Here is our list of the best rides at Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando Resort. The theme park has some of the best roller coasters in the country, and they are a must-try for anyone who loves thrill rides!

Islands of Adventure is one of Universal Orlando Resort’s two theme parks, and it’s arguably the best place to be in the resort if you’re looking for thrill rides. The park combines top-of-the-line CGI, visuals, stories, and the roller coasters themselves to make each ride a unique and memorable experience. Keep in mind that not all the rides on this list are ranked because of their thrill level, and some of the top rides on this list actually won’t have you screaming for your life!

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Our Picks for Best Islands of Adventure Rides

Let’s explore the rides so you can plan what to try first when you visit Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. Below, we’ve shared video previews along with a description of the ride and important information, such as height requirements.

1. Jurassic World VelociCoaster

The Jurassic World VelociCoaster is undoubtedly the best roller coaster at Universal Orlando Resort and maybe even throughout the whole country. So it’s no surprise we picked it as the best Islands of Adventure ride.

This roller coaster opened on June 10, 2021, and has been one of the most popular rides in the resort ever since. The ride is, of course, located in Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park section.

The steel roller coaster boasts a top speed of 70 mph, a 155 ft peak, and even a 140 ft drop that will make even the most experienced thrill seekers scream.

Close-up of two guests riding VelociCoaster, one of the best rides at Islands of Adventure

Image © Universal

The VelociCoaster is currently the fastest roller coaster in Universal Orlando. That fact, along with its crazy twists, turns, and drops, makes it one of the most popular rides in the resort, so make sure to get in line early when you visit!

The Ride

Like all of the best rides at Universal, the experience starts while you are still in line. The queue starts as you walk through two huge arches at the entrance while the Jurassic World soundtrack plays in the background. As you move through the line, you walk by screaming Velociraptors and a model of the roller coaster’s signature drop. Even seeing the model of the drop will get your blood pumping because it looks completely vertical!

After you’re strapped in tightly to your seat, the ride takes off to the combination of screeching velociraptors and booming bass. From the jump, you get a taste of how fast the ride is because you will go from a complete standstill to shooting forward, being pressed deeply into your seat.

After some crazy twists, turns, and drops, you get to the launch zone, where the roller coaster shoots up to its peak. You have about 1 second to enjoy an amazing view of Universal Orlando before you are thrown down a 100 ft inverted drop that is pretty terrifying, to say the least.

One of the best parts of the ride comes at the end when you’re spiraling just feet over the water below you in the ‘mosasaurus roll.’ The most obvious sign of an amazing ride is when you can debate when the best part of the ride is, and the VelociCoaster definitely has many sections in contention.

Once the ride ends, I always experience the same combination of extreme relief that it’s done and a desire to get right back in line and go again. This takes the number one spot for a reason and is undoubtedly the best ride in all of Universal Orlando, so make sure it’s top of your list when you plan your visit!

Category: Steel roller coaster, launched

Theme: Jurassic Park

Location: Islands of Adventure: Jurassic Park

Opening Date: June 10, 2021

Height Requirement: Must be at least 51” (130cm).

Duration: 2:00

2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Coming in at number two is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the signature ride in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride opened in 2010 and has been consistently popular ever since. While it’s not the same level of thrill as the VeloiCoaster, plenty of other aspects of the ride make it so high on our list.

While it may not be the scariest ride in the park, it’s still an explosive roller coaster that isn’t meant for those with sensitive stomachs!

The Ride

As a Harry Potter fan myself, this is arguably my favorite ride in the resort because it brings the story of Harry Potter to life while taking you on an intense roller coaster.

To get to the coaster, you must walk through Hogwarts Castle’s gates. Walking in the shadow of the building is an experience in itself, and it really makes the build-up to the ride special.

The ride is based on a getaway through Hogwarts Castle, where you will run from Death Eaters, fly through a Quidditch match, and more. Using incredible robotics, the seats are attached to metal arms that have the ability to make your seats’ float’ and ‘fly’ with incredible mobility. The ride itself is dark and has a few scares along the way.

The Forbidden Journey also employs screens and visuals that project some of your favorite scenes and characters from Harry Potter. The quality feels somewhere between 3D and 4D because you feel like you are there in person, experiencing an escape from Hogwarts alongside your favorite characters.

Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, this is still one of Universal’s best rides to try. Non-fans may not recognize the characters and the scenes. Still, the immersive experience and the ride itself are unique, even without an appreciation for the story behind them! And if you are a Harry Potter fan, feel free to put this right at the top of your list of rides to try on your Universal Vacation!

