10 Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando Resort
Best Thrill Rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
When we visit Universal Studios Orlando Resorts parks, we like to begin in Islands of Adventure. I'm not sure why we started this little tradition, but it is always the direction we head and it just sort of stuck with us. I guess we like to get a fantastic roller coaster ride in the beginning of the day to get our excitement even more elevated for the day of adventuring!
This 10 Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando Resort list is the path we take for the first day of our visit. Any subsequent day visits, we either revisit the rides we love the most and then sprinkle in all the other favorite activities. These 10 best thrill rides will walk you through both parks and you will be able to ride all 10 thrill rides in one day. Be sure to arrive when the parks open for the most fun-filled day.
1) The Incredible Hulk Coaster
As soon as you enter Universal's Islands of Adventure, head past the bride from Port of Entry to Marvel Super Hero Island where the Incredible hulk Coaster launches riders. Get in line and enter Bruce Banner's laboratory to hear the back story of Hulk. Once you are secured in your seat, you will be launched (quite literally) from zero to 40 mph in two seconds flat on a track that is 3,700 ft for a full 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
There is nothing that will prepare you for this! You will then be spun around and upside down as you experience the weightless “Zero G” roll through the seven inversions, two subterranean trenches and a 110 foot cobra roll, at a maximum speed of 67 MPH. The Incredible Hulk Coaster is a FAST ride! Remember, you are experiencing what it feels like for Bruce Banner to turn into the Incredible Hulk!
Restrictions: Riders must be at least 54” tall
Hop off The Incredible Hulk and keep walking right though Marvel Super Hero Island to the Amazing Adventures of Spider Man. If you like, you can make a stop at Doctor Doom’s FearFall. Here, you strap yourself into Doctor Doom’s and countdown to zero and your will be rocketed 150ft into the air and then dropped down faster than the force of gravity!
Restrictions: Riders must be at least 52” tall
2) The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
This THRILL ride experience is a motion-based 4D ride located in Islands of Adventure. After getting your 3D glasses for your cub reporters status, hop in the Scoop(Enhanced Motion Vehicles (EMVs)) and leave the loading docks to a Manhattan back alley where you encounter Spider-Man. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man combines special motion vehicles with 3D projection, elaborate physical sets, and numerous special effects as you zip through the streets, scale skyscrapers and plummet down in a simulated 400-foot free fall. It makes use of digital video versus analog and uses a squinching tech (Image correction method to compensate for point of view image distortion) that allows the images to be distorted and follow each car in the ride. This thrill ride is still one of the most popular theme park attractions at Universal since its creation in 1999 and has earned Best Dark Ride for twelve consecutive years. Be sure to keep your eye out for Stan Lee - he appears several times! Also -- look out for a message on the manhole cover that you plummet towards at the end of the ride.
Restrictions: Riders must be at least 40’ tall. Children between 40″-48″ must be accompanied by an adult.
Next, walk right over to Toon Lagoon and head towards Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls -- that is, as long as you don't mind getting soaked! And I do mean, completely and utterly soaked. Dudley will send you down a steep vertical drop that will make you wish you had put on your rain poncho! On a super hot day, this ride is great, but it will take you a couple of hours to dry off!
Keep walking right on through Toon Lagoon if you don't want to be soaked and head to Skull Island: Reign of Kong for the next thrill ride.
3) Skull Island: Reign of Kong
As you walk through to the gates of Reign of Kong, try to keep count of the skulls along the way and through the entire ride. There are 887 skulls in Skull Island: Reign of Kong! You will hop onto an expedition truck with 72 other guests enter into this thrill ride with King Kong through the jungle. There are physical and digital effects in this intense thrill ride. You will come face to face with a huge animatronic Kong that is pretty spectacular. The queue line has a number of surprises that make the wait worthwhile.
