23 Best Insiders Tips to Universal Islands of Adventure! {printables}


Today I’m revealing 23 insiders tips and tricks to Universal’s Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort.  How to avoid the lines, where to eat without a wait, where to cool down, and much more.

I’ve also attached 5 printables that include packing tips, facts you should know about the parks, and advice to take with you. Yep, consider yourself officially hooked up! Remember the amazing Universal Orlando Resort giveaway I hosted a few weeks ago? Well, my family was able to check out the hotels and parks first-hand and I have some incredible insider tips that you’ll want to know about before you plan your family vacation this summer to Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orland Resort 2 Theme Parks

You will be amazed at all the emotions that you’ll experience in the same day at Universal Orlando Resort: glee, a rush, joy, exhilaration, total outrageous-ness, extreme fun, and everything in between.  It is a unique destination where you are not only entertained – but the rides are set up where you are apart of your own entertainment and adventure.  It’s really cool and there’s something for ALL ages! Before our trip, I was a little confused as to what hotels and parks are included in the Universal Orlando Resort.  So to clarify, the resort includes three theme parks, five onsite hotels, and Universal CityWalk.

Three Theme Parks & CityWalk:

  • Universal Studios Florida {you can find Wizarding World of Harry Potter here}
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure {you can find Wizarding World of Harry Potter here}
  • Universal’s Volcano Bay
  • Universal CityWalk

The three theme parks offer some of the most popular attractions and experiences ever created.  And the Universal CityWalk offers some of the hottest, most recognizable, entertainment experiences in the world.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Five On-Site Hotels:

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel  {includes the Universal Express passes and early park admission}
  • Hard Rock Hotel {includes the Universal Express passes and early park admission}
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort {includes the Universal Express passes and early park admission}
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort {includes early park admission}
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort {includes early park admission}

It also includes five on-site hotels which offer families refinement, relaxation, and unmatched benefits such as Early Park Admission (all five hotels) and Free Universal Express Passes (for Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort) to many rides and shows.  You save a ton of cash with the Universal Express Pass because normally you have to purchase that separately for each person at the parks.  My kids felt like they were VIP with those express passes and being able to cut to the front of the line!  {giggle}  It’s just one of the many hidden values, you can see all of my Top 5 Perks of a Hotel Key in my quick video here.

Free Universal Orlando Printables

You know I LOVE free printables!  So here are several planning guides and fact sheets to get the most out of your trip.  These printables have some really cool insight to the resort and will make planning your trip so much easier.  Don’t forget to print them out and take them with you on your trip!

Universal Orlando Resort Family Travel Tips:

Also be sure to check out the Universal Orlando Resort interactive planning map online you can use this map to pre-plan most of your trip, and it is great for the kids to help them explore prior to arriving at the resort.

How to get the most out of a 1 Day Trip to Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Best Insiders Tips to Universal Islands of Adventure!

What is Universal’s Islands of Adventure?

Islands of Adventure is one of two theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort. Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park offers some of the most technologically advanced attractions and thrill rides ever created as well as something for every member of the family and every age. It has seven individually themed islands, each with its own attractions, restaurants and shops.  All the rides and attractions are based after books, Marvel comics, or mythology.  Toon Lagoon is based after the Sunday comic strips.

  • Explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
  • Marvel Super Hero Island®
  • Toon Lagoon®
  • Jurassic Park®
  • The Lost Continent®
  • Seuss Landing™

The Best Insider Tips & Tricks

How To Avoid The Lines

{Note:  You have to visit a kiosk at the hotel to print your express passes if you’re staying at one the three on-site hotels that offer the Express Pass.}

How To Avoid The Lines

1.  When is the best time of year to visit the Universal Orlando Resort?

September, as well as mid-January-March are good times to visit. The parks will be busier around holidays and school break times.

2.  Do you have an Express Pass Line to avoid hour waiting times?

Yep, get express ride access and SKIP THE REGULAR LINES at each of your favorite participating rides and attractions in the theme parks.  These are FREE for each person in your family if you stay at one of these three Universal Orlando Resort hotels including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Orlando, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.  It’s just one of the many hidden values, you can see all of my Top 5 Perks of a Hotel Key in my quick video here.

3.  Do you have a “child swap” program for parents traveling with small kiddos?

Absolutely! If your kids are too small or unwilling to go on a particular ride you want to experience, please take advantage of our “child swap” program. Each ride and attraction has a child swap area where one member of your party can wait with the little ones while the rest of your party rides. Once they are off the ride, swap places and whoever rode can stay with the kids while the adult(s) who sat out get the opportunity to enjoy the ride. The best part about the child swap is that they are usually indoors! {snicker}  So your toddlers get a nice cool down period with a TV and some play time while they wait!  You can also utilize these areas if one of your kiddos decides at the last minute that they don’t want to ride. There’s no need for the family to worry about where to reunite!  You’ll be able to see them come off the ride or arrange ahead of time to meet there.  You can check out more Child Care options and tips for traveling with kids on the Universal Orlando Resort website.

