A vacation at Universal Studios is perfect for the entire family. But don’t be alarmed if you hear screams from a distance, that’s coming from Universal’s Islands of Adventure! One of the two theme parks at Universal Studios Florida that is known for its awesome thrill rides! This theme park is filled with some of the world’s best roller coasters and attractions, while Universal Studios focuses more on interactive simulator rides (take a look at our blog post here!). Islands of Adventure opened 10 years later in 1999, and brings you closer to your favorite cartoons, movies, and superheroes as they’re brought to life! This was actually our first time visiting the Islands of Adventure park, both of us!🤯 We spent the entire time admiring every detail of each island, probably more time than we should’ve lol. Luckily we had an entire day to explore the park, so “Let the Adventure Begin!” 🗺🔎
📍6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 9am-7pm (open until 8pm on Saturdays)
💲Ticket Price: $105 or $155 for Park to Park tickets (to and from Universal Studios)
Islands of Adventure is separated into 8 themed “islands”. They’re all so different from each other and it’s such a fun way to escape and have a totally new experience at each one!
Port of Entry
Everyone’s first island upon entering the theme park is the Port of Entry! Right off the bat, guests will notice the Pharos Lighthouse, an iconic IOA (Islands of Adventure) landmark that has been there since day 1! As soon as we walked through the entrance gates we were quickly transported out of Orlando and into an exotic world! The Port of Entry is where “the adventure begins”, and the level of detail is out of this world. 😍
There aren’t any rides or attractions in this area but this is only the beginning! There are a few shops though, good for anyone that needs to pick up a last-minute souvenir. Fun fact: We like to collect magnets that remind us of our trips!😄 We found ourselves hanging out here for a while just admiring the gorgeous and unique architecture and structures! Another fun fact: One of the architects of Islands of Adventure, David Codiga, also developed the High Roller in Las Vegas (if you do’t know what that is check out our post here)!
Dining in the Port of Entry:
Confisco Grille is one of two full-service restaurants in the entire theme park (the other being Mythos). Here you’ll find dishes from different cuisines all around the world. From signature Fish of the Day to Italian Ciabatta sandwiches, classic burgers, to Tex-Mex Wraps.
Hidden behind Confisco Grille, stop by this bar to grab a refreshing cocktail or take a peek at the game!
Yes, we’re happy to know there’s a Starbucks near the entrance/exit of the park too! Especially for anyone that comes to the parks early! ☕️🙌🏼
Croissant Moon Bakery
If Starbucks pastries or breakfast items aren’t your thing, no worries they aren’t ours either, check out this bakery!
Cinnabon offers your favorite fresh, hot out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls. So hard to resist the smell of these!
You’ll also find the Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe here. A store that’s Christmas 365 days a year!🎄🤩 It’s so festive inside and has holiday merch with your favorite characters. Does anyone need minion stockings?☺️
One of the first islands that we visited while at Islands of Adventure was Seuss Landing. Considered a kid’s zone, and for anyone that is a kid at heart (basically, ourselves!), this area is a fun, colorful and whimsical area filled with family-friendly rides and attractions.
Rides & Attractions in Seuss Landing
Probably one of the most unusual takes on the traditional Merry-Go-Round ride, this quirky ride brings out so many fun characters that Dr. Seuss has created. The ride is pretty standard but the hardest part is choosing which mythical creature to ride on. Maybe a dog like character or how about a fish? Lol, we love this one of a kind carousel!
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
We love rides like this that are relaxing, get us off our feet for a few minutes, and show us the entire land. Even though this is considered a kids ride, it’s still worth riding. And if you pay close attention, you can listen to the fun story of the Sneetches! Each car carries 4 guests and since we went early in the morning, we got a cart all to ourselves.
This slow moving trolley ride will take you up for a gorgeous view of Seuss Landing and IOA! From up top, we got a closer view of Circus McGurkus and caught a glimpse of Mythos from the next island in the distance.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
To Disney lovers, this looks like your basic Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. But don’t be fooled, this ride comes with some surprises! As you go for a spin on this aquatic ride, riders take control of going up or down. And some make it a game to not get wet. Warning: you’ll get soaked if you don’t follow the rhyme called out from the speakers.
The Cat in the Hat
For many of us, we grew up with the many stories by Dr. Seuss. While on the ride, you’ll take a seat on a vintage cartoon like couch and go through 18 rooms filled with crazy upside furniture. 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. We even got to meet The Cat in the Hat himself!
