Universal Studios Florida Rides Guide + Best Rides

This post includes a guide to all the rides at Universal Studios Florida, one of two parks at Universal Orlando Resort. It also includes a personal ranking of the best rides at the park and our tips for fitting each ride into your day. Read on to learn all about your ride options at Universal Studios Florida!

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Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida

We’ll start with a list of the best rides at the park. We’re going to keep this list pretty short and to-the-point, and all of these are included in the full rides guide, which you can click here to jump to. Remember, Universal’s Islands of Adventure is covered in its own rides guide.

1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

In a park that relies heavily on simulated motion (screen rides), Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts is a good balance of a traditional coaster with screen effects. It’s consistently on of the most popular rides in the park for good reason.

2. E.T. Adventure

E.T. Adventure is the only traditional dark ride in the park, but it’s also one of the best dark rides there is, period. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but this one holds a special place in our hearts.

3. Revenge of the Mummy

The award-winning coaster of course deserves a spot on this list. With some cool practical effects and some surprising moments, the indoor coaster lives up to its reputation.

4. Hogwarts Express (King’s Cross Station)

A short, but smart ride. En route to Hogsmeade (in Islands of Adventure), enjoy being transported to the wizarding world while the scenes on the train treat you to a cleverly simulated ride on the Hogwarts Express.

5. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

It wouldn’t be right to leave the park’s only outdoor coaster off the list. Although its a bit bumpy, the ride has thrilling twists and turns despite never actually going upside down. Getting to pick your own soundtrack is just a nice bonus.

Universal Studios Florida Rides Guide

Now, let’s get to the complete rides guide. Remember, this guide covers only the rides at Universal Studios Florida. For rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure—the other park at Universal Orlando Resort—click here. For each ride, we give the height requirement, the ride type, a brief description, and tips for riding it.

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Our “Riding It” tips assume you have a single day dedicated to this park and that you are targeting all rides. They may be helpful if you’re splitting your day between the two parks, but in general you’ll need to follow a wholly different strategy (one we eventually hope to have for you).

We also give the following notations on applicable rides, in case you would like to use them to skip the lines:

Single Rider (SR) — Single rider allows individual guests to use a separate queue. Single Rider lines are typically significantly shorter than standard lines. Families/groups may use single rider lines but their groups will be separated for the ride.

We have nothing against single rider, and it is an underrated “hack.” We typically don’t include it in our strategies just because most families try to avoid it.

Express Pass (XP) — Express Pass is a paid service at Universal Studios that allows guests to skip the bulk of the line on select (most) rides. We have a complete guide to Express Pass at Universal Orlando Resort.

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Now, let’s get to a land-by-land guide to the rides of Universal Studios Florida! Click here to open the Universal Studios Florida map in a new tab (recommended).

Production Central

Production Central is the land immediately in front of the Universal Studios Florida entrance. As such, its attractions command heavy waits, regardless of their relative quality. Unfortunately, there’s no way to work around this—you’ll just either prioritize these rides early or deal with waits later in the day.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (XP, SR?)

Height: 40”/102cm
Ride Type: Simulated Ride (large theater with screen)

Note: I haven’t been able to find an official Universal source that mentions this attraction having single rider, but as the below photo shows, it was at least sometimes in use during my August 2019 visit.

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A screen attraction, this one in a larger theater with smaller eight-person vehicles that move (there is a stationary option). The Despicable Me narrative and writing is enjoyable enough, and this really is a fun ride. The downside is that it is placed near the entrance to the park and thus maintains an outsized wait relative to its quality.

It also has a lengthy pre-ride experience, so you really need to add about 15 minutes to the wait time for the total experience time.

Riding It: Ideally you visit Despicable Me Minion Mayhem the second ride of Early Park Admission. If you don’t have Early Park Admission (but others do), you’ll need to wait until later in the day because the the line from the early admission will persist as long as people are entering the park.

If there is no early admission that day, we recommend visiting Despicable Me second—after Rip Ride Rockit—only if the wait is ten minutes or less. If it’s over ten minutes, you’ll be better off getting ahead of the crowds at other rides and then coming back later.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (SR, XP)

Height: 51”-79”/130cm-200cm
Ride Type: Intense Outdoor Roller Coaster

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Ride Ride Rockit is the outdoor roller coaster attraction at Universal Studios Florida. Although it doesn’t go upside down, it does have a number of twists and turns that feel like they come mighty close (it really is a good design). Unfortunately the ride is a little bumpy.

Riding It: Whether you are already in the park for Early Park Admission (which does not include this ride) or you’re entering at the regular open time, this is where you need to go, first thing, when the park opens. It’s a must-do at Universal Studios Florida.

If you’re hesitant about starting there, also keep in mind that as an outdoor coaster, the ride is very weather-sensitive. You’d hate to miss out because Florida weather strikes later in the day.

TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D (SR, XP)

Height: 40”/102cm
Ride Type: Simulated 3D Ride (intense with screens)

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Transformers is one of Universal Orlando’s more intense screen attractions. Your vehicle of 12 people bobs, weaves, turns, and moves among gigantic screens that take you through an action packed Transformers adventure. 

Riding It: Typically you’ll want to head to Transformers after you’ve ridden (or passed on) Rip Ride Rockit and Despicable Me. It’s fine to push later if you’re falling behind the curve—the ride has single rider, and the indoor queue is a fine place to spend 30 minutes in the afternoon.

Shrek 4-D (XP)

Height: All Heights
Ride Type: Indoor 3D Show with Seat Movements

Shrek 4-D is a 3D theater show with effects, including individual seat movements. It’s somewhere around 15 minutes long. It’s funny in the way that Shrek is funny, but not really worth the waits it often carries during midday, especially with its outdoor queue.

Riding It: Because of its location near the entrance, Despicable Me, and Rip Ride Rockit, Shrek maintains an oversized wait throughout the day. We recommend waiting until the later hours or otherwise only waiting 15 or 20 minutes max for it.

New York

Continuing clockwise around the park from Production Central, you’ll come to New York.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (XP)

Height: 40"/102cm
Ride Type: Simulated Ride (with screen)

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This screen-based attraction pits you and your fellow audience members in a race with Jimmy Fallon through New York. The ride design isn’t the same as Despicable Me, but it’s similar—not as intense as Transformers or Spider-Man (at Islands of Adventure).

Riding It: Race Through New York uses a virtual queue where you can select a ride time via the app or in-park kiosks. You then return at that time and wait about 15 minutes to ride.

Grab a return time when you arrive for sometime after 5PM or anytime in the afternoon if you don’t need to catch all the park’s entertainment. Modify the time later if necessary.

Revenge of the Mummy (SR, XP)

Height: 48"/122cm
Ride Type: Indoor Intense Roller Coaster

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Revenge of the Mummy is an indoor roller coaster, mostly in the dark, with some screen effects and some animatronics. It doesn’t go upside down.

Revenge of the Mummy is very well regarded by many in the theme park community, even winning multiple Golden Ticket awards for best indoor coaster. We totally understand why, even if we aren’t that into it. It’s a must-do at Universal Studios Florida.

Riding It: Revenge of the Mummy is the last of the high-priority rides to start your day, and you’ll usually want to visit it just after Transformers. As with Transformers, the indoor queue and single rider line make this an okay option to push into the afternoon if necessary.

San Francisco

Continuing clockwise around the park from New York, you’ll come to San Francisco.

Fast & Furious – Supercharged (SR, XP)

Height: 40”/102cm
Ride Type: Simulated Dark Ride (with screen)

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Usually we leave real ride reviewing to ride enthusiasts, but we’re comfortable agreeing with the crowd here and saying this is a skippable ride (but you should have time for it, anyways). The plot takes you through a Fast & Furious escape from Owen Shaw.

It’s a screen attraction, but probably the one with the least movement and worst graphics of any of Universal’s screen based attractions. It also has tedious, unnecessary pre-shows.

Riding It: As with Race Through New York, Fast & Furious uses a virtual queue. You can select a ride time via the app or in-park kiosks. You then return at that time and wait about 15 minutes to ride.

Grab a return time when you arrive (they do run out) for sometime after 5PM or anytime in the afternoon if you don’t need to catch all the park’s entertainment. Modify the time later if necessary.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley)

Reminder: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split across the two Universal Orlando theme parks. Hogsmeade, the other half, is in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This park (Universal Studios Florida) is home to Diagon Alley.

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Blink and you’ll miss the entrance—The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley) is one of the most cleverly placed lands you’ll find in a theme park.

Diagon Alley is the area of Universal Studios Florida most worth your time. It’s a stunning achievement in theme park design, and one that significantly raised the bar. Plan for at least an hour to explore the land and its shops.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (SR, XP)

Height: 42”/107cm
Ride Type: Indoor Roller Coaster (with 3D screens)

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Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a hybrid 3D screen-based coaster ride. While the other screen rides rely almost entirely on simulated motion (with limited vehicle movement), Gringotts does a good job of combining the screens with the roller coaster elements.

As the name suggests, the ride take you on a journey with the characters of Harry Potter as you try and escape from the depths of Gringotts, the wizarding bank.

Riding It: Here’s the rub. Escape from Gringotts has an absolutely awful location (strategically speaking), all the way in the back of the park, far from every other high-priority ride. If you can get Early Park Admission (usually by staying at a Universal hotel), you’ll really want that, because it allows you early access to the ride first thing.

