiday shows in the Orlando theme parks and runs from late November to early January.  Take a look at the video below to see the full show.

Marvel Super Hero Island

Marvel Super Hero Island is one of the most exciting areas of Islands of Adventure with a number of “thrill” type rides as well as character meet and greets including Captain America and Spiderman from the Avengers as well as Wolverine, Storm and Rogue from the X-Men.

  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster:  The Incredible Hulk is one of the best coasters throughout all of Orlando.  You are now a test subject for an experiment based on the work of Dr. Bruce Banner.  Get blasted with gamma radiation and get the power of the Hulk.  With your new strength your ride starts off with a blast and take twists, turns and loops with the Hulk.  Since this is one of the parks featured rides, waits times can easily exceed 3o to 40-minutes on a typical summer day. There is a minimum height requirement of 54 inches to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster.  Check out the video below for a full point-of-view (POV) of this ride.

  • Storm Force Accelatron: Ride with Storm and the X-Men to generate lighting and thunder to battle the evil Magneto. The Storm Force Accelatron ride is a “spinning tea cups” type of ride that is located just behind The Incredible Hulk roller coaster and next to Cafe 4.  This ride is perfect for both kids as well as adults and with enough effort you can spin until you get dizzy.  Waits times vary are typically less than 3o-minutes on an average summer day.  Check out the video below for a ride on the Storm Force Accelatron.

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride: (Endless Summer favorite)  Get in your vehicle and done you 3D glass as you go on an adventure with Spiderman as he fights his the villains of the Sinister Syndicate who have stolen the Statute of Liberty.  This ride is a motion simulator so hang on tight (and be on the lookout for the Stan Lee cameo).  Spiderman is a very popular ride so waits times can easily exceed 30 to 40-minutes on a typical summer day.
  • Cafe 4:  During the day Cafe 4 open at 11:00 am to all guests as quick service dining restaurant serving burgers, pizza, salads, pasta and more.  Click here to see the menu at Cafe 4. During Thursday to Sunday evenings starting at 5:00 PM, Cafe 4 hosts a private character dining experience with your favorite superheros including Captain America, Spiderman and more.  Cost for an adult (ages 10 and over) is $49.99 with children (3 to 9 years of age) costing $24.99.
  • Captain America Diner: This quick service dining establishment themed after Captain America serves burgers, chicken, salads and more.  Click here to so see the menu at the Captain America Diner.
  • Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall ride:  (Endless Summer favorite) Get shot straight up more than 180 feet above Islands of Adventure, then drop back down towards the ground.  Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall is a quick ride but worth the wait as the view from the top is crazy.  As this is also a popular ride, waits times can exceed 3o-minutes on a typical summer day.  Check out the video below.

As you exit Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall there is a great arcade where you can play games, win prizes or just cool off during a hot Florida day.  Before you walk down the steps make sure you check out the dedication to Marvel’s creator, Stan Lee.  It’s easy to walk by as  a small display so keep your eyes open as its a great photo op.  

There are always plenty of meet and greets at the Marvel Super Hero Island.  Meet Captain America, Wolverine, Storm, Spiderman and many more. 

Don’t forget to check out all the great places to stay at the Universal Orlando Resort – click here to see all the hotel options.

Toon Lagoon

Be prepared to get wet in this area as there are two great water rides where you will get soaked to the bone.  Toon Lagoon is really a fun place to spend some time cooling off on a hot summer day and has great theming across all the shops, dining area and attractions.  

  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls:  (Endless Summer favorite) Dudley Do-Right’s is a combination log flume and roller coaster water ride with a really fun 75-foot drop where you get some serious speed.  You ride along with the Royal Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right to save Nell Fenwick from the evil Snidely Whiplash.  There is excellent theming and fun throughout the rise and yes, you will find yourself getting wet.  The minimum height for this ride is 44 inches.  Wait times vary but can exceed 30 minutes on a typical summer day.  Check out the video below.