If I Ran the Zoo
This is a 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.
Dining in Seuss Landing:
Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous
All your circus dreams will come true as you dine in this colorful and outrageous tent! Inside of this quick-service restaurant, you can find classic theme park fares like fried chicken, pasta, pizza, and cheeseburgers. And if you time it right, you’ll catch the live action performance of, “Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear”, where you can watch your favorite characters like Thing 1 and Thing 2 and The Cat in the Hat! No worries if you don’t make it in time, you can always find their schedules to get your picture with them inside the gift shops!
Moose Juice, Goose Juice
Anyone thirsty for some juice?? This beverage counter is inspired by Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book. As the Moose and the Goose dream up their drinks!
“A moose is asleep. He is dreaming of moose drinks.
A goose is asleep. He is dreaming of goose drinks.
That’s well and good when a moose dreams of moose juice.
And nothing goes wrong when a goose dreams of goose juice.
But it isn’t too good when a moose and a goose
Start dreaming they’re drinking the other one’s juice.”
— Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book
Curious about what a Moose Juice or a Goose Juice is?
Frozen Sour Green Apple, Watermelon, or Grape
They also offer ICEE slushies in various flavors like Grape, Watermelon, Wild Cherry, Coke, and other Coca-Cola Products.
Green Eggs and Ham Cafe
Themed after the childhood story classic, who can say they weren’t curious about what Green Eggs and Ham looks and tastes like? Well, this quick-service restaurant may cross off your childhood bucket list because you can order them here! But don’t be surprised if you see the closed sign because it’s only open during the busier seasons like Spring and Summer. So take advantage of the opportunity if it’s open and you may even say:
“I do so like green eggs and ham!
Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am” 💚
The Lost Continent
Explore the ancient lands of The Lost Continent! This was once the largest area of IOA with three sections, one of them called Merlinwood, a medieval section that has been replaced to make room for The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. Today we can still explore the Lost City where you’ll find myths and legends, along with the Arabian Marketplace with the mischievous Mystic Fountain. You may notice that The Lost Continent doesn’t have any theming after movies or shows and doesn’t have much to offer since there aren’t many attractions. But guests do come to this area to admire its beauty and dine at Mythos, one of two full-service restaurants in the Park.
Rides & Attractions in The Lost Continent:
This walkthrough live show will take you through an ancient temple of Poseidon. This is less of a thrill ride and more of a show with special effects. We heard the acting is cheesy but the outside looks impressive. If we had more time, we probably would’ve checked it out!
The Mystic Fountain
From far away, this looks like a beautiful ancient fountain. Get a little closer and The Mystic Fountain will start talking and interacting with guests! But don’t get too close because this mischievous fountain might even spray you!💦 We chatted with him for a minute, and he was fun and asked us questions like where we were from and if we were attacked by bears because our shorts had rips in them.😂 lol We can imagine it was a good laugh for other people nearby too!
Dining in The Lost Continent:
Doc Sugrue’s Kebab House
You won’t find your typical burger and fries here! At this Mediterranean-inspired grill, you can choose from beef, chicken, or vegetarian skewers here. They also have options like greek salads, fruit cups, hummus, greek yogurt, pretzels, and churros. A kebab will cost you around $10-13 and is served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce!
This outdoor fast service counter is a convenient stop for anyone that has a craving for a gyro and hummus! They also have less exotic stuff like Chicken Stingers (chicken fingers tossed in hot sauce), regular chicken fingers, hot dogs and more.
Awarded the #1 Theme Park Restaurant in the World 6 years in a row, Mythos is a dining experience that you can’t miss while visiting the Islands Of Adventure! We were so impressed with the details on the outside that we had to go in and check it out! And you guessed it, we were completely blown away!😍 It’s like dining inside of a gorgeous, ancient cave. We couldn’t get over the stunning views looking out to the lagoon and the rest of the theme park. If you go order the Pad Thai, their best selling dish on the menu!😋 For a full detailed review of Mythos, check out our blog post here.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
The largest section of IOA and one that millions of people around the world travel to see is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! 🧙🏼♂️⚡️This immersive “island” brings you into the magic as you walk down the winter village of Hogsmeade towards Hogwarts Castle. And wizards don’t forget your interactive wands at home, as you’ll want to experience and see what spells you can cast around the park! 💫
Get a closer look at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in our blog post here!
