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This article will introduce you to the best rides at Universal Studios Orlando and explain all you need to know to plan an epic ride experience at Universal Studios!

Move over Walt Disney World – Universal Studios is jam-packed with fun for the whole family. 

Discover which Universal Studios Florida rides are consistently rated as being the best, and find out my insider tips you need to experience them with ease.

Keep reading until the end for a full explanation of Universal Express Pass, Virtual Line Experience, single rider line, and child swap.

These are four enhancements you’ll want to consider to experience the top rides at Universal Orlando with added convenience and shorter wait times.

Here’s our list of the best rides at Universal Studios, Orlando!

Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Universal Studios Diagon Alley

Best Rides at Universal Orlando

In case you’re confused like I was, Universal Orlando Resort consists of 3 separate theme parks:

  • Universal Studios Florida
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and
  • Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park

Each park requires a separate admission ticket unless you specifically purchase a Park-to-Park ticket.

Park-to-Park tickets allow you to go back and forth between the parks allowing you to visit more than one park per day.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to be talking about the best rides at Universal Studios Florida. (Whereas you can find my guide to the best rides at Islands of Adventure, here.)

Universal Studios features some of the best family-friendly theme park rides of all time.

It also happens to be one of the most famous theme parks in the world.

With an amazing combination of coasters, water rides, animatronics, and 3 & 4D technology, Universal Studios is an all-around thrilling and memorable experience.

Before you go, be sure to review our 1-Day Universal Studios touring plan. This touring plan tells you what order to do the rides and shows at Universal in order to maximize your time in the park.

Now, on to the rides!

1. Revenge of the Mummy

Our favorite ride at Universal Studios Florida is Revenge of the Mummy!

This coaster involves riding in a minecart while journeying at high speeds through an Egyptian tomb.

The ride experience begins as a dark ride with light and fire effects, advanced animatronics, a few sudden drops and turns, and some time spent traveling backward.

It then becomes a dark, high-speed, indoor roller coaster with fog, strobe effects, and jolting twists and turns, all while being chased by the evil Mummy Imhotep.

This ride is so much fun and it will have you wondering if you’ll ever see daylight again!

You can see what I mean in this video:

Practical planning tips:

  • Minimum height requirement 48″
  • Universal Express Pass accepted
  • Lockers are required to store belongings while riding this ride. Check out our complete guide to understanding the locker system at Universal Orlando here.
  • Best for adults, tweens (7-12), and teens (13-17)
  • Child swap available upon request

2. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

The next best ride at Universal Studios Orlando is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

The ride entrance is located underneath the giant fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley, and its queue begins through the lobby of Gringotts Wizarding Bank.

After guests board their cart, this indoor roller coaster speeds along its tracks utilizing special effects and motion-based 3-D projection to make you feel as if you’re riding alongside Hermione, Ron, and Harry.

Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Harry Potter and the Escape to Gringotts Bank was my kids’ favorite ride—it felt like being in the movie!

The roller coaster simulates traveling deep into the underground bank vaults, where you will encounter Voldemort, dragons, and other 3-D creatures in a life-like experience.

This is truly one of the most exciting rides at Universal Studios and should not be missed – especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan!

Practical planning tips:

  • Minimum height requirement 42″
  • Universal Express Pass accepted
  • Lockers are required to store belongings
  • Single rider line available
  • Child swap available upon request

One of our top tips for first-time visitors to Universal Orlando is to stick around long enough to watch the large dragon on the top of Gringotts Bank shoot fire from its mouth.

The dragon rumbles, then breathes fire every 10-15 minutes.

You can even feel the heat from the fire! Don’t miss it!

3. Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket

Upon first glance, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit looks downright terrifying to ride – but it is a blast if you like roller coasters!

This outdoor roller coaster begins with a huge winding climb toward the sky at a 90-degree angle, followed by a 65 MPH drop and a non-inverting loop nicknamed “The Double Take”.

Read on for our list of the best rides at Universal Studios!
Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket

What makes this ride extra unique (and will further fuel your adrenaline!) is that as you’re strapped in to ride, you’ll pick the song that you want to hear while riding.

After several twists, turns, and corkscrews, the coaster drops once more, travels over a small hill, and then enters the final brake run as the song playing ends.

A definite high-speed thrill ride, Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket has a strict height requirement (minimum of 51″) and is recommended for adults, tweens, and teens.

Practical planning tips:

  • Minimum height requirement 51″
  • Universal Express Pass accepted
  • Lockers are required to store belongings
  • Best for adults, tweens (7-12), and teens (13-17)

4. E.T. Adventure

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly ride that the whole family will love, be sure to ride E.T. Adventure!

E.T. Adventure recreates the flying-bicycle chase scene from the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, where each individual seat is a bicycle, whose handles come down as the lap bars.

The ride experience involves swiftly gliding through a dark forest setting filled with redwood trees, reminiscent of the scene in the film where E.T. is trying to evade police capture.

