Step into your favorite movies at Universal Orlando's theme parks — Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure — for an unforgettable experience. As Travel + Leisure's on-staff theme park expert, I have spent countless hours on the ground researching and experiencing these attractions firsthand to find the best rides at Universal Orlando and help you plan your next trip to this theme park resort.
Universal Orlando, founded in 1990, is the second-largest theme park resort in the Orlando area after Walt Disney World. Throughout its history, Universal Orlando has evolved to include new rides and attractions based on successful movie and TV franchises like Jurassic Park, The Simpsons, and most recently, Harry Potter. The addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter introduced a number of rides to the park, bringing massive success and a new surge of popularity for Universal Orlando. Before your next visit to these theme parks, you'll want to plan out what you want to experience, picking from thrill rides, family-friendly attractions kids will love, and everything in between. To help, we've rounded up the best rides at Universal Orlando, so you know what should be at the top of your list.
Every Single Ride at Walt Disney World, Ranked
Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida
1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
The highlight of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley, this attraction is truly the best ride at Universal Studios Florida. The queue itself is wildly impressive, with goblins that look like they're straight from the movies. The ride is also very unique, combining dark ride and coaster elements with 3-D projections to create a truly immersive and exciting experience.
2. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
This is, by far, the most thrilling ride at Universal Studios Florida. The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster allows riders to choose their own soundtrack (with over two dozen song options including "Glamorous" by Fergie and "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys — plus a secret playlist) before taking off on a vertical ascent for an exciting ride that gets up to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour.
3. Revenge of the Mummy
A welcome break from other screen-based attractions at Universal Studios Florida, this indoor coaster based on The Mummy is thrilling without being too scary. The immersive design and exciting practical effects make it a personal favorite that I love to ride again and again.
4. Men in Black Alien Attack
Enter the Men in Black training facility and zap aliens in this interactive dark ride. With 120 animatronic aliens, this ride is fun, engaging, and worth enjoying more than once to see if you can beat your high score.
5. E.T. Adventure
There's a good reason that E.T. Adventure is the only opening-day attraction left at Universal Orlando. Sure, it's a little dated, but this ride is just as charming as it was in 1990 with its bicycle ride vehicles, and now, it offers an added dose of nostalgia.
6. The Simpsons Ride
Follow the Simpsons on their crazy antics during this funny motion simulator ride. Fans of the show will love all the references and details, and the movement is smooth and realistic (although it might be intense for those prone to motion sickness).
7. Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station
Climb aboard the famed Hogwarts Express and experience the magic of the Harry Potter movies in this attraction. King's Cross station looks just like it does in London, and this is a quick and delightful way to get to Islands of Adventure. You can really imagine yourself boarding the train to Hogwarts, and arriving in Hogsmeade makes it even more magical.
8. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
Fans of The Tonight Show will like this Jimmy Fallon-led 3-D motion simulator ride that takes guests on a trip around New York City. The well-themed queue that's made to look just like 30 Rockefeller Plaza is equally impressive.
9. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
As one of the first attractions guests reach when entering the park, this simulator ride can have long wait times. It's great for families, so fans of the Despicable Me movies should check it out. And good news for little ones: More Minions-themed fun will open this summer, including a new attraction.
10. Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl
This Simpsons-themed spinner ride is a solid option for kids, but it's not the most exciting ride in this park. That said, it's worth riding (if the line is short) to take in the views of the park while flying in circles.
11. Transformers: The Ride 3-D
Several recently debuted rides at this park rely heavily on screens and motion simulators, and while it works for some attractions, this one is a little jerky, although fans of the Transformers films are sure to enjoy it.
12. Fast & Furious – Supercharged
As one of the newest rides at the park, Fast & Furious — Supercharged was highly anticipated, but many argue that it didn't live up to the hype. Fans of the film franchise may want to check it out, but there are better rides to experience at this park if you're short on time.
Best Rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure
1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This incredible dark ride combines innovative technologies and a unique ride system to fully immerse guests in the Harry Potter story. Plus, it's housed in the Hogwarts Castle, and the queue is absolutely amazing, with classroom replicas, a message from the Sorting Hat, and more. It's worth riding again and again — you're almost guaranteed to notice something new each time.
2. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Many laud this well-themed coaster as the best ride in the park, and it's easy to see why once you experience it. Take a seat on Hagrid's motorbike and soar through beautiful scenery while encountering some magical creatures and delightful surprises along the way.
3. Jurassic World VelociCoaster
This newer addition to Islands of Adventure might just be the most thrilling ride in all of Orlando's theme parks. The Jurassic World-themed roller coaster isn't for the faint of heart — it's tall, fast, and has multiple inversions — and that makes it all the more exciting for thrill-seekers visiting the park. For coaster lovers, this may even be the best ride at Universal Orlando.
4. Jurassic Park River Adventure
What starts as a calming boat ride through Jurassic Park quickly turns into a thrilling escape ending with an 85-foot drop. Whether or not you're a fan of the classic dino movie, this ride is worth experiencing at least once — the splash-down never disappoints.
5. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
One of the most intense rides at Islands of Adventure, The Incredible Hulk Coaster — complete with seven inversions and a 67-mph launch start — is a must for all thrill-seekers.
6. Flight of the Hippogriff
This family-friendly coaster is another delightful addition to the Harry Potter-themed land. The ride is short, but it offers great views of Hogwarts from the train (which was made to look like a wicker Hippogriff). Be sure to wave to Buckbeak as you coast along.
7. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Step inside your favorite comic books in Marvel Super Hero Island. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a 3-D simulator dark ride that immerses you in the superhero action. When the attraction debuted in 1999, it was praised for its groundbreaking use of new ride technology, and it's still a fun time today.
8. Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station
The Hogwarts Express allows visitors to travel between Universal Orlando's two parks without leaving the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which makes it a must-do experience if you plan to visit both parks in one day. The Hogsmeade side of the Hogwarts Express is just as fun as its King's Cross counterpart.
9. The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
Go for a scenic tour above Seuss Landing on this ride. The train ride actually has two tracks, so you can enjoy a different story during your second time around. This is a fun, gentle ride that's great for families.
10. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls
A classic log flume ride with a cartoon twist, this ride is great for cooling off on hot Florida days. Bright colors, retro cartoon vignettes, and multiple drops make it fun even for guests who have never heard of Dudley Do-Right — as long as they don't mind getting wet.
11. The Cat in the Hat
This dark ride takes you straight into one of Dr. Seuss's most beloved stories, and it's fun for kids and nostalgic for adults who remember this story from childhood — just keep an eye out for mischievous Thing 1 and Thing 2.
12. Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges
Sail through the rapids on this bumpy water ride, but be warned: You will get very wet. Although it's perfect for a warm Florida day, you might want to skip it if the sun isn't out or if you don't want to walk around in soaked shoes all day (speaking from a soggy experience).
The entire Seuss-themed land is whimsical, and this ride offers a fun twist on the classic amusement park attraction, with Seuss-inspired characters replacing traditional carousel horses. Plus, you can walk right over to the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe for some Green Eggs and Ham tater tots after.
14. Pteranodon Flyers
This gentle dino ride was created for kids, so adults can't ride without a child between 36 to 56 inches tall. If you do have the chance to hop on, you'll get great views of the park while soaring along.
15. Storm Force Accelatron
This hero-themed spinning teacup ride isn't the most exciting option in the park, but it's fun and worth checking out if there isn't a long line.
16. Doctor Doom's Fearfall
This exciting space shot-style ride isn't for the faint of heart — expect thrilling drops. The villain-themed attraction is fun for thrill-seekers, but it's not all that different than the drop rides you'd find at your local amusement park.
17. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Climb aboard an adorable flying fish on this Dr. Seuss-themed spinning ride. It's ideal for younger children who can't yet go on the more intense rides in the park — they'll love the ability to control the ride vehicle, but keep an eye out for the fountains.
18. Skull Island: Reign of Kong
This trackless dark ride based on King Kong is a fairly polarizing attraction — the animatronics are incredible and the queue is well-themed, but the screen-based portion is a little lackluster, similar to Fast & Furious — Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida.