• The TOP TEN Best Rides at Universal Orlando

The TOP TEN Best Rides at Universal Orlando

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Feb 26, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

The TOP TEN Best Rides at Universal Orlando

Everybody loves top ten lists. They are so fun to read, and the internet always agrees with the winner and never complains about their picks being left out. 

Right? 

Well, not exactly, but top ten lists are fun nonetheless. They are even more fun when we are talking about theme parks and amazing attractions, which exist to bring joy to every single guest out there! ...well, unless you're one of those waiting in line for Hagrid's Motorbike Adventures for one hour just to hear the park operator say the launch system broke down (again) and you have to come back later.

Islands of Adventure Velocicoaster 4.webp

Still, let's focus on the positive, people! Universal Orlando has two main theme parks (sorry, Volcano Bay): Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It might not sound like much, even more so when you compare it to Walt Disney World's four theme parks, but making a list of top ten rides for Universal was way harder than expected. I mean, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are amongst the best theme parks in Florida, with amazing roller coasters, motion simulators, stunt shows and much more.

Some fan favorites will be left out. Sorry. I could feel the pain in my heart for excluding some fan favorites like Jurassic Park River Adventure and Transformers 3D, but a list of ten rides needs to make some sacrifices. Don't worry, there wasn't a spot for The Fast and the Furious as well, I know how much you love that one.

Enough talk. *Drum roll*. Let's get this list started!

10 - Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Where: Universal Studios

There we have it, folks, our list has officially started. We start our journey in style, by the way, with a massive roller coaster that launched back in 2009 at Universal Studios. Rip Ride Rockit is a steel giant and one of the largest roller coasters in Florida. You can spot those red tracks from basically anywhere in Universal Studios, and the attraction looks even better at night with vehicles blinking like fireflies.

Rip Ride Rockit is well known for two things: first is the vertical launch sequence, where your train climbs the track at a ninety-degree angle before the main drop. The second interesting detail is that you can choose which song plays during the entire ride duration! Yep, each seat comes equipped with its very own LCD screen where you can choose hits from My Chemical Romance and ABBA. There was even a cool easter egg where you could input a few commands and access a list of secret songs, but I'm not sure if that's still there.

Other than that, Rip Ride Rockit is just fun. It might have more steep turns than usual for some guests, but it's a nice mix of loops and high speeds. I definitely recommend going there at least once.

9 - The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Where: Islands of Adventure

Islands Adventure Marvel Island 1.webp

Wait, another roller coaster? Yeah, who would have thought, it seems like they are very popular! The Incredible Hulk Coaster is a complete classic when it comes to Islands of Adventure, and might be considered the park's main landmark. I mean, almost every official picture of Islands features those imposing green tracks somewhere, hm?

The Hulk Coaster launched back in 1999 and was already there when Islands of Adventure officially opened its doors for the first time. It featured an amazing launch sequence which is still pretty popular to this day, and a first drop which ranks amongst the best in all roller coaster. Sure, the vehicle isn't as comfortable as the most recent roller coasters and it can feel bumpy from time to time, but, other than that, the Hulk Coaster has aged like fine wine.

It doesn't matter you love loops, sharp turns or a good sense of speed, the Hulk Coaster has it all. The initial launch sequence and the very first drop after a corkscrew are by far my favorite parts, and few rides get this sense of adrenaline even after twenty years. 

8 - Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls

Where: Islands of Adventure

Dudley do what? Yeah, I can hear you from here. Let me tell you one thing, Ripsaw Falls is one of the most underrated rides in Universal Orlando. This is by far one of my favorite water attractions, and I'd place it in front of Splash Mountain (please, don't raise your pitchforks). 

So what is this one about? Ripsaw Falls is a traditional log flume ride, where guests enter a vehicle with the objective of getting soaked. There, the end. Okay, it's more than that. This is an adventure through a fictional cartoon which mostly makes fun of Splash Mountain, and has a very similar artstyle and vibe as your log makes its way through different animatronics and visual effects.

I know what you are thinking. "Hey, I almost never get soaked in rides like that, from Jurassic Park River Adventure to the old Splash Mountain". Ripsaw Falls is on a whole new level. Trust me. You will get soaked from the moment you put your feet inside the vehicle.

Ripsaw Falls is a very long ride, at almost six minutes. It features two drops, with the main one making sure even your soul will get wet. There are multiple splashes and jets of water while your log makes its way through cartoonish animatronics, and it's very easy for your pants and sneakers to get completely wet. Make sure to put on slippers before boarding and never carry your cellphone or your wallet with you if you decide to come here. Thank us later.

7 - Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Where: Universal Studios

Escape from Gringotts Universal Harry (6).webp

Finally, a Harry Potter ride! This one is located in Universal Studios and is a big fan favorite. I'd place it miles ahead of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (please, don't raise your pitchforks. Again). Gringotts is just a very cool mix of a dark ride and a roller coaster, similar to Revenge of the Mummy. It doesn't reach the same heights, but you should definitely come here, even more so if you are a fan of JK Rowling's world.

