20 May, 2024

How to spend one day at Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando , FL

We have visited 3 Universal theme parks and 2 Disney theme parks in our vacation. The theme parks are huge and there are many awesome and not-to-miss rides. It is overwhelming to plan a trip to Disney / Universal. Please read this basic planning post before reading this 1 day itinerary of Universal Islands of Adventure theme park.

The purpose of this post is to make your planning easy. The list of rides and activities depend largely on the age of kids, your interests, patience for long wait times, energy, preferences etc., This current guide is made keeping in mind for a family with 2 kids aged 9 and 11years. 

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Tickets and App:

We purchased 3 park , 5 day tickets. 

From Universal site, that means -

The 3-Park 5-Day Base Ticket Dated entitles one (1) guest admission to ONE (1) Universal Orlando Resort theme park per day: Universal Studios Florida, OR Universal’s Islands of Adventure, OR Universal’s Volcano Bay. Ticket is valid for any five (5) calendar days during an eight (8) consecutive calendar day period which commences on and includes the date selected. The ticket will expire in full on the expiration date printed on ticket. Unused days shall be forfeited.

Check here for ticket prices. Ticket prices will vary depending on season. Also, consider packages including accommodations and early access. 

Image by Semevent from Pixabay

Installing the Universal App is very important for you to scan tickets at the entry, to check wait times for the rides, to navigate in the park, to check food stalls, restaurants, order food online, to check show timings etc.,

Here is the link to install Universal Android / IOS app. 

Express pass:

Let's discuss about Express pass. Express Pass allows you to skip long lines especially during peak seasons like during Christmas. 

All Harry Potter rides, Jurassic Park rides, Spiderman, Hulk etc., are very busy most of the time with minimum 1 hr wait times. 

If you have early access and can wait for 2 hrs for not to miss rides and don't have very young kids, you might not need Express pass at all. We didn't use Express pass and it worked fine for us.

If you don't have more time to spend in the park, here are the express pass options.

Early Access:

One of the best benefits of booking a vacation package or multi-day ticket is the Early Park Admission. 

Rides that might be included in early access (these will change by season and peak days): 

  • Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure 
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster and 
  • Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey

Park is usually open at 8am and early access is at 7am. Please check in the Universal app the day before for the correct list of rides with early access.

We got early access due to the package we booked. 

Our Itinerary:

1. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure 

We first went to this popular ride and the waiting time was around 1.5 hrs or more even with early access. But, this ride is completely worth the wait. You will be sitting on bikes for this roller coaster. 


This is the longest roller coaster in Florida which takes 3 minutes to ride and it is scary. There is a vertical drop as well. It has a lot of thrill elements to it. 

2. Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey

This is very interesting 3d simulation ride. The waiting lines also feature Harry potter characters and story. 

I enjoyed it better as it really gave me the feeling of flying on the broom. Yes, little scary at a few places and it might be tough for you if you have motion sickness.

Note: We skipped Jurassic World Velocicoaster as it seemed very scary with an inverted zero gravity stall where it will send riders upside down. It seems like most exhilarating ride if you love the thrill of roller coasters. There is a lot of waiting for this as it's a popular ride. Please plan in the morning to avoid long waiting.

We also skipped The Incredible Hulk coaster which has around 7 exhilarating inversions. 

We skipped Flight of the Hippogriff as we don't want another roller coaster ride. 

If you want to experience Hogwarts express train, you need park to park ticket.

3. Jurassic Park River Adventure

The waiting time is little high, but it is the best ride for families. You will get little wet at the end. Not scary and a pleasant ride for whole family with a small drop at the end.

We had lunch at this point near 'Popeyes and Bluto's Bilege Rat Barges' ride. There is a restaurant where you can watch the ride while eating. 


4. Popeyes and Bluto's Bilege Rat Barges

Wear the rain coats for this ride, because you will be drenching at the end of the ride. A wonderful water ride, we really enjoyed it. This might be my most favorite family ride. 

There are dryers after you exit the ride. Don't miss this ride!

We skipped Duddley Do-Right's Ripsaw falls due to big lines. But, this seemed to be an interesting water ride.

5. Pteranodon Flyers

Super cool ride. You can even do with toddlers. Not scary and enjoyable ride. This can be used as a little break as the surrounding area is a play area with climbing nets to explore.


6. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman

Not scary except for a drop in the end. A fun ride with interesting story in waiting lines.

Skull Island has long waiting lines and we had to skip.

The high in the Sky Seuss trolley rides are fun for the parents with infants and toddlers. 

We skipped Dr Doom's Free fall, but you can try that if you love the thrill of free falls. 

Camp Jurassic is a an interesting play area for kids with slides, climbing nets to canyons and caves.


Mythos / Thunder falls Restaurant is beautiful to look at. You might need reservations to dine in. A photogenic place to explore.

The three broomsticks is a Harry potter themed dine in restaurant, but needs reservations.

Wimpy's - This is near Popeye ride with American cusuine like burgers and fries.

There are multiple restaurants at each section of the park and also fast food options.

Ordering online and picking up food always helped us to save the time.


Islands of Adventure has 3 shows - Frog Choir (A fund show with Hogwarts Students), Oh! The Stories you will hear by Dr. Seuss Characters, and Triwizard Spirit Rally.

We couldn't catch these shows at right time. 

Character Encounters:

Kids had fun meeting the Spider Man and Marvel heroes. You can meet Dr.Seuss characters, Comic characters like Popeye, Betty Poop. But, please be aware that there are long queues for meet and greets. Until unless you are a big fan, it's time consuming and can be avoided.

You can also shop for specific merchandise like Magic wands, Marvel t shirts etc., 

Photo Packages:

After you exit every ride, you can get photos. Below link has some photo packages. One day photos are around $89 which is really expensive. 

Photo Packages at Universal

After all these rides, we relaxed a bit, watched the holiday lights and returned. 

That's our itinerary for Islands of Adventure with early access.

We had complimentary shuttle access between the park and our resort, which is very helpful after a tiring day. Food at the resort is amazing and that made it easier to hit the bed early. 

The Endless Summer resort also has a few swimming pools, a lounge area, multiple restaurants, laundry and all other basic facilities.

Here is the link to reserve Vacation packages from Universal.

The next post will cover Disney Magic Kingdom.

Until next time,


  1. Anonymous6:59 PM

    This is a pretty detailed review. The passed, and also a take on the rides you didn't choose. Looks like you had a great time! 👍

    1. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Yes, I don't want my readers to miss the rides that we skipped.


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