Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay are two of the three parks at the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando Florida.
If you’re visiting the Universal Resort for two days then you’ve likely already decided to spend your first day at Universal Studios Florida and are now left deciding whether to visit Islands of Adventure or Volcano Bay on your second.
Volcano Bay and Islands of Adventure are two very different theme parks. Volcano Bay is a water park and is therefore great for those looking to spend the day in the water. While Islands of Adventure is a theme park and perfect for those wanting to go on thrilling rollercoasters and meet characters.
Both Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay are incredible. As such which one is best for you is likely to depend on who you’re visiting the Universal Studios Resort with and their interests.
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What’s The Difference Between Islands Of Adventure & Volcano Bay?
Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay are fundamentally very different parks and offer significantly different experiences.
Islands of Adventure is a theme park which has been broken down into eight different themed areas.
Inside Islands of Adventure, you’ll have the chance to go on a number of incredible rollercoasters and meet some amazing characters.
Meanwhile, Volcano Bay is a water park which combines a large open-water swimming area with a number of water slides.
Inside Volcano Bay you’ll have the opportunity to sunbathe on one of the sun loungers, swim in the large pool area or go on a number of incredible water slides.
Which Park Has The Cheapest Park Tickets?
Generally speaking, tickets to Volcano Bay are between $20 and $30 cheaper per person than Islands of Adventure with tickets to Islands of Adventure starting at $109 plus tax while tickets to Volcano Bay start at $80 plus tax.
The price for tickets to each park varies depending on when you’re visiting with tickets during weekends, over holidays and in the peak season costing more on average.
That being said if you’re to combine a ticket to Islands of Adventure with a ticket to Universal Studios (in the form of a two-day, two-park ticket for example) then the price of an Islands of Adventure ticket can be reduced.
This often brings the cost of visiting Islands of Adventure to a similar price when compared to Volcano Bay.
Which Park Has The Best Rides?
The fundamentals of rides within Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay are incredibly different.
Islands of Adventure has a number of rollercoasters, water rides and motion simulation rides.
Meanwhile, Volcano Bay is solely focused on different water slide formats.
As such if you’re looking for thrilling ride experiences, then Islands of Adventure is likely to be the better choice.
However, the wait time for rides inside Islands of Adventure can often reach upwards of two hours.
This is something unheard of at Volcano Bay thanks to the incredible TapuTapu technology that allows you to wait in virtual lines while still exploring the park.
As such if you value maximising your park experience and hate waiting in line then Volcano Bay may be the better option.
Which Park Is Best For Older Children?
Older children should be at a height where they are tall enough to go on the vast majority of the rides inside both Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.
As such which theme park is best is likely going to come down to their interests.
If they love Harry Potter, then visiting Hogsmeade inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure is likely to be the better choice.
However, if it’s hot and humid then cooling off in the water at Volcano Bay may be a better option.
Islands of Adventure certainly has a lot more variety in both terms of rides and themed areas.
As such this park generally appeals more to families with children of a variety of ages and with a number of different interests.
Which Park Is Best For Small Children?
While Universal Studios‘ target audience is generally families with older children, there’s still plenty to do in both parks with younger children, babies and toddlers.
Both Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay have dedicated areas for children roughly aged five and under.
At Islands of Adventure, this is Toon Lagoon which features a small splash pad and the Me Ship, the Olive kids’ play area.
Sadly, this area of the park is relatively dated. However, for young children (aged roughly three to five years old) there is also Suess Landing which contains a number of fun-filled rides and attractions including;
- If I Ran The Zoo
- Oh, The Stories You’ll Hear
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
- The High In The Sky Suess Trolley Train Ride
- The Cat In The Hat
Meanwhile, over in Volcano Bay, you’ll find two areas designed for young children; Runamukka Reef and Tot Tiki Reef.
Runamukka Reef is designed for more babies and toddlers (those under 48″) while Tot Tiki Reef has a very small slide and a splash pad with whales and tiki-god fountains.
Outside of these two areas babies, toddlers and young children are able to enter select pool areas with adults provided they are wearing a life jacket (which is provided complimentary).
However, in some cases, many toddlers and young children are just as happy playing in the sand by the sunloungers too.
Depending on the exact age of your child it can somewhat feel like they spend the entire day in the stroller when visiting Islands of Adventure.
Meanwhile, over in Volcano Bay, there’s plenty to keep them entertained throughout the day albeit not quite the variety you’d find at the Islands of Adventure theme park.
Which Park Has The Best Food & Drink?
Both Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay have some incredible food and drink options.
However, with the award-winning restaurant Mythos and Harry Potter-themed food inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we’d personally say that Islands of Adventure has the better food and drink options of the two.
Volcano Bay does however have a more creative and extensive variety of alcoholic cocktails and beverages.
As such if you’re looking to kick back and relax with a drink this may be the place to do it.