Universal’s Islands of Adventure is one of the three theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort. The overall theme of the Universal’s Islands of Adventure park is to embark on an adventurous journey, which begins with entering a port from where you set off to explore the seven uniquely themed islands set around a lake. In this post, I’ll be sharing our family experience visiting Universal Islands of Adventure with a preschooler.
Purchasing Universal Resort Park Tickets
The three theme parks that make up Universal Orlando Resort are the original Universal Studios, the new Volcano Bay water park and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. For our family trip to Orlando, we only had time to plan one day at a Universal Orlando Resort park.
The main reason why we chose Universal’s Islands of Adventure park was to go to Marvel Super Hero Island, because Little T is a big fan of Spider-Man! I was also interested in visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Seuss Landing at Universal’s Island of Adventure, which turned out to be a great park to visit with young children.
I purchased our tickets in advance through Undercover Tourist, where I also bought our Magic Kingdom tickets. The price of the 1 Day Base Ticket (admission to one park – either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure), at the time was the same as buying the tickets at the park gate or on the Universal Studios website. It is always worth checking the various discounts available if you plan on visiting Universal Orlando Resort over two or more days.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is divided between Universal Studios (which has Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade Village). You can travel between the two, either using the Hogwarts Express or by foot, only if you have a Park-to-Park ticket.
After making my purchase online through Undercover Tourist, I received a confirmation email with a link to download and print in advance our e-tickets, with barcodes that were quickly and easily scanned once we were at the theme park gates.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
The seven themed islands at Universal’s Islands of Adventure park are Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade), The Lost Continent and Seuss Landing. Each island features cutting-edge thrill rides, shows and attractions that make Islands of Adventure one of the best theme parks in Orlando.
Once through the turnstiles, we headed straight to rent a stroller at the service center. There is a lot of ground to cover when visiting the Orlando theme parks with young kids and it is worth renting a stroller if you don’t have one. Stroller rental prices range from $15/day for a single stroller one to $25/day for a double stroller.
There are cafés, restaurants and shops at the Islands of Adventure Port of Entry, which is where you set off to explore the other islands. Marvel Super Hero Island will be to your left, and Seuss Landing will be to your right.
For our family day at Universal Islands of Adventure with a preschooler, we went in a circle around the park, starting with Marvel Super Hero Island before continuing to Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Seuss Landing. The only islands we did not visit were Skull Island and the Lost Continent.
Marvel Super Hero Island
Meeting Spider-Man was our #1 priority visiting Universal Islands of Adventure with our preschooler. We started with the Spider-Man Character Encounter at the Marvel Alterniverse Store, one of the shops at Marvel Super Hero Land.
Spider-Man chatted with Little T for a while and signed his autograph book before they posed in front of the green screen for professional photos. We have since framed Little T’s signed photo with Spider-Man for his room. This character encounter with Spider-Man was truly a trip highlight!
In addition to Spider-Man, there are regular appearances made by Captain America, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm and Rogue throughout the day. Check the Island’s of Adventure daily timetable for the most up-to-date information for Marvel character meet-and-greets.
Things to Do in Marvel Super Hero Land for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Meet Spider-Man; Additional Marvel Character Encounters; Kingpin’s Arcade, Storm Force Accelatron ride
We passed through Toon Lagoon on the way to Jurassic Park and I loved seeing iconic cartoon and comic strip characters featured, such as Betty Boop, Popeye and Blondie.
There are mainly water-park attractions at Toon Lagoon, including the Rocky and Bullwinkle-inspired log flume ride and the Popeye-themed river-raft ride.
While we didn’t have time to stop this time, the Me Ship, The Olive interactive play area sounds fantastic for children of all ages, with passageways, slides, climbing nets, water cannons and more.
Things to do in Toon Lagoon for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Me Ship, The Olive play area, Toon Lagoon Games, Classic Comic Book Character Encounters including Betty Boop, Popeye and Olive Oyl
The next island is Jurassic Park, where highlights for toddlers and preschoolers include the Camp Jurassic play area and interactive Discovery Center. Little T enjoyed the water play areas and making his way around the rope bridges at the Camp Jurassic playground.
One of the top attractions at Universal Jurassic Park is the Pteranondon Flyers, which is a kid-friendly, slow moving air glider ride. The minimum height requirement for Pteranondon Flyers is 36″ or 92 cm.
The Discovery Center at Jurassic Park is one of the best places to go to at Universal Islands of Adventure with a preschooler. The Jurassic Park Discovery Center features plenty of hands-on, interesting activities and exhibits for young kids to explore.
