Universal’s Islands of Adventure is so much fun! There are rides for guests of all ages, especially those who love Marvel superheroes, dinosaurs, Harry Potter, and Dr. Seuss characters! Seriously, how can you go wrong with a lineup like that? It was easy to pick our Top 5 best Islands of Adventure rides at Universal Orlando!
Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a great family-friendly park. It has been named “Best Theme Park” several years in a row. It has attractions for all ages from small children to thrill-seekers.
To be fully and completely honest, we have let you know that we might be a little biased. We absolutely love the parks at Universal Orlando Resort. There are great places to stay (we recommend Surfside Inn & Suites for families and the Aventura Hotel for adults/couples!), amazing restaurants, and even the Volcano Bay water park. If you have time, be sure to also head over to Universal Studios Florida and see all that it has to offer!
Islands of Adventure vs Universal Studios Florida
I’ll be writing a complete guide to better explain the difference between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, but here is a quick overview of the difference between the two Universal parks (which could be helpful if it’s your first time visiting!):
- More extreme rides at Islands of Adventure: Thrill-seekers will find more rides at Islands of Adventure. Aside from the ones highlighted among our favorites in this post, you’ll also find Doctor Doom’s Fearfall and Skull Island: Reign of Kong (not so extreme, but a tamer thrill ride for King Kong fans!).
- Harry Potter fans: There’s a huge difference between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas in each park. At Universal Studios Florida, you’ll get Diagon Alley (including Escape from Gringotts) and at Islands of Adventure, you’ll be in Hogsmeade (where you can walk around the grounds of Hogwarts). Be sure to check out our guide for where to eat at Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
- Popular rides at Universal Studios Florida: There are some very, very popular rides and areas at Universal Studios Florida. If you only go to Islands, you won’t be able to ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Transformers: The Ride 3D (no Optimus Prime for you!), Revenge of the Mummy, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, E.T. Adventure, or The Simpsons Ride.
If you can, your best bet is to get Park-to-Park passes to give you access to both parks. You can either walk through their respective entrances (stop to eat at Universal City Walk!) or you can take the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade (our favorite).
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Hulk Smash! That’s what you’re going to want to do the second you get off this ride because you’ll be so mad that it’s over — until you turn around and get back in line, of course! It’s a launch coaster with a top speed of 67 mph, two subterranean trenches, and seven inversions, this is among the most extreme of all the rides at Universal Orlando Resort.
Related post: How Scary is the Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster?
Watch our video: Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster
Here are some ride specs for The Incredible Hulk Coaster:
- Year built: 1999
- Engineer: B&M (first B&M coaster with a launch design)
- Drop height: 105’
- Total height: 110’
- Speed: 67 mph
- Inversions: 7!
- Notable: Features an onboard sound system that plays a ride-specific score composed by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy.
For years, I’d been intimidated by the massive track, but once I got on, it became one of my favorite rides in the world. In fact, during one trip, I rode it six times in two days! Recently, The Incredible Hulk Coaster was revitalized with new cars and tracks as well as an amazing musical score. You’ll feel like you’re ready to join The Avengers! By the way, if you’re a fan be sure to explore Marvel Superhero Island. You’ll find lots of great snacks and places to buy souvenirs and comic books.
This ride made its debut in 2021 after a tough pandemic year, and it does not disappoint! If you love Jurassic World and intense roller coasters, you will absolutely love the Jurassic World VelociCoaster! It replaces the Triceratops Encounter in the Jurassic Park area, representing one of the biggest glow-ups in Islands of Adventure history. It didn’t take long for people to name this their favorite ride at the amusement park, so wait times can be crazy.
Related post: How Scary is VelociCoaster?
Here are some ride specs for VelociCoaster:
- Manufacturer: Intamin
- Height: 155 ft (47 m)
- Drop: 140 ft (43 m)
- Length: 4,700 ft (1,400 m)
- Max speed: 70 mph (110 km/h)
- Inversions: 4
- Max vertical angle: 80°
- Height restriction: 51 in (130 cm)
Like the Incredible Hulk, this is a launch coaster. What that means is that you will experience sudden acceleration at the beginning of this ride. You will also experience a second launch mid-way through VelociCoaster to help it reach max speeds. There are multiple inversions, with some taking place over the lagoon. For an extra thrill get on this ride at night to see the glowing train lights and reflections in the water!
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
New in 2019, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a story coaster that takes riders through the Forbidden Forest. You can ride on the motorbike or the sidecar, but the experience is largely the same. The best part is having the Harry Potter score blasting through the speakers while coming face-to-face with some of the most famous wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures such as Fluffy, the three-headed dog and even Devil’s Snare!
Related post: How Scary is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Here are some ride specs for Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure:
- Year built: 2019
- Engineer: Intamin
- Drop height: 17’
- Total height: 65’
- Max vertical angle: 70°
- Speed: 50 mph
- Inversions: 0
There are seven launches, more than any roller coaster in the world and it’s the second in the United States to feature a vertical freefall (Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg was the first!). Along with suddenly dropping 17 feet, it’s the longest roller coaster in Florida and features a 65-foot “spike” at more than a 70-degree angle.
