There are two parks from Universal in Orlando: Universal Studios and the amazingly awesome Islands of Adventure.
In this article I am going to focus on Univeral Orlando Islands of Adventure, and leave Universal Studios for another article. Let´s take a look at the biggest reasons to be visiting IoA if you happen to travel anywhere near Orlando.
1- Experiencing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
After you have read and enjoyed the books and films, and even if you are not a fan, the mere experience of being in Hogwarts and Hogsmeade is essentially spectacular. (I yet have to go back again after the opening of London, but that´s on the other Park). I lived the whole experience like a child, even though I´m in my thirties. But then again, I am a fan. So you may wonder what if you are not such a big fan? Well, my girlfriend is not a huge fan, she watched a couple of the movies and read only one of the books and she was at awe just the same.
If the whole park was just this Harry Potter attraction it would grant the visit, but that is not all… not even close to it.
2- The Adrenaline
You can go on the rollercoasters, the virtual reality games, the experience attractions, 3d and all. There´s a whole Marvel Island in which you can enjoy (or scream like crazy) on Doctor doom´s Fearfall: a freefall that makes you go up up up and the boom… you are on a freefall.
Forbidden Journey in the Island of Harry potter is probably the best scripted spin in all of Orlando. Hulk is a tremendous rollercoaster that goes at high speed. (Even though it is not the toughest in the area, it is quite close).
3- The Live Shows
There are a couple of live shows in the Island of Harry Potter, but the jewel of the Live Shows are the ones in The Continent: Simbad´s Journey and Poseidon´s Wrath. For the little ones, there are live shows in Dr Seuss Island.
4- Water, water, water
There are several games that will leave you soaking wet: Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls®, Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges® and Jurassic Park River Adventure®. Relax, let yourself go, and not worry if you get a little water in your clothes, Florida´s weather is kind and you won´t get cold.
5- Being a kid again
You can take a go at Dr Seuss Island, where you´ll go back to being a kid. The vibrant colors, the beloved characters. And especially seeing the Thing 1 Thing 2 everywhere is a trip down memory lane.
6- The birth of a Dinosaur
When you are at Jurrassic Park Island, you can maybe (depending on the hour) be the witness to a birth of a Dinosaur. I know it´s all fiction, but it truly turned out to be hypnotic. And then I had the chance to name the Dinosaur and get a certificate of the moment.
Now some tips about planning your trip to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
– Plan the day of the visit: There are a lot of “Crowd Calendars” on the Internet. So, if you can avoid the bigger crowds the better. I recommend you either do the Harry Potter Island early in the morning (at opening hours) or late in the afternoon. That´s when the crowd is a bit smaller.
– Should I purchase an Express Pass? Short answer: If you can, do it! That will cut waiting times by a lot, so I really recommend you use them. If you are a big group it can get expensive, but if you are a couple, or can afford it, it is definitely worth the pricing.
– How should I dress? The most important thing is to be wearing comfortable footwear. You will be walking a lot. And by that I mean a loooot. You really don´t want sore feet to ruin the fun. I also recommend something that dries fast. I´d avoid jeans if possible and go with other pants that won´t become heavier if wet.
– Bags and Backpacks: If you are a family with kids you already know what you need to bring, but my advice is go as light as possible. The essentials in your pack (We ended up with two very small packs. In them were: A hoodie, the camera, the car keys, water, money/card, snacks, gum, a notepad the phone and folding raincoats).
– What about food and snacks? The prices are very reasonable. We love soups, and we had 2 soups and two Cokes at one of Jurassic Park´s restaurants for $13,50.
– Is a raincoat a must? Florida has very nice weather, but it rains often. I recommend the raincoats. And that way you can also pull them out for the water games.
– Is Parking Complicated? There are a lot of spaces, because the Parking is very very big. You won´t have problems finding a spot, and there´s always a park employee helping you find a spot. Problem may become later finding your car. My advice: Take picture of the parking spot sign. For instance I left my rental car at King Kong 507. After a full day of fun I forgot which character it was. I went to my phone and saw the sign and found my car in no time.
– The going back kit: Unless you are staying in one of the Park hotels, you may have a half an hour drive before you arrive to your hotel; or maybe you have other plans and won´t be back for a while. So, leave the “going back kit” in your car: Towel, Water, Snacks and maybe even a ready to change outfit. If you are going to dine out you may not have time to go back to the hotel and change.
– Is buying souvenirs affordable? The prices of merchandising vary a lot. Plan ahead how much money you are willing to spend in merch and try sticking to your budget. If you go crazy there are looot of things to buy.
– Should I repeat games? Sure, you may want to. You also may want to do every single game in the park. Both are good options. I managed to do both things. I went to each and every game, and then with the couple of hours left I took another tour of a few of my favorites. You will be able to do it if you get the Express Pass.
Let me know about your experience in the comments section. And I hope my tips and advices are useful for you. You can also follow me on Twitter for more Tips about Visiting Orlando and other tourist attractions and cities across the world.