Best Universal Orlando Rides 

Discover the Top 10 Rides at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure 

Here’s our list of the best Universal Orlando Rides. These rides are thrilling, exhilarating, and should all be on everyone’s to-do list for your next Universal vacation!

Top 10 Best Universal Orlando Rides

(Best Universal Studios Rides / Best Islands of Adventure Rides)

There are dozens of exciting attractions at Universal Orlando Resort and, like Disney World, there’s something for every age group. That said, the majority of rides at Universal tend to be more suitable for bigger kids, teens, and adults due to their thrilling aspects and height requirements. This helps to explain why most of the rides listed below are the high-adrenaline types of rides. We do include a few slower ones in the mix, as well.

So, without further ado, here are the 10 best Universal Orlando rides.

1. Jurassic World VelociCoaster

The Jurassic World VelociCoaster is the best ride at Universal Orlando Resort and quite possibly the best roller coaster in any Florida theme park.

The attraction opened on June 10, 2021, and is located in the Jurassic Park section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.  The ride is themed around the Jurassic World movie franchise.

VelociCoaster is categorized as a steel rollercoaster (launched), has a  height of 155 ft, a drop of 140 ft, and a length of 4,000 ft.

Since its opening, the coaster has received lots of accolades, and for good reason.

The Ride

Guests proceed through the queue and enter an examination room, There you will encounter two caged animatronic Velociraptors.

Take a seat on the 4 train coaster and buckle up.  The 1st launch goes from 0 to 50 in 2 seconds and the 2nd launch goes from 40 to 70 mph in 2.4 seconds. The coaster features airtime, laterals, near misses, and 4 inversions and the max vertical angle is 80°.  It’s one of the most exhilarating rides we’ve ever been on.

This ride has fantastic theming, cool animatronics, and a great layout. It’s sure to excite Jurassic Park fans and roller coaster enthusiasts alike.

The VelociCoaster only lasts 2 minutes…but what a 2 minutes it is!

Category: Steel roller coaster, launched

Theme: Jurassic Park

Location: Islands of Adventure; Jurassic Park

Opening Date: June 10, 2021

Height Requirement: 51″ (130 cm)

Duration: 2:00

2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey comes in at #2 on our Best Universal Orlando rides list.

The attraction is categorized as a motion-based dark ride within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of the Island of Adventure theme park. The ride utilizes innovative technology to transform the theme park experience like never seen before.

Forbidden Journey is a fascinating in-depth exploration of the world of Harry Potter.

It uses locations and scenes in and around Hogwarts Castle as the backdrop. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series, then some of this will look familiar to you.

The Ride

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-themed area is a highlight of any Universal Orlando Resort vacation.

It’s rich in detail and the experience really immerses you in a lifelike experience which mimics the books and films.

To us, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the star of the show (land), if there was one.

This attraction is a wild ride that features a getaway through Hogwarts Castle, a harrowing encounter with Death Eaters, a high-flying Quidditch match, and other heart-racing moments with Harry.

The attraction also showcases a real theme park innovation with its robotic ride vehicles.

The Forbidden Journey is not to be missed, even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan (for whatever reason)!

Category: Dark Ride

Theme: Harry Potter

Location: Islands of Adventure; Universal Creative

Opening Date: April 7, 2016

Height Requirement: 48″ (122 cm)

Duration: 4:06

3. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is categorized as a multiple-launch motorbike steel roller coaster.  Its located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade area of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.

Since its opening in 2019, Hagrid’s has become one of the most popular rides at Universal Orlando Resort.  It’s is the most expensive roller coaster ever built ($300 million) and also one of the most immersive.

Universal describes the rides as “a highly-themed roller coaster that will take us into a different corner of the wizarding world, where guests will encounter some of their favorite characters and creatures.”

The Ride

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure combines great storytelling elements and plenty of thrilling elements.

The max height is 65 ft, the max drop is 17 ft, the max vertical angle is 70°, and the length of the coaster is 5,053 ft.

Hagrid’s top speed reaches 50 MPH and there are no inversions. However, there is a reverse section, a drop track, and 7 launches throughout the ride.

The launches are as follows: 1st: 0 to 20 mph in 1.2 seconds; 2nd: 22 mph to 30 mph in 1.5 seconds; 3rd: 0 to 32 mph in 3.5 seconds; 4th: 27 mph to 35 mph in 2.3 seconds; 5th: 21 mph to 41 mph in 2.5 seconds; 6th: 37 mph to 44 mph in 1.7 seconds; 7th: 0 to 50 mph in 4 seconds.

