Are you planning a one day Islands of Adventure itinerary at Universal Orlando and not sure where to start? This Islands of Adventure touring plan will help you pick the best rides and attractions for your day to have a fun visit to this Universal Orlando theme park.
Spending one day at Islands of Adventure is so much fun. We love including the water rides and intense thrill attractions into our day as well as spending time in Seuss Landing and Hogsmeade.
Coming Soon: In 2025 Universal will be opening a brand new theme park: Epic Universe!
What to Know for Your Islands of Adventure Itinerary
Although it seems like a lot to plan 1 day at Islands of Adventure, it is possible to do the most popular attractions and roller coasters if you have a plan.
Go over the questions below before you arrive at the park to ensure you make the most of your day.
- What attractions does everyone in your group want to experience? Are you traveling with young children? Research the rides and attractions before you arrive to know which ones will be good for your family.
I go into details about the rides at Islands of Adventure in this article: Islands of Adventure Ride Height Requirements and Scare Factor.
- Depending on the time of year of your visit the crowd levels and wait times may affect how many attractions you can visit. This crowd calendar will give you an idea of how busy the park may be.
If you are visiting during the busy season you may want to consider upgrading to Universal’s Express Pass. This is the ticket add-on that allows guests to skip the regular line.
There are two ways to add these on to your admission ticket.
If you are staying at a premier hotel like Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific or Loews Portofino Bay Resort express passes are included.
If you are staying off-site you can purchase Universal Express Pass as an upgrade.
Universal Express Pass will save you from waiting in long lines and allow you to ride more attractions on busy days. Find out if purchasing it is worth it in this article Universal Express Pass: Everything You Need to Know.
- One final thing I always check when planning our one day Islands of Adventure itinerary is the weather. Florida weather can be unpredictable but I try to at least know what to expect to plan our day.
If it is going to be really hot mid-day we may plan a break at our resort or ride the water attractions during that time. The rain can also temporarily close some attractions so we try to plan around that as well.
I always purchase our tickets before we arrive at the park! This will save you time and usually money as well.
1 Day Universal’s Islands of Adventure Itinerary
Before you arrive at the parks I suggest taking a look at the Islands of Adventure map to get an understanding of the layout and the park. This will also show you where your favorite attractions are located.
You can also use the Universal Orlando app to get an idea of where the most popular attractions are.
Arriving at Islands of Adventure
When you arrive at Islands of Adventure you will park in the Universal Orlando resort parking lot. This parking lot is huge and serves Universal CityWalk, Universal Studios, and Universal Islands of Adventure.
After you leave the parking lot you will go through security and bag check before entering CityWalk. Once you enter CityWalk you will walk straight through CityWalk, over the bridge and to the Islands of Adventure gates.
If you are a resort guest you will arrive by bus, boat, and some resorts are within walking distance of the park. Before arriving at Islands of Adventure all guests will go through security and bag check.
I suggest arriving to Islands of Adventure 30-40 minutes before park opening time. Being one of the first guests at the park will allow you to experience more attractions.
Guests staying at an on-site resort can take advantage of early park admission that is offered at one of the two theme parks, as well as Volcano Bay, daily. Learn more here.
Universal’s Surfside Inn & Suites is a budget friendly on-site resort that we really enjoyed and highly recommend for families. We have also stayed at Cabana Bay Beach Resort which offers bus transportation or a 20 minute walk.
Islands of Adventure Touring Plan: Where to Start
Islands of Adventure is set-up in a large loop. If you prefer to start at one side of the loop and work your way around you will minimize the amount of walking for your day.
If you want to ride all the most popular attractions you should be prepared to do a lot of walking. We often take this approach and try to ride the most popular attractions before lunch.
This means you will walk a lot early in the day and take a more leisure approach after lunch. If you have Express Pass you do not need to do this because you can use it at any time and on any ride, with the exception of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Velocicoaster.
Hagrid’s is the most popular ride at Universal and the lines continue to have a 360 minute wait time. We have done this every visit by arriving at the gate early and walking directly to it as soon as the park opens.
After riding Hagrid’s we head to Velocicoaster. If you have two days you can switch which attraction you ride first. I have found that Hagrid’s wait time tends to be longer than Velocicoaster during the early entry hours.
It is worth it to ride Hagrid’s and when arriving early your wait time is usually under an hour. We have listed it on our picks for the best rides at Islands of Adventure and suggest you do too!
