13 Can’t Miss Rides & Attractions at Universal Studios Orlando
2. The Incredible Hulk Coaster (Islands of Adventure)
The best roller-coaster in Orlando is definitely The Incredible Hulk Coaster. One of the coolest aspects of this ride is the intense take off. This exhilarating ride includes a speed increase from 0 to 40mph in just 2 seconds! The Hulk zooms on to a heart pounding speed of 67mph as you travel through 7 inversions and 2 underground tunnels filled with mist.
You will be tempted to re-ride this great coaster again and again after your first exciting time around. This is the perhaps the smoothest roller coaster around! This ride is so fast that you barely have time to anticipate the scary corkscrews, loops, and drops. It’s over before you know it and then you are back in line ready to experience it all over again!
3. Jurassic Park River Adventure (Islands of Adventure)
Jurassic Park may be one of Universal’s older rides (opened back in 1999), however, that doesn’t mean it lacks at all in the excitement department! Movie fans will absolutely love this themed water raft ride. As you make your way around Jurassic Park, you will be transported to Isla Nublar as you are surrounded by realistic dinosaurs. The big thrill comes with the unexpected 75 foot drop at the end.
This is a fun family ride with big thrills and plenty of water to cool you off for a while during the hot and humid afternoon hours!
4. E.T. Adventure (Universal Studios)
E.T., which opened way back in 1990, is one of Universal’s first rides (the park opened in 1989). Don’t listen to the naysayers who consider E.T. to be an outdated ride. With all the new dizzying motion simulators rides, E.T. stands out as one of the classics. Take advantage of the shorter wait time as many tourists skip right pass it due to newer attractions in the park. Don’t miss your opportunity to take a bike riding adventure on one of Universal’s most iconic rides.
Take a break from the heat and relax as you glide past forests, the night sky, and even a planet filled with adorable E.Ts. A really fantastic ride with fun animatronics and an attractive set design. I love the portion where you go past the starry sky – it really feels as if you are riding a bike across the moon! Oh, and the gift shop here is fantastic! So many adorable stuffed E.T.’s!
5. Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges (Islands of Adventure)
Islands of Adventure’s best water park ride is sure to leave you absolutely soaked, which works out perfectly with the hot, humid Orlando weather. This is the ride to go on after several hours walking around in the sun and sweating in hot, overcrowded lines! This refreshing circular raft ride offers more than enough opportunities for getting wet – everyone in your party will get cooled down tremendously (at least for a while!).
You will twist, turn, and experience small drops as if you are on a whitewater rafting adventure (although a tad less intense, of course). A must for anyone who doesn’t mind walking around the park wet for the next few hours. The best aspect of this ride is that your whole group can enjoy it together without breaking apart into several lines.
6. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)
At Islands of Adventure’s Hogsmeade, you will find the first addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, still as popular as ever. Since The Forbidden Journey opened in 2010, tourists have raved about this creative, intense ride. This unique simulator ride takes you through several areas of Hogwarts, including: Dumbledore’s Office, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the Room of Requirement. The ride is fast paced and intense and will not make you overly dizzy with a headache like most of the other motion simulators.
The combination of a large IMAX screen, animatronics, special effects, and robotic arms on the seats results in a fantastic, entertaining thrill ride that is sure to please all fans. As you are twisted and turned in every direction possible, you will feel as if you traveling to each of the classrooms and actually following Harry on the broomstick. Here’s your chance to get as close as possible to the feeling of riding a broomstick. How cool is that?!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey takes you right into the action of all your favorite movies, along with guest appearances from most of the main characters you have loved throughout the years and those who game you nightmares (great spider and dragon effects!). This is a ride you need to venture on at least twice to take it all in. The ride is so fast you barely have a chance to absorb what is going on, however, that’s part of the fun!
The best part of the ride is the wait through Hogwarts Castle. At other rides in the park, you stand in long lines frustrated from the heat, crowds, and bored out of your mind. At the Forbidden Journey, the queue is as good as the ride itself! In fact, it is probably the best waiting line of all time.
You will pass many rooms from the movie including: Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor Common Room, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Special effects including appearances by Dumbledore, Hermione, Ron, Harry, and the sorting hat, falling snow, and talking portraits, make you feel as if you are truly walking inside Hogwarts.
7. Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls (Islands of Adventure)
Don’t let Ripsaw Falls location in Island of Adventure’s Toon Lagoon area fool you into thinking this is just a kiddie ride. Quite contrary, this exciting water raft ride is entertaining for the whole family, so much so that it is definitely worthy of a second ride! You will make your way along several turns and a few small drops before arriving at the final 75 foot tall double drop. Great fun on a hot summer afternoon!
This is a refreshing, exciting ride with a colorful, youthful theme based on the Dudley Do Right’s cartoons of the late 60’s. I make it a point to make room for this ride on every single Universal trip!
8. Men in Black: Alien Attack (Universal Studios)
While I am not a huge fan of the MIB movies, Alien Attack is one of Universal’s best rides. It’s one of the few which I make a point to go on at least twice! Your whole party will have a blast competing with each other to see who can zap the most aliens! This ride feels like a blast to the past, back to the good old days of arcades! Great special effects and tons of spinning add to the excitement!
9. Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure)
While Universal Studios is home to the newest section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley), Islands of Adventure is home to Hogsmeade, the original Harry Potter attraction. Hogsmeade includes 3 great rides ( Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Flight of the Hippogriff). In between all your rides and shopping, stop at the Three Broomsticks for an English meal served with a Butterbeer.
Honeydukes – Get ready for a floor to ceiling collection of treats, including Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
Ollivanders – Take part in the wand ceremony or purchase a replica from the movie. Every single character from Harry Potter to Cedric Diggory is available!
Dervish + Banges – A great place to shop for themed merchandised based on your favorite house (mugs, clothing, wands, brooms, they have everything!)
Filche’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods – After your ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you will be brought into this large shop filled with everything Harry Potter, with souvenirs ranging from a sorting hat snowglobe, to a Marauders Map. Lots of Hogwarts themed souvenirs such as t-shirts, mugs, picture frames, keychains, etc. This is the perfect place to stock up for early Christmas gifts for Harry Potter fans.
Be sure to check out the Hogwarts Houses Quidditch chess set up front by the register – a really neat peace if you feel like spending $300! Here you can also purchase photos of yourself from the ride!
The Owl Post – Send out a letter or postcard with an official Hogsmeade stamp.
Every detail from the snow-capped mountains to the design of the shops and pubs is just perfect. As you walk around the snowy village, you can browse in festive shop windows (complete with special effects and movie props) and purchase ButterBeer in a souvenir glass. A perfect experience for Harry Potter fans – it’s even better than you imagined!
10. Hagrid’s Magic Creatures Motorbike Adventure (Islands of Adventure)
Universal seems to add a new Harry Potter feature every year – not a bad thing for all the Harry Potter fanatics out there! The newest addition to Islands of Adventure theme park is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. As expected, the wait for this hot ride can be very lengthy (at times, several hours!). This is one to get to right at park opening!
Although it is not as themed and extravagant as the Forbidden Journey & Gringotts, this is one fun rollercoaster. Featuring twists, turns, & drops, this is one of the more exciting rides at either of the Universal parks.