This Islands of Adventure ride also has some excellent animatronics and theming. Overall, Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is among the best-themed coasters you will find in any park.

Harry Potter fans will especially love this one!

Category: Roller Coaster

Theme: Forbidden Forest

Location: Islands of Adventure; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Opening Date: June 13, 2019

Height Requirement: 48″ (122 cm)

Duration: 2:55

4. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts comes in at #4 on our Best Universal Orlando rides list.

The ride is themed to the Gringotts Wizarding Bank. It’s the flagship attraction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section and an instant classic.

The Ride

As the crowning jewel of Diagon Alley, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts is based on J.K. Rowling’s magical novels and the movie franchise.

It sends you on a journey alongside Hermione, Ron, and Harry in one of the most climactic scenes.

Guests board a roller coaster train and then travel deep into the Gringotts Bank vaults where you will encounter Voldemort, dragons, and other creatures.

This indoor steel roller coaster is similar to a dark ride because it utilizes special effects in a light-controlled environment.

It also utilizes motion-based 3-D projections with live-action and animation sequences to really bring the experience to life.

This is one of the most exciting rides in the park!

Category: Roller Coaster

Theme: Gringotts Bank

Location: Universal Studios; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Opening Date: July 8, 2014

Height Requirement: 42″ (107 cm)

Duration: 5:00

5. Revenge of the Mummy

Revenge of the Mummy comes in at #5 on our Best Universal Resort rides list and the best ride at Universal Studios Florida theme park.

This “psychological” thrill ride is a combination of an enclosed dark ride (with amazing special effects and animatronics) and a launched roller coaster experience. In other words, it captures some of the best aspects of a theme park attraction in one ride.

If you like scary rides, this one is for you!

The Ride

Revenge of the Mummy uses treasures and warrior mummies to replicate the film props used in The Mummy film series. Some of the props are the actual film props themselves.

Linear induction motors (LIMs) are also used in order to launch your mine car from a standstill position to speeds of up to 45 mph in a matter of seconds.

The ride first enters a dark tomb surrounded by fluorescent lights.  A mummy springs out and hisses at riders.

From then on, you can expect the unexpected as mummies come from all directions and you go from one dark room to another dark room and then speed into a dark abyss.

The surround sound and effects really bring this ride to the next dimension of entertainment and scariness.

Category: Steel Launched Coaster / Enclosed Dark Ride

Theme: The Mummy

Location: Universal Studios; New York City

Opening Date: May 21, 2004

Height Requirement: 48″ (122 cm)

Duration: 3:00

6. The Incredible Hulk Coaster

The Incredible Hulk Coaster comes in at #6 on our Best Universal Orlando rides list.

This attraction is similar to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (see below) because both are fast-paced coasters with a variety of harrowing twists and turns.  However, there’s plenty of differences between this ride including the theme, location, and how the course is laid out.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster ride is located in Univeral’s Islands of Adventure theme park and is themed after the legendary Marvel Comics superhero, the Hulk.

The Ride

The coaster underwent a major refurbishment in 2015-2016 and now includes a new storyline and a redesigned queue experience.

The entrance features a statue of Hulk lifting a vehicle over his head and guests enter General Thaddeus Ross’ wacky scientific lab.

The televisions air CGI animations of test subjects who are exposed to gamma radiation and then transformed into creatures resembling the Hulk.

Once on the ride, you are strapped in before zooming off on perhaps the most exhilarating ride at Universal Orlando Resort.

Riders experience seven inversions with a 2-second 0-40 MPH acceleration and a top speed of 67 MPH (vs 65 MPH in Rip Ride Rockit). It incorporates several upside-down loops along the course to get your heart pumping.

Category: Launched Steel Coaster; Trill Ride

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

Opening Date: May 28, 1999 (as Animation)  August 4, 2016 (as Action)

Height Requirement: 54″ (137 cm)

Duration: 1:15

Speed/Vertical: 67 MPH/115 feet drop

7. Jurassic Park River Adventure

Jurassic Park River Adventure comes in at #7 on our Best Universal Studios Orlando rides list.

This water-based attraction takes its theme from the Michael Crichton novel and Steven Spielberg film Jurassic Park.

