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Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure

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on
April 26, 2020

This article will introduce you to the best rides at Islands of Adventure and tell you all that you need to know to begin planning an epic ride experience at Universal’s Islands of Adventure!

Discover which Islands of Adventure rides are consistently rated as being the best and can be counted on to provide ohs and ahs worth remembering!

Keep reading until the end for an explanation of Universal Express Pass, single rider line, and Child Swap – 3 great enhancements to experience the best rides at Universal Islands of Adventure!

Best Rides at Universal Islands of Adventure

It is no wonder that Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure has been rated the #1 theme park in the world for five consecutive years (2015-2019)!

After all, Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida features some of the best family-friendly theme park rides of all time!

Its amazing combination of coasters, water rides, animatronics, and 3D technology make for an all-around thrilling and memorable ride experience.

Consequently, it is essential that you include the following 7 Islands of Adventure rides in your 1-Day Islands of Adventure touring plan!

1. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Not only is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure one of the best rides at Islands of Adventure, it has been dubbed by many as the best theme-park ride of all time!

New in 2019, Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is a story coaster that takes riders through the Forbidden Forest – a place known to play host to the Harry Potter characters’ innermost fears!

You can ride on a motorbike (like Hagrid) or sidecar (like Harry Potter) as you are blasted 50 mph up the 65-foot catapult, gigantic backward drop, 7 launches, and nearly 1-mile long track.

Be prepared for amazing animatronics and to come face-to-face with Wizarding World’s rarest magical creatures while the Harry Potter score blasts loudly through the speakers.

This ride of off-the-charts awesome!

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Does NOT apply for Early Park Admission or Express Pass
  • Single ride line available
  • There’s a family room for non-riders participating in child swap
  • Ride Hagrid’s within the first 40-minutes of park opening as 2 – 3-hour waits will accumulate later in the day
  • This ride experiences frequent ride closures and extended delays due to technical difficulties
Top U.S. Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, outlines the Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure with Hulk being #2!
The Incredible Hulk Coaster

2. The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Another one of Island of Adventure’s best rides, the Incredible Hulk Coaster, is exactly what you’d expect from an awesome roller coaster, plus so much more!

Themed after Marvel’s Hulk, this gigantic masterpiece of green twisted steel serves up twists and turns of epic proportion.

With a launched lift hill that accelerates the ride train up to 40 mph in approximately two seconds, the coaster eventually reaches a maximum speed of a whopping 67 mph!

As an iconic attraction at Islands of Adventure, Hulk is a hyper-coaster with a euphoric ride experience that attracts fans from all over the world!

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in Marvel Super Hero Island
  • Qualifies for Universal Express Pass
  • Single-rider line available
  • There’s a family room for non-riders participating in child swap
  • Ride Hulk within the first 40 minutes of park opening as 100-minute waits will accumulate later in the day
  • No loose articles are permitted on the ride – free lockers are available adjacent to the ride
  • All riders must proceed through a metal detector before riding

3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is one of the most popular attractions at Islands of Adventure as well as one of the most in-demand theme park attractions in America.

To enter the ride, guests walk through the gates of Hogwarts and begin their journey throughout themed-dungeons that feature items from the Harry Potter movies and books.

Passengers then enter through the Hogwarts castle doors, place their loose belongings in lockers, and queue outside in the Hogwarts’s greenhouse.

After zig-zagging throughout the greenhouse, you’ll enter Hogwarts Castle again, this time through its backdoor. 

The ride itself involves being seated on an enchanted bench to which you are secured via an over-the-shoulder harness. Despite its mundane appearance, the ride vehicle sits atop a technologically advanced robotic arm that gives way to a thrilling and unforgettable ride experience.

The Forbidden Journey provides an extreme amount of motion while it drops, spins around, and twists and turns to make it feel as if you are riding on a broomstick with Harry Potter.

After a simulated flight around Hogwarts castle, an encounter with the Whomping Willow and a horde of Dementors, and a Quidditch match, the motion simulator dark ride comes to an end.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is truly an attraction that is not-to-be-missed!

Top U.S. Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, lets you in on the Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure.  Rated the #1 Theme Park in the world, Universal's Islands of Adventure provides an epic ride experience!  #islandsofadventuretoprides #bestridesatislandsofadventure #topridesatislandsofadventure #islandsofadventurerides #bestridesatUniversalOrlando

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Qualifies for Early Park Admission and Universal Express Pass
  • Has a single rider line and Child Swap area
  • This ride can be a rough experience for those prone to motion sickness
  • Stow all loose articles in the free lockers as stuff will fall out of your pockets otherwise
  • Average wait times of 70 – 100 minutes will accumulate on peak crowd days.
Top U.S. Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, outlines the Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure with Hulk being #4!
Skull Island: Reign of Kong

4. Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Skull Island: Reign of Kong is deemed one of the best rides at Islands of Adventure for its epic theming and amazing 3D technology that fully immerses you into the story of Kong.

The ride itself in an indoor/outdoor safari by means of 40-feet long trackless ride vehicles (trucks) that can hold up to 72 people.

