Orlando,  Universal

A Simple Guide to the Attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Orlando, Florida. The themepark capital of the world. If you are lucky enough to have stepped foot in this incredible little bubble. Then you’ll know what i mean when i say it really is the most magical place on earth. And i’m not just talking about Disney. Yes Disney is incredible and not a soul can step foot in that place and not come out Happy. Or be swept up by the magic but what about what the rest of Orlando has to offer? And believe me when i say there is so much more to Orlando from a theme park perspective than Disney. Don’t get me wrong i absolutely adore Disney. I grew up around it and went to Florida pretty much every year so i was truly invested in the magic. And all the happiness it bought me. But the magic doesn’t stop there.

In this weeks post i’m going to be talking about one of my favourite Theme Parks in Orlando. The one and only Universal Resort Orlando. The game changer. The driving force behind some of the most incredible films ever made. And bringing some of the best motion pictures to life such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And my fave Bumblebee and The Transformers of course.

The Expansion

Universal Orlando Resort consists of 3 parks. These are Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and its Water Park, Volcano Bay. Universal used to be a one day excursion until 1999. When we saw the opening of Universal’s Islands of Adventure and then Volcano Bay which followed in 2017. Adding to their offering and setting itself up as a major competitor to Disney with its Multi-day Vacations. Each park has its own collection of characters and theming. So depending on which park you choose depends on what experience you will get. For the purposes of this post i’m going go be talking about my favourite park at Universal ResortIslands of Adventure.

Meet the Island’s that are Universal’s Islands of Adventure

There is Port of Entry, Marvel Superhero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The wizarding world of HP – Hogsmeade, The Lost Continent and last but by no means least Seuss Landing. 8 different lands with a different offering of attractions and it literally does have something for everyone even the kiddies. As with themepark’s across the globe the landscape is forever changing. They are always creating new rides or replacing old ones with the latest offering to keep its guest happy. And believe me Universal is the most active with it’s replacement of attractions over the years. At the moment we are all holding our breath for the new Potter Coaster – “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure”. Due to open in June 2019, this new offering has replaced the incredible Dragon Challenge, formerly known as Duelling Dragons (RIP DD, you were my favourite).

Over recent years universal has become known for its more immersive simulation style rides. These type of rides are like marmite, some love it and some hate it. Personally i’m a thrillseeker. I get much more enjoyment and exhilaration from a exciting rollercoaster than the new immersive style experiences. This probably explains why Busch Gardens is my firm favourite. And it has been for years but Universal still has a huge place in my heart.

Islands of Adventure sticks with the traditional Theme Park Setup that we know and love. There are many more thrill rides in Islands of Adventure. Rather than the more immersive simulation rides that Studio’s is now crawling with. So lets get down to it and introduce you to each of the Islands

Port of Entry

The Port of entry is your gateway from Citywalk into Islands of Adventure. It is the Entrance to the Park and the first Island you will experience on your visit. Whether you are walking through the Entrance to Islands of adventure, taking a water taxi from one of the resorts or are just enjoying Citywalk. You will be met by the sight of Islands Iconic Lighthouse. Serving as an Icon and Beacon the Pharos Lighthouse is within Port of Entry. The lighthouse is inspired by one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria. It is a beautiful structure and lets you know that you have arrived and guides you when you leave.

The Port of Entry is themed similar to that of the Lost continent. It has a very ancient mythological, Trader market feel. The Island does not contain any rides. But has a boulevard of Shops and Restaurants such as Starbucks, Cinnabon and Confisco Grille. And the incredible detailing makes this an attraction in its own right. The area pays homage to various other areas in the park. But also to those who had a hand in its creation. Just take a minute to look at the Market Windows and signage around the area. You’ll spot them quicker than Where’s Wally.

There is also the Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe. Yep a christmas shop that is open all year round for your enjoyment. One thing both Disney and Universal do so well is celebrate the Holidays. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. These parks also have dedicated all year round Christmas shops somewhere on Property. This particular shop is special because of the Grinch Christmas Village. The merch in here is just magical. I challenge you not to buy anything in here.

As you come to the end of the Port of Entry section, you will come out onto the Islands of Adventure Lagoon. From here the Other islands can reached by choosing to go left or right. By walking left or clockwise you will arrive at Marvel Super Hero Island. Or you could take a right or anticlockwise to arrive at Seuss Landing. The Choice is yours.

Marvel Super Hero Island

Our next stop is the wonder that is Marvel Super Hero Island. Now if you have kiddies or you are high tailing it to Hogsmeade. Then you may have taken a right when you reached the end of Port of Entry. But for me the Bright Green Tracks and the roar of the Incredible Hulk Coaster has always enticed me into Super Hero Island for my first stop. This Island was part of the original attractions when the park first opened.

