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 as can be found in all four nearby Disney Parks. And when it comes to simulator attractions it's not just quantity over quality, these rides do not disappoint!
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 - Be sure to also check out our post on Universal Orlando Coasters and Water Thrill Rides.
Without further ado, here are the top “Simulator Rides” at Universal Orlando, from meh to wow.
9) Fast & Furious - Supercharged: Universal Studios
Fast & Furious - Supercharged is a motion simulator attraction where you are loaded into a large bus and taken on an adventure with the characters from the Fast & Furious franchise. If you like the movies you may find this ride enjoyable, but for most, it seems to miss the mark. The one upside is the ride system is quite interesting. However, since it is almost exactly the same system as Reign of Kong, we would recommend checking that one out instead.
8) Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem: Universal Studios
7) The Simpsons Ride: Universal Studios
These two simulator attractions are very similar and can generate some longer waits due to the high popularity of their themes. Therefore, if you are a fan of either franchise, we would recommend visiting mid-morning or late afternoon/evening.
On Minion Mayhem you are turned into a minion and go on an adventure with Gru and his daughters. The Simpsons Ride takes every opportunity to make fun of theme parks (including a few sly jabs at neighboring Disney World) and uses satire and comedy to add to the thrill of the ride. The ride systems for both rides leverage a large IMAX type screen with multiple vehicles viewing the same screen at once.
Worth the Chill
5) Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon: Universal Studios
In a surprising twist to some, this recent addition to Universal Studios is actually quite a fun ride. The queue, which is less your standard line and more a group based waiting system (they sort you via a colored card) starts off in a “backstage” area for The Tonight Show. Once your group is called you enter a pre-show area and then enter the theater.
The ride system is a motion simulator similar to that of Star Tours over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, however the screen is much bigger making it a little less motion sickness inducing (but still be careful if you have a sensitive stomach). Once on board, you go through several shenanigans with Jimmy and even end up in outer space. Race Through New York makes for a fun respite from a busy park as it often has low wait times. Plus, you can wait sitting down!
6) Skull Island: Reign of Kong: Islands of Adventure
Reign of Kong takes you on an adventure through Skull Island, where you come face to face with its monstrous inhabitants. To start the ride you board a bus and explore the jungle (which is located outdoors) before returning indoors through the gates to Skull Island. Once back inside you come in contact with numerous creatures and witness a major battle between Kong and his prehistoric nemesis.
The main part of the ride takes place within a 360 3D theatre, where the movements on the ride vehicle match the action on the screen to make it feel like you're actually a part of the action. The simulations do feel quite realistic and the graphics of this almost entirely computer generated ride are very well done. While the ride can feel short (especially if you have waited a long time), it's definitely worth it if you can sneak it in early during your day.
4) Transformers: The Ride 3D: Universal Studios
3) The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man: Islands of Adventure
These two similar 3D attractions are definite must do’s on any trip to Universal Orlando. Spiderman edges out Transformers due to its better storyline, more well known hero, and improved graphics. Both rides leverage a ride vehicle that moves seamlessly through the different scenes. Each scene is a mix of physical props and 3D screens that really make the action come to life. They compare well to Rise of the Resistance over at Hollywood Studios or more closely to what Remi’s Ratatouille Adventure will be like once it opens in EPCOT.
Worth a Repeat
2) Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Islands of Adventure
Forbidden Journey is a simulator-like attraction where you fly on an enchanted bench with Harry and friends around Hogwarts. Some of the effects are a little dated, but fans of the movies and books will definitely enjoy this ride. It’s amazingly innovative ride system is a great thrill, and it actually feels like you are “flying” around with familiar characters.
The queue is our vote for best in the park. It takes you through Hogwarts castle where you’ll see the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, chat with the Fat Lady, and even say hello to the Sorting Hat! But be warned, this simulator ride does tend to cause motion sickness in those that are susceptible. However, if you can handle it - you’ll want to check this out more than once!
1) Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: Universal Studios
Escape from Gringotts is another innovative attraction that combines 3D technology with a roller coaster like experience. But the queue again for this ride really takes the cake. The entrance takes you through the opulent lobby of Gringotts Bank. You’ll see several goblins along the way, who are less than thrilled having all these Muggles wander through their workday. Once you get further into the bank you walk past the banker’s offices where you can hear Harry, Hermione, and Ron planning their heist!
The premise of the ride is just as it sounds, you have broken into the most secure bank in the wizarding world and now must escape. You’ll run into some familiar foes along the way, but don’t worry, your favorite friends will be there to help save the day. From a ride perspective the 3D and car movements feel quite realistic and are some of the best in the park. The roller coaster sections add a little thrill to your standard Universal Orlando 3D attraction - making this our favorite simulator and one of our three top attractions at Universal Orlando!
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.