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Are you looking for the perfect 1-day Islands of Adventure touring plan to outsmart the crowds and get the most out of your experience at Islands of Adventure?
Need a summary of Universal Express Pass tips, arrival, and rope drop tips, as well as tips on how to plan your day in the park to maximize efficiency and decrease time spent standing in lines?
Our Islands of Adventure touring plan highlights all of these topics and offers a step-by-step morning and afternoon itinerary for spending 1-day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Be sure to stick around to the end for additional information and touring tips for the Harry Potter fans in your group!
Universal Studios Orlando Resort
For those of you who are new to the Universal experience, Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort consists of:
- Two theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure)
- A water theme park (Volcano Bay)
- A shopping, restaurant, and entertainment complex (Universal CityWalk Orlando)
- Six onsite Loews Hotels
- An upcoming theme park called Epic Universe that is expected to open in 2025.
Together, this theme park and entertainment resort complex covers 541 acres of land and welcomes over 11 million annual visitors from all around the world.
The following article is a sample 1-day touring plan for Florida’s Islands of Adventure theme park whose primary attraction is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.
The best itinerary for Islands of Adventure involves utilizing this practical touring plan and customizing your final ride and attraction choices based on your family’s interests.
Islands of Adventure Touring Plan
Touring plans make it easy for you to get the most out of an experience by outlining the order you should visit rides and attractions, allowing you to enjoy the top experiences in the park.
Having a game plan before heading into the park is one of our 45 tops for visiting Universal Orlando that you absolutely don’t wait to miss!
Both our Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios touring plans were created for those visiting the Universal theme parks for one day each.
This itinerary also assumes that you are entering the park at the opening time and staying into the evening, giving you plenty of hours to see and do everything.
Finally, although we utilized this Islands of Adventure itinerary while staying on-site (which granted us automatic Universal Express Passes), it may still be used by visitors who do not have an Express Pass – we’ll show you how!
Want to know how we got free Express Passes? Learn all about our stay at Loews Royal Pacific!
Islands of Adventure Hours
Universal’s Islands of Adventure hours vary, by the day, by the month, and by the season.
It is very important to check the Theme Parks Hours schedule for the day that you plan on visiting Islands of Adventure so that you can plan your experience accordingly.
The Universal Studios theme park hour calendar also includes information on what days offer Islands of Adventure Early Park Admission, as well as lists temporary attraction closure information.
Early Park Admission is a free perk when you book a Universal vacation package, stay at a resort hotel, or use your Preferred or Premier Annual Pass.
This perk allows you to enter a designated Universal theme park 1-hour before the scheduled opening (select days only).
Additional planning tip: Take note that Islands of Adventure and CityWalk hours, as well as daily showtimes, are not released until approximately 1 calendar month in advance.
Islands of Adventure Crowd Calendar
Our Islands of Adventure itinerary assumes moderate to high crowds at the park when lines are expected to be long.
This exact plan was utilized when crowds were rated 9/10 according to Touring Plans.
No matter when you visit, however, this 1-Day Islands of Adventure touring plan is optimized and ordered so that walking and your wait in lines are minimized.
Islands of Adventure Express Pass
There is no denying that when the Islands of Adventure crowd calendar predicts moderate to high crowds, 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.
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. (Your hotel keycard serves as your Universal Express pass.)
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 both your theme pass tickets and Express passes online ahead of time (though there are kiosks in the park for Express Passes as well).
Click here to find out the qualifying rides, exact wait times, and an explanation of whether or not we think Universal Express is worth it!
1-Day Islands of Adventure Itinerary
The app provides wait times, showtimes, a resort-wide map, and a chance to make ride reservations via the Virtual Line experience when capacity is being closely managed.
When available, the Virtual Line experience allows guests to pick a time to return to an attraction via the app, so they’re reducing the time they’re waiting in the physical queue line.
Virtual Line availability and selections will vary daily, and guests should visit the app while onsite to view available attractions.
In the past, Virtual Line has been available for Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Pteranodon Flyers, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s, and the Ollivander wand experience.
Additional planning tip: Keep in mind that the Virtual Line reservation system only works if you are physically inside the park and may not be available during the time of your visit.