Gringotts is almost a bunch of different rides and mechanics mixed in a 5 minute tour through the Wizarding Bank owned by goblins. It's a dark ride, it's a 3D motion simulator, it's a short movie and it's also a roller coaster. Somehow, it works! We can see that Universal was ready to open their wallets when it comes to this ride, as it features amazing animatronics, an awesome queue and all the major characters from the movies, played by big actors like Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. 

I do wish that just a little money was spent on the 3D screens and visuals. You do have to wear 3D glasses, which already makes textures look a bit worse than usual, but the visuals are just not on par with the rest of the ride. Harry Potter can look a bit blurry, which is a shame, considering this ride has a lot of awesome setpieces with Voldemort and even a big dragon joining the ride. Maybe Universal will update it in the coming years? Seriously, if Gringotts had visuals on par with something like Avatar Flight of Passage, this ride would easily be in the top three or five. 

6 - The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man

Where: Islands of Adventure

Yes, another Islands of Adventure classic! And a really good one, by the way! How good? Well, The Amazing Spider Man got more than ten awards for the "Best Dark Ride in the World", a record that was only stopped when Rise of the Resistance came to put an end to Spidey's reign. 

The Amazing Spider Man is awesome, and probably one of the best motion simulators up to this day. Transformers 3D is almost a reskin of this ride, but it doesn't have the same charm. Skull Island: Reign of Kong shares some DNA with Spider Man, but it's just not as good. And as for The Fast and the Furious Supercharged... well, we don't talk about The Fast and the Furious Supercharged.

So, what's this ride about? You put on 3D glasses, board a vehicle and watch as Spider Man fights a bunch of villains across New York. Fan favorites like Dr.Octopus and Green Goblin appear, and there are always a mix of awesome practical effects and visual cues when Spidey is fighting them. 

Green Goblin has my favorite scene, by the way, when he makes an appearance on the screen in front of you and hurls a grenade. Spider does manage to save you by webbing the explosive and launching it elsewhere, which makes the grenade hit a pipe near your vehicle and explore. Yes, the grenade is a visual effect on the screen, but the fire that comes out of the pipe is real and you can see the scenario around you changing in real time. Neat.

This is one of those rare rides that will probably be Amazing forever (get it?). It's extremely charming and just a good time overall, carried by Spider Man's charm and an awesome cast of villains.

5 - Men in Black: Alien Attack

Where: Universal Studios

men in black universal (7).webp

It's time for you to dress in black, agent. Alien Attack is one of the main shooting interactive dark rides in Florida. In fact, I'd say it's still the best one, even after it launched more than twenty years ago, on April 14, 2000. If you have been to rides like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kingdom and even Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios, you probably know the drill by now. You grab a fake laser gun, aim at something in front of you and spam that trigger to get a high score.

Alien Attack is just stylish. The ride itself is huge, as your vehicle takes more than five minutes to finish a full run. In the meantime, you are surrounded by animatronics of aliens of all sizes and styles as you make your way across a city. The scenario is amazing! There are houses and all sorts of buildings around you, each one of them holding a secret. Aliens can be hiding in a trash can, or only their silhouette can appear behind a window. Either way, you shoot and pray that your aim is true so you can pile up those points.

This is also one of the most original rides in all Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, two theme parks known for a lot of motion simulators and roller coasters. There is just nothing like Alien Attack, and nothing that makes you feel like you truly are part of the attraction. 

You know what I really want? A complete update to this ride. Keep the idea of shooting fake laser guns, but get new animatronics there. Maybe even power ups you can shoot at that change how your gun works? Maybe an update that turns your pistol into a machine gun so you just hold the trigger and shoot every alien in sight! Do it, Universal. Give Men in Black some love.

4 - The Bourne Stuntacular

Where: Universal Studios

Bourne Stuntacular universal show (1).webp

Jason Bourne, you have a new mission: entertain guests at Universal Studios with an awesome show which is a mix of stunt actors and visual effects on a high resolution screen.

Mission accomplished! Way to go, Matt Damon. The Bourne Stuntacular is one of the best shows in theme parks. Yeah, theme parks from all over the world. It takes the idea behind the old Terminator 3D show to the next level, even if it shares some DNA with it.

Now, how to explain The Bourne Stuntacular? Well, if you have watched the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney's Hollywood Studios, imagine something like this but better and with the extra help of technology. Bourne also has actors on stage and features fight scenes, gun fights and even chase sequences on cars and motorbikes. It also takes ideas from Terminator 3D, which means that there is always a huge digital screen on stage, which shows the background and digital images which interact with the actors.

