Orlando – Islands of Adventures

You have an Express Pass to see the highlights of Universal Studios Florida and the Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. Along the way I will explain the history behind the iconic sights and exciting attractions at these two fun theme parks.

Share this
View MAP

1 Two Parks at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida

These are the entrances to Universal Orlando Resort’s two theme parks. The spinning globe, which is also Universal’s logo, is next to the archway leading to Universal Studios Florida. In the distance is the Pharos Lighthouse. It stands at the Port of Entry to Islands of Adventure. You can buy tickets to one or both parks for one to four days. You can also purchase the Unlimited Express pass in order to avoid standing in line at rides and attractions. But whatever selection you make, there is so much to enjoy that you’ll have to come back again soon.

Universal Studios Globe, 2 Plaza of the Stars, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

2 Pharos Lighthouse at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

When you are standing beside the Pharos Lighthouse you have arrived at the Port of Entry for Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The theme park, which opened in 1999, has six sections with different themes. Most of the rides, attractions and shows portray scenes and characters from movies but not necessarily those made or distributed by Universal Studios. Its slogan is “Live the Adventure.” You will have so much fun that when you pass this lighthouse on the way out you’ll be exhausted from all the adventures.

Island of Adventure Tower, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

3 Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Your first “island” at the Islands of Adventures in Orlando is called Port of Entry. Here you will find several stores and restaurants plus Defoto’s Expedition Photography where you can pick up any photos taken of you during the day. The most interesting, however, is the Christmas Shoppe. It offers holiday oriented merchandise with movie character themes. It’s open 365 days a year. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

4 California Bell Tower at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

If you are like most of the eight million people who visit the Islands of Adventure each year, you will rush through the turnstiles and race towards the park’s “good stuff.” But take a minute to appreciate the subtleties around the Port of Entry. An example is this building with the starburst tiles. It is patterned after the iconic California Bell Tower at Balboa Park in San Diego. Or this taxi which is a stationery piece of artwork. There are also a pair of romantic white doves that coo along the roof tops, cannons that point out of battlements, retail window panes named after park designers and so much more. Several articles are available online to help with your visual treasure hunt.

Islands of Adventure Trading Company, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

5 Seuss Landing Entrance at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

As you pass under this colorful archway at the entrance of Seuss Landing, one of the first things you’ll see is the lovable Horton the Elephant climbing to the top a merry-go-round named Caro-Seuss-el. This section at Islands of Adventure is designed for children. However, the parents who grew up reading Dr. Seuss’s books will probably love it just as much … maybe more.

Seuss Landing, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

6 If I Ran The Zoo in Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

This “If I Ran The Zoo” sign showing Gerald McGrew proudly holding a banner with the keys to the animal cages around his belt is the entrance to a small playground at Seuss Landing. It is based on a 1950 Dr. Seuss book of the same title. It was probably inspired by his father, Theodor Geisel, who was the supervisor of the Springfield, Massachusetts park system and also ran the Forest Park Zoo.

If I Ran The Zoo, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

7 Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

As you can see, Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure is a kaleidoscope of colors and animated features that make you feel like you just stepped into your favorite Dr. Seuss book. This section has six attractions designed for children plus shops and restaurants. They showcase your favorite characters like Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish and Horton. This lamppost that says, “The Street of the Lifted Lorax” refers to his 1971 book that used cartoonish characters to describe the impact of corporate greed on the environment. Although it was controversial, it is said “The Lorax” was the personal favorite of the author, Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Seuss Landing, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

8 Circus McGurkus Cafe in Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Inside this colorful big top is a restaurant called Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous. While the kids are enjoying their burger or pizza, they will be entertained by flying acrobats over their heads. This is one of several eatery options at Seuss Landing. My personal favorite was the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe.

Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-Pendous, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

9 Lagoon at Backside of Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

The Islands of Adventures is a 101 acre theme park in Orlando, Florida. It has seven sections called “islands” that are arranged in a circle around this man-made lagoon. Going counter clockwise they are Port of Entry (the park’s entrance), Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent (pictured here), The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon and Marvel Super Hero Island.

Islands of Adventure Lagoon, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

10 Winged Warrior in Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

This mythical creature that is half eagle and half fish guards the entrance to the Lost Continent at the Islands of Adventure. He is wearing a shield of armor and a crested helmet with horns while standing on a platform next to a burning torch. This menacing warrior stares at you in defiance as you cross the bridge from Seuss Landing.