  • Wimpy’s: Open from 11:00 am to 5:oo PM, you can grab a burger, hot dog, chicken fingers and more and this walk up dining venue.  Click here to see the menu at Wimpy’s.
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges: (Endless Summer favorite) – Plan on getting completed soaked in riding this white water raft ride themed after Popeye, Bluto and Olive Oyl.  This ride is one of the most fun in the park as ride along in your 12-person barge braving the rapids.  Minimum height for this ride 42 inches. Wait times vary but can easily exceed 30 minutes on a typical summer day.

  • Me Ship, The Olive:  Explore this themed ship and use the water guns to soak those on the Bilge-Rate Barges below.  There are three decks with a number of interactive play areas, climbing nets, slides and more.  

We recommend that you bring along a poncho during the winter months since you will get very wet and not dry off as easily as you would during the summer months.

Jurassic Park

This area is themed after the movie Jurassic Park – but watch out for the Raptors. This area in currently undergoing a transformation but still remains one of the most fun parts of Islands of Adventure.

  • Jurassic Park River Adventure:  (Endless Summer favorite) You will take a boat ride through Jurassic Park before making a wrong turn to the Raptor Containment Area.  Avoid the Raptors as well as the T-Rex who is on the loose.  This is definitely another ride where you will get wet from the 85-foot drop.  Minimum height to ride is 42 inches.  Check out the video below for a ride on the Jurassic Park River Adventure.  Wait times vary but can exceed 30 minutes on a typical summer day.

  • Jurassic Park Discovery Center: Check out this huge two-story facility to learn about “our planet’s prehistoric past” and watch a dinosaur hatch from an egg.  There is a large T-Rex fossil as well as other dinosaurs. There is also restaurant (The Burger Digs) and a gift show inside.
  • The Burger Digs:  Quick service dining in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center that offers burgers, chicken and more.  Click here to see the menu.
  • Camp Jurassic: A Jurassic themed prehistoric playground area with caves, nets, themed slides, suspension bridges and more.  Don’t forget to check out the water cannons and fight your friends.
  • Pterandon Flyers:  One of the best rides for the younger ones, you will fly high above Camp Jurassic and get a good view of Islands of Adventure.  If you are an adult and want to ride, then you have to have someone between 36 and 56 inches to ride this ride.  There is a virtual line offered at the Pterandon Flyers so you can reserve your spot and catch another ride or get a bite to eat.
  • Thunder Falls Terrace:  One of the best quick service dining in the theme parks with ribs, chicken, turkey legs and more.  Watch the riders on the Jurassic Park River Adventure from the window of the indoor dining area while enjoying your meal.  Click here to see the menu at the Thunder Falls Terrace.
  • Pizza Predattoria:  Grab a pizza, meatballs or salads from this quick service dining area located by the carnival style games.  Click here to see the full menu.
  • The Watering Hole: Grab some nachos and a cocktail at this full service bar.  Click here to see all the offering at The Watering Hole.
  • Raptor Encounter:  This is your chance to get up close and personal with a live Raptor called “Blue”.  There’s typically a 20+/- minute wait but its worth it for the photo op.

** A new Jurassic themed roller coaster is under construction at this time.  More details to follow so check back regularly.


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Skull Island: Reign of Kong

  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong: Go back in the 1930’s and come face-to-face with King Kong.  This fairly new 3D attraction takes you on a truck ride through the heart of the jungle where you in the middle of a fight between Kong and other island creatures.  There is a fairly extensive queue with many things to look at during your wait which exceed 30 to 40 minutes on a typical summer day.

The Lost Continent

One of the original islands from when the park opened, this amazing well themed area brought you into a time of mythical adventures.  There are no roller coasters or major rides so many guests just pass by The Lost Continent on their way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  However, there is a number of great number of things to do as well as places to eat to make sure you check out this area.

  • The Mystic Fountain:  If you get a chance, spend some time at this fountain and you will laugh at its antics.   But don’t get to close as you might get soaked.
  • Poseidon’s Fury: (Endless Summer favorite) Follow Taylor your tour guide deep into the temple to find Poseidon’s Trident and battle Lord Darkenon.  This is a full walk through attraction but will capture your attention throughout the entire adventure.  Children under 48 inches require a supervising companion and wait times are approximately 20 to 30 minutes on a typical summer day.

