• Islands of Adventure Early Admission & Rope Drop Guide

Islands of Adventure Early Admission & Rope Drop Guide

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Mar 04, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

Islands of Adventure Early Admission & Rope Drop Guide

Hello and welcome to our special guide, where you will be waking up early to explore one of the best theme parks in the world. Make sure to eat a hearty breakfast, though perhaps go easy on the bacon: you will be riding two roller coasters pretty early on, after all.

You should know by now that, if you are staying in a Universal Resort Hotel, you can enter Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure one hour before anyone else on select days. Unlike Disney World, Universal has a strict schedule which tells you which parks will be open for Early Park Admission during the month, and which attractions will be available to you. That might be disappointing to some but, hey, at least you get a one hour head start instead of Disney World’s thirty minutes during Early Entry.

It may come as a surprise to some guests that Islands of Adventure features way more Early Park Admission days than Universal Studios. This actually makes a lot of sense, since the most recent (and best) rides are located in Islands, like Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

Hey, lucky you! The only problem is that, even during Early Park Admission, those two rides can offer very long queues, but they are worth every second you spend in line.

Islands Adventure Seuss Landing 1.webp

What is Early Park Admission & Rope Drop

Early Park Admission & Rope Drop are actually two different terms.

Early Park Admission is a perk given to guests that stay in a Universal Resort Hotel or one of their partners. It lets you enter Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios one hour before anyone else. Only selected rides will be available to the public during this special time.

Rope Drop at Universal Orlando means that you are ready to enter the Park as soon as the gates open. So, you can Rope Drop during Early Park Admission, but you can also Rope Drop during normal operating hours. During this time, every attraction will be available to the public.

In short, every guest has access to what we call a Rope Drop, but only Universal Hotel guests can enjoy Early Park Admission.

Keep in mind that, almost always, the theme park that has Early Admission will open to all guests one hour before official operating times. There will be, however, checkpoints which will only allow Early Admission guests to move forward. In Islands of Adventure, for example, this checkpoint is usually located near Seuss Landing, which leads guests to both the VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s.

This is a list of the majority of Hotels that will give you the Early Park Admission perk: Aventura, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls, Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel, Endless Summer: Surfside Inn and Endless Summer: Dockside Inn.

Harry Potter Universal Forbidden Journey (2).webp


It’s important to know that you need to have everything ready for your Early Park Admission/Rope Drop strategy and not leave important details for the last minute.

  • Check park opening times through the official Universal Studios website or the Universal Orlando Resort app the night before your visit.
  • Get your backpack ready with everything you need already inside: snacks, a pair of slippers if you plan to go on a water ride (remember: Islands of Adventure has several water rides!) and everything else you might need. Again, do this the night before your visit.
  • Get that alarm clock ready and wake up early! If a park opens at 9am and you don’t have Early Park Admission, get there at 8am. If you do have Early Park Admission, this means that the park will officially open at 8:00am, and you need to be there around 7:30am if you want to be one of the first ones in line for the most popular rides. Yes, this means you will need to wake up pretty early. Take into consideration the time to take a shower, eat something and wake up your kids (yeah, this might be tough, but you can do it!).

Remember that Early Park Admission and Rope Drop are just a small part of your park strategy for that day. You will save a lot of time in one popular attraction, maybe save precious minutes on a second ride, and that’s about it. After that, it’s time to follow a traditional ride strategy.

Islands Adventure Velocicoaster 5.webp

Early Park Admission at Islands of Adventure

This is a list of rides which are usually available for Early Admission guests at Islands of Adventure:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Additionally, keep an eye out for special occasions when Ollivander’s wand experience is also open early. There are also special occasions when more rides are available, which usually coincide with peak seasons such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Islands Adventure River Adventure.webp

Your strategy for Islands of Adventure should be pretty simple. You will almost always focus on either Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure or Jurassic World VelociCoaster. In my opinion, you should head to Hagrid’s for two very simple reasons: one, this is the most popular ride in the entire park, with two hour queues most of the day. Two, this is a ride that breaks down a lot, so getting it out of the way early (and not risking it breaking down later on) can be extremely advantageous. Still, you can’t go wrong with the VelociCoaster. This is a more intense ride which is also amazingly fun and is often considered one of the top five roller coasters in the entire world.