The other most popular attractions are the Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man, The Hulk, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
The Hogwarts Express is also a popular attraction and guests use it to visit Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. You must have a park-to-park ticket to ride this attraction.
Dining at Islands of Adventure
After riding the most popular rides in the morning we are ready for lunch. You can check out our favorite in this article, best restaurants at Universal Orlando, but we often pick our restaurant based on our location in the park.
One of my favorite places to eat is Green, Eggs, and Ham in Seuss Landing. Often our family will order a few things from Green, Eggs, and Ham and Circus McGurkus, then dine inside Circus McGurkus together.
We also like Three Broomsticks at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade for an immersive Harry Potter experience. Expect long lines for this during meal times. We line up around 10:30 when it opens at 11:00am.
On our most recent visit we dined at Thunder Falls Terrace in the Jurassic Park area and really enjoyed it!
Shows at Islands of Adventure
I suggest saving the shows for after lunch when visiting Islands of Adventure. There are not any sit-down show offerings at the park.
In Hogsmeade you can watch the Frog Choir and visit Ollivanders wand shop. In the Lost Continent area you can interact with the Mystic Fountain or watch Poseidon’s Fury. Seuss Landing also has a character story time.
Characters at Islands of Adventure
There are a lot of fun characters at Islands of Adventure. Much like Universal Studios you can often find surprise characters walking around the park.
Marvel Super Hero Island is where you can meet heroes and villains. The character lines are typically short and don’t take much time. Usually we will look at the park map for daily times and meet them after lunch.
Seuss Landing is another great place to meet all the Dr. Seuss characters. Again the lines are typically short and the character times are listed in park guide.
Read this article for a list of 65+ Characters to Meet and Greet at Universal Orlando.
Sample Islands of Adventure Touring Plan
7:30am-7:45am: Leave our resort for Islands of Adventure.
8:00am-9:00am: Park or arrive by bus. Go through security and bag check. Walk through CityWalk to Islands of Adventure gate. We usually eat breakfast at our resort before we leave or in line as we wait for park opening.
9:00am: Park Opening!! Walk straight to Hagrid’s to ride first. Then walk over to Velocicoaster.
Morning Attractions at Islands of Adventure
These are attractions you should ride first at Islands of Adventure.
- Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- The Hulk
- Cat in the Hat
- High in the Sky Trolley
Lunch: Seuss Landing
Afternoon Attractions at Islands of Adventure
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
- Any shows we want to see.
- Meet Characters
- Any rides we missed.
By this point in the day you may want to take a mid-day break at your resort. We like to do this, especially during the summer.
The layout of Islands of Adventure makes it difficult to back track through the park. If it is too much walking for your family I suggest starting at the land that is your biggest priority and then work around the loop from there.
As the day goes on the crowd level usually goes up. If you can try using the single rider line to avoid long wait times.
There is no wrong way to tour the park and you should be able to see most rides and attractions in one day.
Evening at Islands of Adventure
At dinner we usually eat at CityWalk on our way back to the park or a quick service inside the park that we didn’t do for lunch.
After dinner we ride our favorite rides, spend time exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade, and explore the play areas in Jurassic Park and Seuss Landing.
There is a nightly projection and fireworks show on Hogwarts castle that starts at dusk and runs continuously until park close. It is really good and we always try to stop to watch during our visit.
I did not include Hogwart’s Express on this itinerary because you need a park-to-park ticket to ride it. This is the Harry Potter themed train that takes you from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios.
You need a park-to-park ticket to ride, and it is not part of our 1 day at Islands of Adventure touring plan.
Islands of Adventure Itinerary with Small Children
If you are traveling with small children you will want to spend more time in Seuss Landing. There is a play area called If I Ran the Zoo to explore as well as a Carrousel and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish attractions.
There is also a Jurassic Park playground that is fantastic and an indoor Jurassic theme area.
In the Toon Lagoon area there is a spray area as well as the Me Ship, The Olive to explore. This is located near the Popeye & Bluto attraction. It has climbing structures and slides.
Islands of Adventure Itinerary with Older Children
If you are traveling with older children you will want to spend more time on the thrill ride attractions like The Incredible Hulk coaster, Doctor Dooms Fear Fall, and the Harry Potter attractions.
This Islands of Adventure itinerary should help you plan an awesome one day at Islands of Adventure that is perfect for your Universal Orlando vacation.
Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.