While Universal Studios was the original theme park at Universal Orlando Resort, Islands of Adventure boasts some of the most thrilling rides and character encounters from the company’s long legacy in Hollywood. It’s where your trip starts if you’re indulging in the VIP experience. Wondering what to see at Islands of Adventure? Home to soaring coasters like The Incredible Hulk and interactive fan experiences like Hogsmeade, you can’t miss a visit to Islands of Adventure. Take advantage of the plentiful eateries and shops if you’re looking to pick up souvenirs. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.
Developed after the original 1997 film, based on the Michael Crichton book, Jurassic Park is one of the most popular areas at Islands of Adventure. It’s seen new popularity thanks to the recent reboots of the films. There’s something for every age range here, including a children’s play area, rides appropriate for younger visitors, and thrill rides for teens and adults.
The Jurassic Park River Adventure is a favorite, which is part flume ride and part thrill ride. “Real” dinosaurs will greet you on your journey and it ends with the iconic theme song. Be prepared to get wet! Only kids are allowed on the Pteranodon Flyers, which soar above the park like their namesake creatures. The nearby Skull Island: Reign of Kong is one of the newest rides, which winds through an island where Kong reigns supreme against dinosaurs and other creatures.
But it’s not all about the rides. Most people don’t know about the Jurassic Park raptor encounter, where you can pose for a photo with a velociraptor. Jurassic Games is an arcade area. Camp Jurassic is the playground in this part of the park, modeled after a dig site. And at the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, learn about dinosaurs and see fossils up close.
Food and Drink
The largest and best restaurant in Jurassic Park is Thunder Falls Terrace, which offers rotisserie chicken, smoked turkey legs, and barbecue ribs. For something quicker, The Watering Hole has hot dogs, burgers, and drinks. The Burger Digs sells what the name implies as well as chicken sandwiches. Pizza Predattoria has an Italian spin with pizza, pasta, and subs.
Marvel Super Hero Island
Disney may own the rights to Marvel superheroes, but Universal had them first and has a part of the park devoted to your favorite characters. This area has most of the high octane rides, so younger visitors may want to skip the lines in favor of the character spotting opportunities. Be on the lookout for Captain America and his crew.
The best ride in the Marvel area is The Incredible Hulk, which was restored last year to make it smoother. The coaster starts with a high incline before loops, modeled after Bruce Banner’s journey from lab experiment to the “green man.” Those with motion sickness might want to skip The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, a 3D ride that winds you around the city following the web slinger. The Storm Force Accelatron is reminiscent of spinning teacups and is a family option. But don’t bring the little ones on Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, a high drop ride.
As mentioned before, this is one of the park’s best places for character breakfasts and meet and greets. Book the character breakfasts in advance. In between rides, also check out Kingpin’s Arcade, which has classic favorites like racing games and a shooting arcade game.
Food and Drink
Inspired by the Fantastic Four, Cafe 4 serves Italian food, including pizza, subs, Caesar salads, and spaghetti. Classic comic strip characters like Beetle Bailey are features at the Comic Strip Cafe, which offers food court-style dishes with Asian, Italian, and American options. Chill Ice Cream is a great way to cool down during the summer months with an ice cream or milkshake. And Captain America Diner has All American food like cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches.
Port of Entry
Every trip to Islands of Adventure passes through the Port of Entry, which is reminiscent of a Middle Eastern market. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs, as it’s home to some of the biggest stores that carry items from the entire resort. If you’re staying at one of the onsite hotels, you can have your bags delivered to your room so you don’t have to carry them. Keep in mind that there are no rides or experiences in this area, but it’s a good place to start or finish your day.
Food and Drink
Port of Entry is home to the only Starbucks at Islands of Adventure. They take gift cards and you can use your Starbucks Rewards to get your morning jolt. Croissant Moon Bakery is another alternative for breakfast within the park, serving fresh pastries, deli sandwiches, and desserts. Cinnabon has an outpost of their famous sweets. Confisco Grille is the area’s only full-service restaurant, serving global fare like pizza and fajitas. Their Backwater Bar serves alcohol and bar food for an afternoon tipple.
The work of Dr. Seuss comes to life at Seuss Landing, a colorful and quirky part of the park. And while it’s targeted towards younger visitors, it’s not all for kids. Enjoy the Caro-Seuss-el carousel ride and grab a bite at one of the many eateries. You’ll likely run into characters like the Cat in the Hat and Things One and Two.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride loops around Seuss Landing and even through Circus McGurkus. All ages can partake in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, which puts you in cars that you can raise and lower as they make revolutions. The Cat in the Hat places you in a car that loops around, following the iconic story. The Caro-Seuss-el showcases the book characters.
