This Islands of Adventure Ride Describe explains everything important about the rides, including details that could ruin the experience for people who want to be surprised. (If that’s you, go directly to the Ride Guide.) This Ride Describe is ideal, however, for people who want a complete overview before deciding what they should see and what they should avoid.
Click here for the Islands of Adventure Ride Guide.
The following section assumes you make a left once inside the gates and is subdivided into the individual “islands” as you travel.
Marvel Super Hero Island
Incredible Hulk Coaster
A high-speed coaster, the Hulk’s signature move is quick acceleration as you go from 0 to bugs-in-your-mouth in less than 20 seconds. Guests cannot take carry-on bags and must check them in a locker before boarding. They must also be taller than 54 inches (1.37 meters).
Storm Force Accelatron
Fifty years ago, Accelatron’s simpler version could be found at most county fairs. Riders spin around a large circle while their car spins at the same time.
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
The story: Doctor Doom thrives on human fear, and the Fearfall’s goal is to suck the fear out of you. Beyond the story, the ride gives guests a momentary feeling – and fear – of weightlessness while suspended high over the park. The car goes only up and down, but it rises quickly; stops; drops. Bags can be left on the ground. Only the first up-down has a real kick. Riders must be at least 52 inches tall (1.32 meters).
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Spider-Man continues to be one of Orlando’s top attractions, mainly because it combines special effects to create an experience found nowhere else, and Universal updated the technology in early 2012. Guests ride in vehicles that travel slowly, though each individual car has a limited ability to go up and down, and swing left and right. Part of the sights are real; part of the sights come from wearing 3-D glasses and allowing bad guys to seemingly leap in front of you. A few things get throw in your face, such as a spray of water and heat. A final scene in which you feel like you’re falling off a building – but only dropping about six inches – is inspired. Minimum height requirement of 40 inches (1 meter).
Matt Hoffman’s Aggro Circus
This theater presentation is summed up in the name – a circus – though with a nod toward the magic inspired by Cirque du Soleil.
Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
Many parks have similar water rides – ten-person round, inner-tube-like contraptions that flow along sometimes fast-moving water and under waterfalls. Important notes on this one: It’s one of the wildest anywhere, and on at least one occasion, you think it might tip over. Two, you’ll get soaked no matter where you sit. Soaked. In colder months, the ride has no line, and you can enjoy it over and over again on request. But take a good poncho. Bags can be stored under plastic in the middle of the tubes.
Me Ship, The Olive
Essentially a playground for kids, this fake boat allows visitors to fire water cannons at riders on Popeye and Bluto’s barges, enjoy slides, and pretend they’re at sea.
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
You’ll get wetter on Popeye and Bluto’s barges but not by much. Dudley Do-Right is a traditional water ride with four-person boats that float along flumes. It has a handful of drops and one magnificent descent at the end – one that can be seen from the bridge that leaves Toon Lagoon and crosses over into Jurassic Park. Take a good poncho and ride after dark when the crowds thin down to nothing.
This section is the top playground for kids, with caves, rope bridges, swinging bridges, and enough out-of-the-way spots to sorta get lost.
Located within Camp Jurassic, the Pteranodon Flyers allow two people to glide along quietly on a high-in-the-sky rail. The carts look a bit like kites with seats underneath. There are no high thrills – big dips, sprays of water, etc. – but the quiet view yields a feeling of flight. Adults may ride only if they’re with a child, and only children between 36 inches and 56 inches (less than 1.42 meters) are allowed. The big downside: The line for Pteranodon Flyers, even if short, takes a long time because so few people can ride at one time. Consider riding first if you arrive early.
Jurassic Park River Adventure
Ninety-five percent of Jurassic Park River Adventure recreates a visit to the fictional island where dinosaurs broke their bonds of freedom and, at times, attacked visitors. The first phase of this boat ride passes peaceful giant lizards, as if you’re a tourist visiting the island; the second phase takes place in the mean dino section after the boat gets pushed off course. At the end of the trip, the boat plummets down a single hill and slows in a wide cascade of water – the only drop on the ride. Guests get wet – notably those in the front – but not soaked, making it the least-wet water ride in Islands of Adventure.