Poseidon's Fury, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

11 Poseidon Waterfall in Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

This angry, bearded face spewing water is Poseidon, one of the Olympian deities from Greek mythology. His image is carved into the top of a rocky mountain which is the centerpiece of the Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure. One of the attractions is Poseidon’s Fury, a live-action walk-thru adventure during which the God of the Sea battles the evil Darkanon, his archenemy.

Mythos, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

12 Hogwarts Castle Viewed From Distance at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Attendance at Islands of Adventure jumped nearly 40% in 2010 when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened. This very popular “island” features three main rides plus shops and restaurants inside of buildings that resemble Hogsmeade Village. You can typically expect to encounter very long lines. So experienced Hogwarts make a mad dash for it when the park opens or choose to go late in the afternoon.

Hogwarts Castle, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

13 Hogwarts Express Train at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

When you enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventures, you immediately see the Hogwarts Express. You’ll be as excited as a student that has just been transported from London to Hogsmeade Station near the 10th century boarding school. Although this train reproduction does not move, a new working Hogwarts Express is operational between this attraction and the new one at neighboring Universal Studios Florida where, of course, you arrive at King’s Cross Station.

Honeydukes, Hogsmeade's Main St, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

14 Hogsmeade Village Rooftops at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Imagine you are Harry Potter secretly exploring High Street in the enchanted village of Hogsmeade. It is cold, you are wearing your invisibility cloak and a layer of fresh snow covers the rooftops of the shops and cottages. Well, imagine no more because Universal Orlando Resort has performed wizardly magic while recreating this village at Islands of Adventures. It is yours to explore with your entire family of Hogwarts.

Owl Post, Hogsmeade's Main St, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

15 Hogwarts Castle from Below at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Any fan of the Harry Potter will immediately recognize this castle, home of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Inside is one of the best theme park rides in the world: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. But before you are strapped in, you’ll see rooms you recognize like the Headmaster’s office. Plus there is plenty of magic like the Mirror of Erised and talking portraits. You’ll be reminded of Professor Dumbledore’s quote, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real.”

Hogwarts Castle, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

16 Hogwarts Castle During Sunset at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

This eerie photo of a bird flying into the sunset looks like a scene from one of the fantasy novels by J. K. Rowling. You expect to see Harry Potter and Ron Weasley riding a broomstick just like they do during the exciting ride called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside the Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

Islands of Adventure Lagoon, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

17 Jurassic Park Discovery Center at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

The Jurassic Park section of Islands of Adventures has a couple of exciting rides but the highlight for me was the interactive Discovery Center. Designed to look like the Visitor Center in the movie, it features this huge Tyrannosaurus rex, T-rex for short, but there is nothing short about this dinosaur. When the carnivore roamed 66 to 68 million years ago, it was 40 feet long and weighed about 7.5 tons.

Jurassic Park Discovery Center, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

18 Jurassic Park River Adventure at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Now what could possibly go wrong by climbing into a river raft for a tour of Jurassic Park? Nothing at first. The dinosaurs are calm and placid. But suddenly the raptors are after you and next a giant T-Rex tries to eat you before your boat plunges 85 feet in total darkness. Then, splash! Enjoy this exciting ride at Islands of Adventure in Orlando … particularly to cool off on a hot day.

Thunder Falls Terrace, Hollywood Way, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

19 Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

If you are a huge fan of cartoons and comic strips then you will love the Toon Lagoon section of Islands of Adventure. All of your favorite characters from King Features Syndicate are here including most of the classics that started back in the 1930s. Of course you will find theme rides and restaurants like the Comic Strip Cafe and Cathy’s Ice Cream. But the most fun is the cartoon memorabilia in the shops.

Comic Strip Café, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

20 Betty Boop in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Betty Boop made her cinematic splash into cartoons in 1930. She was characterized as a Roaring Twenties flapper with a red dress and gloves, long legs and a childish yet sexy voice. She shot to fame as America’s sex symbol. Within a few years, however, her creator Max Fleischer was severely chastised by the Motion Picture Production Code and ordered to tone her down. The Hayes Code had the same power to enforce Christian morals across Hollywood. Fortunately, this iconic character lives on at the Islands of Adventure at the Betty Boop store called Boop-Oop-A-Doop in Toon Lagoon.

