Editor’s Note: As we provide information for planning vacations to Walt Disney World, we know that many folks also love visiting “other” parks while in central Florida. So with that in mind, I’m excited that Elizabeth will be sharing information about Universal Orlando Resort in the coming months! Enjoy! ~ Nancy
Universal Orlando Resort knows how to bring on the thrills, and the resort’s two parks have some of our favorite thrill rides anywhere. Many of Universal’s rides are also very well-themed and immersive so that you feel like you’re a part of the story. Here are my top picks if you’re looking for thrills in the park.
Rip Ride Rock-It – Visible throughout Universal Studios, this outdoor roller coaster lets you choose your music before climbing straight up to rocket into a massive loop at 65mph. The coaster also has an on-ride video recorder, and guests can purchase a video of their ride afterwards. While the theming on this coaster is a little sparse compared to some of Universal’s other rides, it’s still a great coaster, and how often can you pick your own ride soundtrack?
Transformers: The Ride 3D – Transformers 3D is a 3D motion simulator ride combining physical sets with on-screen action. Guests are enlisted to help battle the Decepticons and take off into the fight with Autobot EVAC. The very detailed queue area is mostly indoors (and air-conditioned!), and the ride itself is a ton of fun, even if you’re not too familiar with Transformers.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – Guests take the role of ambitious journalists as they set out to get the scoop on Spider-Man’s battle against the Sinister Syndicate. The ride features high-def 3D effects, including a simulated 400-foot free-fall, in this simulator-based attraction (similar to the effects used in Transformers: The Ride 3D.) The queue for this ride is also indoors and has lots of fun details, including tons of references to the 1990s Spider-Man animated series.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Located deep within Gringotts Bank (which itself is hard to miss with the fire-breathing dragon sitting on top), this fully immersive ride takes guests right into the story of Harry Potter. The elaborate queue features its own series of fantastic sets, animatronics, and effects to set up the story while guests wait. If you haven’t done so before, I highly recommend going through the queue instead of using the single rider line, because it’s really part of the whole experience. The ride itself is a roller coaster combined with 3D on-screen action and physical sets and many sudden drops, twists, and turns.
Revenge of the Mummy – At the back of the New York area of Universal Studios is the Museum of Antiquities, the unassuming façade for this intense indoor roller coaster. The coaster has no inversions or loops, but has tight turns, sudden drops, and high speeds combined with excellent use of video, animatronic, and fire effects – the overall effect makes for a surprisingly wild ride. Don’t read too much about this one before riding, as it has a few surprises worth discovering.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – The flagship ride of Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, this thrilling experience takes guests through Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Pay attention during the queue – as you pass through Dumbledore’s office, hallways filled with talking portraits, and a Hogwarts classroom with three familiar faces, you will discover the story you’re about to star in. The ride itself takes guests soaring above Hogwarts and on adventures from a Quidditch match to battles with Dementors, and remains my favorite ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Bonus: Fans of Universal Orlando may notice an absence from this list: The Incredible Hulk Coaster, possibly the most intense ride in either of Universal’s parks. This coaster is currently down for refurbishment until summer 2016, but it should definitely be on a thrill-seeker’s list once it reopens.
Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful family. Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong – but she also realized how good planning can make such a difference for having a fun, relaxing vacation! Elizabeth became her family’s go-to resource for Disney planning. Now she is dedicating her planning skills to helping other families create vacation memories as a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations. She will plan your trip as if it were her own. Her blog, planningformagic.com, has tons of advice on how to plan your next Disney trip, including trip planning instructions, sample itineraries, dining tips, and more. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter for more planning tips and theme park news. Contact Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.