Highlights include a rock wall with a scanner to search for fossils and a dinosaur egg nursery, where kids can insert eggs into a scanner to see what type of baby dinosaur is inside.
The Discovery Center also has a laboratory where you can watch a baby velociraptor hatch, along with several dinosaur fossils and teeth casts to explore.
Things to do at Jurassic Park with toddlers and preschoolers: Camp Jurassic play area, Discovery Center, Raptor Encounter, Pteranodon Flyers (minimum height: 36″ / 92 cm) and Jurassic Park games
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and was very excited to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you can explore Hogsmeade Village and go on the following thrill rides: Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is at Hogwarts Castle.
I was six months pregnant when we visited, and since none of the rides were safe for expectant mothers, we spent our time exploring the village. The attention to detail throughout Hogsmeade Village is fantastic! You truly feel like you’ve just stepped into a Harry Potter book.
I purchased an interactive wand at Ollivanders for us to practice magic around the village. Wand prices start from $55, and interactive wands cost from $63, and there are many regular and interactive wands to choose from at Ollivanders. To have an idea of the park shop prices and selection, which is subject to availability, have a look at the Harry Potter collectibles on the online Universal Store.
You can choose regular and interactive wands by characters (i.e. Harry, Hermoine, Professor Dumbledore, Voldemort) or by type of wood, such as holly, birch and oak. You can also narrow it down by telling the shopkeeper your birthday, since they can make a suggestion based on the Celtic wood calendar that assigns different types of wood to sections of the calendar.
The interactive wand comes with a map, showing where you can practice magic around Universal Orlando Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley. There are also markings on the floor in front of each spot, demonstrating how to cast the spell for a special surprise. It does take some practice to get it to work, and we also had a couple windows that just weren’t working properly, so do make sure to ask someone for help if you’re having issues.
Little T was thrilled when we were finally able to get this spell to work, and the box opened to reveal a chocolate frog!
You can take the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade Village to Diagon Valley – but, again, only if you have the Park-to-Park ticket to enter Universal Studios. I’d love to take the train next time we visit!
And just in case you were wondering about the crowds! They were pretty manageable during our visit, on a Thursday in early May. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was the busiest island – sometimes there was a line to try casting a spell on a window. It was well worth the visit – and I look forward to going back again for the rides.
Things to do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with toddlers and preschoolers: Hogsmeade, Flight of the Hippograff ride (minimum height: 36″ / 92 cm) Hogwarts Express (with Park-to-Park ticket)
Our final stop was Seuss Landing, which is just perfect for young children and Dr. Seuss fans of all ages. I absolutely loved the whimsical, colorful theming and designs at this area. Nothing is straight at Seuss Landing – even the palm trees are bent, actually due to a hurricane and they were brought in to be planted at the park!
There are several fun rides for little ones at Seuss Landing, including The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, the Caro-seuss-el and The Cat in the Hat ride.
The highlight was the ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ interactive play area. The water play area was excellent for Little T to cool down after a hot day around the park!
Things to do at Seuss Landing with toddlers and preschoolers: Dr. Seuss Character Zone; If I Ran the Zoo play area; Caro-Seuss-el ride; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish ride; The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride and The Cat in the Hat ride
It was soon time for us to go, and heading back to the exit, I stopped by the Christmas shop for a couple of ornament souvenirs for our collection.
Universal Islands of Adventure with a Preschooler
We had a fantastic day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure! While the theme park is known mostly for its thrill rides, there are excellent interactive play areas, character encounters and slower rides for young children on most islands. It really was a fun-packed day and we were constantly on the move!
Visiting with a preschooler, it worked best for us to focus on meeting Spider-Man at Marvel Super Hero Island, visiting Jurassic Park, practicing magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and enjoying the great rides and play areas for young children at Seuss Landing.
I’d recommend visiting the Universal Orlando website (US one), or downloading the Universal Orlando app, then choosing “Things to Do” for suggestions of rides and attractions based on your requirements. Under Ride Types, for example, you can select “Kid Friendly”, or under Interests, you can choose to see “Fun for Little Ones”.
This feature on the app was very helpful for planning our day and you can continue to access the app, which also has the park map and wait times for rides, at the park with free Wi-Fi.
Orlando with Kids
I hope you have found this post helpful for planning your own family holiday in Orlando. Read on for more details on visiting the Orlando theme parks, booking Walt Disney World character meals and a resort review for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge;
This post was updated on 11 October 2023 with more photos and up-to-date tips and information on visiting Universal Islands of Adventure with young kids.