January 2012: People opting for a two-park pass to Universal Studio’s two parks once headed to Universal Studios before Islands of Adventure. That changed, however, when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter debuted. Minus the magical boy’s appeal, however, Islands of Adventure appeals a bit more to younger vacationers. Expect a lot of teens and young adults.
Consider the following touring tips (some of which duplicate Universal Studios):
• Be rich. Universal offers a VIP Express Pass with the “red carpet treatment” for about $180 per adult including tax ($233 for a two-day pass). That covers both parks but only one-day and Fast Pass ride admission onto practically everything. A scaled down version of fast-pass ride admissions costs $50 (or less) in addition to regular park admission. The fast-pass deal can be purchased at the ticket gates, and the actual cost is based on the crowds expected that day. On slow days, Universal charges less for the privilege.
• Stay at a Universal hotel. Hotel guests get the scaled down Express Pass for quick admission onto most rides. (Note that one caveat of the Express Pass is that you can get fast admission onto each attraction, but only once per attraction.) Staying onsite also saves the daily parking fee.
• Arrive early. At park opening, most guests hop on the first thing they see – in this case, The Incredible Hulk, which tends to have long lines most of the day. Skip Hulk first thing if the line is long.
• Stay late. The last hour or two usually sees a sizable drop in the number of guests since no major end-of-the-day show or parade entices them to stay. Waits of 90 minutes for Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk can drop to half an hour or less.
• Get wet early. People save Jurassic Park Adventure, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Bluto’s Barges for the hot mid-afternoon, in part to cool off, and in part so they don’t have to walk around wet all day. If you can stomach it, the lines tend to be shorter until late morning.
• Take baggies – or a poncho. Orlando dollar stores sell cheap ponchos at two for $1. Buy a few, wear them for the water rides, and throw them out when you’re done. If you don’t want to buy ponchos, take a few plastic sandwich bags and use them to line your pockets to keep wallets and cell phones safe when the rest of your body gets soaked.
• Take a change of clothes. Or at least take dry socks. The walk back to a parking garage makes this option unreasonable, however, unless you rent a locker upon arrival and keep the dry stuff there. Lockers cost $8 or $10, depending on size. More info.
• Wear good shoes. The parking lot is far away, the walk around the lake is long, and you’ll be on asphalt. But also note that your shoes will get wet. Consider a change of socks and/or change of shoes. Many people leave early because they “can’t stand walking around in these wet socks anymore.”
• Don’t carry a backpack. Universal does not allow any carry-on items on its major rides, like the coasters, and guests must store them in lockers located near the ride’s entrance. While the park doesn’t charge for short-term locker storage, the check-stuff/ride/uncheck-stuff routine gets old fast.
• Rides with long lines. Incredible Hulk Coaster, Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, Pteranodon Flyers, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and The Cat In the Hat.
• Rides with medium lines (assuming the park isn’t super busy). Storm Force Accelatron, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, Dragon Challenge, Poseidon’s Fury, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
• Rides with short lines. Me Ship The Olive, Camp Jurassic, Jurassic Park Discovery Center, The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad, and Caro-Seuss-el.
• Pick up a schedule of events. Check out the show times and, if necessary, adjust your pace to avoid cross-park walks to catch the last show of the day.