After Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando is the second largest resort in Florida. Yet its array of new attractions is increasingly making its resorts the most popular for many. From the hair-raising thrill of VelociCoaster to the enchanting adventure of Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure - there's every kind of epic available across two theme parks.
So, where to first?
This guide will explain the key difference between Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure park, ensuring you can plan your visit to perfection.
Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
When it comes to deciding which park to visit, one key factor is their different concepts. Universal Studios
is where movies come to life, so if you want to join the alien attack with the Men in Black, be recruited on a mission with the minions of Despicable Me, or shop for all your magical merchandise at Diagon Alley, you will find all this and more here.
The bigger of the two theme parks, Islands of Adventure
, offers more for fantasy fans with lands straight from the pages of your favourite books. Whether journeying to Jurassic Park or the kids’ favourite Seuss Landing, you will be mesmerized around every corner.
Universal Studios is regarded as the better option for young children as it has rides that don’t include a minimum height requirement, as well as various themed playgrounds and character meet and greets. Whereas Islands of Adventure is a thrill seeker’s paradise with some of the most high-speed roller coasters on offer.
How to Get Between the Parks
Getting between the two parks at Universal Orlando Resort couldn’t be easier due to their proximity. Get your steps in with a ten-minute journey across CityWalk or better yet, all aboard the Hogwarts Express. Here, you can park hop in true wizarding style from entry points at either King’s Cross in Universal Studios or Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. However, you may need to purchase the Park-Park ticket if you plan to do both parks. For unlimited theme park entry and transportation, people love the Universal Orlando 3-Park 14-Day Explorer Ticket. This ticket lets you experience Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal's Volcano Bay water theme park, and select live entertainment venues of Universal CityWalk for up to fourteen consecutive days for as many admissions as you like.
Top Rides of Universal Orlando Resort
From adrenaline-pumping thrills at Islands of Adventure to nostalgia-based family-friendly classics at Universal Studios, these are the best rides at Universal Orlando Resort in 2023...
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
– This 4-D experience takes you deep underground as you navigate perilous vaults. And if you want a safe return to Diagon Alley, you will have to evade the likes of Voldemort, Bellatrix and other ghastly creatures that stand in your way.
– Board that
famous flying bicycle and help E.T. save his dying planet as you soar through the skies in this magical ride. Find this kid-friendly, motion-simulator in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone.
Revenge of the Mummy
– Prepare to be plunged into darkness at high speed as you avoid huge fireballs, swarms of beetles, and an army of mummies in this thrilling ride inspired by the hit Mummy movies. Find this iconic attraction in the New York area.
The Simpsons Ride
– Buckle up for this motion simulator ride through Krustyland with the Simpsons. And keep your eyes peeled for several famous faces in the land of Springfield.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
– Located in the land of Production Central, this unique roller coaster offers your very own soundtrack while you plummet at 65mph. Sing along to your favourite tune or scream your head off – the choice is yours.
Islands of Adventure
Jurassic World VelociCoaster
– This is the T-Rex of rides and Florida’s fastest and tallest launch rollercoaster. This exhilarating experience will have you feeling the rush of the hunt as you venture on a high-speed sprint through the Velociraptor paddock.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
– Channel your inner Hagrid as you board your bike and fly deep into the Forbidden Forest, encountering some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures along the way.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
– This classic ride still outmuscles many Universal attractions. Head to Marvel Super Hero Island® to experience Bruce Banner’s alter ego in full force as you twist and turn at speeds of up to 67mph.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
– For another classic attraction at Marvel Super Hero Island®
, grab your 3D glasses and walk in the footsteps of the world-famous web-slinger. Soar above the streets, scale skyscrapers and battle it out in an attempt to find the stolen Statue of Liberty.
The Cat in the Hat
– Get lost in this ever-popular Dr. Seuss story, riding a couch from room to room trying to clean up after The Cat in the Hat before Mother comes home.
Beyond the Rides
Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure offer a wide array of entertainment beyond rides. For all-around family fun, Universal Studios is sure to please. Kids will love the Animal Actors on Location! - learning about what it takes to become Hollywood royalty in the animal kingdom. Plus, there are character encounters aplenty from the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants to Shrek and Donkey. And adults are sure to get a kick out of The Blues Brothers Show, and the chance to delve into the world of movie make-up and special effects with the spectacular Horror Make-Up Show.
While you won’t find as many live shows at Islands of Adventure, there are still a fair few alternative experiences that you won't want to miss. Harry Potter fans will be spellbound by The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, while little ones will relish the unique storytime of Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!, where Dr. Suess’ beloved tales come to life. And be sure to keep an eye out for wandering Marvel superheroes, including Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Since its grand opening in 2010, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been attracting die-hard fans year after year. Universal Studios offers muggles the chance to explore Diagon Alley, tuck into some hearty grub at The Leaky Cauldron, or do some banking at Gringotts. Then it’s all aboard the Hogwarts Express to the Islands of Adventure. Here you will find the extraordinary Hogwarts Castle, as well as the snow-capped village of Hogsmeade. Plus, be sure to take an enchanting ride with Hagrid through The Forbidden Forest. This ever-growing land is fast becoming synonymous with Universal Orlando Resort, encapsulating their promise to always blur the lines between magic and reality with sets built to perfection.
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