Category: Dark Ride on Robotic Motion Arms

Theme: Harry Potter

Location: Islands of Adventure, Hogsmeade

Opening Date: June 18, 2010

Height Requirement: Must be at least 48” (122cm)

Duration: 4:06

3. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

One of the best parts about visiting Universal Orlando is that there are so many roller coasters that you could argue are the best in the resort, and this is one of them! As arguably the most popular ride in the resort, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure comes in at number three on our list of top rides at Universal.

Are you sensing a Harry Potter theme yet? This goes to show that if you like Harry Potter, Universal Orlando is one of the best places to go on vacation.

Hagrid’s is also not one of the most thrill-oriented rides in the park, but it still focuses on amazing turns, launches, and a really good story. Also located in Hogsmeade, the ride opened in 2019 and, at that time, was the most expensive roller coaster ever built ($300 million).

On the ride, you will be fully immersed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and meet some of your favorite characters and creatures along the way.

The Ride

The combination of visuals, storytelling, and the roller coaster itself makes it clear why this is arguably the most popular ride in the resort. The ride has a max height of 65 ft, max vertical angle of 70°, and max drop of 17 ft.

On Hagrid’s, you will reach a top speed of 50 mph and experience a reverse section, a drop, and seven launches.

For those who want the exact details of the launches, they are as follows:

  1. 0 to 20 mph in 1.2 seconds
  2. 22 mph to 30 mph in 1.5 seconds
  3. 0 to 32 mph in 3.5 seconds
  4. 27 mph to 35 mph in 2.3 seconds
  5. 21 mph to 41 mph in 2.5 seconds
  6. 37 mph to 44 mph in 1.7 seconds
  7. 0 to 50 mph in 4 seconds

On the way to the ride, you walk by Hagrid’s hut and parts of the Forbidden Forest, which Universal actually built themselves with 1,200 trees.

Universal doesn’t rely heavily on CGI for this ride; instead, it takes you through the beautiful constructions of Hogwarts and the Forbidden Forest.

The multiple launches make you feel like you are shifting gears on the motorbike, and the swaying turns exactly imitate riding the bike through the sky.

Pro tip: I’ve tried this ride during the day and the night, and it feels like it was built to be ridden at nighttime! As you fly through parts of the castle and forest, something about the extra mysterious atmosphere makes the ride much more enjoyable.

Category: Roller Coaster

Theme: Forbidden Forest / Harry Potter

Location: Islands of Adventure, Hogsmeade

Opening Date: June 13, 2019

Height Requirement: Must be at least 48” (122cm)

Duration: 2:55

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Their agents can answer all your Universal questions, helping you pick the best time to go and how many days to stay, not to mention calculating how much it will cost and explaining perks such as early park entry. They can even help you determine if it’s worth purchasing paid add-ons such as Express Pass or one of the after-hours special events.

And because you’ll be assigned a single, dedicated agent who will take the time to learn about your family, they can offer ride recommendations for your kids while also making sure the rest of the group gets all the thrills they’re looking for.

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4. The Incredible Hulk Coaster

The Incredible Hulk Coaster is another crazy ride that many argue is their favorite ride at Universal Orlando! After a short break since discussing the VelociCoaster, we are back to the thrill rides!

The ride first opened in 1999, but after being completely rebuilt in 2016, the ride now features one launch, seven inversions, and a drop of 115 ft.

This fast-paced coaster has dozens of twists and turns that always have me holding onto my seat for dear life, but I know that some of you roller coaster aficionados out there will have your hands in the air screaming the whole time!

The ride is, of course, based on Marvel’s The Hulk, and you will see that recognizable green theme throughout the whole ride!

The Ride

Part of the 2016 refurbishment involved completely redoing the queue experience. As you walk in, you go by a Hulk statue holding a huge car over its head through General Thaddeus Ross’s scientific lab.

The ride itself is arguably the scariest at Universal Studios Orlando. With a top speed of 65 mph and so many inversions and twists, it’s an understatement to say that the right gets your blood pumping.

The roller coaster starts with a fast uphill launch nicknamed the “scream-tube,” which leads straight into the first huge drop of the ride. After that, it’s inversion after twist after inversion (you get the picture).

This ride isn’t for the faint-hearted, but for the thrill-lovers out there, it’s arguably the best in the resort!

