Travel Tips Universal Orlando

7 Best Rides at Universal Orlando + Tips for Visiting

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on
November 29, 2021

This article will introduce you to the best rides at Universal Orlando and explain all you need to know to begin planning an epic ride experience at Universal Studios Florida.

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

Keep reading until the end for an explanation of Universal Express Pass, Virtual Line Experience, single rider line, and child swap – 4 great enhancements to experience the top rides at Universal Orlando with shorter wait times.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. For more info, see disclosure.

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 parks: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park.

For the purposes of this article, we’re giving you a run-down of the best rides at Universal Studios Florida which is just one of the major theme parks within Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida features some of the best family-friendly theme park rides of all time and is one of the most famous theme parks in the world.

Its amazing combination of coasters, water rides, animatronics, and 3 & 4D technology make for an all-around thrilling and memorable ride experience.

In order to maximize your experience at this massive theme park, it’s essential that you include the following top rides at Universal Orlando in your 1-Day Universal Studios touring plan.

Additional planning tip: Check out our sister article featuring the best rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

This, along with our 1-Day Islands of Adventure touring plan, will have you well on your way to experiencing the best possible Universal Orlando family vacation!

1. Revenge of the Mummy

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

Revenge of the Mummy 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 of off-the-charts awesome and will have you wondering if you’ll ever see daylight again!

Practical planning tips:

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

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.

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!

Practical planning tips:

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

Stick around, for the large dragon on the top of Gringotts Bank rumbles, then breathes fire every 10-15 minutes.

Find this, and our other essential insider tips for first-time visitors to Universal Orlando here!

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

3. Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket

Upon first glance, Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket looks downright terrifying to ride – but 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”.

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 train 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 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.
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

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 which immerses you into the world of NBC’s, “The Tonight Show”.

The attraction is housed inside a replica of 30 Rockefeller, where The Tonight Show is taped, 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 Manhatten.

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.

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

6. Hogwarts Express

When visiting either of the Universal Orlando theme parks, 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 Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. 

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

Likewise, you never know who, or what, you’ll see flying, swooping, or lurking outside.

Keep in mind that you can either board or de-board the train at either theme park, but that 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.

This ride has both a motion-simulated experience, as well as a stationary option if you are prone to motion sickness (just let the ride conductor know which one you prefer as you board).

When people are waiting in line for the ride, they get to learn about the recruitments of a Minion via scenes from the first film and the Minion Mini Movies. 

They then enter Gru’s living room and Gru’s 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, wind blows in riders’ faces, and various light effects flash in sync with the action on the screen.

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!
Express Pass kiosk

Best Rides at Universal Orlando: Universal Express Pass

There is no denying that when the Universal Studios Florida crowd calendar predicts moderate to high crowds, the waiting in lines can become incredibly draining and time-consuming.

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 helpful when trying to experience all of the top rides at Universal Orlando as they typically have the longest lines.

Here’s how it 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 and wish to purchase Universal Express passes, the cost varies by day and expected crowds. So during peak times, prices will be higher.

Current 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.

In our experience, we stayed at Loew’s Royal Pacific and found the higher cost of staying at a premier resort totally made up for itself in the amazing perks offered by gain Express Pass access.

Here’s why we think Express Pass is worth it!

Best Rides at Universal Orlando: Single Rider Line

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.

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.

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

Best Rides at Universal Orlando: Child Swap

Younger riders may need to skip some of the best rides at Universal Studios Orlando because they are either not tall enough or they do not want to go on them.

The Universal Studios Florida Child Swap program allows families with small children to experience rides without splitting up or waiting in line twice.

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

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.

Additional planning tip: It is important to request Child Swap before you enter the queue because each attraction handles it a little differently.

For instance, some rides feature separate air-conditioned Child Swap rooms with a TV, while others simply have designated Child Swap areas or separate lines.

Rider Swap is available at the following 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

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

Universal Orlando 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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Find out the absolute best rides at Universal Studios Orlando from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan! #UniversalOrlandoResort #UniversalStudios #bestthemeparks #Floridatravel
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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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