There are three parks at Universal Studios Orlando Resort, one waterpark and two main theme parks. The main theme parks; Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are connected together by a shopping and entertainment plaza known as City Walk.
You can get to Island’s of Adventure from Universal Studios by exiting the park and walking to the entrance of Islands of Adventure through CityWalk this takes around 10 minutes. With a park to park ticket (which you need to visit both parks in one day), you can take the Hogwarts Express.
Both of these methods come with their own benefits and drawbacks which can vary and impact your visit significantly depending on the time of day and the additional extras you have when visiting the park.
Walking from Universal Studios Orlando to Island’s of Adventure may seem like the easiest way to get from one park to another but that isn’t always the case. There’s only one main entrance and exit at Universal Studios Orlando, so depending on where you’re located within the park, walking back to the entrance may take at least ten minutes.
Once you’ve got to the entrance you’ll be able to exit the park from here you’ll want to cut across CityWalk the entertainment shopping district which connects the two parks. This will take around 10 minutes depending on how fast you walk and how busy it is.
Island’s of Adventure is located at the other side of CityWalk. Depending on the time you arrive at the park you may have to wait up to twenty minutes to scan your ticket and enter the park. We’ve found the busiest time at the entrance of both parks is during the first three hours of opening (it usually quietens down around 11am).
Of course, this leaves you at the entrance of Island’s of Adventure, so you’re free to navigate to where you want to go within the park from there.
My personal favourite way to travel between Universal Studios and Island’s of Adventure is on the Hogwarts Express. You’ll need to have a valid park to park ticket to travel between the parks in this way (you’ll also need one to enter both parks if you plan to walk between the two).
The Hogwarts Express is located just outside of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and at the entrance of Hogsmeade at Island’s of Adventure.
The Hogwarts Express is a ride suitable for all ages. You simply board the train and take a journey as though you’re travelling to Hogwarts yourself. The journey lasts around seven minutes, and families are able to sit together in a cartridge.
This is an incredibly popular experience at both parks and as a result wait times often surpass an hour making this a more time-consuming way of travelling between the parks. However, if you pick up an Express Pass you’ll be able to skip to the front of the line and cut your wait time down to around 20% of what it otherwise would have been (in our case, the 180-minute wait turned out to be nearer 30).
Aside from the fact, the Hogwarts Express is another incredible experience at Universal Studios Orlando Resort, there’s also the added benefit that the ride picks you up and drops you off in the heart of each of the parks. There’s no need to walk to the front to exit or across CityWalk as this is all done on a train which is hidden out of sight at the back of the parks.
If you’d like to travel on the Hogwarts Express between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios and don’t have the budget for an Express Pass then I’d suggest heading to the park early morning or last thing at night instead.
The queues will be their shortest at this time as everyone else slowly works there way around the park. Meaning that the busiest times are usually between 11am and 3pm when everyone reaches Diagon Alley or has completed Universal Studios and is looking to experience the Hogwarts Express.