Best Universal Studios Florida Attractions & Ride Guide

Our Universal Studios Florida ride guide reviews the park’s top attractions, with numerical scores for every show, roller coaster, simulator, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you’re planning a trip to Universal Orlando, it’s a great place to start when making a rough roadmap for the best things to do–and what’s appropriate for your family.

To that later point, we’ll focus on height requirements, scare-factor, intensity, and motion sickness. These are all common concerns among Walt Disney World fans and frequently questions we’ve received from readers. Sarah has issues with almost all of these things (save for height, but at least that’s objectively measured), so we can offer a subjective assessment of what might present problems. We’ll also try to compare each attraction to a counterpart at Walt Disney World.

If you’re wanting to know how we would spend an ideal day in USF, read our 1-Day Universal Studios Florida Itinerary. We could spend much of the day simply wandering around the park, doing only a few attractions while enjoying the entertainment and seasonal offerings, both of which are not covered in this ride guide. That touring plan covers an actual, substantive day in Universal Studios Florida, whereas this guide gives you the info you need about each attraction to determine whether to include it in your day.

Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters against other coasters, and so on, to create a relatively level playing field. There are a few 9 or 9.5/10 attractions below that probably could’ve been given 10/10, but just aren’t quite on par with their gold standard counterparts.

Regardless, this guide to Universal Studios Florida’s attractions should give you an idea of which attractions are must-see for you, and which ones you won’t have time to do. Note that this list only covers USF; we’ll have another one for Islands of Adventure soon.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (8/10) – This is like a typical 3D/4D theme park movie theater meets a motion simulator. The ride moves in sync with a movie, which features the daughters of Gru and the Minions while touring and partying your way through Gru’s lab. It’s cute, funny, and endearing, a lot like the movies themselves.

Being a film with motion simulator components, there’s obviously the potential for issues there. Calling it a tour of Gru’s lab undersells the action, as it’s fast-paced with drops, twists, and turns. However, it’s relatively mild as compared to pretty much everything else at Universal and it now is a 2D film that doesn’t require the 3D “minion goggles.” Moreover, it’s one of the newest attractions utilizing some of the newest tech, which makes it pretty smooth. In terms of a Walt Disney World comparison, think Star Tours meets MuppetVision with Minions instead of Muppets. Guests must be at least 40″ (102cm). Children between 40″–48″ (102cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion. Persons under 40″ (102cm) must experience this attraction from an adjacent stationary seat.

Shrek 4D (3/10) – This 3D movie features the adventures of Shrek and his Donkey friend as they attempt to rescue Fiona. It’s awful and often has long lines. If your comedic sensibilities are trapped in the early-aughts and you still find the novelty of animation with self-aware and semi-satirical “humor” to be funny, you might enjoy it. Everyone else should stay far away.

It’s a typical 3D film in a theme park, with antiquated projection and glasses. Shrek 4D also has moving seats and in-theater effects like squirts of water. It’s comparable to MuppetVision 3D at Walt Disney World, minus the humor. Kids might be scared of the dark or startling effects; everyone else might be scared by how bad it is.

Transformers: The Ride 3D (9.5/10) – In this action-packed thrill ride, a bunch of talking, shapeshifting cars fight over a spark plug. It’s either a stand-in for the Holy Grail, the One Ring, or Rosebud. Honestly, I’m not sure–I’ve done this ride dozens of times and still have no clue what’s happening at any given moment. Lots of stuff, all of it awesome. The chaotic energy suits Transformers: the Ride. I struggle to come up with a good Walt Disney World comparison…Flight of Passage mixed with a portion of Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, maybe?

Transformers: the Ride 3D is (obviously) an attraction requiring 3D glasses, and also with fast and intense movement, sharp turns, and a mild drop. If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, avoid Transformers. (It’s too intense for Sarah.) Guests must be at least 40″ (102cm) to ride. Children between 40″–48″ (102cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (7/10) – Let’s start with the Walt Disney World comparison here: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is like an outdoor Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. It’s an un-themed roller coaster that leans heavily on thrills and a fun soundtrack (in this case, you choose the music). In terms of fundamentals, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is a sit-down X-Car roller coaster on a 3,800-foot steel track, with 17-story vertical ascent and a top speed of 65 miles per hour.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is fairly intense–a coaster enthusiast’s ride. At least, it was when it debuted. Even though it’s relatively new (debuting a little over a decade ago), it feels older. It’s now jarring and bumpy…sort of like Space Mountain. Guests must be at least 51″ (130cm) and no more than 79″ (201cm) to ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (5/10) – Housed in the iconic 30 Rockefeller Plaza, this is is a loving tribute to the Tonight Show and its legendary hosts over the years, plus Jimmy Fallon. Race Through New York highlights the show’s humor and some recurring gags while offering an exhilarating race through New York City (hence the name) on Fallon’s custom Tonight Rider vehicle. What you think of it will largely depend upon your fondness (or lack thereof) for Fallon’s incarnation of the Tonight Show. I prefer the waiting area to the ride itself.