If you are still soaking wet from your adventures on Ripsaw Falls, you won't mind stopping In Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park River Adventure's classic ride will soak you once again. If you had bypassed the previous water ride and are super hot, perhaps you will now want to be soaked. Hop onto the river raft / boat on a nice ride through the jungle and meet up with some dinosaurs. Your boat will take a wrong turn and meet up with a Tyrannosaurus and perhaps might get a bit drenched at the 85-foot plunge. Sit in the middle and you won’t get you too terribly soaked. If you are really hot and want a thorough soaking, sit in the front row.
Once you have completed the Reign of Kong and Jurassic Park River Adventure, head right on into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade. You can't miss the entrance! At this point you will be giddy with excitement for further adventures.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade will not disappoint you at all. If you have never visited this area of Universal Studios Orlando, take the time to explore every single nook and corner within Hogsmeade! Poke your head into the shops, eat some fish and chips and absolutely have a Butterbeer! The first thrill ride you want to experience is Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey.
4-5) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This magical adventure thrill ride takes you through the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry's classrooms and corridors. The queue through the castle is not to be missed. You will see Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, the Room of Requirement and more. Once the tour ends, you will hop onto some seats and begin flying high over the castle with Harry Potter and his friends! You will fly above the castle grounds on a magical adventure on this 3D flight simulator thrill ride! This is one of my family's favorite ride and we literally ride this no less than 6 times when we are there!
Height Restrictions: Riders must be at least 48” tall Restrictions: All articles must be stowed in the free lockers inside Hogwarts Castle. There is also a tour only portion if you select to not be taken on the magical thrill ride adventure. Once you exit, head straight to Flight of the Hippogriff and then on to Dragon Challenge aka Dueling Dragons.
Sadly, this ride, Dueling Dragons, is closed and you will no longer be able to experience it. However, a brand new coaster, yet to be named (or released), will be opening in 2019 and will take Universal and Harry Potter fans deeper into the wizarding world where they are set to encounter a number of characters and creatures with a new level of storytelling. Now, you are all set to take the Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade Station and head right on over to Universal Studios Florida The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.
Best Thrill Rides at Universal Studios Orlando
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley
I will say this again, if you have yet to explore Diagon Alley, be sure to check out every store and every delight it has to offer. Once you depart the King's Cross Station, walk right over to the Knight Bus and have a chat with the shrunken head! Then head directly to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
6) Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
This multi-dimensional thrill ride begins in Gringotts Bank and you will simply be amazed at the animatronics! Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts brings to life the underground caverns of Gringotts bank! You begin this thrill ride by passing underneath the massive fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley -- and this vision is not to be missed.
Step inside the Gringotts bank and view the amazing goblins -- they truly are spectacular! Then pass by and through all the bank vaults and explore the cavernous underground of the bank. The thrill ride takes you on a journey as you try to escape Voldemort and Bellatrix in the Gringott’s maze, which is roller coaster, 3D ride, and interactive movie adventure all rolled into one fantastic thrill ride.
After you have explored all of Diagon Alley, eaten your fill in ice cream from Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, exchanged some money with a goblin at Gringotts Money Exchange, had lunch or dinner at the Leaky Cauldron and visited Ollivanders . . . head straight on over to Production Central.
7) TRANSFORMERS: The Ride–3D
Transformers: The Ride 3-D is located in Production Central in Universal Studios Orlando. My husband and my son are huge fans of Transformers, so this ride in particular, is a family favorite. The 3-D film is combined with awesome flight simulation technology. You will hop into an EVAC car, an actual Transformer, and aide Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in the middle of an intergalactic war between the Autobots and Decepticons. The mission is to keep the Allspark safe. Will you survive? Be sure to visit the Transformers afterwards as well. Optimus Prime and Megatron have recorded messages for you.
Restrictions: Riders must be at least 40″ tall. Children between 40″-48″ must be accompanied by an adult.
8) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Once you exit Transformer, remain in Production Central and simply walk over to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket is one of the best high-speed outdoor roller coaster ever -- in my opinion! It is 17 stories, and has a 90 degree lift hill, and each rider has the ability to select their own soundtrack during the ride. You board and are taken up the 17 stories where you plummet back down at 65 mph and begin your loop-de-loop before you are back at the loading station.
