Planning a family trip to Orlando Florida? No itinerary for Orlando is complete without a trip to Universal’s crowning jewel, Islands of Adventure. With thrills and wonderment for everyone in your bunch, Islands of Adventure is one spot that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to delivering on excitement.
In fact, the only thing that could dampen the experience of visiting this park is doing so without a game plan for the day. You will still have an amazing time without, but preparing, knowing some insider tips etc will help you make the most of your visit. And with over 15 rides to check out and record-breaking attendance numbers, it’s no wonder why!
Planning a trip to Islands of Adventure with a special itinerary for Orlando will help you cover most of the park’s rides in one day, or at the very least, all the most popular ones!
Best Itinerary for Islands of Adventure Orlando: What To Know Before Visiting
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Universal Orlando Resort, more commonly known as Universal Orlando, is one of the most visited theme parks in the world and a titan in the entertainment industry. It consists of a handful of luxury hotels, three theme parks, and an entertainment complex named CityWalk Orlando.
CityWalk is actually one of the best places to visit on your first day at Universal due to being relatively low-effort after a tiring journey. Visiting it before your official park day, allows you to familiarize your self with the Ride Share pick up drop off/ bus drop off/ boat drop off, parking, security process and length of time it takes to reach the park entrance.
Rise early the next morning and set out for Islands of Adventure to ensure you’re ready to take on everything that the park has to offer. Islands of Adventure usually opens at 9 a.m., but has varying closing times, depending on the season you are visiting.
The park updates this before the start of every month, however, so be sure to check that out online before you make your Orlando trip plan.
If you are staying at a Universal resort hotel, start by opting for Early Park Admission to save some time during your visit. This will allow you to enter the park one hour before the official opening time, essentially giving you a head start!
Visitors who book a Universal Vacation Package or stay at one of Universal’s hotels will get to enjoy Early Park Admission for free. Premier Annual Pass holders are also given a chance to avail of Early Park Admission sometimes, so don’t miss it!
Universal’s Express Pass is another service to look into if hitting all the attractions at Islands of Adventure is a priority. Much like with Early Park Admission, guests who stay at one of Universal’s premier resort hotels can avail of Express Pass for free by using their hotel keycards to skip the lines at select rides.
Once inside, you don’t have to worry about anything but having a good time, and that includes snacks and meals! Islands of Adventure has some of the most fun eateries you will find to delight more than just your tastebuds.
Whether it’s a grab-and-go meal, counter service, or table dining that you’re after, Universal has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from for your lunch, coffee, and dinner! For breakfast, however, it is advised you have your meal early, before you head to the park, or carry it with you.
This will help save you some time in the morning, allowing you to cover more ground at the park before the crowds get there.
Weekdays are the quietest, but check out if any special events are on meaning an early park closing time, or cheer events, schools breaks, holidays etc which can draw higher crowds.
Now that you’re all caught up and up to speed, dive right in to read our Orlando trip plan for Islands of Adventure and kickstart your day of magic and adventure!
Best Itinerary for Islands of Adventure Orlando: Arriving at the Park
Islands of Adventure usually opens at 9 a.m., but this may change depending on the season. If you’ve got Early Park Admission, be sure to use it wisely and reach the park premises well before your early hour of entry.
Don’t have one? It’s wise to show up early anyway to be the first to get through and skip the rush. To save time, have your Entry Passes and Express Passes ready in advance instead of buying them at the park.
1. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is one of the two most popular rides in the park, which is why you’ll want to cross it off your list as soon as possible. If you have Early Park Admission, even better; you’ll get to enjoy the ride without worrying about the crowd at all.
Head over to Hogsmeade to find this insane roller coaster that has drawn visitors from all over the world. Potterheads, in particular, will love riding along with Hagrid on a journey through the Forbidden Forest as they encounter many mystical creatures from the Wizarding World.
Keep your eyes peeled as you zoom past Fluffy the three-headed dog and Cornish Pixies, and watch out for Blast-Ended Skrewts that might spray smoke at you! This ride will get adrenaline junkies in high spirits and the younger ones excited to see their favorite magical creatures.
The roller coaster is known for having the most number of launches than any other in the world and even has a spike that catapults riders at a very steep angle.
Once you’re done, head straight to the next ride on your Orlando itinerary. As much as the wizard in you wants to explore Hogsmeade, save that for later in the day when you can come back after sundown and enjoy it the way it’s meant to be.
