• What is... Islands of Adventure?

    What is... Islands of Adventure?

    Luiz Alberto H.

    Created: Jan 04, 2024

    Last Updated: Jan 05, 2024

    What is... Islands of Adventure?

    Islands of Adventure Tower.jpg

    Are you a fan of Marvel? Dr. Seuss? Awesome roller coasters? Insanely high-priced wooden sticks cosplaying as magic wands and wizard robes that came directly from Hogwarts? If you said yes to any of those questions, then you will probably love Universal Islands of Adventure. This is one of the best theme parks you can find in the United States and, next to Busch Gardens, the main destination for thrill seekers that just want to have a good time… and listen to John William’s epic score for Jurassic Park while waiting in line.

    Rides

    Rating: 10/10

    If you only care about awesome rides – and, let’s be real, that is 90% of us – then you came to the right place. Islands of Adventure is packed with things to do and you should definitely spend a whole day here, even more so if that’s your first ever visit.

    Some people may think that Islands hasn’t been receiving as much love as Universal Studios, but the most recent additions like the Jurassic World VelociCoaster (2021) and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventures (2019 and, seriously, why is that name so long?) are top notch rides that you should definitely check out.

    One more thing, Islands isn’t only about roller coasters, oh no, no, no. Do you enjoy water rides? Hop on Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls or Jurassic Park River Adventure. What about being sent flying into the air? There is Dr. Doom’s Fearfall. Maybe a classic dark ride? Go to the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Or you just want to see if there is something as fun as watching paint dry? Check out Poseidon’s Fury. Actually, you can’t anymore, thank God. That ride wasn’t fun and finally closed down for good. Apparently, it will give space to a brand new area sometime in the near future. But, hey, that was basically the one ride I wouldn’t recommend going and it doesn’t exist anymore, so the park only got better.

    So, is Islands of Adventure well worth the perfect ten score in our amazing, foolproof review system? You bet it is. There’s a reason why Islands of Adventure is often regarded as one of the ten best theme parks in the whole world.

    Park Atmosphere 

    Rating: 7/10

    The Adventure Begins.jpg

    Let’s get something important out of the way: both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure don’t get the same atmosphere and that magic-in-the-air feeling just as right as the Disney theme parks. That is fair and, let’s be real, pretty much expected. On one side, we have Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Elsa strolling around the Magic Kingdom in all their glory. On the other side, we have the X-Men in spandex driving ATVs across Marvel Island.

    Marvel Island.jpgIslands also isn’t much about character interaction and meet & greets. You can take pictures with a handful of the Marvel superheroes, including fan favorite Spider-Man, but that’s about it. Universal Studios (which is just a short ride on the Hogwarts Express) does have a bigger list of names walking around like the Scooby-Doo gang, Popeye, Doc Brown and even Homer Simpson; however, these characters never cross the line to Islands of Adventure.

    Comic Strip Cafe.jpg

    Where things definitely get more fun and you can taste the magic in the air is when you enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m not that much of a Harry Potter fan (I know I am in the minority!), but even I love this area and how it feels like it’s a completely different dimension far away from everything.

    Hogsmeade Village.jpg

    The Harry Potter area in Islands of Adventure makes you feel like you are in Hogsmeade – an all wizarding-village in the Potterverse. That means you can find stores from the books, drink a “real” butterbeer and explore a bunch of corners that look similar to the ones we saw in the movies. I love it. Harry Potter fans go completely nuts here, with good reason.

    Public Conveniences at Hogsmeade Village.jpg

    Kid Friendliness 

    Rating: 6/10

    Seuss Landing.jpg

    The Harry Potter area sounds pretty fun, but do you think your kids will enjoy Islands of Adventure? I’d say that, most of the time, this is a theme park aimed at young adults and guests that live for thrill rides. If your kids are under ten years old and they don’t care at all about Harry Potter, they probably won’t have a good time outside of the Dr. Seuss area. But, hey, everyone is different and I know families with nine year olds that love roller coasters, so it all depends!