Category: Launched Steel Coaster; Thrill Ride

Theme: The Incredible Hulk

Location: Universal’s Islands of Adventure; Marvel Super Hero Island

Opening Date: May 28, 1999 / August 4, 2016

Height Requirement: Must be at least 54” (138cm)

Duration: 1:15

5. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Universal says, “Strap on your 3-D glasses and join the world’s most famous web-slinger on a high-flying adventure. Villains have stolen the Statue of Liberty, and it’s up to Spidey to save the day. Face a cast of Marvel characters as you soar above the streets, scale skyscrapers, and battle bad guys left and right. Just watch out for the 400-foot freefall.”

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a dark-style ride that uses 3-D projected scenes, 4-D elements, and other CGI magic to make it feel like you are right in the heart of a Spider-Man comic book.

The Ride

The ride itself isn’t a roller coaster but a motion-based dark ride that takes you through a story as if you were a news reporter trying to get a look into the adventures of Spider-Man.

While on the ride, you’re aboard a Daily Bugle van, and you witness an epic battle between good and evil as Spider-Man fights villains of the Sinister Syndicate.

Physically, besides some spinning, the ride is pretty straightforward. But while you won’t have to deal with crazy drops and inversion like on the Incredible Hulk Coaster, you will be taken on a mental journey via 3D right into the heart of battle!

Category: Motion-Based 3D Dark Ride

Theme: Spider-Man

Location: Islands of Adventure; Marvel Super Hero Island

Opening Date: May 28, 1999

Height Requirement: Must be at least 40” (102cm)

Duration: 5:00

6. Skull Island: The Reign of Kong

One of the most noticeable features of Skull Island: The Reign of Kong is everything around you is massive, just like King Kong. Huge gates open up to massive vehicles that you will ride around the island, and an even larger King Kong will surprise you along your journey.

The line into the ride takes you through ruins of temples, artifacts, and remains from the expedition that came before you. Vintage radios broadcast through crackling channels, making you feel like you are witnessing the beginning of a disaster at the limits of human exploration.

At the end of the line, you hear a native elder performing a ritual and warning all visitors to leave the island as quickly as possible, which more than adds to the already eerie atmosphere.

The Ride

The ride and its car use trackless technology that adds a special unpredictability to your experience. Skull Island has something called an “immersion tunnel,” which is a long, curving screen that fully brings you into the story the fun ride is telling.

Action is happening all around you, so your head will always be on a swivel, and when you finally encounter King Kong, you will be blown away with how real he looks!

Category: Motion-Based Dark Ride

Theme: King Kong

Location: Islands of Adventure; Marvel Super Hero Island

Opening Date: June 13, 2016

Height Requirement: Must be at least 36” (92cm).

Duration: 6:00

7. Hogwarts Express

(Note: This video starts in Diagon Alley and ends in Hogsmeade)

Although it’s coming in at number 7 on our list of the best Islands of Adventure rides, the Hogwarts Express is one of my favorite rides at Universal Orlando Resort. The Express travels between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, so you could say that it’s a feature in both parks, but for the purposes of this article, we are going to categorize it as a ride in Islands of Adventure! More specifically, the ride goes between Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, and it’s the best way to get from one Wizarding World to the next. A theme park ride that also serves as actual transportation? What’s not to love?!

Because the ride goes in between parks, you will need a Park-to-Park pass to hop aboard, but the pass is more than worth it for the chance to experience both Harry Potter worlds on the same day.

The Ride

Once you are aboard the Express, you will get to experience an immersive Harry Potter experience, just as if you were a Hogwarts student taking the train to or from school.

CGI and other impressive visuals will make it feel like you’re traveling next to some of your favorite characters from the books and movies — you will even hear them in the hall and outside your compartment window. And be ready because you might even bump into some Dementors along the way!

As an added bonus, the ride experience is different depending on which direction you’re traveling. So make sure to set aside time to ride it both ways!

This ride is more special if you are a Harry Potter fan but anyone will enjoy the immersive experience the train has to offer!

Category: Train

Theme: Harry Potter

Location: Islands of Adventure/ Universal Studios

Opening Date: July 8, 2014

Height Requirement: None!

Duration: 4:00

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8. Flight of the Hippogriff

The best thing about the Flight of the Hippogriff is that it’s a ride for the whole family. The ride takes you through the Forbidden Forest as you fly past Hagrid’s hut and see Buckbeak!