Hogsmeade gets packed and is most busy in the afternoon. Early morning or late evening is the best time to explore this area and to enjoy the time with fewer crowds.
1. Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Yes, two number ones but here is why!)
Velocicoaster is a good alternative to dashing to Hagrids – as most people do rush to cross that one off their list first. If you choose to do this one first, the lines are generally shorter as everyone else is queuing for Hagrids – which you can try at the end of the day instead.
The VelociCoaster is the next ride at Islands of Adventure Orlando that fans can’t get enough of. The newly launched roller coaster can be found at Jurassic Park, right next to Hogsmeade, making it super convenient to access after Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Covering the two busiest rides first thing in the morning will leave you with the rest of the day to explore everything else.
The roller coaster takes riders through enclosures where they get to see their favorite velociraptors from the movie, all while keeping things exciting with sharp bends and turns. Over the hills and amid the sudden drops, you’ll also get to meet Blue, Delta, Echo, and Charlie!
With videos of the actual characters from the movie there to greet you before and after the ride, the VelociCoaster is a complete movie-magic experience for fans of the Jurassic.
You’ll find a number of smaller rides, restaurants, stores, and attractions at Jurassic World, many of which you’ll be able to visit again if your little ones want to later in the day. The idea here is to make your way through the park’s early rush without getting held up for too long at any one location, so frame your Orlando itinerary wisely.
Rushing through rides, however, will only ruin the experience so be sure to strike a balance and manage your time in a way that works best for your family.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Take the loop around the lagoon to reach Skull Island next. It’s a great stop to make after the two hair-raising rides you just finished. You also have the option of coming back for this trackless immersive ride later in the day, but this will likely involve having to backtrack on your other plans. It’s best to cross it off the list while you’re already in the area.
Faint-hearted ones in the family, brace yourselves as you enter Skull Island where you’ll find skulls and remains of inhabitants and creatures that once roamed the Island. After you make your way through the caves, you’ll be asked to board a truck that takes you on an expedition through the cursed jungles.
Along the way, you’ll encounter gigantic creatures that threaten the lives of you and your fellow passengers! When all seems lost, Kong, the King of the island arrives to rescue for a rather dramatic conclusion.
With mind blowing animatronics and visual effects, this is another ride you don’t want to miss during your visit so make sure you and your family cross this off earlier rather than later in your day.
Marvel Super Hero Island
Make your way towards the entrance of the park where you’ll find the land of superheroes at Marvel Super Hero Island. By now, most of the crowd will be heading towards Hogsmeade and Jurassic World, leaving this area much less crowded.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is one of Marvel Super Hero Island’s show-stopper rides. The completely immersive experience activates all senses and takes riders, aka “reporters” at The Daily Bugle, on a news vehicle to assist Spider-Man as he takes down the infamous Sinister Syndicate.
Ever experience a freefall without actually being lifted off the ground? The multimedia works on this ride give you a taste of exactly that and more!
Marvel Super Hero Island also has Hulk-themed roller coaster The Incredible Hulk, and yes, it’s just as mean and scary as it sounds! Get ready to be taken up, down, and even upside down on this ride that is designed after an experiment gone haywire by General Ross.
For those who are looking for a slower, simpler ride that will still get you a little bit dizzy, Islands of Adventure presents Storm Force Accelatron, its own Marvel twist on the simple teacup ride. Use the wheels in front of you to spin more on a track that is already spinning and try to stop Magneto.
Beat The Heat
It’ll start to get hot as the day progresses. If you have little ones in your bunch, a visit to one of the indoor attractions is a great option around this time, especially since many of the rides and lines in Marvel Super Hero Island are air-conditioned ones themselves, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
Add an extended stop at them in your Orlando itineraries to escape the heat, especially if you’ve set your Orlando trip plan in the hotter months.
Short strolls in almost any direction will lead you to air-conditioned rides in other sections of the park too. One of these is Seuss Landing where you will be met by play areas and in-house rollercoasters with delightful views (more on this below!).
Jurassic Park Discovery Center is also a good spot to while away your afternoon hours and maybe catch the hatching of a baby Raptor!
There’s no running out of dining options when at Islands of Adventure! For the classic American meal, head to Captain America Diner, or for a more nostalgic lunch, stop by Wimpy’s at Toon Lagoon.
