Only got one day to try the most thrilling rides at Universal Orlando Resort? Get yourself to the parks early and get ready to ride!
Universal Studios Florida
The Simpsons Ride
The Simpsons Ride is a simulator-style ride located in Universal Studios Florida. Having opened in 2009 to replace Back to the Future, the attraction takes you inside the world of The Simpsons as you visit Krustyland with Homer and the gang.
While the ride itself feels a bit dated – after all, every amusement park in the world has simulators – what sets The Simpsons Ride apart is the signature humor of the family. The attraction, faithful to the writing of the show, is actually a parody of thrill rides and the overall theme park experience from the guest’s perspective (since you and the family are guests at Krustyland). Several shots are taken at your stereotypical park employee, the silliness of carnival games, counter service food, the “convenient” locations of gift shops, and much more. For fans, the ride also features many, many characters from the show.
OI tip Going on The Simpsons isn’t so much about experiencing a thrill ride as it is about getting to watch another (good) Simpsons episode in a completely new format. If you have ever watched the show, you’ll feel immediately at home when you enter through the doors, and the sizable cast and one-liners will keep you coming back to see what you missed.
Revenge of the Mummy
Revenge of the Mummy, USF’s indoor roller coaster, is the best thrill ride at the park. Even the much newer Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, with its customizable music and 90-degree lift hill, can’t beat Mummy’s unique ride experience, unanticipated thrills, and genuine fun. The Mummy is the best mix of ride technology and classic coaster twists and turns.
And, yes, it is located directly across from Finnegan’s, an Irish pub and restaurant. That means you can get a drink to help your nerves before the ride, and you can get a drink to celebrate your accomplishment after.
“Your souls are mine!”
Islands of Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the signature attraction inside Hogwarts at IOA’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, is a theme park experience like no other in the world. And best of all, it is two attractions built as one.
The first attraction, which is the ride queue, is a tour through Hogwarts Castle. This is an incredibly detailed, vibrantly immersive, true-to-the-books-and-movies walk-through of the castle’s most famous rooms. As backwards as it might sound, I usually am upset that the queue moves too fast through the castle. Often I have to stop and let other pass me so I can enjoy each scene to its fullest. Also, if you don’t pay attention, it is easy to miss the storyline that is being presented. Take your time. Enjoy it. (See How to best experience Forbidden Journey for more information.)
The second attraction, which is the thrill ride at the end of the tour, is nothing short of sensational (in the truest sense of the word). I’ll leave it to others to describe it in detail. Let me just say that the tag line, “His journey is now yours!” is extremely descriptive.
Yes, the ride might possibly be too scary if you’re a young kid or if you don’t like spiders. And, yes, there is a lot of motion. But it is supposed to expose you to the chaos of Harry’s life, and that could hardly be done with tea cups. Nonetheless, the attraction has won accolades from Muggles, coaster enthusiasts, and theme park industry experts the world over. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, with its nearly flawless presentation of Hogwarts castle and one-of-a-kind ride technology, is currently the reference for all new theme park attractions. Congratulations to Universal’s Creative Team.
OI tip When you’re in Dumbledore’s office, look for a certain magical red book to the right-hand side. It’s a very neat effect.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Even before the opening of Hogsmeade, Universal’s Islands of Adventure was considered by many to be the most technologically advanced theme park in the world. The best display of this original claim can be found in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. It was the first attraction of its kind, combining an authentic 3D film experience, simulated motion, and real-life effects and pyrotechnics, all while moving down a track in a then-state-of-the-art ride vehicle.
Now more than a decade old, it is still a very satisfying experience, and one that virtually anyone can enjoy (unlike the attraction that finally upstaged it, Forbidden Journey, which is pretty scary if you don’t like spiders or turning almost upside down). This one’s got a single rider line, too.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Even though it shares a birthday with Spider-Man (1999), Hulk still is the best roller coaster in Orlando.
Sure, there are prettier ones that have been built since Hulk made its presence known, like Disney’s Expedition Everest, and there are fancier ones out there now, like SeaWorld’s Manta. But nothing beats Hulk for the nail-gripping, visceral, I’d-never-go-on-that-because-I‘m terrified-of-going-upside-down to oh-my-God-can-we-do-that-again coaster experience. With a launch tunnel that ejects you at 40 mph in two seconds to the track wrapping around the entry to Marvel Super Hero Island, this is a coaster that’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to ride. Do it, and then prepare to do it again.
What are your top five thrill rides – and does Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts make it on your list? Tell us in the comments below.
And be sure to check out our Top 5 outdoors bars at Universal feature to toast your day of thrill-riding.
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