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“Had an absolute blast!”

Universal's Islands of Adventure
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Ranked #2 of 438 things to do in Orlando
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Universal's Islands of Adventure features some of the most innovative rides and attractions ever made on seven spectacularly themed islands: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and Port of Entry.
Useful Information: Stroller parking, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Lockers / storage
Reviewed May 4, 2014

We opted to do a hybrid fun/relaxing honeymoon and stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort rather than a value hotel to go to Universal Studios in Orlando. Staying at Loews really provided us with some perks that I'm not sure how to get otherwise, nor do I know what they cost, so keep that in mind when reading this review!

Because we stayed at Loews and we were in a Tower 1 room, we were very close to the walking path access to the parks. In a very short walk, no more than 5-10 minutes we were out of our room and in line for early admission to Islands of Adventure. From the minute we arrived at the park we were blown away by the friendliness of the staff, the way they interacted with the crowds, and went above and beyond to keep everyone happy. One thing Islands of Adventure did that we aren't sure if other parks do or not is a "First Family" where they basically choose a family from the crowd and bring them in first to read the welcome to the rest of the crowd. This was pretty neat and it was great to see big smiles on those kids faces.

Even though we went during a rare slow period, we still took the advice of Paul, or bell hop at the Royal Pacific and made sure to be at the park and in line by around 7:15-7:30 for early admission that began at 8:00 a.m. When we arrived we were one of only about 15 groups there, so it definitely paid off.

They opened the park gates just a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. and had staff stationed throughout the path to Wizarding World making sure everyone knew where to go. One thing that was a little irritating was once you got back to Suess Land, they made everyone pull out their tickets again to verify the early admission, which I think would be better handled at the front gates, but it moved quickly and then we were on our way.

Early admission is THE way to do Wizarding World. We went straight back to the Forbidden Journey ride first, and actually got through the non-existent line so quickly that we barely got to see a lot of the details inside the castle. We literally walked right through and onto the conveyor belt to get strapped into the ride. The rides themselves were fantastic, especially Forbidden Journey. As a huge Potter fan, and wary of anything that deviates from Rowling's original work (looking at you, Half Blood Prince film...) I was thrilled at what a great job they did incorporating the original characters and story lines into a new story and detailed ride that left you feeling like you really got to experience all of those Potter elements that fans love, quidditch, dementors, dragons, and of course, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Malfoy, and Dumbledore.

Even after getting all the way to Forbidden Journey and riding it Wizarding World was still pretty light on people, so we were able to ride Flight of the Hippogriff (kids coaster) as well as the Dragon Challenge (for the grown up kids) back to back, even doing Dragon Challenge twice in order to ride each "Dragon's" coaster.

After this we relaxed, grabbed a couple of butterbeers, and took some photos of Hogsmeade. We did not line up for Ollivander's this day as we planned to return on Wednesday specifically for that (which we did!) I can honestly say my heart was bursting with the level of attention to detail here, it was a dream come true for a grown up that still adores any and all things HP. The wand choosing ceremony at Ollivader's is exceptionally well done and worth the wait, and choosing your wand in the shop next door is a blast. All of the staff members get really into character and are a lot of fun as well as helpful. I was also pleased with most of the souvenir prices as I expected much worse!

The rest of Islands of Adventure was an absolute blast as well. Because we did all of Harry Potter part in just under 2 hours each day, we were still venturing into the rest of the park right around the time all of the general public was heading back to Wizarding World so the rest of the park wasn't too packed yet.

Here is one of the major, major perks of staying at Royal Pacific. With our package we received an Unlimited Express Pass. This. Was. Awesome. The longest we waited in line for a ride all week was just around 5 minutes, and this express pass allows its use an unlimited number of times per ride, compared with the standard express pass which is just 1 per ride. This allowed us to get off and basically right back on a ride (although you did still have to walk all the way back around the long way!) as much as we wanted, which really helped us get our monies worth out of the parks everyday.

Some favorites and highlights of our IoA days:

1. Forbidden Journey (WWoHP)
2. Dragon Challenge (WWoHP)
3. Ollivander's Wand Ceremony (WWoHP)
4. Breakfast at The Three Broosticks (WWoHP)
5. Moaning Myrtle haunting the bathrooms! (WWoHP)
6. The Incredible Hulk (Marvel)
7. Spiderman (Marvel)
8. Scenery/attention to detail (Seuss Land)
9. Ending the day with a splash (We enjoyed the Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Right's Rip Saw Falls)
10. Plenty of rest areas, water fountains, and refreshments reasonable priced throughout the park.

The only downfalls:
1. You HAVE to accompany a child to ride Pterandon Flyers, so grown ups alone cannot ride (sad!!)
2. When you travel during slow periods be prepared for the park to close earlier than expected. We had looked forward to returning to the park to ride some of the attractions at night, but during our week of travel IoA closed at 7:00 p.m.

All in all we had a BLAST and can't wait to return when the second part of WWoHP opens!

5  Thank Ashlee1285
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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16,925 - 16,929 of 44,291 reviews

Reviewed May 4, 2014

We only queued around 10 - 15 minutes for the rides, went end march/early april 2014- great rides and simulators - epsecially the spiderman simulator. We paid around $25 for 2 adult meals - good value and are allowed to take in bottles of water

Thank denisedacillo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2014

Universal's Islands of Adventure has something for all ages. We visited with 3 sons, aged 8, 12 and 14 and all had a ball. The Dr Seuss rides were a surprise hit with the kids and would be fantastic for younger kids. Harry Potter takes the prize for the best looking area, with an incredible recreation of the town and shops. The Voyage of Discovery ride was a lot of fun. The 8 year old loved it but the older boys were freaked out by the animatronic spiders and skeletons. I wouldn't take delicate children in there as it is loud and in your face but we enjoyed it. The water rides are really fun, especially the one in Toon Town (lower than Jurassic Park but it keeps you on the edge of your seat with more surprises) but if you don't like walking around wet, bring swimmers or a change of clothes because you will be soaked through.
The fast pass was a boon. Supposedly it only works once on each ride but some don't scan it and we had it scanned twice on one ride with no issues. We saved hours of waiting!
My husband rode all the coasters and did the big drop and said they were good but the HP Dragon ride made him nauseous as your legs hang down and it has a lot of turns.

Thank sincly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2014

We are annual passholders and took advantage of the early admission to Harry Potter from staying at an on site hotel and was finally able to enjoy this area of the park as it had been way too crowded every single time we had attempted it.

The Harry Potter ride is awesome but sadly not available to many body types. My husband couldn't ride because he has wide shoulders, Anybody that is overweight wouldn't be able to ride.

My kids had lots of fun in Seuss Landing and Marvel Superhero island. Sadly Toon Lagoon doesn't have much appeal and it's probably a matter of time before it's converted into something else.

As annual passholders, we get incentives that make these parks worth it and a good financial value. By being Florida resident we can plan our visits to slow days when we don't have to worry about crowds and long wait times. I don't think that I would like the park so much if I had to pay full price admission and visit on a busy day.

Thank bandora
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 3, 2014 via mobile

We visited island of adventures 4 times on our 14 day pass when we visited over Easter and each time was great. Our favourite ride of all is the Hulk and we are addicts , there was never a big line for this as we picked our time wisely , usually at night then got straight on. I can't fault the park, not much new since our last visit in 2012 but Spider-Man had been updated. Sad to have missed the new event in Harry potter but we still love Harry potter despite nothing new. Seuss landing is just fab and brings back great memories from when the children were little . I can't think of a single negative about this park . The 14 day ticket is excellent value.

Thank Joanne M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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