Triceratops Discovery Trail (open seasonally)
This laid-back, short line attraction’s attendants supposedly took a triceratops (the fat, three-horned dinosaurs) into the vet for a checkup. While the big dino is being looked at, Universal allows visitors to get close. The triceratops itself is a complex animated creature that breathes, blinks, snorts, and pees. There are no thrills, but it isn’t boring.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This is possibly the best ride in Orlando, though it’s unfair to compare it to, say, singing country bears. Still, the technical details are largely unique to this attraction. The base of the cars travels along the ground, but extendable arms hold the seats perhaps 10 feet in the air, allowing guests to dip and swoop as if on a flying broomstick – though they’re benches, not brooms. At times, guests enter a semi-circular movie screen that travels at the same speed, and the movie allows muggles to follow the boy wizard as he dips through the archways of Hogwarts, over a lake, and more. Part of the ride is a dressed-up horror house, such as when dementors jump at you, or giant spiders spit venom. If one member of your party doesn’t want to ride, make them at least walk along the queue so they can see some of the major rooms highlighted in the Harry Potter series – Dumbledore’s office, the Griffindor Common Room, and more. Guests cannot take carry-on bags and must check them in a locker. Just inside the castle, a single-rider line exits to the left, but these guests miss some of the better sites inside Hogwarts.
Dual roller coasters fight for position and, at times, seem to collide. The line leading to boarding focuses on the dragon competition highlighted in the Harry Potter books, but the coaster – once it takes off – is like any other major coaster that boasts loops and speeds close to 50 mph. Guests cannot take carry-on bags and must check them in a locker.
Flight of the Hippogriff
A kid’s coaster, almost anyone beyond the age of four or five can enjoy the Hippogriff. The ride itself has nothing Harry-Potter-like beyond the shape of the cars – which look like wicker for some reason – but the ride queue features Hagrid’s cottage and other feel-good scenes.
The Lost Continent
The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad
A theater show, Sindbad (should be Sinbad) has bad guys, good guys, acrobatics, and pyrotechnics. The plot is forgettable and unbelievable, but the action big enough to make a visit worthwhile, especially for young pirate-loving kids.
This walk-through attraction has a plot. The nutshell version: Visitors explore some ancient ruins with an actor-archaeologist, and, while there, the water god gets very, very angry. It involves a few special effects, notably a circular wall of water (when not broken) that guests walk through. The final scene is an indoor water show with fireworks and complete darkness. Guests near the front get a little wet.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
This Seuss-style train towers over guests and covers most of Seuss Landing. As a ride, kids love it since the height feels dangerous but the movement is smooth and not scary. Guests see a few Seuss scenes along the way, and at one point circle through a restaurant. Note that two trains run and both see slightly different things.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
At least six Orlando rides existed in olden days at county fairs, and the Fish ride is one of them. Each of these updated fair rides, however, is themed in Orlando, so it almost – but not quite – seems different. Guests travel in a circle around a hub, and one rider has the ability to make the car go up and down once it’s underway. With the Fish ride, some people will also get wet depending on how high or low their car is when the fish decides to spit.
The Cat In the Hat
The signature ride of Seuss Landing, the Cat in the Hat is a faithful recreation of the book by the same name. Cars seat six people and move at a slow consistent pace. However, the cars can also spin independently and do so at important times. The spinning is controlled and should upset only the most delicate stomachs.
It’s a carousel. It has unreal Seuss-created animals, making it unique, and riders can move a few of the character’s heads up and down as they travel.
If I Ran the Zoo
If I Ran the Zoo has some traditional hands-on, playground-type kid things, but each somehow relates to a zoo animal, or at least the kind of zoo animals envisioned by Dr. Seuss. Instead of a huge open area, you walk through it, encountering different “animals” along the way. One section allows kids to get slightly wet or completely soaked.