I previously created a list of Must-Do Walt Disney World Attractions for Newbies, and decided it was time to do the same for Universal Orlando! Made up of two parks—Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure—Universal Orlando has a little something for everyone, from the smallest fans to the biggest thrill-seekers, and is a great addition to a vacation to Orlando. I have compiled a list of a wide variety of attractions that those who have never visited the parks should experience on their first trip, and that are some of my favorite rides as well. Without further ado, here are 8 must-do attractions for newbies at Universal Orlando!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
If you’re a Harry Potter fan of any sort, you should absolutely take a spin on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Even if you’re not a super obsessed Potterhead, Gringotts is a still a great option for a couple of reasons. This attraction does not go too in-depth into the Harry Potter story, so you’ll have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on and the ride will still be enjoyable even if you’ve never read the books or seen the movies. As well, the ride itself is just plain cool. It combines the track and ups and downs of a rollercoaster with the screens and movements of a simulator. It’s not too intense if you’re not a big rollercoaster fan, and there aren’t any crazy huge drops or flips or anything (not to say that it’s tame—you’ll still get a thrill from riding it!).
Revenge of the Mummy
Universal Studios is home to all sorts of thrill rides, but one of the best throw-you-around, scare-the-pants-off-you rollercoasters there is Revenge of the Mummy. This attraction is based off the Mummy franchise (which, I’m not going to lie, I haven’t seen), but there isn’t much of a storyline so you don’t have to worry if you’ve never seen them either. The indoor coaster shoots you backwards and forwards, up and down, and also includes a few well-placed animatronics to scare the snot out of you. It may be scary if you don’t like mummy monsters or large rollercoasters, but if you’re okay with both of those things, you should definitely try it out. All I can say is, when you think it’s over, hold on tight—because it’s not!
The only original, “opening-day” attraction remaining in Universal Studios, E.T. Adventure takes you on a journey to help return E.T. to his home planet. You’ll board a bicycle and take off soaring over forests and cities before being transported to E.T.’s planet where you’ll meet all of his friends. This attraction is great for any age, and although it does fly several feet off the ground, you won’t even notice when you’re surrounded by so many bright colors and sights (which is great for a heights scaredy-cat like me). If you’re making your first trip to Universal, you definitely need to experience this beloved attraction, and make sure you listen closely to what E.T. says to you at the end of the ride!
Men in Black
If you think you’re a good shot with a laser gun, check out Men in Black Alien Attack. You begin the attraction under the impression that you’re going on a tour of The Universe and You, when suddenly you are thrown into MIB training and have to attempt to shoot alien cut-outs. Things take a turn for the worse when aliens attack the city and you must quickly switch from training to real-life experience. This ride does spin you around a fair amount, so if you get motion-sick easily that may be something to watch out for. The other tip I have for you is when you hear a voice say “Push the red button!” push it as fast as you can! I won’t tell you what it does, but I promise it will help you!
Islands of Adventure
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
If you’re a thrill seeker and you live for coasters, The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Marvel Superhero Island is definitely one for you! Because I am a wimp when it comes to heights and high speeds (as we’ve discussed previously), I have never actually ridden The Hulk before. My brother Brendan, however, loves a good rollercoaster, so I’ve asked him to provide some insight into this attraction. According to him, once you are strapped in and take off, you are sent shooting through a gamma radiation tube, which you break through as you become a Hulk yourself. The ride, which is a “decent length for a rollercoaster,” has several twisting and turning loops that will keep you on the edge of your seat (probably literally, as you go upside down) for the whole experience.
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
When you’re visiting Islands of Adventure on a hot Orlando summer day, you want nothing more than to cool off, right? The best way to do that while also seeking some thrills is on Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. Located in Toon Lagoon, this attraction takes you on an adventure as Dudley Do-Right attempts to stop the bad guy and save the damsel in distress. You’ll travel up and down over several smaller drops before coming crashing down the 75-foot finale hill of the ride. You will leave this ride absolutely drenched—even on a sunny sweltering day we were still wet several hours later!—so be prepared for that, and watch out at the end of the ride, as other Guests have the opportunity to soak you even more as you’re waiting to exit!
The Cat in the Hat
One of Dr. Seuss’ most popular tales is brought to life on The Cat in the Hat at Seuss Landing. This attraction takes you on a whimsical ride through the beloved story, showing you the antics that ensue when a mother leaves her children alone for the day and a cat and two Things come to play. It is colorful and silly, and is a great for any age as it is fairly slow-moving and there are lots of things to see. If you’ve never experienced a classic, Omnimover-style dark ride before, you definitely need to check this one out!
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Marvel Superhero Island is one of my family’s favorite rides (and is, in my dad’s opinion, the best ride in all of Orlando!), and for good reason. This fast-paced motion-simulator brings you right into the action of Spiderman trying to catch Doctor Octopus, Venom, and a few other notorious villains as they terrorize the city. What makes this attraction so awesome is how detailed the special effects are. Those, combined with the ride path and motion-simulator movements themselves, take this attraction to the next level for a truly immersive experience.
Have a favorite attraction at Universal Orlando that we didn’t mention? Leave it in the comments below!