Universal Orlando Resort has a parking and transportation structure consisting of two gigantic multi-story parking lots and a centralized transportation hub that allows you to access Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, and Volcano Bay.
The parking garage opens 2 hours before the official park opening to accommodate those eligible for Early Park Admission. ($27/day for self-parking, $60/day for prime parking.)
If you are driving to the resort and are not eligible for Early Park Admission, we recommend arriving at the Universal parking garage 75 minutes prior to the official opening.
It then takes approximately 15 minutes to walk from the parking garage to the park’s entrance turnstiles.
This brings you to the entrance a perfect 60 minutes before the official opening.
Alternatively, Universal Orlando on-site resort transportation to the parks via water taxis and shuttles begins 2 hours before the official opening, or 1 hour before Early Park Admission.
Guests staying on-site during peak periods should catch the first ride of the morning in order to be the first into the Wizarding World during the early entry period.
Additional planning tip: Due to a strict bag and locker policy and the fact that personal belongings are not allowed on many of the rides, be sure to review what to bring to Universal in your day bag as you prepare for your visit.
Likewise, be sure to review the requirements associated with the lockers at Islands of Adventure as you will need to store your belongings while riding most rides.
Entering the Park
As of now, Universal Orlando does not require advanced reservations to get into any of their Orlando theme parks.
In addition, they are no longer limiting capacity as they had been during the pandemic.
With that said, we always recommend getting to the turnstiles 60 minutes prior to park opening, especially on projected busy days.
This act has long been known as ‘rope-drop’.
Rope drop involves getting to Islands of Adventure before it begins operating for the day so that you can be among the very first guests to enter and enjoy the attractions.
Rope dropping is the single most important key to an efficient touring plan in order to avoid long lines. First thing in the morning, there are shorter lines and fewer people.
The same four rides you experience in 1 hour upon rope dropping can take as long as 3 hours after 10:30 AM.
Additional planning tip: On days when Islands of Adventure does not offer Early Park Admission, the gates typically open 30 minutes before the advertised opening.
At this time, guests are allowed in and held at either the entry into Seuss Landing (Hagrid’s Motorbike rope drop) or Marvel Super Hero Island (Incredible Hulk rope drop).
While waiting, use your Universal app to see if any Virtual Line reservations are available for that day.
Islands of Adventure Touring Plan: Morning
Because of their enormous popularity and the fact that neither of them qualifies for Express Pass, we recommend your first rides be either of the two biggest headliners in the park: Hagrid’s Creatures Motorbike Adventure or Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Islands of Adventure’s newest ride).
I personally recommend doing Hagrid’s first, as most people will be heading to VelociCoaster first just because it’s newer.
With that said, begin the approximate 15 – 16 minute walks to Hogsmeade immediately upon rope drop without stopping for anything.
When you arrive at Hogsmeade, get in line for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and experience what we think is one of the best theme park rides of all time!
Then make your way to VelociCoaster – an absolutely amazing thrill ride that you’re gonna love!
Additional planning tip: Be aware that both Hagrid’s and VelociCoaster are known to experience occasional technical difficulties upon opening and/or throughout the day.
If and when this happens, it will throw a major wrench in your touring plan.
If either of these rides are shut down upon park opening, start with the Incredible Hulk Coaster.
Our morning Islands of Adventure itinerary contains several of the overall best rides at Islands of Adventure!
Along with being the best rides, they also experience the longest wait times.
For this reason, we suggest visiting them as soon as possible upon park opening.
This will require a bit of zig-zagging due to the layout of the park being that of a loop – but nonetheless, it will lead to the shortest waits at some of the most popular rides.
*Rides with (EP) written behind them qualify for Universal Express Pass.
1. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
2. Jurassic World VelociCoaster
From there, I recommend heading back to Hogsmeade as the afternoon crowds there are outrageous.
Plus, as one of the most exciting parts about the park, it’s hard to save it for last.
3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (EP)
4. Flight of the Hippogriff (EP)
5. Get a butterbeer…of course, then walk quickly back to the front of the park and ride:
6. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (EP)
7. The Incredible Hulk Coaster (EP)
8. Doctor Doom’s Fearfall (EP) – we personally, always skip this one.
Note: This plan does not assume you’re using child swap, which allows parents to swap supervising a child who does not meet a height requirement without waiting in line twice.