In terms of Walt Disney World comparisons, the closest attraction is Star Tours. Race Through New York uses a Virtual Queue and boarding group system instead of a traditional line. The attraction itself is a 3D motion simulator, albeit with crisp visuals and only mild intensity–but at a high speed and with sharp turns. It’s not recommended for those who easily get motion sickness (Sarah didn’t have issues with it, but YMMV). Must be at least 40″ (102cm). Children between 40″–48″ (102cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

Revenge of the Mummy (9.5/10) – Based on the film franchise, this is a thrilling roller coaster with show scenes and great special effects. But there’s more to it than exhilaration and impressive technical effects. Revenge of the Mummy’s central conceit is silly, with a mockumentary vibe that you’re on set with Brendan Fraser who really needs his cup of coffee. It’s hard to explain, but the attraction works on multiple levels, with a tongue-in-cheek pre-show followed by a slightly darker ride. Revenge of the Mummy is a cult classic attraction among Universal fans, and for good reason.

Guests must be at least 48″ (122cm) to ride Revenge of the Mummy. It’s not overly intense–anyone who can do Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Expedition Everest will be totally fine. As far as the Walt Disney World comparison goes, it’s also like a mix of those two; probably a bit closer to Everest but totally indoors.

Fast & Furious Supercharged (3/10) – Adapted from a stop on the tram tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, this ride features hydraulic platforms and colossal screens to simulate a high speed chase through Los Angeles. Fast and the Furious is one of my guilty-pleasure movie franchises, but this ride is idiotic beyond belief. It’s one of the worst major theme park attraction I’ve ever experienced. Other fans of the popcorn flicks might like it–what do I know.

While it’s fast-paced and chaotic, Fast & Furious – Supercharged is relatively mild in terms of movement. The speed of the visuals might cause motion sickness, though. Sarah is usually fine with it, although she closes her eyes for the high-speed portions. (Probably a good idea for everyone, regardless of motion sickness.) Guests must be at least 40″ (102cm). Children between 40″–48″ (102cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

The Simpsons Ride (8/10) – This “theme park within a theme park” attraction that spoofs other parks while taking you and the Simpsons to Krustyland via a motion simulator. It’s fun for everyone, but more so for longtime fans of the Simpsons who will appreciate the many characters, in-jokes, referential humor and gags, and that trademark Simpsons humor.

The ride system is recycled from Back to the Future The Ride, and sometimes that shows its 30-year old age. Guests suffering from motion sickness report this as one of, if not the, worst rides at Universal Orlando. It’s similar to Star Tours, but with smaller ride vehicles situated in front of a larger screen (somewhat like Soarin’ on that front). Guests must be at least 40″ (102cm) to ride. Children between 40″–48″ (102cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl (4/10) – It’s a spinner. Like Dumbo except with the cynical aliens from Treehouse of Horror episodes of the Simpsons.

Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts (10/10) –  This attraction is an experience from start to finish. Entering through the opulent lobby, you meet animatronic goblin bank tellers. From there you enter a security checkpoint and have your photo taken, then pass through an area that sets the stage for the 3D track-based motion ride-through. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is my favorite of the Wizarding World attractions in both parks. I prefer Escape from Gringotts because it offers a linear narrative that’s also thrilling and varied, leveraging an array of technologies along with physical environments. This is one of the best theme park rides in all of Orlando.

While very different in both style and substance, I’d call Star Wars Rise of the Resistance the closest Walt Disney World comparison. The key differences here are that there are more screens, 3D glasses, and it’s more thrilling. Not quite on par with Revenge of the Mummy or Transformers in that regard, and worth the gamble if you’re on the fence (in large part because it’s such a good attraction, which skews the “risk/reward” calculus). Guests must be at least 42″ (107cm). Children between 42″–48″ (107cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

Hogwarts Express via King’s Cross Station (8/10) – A relaxing train ride between London and Hogsmeade (in Islands of Adventure) with screen-based scenery of the countryside, etc. It’s a clever way to park hop between the two parks, while remaining immersed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, and perhaps unpopular opinion here, but I don’t think the technology utilized has aged particularly well. It’s not all that old, but suspension of disbelief can be a challenge with the tech.

There’s nothing like Hogwarts Express at Walt Disney World. The obvious comparison would be the various trains and railroads, but this is more screen-based attraction than leisurely transportation. Anyone should be able to ride Hogwarts Express without issue.