It’s easy to get to and from Hogwarts, just hop on the Hogwarts Express!🚂 From Hogsmeade Station you can take the Hogwarts Express directly next door to King’s Cross in Diagon Alley (inside Universal Studios). You’ll need a Park-to-Park admission ticket or Annual Pass to come aboard since you’ll be at both parks. We haven’t done this yet but it’s definitely high on our list for next time!
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Get ready for the newest thrill ride at Universal Orlando Resort, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure! Experience speeding through the Forbidden Forest on Hagrid’s Enchanted Motorbike complete with a sidecar for you to drag your BFF on!
This story coaster is seriously unlike any other at Universal Theme Parks! Riders will go from 0 to full speed as they go through twists, turns, unexpected halts all before descending backwards. And don’t let us forget to mention that there’s a full vertical drop! And If you have the courage to grab a seat on the motorbike, make sure to keep your eyes out for dragon eggs, nifflers, unicorns and Hagrid himself!
Read more about the exciting Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure in our blog post here!
Inside of the Hogwarts Castle, you can hop on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride! This is a simulation ride that takes you through some of the iconic locations of the movie. So grab your broomstick and get ready to take flight! Some of the most memorable parts start right at the beginning as you going through the waiting area and check off your bucket list of seeing the inside of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
And of course you can’t leave without trying butterbeer! The best way we can describe the taste is kind of like a butterscotch or cream soda with a sweet whipped foam on top. You can find it original as a refreshing beverage, frozen, and even as an ice cream flavor! This sweet delicious treat inspired by the series is a must do when visiting!🍻
They have a few shows in Hogsmeade including the Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally, so find a comfortable spot around the stage in front of the Hogwarts Castle! The Triwizard Spirit Rally is a cool dance and martial arts performance. And the Frog Choir is well, a choir with huge croaking frogs of course!🐸🎶 For anyone that’s a huge fan of the Harry Potter Series, these two shows are a must see with scheduled times throughout the day!
Our favorite attraction at Islands of Adventure has to be The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts! It’s a beautiful display of dazzling lights and of course music from the movie. It’s seriously an awesome experience even for those that aren’t familiar with the Harry Potter series. And during the winter season, they have a special holiday edition that we would love to see one day! They do show on select nights so definitely take a look at the schedules! The show is towards closing for Islands of Adventure and it’s an epic way to end a perfect day!🤩💫✨
Check out our detailed blog post of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (including Diagon Alley at Universal Studios theme park) here!
Step into the tropical jungle as you roam around prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs.🦖🦕 Anyone that’s a fan of the 90’s classic will be amazed by how distinct and different this island is from the rest of the theme park. There are plenty of dining options for anyone with a big appetite, and plenty of rides for someone looking for a thrill! There’s so much fun even for the littlest adventurers. But stay alert, you’ll never know when a dinosaur is lurking around the corner!
Rides & Attractions in Jurassic Park:
Jurassic Park River Adventure
Considered to be on the top of the list for most-loved water rides, this ride takes you on a nice raft ride through the lush gardens of Jurassic Park! You’ll enjoy looking at different types of dinosaurs and their families. That is until riders turn into Jurassic Park’s restricted area where they keep the dangerous ones.😱 Suddenly, dinosaurs are threatening riders as they ascend up a hill until finally encountering a T. rex and he’s not happy! The only way to escape? Down a 85 ft. drop! And if that’s not your speed, have some fun at the splash zone on the side!
Jurassic Park Discovery Center
Go inside this re-creation of the “visitor center” in the Jurassic Park movie! This exhibit will bring you back in time as you get to hang around life-size dinosaurs and play interactive games. You can even check out a live hatching demonstration! This is a great area to have fun while learning for all ages!
Enter into the jungle, if you dare! Even though this is a kids zone, we were able to roam around in it! It’s so fun climbing up to the top and down into the caves below. Besides a fun game of hide and seek or tag with the kids, this area is a great place to get a bit of physical activity in as you balance between rope lines while seeing some of the best views of Jurassic Park!
