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Since there are three parks that make up Universal Orlando Resort; Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and Universal Studios, it can be a challenge to work out how to plan your day.
To see everything in the resort, it will take you at least a week, but we’re not all blessed with time and need some help narrowing down options when it comes to what rides you want to check out.
In this guide, I’m focusing on the best rides at Universal Studios, so you can decide which to add to your own itinerary.
We had the 3 day park-to-park ticket so we could see all three parks easily and make the most of our visit.
- Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley)
- San Francisco
- New York
- Woody Woodpecker's KidZone
- Springfield: Home of the Simpsons
- Seuss Landing
- Production Central
- Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Orlando
- Tickets for Universal Orlando
- Hotels at Universal Studios Orlando
- Final Thoughts
- More Universal Orlando Resort Tips
- More Florida Travel Tips
- Pin Below to Save on Pinterest
Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando
Below I’ll share my favorite rides at Universal Studios in Orlando, from my most favorite to my least (though I loved them all!).
Universal Studios is split into different themed lands. Obviously, there is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios as one land, and then there are others, but like any of that matters! Just kidding.
These are the main lands in Universal Studios:
- World Expo
- New York
- Production Central
- San Francisco
- Woody Woodpeckers KidZone
- Springfield: Home of the Simpsons
- Seuss Landing
Here is what is in each land.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley)
Yep, you guessed it, of course we’re going to start with Harry Potter! Anyway, who wouldn’t?
I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan, but I’m sure you already knew that, so let’s talk about that magical greatness!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
There’s only one ride in Diagon Alley Universal Studios, and that’s the Harry Potter ride. To be more precise, it’s called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
Come on, we’ve all heard of this ride at some point. It’s famous for the goblins, a roller coaster thrill ride, and a LOT more.
I love the Gringotts ride because you go underground in the Gringotts Bank (a bank for witches and wizards) where you experience the real danger of that bank.
Spoiler alert (without revealing too much) – if you’re not a fan, or are scared of roller coasters or something, don’t do this ride. It spins and turns everywhere, so if motion sickness is not your thing, you might want to skip it.
I know, there are a lot of motion sickness and simulator rides at Universal Studios Florida, but it’s all based on movies so what can you do?!
You will not be bored waiting in the Gringotts queue though. You enter the lobby of Gringotts bank where all the Goblins are working at their desks.
Apart from watching them at work, you can also talk to them. A funny tip is to say to a Goblin, “are you a house elf?!”
They look up at you and give you a weird look and a hilarious response. I won’t spoil that one for you.
Do not miss the Gringotts Money Exchange tucked in a corner near the ride. I don’t know how it did it, but the elf reprimanded my sister Savannah for monkey swinging around the bars. It was so funny!
Oh, I almost forgot. I guess the Hogwarts Express is a ride, since there is 3D windows and it looks like you are travelling to Hogwarts.
The Howarts Express takes you to Hogsmeade Village in Universal’s Islands of Adventure from Harry Potter World in Universal Studios, so you don’t have to do the long walk from park to park.
Butterbear at Diagon Alley
You have to try a butterbeer when visiting Universal Studios in Orlando, it’s the delicious Harry Potter drink made up of cream soda, butterscotch and marshmallow froth. Yum!!!
And yes, it’s alcohol free for us kids!
We liked to enjoy this delicious drink while we rode the Hogwarts Express over to the other park. You can only go from park to park if you have special park hopper passes like we had.
Here are the types of Butterbeer you can get:
- Cold Butterbeer – the normal one
- Frozen Butterbeer – like a slushie
- Hot Butterbeer – my fav
- Butterbeer ice-cream – it’s delicous!
- Potted cream butterbeer – unfortunately, we didn’t know about this at the time. but it’s supposed to be good!
- Butterbeer fudge – we didn’t know about this one either.
You can usually get butterbeer at these locations:
- The Leaky Couldren
- The Three Broomsticks (in the Islands of Adventure park)
- Hogs Head (in the Islands of Adventure park)
- and carts around the parks
You can find Butterbeer fudge in Honeydukes (I’m pretty sure it’s the same with the cream) and the Butterbeer ice cream in Florean Fortescues.