4.  What is Single Rider options?

If you are 10 years or older, then you have the option of grabbing a quicker spot as a “single rider”.  Since most people ride in groups of two or more, if there is an extra spot available the attendants will ask for a single rider and you’ll be able to skip ahead in the line.

5.  Do you have any insiders scoop on traffic trends for the different islands?

Most guest generally arrive to the park in the morning, so a good strategy is to start in the back of the park and make your way to the front.  It’s best to hit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter either at 8 am {if you have early park admission by staying at an on-site hotel} or after 4 pm when the park clears out a bit. The areas of the park for younger children are going to be less busy when younger children are less active, e.g. nap time and closer to their earlier bed times.  For instance, I noticed that Seuss Landing is packed during lunch, but not so much in late afternoon. Also, most people tend to travel on Sunday, therefore Sunday’s are not as crowded and a great day to play at the parks.

6. I was told that the park tends to less crowded between the hours of 2-4pm. Is that right?

 The park tends to still be crowded between 2-4pm. Early morning or a few hours before park close are the best.

Late afternoon tends to be a quieter time in the park, but again that can change from day to day. That is why staying on-site helps – you can come and go easily back and forth depending on the day and the weather (and the mood of your children).

7.  What island would you suggest hitting between 2-4pm if you could only pick one?

Well, picking an Island, that is like picking which child is your favorite. So, pick the Island that your family is the most interested in – for example, if you have preschoolers, go to Seuss Landing. Tweens and teenagers? Marvel Super Hero Island or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are perfect. You want to cool off? Visit Toon Lagoon or Jurassic Park.

Universal Islands of Adventure Spiderman Ride

8. My entire family LOVED the Spiderman ride, when is the best time to ride it? There always seems to be a long line there.

Overall, ride wait times are always different at different times of year and fluctuate from minute to minute, so there is no specific time we can provide detailing when the rides are less busy. But here are two tricks to plan around the waits:

  • Stay on-site and get Universal Express Access to most rides and attractions, which allows you to skip to the front of the line. If not staying on-site, you can also buy a Universal Express Access upgrade to your ticket when you arrive at the park.
  • Go to the back of the park first to try and miss the rush; guests tend to work around the park in a circle, making it to the back of the park later in the day.
  • Insiders Scoop:  The Spiderman ride has been completely overhauled with new cutting-edge technology which makes it insanely awesome!

Universal Spiderman

9.  Do you know what time(s) of day the main superheros are out for fun photo ops?

There are meet and greets with various characters throughout the day – including Seuss characters, Marvel Super Heroes and Spider-Man. You can find meet-and-greet times in our park maps. Park maps are available at the front of the park and in various retail and restaurant locations. There is also “Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear” inside Circus McGurkus Caf© Stoo-pendous in Seuss Landing at various times throughout the day – this includes many Seuss characters in a re-telling of beloved Seuss stories.

Universal Islands of Adventure Poseidons Fury

10.  Can my 5 year old go through Poseidon’s Fury?

I would say that that show is for ages 7 and older due to the intensity of the show.  Poseidon’s Fury features four types of lasers and over 200 individual flame effects, as well as special effects including water and mist screens, water cannons and mortars. It is best for each parent to determine what their child can take, but generally it is more appropriate for older children.

Harry Potter World ~ Insiders Secrets

Harry Potter World ~ Insiders Secrets

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the most popular ride at the park and lines can last up to 75 minutes!  Ride this ride at 8am or after 4pm.

The folks at Univeral are always looking for ways to enhance the experience they offer our guests. For this reason, they have added Universal Express access to the following attractions:  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and the Hogwarts Express.

11.  We were told that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is best at 8am or after 4pm. Is that true?

It is generally recommended to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter later in the day – mid to late afternoon. Reservations are not available for Ollivander’s in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter {to watch the wand-choosing ceremony} and lines fluctuate based on time of year and weather.

12.   Can you give me an estimated range of what the Harry Potter wands cost so that I can plan accordingly?

You can purchase Hero Wands (replica wands of those owned by Harry and his friends), collectible wand sets and “practice” wands for younger wizards. The interactive wands cost $49.95, and the non-interactive wands cost $43.95.  Also, they have some Harry Potter merchandise available online.

What is Butterbeer?

What is Butterbeer?

13.  When and Where is the best place to get butterbeer the lines can get really long?

Hogs Head Pub is a perfect place to get Butterbeer — swing in and grab a frozen or regular Butterbeer right at the bar. {frozen is my favorite!}

You can also get Butterbeer at The Hopping Pot in Diagon Alley. Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron also serve Butterbeer.