Although the ride is certainly targeted toward younger kids and families, it’s easy to underestimate how enjoyable it is! While there won’t be huge launches and drops, the flow of the turns, beautiful views of Hogwarts and the forest, and more would make this ride a highlight on anyone’s time in Islands of Adventure.

The Ride

The ride is an enjoyable swooping journey through the Forbidden Forest. Riders will be taught how to greet a Hippogriff by staff before they take off so they will have the confidence to say hi when they see one on the roller coaster!

Although there are no crazy thrill features to this ride, there are a few plunges and hard corners that are perfect for young kids!

Category: Junior Roller Coaster

Theme: Harry Potter

Location: Islands of Adventure; Hogsmeade

Opening Date: June 18, 2018

Height Requirement: Must be at least 36”

Duration: 1:06

9. Jurassic Park River Adventure

Looking for a more relaxed way to enjoy Universal’s Jurassic Park than the VelociCoaster? Well the Jurassic Park River Adventure is perfect for you.

The water ride brings you through a twisting jungle river made up of 1.5 million gallons of water. Traveling down the river, you’ll hear the screams of dinosaurs coming from the jungle around you, and Universal’s impressive animatronics might even trick you into thinking they are real!

The Ride

The ride starts off slow as you float down the start of the river. Just as you are enjoying yourself looking at dinosaurs and the huge jungle around your boat, something will go wrong! Your boat will drift toward the park’s Raptors, the power goes out, and the chaos begins!

The once calm ride is now hectic as you speed down the river and even fall down a waterfall! This drop is 85 feet and at a 55 degree angle so don’t go into this ride expecting a relaxed trip!

Category: Water Ride

Theme: Jurassic Park

Location: Islands of Adventure; Jurassic Park

Opening Date: May 28, 1999

Height Requirement: Must be at least 42” (107cm).

Duration: 7:00

10. Pteranodon Flyers

Continuing along with the Jurassic Park theme, the last on the list is Pteranodon Flyers. The ride is great for all ages and families as the flight is more relaxing than thrilling, and the only scary aspect might come from being so high above the ground.

The Ride

The ride soars over Camp Jurassic about 60ft in the air, so while it’s not the hundred-foot peaks of other roller coasters, you are still pretty far from the ground! The coaster doesn’t move quickly, so you actually have time to take in the amazing views.

The ride has two person vehicles with your feet dangling below you, and each vehicle is shaped like a Pteranodon.

All in all, this ride is pretty relaxing and great for kids of all ages!

Category: Aerial Coaster Ride

Theme: Jurassic Park

Location: Islands of Adventure; Jurassic Park

Opening Date: May 28, 1999

Height Requirement: Designed for children 36” – 56” (92cm – 143cm). Guests over 56” must also be riding with a child that meets this height requirement.

Duration: 1:20

We hope you’ve enjoyed our picks for the top ten rides at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. But this list certainly doesn’t even begin to cover everything the park has to offer!

There are even more rides than we’ve listed here — not to mention live shows, great food, shopping, and other experiences. Add in another entire theme park, the CityWalk shopping and entertainment district, and a wide selection of resort hotels, and it’s easy to see that Universal Studios Orlando has something for everyone!

For more guidance on the best rides around Universal Orlando, check out our complete coverage for every Universal Orlando park:

Enjoy your trip!

Ready for These Rides? Start Planning Your Universal Vacation!

We suggest you connect with a trusted travel agent to be sure you don’t miss a thing that Universal Orlando Resort has to offer.

Our favorite travel agency is The VacationeerAs a trusted Universal Preferred Travel AgencyThe Vacationeer is well-versed in everything Universal has to offer.

Their agents provide completely free Universal Orlando vacation planning services at the exact same price you’d pay if you booked it yourself. You might even save a little, thanks to their extensive knowledge of discounts and promotions. They’ll even watch for new specials to be released after you’ve booked, and apply them automatically if your reservation qualifies!

Your dedicated agent (no giant call centers here!) will help you find the best Universal hotel for your family, whether you need one that’s pet friendly, within walking distance of the park, has suites for larger families, or whatever your need is. They can also clue you in on which hotels offer a free Express Pass as part of the booking, helping you enjoy some of the best rides at Islands of Adventure with less time standing in line!

Your Vacationeer can answer all of your park ticket questions, too — and they’ll even make your dining reservations and arrange ground transportation as needed.

There’s never any obligation to book, and they always offer free consultations, so connect with The Vacationeer today to start planning your Universal Orlando adventure!