Visiting Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure – Orlando

by GO GlobeHopper

Voted the #1 theme park in the world by Trip Advisor travelers for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, this sister park of Universal Studios has been the ultimate adventure for park-goers for the past 17 years. Located in the theme park hub of Orlando, Islands of Adventure opened its doors in May of 1999 and became the second theme park in the Universal Orlando Resort domain.

The park is set up as an extraordinary journey where patrons can visit many themed islands, which are equipped with attractions and rides for all kinds of visitors.  As a thrill-seeker with an affinity for rollercoasters, this tends to be among my favorite parks, with superior rides located within every ‘island’.

Here is the breakdown:


Marvel Superhero Island

Marvel Superhero Island is based on the famous superhero characters featured in Marvel Comics. What draws guests to this side of the park is the mega-structure of The Incredible Hulk Coaster where riders can experience the strength and rush of this enhanced state-of-the-art high-speed rollercoaster.

The coaster starts off with an unimaginable two-second acceleration, launching riders to its maximum height of 110 ft. and allowing them to endure 7 terrifying inversions while reaching a top speed of 67 mph.

This past summer this coaster was revitalized with new tracks and cars as well as on-ride music and effects to enhance the experience as riders soar their way through twists and turns and everything The Hulk has in store. With its seemingly endless supply of corkscrews turns, cobra rolls, and vertical loops, it truly is an exhilarating encounter worth doing over and over again.

Another heart-pumping thrill ride located on this island is Doctor Doom’s Fearfall.  Towering over the park at 200 feet tall, riders are met with an acceleration launch like no other while being treated to amazing views of the entire park and feeling weightless at the top of the ride.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to attract millions of people from around the globe as one of the most recognizable themed areas in any park worldwide.  Clearly, it has been fashioned after the phenomenon of the hit book and movie series, Harry Potter, and is equipped with five attractions including the thrilling Dragon Challenge.

A monumental crowd-pleaser, Dragon Challenge is two high-speed roller coasters intertwined together through twists and loops.  Guests have the option of conquering the Hungarian Hornet or the Chinese Fireball.  Both tracks are equipped with five gut-wrenching inversions and reach speeds up to 60 mph.

If you are looking to beat the intense Florida heat, then consider cooling down on some of the world’s greatest water rides considering Islands of Adventure houses three of the best you can find.

Jurassic Park River Adventure

Relive the original Jurassic Park and the biggest blockbuster of 2015, Jurassic World, on a thrilling raft adventure.  When it was first built, this ride was the largest theme park water descent ever constructed. Riders are flown through a river filled with extinct dinosaurs in their natural habitat. This is followed by an incline that takes the ride upward to a ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex before plunging down 85 feet and creating a massive tidal wave.

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

Inspired by the Dudley Do-Right cartoon character, riders are taken on an adventure through an artificial rocky mountain while encountering many themed characters with voiceover storylines.  They experience a 75-foot drop beneath an exploding dynamite shack. This is the first flume ride to send riders plummeting below the water level.  Park-goers are able to spray the log-riders with a hose, which makes this attraction enjoyable even for those that are not on board.

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

Guaranteed to soak you, this water ride is themed after Popeye the Sailor with the concept of rescuing the love of his life, Olive Oyl.  Riders come face to face with white-water rapids as they twist and turn down the river.  This particular water attraction is likely the tamest of the three but is still a great way to temporarily escape the Florida heat.

If you are planning a visit to Islands of Adventure, here are some things to plan for and consider:

~~Line-ups for the most sought-after rides can be considerably long, so if you are a first-time visitor and wish to see as much as possible, purchasing a Universal Express Pass in addition to your park admission will guarantee that you experience the entire park in a reasonable amount of time. However, to be honest, this option can be pricey.  So if you find that an Express Pass exceeds your budget, there are a few tricks to saving time in the line-ups without having to buy a pass.  For starters, arriving very early in the morning – just as the park opens – can assist in getting you onto the in-demand rides before the crowd increases.  Having lunch or dinner early or perhaps much later than most people tend to, can pave the way for shorter lines while other park-goers take time out to eat.  And, there is the park’s mobile app – available for Apple or Android – which is downloadable to your smartphone and provides valuable information such as interactive park maps and real-time ride wait times, allowing park-goers to better plan their visit and the order in which they want to experience the rides.

~~If you are a Florida Resident (or you know someone that can get your tickets for you), you can save $50 on all multi-day tickets when purchasing online.

~~As temperatures and humidity soar during daytime hours (particularly during summer months), it is not unusual for Florida to experience sudden thunderstorms.  Thankfully, they’re almost always short-lived and the sun appears again soon afterward so it’s rarely enough to spoil your day… unless you are unprepared.  Taking a small compact umbrella is a good idea, or consider an inexpensive and lightweight plastic rain poncho that can simply slip into your pocket or backpack.  It will prevent you from walking around in uncomfortable wet clothing after the rain subsides.

~~This park accepts certain outside foods, which isn’t a bad idea if you want to save some money.  Consider healthy and easy-to-carry snacks such as crackers, granola bars, and fruit or fruit sticks. A refillable water bottle is also a good idea.

~~If you’re looking for more info, visit the Islands of Adventure website.  And for more excellent pointers on how to prepare for a day at Universal or Islands of Adventure, we strongly recommend checking out our article entitled How To Plan for a Theme Park Day

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