Only have one day at Universal Orlando Resort and trying to decide which park to visit. Or maybe you are just curious about the differences between these 2 parks.
In this guide, we will compare both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure so you are well prepared for your trip to Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure! Let’s go!!
Which Is Better: Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios?
Which is the better theme park of the two is not such a straightforward answer. The park I think is better might not be the park you think is better.
That’s why in this guide, we will discuss the key differences and the best things to do at both Univeral Studios and Islands of Adventure so you can decide which one is the best for YOU and your crew.
However that being said, I think Islands of Adventure is the better theme park of the two. You might be surprised that I didn’t say Universal Studios, right? After all, Universal Studios is the original park.
Keep reading to find out exactly why I think Islands of Adventure is the best park at Univeral Orlando Resort.
➡️ Psst…I’m also a travel agent who specializes in Universal Orlando Resort. Contact me and let’s get started planning your trip!
Key Differences: Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
Let’s first start this discussion by talking about what these two parks have in common.
Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are both part of Universal Orlando Resort.
These 2 theme parks were created with the idea of bringing blockbuster movies and television shows to life through rides, shows, and entertainment. Their ticket pricing is the same, they are both accessed by walking through Universal CityWalk, and you can get from one park to the other by a quick walk or by way of the Hogwarts Express.
But just how are they different?
Let’s now discuss the key differences between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
THEMING- Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
The theming at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is quite different.
While Universal Studios Florida is more centered around a television/movie production theme, Islands of Adventure is colorful and more modern. Islands of Adventure after all is the newer park of the two.
Below is a listing of the “Lands” at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. This will give you a better idea of the theming at each park.
Lands at Universal Studios Florida
- New York
- Production Central
- San Francisco
- Springfield: Home of the Simpsons
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley
- World Expo
- Woody Woodpecker’s Kid Zone (PERMANENTLY CLOSED, but will be replaced)
Lands at Universal Islands of Adventure
- Jurassic Park
- Marvel Superhero Island
- Port of Entry
- Suess Landing
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- The Lost Continent
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade
- Toon Lagoon
RIDES & ATTRACTIONS-Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
One of the main reasons people visit Universal Orlando Resort is for the rides and attractions.
And there is a pretty big difference between the rides and attractions at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, so let’s differentiate between the two here.
While both parks have rides for ALL ages, Islands of Adventure comes out as the winner for the number of rides, a better selection of rides for toddlers and young kids, and a better selection of rides for the thrill lover. 🏆
Plus, if you’re visiting Universal Orlando during the summer and looking to cool off, Islands of Adventure has all of the wet rides too. 💦
So, if you or one of your family members is a “rider” and only plan on going to one park, make it Islands of Adventure!
Below, you’ll find a listing of each of the rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure.
Universal Studios Florida Rides & Attractions
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- E.T. Adventure
- Fast and Furious – Supercharged
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Hogwarts Express
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- MEN IN BLACK- Alien Attack
- Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- The Simpsons Ride
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D
Islands of Adventure Rides & Attractions
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster
- Hargrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Hogwarts Express
- Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
- Pteranodon Flyers
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- Storm Force Accelatron
- The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
- The Cat in the Hat
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
SHOWS-Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
While Islands of Adventure might win in the “rides and attraction” category, Universal Studios Florida wins in the “show” category. 🏆
Universal Studios Florida has more shows to offer its guests than Islands of Adventure. Plus, they have the entertaining, long-standing shows Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show and Animal Actors on Location!
Both of these shows have been here since Universal Studios Florida opened in 1990!
Below is a listing of all shows currently being offered at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
Shows at Universal Studios Florida
- The Bourne Spectular
- Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show
- The Blues Brothers Show
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- Animal Actors on Location!
- Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
Shows at Islands of Adventure
- Poseidon’s Fury
- Frog Choir
- Oh, the Stories You’ll Hear!
- Triwizard Spirit Rally
EVENTS & HOLIDAYS-Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
If you’re visiting Univeral Orlando Resort during an event or holiday, Universal Studios Florida comes out as the winner here! 🏆
Throughout the year, Universal Studios Florida celebrates events or holidays with special parades and extra festivities.
During late winter through spring at Universal Studios Florida, Mardi Gras is celebrated here with entertainers, food booths, and a nightly Mardi Gras parade. 🎭
If visiting Universal Studios Florida during the holiday season, you can catch Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s on select nights. This parade includes festively decorated floats, holiday music, larger-than-life balloons, and Santa. 🎅 🎄
And if you’re one that loves Halloween and spooky things, Univeral Studios Florida offers Halloween Horror Nights on select nights during the months of September and October. 🎃👻
NOTE: Halloween Horror Nights is a separate ticketed event. 🎃 👻
Even though, Universal Studios Florida offers all of these fun festive events for Mardi Gras, Christmas, and Halloween; Islands of Adventure offers a little something too.
