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Why I love the outrageous roller coasters at Universal Orlando (and a few things I’d improve)


Let me say this up front: I am a roller coaster fiend!

I cannot get enough of the fast, intense experience that roller coasters present. But, alas, I am but a poor college graduate, and I have yet to achieve my dream of traveling the world, riding every roller coaster known to man. That being said, I don’t consider it a bad thing that Universal’s coasters are the extent of what I have experienced. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Dragon Challenge, Revenge of the Mummy and Incredible Hulk are all a big part of what I look forward to when I’m visiting Universal Orlando.  Here, I will finally reveal which of these coasters is my favorite and why.


Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

What I love

I absolutely adore the on-ride music selection, the very thing that makes this coaster different from the rest.  They have a good selection that is available to all riders, but have an even better selection of hidden songs.  Ever since I found out that I could listen to Free Bird by Lynard Skynyrd, I never even look through the regular selection.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida.

I really enjoy the 90 degree climb at the beginning of the ride. This climb is what keeps many people from ever setting foot on this coaster, and a big part of what keeps me coming back.

I’m a big fan of the lap bar as opposed to the over-the-shoulder restraint. The music on this ride, as well as the ‘music video’ aspect, really makes you want to dance, and the lack of over-the-shoulder harness makes this possible.

What I’d improve

I do not like the moving sidewalks that you have to walk on as you board your car. As I mentioned above, I am one of those people that insists on using a secret song, which requires holding your thumb down on the screen for a certain amount of time. With these sidewalks, and the fact that the cars rarely stop, I never feel like I’m going to have enough time to make my selection.

The constant stops and starts during the ride experience also make it feel like your ride is put on hold every time it really gets going.

The single rider wait time can be deceivingly long. I’ve been with people who were terrified to go on the Rip Ride Rockit, so I thought I would be able to wait in the single riders’ line and then hop right on… yeah, right. About an hour later I finally made it onto the ride, and my friends thought I had gone back to the hotel without them because I was gone so long! The bottom line is, if you’re trying to do single rider and the line is all the way down the staircase, you might want to turn around and try coming back later.

Learn more about Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit


Dragon Challenge – Hungarian Horntail/Chinese Fireball

What I love

The queue has been significantly improved since Dueling Dragons was changed into Dragon Challenge. Fans of Harry Potter will see many different familiar objects from The Goblet of Fire, including an area where the Triwizard Champions would sleep, the Triwizard Cup, the golden mermaid eggs, and the Weasleys’ crashed Ford Anglia.

Dragon Challenge at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Dragon Challenge at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The wait times on this ride are also usually really short, especially in the mornings, if you want to kick off your day with some dragon fighting in the sky.

My absolute favorite part of these rides is contained on the Hungarian Horntail side, and I will simply refer to it as the wall. I’ve never had a more shocking moment than turning the corner and feeling like I was going to slam directly into the side of the castle.

What I’d improve

Despite the fact that the queue is really cool to look at, it’s also really, really long. As I mentioned earlier, in the past six times of visiting Universal, I haven’t had to wait for the Dragon Challenge for more than ten minutes. Therefore, having to run through the dank darkness of the queue doesn’t ruin my enthusiasm about riding one of the dragons, but it does dampen it a little.

Having to go all the way out and back in again in order to ride the other coaster has always been a bit of a pain. Yes, I know there is a shortcut in the outdoor queue area, but you still have to leave the castle! Maybe, as part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion, Universal could find a little time to make us a direct route from the Chinese Fireball exit to the Hungarian Horntail entrance.

Learn more about Dragon Challenge


Revenge of the Mummy

What I love

The atmosphere of the entire ride, including the queue, is really fantastic. All the different props in the beginning, the way it slowly starts to seem like you’re actually in an ancient Egyptian tomb, all adds to the overall experience. If you haven’t been before, look out for the “hot spots” along the queue!

Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida.
Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida.

The fake ending, when you see the employee’s silhouette announcing that the ride is over and then being destroyed by the mummy, is really great.  It’s always really hilarious to watch a first-timer react to this.

What I’d improve

The queue is long. Ridiculously long. As great as the ambiance is, it doesn’t make up for how incredibly long the line is. Especially considering how high the wait times can get. It does sometimes feel like you’re stuck somewhere and you can never escape, and the most fun I’ve had in there was knocking on the wall and having another bored person on the other side knock back.

Not necessarily a con for everybody, but the build-up for the really fast parts of the ride goes on a bit too long for me, and then the actual fast parts are cut short. It is really nothing compared to the non-stop flying you do on Dragon Challenge or Hulk.

Learn more about Revenge of the Mummy


The Incredible Hulk Coaster

What I love

The video of Bruce Banner in the queue line just doesn’t get old. I never tire of being accused of breaking into his lab and being angrily told to go away, and then hearing the Hulk himself say how much he hates Puny Banner.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

The launch tube is truly one of my favorite places to be in all of Universal. The heart-pounding moments as you’re faced with the light at the end of the tunnel, with Bruce’s words “I think… I think this time it’s going to work!” as the warnings are going off… nothing will ever be better than that.

How easy it is to see the on-ride camera is always a point of interest for me, so my friends and I can pose and possibly get a picture good enough to buy.

What I’d improve

You know what? I really can’t think of any!

It’s clear, in the end, that Incredible Hulk is my favorite roller coaster in Universal. It was the first roller coaster I ever rode, way back in 8th grade, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Bruce, I don’t ever think your experiment is actually going to work… but I forgive you. The Hulk is one wild ride.

Learn more about The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Yo mama on Hulk. Just kidding, that's me on the left!
Yo mama on Hulk. Just kidding, that’s me on the left!


By the way, if you like this article, you’re going to love this page in the OI Universal Center: Top 5 thrill rides at Universal Orlando.


[sws_author_bio user=”alongworth” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Alexandra” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

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February 10, 2013 10:41 am

Great post, definitely catches a lot of the pro’s and con’s of each ride. Few personal things for the rides I’ll add. HRRR: I definitely always use the hidden songs as well, the regular selection is good, but the hidden songs are better! Dragon Challenge: My favorite coaster at Universal hands down. In particular the Chinese Fireball. If you haven’t ridden the Fireball in the last row with your harness a little loose, you’re missing out. There’s a point after the first drop where you go down and then back up and back down where you’ll float out of your… Read more »

December 17, 2013 4:40 pm

Since they aren’t running the dragons in sync anymore I at least wish they would add more moments similar to “the wall.” Perhaps some more rocks or caverns like are in the triwizard tournament from the movie, or flying over the labyrinth would be cool too. I just don’t like how un-themed the area below the coasters is.

December 18, 2013 9:58 am

Great post alexandra. BTW Rip Ride Rockit opened up their express line. So now you can use an express pass for this ride!
I love the hulk too. I don’t think the line at Mummy is long. Theres normally a pretty short line and the single rider moves pretty quickly too. This ride has a great capacity and they fill carts quickly… unlike Rockit lol.

December 18, 2013 10:21 am
Reply to  RickyinFL

@RickyinFL Thanks for the note about Rockit now having an Express line. I removed the incorrect info in the post and added an extra Rockit single rider tip.

About Taylor Strickland

Taylor Strickland is the owner of Orlando Informer, the internationally awarded independent resource for guests visiting Orlando. In this position, he leads the website's overall direction and day-to-day operations, working with a team of writers, editors, developers, and producers.

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