Wednesday, February 22, 2023

8 Must-Do Rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (and 3 You Can Skip)

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are two of the most popular theme parks in the world and for good reason. They’re packed with thrilling rides, immersive experiences, and all sorts of attractions that will appeal to kids and adults alike. If you’re planning a trip to these parks, you’ll want to make sure you hit all the highlights – and avoid the time-wasters. 

Here are our family’s top picks for the rides you can and cannot miss at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Read on after the jump. 

8 Rides You Can't Miss at Universal

  1. Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios – This indoor rollercoaster is a mild but exciting ride that uses 3D/4D motion simulation to create a fully immersive experience. It’s perfect for scaredy cats who want to experience a thrill without getting too scared. My 8-year-old who was scared of many other rides loved it.
  2. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios – Surprisingly, this motion simulation ride was a hit with our kids. It’s not a rollercoaster, but it still manages to provide a thrilling experience that combines high-speed action with fun music and video elements.
  3. Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios – If you’re looking for something a bit more intense, this indoor coaster is the perfect choice. It’s faster and more thrilling than Escape from Gringotts, but still accessible to most riders. Too scary for my 8-year-old but my nearly 10-year-old daughter loved it.
  4. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios – This rollercoaster is unique because you get to pick your own music selection for the ride, and it starts with a straight-up vertical launch. It’s a great choice for music fans and adrenaline junkies.
  5. The Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure – This ride is a must-do for Harry Potter fans, as it simulates a flying journey around Hogwarts. It’s not as intense as some of the other rides on this list, but it’s still a lot of fun. My scaredy cat wouldn't ride it a second time, but my thrill seeker rode it a whopping 9 times!
  6. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure – This ride is a motion simulation that takes you on a thrilling adventure with Spiderman. It’s a great choice for non-rollercoaster riders who still want to experience some thrills. A favorite of my scaredy cat. 
  7. Velocicoaster at Islands of Adventure – This is the newest and most exciting rollercoaster at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It’s packed with twists and loops that will keep you on the edge of your seat – but be prepared to wait in line if you don’t have an express pass. 
  8. The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure – This classic rollercoaster is still one of the best in the park. It’s fast, fun, and perfect for anyone who loves a good thrill ride. 
Little girl on rollercoaster seat
Testing out the seat is as close as my scaredy cat got to a rollercoaster

3 Rides You Can Skip if Pressed for Time:

  1. Skull Island Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure – This motion simulation ride didn’t impress us much. You’re sitting in a long row so it didn’t feel like much, and if you’re in the middle you can’t even see the storyline.
  2. Fast and Furious Supercharged at Universal Studios – Similar to the Kong ride, you’re on a tram so the movement is negligible. Plus, it has a long video to watch up front which makes it a time-consuming ride you wouldn’t want to repeat.
  3. Flight of the Hippogriff at Islands of Adventure – This very mild, kid-friendly coaster is fine, but lines were sometimes up to 90 minutes, making it not worth the wait for a ride that only lasts 48 seconds.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to the rides mentioned earlier, I wanted to call out a few other honorable mentions. While The Simpson's and Minions rides were cute and entertaining, they did not offer a lot of excitement as rides. However, if you are a fan of those characters, they are still worth checking out. The Men in Black ride is worth checking out even if the IP is dated, as it is an interactive experience that involves friendly competition between riders as they shoot aliens to earn points. Even though we tried our best, my husband managed to get a higher score than the rest of us combined twice in a row! As for the shows, the Bourne Stunt Show was the only one we considered a must-see. It was incredibly impressive and really made us feel like we were part of the movie.

One honorable mention that is worth noting is the Hogwarts Express. This train is not a ride, but rather a mode of transportation that takes you from one park to another, and requires a 2-parks in 1-day ticket. The experience is different in each direction, and it is definitely cool to feel like you're riding alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We enjoyed it, but if you're trying to decide whether or not to invest in this ore expensive ticket, the Hogwarts Express alone may not be worth the money. However, if you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, it is definitely a fun and immersive way to travel between the two parks.

Asking yourself, how do I plan the best ever trip to Universal? Don't miss our tips. 

Need help planning your visit? Reach out to our agent, Lindsey Markwood!

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