Universal Studios Orlando vs Islands Of Adventure – Which Park Is Better?

a photo of a couple enjoying the ride

Universal Studios Orlando has two major parks; Universal Studios Florida and Islands Of Adventure. They both have plenty to offer everyone within the family but if you only have one day to see one of the parks, you might be wondering which to visit.

As there are more child-friendly lands and rides catered to a younger audience, Islands of Adventure it is better suited to children and families. Whereas Universal Studios Florida is better suited to older children, teens and adults as the rides are bigger and scarier with more mature themes.

While you can visit both parks in one day with a park to park ticket, you may find it a stretch. So in this post, we will be highlighting the different places to eat, different rides and attractions to help you decide which is better for you and your family.

Do Both Parks At Universal Studios Have A Wizarding World?

Both parks at Universal Studios Orlando have a section of the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. I say section as each park has a unique part of the Wizarding World and no part of the lands are the same.

There are 2 Ollivanders within Universal Studios Orlando, one in Islands of Adventure and the other in Universal Studios Florida. This is to help keep a good flow of people moving through the wand shop as it is one of the most popular attractions and places to visit at Universal Studios Orlando.

Located in Universal Studios Orlando you will find Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank along with the Escape From Gringotts Bank ride. Over in Islands of Adventure, you can find Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts Castle. There you will find Hagrid’s care of magical creatures ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff ride.

We will go through more of the differences later on between the two parts and two Harry Potter lands.

Why Universal Studios Florida Is Better

We decided to highlight some of the factors which make Universal Studios Florida a better a park compared to Islands of Adventure. These are factors you might want to look at if you are only able to visit the park for one day and can only choose one park.

Though if you can we suggest spending 2-3 days at Universal Studios Orlando and we would recommend getting a park to park ticket.

As a rule of thumb, we feel that Universal Studios Florida is better suited to adults and teens as there are more mature rides, older films and characters such as Fast & Furious, The Simpsons and The Revenge of The Mummy. There is also less for children and small children to take part in and have available to them.

Rides & Attractions

The rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida are older compared to Islands of Adventure, this is due to Universal Studios Florida being the first park to open at Universal Orlando.

There are more rides here that are better suited to families or those who don’t like the bigger rides and enjoy the show style rides instead. There are less rides at Universal Studios Florida compared to Islands of Adventure with only 14 compared to the 19 in Islands of Adventure.

Here is a list of the attractions at Universal Studios Florida;

  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • Fast & Furious Supercharged
  • Jimmy Fallon – Race Through New York
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Shrek 4D
  • The Simpson’s Ride
  • E.T Adventure Ride
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D
  • Hogwarts Express – London’s King Cross Station
  • Men In Black Alien Attack
  • Kang & Kodo’s Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster

There are also other things such as shows and performances that are great to see and watch, especially if you are looking for something other than rides to do whilst in the parks.

Here are the shows and performances you can see at Universal Studios Florida;

  • The Blue’s Brothers
  • Horror Make-Up Show
  • The Bourne Stuntacular
  • Fear Factor Live
  • A Day In The Park With Barney
  • A Tale Of Beedle The Bard
  • Celestina Warbeck And The Banshees
  • Animal Actors On Location
  • Universal’s Superstar Parade

Food

The food is pretty on point at most places within Universal Studios Orlando so no matter which park you are in you can find a nice meal and somewhere to sit. The bonus part is that pretty much every restaurant and cafe are themed so it is great for keeping children entertained while they eat.

When it comes to experiencing the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are very similar meals served in each park so if you are only to visit one you don’t have to miss out on the food or experience of eating in one of the magical establishments. You can also find butterbeer in both parks.

Here are a few of the top restaurants and cafes in Universal Studios Florida;

  • Monster’s Cafe
  • Today Cafe
  • Lard Lad Donuts
  • Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
  • The Leaky Cauldron
  • Kidzone Pizza Company
  • Ben & Jerrys
  • Krusty Burger
  • Mel’s Drive-In
  • Lombard Seafood Grille
  • Starbucks

Overall Theme & Atmosphere

Universal Studios Florida is the park we always love to start off in, mainly because we love walking through the large gate and seeing the Universal Studios Orlando Globe.

Diagon Alley is probably my favourite part as the whole area is very unique and highly decorated to look just the part. It is also very immersive and so as you are within the land you are limited on seeing any of the other parts of the park which makes you feel more like you are within the real Diagon Alley.

Why Islands Of Adventure Is Better

While both parks are great for any family and have something to offer everyone we feel that Islands of Adventure is better suited to families, especially those with smaller children and infants. There are a number of different lands that are perfect for younger children and kids who want to take part in activities, go on rides and know more about the characters.

Islands of Adventure also has more action and superhero-based theme which is perfect for those who love marvel and the Fantastic Four franchise. As they are films, franchises and characters that are known by a number of age groups it makes a great place for all in the family as everyone can enjoy the theme, rides and attractions.

Rides & Attractions

As Islands of Adventure was the second of the 3 parks at Universal Studios Orlando to be built it is home to the newer rides and has 5 more than Universal Studios Florida. This park is better for rides overall as you have access to 3 rides within the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter along with roller coasters and plenty of child friendly rides.

If you don’t like rides and prefer show based attractions then Universal Studios Florida is better suited to you.

Here is a list of the rides and shows available at Universal’s Islands of Adventure;

  • Jurassic World Velocicoaster
  • Skull Island Reign Of Kong
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride
  • Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station
  • Flight Of The Hippogriff
  • Stormforce Accelatron
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
  • Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey
  • Poseidon’s Fury
  • Jurrasic Park River Adventure
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Doctor Dooms Fearful
  • The High In the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • Pteranodon Flyers
  • Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • The Amazing Adventures Of Spider-Man
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • The Cat In The Hat

There are also other things such as shows and performances that are great to see and watch, especially if you are looking for something other than rides to do whilst in the parks. There are more shows within Universal Studios Florida than in Islands of Adventure, along with the parade.

Here are the shows and performances you can see at Universal Studios Florida;

  • The Frog Choir
  • The Dark Arts At Hogwarts Castle
  • Nighttime Lights At Hogwarts Castle
  • Triwizard Spirit Rally
  • Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear

Food

When it comes to food we often just look for somewhere that is conveniently close by, serving something we all like and there is somewhere for us to sit. If anywhere is too busy we tend to move along, but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Depending on what kind of dining experience you are after and what you like to eat might depend on which park you choose (or at least visit first). The biggest bonus is that you can find a whole array of meals, cuisines and budgets in both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

Here are a few of the top restaurants and cafes in Universal’s Islands of Adventure;

  • Hog’s Head
  • Backwater Bar
  • Moose Juice Goose Juice
  • Three Broomsticks
  • Doc Sugrue’s Desert Kebab House
  • Mythos Restaurant
  • Cinnabon
  • Comic Strip Cafe
  • Fire Eater’s Grill
  • Starbucks

Overall Theme & Atmosphere

I feel that the themes of each of the lands have been done much better compared to Universal Studios Florida. It is also very bright, colourful and fun to look at making it perfect for children as it is very stimulating and attracting.

Islands of Adventure lands are more immersive in each section so you can really lose yourself in the moment and think you are in the film which I love. The smaller details on door handles, sidewalks and signs are more elaborate and on point which makes it super fun to look and find the hidden details.

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