Updated: Dec 25, 2020
Here is my guide to Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando with elementary school age kids. In this blog, you will have all the information and tips you will need to know, to have an amazing theme park family vacation in Florida. If your kids love everything Jurassic Park/World, Dr. Seuss and/or Harry Potter, this island is the perfect fit for them. A popular belief is that Universal is for teenagers, therefore you should wait to take your kids when they are older. I learned that is far from the truth. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why your younger kids will have a blast too!
“God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man, man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man….. Woman inherits the earth.” Jurassic Park
COVID-19 Warning: There is currently a citywide order in Orange County that individuals must wear a mask or other face covering at inside and outside public spaces. Children 2 and younger are exempt from this order.
Universal COVID-19 Warning: You are required to wear a mask while at the park. You are only allowed to lower your mask while eating and drinking in designated areas. (Translation: You must be sitting off to the side, away from the public.) Employees walk around the park, with signs, making sure your face is covered, including your nose. If you plan to sip on a beer while walking around the park, I suggest you think again. You will be busted and could even be kicked out of the park. They are very serious about these rules!
Make sure you bring plenty of masks for the kids. Personally, I like to give my kids a fresh, clean mask everyday.
About Islands of Adventure located next to Universal Studios
This Universal park is where the fantasy and thrill rides are located. The park includes Marvel Island, Toon Lagoon, Reign of Kong, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, The Lost Continent and Seuss Landing.
6000 Universal Boulevard
Orlando International Airport
We are creatures of habit, so we took a Uber for $45 to the hotel. The Universal Hotels offer airport shuttles for a fee. Also, you can even choose a hotel package that includes theme park tickets and a hotel shuttle, so all you have to do is show up.
Where to Stay
I suggest staying at Universal Studios hotel because the prices start at $79.00 a night. It includes a free shuttle service to the park and you will receive early access to the park. Also, Hard Rock, Loews Portofino Bay & Royal Hotel even offer free “skip the line access.” The best part is that there is no need to worry about check-in times because you can leave your bags with concierge. You can show up after your flight and head straight to the park like we did.
Below are your hotel choices:
Universal Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn, Universal Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn, Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Aventura Hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
We stayed at the new, beautiful and affordable, Universal Endless Summer Resort. Here is peek of our room…
Insider Tip: The pool is not heated at Universal Endless Summer.
Hotel COVID-19 Warning: Your temperature will be taken, every morning, at the hotel and you will be given a different color band each day. This ensures that every hotel guest is getting daily temperature checks.
Due to COVID-19, space is limited, so buy your tickets in advance. We scored a “buy two days, get two days free” online at Visit Orlando.
How many days should I spend at this park?
I suggest a minimum of one to two days. The park has so much to see and do.
Best time to avoid lines:
Early mornings and evenings have the shortest lines. Monday throughThursday are the best days to visit.
Universal’s Express Pass allows you to skip the lines on most of the rides. I was wondering if the Express Pass was worth it during COVID-19 due to the smaller crowds. However, yes it is! The lines can range from 60 to 180 minutes.
Download the App before your trip. It will help you get on select rides.
There is a reason that the two major water rides have short lines. You WILL get wet. Let me repeat that… YOU WILL get wet. Be prepared when you ride Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls & Bluto’s Bilge-rat Barges.
After Ride: Ugh! I wasted all of that time curling my hair. After it dried, it was a frizzy and poofy mess!
However, this made my day. Yes!!!! 🤣
Thank goodness they have dryers located outside of the water rides for $5.00. It is 100% worth it, during a cool, November day in Florida…Burr…
If your child, even your man child, is obsessed with Jurassic Park & Jurassic World, then this park will blow them away. At Jurassic Park, you can get up and close with the famous Blue. Be careful, she is always hungry, which makes her a grumpy, hangry girl.
You can take an 85 foot plunge on the Jurassic Park River Adventure. No worries here…only your face will get wet. Before the plunge, this ride is a scenic water boat tour, where you can see a baby Stegosaurus and other marvelous creatures. There is a 42 inch requirement, which means my 5 year old was tall enough. Let’s just say she skipped this ride because she was not in the mood to get wet again and neither was I.
You can fly across Jurassic Park on the Pteranodon Flyer. Unlike Jurassic Park 3, we did not have a bunch of hungry Pteranodon chasing us around. Thankfully, we were not on their lunch menu that day! This ride is perfect for adults and kids of all ages and a must do! My 5 year old daughter absolutely loved this ride! We rode it several times over a two day period. There is a 36″ height requirement.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
You will come face to face with Kong and many ferocious dinosaurs. Let me just say this…this third ride scared the crap out of my kids. The 5 year old had her head in her lap, the entire time! My 7 year old thought it was cool, but he did not want to do it again, which means…I did not like it at all!
The Wizardly World of Harry Potter
The height required to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (my personal favorite) and the new, Hagrid’s Magical Motorbike Adventure (my son’s favorite) is 48″.
In this world, you will pass though Hogwarts Castle School of Witchcraft and Wizardly. There are two Harry Potter worlds, one at Islands of Adventure and another at Universal Studios. My personal favorite is at Universal Studios. However, both are top notch. At Islands of Adventure, there is are live performances throughout the day, performed by the Hogwarts Frog Choir. So cool!
You MUST try a Butterbeer while in the World of Harry Potter. This non-alcoholic beer is extremely popular and the lines are long. My kids love love loved it! It’s a must!
Insider Tip: The California Butterbeer is way better and creamier. I personally do not care for the Butterbeer at Universal Florida.
At Harry Potter World, you can venture down Hogsmeade, just like the local wizards. Also, while in town, you must go to the Honey Duckes which features all the adorable wizardly candy. Would you like to slip someone a love potion? If so, we found it.
Or munch on some Fudge Flies! Yum good! This is your chance to pick up all your wizardly needs while in town.
Insider Tip: If you want to ride the Hogwarts Express, you’ll need dual-park passes. The wait time was ranging from 1 to 2 hours. This train takes you from park to park.
Dr. Seuss World
This whimsical world is dedicated to the younger kids. It includes rides, attraction, live shows and all of your beloved storybook characters. There is plenty to do to keep the kids busy on this 10 acres of everything Dr. Seuss.
I’m bringing rock 🤟 to Sam-I-Am. You do not like rock. So you say. Try it! And you may!
You will find all the amazing rides that will bring a smile to any young kid’s face.
The Cat in the Hat Ride
High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
If you love loaded tater tots like me, I suggest eating at Green Eggs and Ham. They have large selection of yummy tater tots.
Marvel Super Hero Island
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
The ride requirement is 42 inches. Although we were at the park for two days, we never had time for this ride. The wait time was a steady two hours. Early access or the Express Pass is a must for this ride.
Wait times are extremely long and has a height requirement of 52 inches. My husband is still upset he missed out on this ride. It is the most popular extreme ride in the park.
The Lost Continent
Again, we spent two days at the park and we still ran out of time. We had lunch in this park, but we never had time to actually explore it.
Poseidon’s Fury, The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show and The Mystic Fountain
Motion Sickness Warning
If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to skip all of the extreme 3d rides.
If your child is 42 inches or taller, I suggest you add this park to your bucket list. This park is not just for teenagers anymore. All ages will enjoy this massive park!
Check out these blog post that go hand and hand with Islands of Adventure:
Universal Studios Orlando with Kids – click here
Eat at CityWalk Orlando – click here
Keep in Touch with Glam Journey and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram! click here.