When you visit Universal Orlando, there are so many options of things to do. From the time you get out of your car, it’s all eye candy everywhere. There is tons of fun to be had.
Make the Most Out of a Family Trip to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Theme Park
You can easily spend an afternoon and evening just in the City Walk area alone. This is a big area for the locals. You do have to pay the parking fee, but once you’re in, you can take it all in.
City Walk is unlike any other shopping areas. It has many other things to do like mini golf, a movie theater, clubs, fun kiosks, and restaurants.
They have a good variety of place to eat too, not just the pricey ones. There is an upstairs area with a food court that has things like Burger King and Moe’s. Then there are lots of regular sit-down places. And if you have food allergy issues, so many of them do cater to that and make it very enjoyable. A few of our favorites there are Red Oven Pizza Bakery, which falls right in the middle of those types. You walk up to the counter and order, and then they bring it out, and the pizza is fantastic!
Cow Fish is a wonderful one too, and they have interactive games on the walls for the kids to play if there is a wait, The kid’s meals are so cute. They even give them origami hats to make with their meal.
Hard Rock Café is always a hit, too. I could spend hours looking at the memorabilia all over the walls.
There are lots of really neat shops as well, and some of the stores are ones you don’t see in any local malls, like PiQ, which we never miss. It has fun Japanese toys and stationery items, collectibles and artwork.
So that is all before you even reach the actual theme parks!
Visiting Both Parks
If you are visiting both parks, you just have to choose which to visit first and for Universal Studios you would then take a right and walk around the beautiful water area that all of this surrounds. You can buy a combination ticket to visit both parks, this is a great deal if you plan to visit for a few days! But since this is about Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, we are sticking with that.
Islands of Adventure is a fantastic park all by itselfis not badand you can easily spend all day at it and still not see everything. You do need two days to see them both well, especially if you have never been before.
Plus, in the past few years, they now added the Hogwarts Express train that you can ride, which takes you from one park to the other without having to walk all the way out the park entrance and across to the other park entrance. It’s a lot of fun, and the family will love it.
So, if you are visiting both parks on the same day, I would suggest spending part of the day first at Islands. Then when you reach The Wizarding World there, go ahead and take the train over to Universal Studios. There you come out in “London” and can go into Diagon Alley.
Spend some time there, making sure to see all of that area and then ride the train back over to Islands and visit the rest of the park from there. You want to ride it both ways if possible, as the children is different both ways.
Islands of Adventure in the Park
Ok, so now, upon entering the park at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, there’s a very fun little “town” type of area that you have to walk through before going to each of the “islands”. It’s got some great shops, some places for grabbing snacks or drinks, and there’s a bunch of these little cars, carts and bikes that the kids love to sit on and pose for photos, and pretend to be driving.
Now, when you come to the part at the end of it that leads to a water area, you will have to make the choice of which island to start at, and then follow it all the way around. I would suggest walking down to the water there before doing so, as it’s so pretty and you can easily miss it. You can see all the islands from there, as well, which will help get you oriented as far as what is where along with your map of course. Out in the water there you will also see some Dr. Seuss Sneetches, on the side of Seuss Landing, and the kids love that.
As far as which island to go to first: I would say it depends on the age of your children. On the left is the Marvel Comics Island. It is a must, but the rides are geared more for adults and older children. So if your kids are younger, I would leave it until later because you want to be sure to get as much time in in Seuss Landing as you can. There is more for them to do in that section than probably any other and it is the opposite direction. You will want them fresh and not tired out when you go there.
Here are some highlights of Seuss Landing: If you like Dr. Seuss, you will be in heaven as everything is in Seuss style. Bright, curly designs, colorful and awesome. Down to the lamps and even the garbage cans, it’s all Seuss. They do a great job year round with topiary characters in all kinds, and at Christmas, the trees are all decorated as if you were in Whoville. One place the little kids will adore is the play area “If I ran the Zoo” where they can do all kinds of interactive things like climb through tunnels, go down slides, play tic tac toe with a giant Seuss character, and there is even a water area too, if you are prepared for that.
Then you can see the Lorax and the Truffula Trees, and pose for a photo. The Car-ou-seussel ride has Seuss characters you sit on instead of horses
The Cat in the Hat ride is a must do. Very fun and great for all ages. Next to it, there is a One Fish Two Fish ride where the fish cars go up and down but be prepared to come off of it wet! Then, there is a great train ride with the Sneetches theme, and it takes you up over the whole area so you can see it all from that top view. It is one we never miss when we go unless it has a super long line.
Circus McGurckus is a restaurant there in the back corner if you’re there when it’s that time of the day. It’s a huge circus tent, and the inside is awesome to see, even if you’re not eating.
One other thing I must mention about Seuss Landing is the shops. They are all very fun to go in, and one even has Dr. Seuss original artwork that you can buy and take home with you. There are different themes in each shop, so if you have a favorite book or character, chances are you’ll find a section of items related to it.
When you head out of Seuss Landing, the next island is a mythology style one with lots of cool shops, a few restaurants, and a couple of shows. There aren’t any rides in that part but see at least one of the shows. There is a Poseidon’s Fury show, which is pretty good, and also a Sinbad stunt show, which to me, is the better of the two. It has funny jokes, lots of stunts and there is even a splash zone in the front section.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Next island after that is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After just being in the rocky, dry looking area you were in, this is very welcoming, as the rooftops are covered in snow and you instantly step into Hogsmeade. You can pose by the Hogwarts Express Train (it’s not the real one that you ride on.) Visit Ollivander’s wand shop, and ride several rides, all of which are very fun.