Men In Black: Alien Attack (9/10) – Sorry Walt Disney World, but this is the best shooter ride in Orlando. It’s similar to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or Toy Story Mania…but better. You’re the newest Men in Black recruit, on a mission to shoot as many aliens as possible. The attraction features a variety of scenes and sets with physical props. While the franchise that inspired it is arguably dated, the ride itself is top-notch.

Guests must be at least 42″ (107cm) to ride. Children between 42″–48″ (107cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion. The attraction has a few sudden turns, but no worse than Toy Story Mania.

E.T. Adventure (9/10) – I could go on and on about the greatness of E.T. Adventure. While the exterior and outside queue are straight out of the 1980s, the interior queue and ride portion of E.T. Adventure are still fresh. The ride introduces zany characters that are unfamiliar to most but equally as bizarre as ET. This makes it feel a bit campy, but the whole of the experience holds up well and is fun. None of this should come as any surprise given that E.T. is national treasure that will be cherished by future generations of Americans for billions of years to come.

E.T. Adventure is the best Fantasyland-style dark ride in Orlando. It’s like Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom, but with more fluidity and a better movie (that’s right!) as its basis. It’s appropriate for guests of all ages and there should be no issues with its movements or scare-factor, although E.T. and the alien inhabitants of the Green Planet are admittedly a bit creepy looking. Guests must be at least 34″ (87cm) to ride. Children between 34″–48″ (87cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up Show (9/10) – A behind the scenes look at how monster-movie special effects are created and brought to life. Universal’s Horror Make-up Show features onstage demonstrations that deconstruct effects including blood-spurting fake knives, facial prosthetics, mechanical effects, and artificial limbs.

For the most part, Universal’s Horror Make-up Show is more sarcastic than it is scary, with humor leveraged remarkably well to diffuse any tension. There are a couple of shocking moments, but quickly devolve into laughs. Very young children might be scared of this, but that type of thing is difficult to predict. No older kids or adults should have issue. It’s mostly good-natured dad jokes with an interesting and engaging presentation of monster movie effects. As for a Walt Disney World comparison, it’s sort of like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, but minus the action and with a behind the scenes look at a different type of movie-making.

Animal Actors on Location! (6.5/10) – Live outdoor stage show featuring dogs, birds, pigs, and other animal performers and their trainers as the actors do gags and tricks. Some of the animal actors have appeared in high-profile films and since “retired” to Universal Orlando. If you’ve been to a major zoo, you’ve probably seen a show like Animal Actors. This one is more polished and has higher production quality.

Animal Actors is like UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show at Walt Disney World, minus the meet & greet characters and plus other critters. If you’re afraid of birds, you might want to sit off to one side. Otherwise, there should be no issues with this show.

The Bourne Stuntacular (9/10) – This live action, indoor stage show features actors engaging in stunts, with special effects and music. The Bourne Stuntacular’s twist on this familiar theme park concept is that it utilizes a truly massive digital screen to instantly transport the show and audiences to any setting around the world.

In terms of a Walt Disney World comparison, it’s like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular meets a behind the scenes Disney+ special about the Mandalorian. (That’ll only make sense if you know how the show is shot.) Should be good for all audiences that are down with action movies.

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster (4.5/10) – A short “rite of passage” roller coaster for small children. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster is incredibly similar to Magic Kingdom’s Barnstormer, just swap Goofy for Woody Woodpecker. Guests must be at least 36″ (92cm) to ride. Children between 36″–48″ (92cm-122cm) must be accompanied by a supervising companion.

Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration (9/10) – This is Universal Studios Florida’s nighttime spectacular that features music, water, and light. Cinematic Celebration features pulsating scores from Universal’s most iconic movies (Jurassic World, Fast & Furious, E.T., Harry Potter, etc.) with dancing fountains erupt and scenes are projected onto mist screens. There are also spotlights, pyro, and projections on the buildings that form the backdrop.

It’s Universal’s take on World of Color at Disney California Adventure. We don’t think it’s quite that good, but perhaps that’s our bias towards Disney intellectual property. (In my view, Universal leans a bit too heavily on recent hits over classics, which invariably makes things feel dated after a few years.) Nevertheless, it’s a stunning nighttime spectacular, and a satisfying end to your day at Universal Studios Florida!

Need trip planning tips and comprehensive advice for your visit to Central Florida? Make sure to read our Universal Orlando Planning Guide for everything about Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Also check out our Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide for everything about those parks, resorts, restaurants, and so much more. For regular updates, news & rumors, a heads up when discounts are released, and much more, sign up for our FREE email newsletter!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Which Universal Studios Florida attractions are your favorites? Which ones do you normally skip? Any simulators, roller coasters, or other attractions that are too intense or cause you motion sickness? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Universal Orlando yet, which USF attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!

41 Responses to “Best Universal Studios Florida Attractions & Ride Guide”
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