    Cat in the Hat.jpg

    The truth is that Disney parks are usually way more kid-friendly than the Universal ones for a variety of reasons, from the nature of the rides to the characters that they can meet and greet. The major exception to that in Islands of Adventure is: Seuss Landing. Seuss Landing is indeed aimed at a younger audience and you can munch on some delicious Green Eggs and Ham while listening to a story while hanging out with Thing One and Thing Two. Seuss Landing has a few great rides for children, but it's not enough to make an entire day trip just to visit this one area.

    One Fish Two Fish.jpg

    So, here is my general advice:

    • 0-5 years old: not much for them here. The characters they can meet will probably not be that much interesting and the rides they can go on are basically a trolley ride and a carousel. 
    • 6-9 years old: good options with the motion simulators and water rides if they don’t get frightened. 
    • 10-14 years old: will probably have a good time if they enjoy roller coasters. I’d recommend going to Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure first to see if they like it. They can enjoy that one even if they don’t feel like riding The Hulk or the Velocicoaster. 
    • 15+ years old: will definitely love this theme park.

    Stan Lee Blvd Marvel Island.jpg

    Food

    Rating: 6/10

    Bacon Cheeseburgers. Ribs. French Fries. Hot dogs. If you are drooling now then you will probably love the food offered (and should probably check your cholesterol). I’d say that the food in Islands of Adventure is just fine and what you can expect from a theme park. This means that there are options that range from cheeseburgers, fries and turkey legs. Most restaurants also bring to the menu an alien dish called “a salad” and chicken wraps, which are actually really tasty!

    I will say that it’s cool to see healthier options of food being sold in theme parks, something that has been happening for the past few years. You can find salads and vegan options being sold in basically every restaurant. Even kiosks sell fresh fruits now, but I will be the first one to say that, if I’m at a theme park, I am devouring that deliciously huge bacon cheeseburger, don’t judge me.

    I will also give a tip that works for any theme park in the whole world: bring your own lunch or your favorite snack. You will be saving time and money. Be it your grandma’s chicken sandwich, a bag of cookies or the Pringles you bought at Walmart. Islands of Adventure is one of the most intense theme parks in Florida, so waiting in line to order food and then sitting down can make you waste precious hours.

    This doesn’t mean that you need to turn on hardcore mode and visit every ride non-stop from 9am all the way to 8pm. Just keep in mind that we are talking about a place with lots of rides… and thrill rides. You don’t want to sit down and eat an entire pizza just to ride the Velocicoaster, trust me.

    Ride Queues

    Rating: 7/10

    Hagrids Line.jpg

    I’d say that Islands of Adventure is definitely more crowded than Universal Studios, but Islands also has something good going for it: there are so many rides. Interesting rides. Rides that will get you soaked. Rides that can give you vertigo. Rides that will make you scream. Rides that will make you laugh. Rides that are fun for the whole family.

    The amount of rides (and the caliber of rides at the park) make it so guests can be split up amongst the different areas and queue times get tolerable. Sure, the most sought-after attractions will be packed basically any time of the day. On an average weekday, expect the Velocicoaster to have a 1h waiting time starting at 9:30am and stay like that until the evening. Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventures is a top tier ride and it’s related to Harry Potter, so the queue will be even longer than the Velocicoaster. We've sat in the queue for over 2 hours before just a heads up!

    Hagrids.jpg

    The good news is that there are also a lot of interesting rides that aren’t that new and still manage to be fun with low queue times. Dr. Doom's Fearfall is a fun Tower-of-Terror like thrill ride that will launch you into the sky and you will rarely wait more than 10min here. Jurassic Park River Adventure is a charming water ride where you don’t even get that soaked, and we are talking about an average 5-10min in line. The Amazing Spider-Man clocks around 20min depending on the time of the day, and even the Incredible Hulk Coaster sometimes goes down to 10-20min if you are lucky.

    Again, these waiting times are for an average day. The middle of July isn’t an average day, so expect to multiply the queue times by x100. Just kidding. Maybe. 

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