If you have access to Early Park Admission, this could be your strategy:

  1. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  2. Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  3. Jurassic Park River Adventure

I do want to say that 70-80% of all guests will be heading to Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure during the Early Park Admission period. Lines can get very long even at 8am, but don’t even think about giving up. Trust me, queues will only get worse with time.

The strategy above takes you to Jurassic World VelociCoaster after riding Hagrid’s, which means that you should be getting there when the park is preparing to officially open its gates. The line for the VelociCoaster should be around 40-60 min, which isn’t that bad at all. Hey, this strategy will take you to two amazing early rides even before lunch, so we can’t complain much. Better yet, you even have the opportunity to ride them again later on.

Wait, are you not a huge fan of Hagrid’s, or you just don’t want to face long lines right after waking up? Okay, this is another strategy you could follow:

  1. Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  2. Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  3. Jurassic Park River Adventure

Yep, that’s a lot of Jurassic Park early on. This strategy lets you ride the VelociCoaster two times in a row, which should be seen as a blessing. I tried this exact same strategy last time I visited Islands of Adventure. Despite not being among the first to enter during the Early Admission period, I only waited in line for around 20 mins. Then I came out to ride it again, and entered a new 40 minute line. Once I came out for the second time, lines were already at 70 minutes, so I decided to head to River Adventure and faced a 10 min queue there. Not bad!

What should be a good strategy if you have young kids in your party? Well, this depends. If your kids are under 48” (122 cm) and can’t ride Hagrid’s, you could try this strategy:

  1. Flight of the Hippogriff
  2. Flight of the Hippogriff
  3. Pteranodon Flyers (once the park opens)

Please bear in mind that both Flight of the Hippogriff and Pteranodon Flyers have a height requirement of 36” (92 cm). Additionally, for Pteranodon Flyers, younger adventurers must measure between 36” (92 cm) and 56” (143 cm). If your little ones don't meet the height requirements for these attractions, or if you're accompanied by toddlers, it might be wise to consider forgoing Early Park Admission and getting an extra hour of sleep.

Rope Drop without Early Park Admission

Islands Adventure Three Broomsticks 2.webp

Did you arrive early in Islands of Adventure, but you are not staying in a Universal Hotel? The first thing you need to know is if Islands of Adventure actually offers Early Park Admission during the day of your visit. If that’s the case, you probably want to stay away from Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure until 3pm or so. This ride will be packed with Early Admission guests and you will spend a loooot of time in the queue just to ride one attraction.

So, here is a good strategy to start your day with the right foot if you don’t have Early Park Admission:

  1. Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  2. Jurassic Park River Adventure
  3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

The Velocicoaster shouldn’t be too packed if you get there early. Most of the Early Admission guests will still be at Hagrid’s, which makes it easier to enjoy Jurassic Park. Once you are done there, it’s just a short walk until you reach River Adventure, which usually has very short queues (10-15 min).

You can then head to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Adventure, where you can take pictures of Hogsmeade and enjoy this motion simulator. Oh, since you are in the Wizarding World, you can also take a peek at the queue time for Hagrid’s. Hey, maybe you are lucky and queue times are under 80 min, which means that you should definitely change your strategy and ride a motorbike right about… now.

If you're visiting with young children and hope to give them a good time, here is a strategy you could follow:

  1. Flight of the Hippogriff
  2. Pteranodon Flyers
  3. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Spider-Man has a height requirement of 40” (102 cm), so confirm whether your children can go there or not before planning your visit. You can also swap it for Skull Island: Reign of Kong if you want, which has a height requirement of 36” (92 cm). Unfortunately, it’s just harder to plan an itinerary for kids when it comes to Universal Orlando, especially when compared to Walt Disney World.


That’s it!

We hope you had fun learning a bit more about Rope Drop and Early Park Admission at Islands of Adventure. Remember, these strategies will save you some time but, after riding two or three rides, it’s back to a traditional guide to optimize your time.

One important thing to point out is that you don’t need to get too attached to an itinerary that you must follow all the time. Visit the rides you want to visit and have fun. Try to not stress out if a ride has queue times bigger than usual and enjoy the moment. If you got to Islands of Adventure early, there is a very, very good chance that you will go to the best rides (even more than once) even if you don’t min-max your strategy.

Rewards Pass = Travel Rewards

Rewards Pass = Travel Rewards

Have you checked out our Rewards Pass yet? Earn up to 5% on each trip! Redeem for cruise stateroom credits, gift cards, deposits and more.

Rewards Pass