What Are the Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida?
Sometimes, we should all engage in a little healthy debate. The great thing about having opinions is knowing that others may disagree.
I’m about to reveal my choices for the best nine rides at Universal Studios Florida.
You’ll disagree with some, and that’s okay! If you agree with all of them, that’d be weird!
Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
Remember that this is my list, and I’ve left out some wildly popular attractions.
Transformers: The Ride – 3D never did much for me. And Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit seemingly has it out for my groin, as I take a beating on that ride.
Meanwhile, I’m a superfan of The Simpsons, which makes this ride my happy place at the park.
When you stand in line here, some of the funniest scenes from the series play on nearby televisions.
Then, when you spin around on the attraction, Kang & Kodos toss evil quips at you.
Yes, this one’s a carnie ride, but it features the perfect theming for Simpsons fans.
Men in Black: Alien Attack
The test scene from Men in Black has earned a spot in film history as one of the most iconic of the past 25 years.
Someone at Universal recognized that the movie had already plotted a course for the ride based on it.
They built an entire ride from that one moment where Little Tiffany gets shot in the head. And it’s glorious.
You take the wheel of a self-driving Men in Black vehicle, and your only assignment is to target aliens in downtown New York.
Your mission starts as a training simulator, but then the situation escalates. Only your accuracy can save the city from an alien attack!
I’m terrible at this ride/game, but I love it anyway.
When Universal Studios Florida opened 30 years ago, E.T. the movie was already eight years old.
Some skeptics wondered whether the ride would appeal to a new generation of theme park enthusiasts.
That thought process feels laughable now, as the movie’s nearly 40, and the ride’s the most iconic thing at the park.
Orlando residents remain vigilant and protective of E.T. Adventure, the most Disney-like of this park’s dark rides.
The theming here relishes the child-like journey of Elliott and his new friend. You even ride a kiddie bike! It’s perfect.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Like most of you, I’m a Minions fanatic. I find the cast of Despicable Me adorable and struggle to remember that Gru’s ostensibly a supervillain.
However, I’m not in love with motion simulator rides for the most part. I believe Universal Studios has produced too many of them, to the park’s detriment.
So, you’ll only find two on this list, and I picked both of them because the theming overcomes the ride mechanic limitations.
With Minion Mayhem, you help Gru’s adopted daughters deliver him a present. However, a surprise upends this notion at the end.
The story’s sweet and compelling. Plus, it charmingly highlights Agnes’s purity. I’m a sucker for this story and ride this one whenever I can.
Welcome to the Harry Potter section of the list!
I’m one of those people who paid much more attention to Universal Studios after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened.
I was pretty early on the craze and have first editions (purchased on opening day) of books three through seven.
So, I’m being predictable by loving all things Potter at the park.
Still, I feel strongly that Hogwarts Express represents the best of Universal creativity.
Some people behind the scenes recognized that the parks would need transportation, but they didn’t settle for a basic train station.
Instead, Universal constructed an interior ride that distracts guests during the journey while maintaining the illusion.
You’re not traveling from Universal Studios Florida to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You’re heading from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade!
Look at how seamless this is!
Revenge of The Mummy
Confession: back in my younger days, family and friends called me Encino Man due to my uncanny resemblance to Brendan Fraser in that film.
I…couldn’t pull off the hair, though. Anyway, the point is that I’ve always felt oddly attached to Fraser.
So, it’s weird that I would enjoy Revenge of The Mummy this much, given that Fraser dies horribly during the attraction.
I can’t help myself, though. This indoor roller coaster marries thrills with theming in the best possible way.
Its reverse ride experience influenced Disney’s Expedition Everest as well, even if Imagineers will never admit it.
For many years, Revenge of The Mummy held a lockdown grip on the title of Best Indoor Roller Coaster in the World. Who am I to argue with that?
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
We’ve reached the obvious portion of the list, although I’ve got one surprise in store for you.
Even Harry Potter haters or people who have angrily read J.K. Rowling’s recent tweets would acknowledge that Wizarding rides stand apart at Universal.
It’s no coincidence that the parks went from empty to massively packed the moment that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey opened.
When Universal Studios Florida added its Wizarding World, the new rides had to surpass the bar set by that dark ride.
Somehow, Escape from Gringotts cleared this challenging hurdle, as the brilliant attraction marries dark ride and roller coaster elements.
You’ll buy into the belief that you’re in mortal peril throughout the ride, no small feat for a theme park ride.
Also – and apropos of nothing – my wife recently pointed out that the star of this attraction, Domhnall Gleeson, claims a rare and specific honor.
The actor also features heavily in Disney’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, meaning that he’s an integral part of two of the most famous/popular rides in Orlando.
The Simpsons Ride
Did I mention I’m a Simpsons fan? Yes, my love of Marge, Lisa, Homer, and Bart overwhelms my dislike of repetitive motion simulator attractions.
When I board The Simpsons Ride, I get to enter Springfield for a while, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted since 1989.
The story follows Sideshow Bob’s latest doomed attempt to murder various members of The Simpsons, but he REALLY goes over the top with this try.
I mean, the children’s entertainer attacks using some sort of Audio-Animatronic panda mech, giant saws, and lots of fiery explosions.
Along the way, the ride gloriously spoofs several theme park conventions, including children’s rides, Pirates of the Caribbean, and tourist trap pricing.
Of course, the high point comes when Maggie turns into the baby equivalent of Godzilla and terrorizes Springfield.
Yeah, a lot is going on here, which explains why I’m obsessed with The Simpsons Ride. It’s objectively not the best ride at the park, but it’s my favorite.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Meanwhile, this Potter ride objectively IS the best ride at the park, as it’s got everything.
Universal took inspiration from its counterparts at Disney and turned the line queue into a ride experience.
Still, the strongest part of the ride again circles back to theming.
Hagrid, God love him, just cannot resist learning more about magical creatures, which gets everyone into trouble here.
Not all those creatures act friendly to Muggles like us, which means we’re in peril the whole time that Hagrid happily narrates.
Of course, Hagrid stinks at magic, which causes problems for you when your vehicle loses power and sinks into a dangerous part of Hagrid’s habitat reserve.
The sense of foreboding elevates the ride experience. It proves that Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the best thing at the park.
The other point I’d make here is that few theme parks on the planet operate nine different attractions as great as these…and I left off some good ones!
Feature Image Rights: Universal