During the holiday season, Grinchmas is celebrated at Islands of Adventure. 💚💚
At Grinchmas, Suess Landing is all decked out for the holidays. 🎄 The kids will love the meet and greet with no other than the Grinch himself. There is also the must-see show, The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a fun storytelling of the classic tale with lively, festive music.
HARRY POTTER-Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a HUGE attraction at Universal Orlando Resort. 🪄
Both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida have Harry Potter attractions, but you might be wondering what the differences are between The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
Well, here you go! ⬇️
Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida
At Universal Studios Florida, you’ll find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley.
One of the most amazing things about Diagon Alley is the complete immersion Universal makes you feel as you enter the land here. Diagon Alley is completely hidden behind a brick wall in the London area of Universal Studios.
Diagon Alley has only one ride but it’s a great one. In fact, I think it is the best ride at this park. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a fun and unique 3D roller coaster ride that you can’t miss!
Even though Diagon Alley has only one ride, it is a fun place to walk around, take in the scenery, grab a butterbeer, an ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, or go shopping for that special wand at Ollivanders.
If you’re hungry, Leaky Cauldron is the perfect place to eat. It is a Harry Potter-themed restaurant in Diagon Alley serving up British-inspired food like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.
However, one of the best things to see at Diagon Alley is the dragon atop Gringott’s Bank. About every 10 minutes you can catch it breathing fire! 🐉 🔥
Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure
At Universal Islands of Adventure, you’ll find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade consists of an incredibly themed land with the iconic Hogwarts Castle.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade has 3 rides: the family-friendly rollercoaster Flight of the Hippogriff, the immersive Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and the thrill ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
Just like at Diagon Allery, you can also get yourself a butterbeer and shop for a wand at Ollivanders.
If you’re feeling hungry while in Hogsmeade, go to Three Broomsticks, a Harry Potter-themed restaurant to dine for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
CHARACTER MEET AND GREETS-Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
Character meet and greets are an important aspect of the theme park experience and both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have character meet and greets.
However, the characters are different at each park, so I have provided a listing below of who you can find where.
Characters at Universal Studios
Here are some of the characters you might see at Universal Studios Florida.
SpongeBob SquarePants Store: SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick, and Squidward
Hollywood: Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, and Doc Brown from Back to the Future
Springfield, U.S.A– various members of the Simpson family
Production Central: The TRANSFORMERS: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron
Characters at Islands of Adventure
Here are some of the characters you might see at Islands of Adventure.
Marvel Superhero Island: Spiderman, Captain America, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, and more
Raptor Encounter: Blue from Jurassic Park
NOTE: The Raptor Encounter might be scary for younger children.
Toon Lagoon: Betty Boop, Popeye, and Olive Oyl
Suess Landing: The Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am, Thing One and Thing Two, and The Grinch
Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure: Which is Better For The Family?
Now that you know the key differences between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, let’s dive into which Universal Orlando Park is better for families.
Which one is better for toddlers: Universal Studios or Islands Of Adventure?
If you are one with a toddler in tow, you might be wondering which park at Universal Orlando is better for toddlers.
Since Woody the Woodpecker’s Kids Zone is now closed at Universal Studios Florida there’s no doubt that Islands of Adventure is now the best park for toddlers. 🏆
Suess Landing for Toddlers
Islands of Adventure has the fun, colorful, and toddler-friendly land Suess Landing. What toddler will not like seeing some of their favorite stories and characters come to life?
At Suess Land, toddlers can ride Caro-Seuss-el (carousel) and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (similar to Dumbo at Disney). Taller toddlers or kids with a minimum height of 36″ can ride The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! (train ride high in the air), and The Cat in the Hat.
Toddler-Friendly Play Areas at Islands of Adventure
Having places for toddlers to run around is important and Islands of Adventure has 3 of these!
There is a fun kid’s play area in Suess Landing called If I Ran the Zoo.
In Toon Lagoon, you’ll find Me Ship, The Olive.
And in Jurassic Park, you’ll find Camp Jurassic. Your dinosaur-loving toddler will love digging for dinosaur fossils, playing on the jungle climber, and spraying the water cannons at Camp Jurassic.
Character Meet and Greets at Islands of Aventure for Toddlers
Toddlers either love characters or are terrified by them, but some characters appearing at Islands of Adventure your toddler might love are The Cat in the Hat, Spider-Man, and other Marvel superheroes.
Which park is more kid-friendly Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure?
Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are kid-friendly. But which park might be more fun for your kid will depend on their interests.