Restrictions: Riders must be 51″ – 79″ tall; all personal items must be stored in free lockers.
Classic rock and heavy metal
“Bring Me to Life,” Evanescence
“Paralyzer,” Finger Eleven
“Born to be Wild,” Hinder (a cover version of the song originally performed by Steppenwolf)
“Rollin’”,” Limp Bizkit
“Kickstart My Heart,” Mötley Crüe
“Gimme All Your Lovin’,” ZZ Top
Club and electronica
“Intergalactic”, Beastie Boys
“Busy Child,” The Crystal Method
“Keep Hope Alive,” The Crystal Method
“Harder Better Faster Stronger,” Daft Punk
“Pump Up the Volume,” MARRS
“Le Disko,” Shiny Toy Guns
“Midnight Rider,” The Allman Brothers Band
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” The Charlie Daniels Band
“Guitars, Cadillacs,” Dwight Yoakam
“I Can Sleep When I’m Dead,” Jason Michael Carroll
“Living in Fast Forward,” Kenny Chesney
“All Night Long,” Montgomery Gentry
Rap and hip-hop
“Sabotage,” Beastie Boys
“Don’t Phunk with My Heart,” The Black Eyed Peas
“Pump It,” The Black Eyed Peas
“Insane in the Brain,” Cypress Hill
“Stronger,” Kanye West
“Rock Star,” N.E.R.D.
Pop music and disco
“Bad Girls,” Donna Summer
“I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor
“That’s the Way (I Like It),” KC and the Sunshine Band
“U Can’t Touch This,” MC Hammer
"ella Good,” No Doubt
9) Revenge of the Mummy
Once you exit the docking station Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, head over to New York to experience another one of my family's favorite thrill rides, Revenge of the Mummy. My kids literally get in line for this ride no less than 4 times right in a row. Revenge of the Mummy is an indoor roller coaster. This is a psychological thrill ride that brings The Mummy movies right up close and personal. You are in total darkness, have fireballs thrown at you, scarab beetle and warrior mummies are out to get you and of course, the Mummy comes face to face with you. I can ride this about once with my kiddos and then they are on their very own scream fest!
Restrictions: Riders must be at least 48” tall and no personal belonging allowed.
10) Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
While in New York, be sure to get in line for the all new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. This is Universal Studios Florida first ride to feature an all-new Virtual Line experience. This allows you to enjoy other areas of the park while you “virtually” wait for your time to enter the attraction. This all-new ride takes you on an action-packed race through the Big Apple against Jimmy Fallon himself, and completely immerses you in the world of America’s favorite talk show – “The Tonight Show.” My kids loved this ride and as always, Jimmy Fallon is hilarious!
BONUS: E.T. Adventure
Once you have had your fill of The Mummy, exit New York and walk over to Woody Woodpecker's KidZone. Now you may be thinking, why would I enter the KidsZone for an amazing thrill ride? Well, I simply had to put E.T. Adventure on the list because -- it's E.T.!! This is a family must ride together thrill ride. This is one of the last remaining rides from Universal's opening in 1990. E.T. Adventure is slower paced, family friendly and just delightful . . . and my personal favorite.
So that is my list for the 10 Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando Resort. If you begin early in the morning and stick to this path I have laid out through Islands of Adventure and then directly into Universal Studios Orlando, you will get to experience all 10 of these thrill rides in one day - and possibly more. I highly recommend obtaining an express pass as this will alleviate a lot of wait time in lines. If you stay on property, you get an express pass for FREE. If you do have an express pass, be sure to add in all the extra thrill rides I mentioned and any others that are your favorites.
Disclosure: Images courtesy of myself, Universal Studios and Melinda Jae Photography - all used with permission. My family visited Universal Studios Orlando Resort as a part of the Family Forward Conference. We purchased the tickets to the conference and paid all our own travel, hotel and park expenses.