Family Travel Question:
Q | Any advice for visiting the Universal Orlando's Island of Adventure?
We're thinking of visiting Universal Orlando this year to check out the Harry Potter attractions. We've never been to Islands of Adventure. How much time should we allot for the park? Any general touring advice? -Amy, OR
A | Visiting Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando
I’ve just returned from my family’s first visit to Universal Orlando. It’s a fantastic park and you’re going to have a blast. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located in the rear of the Islands of Adventures park and it was the park my kids like the best. At ages five and eight, the areas that will probably be of most interest are the Marvel Super Hero Island and Jurassic Park. My six-year-old still has a fondness for Dr. Seuss so Seuss-land was also a hit. I’ll confess that it was also one of my personal favorites.
A few things to keep in mind time-wise: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is by far the most popular attraction at the park. I’d suggest staying at a hotel on-site (even if only for the one night before you plan to visit). The benefit is that guests at park hotels get into the park one hour earlier than others. We did this and it meant we were at the gates at about 7:45 and there was already a line ahead of us. Once inside, the attendant will take you right to the Harry Potter area. I’d suggest you head right for Hogwart’s and ride “Forbidden Journey” first and often (it has several scenarios). Then make use of the light crowds to peek into the shops along Diagon Alley. The wand shop always has a line but it’ll be a lot longer once the gates open to regular guests.
Another thing to consider: staying at a hotel on-site means you’ll be able to use your room key as an “express pass” throughout the day, giving you front of the line access at many of the activities throughout the park. (The Forbidden Journey is one of a handful of rides where the express pass can’t be used, hence the need to make use of early admission.)
We did all of the above, walked the park and rode most rides that were height-appropriate and spent about half of a day. Depending on your child’s interests and whether you opt to pop over to CityWalk you could probably make it a full day. Take a peek at some of our pictures from our recent visit of Universal and other Orlando attractions, and most of all, have fun!
Photo credit: Heather Greenwood Davis