We all have that one person in our lives who refuses to go the theme parks in the summer. The intense Florida heat can be very daunting — not to mention the long lines that inevitably come with tadpoles being off from school for the season. However, we here at the Frog Pond believe that with the right amount of research and the perfect game plan, the Orlando theme parks are more than doable any time of the year! Universal Orlando Resort is no exception. The two drastically different theme parks actually make it super convenient to get all the must-dos done — while beating the heat and the rain. Without further ado, here's our one-day park plan for conquering Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
1. Start Your Morning with a Rush of Adrenaline at Islands of Adventure
If you're staying at a hotel on Universal Orlando property, you get to take advantage of our favorite perk: Early Park Admission! This epic benefit grants you access to the theme parks up to one hour prior to park opening. In that first hour, you're going to want to conquer the two most popular rides at Islands of Adventure: Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster (if you're a certified thrill-seeker, that is). Lucky for you, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade and Jurassic Park are right next to each other and connected via a bridge. Psst, this also gets these two major outdoor coasters done before a summer thunderstorm usually rolls in.
2. Hop Over to Seuss Landing for Some Tadpole-Tailored Fun
After you've faced some of the resort's biggest thrills, you're going to take the bridge from VelociCoaster to The Lost Continent and make your way toward Seuss Landing. If there are any tadpoles in your party, this is where you're going to spend a lot of time! From the Caro-Seuss-El to the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!, your little ones will love these slow-moving classic attractions. Be sure to hop on to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish if you're starting to feel the heat! If you don't follow the song's directions ... let's just say you won't necessarily walk away completely dry.
3. Channel Your Inner Avenger at Marvel Super Hero Island
Continue moving clockwise past the Port of Entry to experience the park's most marvelous attractions! Marvel Super Hero Island is where you'll find the fan-favorite Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (with its glorious indoor queue) and the park's OG thrill ride, The Incredible Hulk Coaster. If you're brave enough, we even recommend trying out Doctor Doom's Fearfall for one of the best views in all of Orlando — and a nice gust of wind as you soar upwards toward your fate! (If you'd rather stay on the ground, hop on Storm Force Accelatron. The faster you spin, the more your hair will flow in the breeze!)
4. Prepare to Get Wet in Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park
As the sun moves more toward the center of the sky, the need to cool down gets real. Luckily, Islands of Adventure has three wet and wild water rides to get you absolutely soaked! Two of them you'll find in Toon Lagoon: Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. Bilge-Rat Barges is a raft ride where no seat is safe. Every single frog will get undoubtedly drenched, so be sure to bring some flip-flops or a change of socks if you want to help save Olive Oyl! Ripsaw Falls is one of two flume rides in the park and while you'll stay dry for the majority of the ride, the 75-foot plunge creates one heck of a splash. (There are also water cannons that fellow frogs can blast right at you when you least expect it.)
The other flume ride is Jurassic Park River Adventure. This is the one you'll get the least amount of wet on — especially if you sit in the back row! — but we can't promise you won't walk away with a dry tushy (or that a dilophosaurus won't spit in your face). Another hidden gem we love in Jurassic Park is Camp Jurassic where tadpoles and tadpoles at heart can partake in an epic water cannon battle!
5. Head Back to Hogsmeade for Your Tour of Hogwarts Castle
As Islands of Adventure is one giant circle, you'll finish right where you started: on the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This is when you'll hop onto Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a can't-miss attraction where you'll fly around the castle, be able to watch a Quidditch match ... and maybe evade a Dementor or two. (If the stand-by wait in the middle of the day is high, the Single Rider line is almost always a walk-on!)
6. Climb Aboard the Hogwarts Express
It's time to pull out your Park-to-Park ticket. The Hogwarts Express is waiting! Enter Hogsmeade Station and climb aboard the famed locomotive. The train will pass the Forbidden Forest and Malfoy Manor before making its way to London and pulling into King's Cross station. (You might even see some familiar faces along the way!)
7. Explore Diagon Alley, World Expo and Springfield, U.S.A.
The best thing about Universal Studios Florida ... is that (almost) all the attractions are inside. Air-conditioned queues and respites from the rain await once you disembark the Hogwarts Express! Just like how you conquered Islands of Adventure, you're going to go clockwise around this park, as well. Of course, you need to start by making a visit to Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Diagon Alley. After you've successfully outwitted Voldemort and Bellatrix, be sure to grab some Butterbeer soft serve at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour ... and maybe take a stroll through the shaded and shrouded Knockturn Alley if the Dark Arts are calling you.
Upon exiting, hop on over to MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack to test your skills amidst an extraterrestrial invasion and then mosey on down to The Simpsons Ride to join America's favorite family in an exhilarating adventure through Krustyland and the greater Springfield area.
8. Seek Shelter from the Rain at Universal Studios' Sensational Shows
Mid-afternoon is most likely when you'll inevitably start seeing some downpours. If timing allows, the next three attractions you're going to hit are the stellar shows at Universal Studios Florida.
Animal Actors on Location! is a delight for any animal lover. Get ready to meet some of Hollywood's brightest (and furriest) stars as dogs, cats, birds and even pigs demonstrate how they perform tricks on set when the cameras are rolling. The Bourne Stuntacular is the newest addition to the park and is definitely not to be missed! Follow former CIA operative Jason Bourne as he crosses three continents in this jaw-dropping, chill-inducing stunt show featuring epic effects and trained stunt professionals. Lastly, prepare to scream and laugh at Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show. Learn all about the practical magic behind Hollywood's scariest monsters in this hilarious and timeless presentation that's been creeping out audiences since the park's opening day!
9. Finish Strong in Production Central and the Streets of New York
As the sun begins to set, you're going to race toward as many rides as you can before park close. Luckily, they're all in very close proximity!
For a gentler thrill, there are three simulators on the south side of the park that are all loads of fun! Go bananas at Despicable Me Minion Mayhem where you'll undergo Minion training and see if you have what it takes to become Gru's newest henchman. Start your engines at Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon where you'll go head-to-head with the famed talk show host in a fun-filled race through the Big Apple and beyond. Prepare for war at TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D where you'll fight alongside the heroic Autobots against the dastardly Decepticons in a high-speed, high-stakes battle for intergalactic peace.
Adrenaline junkies, you're going to end your night on Revenge of the Mummy, a one-of-a-kind indoor roller coaster that will plunge you into total darkness and have you dodging fireballs, scarab beetles and more, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, a heart-pounding, fist-pumping coaster that makes you the star of your very own music video! (Bonus: it's even beautifully lit up at night!)
10. Take It Slow and Steady
Our biggest piece of advice is that you need to listen to your body. Eat when you need to, hydrate consistently throughout the day (with water!), take breaks when you get too exhausted ... and don't be afraid to even head back to your hotel mid-day (via shuttle or water taxi) and take a nap or hop in the pool. The rides aren't going anywhere! Theme parks in the dead of summer can be hot and tiring, but they can also be a frogtastic vacation destination — even if you aren't pushing yourself to get everything done. In fact, the more you take care of your body and manipulate your day to fit your energy level, the more hoppy you'll be by the end of the night. All the above tips are just suggestions. Pick and choose what feels right for your frog fam!
Have any tips for fellow frogs conquering Universal Orlando Resort in the summer or any other questions for us? Let us know in the comments below!