Otherwise, we recommend you punt on it in the morning and visit later. The last 20-30 minutes of the queue is entirely indoors (and wonderfully designed), and the rest is covered and has fans. I hate lines, and it’s one of the handful of queues I’d probably even be fine spending an hour in.

Hogwarts Express – King’s Cross Station (XP)

Height: All Heights
Ride Type: Train Ride (enclosed cabin with effects)

Important: You need Park-to-Park privileges to ride the Hogwarts Express because it connects Universal Studios Florida to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You cannot ride if unless you have a ticket that grants you access to both those parks on the same day. The entrance to the Hogwarts Express is actually just outside Diagon Alley.

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Hogwarts Express is a really neat (a word I never use) ride. The train connects Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Florida) to Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure). In concept, that might sound like any number of other train rides at competing theme parks.

In execution, Universal takes the concept and runs with it. During your journey, the cabin is completely transformed to take you on an adventure as if you’re actually riding the Hogwarts Express between these two destinations.

Riding It: Because it transports you to the other park, there’s often no perfect time to ride the Hogwarts Express (unless of course it fits perfectly in your two-park itinerary). If you have two days, use the Hogwarts Express late and watch the nighttime show at the opposite park from where you spent most of your day.

Otherwise, you should be able to time it to avoid waiting more than 30 minutes, but if its your last big thing you might just need to enjoy the line midday.

World Expo

The ambitiously named “World Expo” is a small land between Diagon Alley and Springfield.

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack (SR, XP)

Height: 42”/107cm
Ride Type: Dark Ride Laser-Shooter

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Men In Black is a laser-shooter dark ride. Your vehicle navigates the streets of New York, which has seen some sort of alien invasion. Shoot the aliens, earn points.

A significant part of the queue is indoors and pretty cool. Otherwise we find this to be a missable ride.

Riding It: As with The Simpsons Ride and E.T. Adventure, you’ll be targeting this ride after you’ve gotten through your morning priorities, hoping to fit it in before 12PM to 1PM when peak waits start to hit.

Springfield: Home of the Simpsons

Springfield: Home of the Simpsons is exactly what it sounds like—a small land themed to the cartoon city of Springfield, home of the characters on The Simpsons. Is it tacky? Definitely. But is it oozing with everything 10-year-old me wanted? Definitely.

The Simpsons Ride (XP)

Height: 40”/102cm
Ride Type: Virtual Coaster (with screen)

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The Simpsons Ride is a screen based attraction that take you on a ride through the Springfield amusement park, Krustyland. The movement is maybe a hair less intense than Transformers, but more intense than Despicable Me or Race Through New York.

If you’re a big fan of the Simpsons, it’s a fine attraction. Kids might enjoy the cartoon nature of it, and it’s definitely less scary than Transformers.

Riding It: As with Men In Black and E.T. Adventure, you’ll be targeting this ride after you’ve gotten through your morning priorities, hoping to fit it in before 12PM to 1PM when peak waits start to hit.

Note the outdoor queue is a much worse experience than the queues of Transformers or Revenge of the Mummy, and The Simpsons Ride doesn’t offer Single Rider. For this reason, it might make sense to push one of those into the afternoon and head to this area of the park earlier in the day when waits are still short.

Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl (XP)

Height: All Heights
Ride Type: Aerial Carousel

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Twirl ‘n’ Hurl is an aerial carousel (think Dumbo ride) not unlike every other aerial carousel in the world. It does offer some nice views, though, and you should easily be able to fit it into your day as it rarely has a substantial line.

Riding It: You can push this one into the afternoon if you’re short on time in the morning. But if you feel confident that you’re ahead of the crowds, just walk on it with no wait as you’re in the area.

Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone

Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone is a small area with two rides and a few other attractions aimed at small children. Truth be told, this isn’t enough to make the park appealing to families with young kids, but at least it’s something.

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster (XP)

Height: 36”/91cm
Ride Type: Kiddie Coaster

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster is a kiddie coaster. It’s not the most boring kiddie coaster ever, but it is very short. It’s missable for adults but worth the usually 5-minute wait for most kids.

Riding It: Most days you can get a wait under 10 minutes on Nuthouse Coaster throughout the day. It’s a good one to target after you’ve covered the big names in the morning.

E.T. Adventure (XP)

Height: 34”/86cm
Ride Type: Aerial Dark Ride

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ET Adventure is a “flying” dark ride that takes you on a visit to ET’s home world. As the rare traditional dark ride at Universal Orlando, this is one of our favorite rides in the resort, and a definite must-ride.

Riding It: ET usually opens an hour or so later than the rest of the park, so there’s no need to rush there. As with Men In Black and The Simpsons Ride, you’ll be targeting this ride after you’ve gotten through your morning priorities, hoping to fit it in before 12PM to 1PM when peak waits start to hit.