Now since Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009. It all seems a bit bizarre that there could be 2 potential variations of Marvel in the immediate Orlando Area. The good news is that is not going to happen. Well not at least with the Characters that call IOA Home. Despite the sale, the theme park rights remain with Universal in parts of the United States & Japan for certain characters. So these guys will not be showing up in Disney World for the forseeable.

The area features comic-book styled architecture. Many of the interiors are in a comic book style with bright colours, exaggerated lines and angles. The building exteriors look exactly like the covers of Comic Book strips we have come to know and love. This is to really affirm that you are amongst some of the greatest Comic Book Super Heroes (and villains) of all time. You will be taken on a vibrant action packed adventure with your favourite characters. Here is a list attractions that call Superhero Island home.

  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster – A Mean, Green high speed, launch Steel Coaster. Full of Inversions and drops, feel the rage of the Hulk as the Gamma Radiation takes hold. Not for the faint hearted.
  • Storm Force Accelatron – A fast paced Tea Cups that is themed after the one and only X-Men. Join Professor Xavier as you spin around in order to power the Accelatron. While Storm gathers the powers of Mother Nature in an effort to stop Magneto.
  • Doctor Dooms Fearfall –A drop tower type attraction that rapidly propel riders up to the top of the tower. All in the quest to extract fear from its victims. This is Doom’s latest invention to use guests’ fear as part of an effort to defeat the Fantastic Four.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man A Motion based 3D ride that sees you working alongside the one and only SpiderMan. Set in New York, Guest become last minute reporters to cover an exclusive story as it happens. The evil Sinister Syndicate made up of many famous Spider-Man villain. This includes Doctor Oc, Scream, Electro, Hydro-Man, and the Hobgoblin has captured the Statue of Liberty with an anti-gravity gun. They threaten to destroy the statue if the city does not surrender to them.

4 incredible attractions that allow you to be a superhero for part of your day. There are also ample opportunity to meet your favourite superheroes

Toon Lagoon

Continuing your clockwise journey from Marvel Superhero Island you will find yourself transported into the 3rd Island that is Toon Lagoon. As you can gather from the name, Toon Lagoon provides an opportunity to get very wet with some of the wettest water rides you will find anywhere in Orlando.

The land is based on the cartoon characters of King Features Syndicate and Jay Ward. This Island immerses guests in the animated worlds of Popeye, Dudley Do-right, and some of the worlds most famous and popular cartoon and comic strip characters.  It is literally like stepping foot into one big comic strip, Universal has translated cartoon art into real buildings and settings with some amazing colour.  Toon Lagoon is also full of great photo ops so keep your camera handy. Here is a list of all the attractions you can find here:

  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – A traditional log flume combined with roller coaster track based on Dudley Do-Right. Guest’s will boar a red timber style log and follow Dudley Do-Right on his attempt to save Nell who has been Kidnapped by the evil Snidley. It is an all round comical ride. And you will get pretty wet.
  • Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barge – A white water river rapid ride that’s theme is all about Popeye the Sailor Man saving Olive Oyl from Bluto. Guests board 10 riders at a time onto a circular raft down a man-made canyon of gushing rapids and waterfalls. You will get soaked so bring a change of clothes or ride before going home.
  • Me Ship The Olive –  Isn’t an attraction but instead a kids’ playground built in and around Popeye’s ship. The three levels of the ship all contain a variety of interactive elements including cannons and hoses to further soak riders on the Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges ride.

Skull Island

The newest Island in the park and home to the scary but loveable King Kong. The island itself marked the return of King Kong to the Universal Orlando Resort, after the closure of Kongfrontation over at Universal Studios Florida. There is only one attraction in the area and the theming is spectacular and feels like you are in a rainforest in deep Latin America. The attraction that call skull Island Home is:

  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong Guests board large expedition vehicles and are led by one of five unique drivers as you journey through Skull Island.  Where prehistoric predators and fearsome creatures wait and attack your vehicle from all sides. Until Kong shows up. This is his home, his kingdom. And only he reigns.

