The allure of the multiple innovative and entertaining thrill rides are what bring most people to Universal Orlando Resort! The sheer number of thrill attractions in Universal’s two parks is nearly the same amount as can be found in all four nearby Disney Parks. And when it comes to Coasters and Water Rides it's not just quantity over quality, these rides do not disappoint! Universal Orlando has three attractions that we rank up there with the best of the best Disney has to offer.
In preparing for this series, we classified every single attraction at Universal Orlando into one of 6 categories:
Just Skip It. . .: As the name says, it's just not worth your time. Go back to the resort pool and take a nap or buy an adult beverage instead!
If Nostalgic: Only ride these rides if they have a special meaning to you or someone in your group. If you feel like it would make you happy, then go for it!
Worth The Chill: If you get tired, or just want a break from the action, these are great options. But, you won’t really be missing out if you don’t make it around to this group.
Definitely Once: Whatever you do, don’t miss! But once is probably enough.
Worth a Repeat: You won’t be satisfied visiting these attractions only once. Better plan on a second day - or better yet, a second visit!
Top Attractions: Being a top attraction at Universal Orlando is a competitive distinction; there are so many high caliber rides. Only three fall into this category.
PS - Want to read our Walt Disney World rankings? Check out our rankings of Dark Rides, Simulator & Animatronic Thrill Rides, and Coasters and Water Thrill Rides.
Without further ado, here are the top “Coasters and Water Thrill Rides” at Universal Orlando, from meh to wow.
Just Skip It
11) Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster: Universal Studios
This coaster is for the younger adventurer, with most adults having a hard time fitting in the seats much less enjoying the ride. Only ride this if you get to take along a little explorer with you and can experience the joy through their eyes.
10) Pteranodon Flyers: Islands of Adventure
9) Flight of the Hippogriff: Islands of Adventure
These two children’s coasters were designed with kiddos in mind, but also have a little bit of thrill to them for adults as well. Suspended high above the Camp Jurassic play area, the Pteranodon Flyers allows guests to feel like they are flying on this winged dinosaur! While a little dated, the mechanics of the ride are quite interesting as each car only has two seats, one in front of the other, and is suspended below a cylindrical track. While the ride doesn’t pick up too great of speeds, the views of the park and dangling feeling can be quite fun. Be warned, you have to have a child under 42 inches with you to ride.
Flight of the Hippogriff is located in Hogsmeade and packs a little punch for a children’s themed coaster. With a few drops and sharp, jerky turns, it can be quite enjoyable for Muggles of all ages. Plus, you get a great view of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle!
Worth the Chill
8) Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges: Islands of Adventure
On a hot day, the Bilge-Rat Barges can be a refreshing change of pace. But, you will get (and we cannot emphasize this enough) soaked. Plan ahead if you want to ride: bring flip flops and a poncho to ride in or a change of clothes for swapping into after. The reason for the low ranking here is due to the lack of real storyline and that you have to be prepared and willing to get drenched. If you are comparing this to Kali River Rapids over in Animal Kingdom, this is the better choice - as it is more thrilling with multiple drops and rougher rapids.
7) Doctor Doom's Fearfall: Islands of Adventure
While not a typical coaster, this ride relies on a falling feeling for its thrill so we rank it here. Doctor Doom is a basic freefall attraction where you are lifted up around a central tower and dropped multiple times. It's fun if you have the time and wait is low, but can be missed if you have more specific rides you want to get to during your day.
6) Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls: Islands of Adventure
5) Jurassic Park River Adventure: Islands of Adventure
These two water ride attractions are definitely worth checking out at least once. Both will get you quite wet - so if you plan on riding either without a poncho or rain jacket we recommend doing these both along with the Bilge-Rat Barges in a row. If you arrive early in the morning you can ride all three pretty quickly after knocking out the major attractions and before the park gets too busy.
Dudley Do-Right’s is themed after the cartoon of the same name, and is rightly compared to Splash Mountain over at Magic Kingdom. While the two are themed differently, the multiple drops throughout the ride and huge final drop make Ripsaw Falls a must do.
Jurassic Park River Adventure takes you on a boat journey through, you guessed it, Jurassic Park! The ride starts out like a typical boat ride you’d find at Disney. You slowly move throughout the attraction and get a look at some well done animatronic dinos. But don’t worry, they're all herbivores. However, something goes horribly wrong (what else would you expect?!) and you find yourself attacked by escaped raptors. You escape through an 85 foot drop back down, which is a fantastic drop compared to Splash Mountain’s 50 foot drop!
Worth a Repeat
4) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: Universal Studios
3) Revenge of the Mummy: Universal Studios
As we finally make it back over to Universal Studios in our list, these next two coasters are can’t miss attractions that you will definitely want to ride at least twice!
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is an innovative coaster with the option to choose the specific tunes you get to listen to while on the ride, as well as a completely vertical incline! It also provides the option to purchase a video of yourself riding the ride, which can be a nifty souvenir. From a ride perspective, the vertical incline is the most intense part. After the incline, it closely resembles Rock N Rollercoaster at Walt Disney World.
The most under appreciated ride throughout all of Universal Orlando, but beloved my many regulars, is Revenge of the Mummy. The ride starts out as if you are going on a tour of some ancient antiquities, only for the Mummy to be awakened, interrupting your tour and sending your car careening out of control. After the first few ride scenes, the experience transforms into an indoor roller coaster with twists and turns and unexpected dips. Similar to Space Mountain in this regard, the thrill of the ride comes from its darkness and unexpected nature. The one drawback for the ride is that it is pretty short. However, the wait times are often shorter than the other major attractions so just go ahead and ride it back to back!
We will add that this ride is definitely not recommended for younger children. The queue is really dark and spooky and the first part of the ride contains some intense graphics and scenes. So be careful when taking any children and maybe check it out first yourself before taking them along.
2) The Incredible Hulk Coaster: Islands of Adventure
1) Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure’s two premier attractions are definitely worth the price of admission. When compared to the top two coasters at Disney World, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Expedition Everest, we would rank these just as good if not better.
The Incredible Hulk is a very intense roller coaster with a high speed launch and seven inversions. The G-force experience of this ride is incredible and worth riding as many times as you are up for it. We recommend riding this ride as early in the morning as possible, immediately after riding the two premier Hogsmeade attractions.
When opened in 2019, Hagrid’s was welcomed with significant fanfare at 8+ hour waits! Currently, the wait times are often in the 2-3 hour range for most of the day, so you definitely want to rope drop this attraction and will need two days in Islands of Adventure to ride it twice. The ride itself packs an exciting punch and contains multiple ride elements. The ride vehicles are similar to Hagrid’s actual motorbike, including the sidecar. While both seats provide an enjoyable experience, the motorbike seat is a better ride experience. You’ll want to ride twice so everyone can get a chance to experience a different perspective. But don’t forget to press the purple button!
What did you think? Did we get it right? Wondering how to enjoy these attractions with minimal wait? Any questions, thoughts or opinions shoot us a note.