Each vehicle has an animatronic driver who interacts with the riders, but instead of using the same driver for every vehicle, there are five different drivers.

Each driver has different dialogue and storylines, so riders can experience the ride in very different ways.

As guests explore the far reaches of Skull Island by means of the expedition trucks they encounter visually stunning bugs, dinosaurs, and eventually a life-like King Kong himself.

Even though Kong is larger than life, he looks downright real. The emotion that is seen in his face is so amazing that some people are not even sure that it’s just another computer-animated creature on a screen.

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in Skull Island
  • Qualifies for Universal Express Pass
  • During inclement weather, the ride’s trucks take a bypass route indoors, cutting out the outdoor portion of the ride. This results in a slightly shorter ride experience, however, it enables it to stay open during inclement weather
  • The Kong ride requires the use of 3D glasses for a fully immersive experience

5. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is an indoor adventure 3D simulator ride. It combines special roving motion vehicles with 3D projection, elaborate physical sets, and tactile effects.

Park guests are turned into reporters of the Daily Bugle, and board a ride vehicle known as the “Scoop”. Upon boarding, riders learn that the Sinister Syndicate has captured the Statue of Liberty with an anti-gravity gun.

As Spider-Man fends off the enemy, the ride climaxes as Doctor Octopus lifts the Scoop ride vehicle up and ‘releases it’ to simulate a 400-foot freefall.

Though the vehicle never actually leaves the ground, a number of synchronized effects including a movable building set, lighting cues, simulator movements, and wind effects make this experience feel real.

In fact, in addition to Spider-Man’s motion base and 3D projections, the special effects of fog machines, fire, wind, heat, mist, strobe lights, and water spray are what make this ride so memorable!

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in Marvel Super Hero Island
  • Qualifies for Universal Express Pass
  • Has a single rider line and Child Swap area
  • The Spider-Man ride requires the use of 3D glasses for a fully immersive experience
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man has been the recipient of many awards from the amusement park industry

Additional planning tip: After reading about the Islands of Adventure top rides, check out our Universal Studios Touring Plan!

Both parks provide for a similar ride experience that you will never forget!

Top U.S. Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, outlines the Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure with Hulk being #6!
Jurassic Park River Adventure

6. Jurassic Park River Adventure

Jurassic Park River Adventure is one of Island of Adventure’s original headliner attractions. It is also one of our personal favorite rides!

In the River Adventure, guests board 25-passenger tour boats for an aquatic ride through the grounds of Jurassic Park. The scenery is so realistic that it feels as if you’re in a Jurassic Park movie!

Everything is calm as the tour begins while floating among large herbivore dinosaurs, prehistoric-looking plants, and peaceful geysers.

As part of the storyline, something goes horribly wrong however, and your tour boat is nudged off course.

After floating through a dangerous raptor facility and being introduced to several scary, life-like dinosaurs, riders eventually come face-to-face with a gigantic T-Rex!

Afterward, the ride comes to an end after an 85-foot escape plunge into the river below!

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in Jurassic Park
  • Qualifies for Universal Express Pass
  • Has a Child Swap area
  • This is a great ride for a hot day as you will get wet
  • You will get the least wet by sitting in an interior seat
  • The 85-foot drop was a world record when the ride was first built
  • You should never have to wait for more than 60-minutes to ride Jurassic Park River Adventure

7. Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat-Barges

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat-Barges is a classic whitewater rapids raft ride during which you are sure to get wet.

What makes Popeye’s one of the best rides at Islands of Adventure is that it is a full 7-minutes long. Also, as a water ride, it is a welcomed way to beat the Florida heat.

Bilge-Rat Barges seats 10 riders at a time as they float down the man-made canyon of gushing rapids, waterfalls, turns, and dips.

Beware, as every rider will get wet!

Practical planning tips:

  • Located in Toon Lagoon
  • Qualifies for Universal Express Pass
  • This ride usually opens an hour later than the rest of the park, typically at 10 AM
  • Each raft has a covered center console into which you can place backpacks, socks, and shoes; lockers or ziplock bags are strongly suggested for anything electronic
  • The rapids are rougher and more interesting, and the ride longer, than Animal Kingdom’s similar Kali River Rapids
The best rides at Universal Islands of Adventure will need a Universal Express Pass.
Universal Express Pass

Best Rides at Islands of Adventure: Universal Express Pass

There is no denying that when the Islands of Adventure crowd calendar predicts moderate to high crowds, the waiting in lines can become incredibly draining and time-consuming.

To help offset time spent standing in lines, Islands of Adventure allows you to add Universal Express access to your theme park admission.

This is especially helpful when trying to experience all of the best rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure as they typically have the longest lines.

Here’s how it works.

Universal Express is an all-day pass that allows you to skip the regular lines – and use a special Express Pass line – at select Universal attractions.

If you are staying on-site at one of Universal’s premier resort hotels, Universal Express Unlimited is free for every day of your visit. 