There is a double set of roller coasters called the dueling dragons and it is best to ride each one if you have time, but they are large and not for small children. The Hogwarts Express is there, and as I had said before if you are visiting the other park then time it so that you take it over when you are ready to.
There is a great Hogwarts school themed ride. I find it to be slightly scary for little kids because there are spiders, snakes, dementors and Voldemort that all make appearances.
One other great ride is the Flight of the Hippogriff, where you get to see Hagrid’s house and the Hippogriff itself. It’s a coaster, but a milder one and most kids will love it.
One downside to this area is that it is always full of people, who seem to love the shops especially! The street area is crowded, and it does make it a little challenging to pose for photos or see every shop window and get all the details. But do try to see as much as you can! The windows all have moving things in them, like floating feathers and singing frogs.
There is, of course, lots of Harry Potter themed clothing, trinkets, and magic tricks. Honeydukes candy shop is very neat inside and sells the famous movie candies like the chocolate frogs.
One other thing that I must mention is that they sell 2 types of wands there. One type is replicas of the characters wands, and they are really neat. There are several to choose from. Then they sell interactive wands as well, for less than ten dollars more than the replica ones. These wands can be used in both parks to cast “spells” on different things. They interact with a camera at each location and you are given a map to show where the locations are, as well as they have medallions at each spot to help you find it and to tell you what spell to cast. If you have the money to spend on the wands, it’s so cool!
You can look it up online and get a lot more information and specifics on how and where to use them before you visit too. There are plenty of “spoiler” articles that will tell you everything if you want to know!
The next island you come to as you move along is Jurassic Park. This can be a hit or miss, depending on how much your family is into dinosaurs and the movies. It is well done and has a few rides that cater to older kids and younger ones, as well as a large building that is just like the original one in the very first movie.
It has lots of interactive computer games, a game show they can take part in, a play area with dinos they can climb into and a lot more. There is a good hamburger restaurant also inside there, and since this is Florida, I won’t lie: by the time we are usually to this area, we are so happy to go inside and get some air conditioning!
After cooling off in there, you come to a water ride, and this is the type you get soaking wet on with a huge drop. Not for small kids but fun for older ones.
Then there is a great play area where they can climb, run, slide and get wet. There is a deck up above another one where they can spray the people below with water, and my kids love this area. There is also a flying dino ride there, but it is for only smaller kids. It actually has a weight limit.
The next island is very fun for all ages and is done in a comic style, like the Sunday papers, but with older characters like Beetle Bailey. There is a lot to look at as you walk down the middle of it, as it feels like you’re in the midst of the paper, with comics everywhere. The characters do make appearances and pose for photos with you from time to time. The shops are very cool inside, and they, of course, have lots of collectibles to purchase. It gives you a very nostalgic feeling as the parent, but a lot of the characters my kids don’t know or recognize.
There are 2 water rides: Dudley Do Right that is very, very fun but has a huge drop! The other is a Popeye theme.
And right by that ride is a great place to sit down and let your little kids play. There is a Popeye Boat that you could easily miss, especially if you didn’t ride that ride. It has 2 floors with slides and fun little interactive things for them to do.
Marvel Super Heros
Now we come to the last Island and are back almost full circle to where we began. This one is the Marvel one. It is super cool just to stand back and gaze at when you first walk up to it. Brilliant colors and well done in a Pop art style. They have a Superhero appearance a few times a day. This is where characters like Captain America and Wolverine ride into the streets. They will then go around and talk to people and take photos. Check your map for times, as I believe it is in there, so you don’t miss it. Also, Spiderman does photo appearances for a good majority of the day. They will have a photographer set up there to take your picture with a great background. Plus Spidey is amusing and friendly, even to babies.
In this area, the huge draws are the Spiderman Ride and the Hulk Coaster. Spiderman is unlike any other ride. It is 3-d and mainly you are going through the ride in a car. You will be watching the screen, but it is a bumpy ride of course, and there is some spinning. It is not scary or too wild, though so that most kids will love it. There’s a full shop of just Spidey merchandise as well as a few others with comics, collectibles, and t-shirts. It’s a great place to find unusual gifts for collectors!
There is also one other ride, for older kids and adults called Dr. Doom fearful. It’s a tower type that shoots you straight up and then drops you. It’s on the roof and tucked back in there. You go so high up you can see Orlando from up there!
There are many things I haven't even mentioned, but I hope this is a great start for your family trip!
Two More Tips
Two other tips I wanted to be sure and tell you not to miss:
When you first walk into the park, there is a little town area. Here you will find a board there that displays the ride wait times. This can be helpful in making your decision of which direction to go. Harry Potter is always busy because it’s in the middle of the park. This means everyone tends to get there at the same time, no matter which way they start.
There is also a free Universal app for your phone. This App has wait times that are current, maps and lots of other information. It is nice to have throughout the day!
One more tip. If you want to check out the non Universal or Disney park attractions you can get discount admission with the Orlando GoPass. You can save up to 55% off admission prices buy building your own pass. Locations to choose from including Legoland, Sea World, Bush Gardens, The Titanic Museum, The Kennedy Space Center, Gatorland, many water parks and more! You can also buy an all-inclusive pass for up to 5 days and get into as many attractions as you can fit into your schedule for 5 days!
So tell me, what is your favorite part of visiting the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Park?