Jurassic Park

As you pass through Skull Island and continue on your journey you will reach the 5th Island also known as Jurassic Park. The blockbuster Dinosaur Film Series that smashed its way into our hearts from the early 90’s. Set after the 1st Film the area is based on John Hammonds Dinosaur Theme Park found on the Isla Nublar. This themed island transports you into the movies and the prehistoric era where you can expect to see exotic landscapes, plant life and incredible prehistoric creatures that first walked our earth. If you or the kids are a dino fan, you are going to love it. These are the attractions on the 5th Island:

  • Jurassic Park River Adventure -A water Flume ride based on Steven Spielberg’s film and Michael Crichton’s novel. A boat ride through Jurassic Park immersing you in the natural dinosaur habitat, it will educate you on some of the gentle giants of the prehistoric world until thing go wrong. You will come face to face with some of the fiercest Dino’s to have walked the earth and the King of prehistoric world himself. Prepare for the plunge.
  • Pteradon Flyers A suspended Steel coaster that shows you the view of Camp Jurassic. The Ride seats 2 guests in one car. Soar around the Island experiencing the flying and gliding motions of the majestic and fierce Pteradon. Only those who are between 36 and 56 inches (91 and 140 cm) or those with a child of that height may ride. Sorry Kidults.
  • Raptor Encounter Meet some of the most intelligent and ferocious killers to grace the earth and Isla Nublar. The Fierce Velociraptor. Those brave enough to visit the paddock will have a chance to see the newest addition to the park’s raptor pack—Blue. You’ll learn some interesting facts about the clever girl and see her in her natural habitat. You’ll even get a chance to get a photo. But it’s not always wise to turn your back on a predator.
  • Camp Jurassic – Is children’s play area features a variety of play elements including slides, nets, water cannons and fountains. Fun for all the kiddies.

Whatever your preference who doesn’t love dinosaurs. There is something for everyone at Jurassic Park

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is centered around the Harry Potter Universe by JK Rowling. Universal Orlando is home to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley which can be found in each of their respective parks. Islands of Adventure is home to Hogsmeade and Studios is home to Diagon Alley. Each giving you a feel of what it’s really like to be living in the Wizarding world. It is one of the most immersive lands in the whole of Orlando. The attention to detail and vision has bought Harry Potter from the book to the real world and it really feels like you are part of something special.

The Hogsmeade Village part of the Wizarding World includes the Wizarding town in Scotland and also includes the majestic Hogwarts castle. Not only can you find loads of boutique Harry Potter-esque shops in Hogsmeade but you can also dine at The Three Broomsticks and the Hogs Head. Which offers up some beautiful Food which is largely based around some traditional British dishes and those Wizarding specials that can be found in the book. Here are the attractions that you can find at Island number 6:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey A ride with 2 parts, that immerses you into Hogwarts and the action packed Wizarding world. The first part of Hogsmeade’s signature attraction and is also the themed queue. It is a tour of the Castle including its most iconic rooms, Dumbledore’s office and the Defence against the Dark Arts classroom. The second part of the attraction is a revolutionary flight-simulator ride that doesn’t really feel like much a simulator at all. It feels so real and the way the ride glides through the unique motions will leave you feeling like you’ve been on a dangerous wizarding adventure not a simulator ride.
  • Flight of the Hippogriff – A outdoor kiddie coaster, although adults can and should ride at least once. The Flight of the Hippogriff attraction takes you into the Forbidden Forest, past Hagrid’s Hut, and face-to-face with the magical and sassy creature that is Buckbeak.
  • The Hogwarts Express – One for all the family. Nestled in the corner of Hogsmeade you will find the entrance to the Hogwarts express. Take a journey between parks from Hogsmeade station in Islands to Diagon Alley in Studios and vice versa. Each direction of travel has its own dialogue and story for you to enjoy. You will sail through the English Countryside and meet your favourite trio and various other characters including the deadly dementors. *A Park to Park ticket is required for this experience*
  • The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – an impressive night time display that is projected onto Hogwarts Castle. Crowds can be very large for this show, so you will find people sitting about a hour or so before the show is due to commence. This show will soon be replaced by the new show Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle coming later in 2019.
  • *Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Opening in June 2019, this family coaster will be taking residence in the area that was Dragon challenge. With Hagrid as your guide, you will board magical motorbikes to fly far into the dark forest, past impossible obstacles and come up against fierce beasts. A new coaster experience where anything can happen, it will bring you close to some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures.

Whether you are a Potterhead, a bog standard fan or just indifferent, there is something that the whole family will love.

