Here Are the Best Rides at Islands of Adventure
When Universal Orlando Resort expanded during the late 1990s, the new park had an advantage over the first one.
While fans loved Universal Studios Florida, park planners used nearly a decade of newfound knowledge to strategize.
Even then, the new park struggled to find its footing for a few years before it finally ascended. Now, most of the attractions here will dazzle you.
Here are the best nine rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
For many years, Islands of Adventure hung its proverbial mask – well, cape – on its best dark ride.
In fact, many theme park aficionados like the voters for the Golden Ticket Awards deemed it THE best dark ride on the planet.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man won this title so many times it nearly retired the category, which happens after several consecutive wins.
Even when Islands of Adventure struggled, everyone knew it operated an E-ticket attraction for the ages.
On this ride, Spidey battles various villains from his rogues’ gallery while doing what he does best…protecting innocent civilians like you and me!
In truth, the exceptional quality of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man created a halo effect on the rest of Universal Orlando Resort.
The other motion simulation rides at the parks are copying off Peter Parker’s homework!
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
Even though Brendan Fraser, the actor who portrayed Dudley Do-Right in the long-forgotten film, is enjoying a career renaissance right now, you don’t need to know anything about this character.
In truth, Dudley Do-Right tells the basic story that has become folklore by now. He’s a do-gooder in Canadian law enforcement who saves damsels in distress.
Meanwhile, Snidely Whiplash was never gonna be anything but a criminal with that name. He’s the twirling mustache as he ties a woman to train tracks-type.
The ride chronicles the latest duel between Dudley and Snidely. You’ll never guess who wins!
The correct answer is actually you, as you’re the only who will get soaked and thereby cool off during a warm Florida day!
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Simply stated, you won’t find anything better at Universal Studios, at least not in the eyes of most people.
As I said last time, I slightly prefer Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, but that’s nitpicking.
They’re both in the conversation for the best overall attraction in Florida/the south. Most fans would happily choose Hagrid in the debate, too.
Universal designed this ride cleverly as a two-passenger style. Remarkably, both the driver car and the sidecar handle differently.
You’ll want to try each one if possible. If not, you’ll have something to look forward to doing during your next visit!
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
At one point, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey claimed the throne as the alpha at Universal Orlando Resort.
During the early days of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, guests could imagine nothing greater than this up-close encounter with dementors.
Of course, you’ll also fly through a Quidditch match and encounter a dragon.
In truth, Universal specifically planned this ride as Harry Potter’s Greatest Hits. It’s perfect when viewed through that lens.
Since then, the newer Harry Potter attractions have surpassed it, but that’s to be expected. It happened because Forbidden Journey set the bar the new rides had to clear.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Something I admire about this roller coaster is its straightforward nature.
Universal didn’t try to reinvent the wheel here, which was the mistake I feel the company made with Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
Instead, the premise remains stubbornly simple. You board a launch coaster, and it, well, launches you at high speed.
Then, you coast through 3,670 square feet of track, which includes seven inversions and one brain-breaking zero-gravity roll.
Nobody needs to overcomplicate a roller coaster. It just needs to be fast and fun. That’s what Universal has accomplished with The Incredible Hulk Coaster.
Jurassic Park River Adventure
Walt Disney World will always dominate the headlines in Central Florida since it’s the top tourist attraction and tourist draw.
For the most part, Universal cedes one aspect of the theme park battle to Disney. It doesn’t attempt to build immersive theming quite like Disney.
That tactic has changed a bit since The Wizarding World’s arrival, but it was definitely true for the first 20 years of Universal Orlando.
There has always been one remarkable exception, though. Jurassic Park River Adventure tells the same story as the first movie and does so brilliantly!
Everything starts wonderfully as you explore the stunning nature preserve that has brought dinosaurs back to life.
Then, everything takes a turn as the dinosaurs rebel, causing humanity to remember a time when we were NOT the apex predators.
Then, we all get wet and leave with a smile on our faces, thankful that the ride isn’t real at all. It’s exquisite!
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
Much of what I said about Dudley Do-Right applies here. You can swap out the name Popeye for Dudley and Bluto for Snidely. Also, Olive Oyl is here.
Otherwise, the rides are quite similar. What matters is that you wind up drenched on both, which is what you want from a water ride, right?
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Universal has always emphasized terror…thus, the existence of Halloween Horror Nights.
Even attractions like the Jurassic Park boat ride lean into the idea that when you “ride the movies” at Universal, you’re facing some danger.
That’s never been truer than on Skull Island: Reign of Kong. This ride transports you to the mysterious island where King Kong reigns supreme.
Eventually, you will encounter the big ape, and if I were you, I would remain perfectly still.
As far as thrill rides go, Reign of Kong is neither the fastest nor the most immersive. Instead, it’s the most intense…BY FAR!
Much of what I said about The Incredible Hulk Coaster applies here as well. Oddly, so do the comments regarding the Jurassic Park boat ride.
Universal marries the ideas with this meticulously themed roller coaster. While you’re on the coaster itself, you won’t care as much about the theming.
However, when you’re standing in line awaiting your turn, the Mr. DNA shenanigans and the random velociraptor appearances will keep you on your toes.
In terms of totality of the ride experience, The VelociCoaster rivals Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.
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Featured photo: Universal