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Visiting Universal’s Islands of Adventure with kids – a complete, up-to-date guide

A common misconception about Universal Orlando Resort is that the attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are designed mainly with teens and adults in mind. Quite to the contrary, you will find more than a full day’s worth of excitement exploring Island of Adventure’s six islands, from the jubilee of Seuss Landing, through the caves of Camp Jurassic, and into the enchantments of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. Get ready to discover pint-sized thrills around every corner as we review all that you and your children should not miss at Islands of Adventure.

(Check out similar info on these guides for Universal Studios Florida and Volcano Bay.)

What height do my kids have to be to enjoy the rides at Islands of Adventure?

Before you make a plan, measure your kids in the shoes that they’ll be wearing in the park. Some of the rides, even those specifically designed for young children, have minimum-height requirements, so if you know the magic number for your child, you’ll know what you can attempt to ride and where you should steer clear – for the next few years, at least.

One last tip: we all shrink a small amount as we go about our day, so if there’s a ride that will be a close call height-wise, try to hit it in the morning, before that normal daily spine compression kicks in.

Skip to: Seuss Landing | The Lost Continent | The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade | Jurassic Park | Toon Lagoon | Marvel Super Hero Island

Seuss Landing

Based on the books and stories of Dr. Seuss, Islands of Adventure’s Seuss Landing is dedicated to the younger crowd, with rides, attractions, shows, character greetings, shops, and food celebrating well-known characters from The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, among others.

The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!

The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! at Islands of Adventure
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! at Islands of Adventure

One of four rides in Seuss Landing, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! has a minimum height requirement of 36 inches and accepts Express Passes. Two different train routes take you through either the story of the Star-Bellied Sneetches or the ABCs of Seuss characters. Two people sit in each car, and there is a lap bar to hold you in your seat while the on-ride audio narrates your ride through the themed land. Don’t forget to take advantage of this bird’s-eye view to spot attractions around the lake and to look down to see Dr. Seuss characters enjoying themselves in the water.


Caro-Seuss-el at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Caro-Seuss-el at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The second attraction in Seuss Landing is Caro-Seuss-el, an adorable carousel ride for all ages that substitutes traditional horses with Seuss characters; you may recognize a Cowfish from McElligot’s Pool or a Wump from One Fish, Two Fish. The Caro-Seuss-el accepts Express Passes, and any riders under 48 inches must be supervised. A parent may stand next to a child riding a character, but the parent must stand between two characters (not on the outside or inside edges of the carousel), and all riders must wear the safety belt located at each seat. Each carousel character can be animated by pushing the lever on the neck or pulling the reins, and there are also bench seats for those who don’t wish to saddle up.

The Street of the Lifted Lorax

Nestled near the Caro-Seuss-el, The Street of the Lifted Lorax brings this beloved story to life and makes a great backdrop for photos. Wander down the path lined with Truffula trees, stopping to read quotes from The Lorax, past the house of the Once-ler to a sad grove of Truffula stumps, where the Lorax looks on in dismay.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish at Islands of Adventure
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish at Islands of Adventure

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is an aerial carousel, similar to Dumbo or Kang and Kodos’s Twirl ‘n Hurl, but with an aquatic twist – as you fly around in your fish, listen to the song and use the handle to move your fish up and down to avoid getting wet! All ages can enjoy this ride, but those under 48 inches must be supervised. An adult and a child can easily fit into the attraction’s fish vehicle, and this ride also accepts Express Passes.

Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear

Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Next in Seuss Landing is Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear. Sit towards the front to get a good view of this storytelling show that features Dr. Seuss characters, such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, Sam I Am, and the Grinch. (The Lorax may also make an appearance when the storyteller chooses to read his story.) There is singing and dancing, and the audience is encouraged to participate. After the show is over, characters are available for photo and autograph opportunities. Most of the area is covered or shaded, but it does depend on the time of day, so consult your park map for show times.

Dr. Seuss character zone

Dr. Seuss characters regularly appear throughout the land and include the typical line-up of the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam I Am.

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is the fourth and most-popular ride in the theme-park land. The themed queue walks guests through the beginning of this beloved book, which leads to an indoor ride that immerses you in the rainy-day hijinks of the famous chapeau-ed cat. The ride vehicle has two rows of seats that each fit two or three people, with a lap bar to hold you in, but be aware that your car may spin all the way around (so hold on to any loose items). Because of the spinning-ride aspect, the ride height requirement is 36 inches and any child under 48 inches must have a supervising companion.

If I Ran the Zoo

If I Ran the Zoo at Islands of Adventure
If I Ran the Zoo at Islands of Adventure

Enter through the maze-like front section of this large playground, which leads to the climbing and water-play sections. If I Ran the Zoo has caves to crawl through, tube slides, and a tiny stream of water where kids can splash around. Children can also stand under a shower and play with various knobs and cranks that control water sprays throughout the area (look out for Snaggle Foot Mulligatawny, who has a bad cold).

Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous, and other shops and eateries

If you or your little ones either get hungry or thirsty or would like souvenirs from Seuss Landing, there are several shops and kiosks located throughout the land that sell food, drinks, and treats. Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous is an indoor cafeteria with fun decorations that evoke a Dr. Seuss circus tent. (Be sure to look up and notice that the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train may occasionally ride through the top of the circus tent!) Honk Honkers serves up larger-than-life cotton candy creations, complete with multiple flavors. Green Eggs and Ham (open seasonally) has several tater-tot dishes, including pizza and buffalo chicken options. More snacks can be found at food carts and other shops, including Fuddnuddler Bros. Popcorn, Brown & Black’s Icee Snacks, Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop, and Moose Juice, Goose Juice. For souvenirs, All the Books You Can Read has a plethora of Dr. Seuss books and clothing for sale, while Gertrude McFuzz Fine Feathered Finery and the Mulberry Street Store sell artwork, clothing, and more. (Look for the little kid entrance on the right side of the latter.)

Zax Bypass

The Zax Bypass is a small side-path where you can rest and relax and, if your child needs it, take a nap in the stroller. This area is accessed by immediately turning left after crossing the bridge from Port of Entry into Seuss Landing and has a great view of the lagoon. Continue down this path to emerge at the other end of the land, just before the bridge into The Lost Continent.

The Lost Continent

Loosely themed around the folklore of the Arabian One Thousand and One Nights and the myths of Ancient Greece, there are no rides in The Lost Continent, but as you walk through on your way to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, look around to experience the beautiful theming, get a bite to eat, or stop and chat with a magical talking fountain.

The Mystic Fountain

Mystic Fountain at Islands of Adventure
Mystic Fountain at Islands of Adventure

Throw in a coin and talk up the “mischievous water spirit” that lives within this interactive fountain, but proceed with caution – you may get wet! The Mystic Fountain is both kid-friendly and hilarious.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

This immersive land, based on the magical world of Harry Potter, features three rides with varying height requirements. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the newest wizarding ride to hit Universal, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, both have height requirements of 48 inches – the height of an average seven-year-old. But apart from the rides, the highly themed shops, interactive wand stations, two shows, and Ollivanders Wand Shop will still provide plenty of magical experiences for kids of all ages.

Flight of the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2011.
Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

This small coaster may not be super-intense, but Flight of the Hippogriff gives riders who are 36 inches or taller quite a thrill and is great for a first-time roller-coaster rider. Keep an eye out for Buckbeak to bow before you as your coaster starts to climb, and take in the excellent views of Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade Village as you crest the lift hill.

Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally

Children of all ages will enjoy the Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally shows. In alternating performances (check your park map for times), singing Hogwarts students from all four houses are accompanied by surprisingly tuneful giant frogs as they perform songs from the wizarding world (and, even, a carol or two, depending on the season). At the Triwizard Spirit Rally, students from Hogwarts’s rival schools, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, dance and march, showing the character and skills of their respective alma maters. Stick around after the performances for a photo opportunity with some of these talented wizards.

Ollivanders Wand Shop and interactive wands

A very popular attraction in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley is Ollivanders Wand Shop. Groups of approximately 20 people are admitted into the store, where a guest is chosen to experience a wand selection with Ollivander’s assistant. This attraction brings to life scenes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry was first “chosen” by his own wand, so if you have a young Potter-head, Ollivanders is not to be missed.

To make your own magic, purchase an interactive wand from the shop and use the included map to seek out the spellcasting experiences located throughout Hogsmeade. Please note that special interactive wands ($55 and up) are required, and that some of the wand movements need to be rather exact; younger children may need assistance, so prepare by reading our complete guide to interactive wands.

The Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express at Islands of Adventure
Hogwarts Express at Islands of Adventure

The Hogwarts Express has no height requirement and is a pleasant, leisurely train ride through the Scottish countryside to downtown London, but you must have a park-to-park ticket to embark on this journey. Many characters and locations from the Harry Potter films and books make an appearance, and once the ride is over, you will disembark at Diagon Alley – the other Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located over at Universal Studios Florida – making this the most entertaining way to park-hop. Take the return trip, with different characters and scenes, to get back to Islands of Adventure, or stay and explore Universal Studios. If you have rented a stroller from Universal, you will leave it at Hogsmeade Station and pick up another one at King’s Cross Station at the end of your ride.

Jurassic Park

Originally themed around 1993’s Jurassic Park, Universal is slowly but surely updating this land to incorporate the newer Jurassic World series, so if you have a kid who loves any of these movies – or dinosaurs, in general – this section will fascinate them. Lush vegetation abounds and large statues of dinosaurs (photo-ops!) are spread throughout the area, so exceptionally timid children may want to stick close to their adult companions. We still recommend you check out this land, as it features one of the very best open play areas for kids at Universal Orlando.

Jurassic Park River Adventure

Jurassic Park: River Adventure at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Jurassic Park River Adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The featured ride of Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park River Adventure has a 42 inches height requirement and may be too scary for young children, though ages six to nine may want to ride. A leisurely river cruise through dinosaur exhibits turns intense, and riders will come face-to-face with a T-rex before plummeting down what was once the highest water flume in the world (an 85-foot drop)! Anyone under 48 inches must ride with a supervising companion.

