What can we say about Islands of Adventure other than the fact that it is mind-blowingly good.
Islands of Adventure Review
If you love thrills, water and simulator ride, you will surely love Islands of Adventure.
Universal offers a couple of different Express Pass options. Our preference has always been the IOA and Universal Studios Unlimited Express pass. This means we can skip the queue as many times we want on all the rides in both parks. Having these express passes is worth it if you can include it in your budget. It helps when the younger guests may not have as much to do and no one wants to deal with a cranky toddler if it can be avoided! You can also buy an Express Pass Add-on ticket so you can skip the queue once for each ride. The price varies depending on the season it can range from roughly $79 up to $159 depending on when in the year you visit. The passes can be purchased after you enter the main gate into both Universal parks.
Virgin Holiday guests have early park entry voucher. Unfortunately, does not include Marvel Superhero Island which opens at 9 am. You can walk through City Walk and into the park gates but the entrance by The Hulk is roped off until 9 am. If you can arrive for then it’s well worth it. Most people head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with the early park entry. It can be a great opportunity to ride a few on Marvel Superhero Island before it gets busy. You can also stand underneath The Hulk as they test it before the first ride of the day which is pretty cool.
Where to go first…
I would suggest going straight to The Hulk as soon as the rope drops. There are metal detectors and they are very strict about taking nothing with you on this ride. Nothing in your pockets, on your head etc. It does become clear why! This coaster track was reopened in 2016 after a redesign. Having ridden both the old and new I can tell you it is fantastic! The way it starts and the noise are superb especially as you can hear it back down on the ground too! Our daughter was mimicking The Hulk sound all day (mind you, she often reminds me of The Hulk without the green skin!). If you can get on again straight away then DO IT. It gets busier around here later in the day and the park is so big it’s unlikely you will come back through past it.
No Islands of Adventure review could be complete without mentioning The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is a simulator ride which is super! Beware you may come off with a bit of motion sickness. Doctor Doom Fearfall I am yet to go on but it is on my to-do list. It’s a bit tucked away and we missed the entrance this year. Talking of missing things we nearly missed out on meeting SpiderMan! He was in a shop doing a meet and greet but no one knew he was there so we didn’t have to queue. It was quite funny to see the girls meet a superhero when they had been so used to meeting princesses over at Disney. They thought it was cool though.
Storm Force acceleration is one for the kids – think the teacups but faster! The theme throughout Marvel Superhero Island is brilliant. You really do feel like part of a Marvel movie. It’s colorful with loads to look at and of course many, many shops to buy everything you could imagine!!
The round from Marvel Superhero Island is Toon Lagoon – the clue is in the name, prepare to get wet people. Walking through to TL is cool, lots of comic book colors, writing and slogans. Think Betty Boop and Popeye style comics! Of course shops and eateries can be found EVERYWHERE – you will never go hungry. We love Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls, It all builds up to the big drop. It’s pretty cool as you can stand on the bridge and see the barges come down and get a good view of the riders faces! If you don’t like the thought of walking around soaking wet then here are my two top tips!
Don’t wear anything denim – takes an age to dry and goes all out of shape!
Wear a poncho!! I wore mine and my friend didn’t. Result – he was soaked to the bone and I was bone dry except for some wet feet. There are some driers you can pay for if you don’t like the thought of being wet. Also in Toon Lagoon is Popeye and Blutos Bilge-Rat Barges and Popeye both water rides. Me Ship, The Olive which is a great play area for younger kids who may want to give the big water rides a miss!!
Skull Island: Reign Of Kong
Across the bridge of the Islands of Adventure is the relatively new Skull Island: Reign Of Kong ride, I won’t ruin any surprises for this one. We queued for 45 minutes even with an Express Pass for this last year. It was closed most of the morning for maintenance but of course, we wanted to give it a try. It’s not a long ride at all. I wouldn’t recommend waiting much longer than 45 minutes, it’s going to eat into the day and there are better rides in IOA.
Jurassic Park – Islands of Adventure Review
Round to the Jurassic Park area! Camp Jurassic is great fun for the younger ones, it’s a prehistoric playground! It has climbing nets and slides and it’s a good place to let the little ones run off some steam. Keep an eye on them though – it’s easy to get lost in Camp Jurassic.
If you look above you will see the Pteranodon Flyers suspended high above the camp. You sit beneath the wings of a Pteranodon – our 4-year-old went on this for the first time this year. I was nervous watching from below but the sound of our daughters screams of “this is awesome” confirmed it was a hit. This ride has a Virtual Line Pass so you can get in line and then go off and explore Camp Jurassic until it’s your time to ride.
Across from Camp Jurassic is the classic, fantastic Jurassic Park River Adventure!! The dinosaurs seem a bit outdated but that kind of adds to the charm. As soon as the boat sets off the theme music starts and the excitement builds! I’m willing to bet you now have the tune in your head too! It’s a water ride as the name suggests and you do get wet. Again I’m not wanting to ruin any of the rides for you, it’s pretty tame with a big, wet surprise at the end!!
I’m going to give you my biggest, most valuable Islands of Adventure review tip now. I have made this mistake twice and will not be making it again. DO NOT EAT AT THUNDER FALLS TERRACE! We have never had a nice meal here, in fact, both times they were unpleasant. The problem is by the time we have reached here it has been lunchtime and it seemed the sensible place to stop. It’s not. Past Jurassic Park and there is a pizza place Pizza Predattoria and burger place The Burger Digs. Now I haven’t been to either but I’m sure they can’t get pizza and burgers wrong!
All the way through Jurassic area there are photo opportunities with various dinosaurs. The raptor experience is great to see. We haven’t done yet as our daughter would freak out but next year she’ll be nearly 5. So no excuse – raptor we are coming for you…..or you for us!!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is past the Jurassic area across the bridge to Hogsmeade. That deserves its own post so stay tuned for that!!
Dr. Suess Landings – Islands of Adventure Review
Back at the entrance to Islands of Adventure if you turn right instead of left you will arrive at Dr. Suess Landings. This year was the first time we took our time around this area and we loved it! Perfect for the younger ones and some fun rides and experiences. There’s the High in the Sky Suess Trolley Train Ride, Cao-Seuss-el, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat in The Hat. Before our visit this year our daughter hadn’t experienced much Dr. Seuss but now she’s a firm fan. There’s a great book shop! There’s a chance to meet The Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two and our favorite The Grinch! Our daughter gave him a hug but he still wasn’t for giving one back. People often say there isn’t much for younger ones to do at IOA. This area is perfect for them. It’s colorful, engaging with plenty to do, eat and purchase (of course!).
Further into the park, you have the Lost Continent. Visually it’s fantastic but I have to be honest and say for now we have just walked through this part of the park. Here there are Poseidon’s Fury and The Sinbad Stunt Show. I’m sure when our daughter gets a bit older they will feature more in our IOA trips. That then brings you back round to Hogsmeade Train Station!
Other points to note…
Don’t forget all the height restrictions are on the Universal FL app. It also includes a great park map, current waiting times, dining areas etc
Islands of Adventure is a magnificent park. We love it! The excitement of walking through City Walk is a feeling which keeps bringing us back every year!
Premium parking is brilliant and worth factoring into your budget. It’s $30 – saves tired legs at the end of the day.
This Islands of Adventure review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Universal Studios FL app there is a Parking Reminder section. You can take a photo of your car and list the section and row number. Coming from someone who lost their car in Universal this is well worth doing. I wish someone had told me about this beforehand!
If you’ve enjoyed this post have a read of our post on Universal Studios here.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this Islands of Adventure review.