If you’re feeling a little tired after the River Adventure, you can find Pizza Predattoria and The Burger Digs right at Jurassic Park. With that being said, Mythos, over at The Lost Continent in Islands of Adventure, is definitely the most popular and tasty spot to lunch at.
Unlike the other counter-service restaurants that come with long lines, Mythos offers table dining services with unparalleled service and value for money. The underwater-themed spot serves exotic dishes, such as lamb meatballs, shrimp sushi, and even grilled octopus!
Once you’re feeling recharged and the sun starts to look a little weary, you know what it’s time for – the water rides!
Make your way to Toon Lagoon, right next to Marvel Super Hero Island, for a trip through memory lane as you meet nostalgic characters from the past. When you’re done taking in the sights, head to Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, a river rafting water ride with Popeye who is set on saving his Olive Oyl from the menacing Bluto.
The ride will leave you soaking wet and ready to take on the rest of the wet rides too! If wait times aren’t too long, check out Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. The log flume ride takes you on an adventure with Dudley Do-Right that ends with a 75 feet drop at the end.
Once you’re done with the water rides at Toon Lagoon, head over to Jurassic Park to experience the Jurassic Park River Adventure, a must-try attraction that takes you through the gates of Jurassic Park on a cruise. You meet both friendly and fierce inhabitants along the way before the ride vehicle plunges into a pool of water at the end.
If you have more time on your hands or if you want a slow ride for the little ones, check out the Pteranodon Flyers before you leave Jurassic Park. Grown-ups, you need a little one to ride this ride, no exceptions!
Visitors also have the option to switch out the air-conditioned rides in the afternoon on this Orlando travel plan with water rides at Toon Lagoon instead, but that will depend on a few factors. Families with babies, for instance, will really appreciate cold, relatively-quiet attractions come noontime for naps and some downtime in between all the excitement.
Families with teens and tweens, on the other hand, will enjoy a good river raft frenzy even despite the heat. The main advantage of opting for water rides in the afternoon vs. the evening is the chance to experience them with fewer crowds.
This is most applicable during Florida’s colder months between December and March. Whichever season you choose for your trip, remember to bring with you all your sun protection essentials. Sunscreen, hats, clothes that dry easily, sunglasses, and lots of drinking water are all must-haves!
The Lost Continent
If you choose to dine at Mythos in the afternoon, you’ll find yourself in the heart of The Lost Continent. It’s a place that is packed with fun details and Easter Eggs for you to spot.
However, there are no current rides here; which means you can wrap things up quickly and head to the last unexplored section!
For kids and adults who love the Dr. Seuss books, Seuss Landing will be paradise. Everything here is truly vibrant and fun, much like Dr. Seuss’s own creations. Even the background music is a combination of conventional instruments with other wacky tunes to accompany it!
The headliner attraction at Seuss Landing is The Cat in the Hat ride, an adventure that is based on none other than the popular book by the same name. With animatronics, voiceovers, and visual effects, this dark ride takes you through the events of the book, as the Cat wreaks havoc alongside Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Also check out High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, an elevated ride that gives you breathtaking views of the place. Most people mistake it for being just a kid’s ride, but it is actually a pretty good way to unwind after a tiring day at the park.
There’s also a themed playground for young kids if you want to spend some more time here, along with some slower-moving rides in the vicinity. Watch the tots have just as much fun as the adults as they ride little colored fishes at One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Itinerary for Islands of Adventure Orlando: Witching Hour
Now that your day has almost come to an end, head back over to Hogsmeade to enjoy the lights after sundown and get the perfect family snapshot. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during evening time really is the best saved for last on your itinerary for Orlando due to the fewer crowds.
Aside from the lights and golden glow, you should also be able to catch the last of any live performances that are going on at Hogwarts Castle during your visit. Don’t forget to choose your wand, or more correctly, let your wand choose you at Ollivander’s, for no trip to the Wizarding World is complete without your own charm caster!
Those with Park-to-Park admission can take the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley if they wish, but since you’re already here, why not check out the best dining option at Hogsmeade for dinner, The Three Broomsticks? Loosely designed to look like the tavern from the movies, it serves delicious British food that speaks for itself.
Once the stars are out, check out some of the rides that you missed earlier or ride some of the rollercoasters you just couldn’t get enough of the first time around again! You can also choose to simply walk around the park and take some last-minute scenic photos with your loved ones before calling it a night.
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