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 spend 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!
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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, Epic Universe, expected to open in 2023.
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 during their Orlando itinerary.
The following article is a sample 1-day touring plan for Florida’s Islands of Adventure theme park (only) 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.
Due to increased concern over safety and sanitation, the Universal theme parks have implemented a host of new measures that may impact your experience. Be sure to check the Universal homepage to review current considerations for your visit.
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.
Both our Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios touring plan was created for those visiting Universal’s parks for one day each. If you are visiting the park for a longer period of time, you may still take advantage of this plan.
This touring plan also assumes that you are entering the park at the opening time and staying into the evening.
Finally, although we utilized this Islands of Adventure itinerary while staying on-site (which granted us automatic Universal Express Passes), it may be still be used by visitors who do not have an Express Pass.
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 one-day touring plan 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, 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.
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 Express passes online. You can also buy them at the entrance gates and throughout all three parks at dozens of locations.
Click here to find a complete list of the Express Pass rides and exact wait times, as well as our explanation on whether or not Universal Express is worth it!
Islands of Adventure One Day Touring Plan
The app provides wait times, showtimes, a resort-wide map, and a chance to make ride reservations via the Virtual Line program.
Island of Adventure’s Virtual Line program allows you to use your phone app (or kiosks at the ride) to make a reservation to ride the children’s ride Pteranodon Flyers.
At your selected time, simply show your phone at the attraction and you will immediately be admitted onto the ride.
Keep in mind that the Virtual Line reservation system only works if you are physically inside of the park.
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 elegible for Early Park Admission. ($26/day for self-parking, $40/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 official opening.
It then takes approximately 15 minutes to walk from the parking garage to the parks’ 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 1 hour before park open or 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 belonging are not allowed on many of the rides, be sure to review what to bring to Universal in your day bag. Likewise, be sure to review the requirements associated with the lockers at Islands of Adventure before your first visit.
Entering the Park
Once again, we 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) and Marvel Super Hero Island (Incredible Hulk rope drop).
While waiting, use your Universal app to grab a Virtual Line return time for Pteradon Flyers if you have children in your group that want to ride.
Then, about 10 minutes before the park is scheduled to open, guests will begin to be escorted to attraction queues.
Islands of Adventure Touring Plan: Morning
Islands of Adventure is set-up in a large loop.
Because of its enormous popularity, 2 – 3 hour average wait times on most days, and the fact that Hagrid’s Motorbike does not have an Express Pass option, we recommend that this be your first ride.
For this reason, 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 the best theme-park ride of all time!
Additional planning tip: Hagrid’s Motorbike is not open during Early Park Admission.
If you happen to be visiting Islands of Adventure with Early Park Admission, ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, tour Hogsmeade Village and Ollivanders wand shop, then get in line for Hagrid’s Motorbike.
Be aware that Hagrid’s Motorbike ride is known to experience occasional technical difficulties at opening and/or throughout the day. This will throw a major wrench in your touring plan.
If Hagrid’s happens to be shut down upon park opening, skip all of the rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter until the evening, and instead, start with the Incredible Hulk Coaster.
Our morning 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.
Likewise, visit these attractions in this exact order to decrease time spent zig-zagging around the park.
*Rides with (EP) written behind them qualify for Universal Express Pass.
1. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
2. Flight of the Hippogriff (EP)
3. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (EP)
4. Poseidon’s Fury (EP) With a visit to Mystic Fountain afterwards
5. The Incredible Hulk Coaster (EP)
6. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (EP)
7. Doctor Doom’s Fearfall (EP)
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.
2. Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
3. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (EP)
4. Skull Island: Reign of Kong (EP)
5. Jurassic Park River Adventure (EP)
6. If you and your kids have 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)
7. Last, head back to Hogsmeade and experience The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle that are displayed on select dates and start times.
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 makes 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 into 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.
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.
*Click here for our exclusive FREE Family Vacation Packing List and BONUS Theme Park Bag Packing List to complement your Universal vacation!
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 Islands of Adventure touring plan, 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:
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*