Blondie's: Home of the Dagwood, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

21 Captain America in Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Captain America sprang to life in 1941 by Joe Simon. Similar to Captain America’s alter ego Steve Rogers, the cartoonist was frail so he could not serve during World War II. Instead, he had his superhero fight valiantly against Axis enemies. The character was retired in 1950 but was recruited back into action by Marvel Comics in 1964. At Toon Lagoon, you can eat at his diner or, better yet, have your picture taken with him during a meet-and-greet.

Captain America Diner, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

22 Storm in Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Ororo Munroe, a.k.a. Storm, is a super hero from the X-Men series of comic books. This mutant has the ability to control weather. She was created in 1975 by artist Dave Cockrum for Marvel Comics. She has also been in several films but my favorite was the 2014 “X-Men: Days of the Future” when she was played by Halle Berry. You can enjoy her Storm Force Accelatron ride at Toon Lagoon. In the background is The Incredible Hulk rollercoaster.

Captain America Diner, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

23 Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

3,700 feet, or about three-quarters of a mile, does not seem like a very long distance except it can feel like an eternity when you are spinning around seven inversions at a top speed of 67 mph. When your train drops 110 feet on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Islands of Adventure, you experience a g-force of 4. To put that into perspective, the Space Shuttle only has 3 g when plunging back to earth.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

24 Dagwood Bumstead in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Who can forget this lovable face of Dagwood Bumstead, the doting husband of Blondie Boopadoop and his two children, Cookie and Baby Dumpling? He reached almost instant fame after first appearing in a comic strip by Chic Young in 1933. Apparently, after a long career at the J.C. Dithers & Company, he has a new job that capitalizes on his iconic Dagwood Sandwich. It and other sub sandwiches can be ordered at the Blondie’s restaurant in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventures.

Blondie's: Home of the Dagwood, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

25 Hägar the Terrible in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Compared to most of the classic cartoon characters you’ll see at Toon Lagoon, Hägar the Terrible is a relative youngster. He was created by Chris “Dik” Browne in 1973 but is now featured in nearly 2,000 newspapers. Here the famous Viking from the Middle Ages is sailing his ship above a gift shop at Islands of Adventures.

Toon Extra, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

26 Popeye the Sailor Man Statue at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Popeye the Sailor Man was created by Elzie Segar and first appeared in a 1929 comic strip. His fame grew in theatrical cartoon shorts and then comic books and TV cartoons until he became a movie star in 1980 with Robin Wlliams. In 2002, TV Guide rated him the 20th greatest cartoon character of all times. In his spare time, this spinach connoisseur and his friends can be seen at the Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges ride inside Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

27 Tugboat Waterfall in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Islands of Adventure is known for its exciting rides and attractions. What I found to be most interesting, however, are the countless colorful subtleties that create an exciting, albeit sometimes overwhelming environment. This shipwrecked tugboat in Toon Lagoon is an example. It is a wonderful visual prop that stands next to the playground called Me Ship, The Olive. But the waterfall is also functional as a water supply for the floating river rafts at the Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges ride.

Me Ship, The Olive, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

28 Wimpy’s in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

What better spokesperson could you possibly have for a fast-food restaurant that sells burgers and fries than J. Wellington Wimpy, a.k.a, Wimpy? This well-mannered but gluttonous cartoon character has been Popeye the Sailor Man’s best friend since they were introduced in newspaper comic strips back in the early 1930s. While at this restaurant in Toon Lagoon, I tried using Wimpy’s famous phrase, “Cook me up a hamburger and I’ll pay you Thursday,” but the order taker did not laugh. Somehow I think she had heard this line before.

Wimpy's, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

29 Interactive Attractions in Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Kids love all three levels of Me Ship, The Olive. In addition to crawling all over the stairs and platforms, they can play with the bell, wheel and throttle of Popeye’s boat. Best of all, they can use water cannons to spray passengers on the river rafts below. That ride is called Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.

Me Ship, The Olive, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions

30 Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster at Sunset at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

After blasting out of the gamma-ray accelerator of The Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida, all you hear is your screaming for over two minutes as you race up, down and around seven loops at gravity-defying speeds. It is so intense and scary that it will turn your skin green.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Orlando, FL 32819
Enlarge/Slideshow See On Map Directions
TOP