Hop on these flying dinosaurs and soar on a circular track over Camp Jurassic, giving incredible views from above! We hung around this ride watching as riders glide through Jurassic park. We wanted to ride this more than any other ride but sadly, we got turned away because we didn’t meet the “must have a kid to ride” requirement. Anyone got a kid we could borrow? Lol
Step right up and try to win a stuffed dinosaur by playing classic amusement park games with a dinosaur twist, like Egg Nursery or Dinosaur Dash Up!
Dining in Jurassic Park:
At this casual pizza joint, step up and grab a personal pie combo with a refreshing salad or a meatball sub. This is quick counter service, so you can take your food to go or sit at any of the outdoor tables amongst tropical trees and plants. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy pizza deep in the jungle? 🍕🌴
Thunder Falls Terrace
If you have a hearty appetite like a dinosaur, you found the right place! At this quick-service restaurant, you’ll find more options than your basic burger and fries (although you can get them here too). Choose between Rotisserie Chicken, Ribs, Turkey Legs and more! And grab a seat by the window to catch some awesome views of the Jurassic River Adventure plunge down the hill with a splash!💦
The Burger Digs
This is a great quick spot for anyone that’s hungry after learning about dinosaur fossils next door at the Jurassic Park Discovery Center! Grab a double cheeseburger or for those that want a healthier option, try a chicken sandwich or garden burger.
The Watering Hole
Take a break from all that adventure with a cold brewski or a glass of wine! And if the sun from the Florida sky is too much to handle, why not opt for a frozen Piña Colada or Margarita! Yum! Don’t forget to get a discounted refills with your Universal Studios’ souvenir cup from 100 choices of Coca-Cola Freestyle machines!
There are also shops like Jurassic Outfitters where you can buy Jurassic park gear for fans of the movie and lovers of these prehistoric reptiles.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Explore the dark jungle on safari buses as we encounter dangerous creatures and meet Kong as he saves the day!🦍 This is one of the few rides that we rode and we thought the ride was pretty cool! It’s crazy how 4D simulation and screens can make things really come to life and it’s a fun way to tell a story! We get that 3D rides aren’t everyone’s favorite but this ride gains speed and spins which makes it pretty fun! We especially liked the creepiness in the dark waiting area. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long, but we found ourselves stopping to look at the dark and scary details in the queues. That being said, would we wait more than 30 minutes? Probably not!
Fun fact: There are 887 skulls on Skull Island!💀
Did anyone else go through newspapers just for the cartoon comics as a kid?🙋🏼♀️ At Toon Lagoon you’ll be surrounded by childhood favorites like Popeye the Sailor, The Family Circus, and Beetle Bailey! So unless you were born before the 80’s, some of these vintage classics may not look familiar. Either way, this area is colorful and filled with fun for all ages! Especially if your choice of a thrill ride includes getting completely soaked because Toon Lagoon is home to two of the wettest rides in the park!🎢💦
Rides & Attractions in Toon Lagoon:
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
If falling from a waterfall is your idea of fun, than this raft ride is the one for you! This ride is an absolute must especially during the summer, with all the Florida heat who wouldn’t want to get completely soaked on this log ride?! We love standing by and watching from the bridge as riders come splashing down at high speeds.
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
Expect to get soaked as you twist and turn through rapid waters on this raft ride. Don’t think you’ll get lucky, as the water guns spray you and the rest of the crew from every angle!
Me Ship, The Olive
Hop on board on the Me Ship, The Olive and get a good view of the river with riders on the Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges boat! You can even spray them with water guns as they come rushing downstream!
Dining in Toon Lagoon:
Comic Strip Cafe
For a place that has larger than life comics on the outside, this cafe has a pretty large menu as well. You can find foods from fried chicken and burgers to Italian dishes like fettuccine to Asian beef and broccoli. We hear the lines are long and it’s good for anyone looking for something quick with a little more variety.
Blondie’s comic has been in the newspapers all over the world! And in this restaurant, you’ll find their Famous Dagwood Sandwich, a sub with three types of meats and two types of cheese. They also have different made-to-order subs like baked ham, tuna, smoked turkey, and roast beef. And they serve Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs which you can get Reuben Style, Chicago Style, or even a classic chili & cheese dog.🌭
Anyone else grow up watching Pop Eye? If you did, you may know that Pop Eye loves his Spinach and Wimpy loves his burgers. And if you aren’t familiar with Wimpy, he’s a burger-loving character that doesn’t like to pay ’til later. His catchphrase: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” So of course, at Wimpy’s quick service counter they’re serving up his favorite bacon cheeseburger, as well as regular cheeseburgers, and Chicken Fingers. But depending on the time of year, you might not be able to satisfy your own burger craving because Wimpy’s is only open during busy season!