Jurassic Park River Adventure
This ride is such a classic. It’s cheesy, and if you believe the rumors, it’s also about to undergo a major overhaul. So far, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be replaced by a Jurassic World ride like the one at Universal Studios Hollywood. They’d be crazy to get rid of it, in our opinion, because everyone loves Jurassic Park River Adventure. There’s no way we couldn’t include this in our Top 5 Rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure!
Here are some ride specs for Jurassic Park:
- Year built: 1999
- Engineer: Vekoma
- Drop height: 85’
- Total height: 85’
- Speed: 50 mph
- Inversions: 0
- Notable: The angle of the final drop is 51 degrees.
The sketchy old boat, the murky water, the Jurassic Park theme music… you feel like you’re at the real thing! The ride starts calmly enough as you embark on the cruise tour, but an unexpected breach in the containment area makes things a lot more interesting! There’s an 85-foot drop right at the end, similar to what you’ll find on most water rides, but you’ll be so happy to escape the massive T-Rex that you won’t care!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
After you enter the castle grounds, you will literally flip over this ride! Don’t let the fact that this ride relies on virtual reality rather than an actual ride track fool you. Your seat on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is capable of maneuvering in ways you’ve never imagined! You’ll soar over the Quidditch pitch, through the corridors of Hogwarts, and deep into the Forbidden Forest. Watch out for the Womping Willow!
Related post: How Scary Is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey?
There’s a lot to say about this ride. First of all, my oldest son is a major thrill seeker but he was absolutely terrified on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Turns out that, despite being a sturdy 6′ 3″ young man, he gets pretty scared of animatronics. So, if you hate hyper-realistic, motorized replicas of people and creatures, skip this (and the Hagrid’s ride and Jurassic Park, too!).
Same advice if you hate spiders. Finally, unlike the ones at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan, this version of the Forbidden Journey ride has a dragon that breathes real fire. We LOVE it, but if you’re freaked out by flames, don’t bother with this!
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Honorable Mention)
Outfitted with a pair of 3D glasses, you’ll follow Spider-Man on this virtual reality ride as he battles the villains of the Sinister Syndicate. What have they done? Stolen the Statue of Liberty! You won’t believe your eyes when you see the detailing that went into this set. This is definitely one of the Top 5 Rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure!
The graphics are in high-definition and are better than the ones on Transformers: The Ride-3D at Universal Studios Florida. If you’re prone to motion sickness, this is the better option. We took Caleb on the ride and he was so small you couldn’t even see him in the pictures. He absolutely loved it, though!
Top 5 Rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure With Small Kids
Traveling to Universal’s Islands of Adventure with kids? You’ll want to know which rides are best for young children. My first suggestion is that you get familiar with the ride height requirements at Universal Orlando Resort. Take a good look at those requirements because they may narrow down the selection considerably.
Also, don’t assume that your measurements will be the same as those at Island’s of Adventure. When we took Caleb for a checkup right before the trip, we were told that he was 44 inches tall. At the park, he barely cleared the 42-inch mark indicated on the markers. That meant we couldn’t do certain things that we had planned. Still, he enjoyed Universal much better than Walt Disney World, which is interesting!
Fortunately, we still had a blast and we’re so grateful that he’s a roll-with-the-punches kind of kid. That being said, we learned the hard way that he does NOT like getting drenched (so we steered clear of Toon Lagoon). He was okay with a little splashing, though! Before you read through our list, I’ll explain that he wasn’t interested in doing the following, but that these are very popular rides for kids at Islands of Adventure:
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
The Cat in the Hat (36 inches or Taller)
Head over to Seuss Landing for The Cat in the Hat. It’s a bit of a creepy ride for adults, I’m not going to lie, but kids seem to like it. Caleb made us go on this about 700 times! Good thing it wasn’t busy while we were there in September — and we each had a Universal Express Pass!
Flight of the Hippogriff (36 inches or Taller)
The only Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride he could get on at Islands of Adventure was Flight of the Hippogriff, which is too bad because he loves Harry Potter and really enjoyed the Escape from Gringotts coaster in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. This ride gives you a great view of Hagrid’s Hut and Hogwarts Castle!
One Fish, Two Fish. Red Fish, Blue Fish (34 inches or Taller)
It was hot while we were there, so he loved this colorful, splashy ride! You can control how much you get wet by raising or lowering the ride car you’re in. We were grateful that he didn’t mind a few sprays because we needed cooling off!
The High In the Sky Seuss Trolley Train (36 inches or Taller)
We did this one a few times. It’s a slow-paced ride with great views! The High In the Sky Seuss Trolley Train ride is very, very popular with kids, which unfortunately led to us having to wait while they cleaned up what appeared to be a vomit mess. Be sure to read our 5 Ways to Avoid Germs at Amusement Parks!
Jurassic Park (42 inches or Taller)
Caleb was a little leery of the dinosaurs at first, but he relaxed when he saw the raptors fighting. “They look so fake,” he chuckled. He made it all the way through the dark part, past the T-Rex, and down the 85-foot drop. What he hated was that the “fake dinosaurs poured water” on him. We’ll bring a poncho next time 🙂 Of course, if you have a child who is afraid of the dark and/or will be frightened by the “emergency” on this ride, definitely skip it.
Whether you go on your own, as a couple/family, or with friends, you can’t go wrong with Universal’s Islands of Adventure. There’s something for everyone, even park guests who don’t want to get on any rides. As the name suggests, you’ll have the best experience if you just let loose and enjoy the journey. Have a great time!