Home » 25 Intriguing Hidden Secrets at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

25 Intriguing Hidden Secrets at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Seuss Landing

When Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, it became the first new theme park designed by the company not to be based around a working movie studio. Instead of hiding attractions in enormous soundstage buildings, Universal instead opted to locate them in a series of heavily-themed “islands”.

Just as the Imagineers do at rival Disney’s parks, Universal Creative decided to pack those islands (and the rides that they host) with hidden details. These go completely unnoticed by the majority of guests – but they add an extra dimension to the experience of visiting the park for those that are aware of them.

Here are 25 hidden secrets to look out for on your next visit to Islands of Adventure. Let us know of any we’ve missed!

25. Unorthodox building techniques

Seuss Landing

To create the curvy facades in Seuss Landing, Universal employed a material more usually employed for thermal insulation purposes: Styrofoam. Almost everything was made of the material, with artists taking large chunks, attaching them to the fronts of the buildings, and then carving them with chainsaws initially and then with dull knives to create the final image.

24. A message from a Sneetch

Seuss Landing

Image: Jeremy Thompson

Step on the footprints outside Snookers & Snookers Sweet Candy Cookers, and you’ll hear a message from a Sneetch.

23. The hidden troll


Stand near the bridge behind Mythos, and you may hear a troll underneath it!


Camp Jurassic

Image: Jeremy Thompson

Step on the dinosaur footprints in Camp Jurassic – they’ll roar at you!

21. The hidden embryos

Dennis Nedry

In Jurassic Park, the villainous Dennis Nedry hides dinosaur embryos in a container disguised as a can of Barbasol shaving cream. Look out for the can inside the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, tucked away on a shelf.

20. The gag trail

Me Ship, The Olive

Head down the small trail to the right of Me Ship, The Olive. This is packed with gags such as a miniature “school” of fish.

19. Splat!

Doctor Doom's Fearfall

Image: Will Cyr

Look on the ground at the entrance to Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. You’ll see the outlines of the Doctor’s unfortunate previous victims! And they aren’t just any victims – those are the imprints of the Fantastic Four.

18. A hidden message

Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Look out for a message on the manhole cover that you plummet towards at the end of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

17. The creator

Stan Lee

Image: Edward Liu

Pay close attention during The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and you may spot Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee, who appears three times during the ride.

16. More than a lighthouse

Pharos Lighthouse

Image: Jeremy Thompson

The Pharos Lighthouse, located within Port of Entry, acts as the park’s icon. The functioning lighthouse is based on the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

15. The escapee

Port of Entry

Image: sfgamchick

Next to the shell fountain in the Port of Entry is a jailhouse building. It seems that one of the occupants has escaped – two bars are missing and a makeshift escape rope hangs from the window. Listen out for muffled conversations from the other buildings, too.

14. Unusual items for rent

Reliable Rentals

Image: sfgamchick

Elsewhere in the Port of Entry, take a look at the sign for “Reliable Rentals” in the stroller rental area, which offers all kinds of bizarre contraptions for lease – including a time machine.

13. Moaning Myrtle


Listen out for Moaning Myrtle in the Wizarding World’s restrooms.

12. Up in the rafters

Three Broomsticks

Image: Jeff Kays, Flickr

Look up in the rafters of The Three Broomsticks – you’ll see shadows of house elves and owls moving about.

11. Shrunken heads

Hog's Head

Image: HarshLight

On either side of the animatronic hog’s head in the Hog’s Head Pub, you’ll see the shrunken heads used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Also behind the bar are bottles of Firewhiskey and Doxy Eggs.

10. Mind your fingers

Monster Book of Monsters

Don’t miss the snapping, snarling Monster Book of Monsters in Dervish & Banges. Next to the registers, look for a sign detailing the closing procedure for the store.

9. Cuckoo!


Image: David D’Agostino, Flickr

At the top of the Owlery, a cuckoo clock-style owl emerges at regular intervals.

8. Replace your missing bones

Filch's Emporium

Image: David D’Agostino, Flickr

Tucked away on the shelves of Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods are several bottles of Skele-Gro, the mysterious ointment that enables the re-growth of missing bones.

7. The portable swamp

Extendable Ears

Image: Tiger Girl, Flickr

If you need access to a swamp in a hurry, grab the Portable Swamp from the highest shelves in Zonko’s Joke Shop. Also in the store, as you pass through into Honeydukes, look up to see some Extendable Ears hanging from the ceiling. If it’s quiet enough, you may even hear them whispering.

Note: Zonko’s will close when Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes opens at Universal Studios Florida’s Diagon Alley…so look out for these items in the new store.

6. Untrue stories

Tomes and Scrolls

Image: Doug Kline

The Tomes and Scrolls storefront is packed with the books of fraudulent wizard Gilderoy Lockhart.

5. The noisy plants

Dogweed and Deathcap

Image: Scott Smith, Flickr

Mandrakes, the screaming plants seen in the Harry Potter movies, can be spotted in static form in the greenhouse section of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey queue. Elsewhere, a moving version can be seen in the shop window of the Dogweed and Deathcap store. The window also holds a packet of Gillyweed seeds, which you can use to grow gills.

4. The horcruxes

Moving portraits

Image: Scott Smith, Scott Smith

Look closely at the moving portraits of the four founders of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff) in the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Each is holding an object that Lord Voldemort stole from them to create his evil Horcruxes.

3. A useless book

Gryffindor Common Room

In the Gryffindor common room inside Hogwarts Castle, look out for the Dark Arts Defence: Basics for Beginners book, sitting on a stack of volumes in the corner. Professor Umbridge assigns the book to the class in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as a way of preventing them from learning anything useful.

2. Neville’s lesson

Hogwarts Castle

Don’t rush past the Potions classroom door as you race through the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – you’ll miss hearing a professor providing instructions to Neville Longbottom.

1. A baby dragon

Hagrid's Hut

Image: Anna Fox, Flickr

Next to Hagrid’s Hut in the Flight of the Hippogriff queue line is a crate marked “Baby Norwegian Ridgeback”, a reference to Hagrid’s purchase of a dragon egg in the first book and movie.

Learn more about Universal Orlando

To learn more about the Universal Orlando Resort, check out Universal Orlando: The Unofficial Story – the first book ever to document its creation and evolution, from its debut to the present day. The book is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in paperback and Kindle formats.