14.  What is Butterbeer?

Butterbeer is the drink of choice for younger wizards.  At the park is is a “cream soda” like drink with a creamy froth on top. It was somewhat thick, really sweet, and then it gets salty as you swallowed it like butterscotch.  It comes cold or frozen.  I prefer it frozen!  I case you’re wondering, it is a non-alcoholic drink and perfect treat for kiddos on a hot day.  {wink}


Where To Eat Without a Wait

15.  Where and when is the best time to each lunch to avoid the lines?

Most guest generally arrive to the park in the morning, so those restaurants further back in the park will be busier at lunch as guests make their way around the park. Also, any restaurant appealing to children will be busier right around those times of the day that they generally eat lunch at home or school. For instance, we at lunch on Friday at 12:30 at the restaurant in the front of the park and we only had to wait 10 minutes for a lovely air conditioned table. Where as we tried to eat at Seuss Landing and that place was packed!

16.  For those that want to eat at your award winning restaurant Mythos, when would be the best time?

Mythos {located in the Lost Continent} is a sit down experience and planning for an hour and a half is a good idea in order to really enjoy it.

17.  When is the best time to eat at the Three Broomsticks at Harry Potter World?

Wait times are always different at different times of the year. Generally most restaurants will be busy right at lunch and right at dinner, try eating off hours (2-5 pm generally) for a quieter experience.

Seuss Landing™

Where Can We Cool Down At The Park?

18.  I LOVED that there was misting or a water element in each of the islands. I thought that was so well thought out and the perfect “cool down” and “happy toddler place”. Do you have a listing somewhere that has them all?

  • There is a cool down misting station right across from The Incredible Hulk Coaster in Marvel Super Hero Island.
  • The best places for toddlers to run around and get wet are If I Ran the Zoo in Seuss Landing and Me Ship The Olive in Toon Lagoon.
  • Camp Jurassic in Jurassic Park is a fun place to climb and explore in the shade.

Make Life Easy With These Insider Tips

19.  Both Parks offer package pickup at the front gate. This means that you no longer need to carry any souvenirs or merchandise you pick up along the way.  Also, if you are staying at one of the on-site hotels then you get an added perk of free package deliver to your hotel room! {squeal}  We used this service several times and it’s heavenly.  It just make the day so much easier.

20.  Both parks have family restrooms ~ so enjoy that little convenience with youngters and babies.

21.  The entire resort is baby-friendly! So don’t fret if you’ve forgotten something.  You’ll be able to buy towels, shoes, diapers, etc in Toon Lagoon or the gift shops.

22.  If you are planning on eating at least 2 meals at the park, then consider purchasing a Meal Plan.

You’ll save some cash as long as you eat two meals.  One of the thing that really impressed me about the park {besides how clean it was} is how yummy and diverse the food is! There’s something for every age and it’s gooo-ood food!

23.  If you’ve got some extra cash and want to give your family a VIP experience of the parks, you can purchase a VIP tour for your family or group.  I swear you’ll LOVE it.  {snicker}  Ask for Deana! She’s amazing and has escorted celebrities around the park like Celine Dion and John Travolta’s families.  Plus she’s just as sweet as can be! If you want some fun ideas or traditions to make your family vacation extra memorable, check out our discussion on the Tip Junkie Facebook page.  58 of you responded with some really fun ideas.

We Heart Universal Orlando Resort!

We Heart Universal Orlando Resort!

A huge thanks to Universal Orlando Resort for putting the fun back into a family vacation!  We had the most amazing time and it was a trip that my family and I will never forget.  Next up, are insiders secrets to Universal Studios Florida.  If you have any questions that I didn’t cover, feel free to leave a comment and if I don’t know, I’ll find it out for you!

Are you still wanting more?!?  Then check out these amazing video recaps – they’re so much fun and worth a few minutes to get your family geared up for their vacation!

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P.S.  Join the conversations over on the Tip Junkie Facebook page.  It’s a great place to ask questions on how to make things or for specific tutorials you need.

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  1. Loved your review! My family visited Universal Studios on the week of Aug 27 last year and due to the fact that most children in the US start back to school that week – the park was not crowded. We rode rides we loved (Hulk, Spiderman, Cat in the Hat) over and over again with little or no wait. Sure it was hot.. but it was worth it!

    One other noteworthy tip – the bartender at one of the places you could buy a cold beer had no problem selling us cups of strawberry slush (used in frozen margaritas) for the kids. It was a third of the cost of buying a frozen lemonade out around the park!

    Having a little spiral notebook in a backpack with a sharpie marker is a must to collect autographs of the superheros and cat in the hat characters! My children cherish theirs!

  2. What an outstanding resource! My oldest daughter is dying to go to the Harry Potter park. I love that you had the Griffindor tie on. Very stylish! 🙂 Looks like you all had a wonderful time. You have a beautiful family Laurie.

  3. So excited to get this information. We are going on our trip soon and will be staying with my sister. We haven’t decided how many days to spend at the park. I have 1 10 year old daughter. What is the minimum number of days you would recommend going to the parks? We don’t want to over do it and wish we had spent some of our days at other places, but at the same time we don’t want to wish we had one more day there.

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