There's no better time to visit an amusement park than summer. When you get right down to it, it's hard to top a theme park as world-famous as Universal Studios Orlando.
Split into two adjoining parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventures are excellent places to visit. Catering to many park-goers' main interests, Universal's parks are perfect for thrill-seekers who love roller coasters, younger visitors looking for interactive rides, or simply those who love movies, be it Harry Potter, The Mummy, or Jurassic World.
Given the high volume of foot traffic Universal Studios Orlando receives daily, you may have a tight schedule upon arriving at the parks. To use your time more efficiently, knowing which attractions to prioritize and whether they're suitable for certain visitors is helpful.
Here are the best Universal Orlando rides to do on your next visit.
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Far and away the best roller coaster in Universal's Islands of Adventure, the VelociCoaster is also the most noteworthy attraction in Universal Studios Orlando. A relatively new addition to the park, it's a high-speed attraction that takes riders past the waiting jaws of ravenous Velociraptors.
Moving at upward speeds of 70 miles per hour through dips, dives, twists, and turns, there's no question the VelociCoaster is an intense attraction for even experienced roller coaster addicts to handle. However, it's an incredibly well-designed coaster that makes clever use of its basis in Jurassic World, serving as a welcome break from the virtual aesthetic of most modern attractions at Universal.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
A tried and true original from Islands of Adventure's opening year, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man feels like you've stepped foot into the vibrantly-colored world of New York's famous web-slinger. In a 3D dark ride with a queue that winds you through the Daily Bugle, you'll face some of Spider-Man‘s most dangerous foes, from the deranged Hobgoblin to the multi-limbed Dr. Octopus.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man combines 3D effects with a realistic environment and ride mechanics. However, riders looking for a gentler ride may want to avoid this attraction.
Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
In contrast to the Wizarding World's simulation-based rides, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a far more traditional roller coaster that takes riders through the mythical Forbidden Forest, populated by pixies, centaurs, and Fluffy the three-headed dog, among other fantastic creatures.
Maintaining enough of a basis in the Harry Potter series, Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure is essentially the junior version of the VelociCoaster, with maximum speeds of 50 miles per hour. As with any Universal roller coaster, it can be a bit daunting for some, but its primarily flat track makes it relatively manageable (although some of the attraction sees riders moving backward, which should factor into your decision to venture onboard or not).
The Hogwarts Express
It's challenging to know what to describe the Hogwarts Express as, the “attraction” not being an attraction at all, but a more atmospheric transportation system for Universal visitors to travel between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
While it doesn't necessarily fit into the same category as the VelociCoaster or The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, it's nevertheless the ideal way to get back and forth from each Universal Park. Selling the notion that you've entered The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it's leisurely without being boring, punctuated by encounters with Dementors, centaurs, and more than a few familiar faces from the fantasy series it's based on.
Universal Studios Florida
Harry Potter Escape From Gringotts
The flagship attraction of Diagon Alley – Universal Studios Florida's portion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Escape from Gringotts is also one of the most remarkable Potter-related rides at Universal Studios Orlando. Effectively combining a steel roller coaster with first-rate 3-D projections, it's an immersive experience that takes you into the heart of Gringotts Bank, racing through the catacombs as you're pursued by dragons, trolls, and He Who Must Not Be Named himself, Lord Voldemort.
As with most other Wizarding World rides, an enclosed roller coaster and nonstop projections can result in heavy motion sickness in some riders. Despite that, it's still an incredibly well-built attraction that will capture the imagination of hardcore Potter fans and those unfamiliar with the series.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
What other roller coaster allows you to select a musical track to listen to as you ride? Such is the idea behind Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, a classic steel roller coaster exclusively found at Universal Studios Florida.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit proves you don't need an overly complex idea or plethora of screens to make a great attraction. A simple roller coaster accompanied by a sizable musical listing – ranging from the Bee Gees to Johnny Cash – its twists, turns, and speed (65 miles-per-hour) can be a bit much for those new to roller coasters. But for anyone looking for above-par thrills, this is the Universal attraction for you.
Revenge of The Mummy
With the recent resurgence of Brendan Fraser, the criminally underrated Revenge of the Mummy has been getting much more attention from Fraser's fans and supporters lately. Even before Fraser's triumphant return to the film industry, though, Revenge of the Mummy was an otherwise ingenious roller coaster that made clever use of its source material.
Offering an almost meta-take on The Mummy, Revenge of the Mummy is a pulse-pounding enclosed roller coaster that sees series antagonist Imhotep chasing riders through a dimly-lit tomb. Given its high speeds (about 45 miles per hour) and basis in horror, the attraction can be intimidating to inexperienced or younger riders. Still, it's easily one of the best roller coasters in Universal Studios Orlando's two parks.
Men in Black: Alien Attack
A somewhat underrated attraction, Men in Black: Alien Attack is worth visiting because it's unlike anything else in Universal Studios Orlando. In this interactive dark ride, riders board slow-moving vehicles that take them through the classified offices of the Men in Black, shooting at moving and stationary hostile extraterrestrial targets.
It's certainly not the best attraction at Universal Orlando. Still, it's an excellent way to break up your day and recover from the potentially dizzying roller coasters and simulation rides throughout the park. Plus, it also makes for a fun way for families to compete against one another on an attraction fit for every age group.
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
With how humid and oppressive the heat in Florida is almost year-round, a day at Universal Studios Florida can be physically taxing. After standing in lines for countless hours and trudging from attraction to attraction, it's helpful to have a cool-down period built into your day to escape the park's muggy weather.
Enter: Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. A white-water river rapids ride themed after the beloved comic strip character Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges is more than suitable for Universal visitors, young and old. Be warned, no matter where you're seated, you will get soaked on this ride.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Travel.
Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).