  • Doc Sugreu’s Kebab House – Great kebabs, try the chicken.
  • Fire-Eaters Grill:  Find grilled gyros, hot dogs, chicken stingers and more at this quick dining walk-up.  Click here to see the full menu.
  • Mythos Restaurant: (Endless Summer favorite) Absolutely one the best places to eat in Islands of Adventure.  Mythos is an award winning full service dining experience featuring a mix of Mediterranean, American and Asian fare.  Click here to see the full menu.

For the past number of years The Lost Continent has been rumored to be the site of the future expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the closing of the live stage production “The Eight Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show” added fuel to that fire.  However at this time Universal has not released any plans for this Island.  

Don’t forget to check out all the great places to stay at the Universal Orlando Resort – click here to see all the hotel options.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Based on the book series by author J.K. Rowling, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade found a home at Islands of Adventure.  You are completely immersed in the world of Harry Potter when entering this island and with no detail overlooking, you will be surely impressed. 

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:  The premier Harry Potter ride at Islands of Adventure, head inside Hogwarts Castle and take a ride on a broom with Harry and his friends.  This 3D motion simulator ride will allow you to experience true flight.  But before you fly off, you get to experience all the sights and sounds of Hogwarts Castle as you walk through the queue.  Wait times vary but can get up to 60 minutes during a typical summer day.  INSIDER TIP: Ask a team member to take you on a “Castle Tour” and they will point out all the unique things in the castle including the sword of Gryffindor.
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: The newest ride in the lineup at the Wizarding World.  Join Hargid on his motorbike and ride through the Forbidden Forest.  You will see a number of magic creatures and experience a number of surprises during your wide ride with Hagrid.  There is a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.  Since the reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure has gone entirely to Universal’s Virtual Line Experience where guests have to make a reservation and select a time to ride.

  • Flight of the Hippogriff: (Endless Summer favorite) The Flight of the Hippogriff is a fantastic family-friendly roller coaster and a perfect compliment to the other coasters that are higher on the “thrill ride” scale.  Be sure to say hello to the Hippogriff before you take off.  Due to limited capacity wait times can easily exceed 30 to 40 minutes on a typical summer day.

  • Ollivanders:  The famous wand shop where the wand chooses the wizard.  Make sure you see the magic show to see if you get selected to have a wand choose you.
  • Frog Choir  / Triwizard Spirit Rally: Daily shows performed by the students of Hogwarts and the other magic schools.  See our video below of the Frog Choir during the holiday season.

  • Three Broomsticks:  Just like in the moves, this great themed restaurant is the perfect spot for breakfast lunch or dinner. From Fish and Chips to Beef Pasties and turkey legs, this is a must do on your next Universal adventure.  Click here to see the lunch and dinner menu at Three Broomsticks.
  • Hog’s head Pub:  Located in the rear of Three Broomsticks, grab a Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice or a traditional domestic beer and relax.
  • Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade Station: Board the Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade Village for a trip to Kings Cross Station in London.  Join Harry, Ron and Hermione for another one of their famous adventures. 

There are a variety of nighttime shows that are featured at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where projections are cast on the Hogwarts Castle.  There have been a number of different themed shows for different times of the year. 


Special Events at Islands of Adventure

During the holiday season the Wizarding World transforms to a winter wonderland for all to enjoy.  Universal guests experience the magic of “Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” with a number of holiday themed features and decorations.

Here is “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” for  you to enjoy.

 


What does is cost to go to Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure?  (Updated June 2020)

As of June 2020 per the Universal Orlando web site, prices at their theme parks are $119.00 for a single-park one-day ticket for adults and $114 for children (3 – 9).  A two-park one-day ticket which includes both Universal Studios Florida and Island of Adventure is $174.00 for an adult and $169.00 for a child (3-9.)

Universal is always running promotions with free days so be on the lookout for what they have to offer. There are a number of other sources which at times offer discounted ticket prices and promotions (we have found that Groupon is one of the best).  These include:

Where ever you decide to go to purchase your tickets, please make sure they are from a reputable source as there has been ticket fraud reports over the last several years.

