the top rides when visiting universal studios, florida

Every Ride Ranked from Best to Worst

Orlando, Florida, aka the Vacation Capital of the world for those seeking thrills for themselves and their families. Orlando is home to multiple theme parks including Universal Studios, Legoland, SeaWorld, and the legendary Walt Disney World. While Disney World is full of nostalgia for someone like myself (90’s kid), I will argue that Universal Studios has the more epic set of thrill rides. With memorable IP (Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Marvel [for now]) and a higher level of intensity in most rides, Universal Studios is a MUST VISIT. When you do visit, it’s important to know what rides to prioritize versus to skip. Below are all of the Universal Studios/Islands of Adventures rides ranked.

Number 1: Jurassic Park VelociCoaster

This is the best ride at either park. I know, I know… It’s not a Harry Potter themed ride. Blasphemy, I know! The newest ride and the newest addition to the Jurassic Park Universe is the best ride at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Step into Jurassic World and run with the raptors with the likes of Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). This coaster might not look big and scary, but it is not for the faint of heart. Riders are launched two different times with the second launch shooting you to the top of the ride’s iconic drop. The ride has four total inversions, including one of the tightest corkscrews I have experienced. This ride is one of the most intense in Orlando and is a ride that is not to be missed. And as a side-note… you are going to wait in line for a while anyways, the front row is 100% worth it.

Number 2: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Whomever is responsible for the decor and setting the environment on this ride should ABSOLUTELY have been promoted the second this ride opened. Hogwarts castle is magnificent, but walking into the main foyer of Gringotts is breathtaking! You see goblins at work balancing their books and massive chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling. You are summoned to pass through the vaults walking past Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault (storyline is based on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows PT 2). Riders board their cart to visit the vaults and are launched into a fight between Harry and Voldemort. The ride itself uses the same 3D tech used in Spider-Man and Transformers, but this ride is slightly more intense than either of these (think of a 3D Mine Coaster). This ride is fun for all ages and absolutely should not be missed.

Number 3: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

This ride rocks! As a Universal Studios fan, I was sad when Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge was closed down (previously in this area). But this ride incorporates some of the same scenic queue. This ride is the calmer/smoother cousin of the VelociCoaster but still delivers quite the thrill. Join Hagrid as you ride motorbikes off the Hogwarts grounds on the search for magical creatures. As a note, this is a two-passenger car that you will be riding in (one rider on the motorbike, one rider in the sidecar)… I found the ride much more enjoyable riding on the motorbike versus in the sidecar. Great ride that builds up quite the line, not to be missed.

Number 4: The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Man. If you want to talk about a ride that absolutely gets slept on at Islands of Adventure, look no further than the Incredible Hulk Coaster. I get it, the ride has been opened since the park existed. I get it, there might have to be a major rebranding for the ride with Marvel rights shifting to Disney. BUT THAT LAUNCH UP THE LIFT HILL!!! I AM HULK HEAR ME ROOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR! Great Coaster that still consistently makes the top coaster lists. There’s nothing special about the queue area or the theming, this one is all about the coaster. This is an intense ride, and if you are a coaster-fiend, it is definitely a ride that should not be missed.

Number 5: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

I can hear it now; “What!!! Harry Potter is all the way down at Number 5! This list sucks!”. I know, I know. The Hogsmeade area and Castle are marvelous. The queue is the same. So what gives?? I just honestly enjoy the other 4 rides more. This ride makes it feel as if you are riding a broom around the Hogwarts grounds. With a mix of simulator screen time and real-life props used for the ride, this ride does things that no ride before it has done. This ride is remarkable and should not be missed.

Number 6: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, aka the big red rollercoaster is an extremely intense ride. Riders plunge 17 stories after ascending a 90 degree vertical lift hill and reaching speeeds of 65mph. The ride also includes a loop with a corkscrew at the top of it, as well as multiple other drops and dives. All of this while jamming out to the music of your choice! If you like high intensity rollercoasters, this is a great ride for you and should not be missed. As a note: Prioritize riding this when it’s open. It frequently shuts down for mechanical/technical issues and weather-related issues.

Number 7: Revenge of the Mummy

For those who don’t remember the Brendan Fraser Mummy series (prior to more recent box office disaster starring Tom Cruise), they will get a fresh intro or reminder of the storyline and the power of Imhotep! This is a wild indoor runaway mine train style ride, themed in Egypt as the evil Imhotep chases riders throughout the ride. The special effects in this ride are very high quality (LOTS OF FIRE) and it does include a medium intensity rollercoaster launch. This ride is about a 5 or 6 out of 10 on the intensity scale and is a fun ride for all to take in (except for your great aunt who you told this was a “Small World” -esque water ride to trick her into riding).

Number 8: Jurassic Park River Adventure

The classic. The one your cousin told you about when they visited Universal Studios Hollywood. This ride is likely in for a rebrand soon (see Jurassic World – the Ride at Universal Hollywood) and to be honest, a lot of the animatronics and dinosaurs feel somewhat old and outdated. All that being said, the drop is spectacular. That’s truly all this ride is about (and nostalgia for all of us 90’s kids). Great ride, heck of a finale with the drop. And the front row WILL GET WET.

Number 9: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Another Islands of Adventure Classic! This ride uses 3D screens to make you feel like you are swinging through NYC with Spider-Man (and falling from the top of a 200ft building…). This is a milder version of the Transformers 3D ride; I just personally like the Spider-Man theme better than Transformers. Great ride, appropriate for most ages.

Number 10: MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack!!

Alright, so it’s probably about time for this ride to get a refresh, but it is still a great time! This is a classic shooter style ride, where you are awarded points based on what you shoot. Pretty self-explanatory, shoot the aliens, hit the red button the second it first flashes and save the planet. HINT: Shoot Frank, the other car, and any set of eyes you see floating around for maximum points….

Number 11: Transformers the Ride 3D

See notes above on Spider-Man. This is just a juiced up more intense version of the ride featuring Optimus Prime and Megatron.

Number 12: Skull Island Reign of Kong

Universal absolutely crushed it with this “set” and ride area… It is very cool and feels like you are on Skull Island. The ride was decent overall. Riders are on a safari style jeep and enter into a cave where Kong fights some dinosaurs on an IMAX screen. I was honestly a bit let down in the ride based on how much went into the set.

Number 13: Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls

Riders will absolutely get SOAKED on this flume ride! Wear a poncho or prepare to pay for the people dryers on this one!

Number 14: The Bourne Stuntacular

Number 15: Hogwart’s Express (either way)

Number 16: Poseidon’s Fury

Number 17: Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

Number 18: The Simpsons Ride

Number 19: Doctor Doom’s Fearfall

Number 20: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Number 21: Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Number 22: The Cat in the Hat

Number 23: Flight of the Hippogriff

Number 24: Storm Force Acceleration

Number 25: E.T. Adventure

E.T. needs to go the way of it’s brethren (OG King Kong, Jaws, Back to the Future) and shut down.

Number 26: Fast & Furious – Supercharged

This is the biggest let down of a ride that I have ever experienced. I do not have the words to tell you how much this ride sucks. I rode it recently, thinking to myself, “Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s better than I remember”. NOPE. The best part of it was the pre-show where Pat zinged a bunch of one-liners to pre-taped dialogue. Looking at the cars in the queue was even pretty cool. But that ride sucks. Bring back Earthquake or even better, just shut the ride down and let people walk around and look at cars. This ride is just absolutely the worst. And it is the last rated ride for me.

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