After dodging NASA and police officials who give chase and try to arrest the riders and capture E.T., the ride vehicle soars into the stars, where E.T.’s magical home filled with wondrous creatures awaits.

As you leave the ride, you’ll hear E.T.’s voice overhead reminding you, “I’ll be right here.”

Practical planning tips:

  • Minimum height requirement 34″
  • Universal Express Pass accepted
  • Accessible in wheelchair

5. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Another one of the best rides at Universal Orlando is Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.

This is a 3-D motion simulator ride that immerses you into the world of NBC’s “The Tonight Show”.

Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Entrance to Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

The attraction is housed inside a replica of 30 Rockefeller in New York City, where The Tonight Show is filmed, with the corridors of NBC Studios replicated in the queue.

The ride experience involves boarding a large moving platform that serves as a ‘flying theater’ that simulates the experience of zooming through the streets of midtown Manhattan.

3 and 4-D technology makes it feel as if you’re soaring over skyscrapers, diving into the East River, and racing neck-and-neck alongside other favorite characters from the show.

It’s a lot of fun!

Practical planning tips:

  • Minimum height requirement 40″
  • Universal Express Pass accepted
  • Virtual Line Experience
Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Hogwarts Express ride is a must-visit. Kids and adults alike will love this one!

6. Hogwarts Express

When visiting either Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure, you should absolutely ride the Hogwarts Express.

The Hogwarts Express is a train (reminiscent of the Harry Potter books and movies) that travels between Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. 

While in motion, scenes mimicking the British countryside are displayed on the train windows.

But don’t be fooled…you’ll never know what (or who) you may see flying, swooping, or lurking around outside the train.

Keep in mind that you can either board or de-board the train at either theme park, but you MUST have a valid Park-to-Park Ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express in either direction.

Practical planning tips:

  • Park-to-Park Ticket required
  • Universal Express Pass accepted

7. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

The last ride on our list of the best rides at Universal Studios Florida is Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a computer-animated simulator ride.

As you wait to start the ride, you’ll get to learn about the recruitment of a Minion via scenes from the first film and the Minion Mini Movies. 

Then you’ll enter Gru’s living room and laboratory for some pre-show fun before heading into the theater and boarding the moving pods.

The action begins with the newly altered minions (the riders) being challenged with a series of insane tests, such as evading giant fly swatters.

Along with the entire ride being a motion simulator, other physical effects are used.

Mist and water are sprayed from the ceiling, the wind blows in riders’ faces, and various light effects flash in sync with the action on the screen.

As you can imagine, children go wild for this interactive ride!

Practical planning tips:

  • Minimum height requirement 40″
  • Universal Express Pass accepted
  • Virtual Line Experience

Beware! This ride has a lot of motion and tends to stimulate those who get queasy easily.

Because of this, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has both a motion-simulated experience, as well as a stationary option if you are prone to motion sickness.

Let the ride conductor know upon your arrival if you prefer the motion or stationary experience.

The Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando as a Single Rider

If you are traveling alone or are willing to be temporarily separated from your travel party, consider hopping into the single-rider line at select Universal Studios Florida rides.

This time-saving option is open to all Universal Orlando guests at no extra charge, and many find that the single rider line is often just as fast as the Express Pass line (see more about this below).

As a single rider, you’ll wait in a separate queue and are then slipped into vacant seats left by large groups.

The speed of the single rider line is dependent on the flow of odd-numbered parties through the queues, so the wait time can be extremely unpredictable.

But, you may get lucky and speed through the line with ease!

Another thing to note is that single-rider lines open at the discretion of the ride attendants and may temporarily close if crowds are very light.

Single-rider lines are almost always available at the following attractions:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Men in Black Alien Attack
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • Transformers – The Ride-3D

Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando with Child Swap

As you can see from the height requirements on the rides above, younger riders may need to skip some of the best rides at Universal Studios Orlando.

Thankfully, there’s a brilliant solution for families called Child Swap.

This program allows families with small children to experience rides without splitting up or waiting in line twice.

In other words, one parent waits with the young child while the other parent/person rides the ride, and then the two adults switch places.

Your child is never left on their own, and each adult gets a chance to ride.

This gives everyone else in the party an opportunity to hop on the attraction without having to go through the queue all over again.

To use, inform the attendant stationed in front of the ride’s entrance that you would like to use Child Swap and they’ll direct you where to go.

It is crucial to request Child Swap as soon as you get into the line because each attraction handles this option a bit differently.

For instance, some rides feature separate air-conditioned Child Swap rooms with a TV, as seen in the photo below.

Other rides simply have designated Child Swap areas or separate lines.

Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Child Swap room

I recommend using Child Swap for these rides at Universal Studios Florida:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • Transformers: The Ride-3D

Best Rides in the Universal Studios Family

Beyond the best rides Universal Orlando has to offer, there are plenty more attractions within the Universal Studios family. 