It's wild, and very well made. I can't even imagine how many hours of practice it takes to get everything just right. I mean, the action on screen never stops: if someone is firing a rocket launcher there, the actor on stage must know the exact time when he falls down or jumps to escape from a deadly explosion. There is even a short sequence when the screen goes into slow motion, and the actor on stage starts moving slowly to also simulate time slowing down. It's crazy.

If you go to Universal Studios Orlando, do grab a park map and check show times for The Bourne Stuntacular. Do. Not. Miss. It.

3 - Revenge of the Mummy

Where: Universal Studios

Universal Studios revenge mummy entrance.JPG

This ride is just awesome, and one of the best indoor roller coasters out there. Maybe it was the best, until Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind launched in 2022. Revenge of the Mummy is a mix of a dark ride with a roller coaster, which means that you start your tour by exploring dark catacombs, going past traps and then coming face to face with the evil Imhotep. From there, the rides become a roller coaster as you try to escape from the nefarious Mummy. This section is pretty short, but still fun, with visual effects displayed on screens as you are speeding up and down the track.

This roller coaster is still a fan favorite up to this day, even if it launched way back in 2004. The practical effects include a lot of fire, doors that are about to close on top of your vehicle and even 3D-evil-scarabs that are ready to attack you out of nowhere. Even the queue is very well done. It's really dark - keep your kids close - but it does give a good preview of what this ride is all about. Sometimes, even park operators hide in the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to give a good scare. Well done.

There's not much I'd change about Revenge of the Mummy. The practical effects and animatronics still look very good in 2023, from Imhotep's army to the fire spreading out from multiple tombs. I do wish the roller coaster portion was longer, and I imagine it's basically impossible to update this part with new track parts just to extend the ride duration. Oh well, that's fine. You should definitely come here. In fact, you should come here over and over. It's that good.

2 - Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Where: Islands of Adventure

Yet another Harry Potter ride to drive Potterheads crazy, and this one has what might be the longest, most weird name on the whole list. Hagrid's is an awesome steel roller coaster, by the way. It's comfy, it features easter eggs from the books and it also has an awesome sense of speed. I mean, could you ask for anything else? 

Yes, yes you could. Please, mister Harry Potter, use a Fixetus Ridetus magic on it so Hagrid's Motorbike Adventures breaks down just a little bit less than usual.

Yeah, the worst part about Hagrid's is that it closes down a lot. There is a reason that might explain this, by the way. This roller coaster features not one, not two, but seven launches during the entire ride. You know what happens if one of those launch pads isn't working, right? Yep, maintenance time!

When it is working it's a great time and one of the most popular attractions in the whole park, which means that queue times get crazy high. You will be speeding up a lot, as the vehicle reaches a maximum speed of 50 mph in straight lines. You will also be going up, down and steering left and right. Hagrid doesn't have any crazy loops or things like that. It's all about speed and having a good time.

Universal, by the way, says that this one is a story coaster. Muggles go on a journey through the Forbidden Forest, coming face to face with creatures from the books, like a three headed dog that looks like Cerbeus. Maybe it is Cerberus? Sorry, I don't know everything related to JK Rowling's world. Anyway, there are even more fantastical creatures for you to find here, so the ride is much more than just speeding up on a motorbike. Bonus: there is a fun backwards section as well, which is always welcome and a nice change of pace.

1 - Jurassic World VelociCoaster

Where: Islands of Adventure

Islands Adventure Velocicoaster 5.webp

We have our winner! The VelociCoaster is a giant, amazing, wonderful, great, fast steel roller coaster, themed after those pesky raptors from the Jurassic Park movies. Raptors are all about moving fast, so you already know that you will be riding at light speed, right? Yep. The VelociCoaster reaches top speeds of 70 mph, has two launches and a ton of wonderful moments. This is an extremely comfortable roller coaster from 2021, that opts to go for speed and air time instead of loops and corkscrews, which is very much welcome.

The VelociCoaster is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Florida. It might be one of the most comfortable ones as well. If you love going fast in your roller coaster and amazing drops, then you will feel right at home here. Even the pre-show is cool! It features Chris Pratt reprising his role from Jurassic World, where he says that it's a dumb idea to pick velociraptors and put them next to guests on a roller coaster. Oh, Chris! How wrong you were. That was the best idea ever.

Just keep in mind that queue times here tend to be pretty high. The VelociCoaster and Hagrid's are the two most recent and popular rides at Islands of Adventure, so it's pretty normal to see 100 minute lines here. If you are staying at one of Universal's hotels, you can try to come here one hour earlier and enter the line before anyone else.

Pheeeew!

There we have it! The top ten rides at Universal Orlando. We hope you enjoyed the list. As stated before, Universal Orlando has way more than just ten rides you should enjoy, and of course that personal preferences will play a major role in your own choice of rides. Honorable mentions go to Jurassic Park River Adventure, Transformers 3D, Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and many more rides I could list here.

Hope you had a fun read and until next time!

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