Islands of Adventure: 9 Movies to Watch Before Your Trip

Girls in front of the Hogwarts castle at Islands of Adventure.

We just got home from our very first trip to Islands of Adventure in Orlando!

Since it was our first time at this park, I did some research ahead of time to get an idea of what to expect.

All of the rides, shops, and most of the restaurants at Islands of Adventure are based on popular movies, cartoons, and tv shows. We’re not a huge tv family and I didn’t want to get there and our kids be completely clueless about what everything was. So, I made a list of movies and shows to watch before our trip.

Here are the movies and shows you should watch before your first visit to Islands of Adventure!

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I read Harry Potter as a kid and am now reading through the series with my own kids. And they LOVE it! Plus, we’ve watched all the movies together.

Needless to say, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade was the area of Islands of Adventure that we were looking forward to the most! My kids couldn’t wait to see ‘Harry Potter World’ (as they call it). And it did not disappoint.

I recommend watching the 3rd Harry Potter Movie – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This is the first movie where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are able to go to Hogsmeade. This side of ‘Harry Potter world’ also features the Hogwarts castle and Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure roller coaster.

Girls in front of the Hogwarts castle at Islands of Adventure.
(The girls in front of the Hogwarts castle!)

2. Jurassic Park

Like Hogsmeade, there is an entire area of Islands of Adventure dedicated to the Jurassic Park series. And walking into it feels just like stepping onto that island in the movie(s)!

I have 2 girls and they are ‘meh’ about dinosaurs, but I didn’t want them to be completely clueless about what they were seeing, so we watched the original Jurassic Park movie made in 1993.

They liked it more than I expected and it got them excited about seeing this part of the park.

A family photo with a t-rex at Jurassic Park in Islands of Adventure.
(We couldn’t resist a family photo with a t-rex in Jurassic Park.)

3. Kong: Skull Island

The Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride at Islands of Adventure is based on several of the King Kong movies.

To get ready for our trip to Islands of Adventure, we watched Kong: Skull Island, which I ended up liking much better than I thought I would. We also took my husband out after he got back from a TDY training and watched Godzilla vs. Kong.

So, the girls and I were up to speed on who King Kong was before getting on this ride.

Movies to watch before going to Islands of Adventure: Kong: Skull Island.
(I thought the sign for the ride was so cool!)

4. The Lorax

Since they were little, my kids have been exposed to Dr. Seuss books. We had them at home and their teachers read them aloud at school. So, my kids are no strangers to the wonderful, whimsical world of Dr. Seuss.

But to get ready for our trip, we watched The Lorax for good measure. You could also watch the Cat in the Hat!

Walking through Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure was like bringing those books and movies to life.

The Street of the Lifted Lorax at Seuss Landing.
(Lexy loved The Lorax when she was little!)

5. The Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Coaster is one of the most popular rides at Islands of Adventures. It reaches a maximum speed of 67 mph and sends you on several vertical loops and corkscrews, which means that it’s a Nope! for me. (I get motion sickness and didn’t want to ruin the day….again.)

But my husband and niece were brave enough to try it and they said it was a LOT of fun!

There is a whole Marvel Super Hero Island at the park and I didn’t want the kids to not know what everything was. So we watched a few Marvel movies before our trip. We made sure that The Incredible Hulk was one of them.

(This photo is courtesy of Universal Orlando.)

6. Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse

You can’t enter Marvel Super Hero Island without getting to know Spiderman! There’s a 3-D Spiderman ride that everyone loves.

Even though we don’t watch many super hero movies (because girl mom, duh) my kids definitely know who Spiderman is. I didn’t have to twist their arm to watch Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.

(This photo is courtesy of

7. Fantastic Four

To be completely honest, I know next to nothing about the Fantastic Four. So, when we got to Doctor Doom’s Fearfall ride, I had no clue what was going on.

There were characters outside the ride doing meet & greets and taking pictures with guests, but me nor the kids knew who they were. (Mom fail!)

So, before our next trip to Islands of Adventure (we bought season passes through the MWR), we’ll definitely be watching Fantastic Four.

Doctor Doom's Fearfall at Islands of Adventure.
(Doctor Doom’s Fearfall at Marvel Super Hero Island.)

8. Popeye

Entering Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure was just like stepping into the Sunday comics. But since we don’t receive a newspaper, my kids had no clue who these characters were. (Another mom fail!)

Before you jump on Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat’s Barges, a super fun water ride, you might want to watch one of the cartoons or read some of the comics to get familiar with the characters. You might even see Olive Oyl and Betty Boop out and about Toon Lagoon!

Definitely make sure to watch some of the old Popeye cartoons on YouTube.

9. Dudley Do-Right

Another comic that I had forgotten about was Dudley Do-Right! My kids had no clue who he was either, but they loved the log flume that was themed after this cartoon.

Like the other rides at Universal and Islands of Adventures, this ride tells a story. However, the kids didn’t understand a lot of the cartoon references, since they’ve never seen Dudley Do-Right before.

So, before you go, I recommend watching or reading one of the Dudley cartoons. You can find some of the original cartoons on YouTube or you can even watch the Dudley Do-Right movie with Brendan Fraser.

Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls at Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando.
(That last plunge on Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls was so scary!)

Our trip to Islands of Adventure and Universal Orlando Resort was one for the memory books!

We had the BEST time! And one of the best parts was the anticipation of the trip and watching these movies together as family.

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