Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Theme Park:Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (since 2001)
Address:6000 Universal Blvd
32819 Orlando
Operated by:Universal Parks and Resorts

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida is one of the most famous theme parks worldwide.  Due to the huge success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed area, the park is often called the Harry Potter theme park, yet the  park has much more to offer. The Islands of Adventure are famous for its numerous world-class attractions, including the LSM launch coaster VelociCoaster and the Family Launch Coaster Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure by Intamin; two of the world’s finest roller coasters.


Highlights of the Theme Park



Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

A surprisingly wet log flume



Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Probably the best roller coaster with a very long name



Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey

Flying through the air on robots



Incredible Hulk Coaster

Tyre driven madness



Jurassic Park River Adventure

A great water ride




The awesome launch coaster




A short visit to Legoland California

Legoland California

Legoland California is the third oldest (existing) Legoland in the world. Accordingly, the park has a lot of charm and differs from the newer Legoland parks worldwide due to the large number of attractions. The park also has a very impressive water park with a large number of water slides.

Miniland USA

The centrepiece of Legoland California is Miniland USA. Here you will find sights from nearby San Diego as well as buildings from Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, all of which have been impressively staged. As always, Miniland is the real highlight of Legoland and should definitely not be missed.

Lego Ninjago World

Lego Ninjago The Ride

Lego Ninjago The Ride is the first interactive dark ride where passengers use only their hands to aim. The ride system uses a series of sensors to detect the movements of the hands. Depending on the height of the hands and the angle to the sensor, the hand movement is interpreted and a coloured dot appears on the screen so that you know where you are aiming. The whole process is not very intuitive and so confused hand waving is actually a good way to score a lot of points. The movements can be refined on the many screens you pass, or while standing directly in front of the screen during a longer film sequence.

Overall, Lego Ninjago The Ride is a very solid dark ride. Although the technology is not as sophisticated as the Web Slingers in Disney California Adventure, this system works really well for a prototype.

Imagination Zone

Lego Technic Coaster

Passing the Bionicle Blaster teacup ride, we head straight to the first highlight of the theme park, which, despite the prominently placed Project X Test Track sign, goes by the rather generic name of Lego Technic Coaster; this is a bit of a shame, as it’s not just visually that the coaster has a lot in common with its sister ride from Legoland Germany. The ride on the large Wild Mouse coaster is also very similar; there is a big drop right at the start before the hairpin bends are negotiated, just before it goes over a few more hills towards the end. Overall, the ride is slowed down quite a bit and is therefore a little more gentle.

Land of Adventures

Lost Kingdom Adventure

The interactive dark ride Lost Kingdom Adventure is a nice little themed ride that uses individual cars and, thanks to the large number of rooms and the somewhat narrower route, tells a little more than the comparable Temple rides from the other Legoland theme parks around the world.

Castle Hill

The Dragon

In addition to The Royal Joust horse ride, the Castle Hill themed area is best known for its rollercoaster The Dragon. As at other Legoland theme parks around the world, you first experience the dark ride through the castle before reaching the rollercoaster section. After the sighting with the dragon, however, we first ride a little longer through a tunnel before reaching the ride’s lift hill. Once at the top, we first go through a slightly sloping right-hand bend before we start the big drop of the ride. With momentum, we now ride several laps through a long Bavarian curve. In a long right-hand bend, we then cross the ride’s lift before approaching the lowest point of the ride in a tight helix. This is also the fast-paced finale and after a short climb we land in the final brake, whereupon our entertaining ride comes to an end.

Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure

The Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure dark ride combines two of Merlin Entertainment’s core brands: Lego and Sealife. The ride through the aquarium is therefore quite impressive and a cool way to watch the goings-on in the large water basin around you.

Fun Town

Fun Town is home to many classic Legoland rides and is the real centrepiece of the theme park alongside Miniland USA. Here you will find the Junior Driving School, the Kids Power Tower and the interactive team challenge attraction Fun Town Police and Fire Academy.

Pirate Shores

Almost next door is the pirate area of Legoland California, where young pirates can take on Captain Cranky’s Challenge on a Rockin’ Tug before going on a wild water battle on the Splash Battle.

Pirate Reef

The main attraction in this area is the Shoot the Chute Pirate Reef. The water ride, which looks quite cute from the outside, has a lot to offer and gracefully soaks all the riders down to their pants. Unfortunately, the ride, which was built by Whitewater, was already closed for the season when I visited.

Lego Movie World

In addition to the large Flying Theatre Emmet’s Flying Adventure, Lego Movie World is also home to Queen Watevra’s Carousel and the two nice family freefall towers of Unikitty’s Disco Drop.

Emmet’s Flying Adventure

Instead of the usual flight around the world, the Flying Theatre Emmet’s Flying Adventure offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of the second Lego Movie. Here, Emmet’s triple-decker couch takes you on an adventurous and, above all, very colourful race through numerous adventure worlds.

