Something to Do at Every Island of Adventure
Did you know that Universal’s Islands of Adventure is more than just a name?
Yes, this entire theme park tells a story. You’re a voyager exploring eight different islands, and there’s entertainment in every realm!
Here’s something you should do on each of the Islands of Adventure!
Port of Entry
Islands of Adventure features a superior design to Universal Studios Florida. The reason for this stems from a strange event that happened behind the scenes.
During the mid-1990s, The Walt Disney Company had reduced its Imagineering budget. So, the company laid off several Imagineers to cut costs.
Universal Orlando Resort had struggled to gain a foothold in the shadow of Walt Disney World.
When Universal executives saw an opportunity to hire former Imagineers, they leaped at the chance.
Many former Disney employees worked with Universal loyalists to build the perfect Central Florida park.
The project was ambitious and somewhat mirrored a concept at Disney TokyoSea, which wouldn’t open until 2001, two years after Universal’s park.
However, some of these former Disney employees knew of the plans. And they constructed Islands of Adventure with a similar structure.
Each island features its own theme, which Tokyo DisneySea calls Ports of Call. At Universal, the entrance section has a straightforward name, Port of Entry.
This section is akin to Main Street, U.S.A. at Disney theme parks. It’s an introductory section complete with an overhead sign that states, “The Adventure Begins.”
You’ll find plenty of places to shop here, along with a guest services building dubbed The Open Arms Hotel.
However, the best thing to do at Port of Entry is to visit the Pharos Lighthouse.
This building is hard to miss since it stretches into the sky and has an Islands of Adventure sign on the side.
After dark, the lighthouse display will take your breath away, but it’s terrific during the day, too.
Marvel Super Hero Island
Yes, Disney owns Marvel as a company/brand. Long before that happened, Universal licensed many Marvel characters for this island.
If you’re only going to do one thing here, well, do The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. After that, your best bet is The Incredible Hulk Coaster.
Since you already know about them, I’m going to recommend something different, though.
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall is a deftly themed drop tower ride.
Technically, it’s a Space Shot, which means that the ride launches you into the air before bouncing you up and down.
You’ve probably ridden variants of this ride concept at other parks. So, it’ll feel familiar and fun, only it also features Doctor Doom talking trash about the Fantastic Four.
This island somehow bridges the divide caused by generation gaps.
For parents and grandparents, Toon Lagoon will remind them of comic strips and cartoons of old.
Meanwhile, kids will lose their minds over the wet rides available here.
You can’t go wrong with Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, but I favor Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, a ludicrous log flume ride.
As you walk into this area, you can’t help but notice the bright colors that the ride designers utilized.
Once you’re on board, well, you’re getting wet. It’s unavoidable. Seriously, you’re taking a bath, and you’ll love that on a sunny Florida day.
Look, you know who rules Skull Island. You’re a visitor on Kong’s island, and that thing’s not known for its hospitality.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong qualifies as the most daring adventure in Orlando, Florida.
Universal ride designers didn’t mess around on this one. One second, you’re perfectly safe on an expedition bus.
The next moment, you’re wondering where your explorer friend’s corpse went.
Folks, you’re not going to find a ride like this at Walt Disney World.
Skull Island’s got it all. This attraction was the first trackless ride in Orlando, which means that it’s employing state-of-the-art technology to tell a terrifying story.
Adrenaline junkies should be all over this one.
Out of all the islands listed here, Jurassic Park features the most growth potential.
In the wake of Jurassic World’s dominant box office run, Universal officials decided to have art imitate, well, other art.
So, Jurassic Park will receive a more modern look in the coming months and years.
One of the impending arrivals is a Jurassic Park-based roller coaster that Universal stubbornly refused to acknowledge, even though everyone can watch its construction.
Until then, the best thing to do here remains the classic Jurassic Park: The Ride.
This timeless water ride carries guests down the water as they gaze at the majesty of Isla Nubar.
This bit of serenity lasts about five minutes. Afterward, the situation declines dramatically as dinosaurs tear apart the park.
I think Jurassic Park: The Ride features one of the most ingenious designs ever. The story structure perfectly matches the movie and masterfully builds suspense.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade)
If we’re being honest, the reason why you’re visiting Islands of Adventure is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
There’s no need to lie about it. I’ve seen ticket sales numbers from before Potter Land opened and compared them to now.
The numbers are akin to Beyonce with Destiny’s Child vs. Beyonce as a solo act.
Ergo, the question isn’t whether you’ll become the next Muggle to enter Hogsmeade. It’s what you should do if you only pick one thing.
Well, thankfully, you don’t have to pick just one thing. You’ll have plenty of time to do it all. For the purposes of this list, I must be selective, though.
As such, I’m going with the classic. I pick Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the attraction that started Universal’s ascension.
When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, Forbidden Journey qualified as the E-ticket attraction that sold the park.
Since then, at least three (I would argue four) Potterverse attractions have surpassed it.
From your perspective, this aspect means that the Forbidden Journey lines are finally manageable.
I’ve waited in them when people spent two hours trying to get into the park.
So, you’ll enjoy a close-up view of Quidditch and Hagrid’s critters and Dementors and all the other stuff that makes the franchise so delightful.
The Lost Continent
I’ve primarily recommended rides thus far, but I’m going to do something different here.
When you reach The Lost Continent, you should do some exploring, as the constructs here are breathtaking.
You’ll feel like you’ve traveled to a different place, one full of architectural marvels.
However, that’s not the suggestion. What you really must do is dine at Mythos Restaurant, undeniably the best dining experience at Universal Orlando Resort.
For many years now, voters have selected this place as one of the best theme park restaurants on the planet. In fact, it’s won this award several times.
While Disney gets all the hype for the World Showcase’s cuisine, the Mediterranean flavors at Mythos rival any of them…except Teppan Edo.
Anyway, when you dine at Islands of Adventure, skip the Harry Potter stuff and pick this place instead.
I view all the Dr. Seuss-based attractions about the same in this themed land. They’re all colorful children’s rides brimming with whimsy.
The one that I’d recommend is The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride will get you off your feet for five minutes.
The whole time, you’ll hear dialogue from some of the best Dr. Seuss stories ever.
The trolley’s a delightful way to pass the time, and your child will grin from ear to ear during the whole thing.
Feature Image Rights: Universal