The character breakfast with the Grinch is a favorite experience at Seuss Landing, which is available year-round. Find the Cat in the Hat in the store with his companions Thing One and Thing Two. There’s also the daily Oh the Stories You’ll Hear Show. Kids can explore the If I Ran the Zoo playground.
Food and Drink
Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous resembles a big top tent and is great for larger groups. It serves crowd-pleasers like pizza and fried chicken. Hop on Pop Ice Cream is a casual dessert spot and if that isn’t enough, grab a massive cotton candy at Snookers & Snookers. Moose Juice, Goose Juice is more of a snack stand with drinks, juices, pretzels, and cookies. You can dine on the namesake dish at Green Eggs and Ham Cafe, which also has burgers.
The Lost Continent
The Lost Continent transports you to a world long gone. Often overlooked for the larger areas with bigger-name rides, you shouldn’t skip the restaurants, including Mythos. It’s been recognized as the best theme park restaurant in the world.
Poseidon’s Fury is the only “ride” in The Lost Continent and is more of an interactive experience. But it’s also one of the few that is ideal for those with accessibility needs. The special effects show takes you inside Poseidon’s temple.
Cool off at The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, an indoor stunt show featuring Sinbad’s adventures. Get your fortune told at Star Souls psychic, get a henna tattoo, or shop for Middle Eastern-inspired goods. Kids can speak to The Mystic Fountain or get splashed by it.
Food and Drink
If you can get a table, don’t miss a meal at Mythos, the best restaurant in the park and one of the best in any theme park. Highlights at the Mediterranean-inspired eatery are the lamb meatballs with falafel waffle, mezze platter, and flatbreads. Doc Sugrue’s Desert Kebab House is a fast casual option with kebabs, Greek salads, and hummus. Fireeater’s Grill offers gyros, chicken fingers, and hot dogs.
Don’t let the photos of Diagon Alley fool you. Hogsmeade also has plenty to offer. It’s here where you can get up close to the iconic Hogwarts castle and browse the shops that Harry and the gang enjoyed. It has an Ollivander’s location where you can have your wand chosen for you. It also has authentic British pub fare.
Access The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade either from the Islands of Adventure or on The Hogwarts Express. It is a ride of sorts and shows different views on the screens depending on your direction of travel. The Flight of the Hippogriff is a beginner-friendly roller coaster. It offers views of Hogwarts Castle and Hagrid’s hut. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey brings you through the castle on an “enchanted bench.” The ride moves on a track that goes up and down and spins.
There’s always something going on at Hogsmeade. Catch a performance of the Frog Choir or the Triwizard Spirit Rally. The Ollivanders wand ceremony is an experience in itself. There are plenty of places to use your wands as well. At night, catch the lights show on Hogwarts Castle, which can’t be missed.
Food and Drink
The Three Broomsticks is the best place to eat in Hogsmeade, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Favorites include the full English breakfast, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie. Grab a pumpkin juice, butterbeer, or glass of beer or wine at the Hog’s Head, a pub located in the back of the Three Broomsticks. Indulge your sweet tooth at Honeyduke’s, which sells every flavor beans and all sorts of other treats like the pumpkin pasty.
Classic cartoon characters from the Sunday funny papers are represented at Toon Lagoon. Your kids might not remember them, but they’ll remember the rides in this part of the park. There aren’t that many rides, but enjoy the countless photo ops with speech bubbles and other elements from comic strips.
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges is a water ride, so be prepared to be splashed! The same goes for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, which is equal parts coaster and water ride. Prepare yourself for the 75-foot drop at the end.
Little ones can play at the Me Ship, The Olive playground, which gets its name from Popeye’s boat. Toon Lagoon Games has games you can play for prizes. Toon Lagoon is also where you’ll have character encounters, specifically with Popeye and Olive Oyl.
Food and Drink
Get the famous Dagwood sandwich at Blondie’s, which also serves made-to-order deli sandwiches and hot dogs. Cathy’s Ice Cream offers something to satiate your sweet tooth. Named for Popeye’s pal, Wimpy’s serves the burgers that the character loves dearly.
For more on ticket prices and cost-saving methods, see our guide to Universal Orlando Resort.
For more tips, follow our Disney World and Florida Theme Parks board on Pinterest. This post was created in partnership with Universal Orlando Resort through the #UORBlogSquad. This post also includes affiliate links. Information is accurate from the time of publication.