However, overall l I think Islands of Adventure has the most to offer kids, especially if they love rides, Jurassic Park, Dr. Suess, or Marvel.
Plus, with Woody, the Woodpecker’s Kids Zone now being closed, Islands of Adventure has the edge in play areas too.
Although if your child is a big fan of either SpongeBob, Minions, or Transformers, then Universal Studios might be the favorite park for them.
Which Universal Park is best for adults?
If you’re an adult that likes to sit back, relax, walk around and enjoy a show or two, then Universal Studios might be the best park for you. Plus, with Universal Studios being the original park it might offer nostalgia for many adults, such as the classic ride E.T. Adventure.
However, if you’re an adult who loves thrill rides or just rides in general, Islands of Adventure will most likely be the best park for you.
Which Universal Park is better for Harry Potter?
You cannot go wrong with either Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios if you’re a Harry Potter fan.
Both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade are incredible in their own ways.
At both parks, you can shop for a wand and have the interactive wand experience and grab a butterbeer.
However, I will say if you are a Harry Potter fan, get the Park-to-Park ticket. This is the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express and you will get to experience both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at both parks!
Which is better on a budget: Universal Studios or Islands Of Adventure?
Because both of these parks are the same price, one is not better than the other when it comes to budget.
Which is more fun: Universal Studios or Islands Of Adventure?
If you’re more of a “ride” person, Islands of Adventure is most likely going to be the more fun of the two. If you are more of a show and parade person, Universal Studios might be the more fun park of the two.
I personally think Islands of Adventure is more fun! It is a more modern park, with more rides and better rides (in my opinion) than Universal Studios Florida.
Which is bigger: Universal Studios or Islands Of Adventure?
Size-wise, Islands of Adventure is slightly bigger than Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure has 110 acres, whereas Universal Studios Florida has 108 acres.
Even though Islands of Adventure is larger, Universal Studio definitely feels more spaced out. I feel like it takes longer to get around Universal Studios than I do in Islands of Adventure.
Universal Studios: Best Things To Do
Universal Studios has a good combination of rides, shows, and entertainment. But here are the best thing to do at Universal Studios Florida! You don’t want to miss any of these!
✔️Ride the Top Rides
So, we’ve been saying that Islands of Adventure is the best park for rides, but make no mistake Universal Studios has great rides too!
Here are some of the best rides at Universal Studios Florida.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: I would say Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is the best ride at Universal Studios. The queue is incredibly themed! The ride itself is a cross between a dark indoor rollercoaster with 3D effects.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: Thrill ride lovers, you’re going to love Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit! This rollercoaster not only will give you all the thrills, but it’s unique in that you can choose your own music to listen to while riding! How fun is that?!
Revenge of the Mummy: Revenge of the Mummy is another fun, dark indoor rollercoaster at Universal Studios with fire effects.🔥 The theming here is incredible and the ride itself goes forwards and backwards.
E.T. Adventure: E.T. Adventure is one of the best rides at Universal Studios. It is a classic and has been here since opening day. This family-friendly ride no doubt will take you back to your childhood.
✔️Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley
It goes without saying that exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley is one of the best things to do at Univeral Studios Florida.
Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan you will still appreciate the immersion that happens right here.
As soon as you walk behind the brick wall of the London area, you will be blown away by what your eyes see. It’s like you are taken right into a scene of Harry Potter itself.
When in Diagon Alley ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, drink a butterbeer, get ice cream, go shopping for a wand, and take part in the interactive wand experiences.
Also, when in Diagon Alley don’t miss seeing Knockturn Alley. This area is hidden away down a dark corridor.
FUN FACT: Interesting information I learned while on a VIP Tour of Universal is that Knockturn Alley was the exact location of where The Jaws ride was. The Jaws song plays here and shark teeth are located throughout the alley and in the stores as a nod to Jaws. 🦈
✔️Be Entertained at the Shows
One of the best things to do at Universal Studios Florida is watch the shows. The following are a couple of can’t-miss shows at Universal Studios.
Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show: This show has been entertaining guests since opening day. It’s a funny stage show that shows how makeup has been used in movies to create scary looks and scary effects. The show is very interactive and they even pick a volunteer to come up on stage.
Animal Actors on Location!: Animal Actors on Location is my favorite show at Universal Studios. In fact, I think it just might be my favorite thing in all of Universal Studios.
This fun, lighthearted show shows adorable animals doing tricks. Most of the animals are dogs, but they also have pigs, birds, and a skunk. 🐶 🐷 🦅 🦨 These animals have been in movies and others are training for movies.
If you’re an animal lover, you’re going to love this show. The animals are absolutely adorable!
