This article was originally published in October of 2021 and then underwent extensive updates and editing in September of 2023 to remain current and relevant.
With its incredibly immersive themed lands, insanely thrilling roller coasters, and top-notch restaurants, Universal Islands of Adventure has a lot to offer. Some of my favorite days have been spent morning to evening exploring the theme park and enjoying all the sights, rides, and tasty treats throughout Islands of Adventure.
But with so much to see and do, it can be tricky to plan how to map out your day. Well worry not my weary traveler, I’m here to help with this complete guide to a day in Islands of Adventure.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
I recommend staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel. First off, they’re phenomenal hotels with unique theming, comfy beds, and their own fun activities (Cabana Bay literally has a bowling alley!). But staying on property keeps you close to the action, provides convenient transportation to the theme parks, and has plenty of perks. If you stay at any Universal hotel, you get Early Park Admission to the theme parks and if you want another bonus, stay at one of our premier hotels and your keycard will also be a Universal Express Pass to participating attractions in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure!
I am what many have referred to as a “morning person”. I wake up with pep in my step and that is even more true when I’ve got a day in the theme parks ahead of me.
- It’s super close to the entrance of Islands of Adventure, so it’s a quick jaunt.
- It’s The Incredible Hulk Coaster! C’mon folks, it’s a revered roller coaster that is impeccably themed. That launch first thing in the morning? Just the right jolt to set the stage for a day of thrill.
If you’re anything like me, a hulk out can work up quite an appetite. It might seem counterintuitive to go counter clockwise, but trust me on this one. It’s time to head back toward Port of Entry and grab some grub from Croissant Moon Bakery. You’re going to want some sustenance for your full day, so whether it’s one of the breakfast croissants or the “On the Run” Continental Breakfast, you really can’t go wrong here.
Next up is Seuss Landing! I absolutely love this area of Islands of Adventure; it’s whimsical, it’s got a total of four rides, and it’s the home to one of my favorite theme-park snacks, the Buffalo Chicken Tots at Green Eggs and Ham Cafe. OK, yes, I know, we just ate breakfast. I was just saying if anyone wants some post-breakfast tots, I’m not gonna judge.
All four rides in Seuss Landing are a total blast, but I do always prioritize a go on One Fish, Two Fish and The High In The Sky Trolley Ride (that view!!). If you’ve got kiddos in your group, though — or a kiddos-at-heart friend — definitely plan to spend time on all the Seuss Landing rides and enjoying the multiple character meet-and-greets in the area.
Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a sitdown meal at a restaurant, The Lost Continent can meet your needs next! Mythos Restaurant is home to some of the best dining selections in all of Universal Orlando Resort (I dream of the Pad Thai) and is a great spot to sit and stay a while. If you’re in a hurry, though, and just need a quick bite, Doc Segrue’s Desert Kebab House is a great option. Enjoy a chicken kebab en route to your next adventure.
PRO TIP: Even if you’re not hungry when walking through The Lost Continent, be sure to explore the back of the Mythos for some stunning views and envy-worthy photo-ops.
Wand at the ready, folks; we’re going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade next. This snow-capped wizarding village is packed with details and little nooks and crannies to explore. Honestly, I could spend a full day using my Interactive Wand to cast spells and sipping on Butterbeer from the Hog’s Head.
Dairy-free Butterbeer is now available at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
My top recommendations in Hogsmeade are:
- Ride all three rides. Every single ride in Hogsmeade is a perfect blend of Harry Potter theming and just plain fun. Start with Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure to get your adrenaline going, take in the view at the top of Flight of the Hippogriff, and go on a great adventure in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
- Grab a Butterbeer and catch a show. Days in the parks can feel a little nonstop and that can get exhausting. In between rides, grab a Butterbeer (there are six different kinds available!) and nab a spot outside of the castle to enjoy either the Frog Choir or the Triwizard Spirit Rally.
PRO TIP: Download the official Universal Orlando Resort app before you arrive and use the Wait Time Alert feature throughout your day. This will help you set an alert for when your must-ride attractions are at a lower wait time so you can plan your day accordingly.
Now we’re off to Jurassic Park for some face-to-face encounters with dinosaurs! With rides and attractions highlighting both the Jurassic Park and the Jurassic World franchises, this area of the park is packed with must-do’s.
Tucked away right near the entrance to Jurassic Park is The Watering Hole. This spot is a little known sanctuary of deliciousness. Order the loaded nachos and one of their signature tropical cocktails and thank me later.
Listen, I’d never tell you to eat nachos and then get on a roller coaster, so after you’ve eaten, head over to Raptor Encounter. Here you’ll get to experience one of the coolest and most interactive photo-ops in the parks! Whether it’s Blue herself or one of the baby Raptors, Sierra, Bravo or Tango, you’ll have the chance to say you met a dinosaur on your vacation.
OK, OK, now we can ride a roller coaster. And not just any roller coaster, I’m talking about the new species of roller coaster that upped the bar for all future themed roller coasters — Jurassic World VelociCoaster. This ride is literally nonstop fun and when I say literally I mean it because there are no brakes on the ride until it’s over. Check out our ultimate guide to the attraction here to learn everything that makes this ride worthy of all of its praise.
Something about a ride on VelociCoaster always puts me in the mood for a churro. Good news is that there are delicious churro options (and other Costa-Rican inspired flavors) at the food cart located in Jurassic Park, Natural Selections. I say we grab a snack and start making our way to Toon Lagoon.
Toon Lagoon has one of my favorite rides in all of existence and it’s just not a trip to Islands of Adventure without getting positively soaked on Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges. I go in depth into my love of this ride in this blog, but here’s the gist: You will get wet and you will laugh a lot. Both of which are ideal scenarios when you’re on a Florida vacation, so it’s really win win here.
It’s time to head back to where we started — Marvel Super Hero Island. My Marvel-loving heart soars in this area of the park and I’m not afraid to admit it. The entire area is a comic-book-lovers dream (plus, there’s a spot that sells comic books!) and you can even meet some of your favorite heroes and villains in the multiple meet-and-greet spots.
And no visit to Marvel Super Hero Island is complete without a stop by The Daily Bugle and a ride on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Join the world’s most famous web slinger as he saves the Statue of Liberty from the villains of the Sinister Syndicate.
PRO TIP: If you’re visiting during a season where the theme parks are still open after sunset, I highly recommend riding any/all of the three outside roller coasters (The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Jurassic World VelociCoaster) again in the dark. It will blow your mind how different of an experience it will be!
If you’re looking to grab dinner in Islands of Adventure, hop over to the little-known gem, Confisco Grille. The ribs are out of this world.
Heading out of Islands of Adventure at the end of a day well spent is a bittersweet feeling! Whether you choose to cope by enjoying the nightlife over in Universal CityWalk or by turning in early at your hotel, make sure to get some rest. There’s still plenty to do tomorrow at Universal Orlando Resort!
One day is never enough here at Universal Orlando Resort, so be sure to check out our multiple-day ticket offers here to get the most out of your vacation!
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.