Explorer Island


The Explorer Island theme area is home to the small Coastersaurus roller coaster. As in Legoland Germany, the family roller coaster from the manufacturer Gerstlauer impresses with its extremely abrupt first drop, in which the passengers are simply pulled to the right, and the overall great ride.

Pictures Legoland California

Conclusion Legoland California

Legoland California has a really nice atmosphere and offers some really nice attractions. I, at least, am glad to have visited Legoland California, even though I hadn’t planned to thanks to the extremely high entrance fee. Fortunately, the park is included in the Go City Pass San Diego, as is a visit to SeaWorld San Diego or Belmont Park – all of which I visited on the same day. The park is quite cool, even if I think it’s a damn shame that the Knights Tournament (a ride with Kuka robots) is no longer there.


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A visit to the original movie park



The entrance to the WaterWorld stunt show, which is based on the film of the same name, is located directly at the entrance to the theme park. The show features an extremely interesting villain, plenty of action, lots of fire and a crashing aeroplane. Enough elements for an amazing and absolutely entertaining spectacle.

DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda

Meanwhile, in the DreamWorld Theatre at the end of Main Street, a Kung Fu Panda film is shown instead of Shrek 4D, where we go on a wild ride down the river with Po, his father and Shifu before being attacked by pirates. Towards the end, there is an impressive fight that even takes place on the walls to the left and right of the actual screen.

Minion Land

The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the fairly new dark ride The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, as there was no longer a Virtual Ticket that would have entitled me to a ride and I honestly didn’t have it on my radar at all. The ride itself is a classic dark ride that I would have loved to have experienced.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

The Despicable Me films are among the most successful animated films of all time, which is mainly due to the funny Minions. In Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, we become Minions ourselves and are sent on a crazy journey to test our suitability as Minions. At the same time, the three children lose their gift to Gru and now it’s time to get it back. The ride in the simulators and the film shown are extremely entertaining, which is why I can highly recommend a visit to the Minions.

Super Silly Fun Land

The Super Silly Fun Land is an amusement park from the first Despicable Me film and features a large water playground in addition to a large-scale carousel. Interestingly, one of the theme park’s large car parks is located underneath this area.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Flight of the Hippogriff

The Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster is the newest roller coaster at Universal Studios Hollywood to date. The 300 metre long family roller coaster from Mack Rides offers a wonderful 540° downward helix at the beginning of the ride, several beautiful turns and numerous curves close to the ground, which make the ride somewhat more interesting than its Vekoma counterpart from the other Universal Studios theme parks. Unfortunately, the ride ends after just one lap.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

The wild ride through Hogwarts begins with Hermione’s generous use of floo powder, which we soon find ourselves in the observatory. In the observatory itself, we join Harry and Ron and experience a fabulous ride over the rooftops of Hogwarts towards the Quidditch match. Meanwhile, we meet Hagrid, who asks us if we have seen the dragon, only to meet said dragon a few moments later. Pushed by the dragon, our path leads us into a bridge, where the dragon is waiting for us as an animatronic, but we manage to escape.

Shortly afterwards, we find ourselves in the Forbidden Forest, where we immediately encounter Aragog. Hermione rushes to our aid and chases him away while we continue our escape. More spiders get in our way, but we manage to leave the forest. The whomping willow awaits us in the clearing, although we manage to avoid it quite well, it does eventually catch us and we are thrown into the Quidditch stadium. So far so good, after all it was our goal and we are right in the middle of the action – which is much cooler than the trendy muggle sport.

When Slytherin, of all people, scores a goal against Gryffindor, dementors get into the arena and Harry escorts us out. We are separated from Harry and soon find ourselves in the Chamber of Secrets. Another Dementor chases after us and even Lord Voldemort gives us the slip. We manage to escape, but a horde of Dementors is already waiting for us. It’s getting cold, the gondola bearer’s movements are noticeably slow and a heartbeat can be heard from the subwoofers on the benches. At the last possible moment, Harry chases the Dementors away and we follow him through the collapsing entrance towards Hogwarts. In the main hall leading to the grand staircase, we meet all sorts of students and teachers and, last but not least, Albus Dumbledore, who uses floo powder to transport us to the Room of Requirement, i.e. the ward of the ride, and the still very good ride comes to an end.

Spingfield, USA – Home of the Simpsons

The Simpsons Ride

One of Universal Studios’ most iconic attractions was Back to the Future: The Ride, where you went on a hectic journey through time in replica DeLorians to bring Biff back to the future. The ride was replaced in 2008 both in Hollywood and at Universal Studios Florida by the Simpsons Ride – an IP that was still very relevant at the time. The ride is quite impressive due to the simulators used and the pre-shows are very entertaining. The film itself is hectic and overloaded. Furthermore, the 3D look doesn’t really do the familiar characters from the series any favours. All in all, however, the ride is definitely entertaining; now that the rights are with Disney, you should definitely take a ride while you still can.


Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride

Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride has been the rollercoaster at Universal Studios Hollywood for almost 20 years. After a dark ride section that is absolutely worth seeing, Revenge of the Mummy gets you going via LSM. A bumpy climb is immediately followed by a very steep left-hand bend that takes us to the bottom of the hall. After a sweeping climb, we then enter a wide combination of left and right-hand bends. We then reduce our speed slightly on a long straight before taking a steep climb and coming to a halt in a cul-de-sac. After a whole host of scarabs appear, our only option is to flee backwards. We now head backwards over numerous small, gently rolling hills. After a slightly longer bend, we reach the brakes. In another scene, we are quickly turned back in the direction we started, just before a curtain rises and we immediately find ourselves in the station of the ride.

I would never have thought that the ride on Revenge of the Mummy would be so different from its sister ride at Universal Studios Florida. There are several launches, but no real height difference and the ride itself is also much shorter. Nevertheless, a ride on Revenge of the Mummy is highly recommended.

Jurassic World – The Ride

The Vekoma Shoot-the-Chutes Jurassic World – The Ride is also one of the best rides of its kind. The ride through the modern dinosaur park has been one of the most famous water rides in the world since it opened as Jurassic Park – The Ride.

After leaving the station, a short lift hill takes us to an intermediate level. Up here, the path leads us directly into the stunning Monosaurus Aqaurium, which offers all kinds of surprises. After a short trip through a cave, we travel through a tropical enclosure where we encounter a Stegosaurus mother and her baby, as well as a Parasaurolophus. At the predatory dinosaurs we then learn that the Indominus Rex has escaped from its enclosure. Of course, the path then leads us straight to the Tyrannosaurus Rex Kingdom. After we have climbed the lift, the big showdown with the Indominus Rex follows, as well as the iconic encounter with the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which introduces our fast-paced shoot-out from the building.

Jurassic World – The Ride offers some impressive new features compared to the original version. However, the ride is now less rounded, as the focus is more on the action than on a consistently told story. 

Transformers: The Ride 3D

Like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Transformers: The Ride 3D scores particularly well with the ride system used. The ride offers a successful mix of film sequences and very well staged backdrops that take the action-packed ride to a higher level. As in the Transformers films, there is hardly a quiet second during the ride. There’s shooting, fighting and cool jokes thrown around wherever possible. Every few seconds, the next scene begins, with the transitions taking place absolutely smoothly, leaving an extremely coherent overall impression at the end – in other words, Transformers: The Ride 3D is an absolutely awesome ride.

Super Nintendo World

Super Nintendo World is currently the hottest thing when it comes to areas in theme parks. The rather small themed area is reminiscent of the levels known from Super Mario World and has all sorts of gimmicks to offer, for which you need a power-up band, which you have to purchase beforehand. Basically, the themed area looks really good, but if you can’t get an early reservation for the Toadstool Café and the interactive games are of little interest to you, then it will be really difficult to spend a long time in this themed area. The Yoshi dark ride is also missing compared to the Japanese original.

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

The main attraction at Super Nintendo World is the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge dark ride. The queue alone is a dream and offers lots of little allusions for Nintendo fans, which makes the waiting time pass very quickly. The Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride offers an entertaining augmented reality experience, but it has little to do with the actual Mario Kart. Although you drive in karts and shoot the virtual opponents in front of you with items, there is never a real racing feeling apart from the start.

Basically, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is a very solid interactive dark ride with an unprecedented driving system. The use of augmented reality makes the ride feel very lively. However, it lacks a little narrative depth. Also, Mario Kart was never a competition of good versus evil, so why can’t you just drive as Team Bowser? You have two lanes, so it would have been easy to compete with the other lane for more points, similar to the team competitions in Mariokart Tour.

Studio Tour Plaza

Studio Tour

The main attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood is certainly the Studio Tour. The tour offers an insight into Universal City, where many of the well-known Universal blockbusters are filmed. In addition to the informative ride around the studio grounds, you will also drive past some of the scenes built especially for the Studio Tour. Here you meet the Jaws, experience King Kong fighting dinosaurs and finally find yourself in the middle of a Fast & Furious scene that is just as outrageous as the entire Fast & Furious Supercharged attraction at Universal Studios Florida. All in all, a really great attraction and the main reason to visit Universal Studios Hollywood.

Pictures Universal Studios Hollywood

Conclusion Universal Studios Hollywood

If it weren’t for the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, there would be no real reason to visit the park at all. With the exception of the dark ride The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, there is nothing here in the park that you can’t also experience in the other Universal theme parks. These are also significantly larger and simply offer far more experiences. Universal Studios Hollywood lacks a unique selling point; a gap that the new Fast & Furious will certainly close in two years’ time. Thus, we can be curious.

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