Hours of Operation

Universal’s hours of operation vary throughout the course of the year but the parks typically open at 9:00 AM and close at 9:00 PM during the summer months.

COVID-19 Reopening Update:  Since the reopening of the parks hours of operation have been limited and are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  It should be noted, however, that we have seen the parks open to 7:00 PM on certain weekend dates.

Universal Express

Universal Express is the absolute best way to navigate the lines at the Universal theme parks.  You will feel like a complete VIP as you just walk by hundreds of other guests who are waiting on the regular stand-by lines for participating rides and attractions. 

Guests with a Universal Express pass enjoy the use of a separate line that is typically MUCH shorter than the regular lines (although you may not go through the main queue, missing some of the theming).  Even on the busiest days, wait time a fairly short and traditional less than 20 minutes even for the most popular rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, the Incredible Hulk and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. 

This pass is somewhat similar to that Disney’s FastPass+ but you do have to make specific time reservations and you can ride all the participating rides whenever you want.  There are three different types of Universal Express passes which are as follows:

  • Universal Express:  You can skip the regular lines one time per participating ride at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Daily prices start from $69.99 for one park per person, per day.
  • Universal Express Unlimited:  This pass allows you the same benefits as Universal Express but you are not limited to one time per ride as an UNLIMITED number of participating rides are included in this pass.Daily prices start from $89.99 for one park per person, per day.
  • Volcano Bay Express: You can skip the virtual line one time per participating ride at Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park. Daily prices start from $19.99 for one park per person, per day.

Please keep in mind that the prices indicated above go up considerably on weekends, holidays and busy days.

Other ways to get Universal Express are:

  • Buy a Premier Annual Pass:  Universal Express (after 4:PM) is included with this pass.  The Endless Summer Florida family has this pass and will never go back to having any other.
  • Stay at a Universal Premier Category Hotel:  Universal Express Unlimited is included for hotel guest at Premier category hotels which include the Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort.  While these hotels command premium prices, a family of would save more than $350 per day if they were to stay at a different hotel and then purchase Universal Express Unlimited.

We just can’t emphasize enough how much Universal Express is a game changer when visiting theme parks.  You don’t have to plan and make just three reservations months in advance.  Just show up at the parks and enjoy – it’s the way a theme park vacation is supposed to be.

Participating Rides & Attractions at Islands of Adventure

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolly Trail Ride!
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Poseidon’s Fury
  • Hogwarts Express (park-to-park ticket required)

*** The one popular ride that does not offer Universal Express at this time is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Universal’s Virtual Line Experience

Since the reopening from the COVID-19 in June 2020, Universal Orlando has implemented its new Virtual Line Experience for certain theme park rides and attractions.  This new feature will allow guests to select return times and ride that particular day.  Guests can add additional attractions after the initial return time as passed.

To use the Virtual Line Experience guests will need to download the Universal Orlando mobile app (and create an account) or visit the Kiosks in from the featured attractions. 

Parking at Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando has two massive parking garages located at 6000 Universal Boulevard, directly across the street from the theme parks and CityWalk.  As of April 2020 the following parking fees apply:

  • Regular Parking:  $26.00 per day
  • RV / Bus Parking: $32.00 per day
  • Prime Parking: $40.00 per day
  • Valet before 6:PM:  $26.00 for 2 hours and $55.00 for over 2 hours
  • Valet after 6:PM: $26.00 for 2 hours and $40.00 for over 2 hours

Valet parking and prime parking is free to Premier Annual Passholders while Preferred Annual Passholders get free regular self-parking and discounts on valet and Prime self-parking.  Power Annual Passholders get 50% off regular daytime self-parking.

After 6:PM guests do not have to pay for regular self-parking (not valid during Halloween Horror Nights).  Additionally, there is free regular parking with the purchase of two matinee movie tickets (11:AM to 6:PM).  Parking fees will need to be paid in advance and then reimbursed upon presentation of a parking receipt.

The parking garages are patrolled regularly by Universal security personnel and there are call boxes located throughout.   

Rideshare services as well as taxi and bus transportation is also located just outside the parking garages.

Don’t forget to check out all the great places to stay at the Universal Orlando Resort – click here to see all the hotel options.

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