So whether you’re indulging in tickets for all three Orlando parks or heading to California for a Universal Studios Hollywood adventure, these are the rides you’ll need to try!

Universal’s Islands of Adventure 

For extended fun in Orlando, we recommend hopping over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure with this 1-day touring plan.

Here, you can fly with Harry on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, meet magical wildlife on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventures, and zoom on the Flight of the Hippogriff coaster. 

Then, stop by Marvel Superhero Island to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, and The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. 

Wrap things up in prehistoric times, riding the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Jurassic Park: The Ride, and the Jurassic Park River Adventure. 

Other attractions to enjoy in Islands of Adventure:

  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train
  • Dudley’s Do it Right Ripsaw Falls
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Pteranodon Flyers 

For a full guide, read this post on the Top 15 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure.

Universal’s Volcano Bay

The third park in Universal Orlando’s collection is actually a water park!

On especially hot days, you can beat the Florida heat by visiting Universal’s Volcano Bay

Ideal for both thrills and relaxation, Volcano Bay has water attractions for all ages, as well as cabana rentals for ultimate luxury.

In my opinion, the best way to start your visit is with a ride on the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, a canoe water slide with exciting drops through a huge volcano!

From there, choose your own adventure depending on your family’s needs.

Looking for big thrills?

Try the Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides and Ko’okiri Body Plunge – both have high (and frankly terrifying) drops. 

Longing for a more low-key attraction?

Float along the Kopiko Wai Winding River. 

Before you leave, I also recommend hopping on the Honu of the Honu Ika Moana raft ride.

This family-friendly experience features rafts that are big enough for the whole family to ride together, which makes it all the more fun.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Want more Universal Studios rides?

You’re going to have to catch a plane!

The final Universal Studios location in America is located in Universal City, California.

Universal Studios Hollywood has its own range of jaw-dropping attractions, with some crossover from the Orlando resort. 

One of its major draws is Super Nintendo World, home to Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.

This 3D and 4D ride transports you into the Mario Universe, steering through the tracks in real-time.

Another hugely popular attraction is the iconic Universal Studio Tour, where you’ll experience King Kong 360 3-D, Fast & Furious – Supercharged, and more. 

More can’t-miss rides in Universal Studios Hollywood:

  • The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash
  • Silly Swirly
  • The Simpsons Ride (Also at Universal Orlando)
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D (Also at Universal Orlando)
  • Revenge of the Mummy (Also at Universal Orlando)

Universal Express Pass (and Why You’ll Want One)

There is no denying that with all these awesome rides comes one fairly major drawback: waiting in lines can become incredibly draining and time-consuming.

However, there is a solution!

To help offset time spent standing in lines, Universal Orlando allows you to add Universal Express access to your theme park admission.

This is especially beneficial when trying to experience all of the top rides at Universal Orlando, as they typically have the longest lines.

Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Purchase ahead of time online, or look for the Express Pass kiosk on-site to purchase a pass.

How the Express Pass works

Universal Express is an all-day pass that allows you to skip the regular lines – and use a special Express Pass line – at select Universal attractions.

If you are staying on-site at one of Universal’s premier resort hotels, Universal Express Unlimited is free for every day of your visit.

Your room key is scanned and serves as the Express Pass when getting on rides.

If you are not staying on-site but want to purchase a Universal Express pass, the cost will vary by day and anticipated crowd levels. During peak times, prices will be higher.

Current Express Pass prices can be found on the Universal Orlando Resort website.

Additional planning tip: Universal Express Pass is separate from regular admission. In other words, you must purchase BOTH a Universal Studios Florida base ticket along with an Express Pass add-on if you’re not staying at a premier resort hotel.

The last time we went to Universal, we stayed at Loews Royal Pacific.

The higher cost of staying at a premier resort totally made up for itself in the amazing perks offered by gaining Express Pass access. So much so that I wrote an entire article about it!

Here’s why the Express Pass is worth it!

New Rides at Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando has continued to undergo a years-long transformation, replacing its older attractions with brand-new, updated content.

The newest ride is Illumination’s Villain-con Minion Blast, another minion-themed ride where you blast away the bad guys through the Minion universe.

As mentioned earlier, the 4th theme park at Universal Orlando, called Epic Universe, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2025. 

It is being built on the south campus of the resort which is located 10 – 15 minutes away from the other parks and CityWalk.

Rumor is that there will be four themed lands, with one of them being Super Nintendo World.

Are you looking forward to the 4th theme park at Universal Orlando? I’d love to hear from you!


If you liked reading about the best rides at Universal Studios Orlando, continue planning your Universal Orlando Resort vacation here:

Touring Plans:

Universal Orlando Tips:

Universal Orlando Rides:

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Check out our list of the BEST rides at Universal Studios Orlando!  These rides are perfect for guests of all ages and include the most recent updates and additions!  Starting planning your Universal Orlando vacation now!

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