The attraction is designed to resemble Isla Numblar, the fictional Central American island in Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park River Adventure underwent renovations during 2018-2019 and reopened to the public during the summer of 2019 (better than ever before).

The Ride

Guests board a floating water vehicle and travel through a pre-historic land where dinosaurs run amok.

The new updates include new dinosaurs, lush scenery, enhanced storytelling, and a lot more state-of-the-art technology.

At one point in the ride, Dilophosauruses jumps out and spits toxic venom at you (it’s actually water).

Towards the end of the ride, you will ascend a long hill, and then experience two drops, including a plunge down an 85′ drop into and into a tropical lagoon outside the Environmental Systems Building.

Avoid this Universal Studios ride if you don’t want to get wet!

Category: Shoot the Chute

Theme: Jurassic Park

Location: Universal Studios Florida; Lower Lot

Opening Date: May 28, 1999

Height Requirement: 42″ (107 cm)

Duration: 7:19

8. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack

Men in Black: Alien Attack comes in at #8 on our Best Rides at Universal list.

This shooting interactive dark ride is based on the 1997 film Men in Black and is located at Universal Studios Florida

It features more than 125 animatronic aliens and spans 70,000 square feet. Men in Black was the largest dark ride ever built at a Universal park when it opened in 2000.

The Ride

Guests enter the MIB training facility (disguised as a 1964 New York World’s Fair pavilion) and make their way through a MIB-themed queue and pre-show.

Riders then hop aboard a spinning ride system, dispatch into the darkness, and use laser guns to kill aliens along the way. Points are accumulated during the ride.

Despite its age, Men in Black: Alien Attraction is still one of our favorite interactive rides at Universal Studios. It’s a lot of fun!

Category: Shooting, Interactive Dark Ride

Theme: Men in Black

Location: Universal Studios; World Expo

Opening Date: April 14, 2000

Height Requirement: 42″ (107 cm)

Ride Duration: 4 minutes

9. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man comes in at #9 on our Best Universal Orlando Rides list.

Debuting in 1999, this attraction is a hybrid of a classic dark ride, fused with film-style 3-D projected scenes, high definition 4-D movie aspects, simulations, and other high-tech gadgetry.

The result is an exciting and realistic experience that immerses the rider in the stylized comic book adventures of Spider-Man.

The Ride

After boarding a Daily Bugle van, guests (ie, news reporters) will then enter into the world of Marvel Comics’ legendary character Spider-Man.

The villains of Sinister Syndicate have captured the Statue of Liberty with an anti-gravity gun and a battle ensues.

Will you be able to help Spider-Man in this classic adventure of good vs evil?

Category: Motion-Based 3D Dark Ride

Theme: Spider-Man

Location: Island’s Of Adventure; Marvel Super Hero Island

Opening Date: May 28, 1999

Height Requirement: 40″ (102 cm)

Ride Duration: 5 minutes

10. E.T. Adventure

E.T. Adventure comes in at the #10 spot on our Best Universal Orlando Rides list.

Debuting all the way back in 1990, this attraction will bring back nostalgia for anyone who is old enough to remember Steven Spielberg’s E.T. film. If not, don’t fret because you will enjoy this Universal Orlando attraction regardless.

Look elsewhere if you need high-speed thrills because E.T. Adventure is a leisurely ride that will take you flying past police officers, over the city, and into space.

The Ride

Guests are seated in a “bicycle,” and in the middle of the front row sits E.T.

The vehicle speeds past NASA and the police give chase. But right as you are about to be apprehended, the bicycle ascends into the sky, above the city, and into outer space.

There’s an enchanting view of the cityscape beneath as you climb into the sky and are transported into a portal with flashing lights and then finally arrive at the Green Plant. Here guests come into contact with Botanicus, who petitions you to rescue E.T.’s friends.

E.T. uses his healing powers to revive his friends, and then a joyful celebration follows!

The beginning of the ride is dark and a bit scary, but the ending scenes are bright and joyous. A great choice for children and kids-at-heart.

Category: Suspended Dark Ride

Theme: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Location: Universal Studios Florida; Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone

Opening Date: June 7, 1990

Height Requirement: 34″ (86 cm)

Duration: 4.5 minutes

Best Stage Show at Universal

While there are several amazing live shows at Universal Orlando,  we rank the Bourne Stuntacular Show as the best live stage show at the resort. It features a cutting-edge mix of film and stagecraft to create the ultimate stunt show.,

Go along for the ride as Jason Bourne tries to outrun a series of sinister characters.  Watch as he jumps across rooftops in Tangier, dangles from the edge of a helicopter in Dubai, and is speeds through Virginia by motorcycle.  There are shootouts, fistfights, and a sense of ever-present danger.