Raptor Encounter

Another attraction that may push the boundaries of younger kids, the Raptor Encounter is nevertheless an opportunity to meet and interact with an impressively realistic velociraptor (Blue from Jurassic World) and its trainer. Check-in with your children to see if they would be interested in meeting a raptor who may snarl and hiss but definitely will not bite or hurt them.

Camp Jurassic

Camp Jurassic at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Camp Jurassic at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Built for kids of all ages, Camp Jurassic is more than a playground – you’ll often see adults enjoying themselves just as much as the kiddos amongst the immense prehistoric-themed climbing structure, the multiple areas to explore, and in the water-play sections, too! The immersive jungle environment and winding paths make it easy to get lost in this space, so we recommended that preschool or younger elementary-aged children not explore the camp alone.

Pteranodon Flyers

Located inside Camp Jurassic, this attraction is designed specifically for children who are between 36 and 56 inches tall. Any passengers under 48 inches must have a supervising companion to ride with, and if you happen to be over 56, you must have a kid (i.e., someone under 56 inches) to hop on with. On Pteranodon Flyers, you will “fly” on a swinging seat suspended from an overhead track and get a bird’s-eye view of the Jurassic Park area. The swing holds two people – one person in the front and one in the back – and you are securely strapped in place. This ride does not accept Express Passes but does employ Virtual Line; just use the Universal app or the kiosks outside the attraction.

Jurassic Park Discovery Center

The Jurassic Park Discovery Center is an indoor display space located on the lower level, which can be accessed via elevator or stairs. Here, you’ll find life-size dinosaur statues, and you can perform a variety of hands-on tasks, including analyzing the contents of dinosaur eggs in the nursery, performing DNA sequencing, discovering dinosaur fossils in rocks, learning the different habits and sounds of dinosaurs, and playing a Jeopardy-like game with dinosaur facts.

Toon Lagoon

If you are a guest of a certain age, you’ll find yourself reminiscing amongst the pop-art design of the comics of yesteryear as you enter Toon Lagoon, featuring many characters who (let’s be honest) today’s youth may have never seen or heard of, such as Heathcliff, Betty Boop, Beetle Bailey, Flash Gordon, and so many more. The fun signs and quirky decorations will still appeal to kids and provide some excellent photo-ops, but be aware that the two water rides and the play area may close for seasonal refurbishment (which we keep an eye on for you in our Daily Snapshot).

Me Ship, The Olive

A Popeye-themed kids’ play/water section with a lot of fun activities, Me Ship, The Olive has climbing nets, slides, water cannons, and a blowing ship’s horn. This attraction has only one entrance and exit, and there is an awesome view of the park from the top floor of the vessel. If you are unable to walk up the stairs, there is an elevator inside.

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls is one of two water rides at Islands of Adventure and has a height requirement of 44 inches. Ripsaw Falls features an aggressive plunge at the end, which might be a little much for younger kids (who may prefer Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges instead).

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Twelve guests sit in a circle and brave the white-water rapids of Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-rat Barges. With a height requirement of 42 inches, those who were not quite tall enough for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls may be allowed to ride this one. We recommend you plan these two water attractions before a midday break or consider bringing a change of clothes (and shoes!), as both of them may get you completely soaked.

Classic comic book character meet-and-greets

There are scheduled character greetings at the Toon character zone, which enable your child to have his or her photo taken with characters like Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Betty Boop. Consult your park map for specific times.

Marvel Super Hero Island

Marvel icons dominate this land with over-the-top decor and plenty for budding superheroes to explore, including rides, food, and meet-and-greets with Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Green Goblin, and more.

Storm Force Accelatron

Store Force Accelatron at Islands of Adventure’s Marvel Super Hero Island.
Store Force Accelatron at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Next to the looming Incredible Hulk Coaster, Storm Force Accelatron is a spinning ride with no height requirement, and, as such, may be suitable for most young superheroes. Express Passes are accepted, and riders can spin their vehicle as much or as little as they want.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, one of the park’s premier attractions, has a height requirement of 40 inches (the average height of a five-year-old). Put on your 3D glasses and ride through Spidey’s New York City to catch the villains who have stolen the Statue of Liberty. The ride scenes include battles with Spider-Man’s various nemeses and a simulated 400 foot “freefall,” so make sure your hero is prepared to take on this challenge!

Spider-Man meet-and-greet

Inside the Marvel Alterniverse Store, Spidey meets for a green-screen photo-op at one of the best character meets in Universal – a must-do if you have a My Universal Photo Package. If not, it’s still fun just to stop in and say “hi” to your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Heroes and villains meet-and-greets

Throughout the main thoroughfare of Super Hero Island, heroes and villains alternate meet-and-greet times. Check your times guide for the latest info and keep your eyes peeled as you walk through the land.

Kingpin’s Arcade

While another arcade might not be your top choice to spend your vacation time at, youngsters who’ve seen the Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse will recognize the villain Kingpin, who beckons you inside his arcade, where you’ll find all the typical claw games, Skee-Ball, and videogames.

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll conclude that Islands of Adventure has plenty to offer its younger guests, with even more over at Universal Studios Florida and Volcano Bay.

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