The Lost Continent

The 7th and smallest islands since the expansion of the Wizarding World. Believe it or not this was the biggest Island of the Park and was split into 3 sections – Merlinwood – a medieval themed section (now Hogsmeade Station), The Arabian Marketplace which is home to the mischievous Mystic Fountain and the Lost City where you can explore the ancient ruins alongside all the myths and legends. This Island never had any movie related theming, it was its own unique land with each section having its own story. There are no real attractions here but people do come to admire the theming and experience the award winning table service restaurant – Mythos. Here are the attractions in The Lost Continent:

  • Poseidon’s Fury This is a walkthrough live show that will take you through an ancient temple of Poseidon. This is less of a thrill ride and more of a show with special effects. The acting is pretty cheesy but the theming is impressive and its good fun to experience and get out the hot Florida Sun
  • The Mystic Fountain Mischievous by nature but you won’t know that until you take a step closer. At first glance it looks like a beautiful ancient fountain that fires water every now and again. Then you get a little closer and the fountain comes to life. The Mystic Fountain talks and interacts with guests in the immediate vicinity (a bit like the Volcano in Volcano Bay). You can chat with him and he will ask you questions such as where you are from and some other random, off the cuff dialogue. It’s really fun and hilarious for passers by. Just don’t get too close because this cheeky fountain might even spray you!

Seuss Landing

The 8th and Final Land is that of the incredibly creative Dr Seuss and his array of weird and wonderful Characters. Seuss Landing is the one area at Islands of Adventure where small children will find plenty of attractions to enjoy. So if you have little ones that can’t enjoy some of the big rides, you can keep them entertained here for a while. The Land itself is entirely based on the World of Dr Seuss and his creations.

As in the books, one of the unique characteristics of this area is that there is not a single straight line anywhere. Palm trees bent by the winds of Hurricane Andrew were even planted in the area to continue this theme. The Land is so extraordinary and full of colour, even if you haven’t read a Dr Seuss novel you would know exactly which world you had walked into. There are also some incredible treat shops in this area. Especially if you are a fan of those marshmallow crispy treats. Here is what you can find in Seuss Landing:

  • The Cat in the Hat – A slow moving Dark ride that takes you through a story of the same name. While on the ride, you’ll take a seat on a vintage cartoon like couch and go through numerous rooms filled with crazy upside furniture and characters. And if it’s been a while since hearing the original story of The Cat in the Hat, this dark vintage ride retells the story and bring back those good memories.
  • Caro-Seuss-el – A play on the word carousel, yep this is a Dr Seuss themed carousel. You will sail around this Merry-go-round on various Seuss Characters such as dog or a fish. Its a good fun play on a traditional classic. Your hardest choice will be deciding which character to ride on.
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train RideIf you love the Peoplemover over at Disney and like to give your feet a little break, you will love the Trolley ride. This ride is elevated above Seuss landing and transports you around the entire land. Even though this is considered a kids ride, it’s still worth riding. It’s relaxing and gives great views of the land and park itself. Each car carries 4 guests but if there is only 2 of you and you go at a quiet time you will get a car to yourself.
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishLike Dumbo and Aladdin’s Carpets over at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, this is a spinning ride where you can control your fish to go up and down. Except with this ride there is a small twist so don’t be fooled, into thinking this will be a nice chilled ride. As you go for a spin and take control of going up or down, riders are met with a musical riddle that blares from the speakers. This rhyme helps riders escape water-spitting fish. So ultimately it a game to not get wet. You’ll get pretty soaked if you don’t follow the rhyme from the speakers.
  • If i ran the zoo – This is another kids playground/mini waterpark with water guns, rain showers, slides, and caves. It such a fun area for the little ones to run around and an even better area for adults to get a breather from all the theme park fun.

Let’s wrap things up

So there you have it the 8 different Islands and their attractions that make up the Islands of Universal’s Island’s of Adventure. The whole concept of the park and its layout really set it apart and make it a unique experience in comparison to Studio’s next door. Especially as it sticks with the traditional roller coaster rides, rather than the simulator style attractions that make up the bulk of Universal Studios. Universal’s Islands of Adventure has won so many awards and is a favourite for tourists and Florida locals!

Name another theme park that lets you rage with the Hulk, walk amongst dinosaurs, and be a wizard or Witch for the day to cast spells with Harry Potter. For movie lovers, thrill seekers, theme park addicts, and those with imaginations that reach the sky, Universal’s Islands of Adventure should be on the top of your bucket list!

Have you ever visited Universal Islands of Adventure or are planning to visit? What’s your favourite attraction? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Loves
Amy xoxo

If you love Orlando and plan on visiting any of the Theme parks especially Disney. Then check out my guide to Disney’s Fastpass+ System. Its a simple guide all about Disney Fastpasses and how to use them to ensure you make the most of your time in the parks. You can check it out here.

One Comment

  • Pitweiler

    Early Opening – Each day, one of the park’s opens their Wizarding World of Harry Potter area an hour early to select guests. You can take advantage of this by staying at one of the official Universal Orlando hotels or by purchasing your ticket through us.

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