Difference between the three Universal Studios Orlando parks

Universal Studios Orlando consists of three themed parks—Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.

It offers the ultimate family vacation destination.

Each of the three parks, packed with fun, exciting, and watery rides, attractions, and experiences, has diverse activities for everyone—kids, teens, and adults.

For the best experience, it’s essential to understand how they vary and which is ideal for you and your family.

Universal Studios Florida offers attractions based chiefly on popular films and television shows that are kid-friendly. 

Based mainly on fantasy and superheroes, the rides and attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure are thrilling and entertaining.   

Although the two Universal Studio Orlando theme parks seem similar, there are a few differences between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

If you cannot visit both theme parks, this article highlights some major Islands of Adventures vs Universal Studios differences to help you pick the best choice for you and your family.

On the other hand, Universal’s Volcano Bay offers a unique experience and is ideal for anybody wishing to combine relaxing by the pool with thrilling water attractions.

Universal’s Epic Universe, scheduled to open in 2023, is the fourth park constructed as part of Universal Studios Orlando.

It will nearly double the company’s footprint in central Florida.


size universal studio orlando
Image: Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Universal Studios Orlando’s theme parks are almost the same size.

Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida cover nearly 110 and 108 acres, respectively.

The themed water park, Volcano Bay, is the smallest of the three, occupying just 27 acres (11 ha).


All of the Universal Orlando parks have diverse rides, attractions, and thematic experiences.

Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida house exactly 8 lands or sections. 

The zones, however, differ in themes.

Islands of Adventure features themes based on mythology, legends, dinosaurs, comic books, superheroes, fairy tales, and Universal franchises.

The eight distinct lands at Islands of Adventure are Jurassic Park, Marvel Superhero Island, Port of Entry, Seuss Landing, Skull Island, Lost Continent, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Toon Lagoon.

Universal Studios Florida attractions and zones feature themes based on movies and television shows.

Universal Studios Florida’s lands are the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hollywood, New York, Production Central, San Francisco, Springfield, Woody the Woodpecker Zone, and World Expo.

Volcano Bay is the most distinctive of the three parks; it is based on an island paradise with an interesting backstory.

The Waturi, a prehistoric Polynesian tribe that traveled the seas and visited several islands in canoes, inspired the park’s four themed regions. 

They eventually made their home at Volcano Bay, an island with the 200-foot Krakatau volcano at its heart.

This fully themed water park featuring the following four sections feels like you’ve discovered your paradise island.

  • Krakatau (Volcano)
  • Wave Village
  • River Village
  • Rainforest Village


Attraction Universal studio orlando

Let’s look at the attractions at each of the three parks that draw huge and unique crowds.

Popular attractions at Islands of Adventure include

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster 
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Some of the most well-liked rides at Universal Studios Florida are:

  • Shrek 4-D
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • Escape from Gringotts

The Volcano Bay offers three water slides and a water roller coaster at the main structure in the park, the volcano.

Other attractions include multiple raft rides, a lazy river, and a sandy beach.

It also features three drop-capsule slides, including the 125-foot-tall Ko’okiri Body Plunge, the highest body slide in America and the first to pass through a swimming pool full of visitors.

The three most popular rides here include the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, Punga Racers, and one of the three drop-capsule slides–the Krakatau Aqua Coaster.

Apart from rides, all three theme parks also have themed restaurants/eateries, and shops. 

Universal Studios Florida vs Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal studio florida vs universal island of adventure
Image: Foxnews.com, Universalorlando.com

Let’s now concentrate on Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.

These are the two Universal Studios Orlando parks that are the most comparable, and visitors often struggle to decide between them.

There are some subtle differences between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

Volcano Bay offers a distinctive water park experience that is not directly comparable.

If you only have a limited time to visit the parks, it may seem difficult to choose between Universal Studios Florida vs Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida have almost the same number of rides—16 and 15, respectively. 

Both have the same number of roller coasters as well.

The three roller coasters at Islands of Adventure—Jurassic World VelociCoaster, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure—are some of Orlando’s most popular attractions.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts are the three at Universal Studios Florida.

The major theme sets Islands of Adventure apart from Universal Studios Florida. 

Theme parks like Universal Florida, where visitors can ‘ride the movies,’ are based on television series and motion pictures. 

On the other side, Islands of Adventure is primarily where the fantasy and adrenaline-filled attractions are.

So, if you and your family are movie enthusiasts and pop culture followers and want a more gentle ride and attraction experience, Universal Studios Florida is the place. 

Islands of Adventure is a must-visit park if you adore fantasy, including dinosaurs and superheroes, and you’re a thrill-seeker.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is another well-liked Marvel ride in Islands of Adventure.

Universal Studios Florida offers more shows and family-friendly activities, perfect for having a good day with the whole family, especially kids under 5 years old.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, E.T. Adventure, and The Simpsons Ride are popular children’s rides, along with the special section dedicated to small kids, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone.

The Horror Make-up Show depicts behind-the-scenes presentations of special effects in horror films.

It is a popular live show at Universal Studios Florida.

For adults, however, Islands of Adventure is more suitable. 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Image: Edition.cnn.com

The only same-named section in both parks is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Hogwarts Express, the passenger railway between Hogsmeade and King’s Cross Station, connects the two parks. 

Universal Studios Florida features London’s Diagon Alley, and Hogsmeade is part of  Islands of Adventure.

With the following three rides, Islands of Adventure offers more Harry Potter attractions than Universal Studios Florida.

  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Early Park Admission

Universal allows early park admission to Universal Florida or Islands of Adventure an hour before its opening.

Before visiting, you can check which park, Islands of Adventure vs Universal Studios Florida, is open for early park admission.

If you want to see both theme parks on the same day, starting at Islands of Adventure is advised, as it features more popular rides with long wait times.

You can skip some of those lines by reaching early and visiting Islands of Adventure first.


Universal studio ticket
Image: Insideoursuitcase.com

Universal Studios Orlando offers various types of tickets—basic and park-to-park.

The most economical is the basic ticket, which includes admission to only one of the three parks of your choice.

If you visit for three or more days, you can buy three tickets for the three parks daily. 

This is, however, not recommended, as without a park-to-park ticket, you will not be able to ride the Hogwarts Express.

The Universal Studios Orlando general admission ticket includes park-to-park tickets for 2 and/or 3 parks.

This ticket starts at around US$ 176 for everyone above 13 years of age and above and US$ 171 for children below the age of 13.

Note: The ticket prices change frequently depending on the season and the expected crowd. 

You will also find park-to-park explorer tickets that offer two free days at the price of three. 

In addition, add-ons in terms of skip-the-line access to the park and its rides is also available.

The Universal Express pass is one such add-on that helps you enter a different line to the participating rides and shows at the parks, once.

The unlimited express pass offers unlimited priority access to the participating attractions.

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