If you like action, then this live stunt show is not to be missed!

Universal Orlando Resort – Two Theme Parks, Plenty of Exciting Rides

 Universal Studios Florida Rides

Universal Orlando Resort – Two Theme Parks, Plenty of Exciting Rides

Universal Orlando Resort – commonly referred to as Universal Studios Orlando –  shares many similarities to Disney World. The resorts are often confused because they are just 20 minutes apart and both have multiple theme parks, thrilling rides, entertainment, on-site hotels, free in-park transportation, and a similar ticketing system.  But that’s about where the similarities end.

Universal Orlando is not part of Disney World.  They are, in fact, direct competitors.  They also have a completely different set of rides and experiences. This is a big advantage to anyone planning a trip to Orlando because it’s easy to visit both Disney World and Universal Orlando on the same trip… and we recommend that you do just that!

See our Best Travel Agencies for Universal to find out how a U-Preferred Agency can help you plan your next Universal Orlando vacation.  Or, contact The Vacationeer for a free, no-obligation quote.

Universal Orlando Theme Parks, Water Park, and Entertainment District

Universal Orlando is divided into 4 distinct sections: 2 theme parks, 1 water park, and a dining and entertainment district. In our Best Universal Orlando Rides article, we will just focus on the rides at the two theme parks. However, here is a breakdown of each Universal Orlando area to give you a sense of the layout of the entire resort.

(note: see our Universal Orlando Map page to view expandable, printable PDF maps of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, Volcano Bay, and CityWalk.)

Universal Orlando Map

Universal Studios Florida – Theme Park

Universal Studios Florida opened on June 7, 1990, as the resort’s original theme park.

The themed areas and attractions are inspired by popular film, television, and music productions. Guests are made to feel as though they are on a movie set.

The eight themed areas are Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Springfield, Production Central, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, and Diagon Alley/London.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Theme Park

Universal’s Islands of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999, as the resort’s second theme park.

This park has seven “islands” that are themed around a particular form of adventure.

Guests start at the Port of Entry and then proceed through the various islands in the following order: Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.

Of the seven islands, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the only one to be added (2010) since the park first opened.  It is, of course, based on the Harry Potter book/film franchise.

It should be noted that Universal’s Islands of Adventure has been selected as TripAdvisor® Travelers’ Choice’s #1 Amusement Park in the World for 2015–2018, so they are certainly doing something right!

Volcano Bay – Water Park

Volcano Bay is a 27-acre water park at Universal Orlando Resort. It opened on May 25, 2017, and replaced the former Wet ‘n Wild water park (which first opened in 1977 but was acquired by Universal Parks & Resorts in 1998).

Volcano Bay is themed around a 200-foot-tall artificial volcano named “Krakatau.” The volcano is home to Ko’okiri Body Plunge, the tallest body slide in the country, three drop capsule slides, the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, and more!

Universal CityWalk Orlando – Dining and Entertainment District

The resort further expanded with the opening of Universal CityWalk Orlando on May 28, 1999.

This new dining and entertainment district replaced the former parking lot and main entrance.  Now guests would arrive at one of the multi-story parking structures and then hop on the moving sidewalks and proceed into CityWalk.

From there, guests can enter Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure theme parks.

But if you explore Universal CityWalk, then you will find Universal Store (merchandise from both parks) and other shopping locations, plenty of casual and upscale restaurants, nightclubs and live music venues, the Blue Man Group show, and an AMC Movie Theater.

The atmosphere here is electric and you will never run out of things to do!

Enjoy your trip to Universal Orlando Resort!

We hope our Best Universal Orlando Rides page helps you prioritize your list of theme park attractions.

If you’re looking for more useful Disney World information, then please review some of our other pages on MagicGuides. We have Universal Crowd Calendar, Best Time to Go to Universal, How Much Does It Cost to Go to Universal, Universal Orlando Map, Universal Orlando vs Disney World, and Cost of Wands at Universal. They may be just what you’re looking for!

If you need help planning and booking your Universal Orlando or Disney World vacation, then please contact our friends at The Vacationeer. Their services are always helpful and totally free of charge!

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy Universal Orlando Resort!