'Sup! Universal's Islands of Adventure certainly lives up to its name. With eight unique sections of the park inside Universal Orlando Resort, you’re transported to the worlds of superheroes, dinosaurs and wizards ... just to name a few. There are so many rides to go on and places to eat, and plenty of play areas for the tadpoles. While you won’t want to miss the more popular attractions such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Incredible Hulk Coaster, I suggest also taking the time to check out some of my family’s favorite under-appreciated experiences. These spots would be toadally ideal to visit when you’re trying to escape from the crowds, the heat or the rain! So without further delay, here are our top five Islands of Adventure hidden gems!
The Frog Family's Top 5 Islands of Adventure Hidden Gems
Islands of Adventure Hidden Gem #1: All Hallows Eve Boutique
While Halloween Horror Nights may only last for two short months, there's one place in Universal Orlando where it's spooky season year-round. Enter All Hallows Eve Boutique — your one-stop shop for all things eerie. From ornaments, t-shirts and sippers to wall art, socks and figurines to candles, hot sauce and coffee, this shop is essentially a Halloween Tribute Store that's open 365 days a year.
What we especially love about this store is that it still celebrates the seasons while keeping its signature sinister touch. Whether it's Mardi Gras, the holidays or even the heat of summer, you'll find seasonal merchandise and decorations adorning the walls and hiding on the shelves between all the skulls and jack-o'-lanterns. We always have so much fun stopping in here at least once every few months and seeing how the space has been terrifyingly transformed!
Islands of Adventure Hidden Gem #2: The Mystic Fountain
The Mystic Fountain is no ordinary fountain. It sits inconspicuously in Sinbad’s Bazaar, but it’s home to a mischievous spirit that, when awakened, talks to passersby. You’ll know it’s sleeping when you only hear the fountain bubbling, but if you stick around and it wakes up, have a fun conversation with the feisty fountain. It can play music, tell jokes or ask you to solve riddles. If you answer incorrectly, watch out! You may get splashed. Let the fountain know if it’s your birthday, and it’ll celebrate with you. Younger tadpoles will especially love this one!
Islands of Adventure Hidden Gem #3: Owl Post & Owlery
Are you still waiting on your Hogwarts acceptance letter? If you think the owl must have gotten lost on its way during delivery, you can pay the Owlery a visit inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade! Follow the cooing and hooting, and you’ll spot the Owlery next to Ollivanders. There are plenty of benches for you to rest and sip on a frozen butterbeer while you muggle-watch. Take a look up in the rafters where you’ll see dozens of lifelike owls … and even owl poop!
The secret part of the Owlery is that you can actually send letters and postcards through the Owl Post. The little shop sells official stationery and postage stamps, or you can bring your own already stamped envelope. When mailed through the Owl Post, it’ll receive a special Hogsmeade postmark! Just be sure to leave enough room if you’re writing on a blank postcard. You can have a team member stamp it beforehand. When ready, it’s given to the owls, who will deliver your mail back home or to your family and friends.
Islands of Adventure Hidden Gem #4: Jurassic Park Discovery Center
After hopping over the bridge from Hogsmeade to Jurassic Park, you’ll quickly come across the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, which is a real-life version of the film’s Visitor Center. Unless you take a side path to the front of the building, the main walkway will pass the back entrance (that’s how we first found it). It’s lumped together with a restaurant and a gift shop, and you’ll enter on the second level. Go downstairs to find the main interactive play center and educational exhibits, which are suitable for all ages. Just be aware that it is only open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Center offers many fun activities, including the Beasaur (“Be-a-saur,” get it?) that allows you to see through the eyes and listen through the ears of a dinosaur. You can also “combine your DNA” to see what kind of dinosaur you would be, or test your knowledge by playing a trivia game. Lily’s favorite spot is the nursery, where you may be lucky enough to watch a Velociraptor egg hatch!
Islands of Adventure Hidden Gem #5: Me Ship, The Olive
Kids come for playtime, while adults come for the views. Me Ship, The Olive is a three-story play area inside a colorful, cartoon-like ship designed after Popeye’s boat. You can steer the wheel, climb on cargo nets and zoom down a tall slide. On the second level, be sure to play the tiny piano. If you hit the colored keys in the correct order as it’s shown on the sheet music, it’ll play a musical surprise! Best of all, tadpoles and adults alike can use the free water cannons on the second deck to spray the unsuspecting rafters of Popeye & Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges riding down the river below. For the best panoramic views of the park, stand on the third deck or walk along the secluded trails that curve behind the ship.
We’re hopful that these hidden gems will give you a break during a busy day at Islands of Adventure! If you've found any other secret spots, please share them with us in the comments below.
Related: The Frog Family’s Top 5 Universal Studios Florida Hidden Gems