Islands of Adventure: Best Things To Do
Universal Islands of Adventure is known for its amazing rides, Hogwarts Castle, and a pretty phenomenal restaurant that I can’t wait to share with you.
Here are the best things to do at Islands of Adventure!
✔️Ride the Top Rides
So, Islands of Adventure has lots of amazing rides, but here are the best, can’t miss rides!
Jurassic World VelociCoaster: If you’re a thrill ride lover, you have to put Jurassic World VelociCoaster on your must-ride list. This is probably the most thrilling ride at Universal Orlando Resort and it is definitely not for the faint of heart.
VelociCoaster is a smooth roller coaster that goes super fast and upside down. Its theming is incredible and offers great views of the park.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an incredible ride at Islands of Adventure. Unlike all the other Harry Potter rides this one is NOT a rollercoaster. This is great news for those who cannot do rollercoasters.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a dark-motion simulator ride that takes you through Hogswart Castle.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is one of the most popular rides at Islands of Adventure. It is an amazingly themed fast rollercoaster that sits 2 people side by side. One rides on the motorbike and the other rides in the sidecar, just like Hagrid and Harry.
Jurassic Park River Adventure: Jurassic Park River Adventure is a calm boat ride that takes you through Jurassic Park. The end is not so calm though as it takes you down a thrilling 85-foot drop!😱 Be prepared to get wet! 💦
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!: The High in the Sky Suess Trolley Train Ride is a must for those with younger kids at Islands of Adventure. Even if you don’t have younger kids, ride this because it is just super cute! This ride takes you on a scenic tour above and through the fun and colorful Suess Landing.
✔️Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade
Exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade is one of the best things to do at Islands of Adventure.
Stroll and browse the shops, take part in the interactive wand experiences, grab a butterbeer, and ride one or all 3 rides in Hogsmeade.
This Harry Potter-themed land at Islands of Adventure has a family-friendly rollercoaster, an intense rollercoaster, and a motion simulator ride through Hogwarts Castle.
✔️ Dine at Mythos Restaurant
So, you might be wondering why dining at Mythos Restaurant is one of the best things to do at Islands of Adventure.
The theming of this restaurant is absolutely incredible! It has a mythical, under-the-sea theme and its food is absolutely incredible! You will be surprised this restaurant is located in a theme park.
In fact, this restaurant how been ranked “World’s Best Theme Park Restaurant” year after year.
Mythos Restaurant serves a casually elegant menu with a mix of Mediterranean, Asian, and American fare.
General Admission Prices for Universal Orlando Parks
One Day Ticket
One Park Per Day- Children 3-9- from $104; Adults 10 and up from $109
Two Park (Park to Park Ticket)-Children 3-9- from $159; Adults 10 and up from $164
Two Day Ticket
One Park Per Day: Children 3-9- from $205.99; Adults 10 and up from $215.99
Two Park (Park to Park Ticket): Children 3-9- from $265.99; Adults 10 and up from $275.99
There are also 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day tickets.
Florida Residents– If you’re a Florida resident there is a discount too!
➡️ Contact me so we can get your trip booked!
Getting To Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando Resort is located in the theme park capital of the world, Orlando, Florida.
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are located right next to each other. In order to get to both of these parks you have to walk through Univeral CityWalk. The park entrances are only a few minutes walk from each other.
You can also go in between both of the parks by the Hogwarts Express Train if you have a Park-to-Park ticket.
If not staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel, you’ll want to park in the parking garage located at 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL. 32819.
FAQs-Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure has more rides and attractions than Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure has 18 rides, while Universal Studios has 12.
Yes, you absolutely can do Universal and Islands of Adventure in one day. In fact, if you only have 1 day, you should do both. With a Park-to-Park ticket, you can easily get between the parks on the Hogwarts Express.
Yes, you need a ticket for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. These are 2 separate parks. If you want to do both parks in one day, you can get a Park-to-Park ticket.
The Wrap-Up: Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are two of Universal Orlando’s theme parks. They are located right next to each other and are a quick walk from one to the other.
Universal Studios is the original park and even has attractions from opening day including E.T. Adventure and Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show. This park also hosts holiday parades and events for Christmas, Mardi Gras, and Halloween.
Islands of Adventure is the newer park, has more rides, more thrill rides, and in my opinion better rides! They also have excellent play areas for kids.
So, Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure?
My recommendation is to do BOTH because they both offer great things that you don’t want to miss out on!
Even if you have only 1 day, do both parks by getting a Park-to-Park ticket. Also, if you are a Harry Potter fan, know that this is the only way you’ll be able to ride the Hogwarts Express.
I hope you have enjoyed my guide, Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure: Which Is Better? Honest Comparison!