If you do use child swap, your day will move more slowly as you have to wait for two people to ride each ride.
Islands of Adventure Touring Plan: Afternoon
1. Lunch at the Comic Strip Cafe: This quick-service restaurant lane is located in Toon Lagoon.
The menu features burgers, hot dogs, pizza, pasta, Chinese cuisine, fish, chicken, and more – something that everyone will enjoy!
2. Skull Island: Reign of Kong (EP) – expect a long wait, unless using Express Pass
3. Jurassic Park River Adventure (EP) -expect a long wait, unless using Express Pass
4. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (EP)
5. Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
6. Pteranodon Flyers
7. If you and your kids have an interest, explore Seuss Landing and ride:
- The Cat in the Hat (EP)
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (EP)
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley (EP)
- Caro-Seuss-el (EP)
8. Poseidon’s Fury (EP) With a visit to Mystic Fountain afterward
9. Last, head back to Hogsmeade and experience The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle which are displayed on select dates and start times.
10…And if you still have energy, ride Hagrid’s and VelicoCoaster again!
To recap, here’s a rough outline of what your Islands of Adventure itinerary should look like.
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
- Incredible Hulk Coaster
- Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
- Pteranodon Flyers
- The Cat in the Hat
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley
- Poseidon’s Fury
- Mystic Fountain
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster
Universal Studios Dining
One of the top tips for visiting Universal Orlando Resort is to skip the typical hot dogs and chicken tenders in order to indulge in the unique (and amazing!) dining options that are exclusive to Islands of Adventure.
In fact, the best itinerary for Islands of Adventure includes eating at a themed restaurant, such as The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.
Its traditional British food and perfectly Harry Potter rustic tavern-themed atmosphere make for an experience that you simply cannot find anywhere else.
Check out this super helpful guide to all the best food and drinks at Universal Orlando Resort for more information.
And don’t forget! Universal offers several different dining plans that can add convenience and help you save money.
We like using the Quick Service dining plan which can be purchased right at the register. It includes a quick service meal (entree + drink), and a snack.
Additional planning tip: You can make online reservations ahead of time for full-service restaurants and Universal CityWalk in order to avoid the lines during busy seasons.
If You Want More Harry Potter Fun
For Harry Potter fans, a trip to Universal Orlando Resort tops their list of must-see-and-do vacation destinations!
If you’re a Potterhead you will absolutely not be disappointed by the immersive theming of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Likewise, you’ll definitely want to add additional time to your Islands of Adventure itinerary in order to enjoy it.
Universal’s Harry Potter experience includes Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.
You must buy a Park-to-Park ticket to be able to visit both parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one day by way of riding Hogwart’s Express.
Along with the other 29 best tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, be sure to stop inside the famous Ollivander’s Wand shop in either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley.
Here, you can purchase both standard and interactive wizard wands as well as participate in a wand-fitting demonstration.
Through a sensor in the tip of the interactive wands, wanna-be wizards and witches can perform 25 spells through both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
This requires being on the lookout for gold medallions along the walkways signaling you when to cast spells.
Potterheads can look forward to lighting the chandelier in the window at Flimflam’s Lantern or to repairing a suit of armor at the blacksmith’s with a simple wave of their wand.
I am confident that you’re now off to a great start in planning your day at Islands of Adventure! What was the most helpful part of the Islands of Adventure touring plan?Jen
If you liked reading our 1-day Islands of Adventure itinerary, continue planning your Universal Orlando vacation here:
Universal Orlando Touring Plans:
Universal Orlando Tips:
- 45 Tips for your First-Time Visit to Universal Orlando
- What to Bring to Universal Studios (+Day Bag Tips)
- 9 Big Differences Between Disney World and Universal Studios
- Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando: 9 Reasons to Stay
- A Complete Guide to the Lockers at Universal Orlando
- The 7 Best Restaurants in Universal Citywalk
Universal Orlando Rides:
- Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure
- Top 7 Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida
- Is Universal Express Pass Worth It? A Detailed Look!
*Click here for our exclusive FREE Family Vacation Packing List and BONUS Theme Park Bag Packing List to complement your Universal vacation!
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*