Marvel Super Hero Island
Themed after everyone’s favorite superhero comics, Marvel Super Hero Island brings us back to our childhood of watching action-packed cartoons as kids. We were amazed as this island had so many superheroes like Spiderman, Avengers, X-men, the Fantastic Four, and many more! And if you’ve been hearing roars from outside your Universal Orlando Resort, more than likely, they’re coming from this Island!
Rides & Attractions in Marvel Super Hero Island:
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Get ready to scream as this rollercoaster launches you into drops, twists, and loops!🎢 This is one of the original rides at IOA and was later shut down for restoration in 2015 and is now smoother and from what we heard, better than before! We consider this action-packed ride to be the centerpiece of the park because of its eye-catching green color and size.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no wait, it’s Spiderman! Step inside this New York city inspired building and grab a seat on this 3D motion ride. You’ll be amazed as it takes you through the city streets and battles against evil villains alongside Spiderman. Even while waiting, the colorful waiting area takes you into the comics. This ride has been updated with more detail and clarity and continues to be a fan favorite!
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
Another iconic ride to the park, this ride can be seen from several resorts outside of the park and the screams can be heard along with the drop! Be prepared to be dropped at 185 feet in the air and launched at skyrocket speeds for an incredible view of the park, if you dare!🤪 We heard this ride is pretty short and you only go up once so the thrills go away pretty quickly. Either way, we don’t have a fear of heights but dropping… no thanks! Lol
Storm Force Accelatron
A take on Disney World’s teacups, this spinny ride can be a lot of fun or a cause of a long headache if you don’t like rides that spin lol. It looks like there are faster spins and turns as you swirl around in this storm with sound effects and all!
Dining in Marvel Super Hero Island:
In the mood for Italian with the hero of Fantastic Four? You can find quick service pizzas, different kinds of pastas, and meatball subs at Cafe 4. They have plenty of indoor seating and their outdoor seating is covered to protect any civilians from the hot Florida sun.
Captain America Diner
At Captain America Diner you can find all the beloved American classics like cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, milkshakes, and more. Sit amongst the Avengers and if you’re lucky enough, you can grab a seat with a gorgeous view of the lake, Mythos, and Hogwarts!
Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando
For the ultimate vacation, we highly recommend staying at one of Universal Orlando’s on-site resorts! Our #1 favorite Universal Orlando Resort is their newest addition, Aventura Hotel! You can check out our full review of our stay at Aventura Hotel here. Along with our other Universal Orlando Hotel Reviews:
The resorts give guests special privileges and benefits including:
- Free early admission before the parks open to the public (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Studio’s Theme parks)
- Free transportation to the theme parks and Universal’s CityWalk
- Pool hopping between Universal Resorts
- For those staying at Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel, and Royal Pacific Resort, you’ll receive free unlimited express passes and priority seating at select restaurants!
Universal’s Islands of Adventure has won so many awards and is a favorite for tourists and Florida locals! It’s almost embarrassing to admit that this is our first time visiting the park, but it certainly won’t be our last! And what makes this theme park stand out from next door at Universal Studios is the traditional roller coaster rides, that aren’t motion simulators. Even though we love being apart of our favorite shows and movies, nothing beats that feeling of anticipation, climbing to the tippy top of a rollercoaster, getting a breathtaking birds-eye view of the entire theme park, and screaming at the top of your lungs with your hands in the air as you go more than 50 mph! Name another theme park that lets you soar with the Hulk, roam amongst dinosaurs, and cast spells from an actual wand… We’ll wait! Lol
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!
Read more about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in our blog post here and check out our Guide to Universal Studios Orlando here!
**Thank you to Universal Orlando Hotels for sponsoring this post!
4 Replies to “Universal’s Islands of Adventure Complete Guide”
Wow, this was amazing in depth and detail with great photos — great job. I am going to hire you in spring 2019 do one for idrive complete guide.
Aw thank you so much! Just let us know when you’d like us to come 😄
Thank you for the fantastic overview I kept searching for something just like this and alas finally found your helpful and informative post!
Aw I’m so glad it was helpful for you! Thanks for reading ❤️