The food in Daigon Alley, Universal Studios is OK but not the best. We ate at The Leaky Cauldron
Diagon Alley Experience
My experience in Diagon Alley was awesome! I liked the detail and everything is on point. To the dragon on top of the Gringotts bank, WHICH BY THE WAY BLOWS FIRE OUT OF IT’S MOUTH EVERY NOW AND THEN.
And also all the stores, so it feels like you are shopping for school supplies for Hogwarts.
And Ollivanders, where you can buy your very first wand! Ollivanders Wand Shop is super popular and lines will be out the door.
You’ll be jostling with strangers to find your perfect wand.
I bought Hermione’s wand, and Savannah bought Luna’s. Mum and Dad treated us with the interactive wands that were expensive but a real treat. There are cheaper wands (that are absent of magic).
If you think about it, it’s kinda worth getting a wand since you get to run around the park doing spells and making objects move.
There is also an experience where you can go into a room with about 30 other people and meet Ollivander. He chooses ONE person (unfortunately, it wasn’t me) to go up to the Ollivander’s desk, where he chooses three wands for you.
You try each one out, and do a spell. Two of the wands are not for you, but the last one is. The light shines on you like it did to Harry Potter.
But, the only non-magical thing about this experience is, yes, you still have to pay for the wand.
Anyway, it was awesome coming to Diagon Alley!
After visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I bet you’ll start reading the books and watch the movies (and if you’re a Potterhead, like me – you’ll want to read the books and watch the movies for the one millionth time!) #notsponsered
Over in this section is where you will find all the food and dining options. We actually didn’t get to eat here because we just ate at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but you can find more restaurants here.
It has one ride, Fast & Furious: Supercharged, which is a simulator ride based on the movies. It’s not very popular so we recommend you skip it if you’re only visiting for a day or two.
This section is pretty good, because it had some pretty awesome rides.
Revenge of the Mummy
One of my favourites is Revenge of the Mummy. Don’t miss it if you visit Universal Studios, Orlando.
It’s basically a super fun indoor, in the dark roller coaster. I mean, it is pretty rough and has some drops (it also goes backwards). So if you’re scared, or not a fan of roller coasters, you might not wanna do this ride.
Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon
Another fun ride is the Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon.
This ride is a simulator ride. It’s not too rough, and you sit in a movie theatre room.
It’s cool because on the big screen you are racing Jimmy and going through New York (because why else would the ride be called Racing through New York starring Jimmy Fallon).
You also go under water and almost get eaten by a shark. The only disappointment with this ride is that we waited really long, not in lines, but in a room.
You go into a room and workers give you a color, and when they call your color out, you go in the lines.
But we waited 40 mins for our colour to be called. When they finally did, we waited for 30 mins for crew members to let us on the ride. There wasn’t big lines there just wasn’t any crew members around.
The ride was fun, and I still recommend it, but it was a bit annoying because Savannah didn’t even go on the ride anyway (she hates simulators).
But again, I still recommend this ride if you have patience.
The Blue Brothers Show
Another attraction is The Blue Brothers Show, which we missed. We didn’t watch any of the shows because we only had a day at Universal Studios.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
One of my favorite rides at Universal Studios is the furious supercharged Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
This is a fun Roller Coaster – not as good as the Hulk though! The scariest part of this coaster is that it has a vertical lift. If you’re not sure what that is, you know when you go down a vertical drop? Well it’s that, but up.
Honestly I thought I was gonna fall out of my seat!! Then there is a 90 degree angle drop. Apparently you don’t actually go upside down (because the lab bar is across your waist, and not your shoulders and chest), but it feels like it.
It’s the type of roller coaster when you twist around to the top of the loop before you go upside down.
It’s a super long, fast coaster and I recommend it for people who love rollercoasters.
One cool feature about this ride is that on your lap bar you have a screen where you can choose music to listen to while you’re riding.
Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
Savannah loved this land, which is perfect for younger ones. Basically it’s where all the calm rides are.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
I still had fun since there was a small roller coaster called Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.
This kid-friendly coaster is only about a 60 second long ride. It’s pretty calm so it’s good if your child is trying their first coaster. Savannah loved this ride and would do it again.
Another attraction is E.T. Adventure. This is an indoor ride, and again is good for young children.
You sit on bikes (don’t worry, you don’t have to pedal) your bike flies through the E.T. world as you help him find home. This is an old, interesting attraction but it’s still fun.
Again, Savannah gives her approval!
Curious George Goes to Town
A fun attraction to try is Curious George Goes to Town, which is a playground with water squirters, buckets filled with water splash everyone.
But if you want to stay dry, you can play in the Foam Ball Playground. We didn’t do this, but it seems fun!
Another fun playground is Fievel’s Playland, which is themed around an old west town. Some shows that play in this area are A Day in the Park with Barney, and Animal Actors on Location.
Springfield: Home of the Simpsons
If you love the Simpsons, come here. You can experience being in Springfield, and go on rides at the same time. There is also some food options that are themed around the Simpsons, such as the Duff Brewery, Lard Lad doughnuts, Bumblebee Man’s Tacos and Moe’s Tavern.
The Simpsons Ride
The main ride in this land is The Simpsons Ride. This ride is a simulator and motion sickness ride. You are in a roller coaster cart, in front of a HUGE screen, and watch the Simpsons go down a roller coaster.
It’s supposed to make it feel like you are on the roller coaster, too.
This ride was disappointing to me, and the rest of the family. And guess what, Savannah went on it too. I usually like simulators, but this one was too rough, I thought I was going to be sick.
If you like that stuff, try this ride out. See what you think.
We didn’t really explore Seuss Landing because we’re a little too old for it. It’s a small section of the park that’s designed for younger kids and babies, and is all about the Dr. Seuss storybooks.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
There’s one ride at this section that’s popular, and that’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
This is a carousel where you ride around in a colorful fish and can make your fish go up and down. For young kids it’s quite fun, but me and my sister are too big for it.
The only attraction in this land is Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up show.
This is a show of how horror movie special effects are done, just in case you’re interested.
This land is all about the newer movies and is the newest section of the park. It opened in 2023 so it’s not a huge part of the park yet.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
This is another simulator ride that we convinced Savannah to go on. I think she liked it as it wasn’t as rough as other simulators.
You go on a mission to get the present back that was missing for Gru.
We also came across a cool Despicable Me parade in the streets. We loved watching Grus dancing antics.
Transformers: The ride – 3D
The last Attraction in the Production Central land is Transformers: The ride – 3D. This ride is right next to Minion Mayhem, so you could do one and go straight to the other, because these rides can get pretty long lines.
We didn’t do this ride but after we came out of Minion Mayhem a Transformer came out for photos. This ride is a 3D dark ride, and the ride vehicles sit on a motion platform, which follow a 2,000 foot – long track.
Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Orlando
To help you make the most of your trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, here are some tips and words of advice for you…
1. Use Child Swap
Each ride and attraction has a child swap area where one member of your party can wait with the little ones while the rest of your party rides.
Once they are off the ride, you swap places and whoever rode can stay with the younger kids while the adult(s) who sat out get the opportunity to enjoy the ride.
This is how I got to have so many turns on each ride. It saved me plenty of wait time to go on rides again. It was awesome.
2. Be a Single Rider
If you are 10 years or older, then you have the option of grabbing a quicker spot as a “single rider”. This is a separate queue that allows you to either fill a seat or join another group, if you don’t mind riding alone or without your family.
These queues tend to be faster so if you don’t get the Universal Express Pass, this is another good way to save time.
3. Consider a meal plan
If you are planning on eating at least 2 meals at the park, then consider purchasing a Meal Plan.
You’ll save some cash as long as you eat two meals. One of the things that really impressed me about the park (besides how clean it was) is how yummy and diverse the food is!)
There’s something for every age and it’s gooo-ood food!
There is also Universal Citywalk which has loads of restaurants. Not part of the meal plan though! It also has the famous Blue Man Group show.
4. Get there early and stay late
Be sure to Check Universal Studios Orlando hours as they do differ and sometimes the park may close an hour later. It closed an hour later than normal on the Friday night we visited.
Head straight to Diagon Alley for opening as it gets so busy. Towards the end of the night at closing it also tends to be much quieter.
You may even get that solitary photo of just you and the dragon.
5. Visit Universal Orlando at the right time of year
I wouldn’t go to Universal in Summer, or holiday breaks, because that’s when it could be busiest.
Especially Halloween time because that’s when Universal does Halloween Horror Nights.
And winter is busy, especially around Christmas time.
Apparently the quietest time to visit Universal Studios is from January to early February, April to May, September to Thanksgiving.
We went in early November just after the Halloween Horror Nights. Luckily when we went, it wasn’t very busy. The longest line we saw was 40 mins.
Tickets for Universal Orlando
You can save a lot of time and money by getting your Universal Orlando tickets in advance with Undercover Tourist, who provide authentic attraction tickets at discounted prices:
See all Universal Orlando tickets here.
Universal Express Passes
If you go to Universal Studios Orlando Florida, I definitely recommend you get the Universal Express Passes.
Universal Orlando Resort gets very busy and the ride lines can get up to two hours long, and no one wants to wait in lines that long.
We got eight of the unlimited express passes, so we basically didn’t run out.
We also had the Park Hopper tickets so we could go from park to park and use the same one. It is expensive, but worth it.
If not staying on-site, you can also buy a Universal Express Pass upgrade to your admission ticket when you arrive at the park.
Hotels at Universal Studios Orlando
A good tip for saving money and time at Universal Orlando Resort is to stay at one of the on-site hotels.
Not only are they close to the three theme parks that make up Universal Orlando, staying at the Universal parks resorts gets you in an hour before the park opens (all resorts) and gives you Universal Express passes (excluding Cabana Bay and Sapphire Falls).
If you stay at a hotel at the Universal Orlando Resort, you can come and go easily back and forth depending on the day and the weather (and the mood of your children).
We stayed at the Cabana Bay beach Resort while at Universal Studios. It was a pretty good hotel.
If you stay at any of the 7 universal hotels / resorts you get Early park admission. So you can get to the parks one hour earlier than any other people staying at other hotels.
It’s worth it. We had 5 minute waits! Here are the 7 Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
These are the current Universal Resort Hotels to choose from (in order of Budget to Luxury):
- Surfside Inn and Suites (Book directly on Booking.com)
- Dockside Inn and Suites (Book directly on Booking.com)
- Universal s Aventura Hotel (Book directly on Booking.com)
- Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Book directly on Booking.com )
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Book directly on Booking.com )
- Loews Royal Pacific Hotel (Book directly on Booking.com )
- Hard Rock Hotel (Book directly on Booking.com )
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Book directly on Booking.com )
So as you can see there is quite a few options.
You don’t have to stay at on of these places to go to the parks. Check out the range of accommodation available in Orlando through Booking.com.
So there you have it, those are my favorite rides at Universal Studios in Orlando. To recap, here are my favourite rides in Universal Studios Orlando. As I’ve said before, you have to go on them!
- Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge Of the Mummy
- The Hogwarts Express
If you have any more questions or if you have a ride you really liked, let us know in the comments!
Universal Orlando Resort Videos
More Universal Orlando Resort Tips
If you’re planning on visiting other attractions in the Universal Orlando Resort, be sure to check out the following guides:
- The Best Rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- The Best Rides and Slides at Universal’s Volcano Bay Orlando Water Park
- 18 Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando Resort
- The Ultimate Universal Orlando Itinerary: How To Have An Epic Day
More Florida Travel Tips
Visiting other parts of Florida? Here are some other helpful tips!
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What’s your favorite part of Universal Studios? Do you have any questions about visiting this theme park? Let us know in the comments.