If you are not staying on-site and wish to purchase Universal Express passes, the cost varies by day and expected crowds. So during peak times, prices will be higher.

Current prices can be found on the Universal Orlando Resort website.

Additional planning tip: Universal Express is separate from regular admission. In other words, you must purchase BOTH an Islands of Adventure base ticket along with an Express Pass add-on.

It’s easiest to buy Express passes online. You can also buy them at the entrance gates and throughout all three parks at dozens of locations.

Best Rides at Islands of Adventure: Single Rider Line

If you are traveling along or are willing to be temporarily separated from your travel party, consider hopping into the single rider line at select Islands of Adventure rides.

This time-saving option is open to all Universal Orlando guests at no extra charge, and many find that the single rider line is often just as fast as the Express Pass line.

As a single rider, you’ll wait in a separate queue and are then slipped into vacant seats left by large groups.

The speed of the single rider line is dependent on the flow of odd-numbered parties through the queues, so the wait time can be extremely unpredictable.

Another thing to note is that single rider lines open at the discretion of the ride attendants, and may temporarily close if crowds are very light.

Single rider lines are almost always available at the following attractions:

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • The Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man
  • Dr. Doom’s Fearfall

In addition, Islands of Adventure will sometimes offer single rider access at Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Jurassic Park River Adventure.

Child Swap area when riding the best rides at Universal Islands of Adventure
Rider Swap room

Best Rides at Islands of Adventure: Child Swap

Younger riders may need to skip one of the best rides at Islands of Adventure because they are either not tall enough or they do not want to go.

The Islands of Adventure Child Swap program allows families with small children to experience rides without splitting up or waiting in line twice.

In other words, someone waits with the young child while the other parent/person rides the ride, and then the two adults switch places.

This gives everyone else in the party an opportunity to hop on the attraction without having to go through the queue all over again.

To use, inform the attendant stationed in front of the ride’s entrance that you would like to use Child Swap.

Additional planning tip: It is important to request Child Swap before you enter the queue because each attraction handles it a little differently.

For instance, some rides feature separate air-conditioned Child Swap rooms with a TV, while others simply have designated Child Swap areas or separate lines.

Rider Swap is available at the following attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure:

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure 
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster 
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong

#1 Amusement Park In The World – TripAdvisor® Travelers’ Choice Award 2019

Of the Top 7 best rides at Islands of Adventure, which one are you most looking forward to?

Jen

If you liked reading about the Best Rides at Islands of Adventure, click here to read our related posts:

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Top U.S. Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, lets you in on the Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure.  Rated the #1 Theme Park in the world, Universal's Islands of Adventure provides an epic ride experience!  #islandsofadventuretoprides #bestridesatislandsofadventure #topridesatislandsofadventure #islandsofadventurerides #bestridesatUniversalOrlando
Top U.S. Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, lets you in on the Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure.  Rated the #1 Theme Park in the world, Universal's Islands of Adventure provides an epic ride experience!  #universaltips #universalorlando #bestridesatislandsofadventure #topridesatislandsofadventure #islandsofadventurerides #bestridesatUniversalOrlando
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8 Comments
  1. Reply

    Bolupe

    May 5, 2020

    Thanks for the tips on the 7 top best rides. It is always hard to decide which rides to go on first when at a theme Park. I can see that my girls will love it here especially the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

    • Reply

      Jen

      May 26, 2020

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad that you found some rides that you think your kids will love! Happy and safe travels!!

  2. Reply

    Bolupe

    May 5, 2020

    Thanks for the tips on the 7 top best rides. It is also hard to decide which rides to go on first when at a theme Park. I can see that my girls will love it here especially the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

    • Reply

      Jen

      May 5, 2020

      You’re welcome! Yes, sometimes when you only have 1 day, it’s hard to hit every ride! Glad you found this list helpful!

  3. Reply

    Amanda

    May 4, 2020

    Great tips! These rides of Islands of Adventure are making me want to visit again soon! It’s been years since I’ve been there and will definitely be taking my son when he’s a little older.

    • Reply

      Jen

      May 4, 2020

      Thank you! Yes, as kids get older, it is definitely ‘the place to be’. We will definitely be returning there again as well!

  4. Reply

    Julie

    May 3, 2020

    Can you even believe we haven’t been to Islands of Adventure!! Do you think we’d still enjoy it even though we’re not into Harry Potter? (Gasp!) Will definitely consider this in the future!!

    • Reply

      Jen

      May 4, 2020

      There is definitely not a need to be a Harry Potter fan…you will still LOVE it! We’re not huge Potter fans either, but nonetheless, the themeing is amazing!

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    Hi, I’m Jen!  Welcome to Travel With A Plan!

    I’m an avid adventurer who is always planning the next family vacation for my husband and I, and our three boys!

    As an advocate for family travel with kids of all ages, I am a firm believer that traveling together helps keep families healthy and happy at home!

    Here is where I share our best family vacation itineraries, resort reviews, and family travel tips (incuding Disney!).

    Let’s go on an adventure! -Jen

    TMOM Travel Writer
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