We only had one day to visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida – however we made good use out of every second we were at the parks and managed to ride almost every big ride at both parks.
Below is a list of our favourite rides and why we ranked them as we did:
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This was actually surprisingly easy to pick as our all time favourite ride – Michaela even made time to ride it twice during our super busy day.
The cross between mechanical thrill ride and audio-visual sensation is really unique (we’d never seen anything like it before going to Islands of Adventure) and takes you on an airborne ride through Hogwarts Castle, face-to-face with the beasts of the Forbidden Forest and even though a fast-paced game of Quidditch.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
This is a very similar styled ride as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but it immerses you so utterly in the story of Spiderman and his nemeses that by the end of the ride you truly feel like you’re flying through city skyscrapers with your red and blue hero. This one got me pretty tense but we both thoroughly enjoyed it for exactly that reason.
Although many think this is just a normal train ride that takes you from platform 9 3/4 in Universal to Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure it is actually so much more.
The train is an exact replica inside and out of the Hogwarts Express and utterly immerses you into the wizarding world of Harry Potter through surrounding audio-visual displays.
This was the only roller coaster we rode at both parks due to the fact that Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket was closed and the queue for the Hulk rollercoaster was over 2 hours long.
The coaster is styled after two separate dragons and dangles you in carriages from above, leaving your feet swinging freely as you loop-the-loop, drop incredibly fast and watch the surroundings go by extremely quickly! We were pleasantly surprised and exhilarated by the adrenaline this ride left pumping through our veins.
Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter then you’ll love this ride – it takes you on a rickety ride through the underground vaults of Gringott’s Wizarding bank and puts you face-to-face in 3D with Voldemort’s fear-inducing serpent and evil followers.
It’s not as adrenaline pumping as some other rides, however we utterly enjoyed the wait in line – as you’re taken through some pretty cool themed rooms and even a magic elevator – and the mix of 3D realistic animation with mechanical movement.
This is the only original Universal Studios attraction, and although it’s over 30 years old it is still incredibly enjoyable and mesmerising.
Hop onto a bicycle with ET in your front basket and escape from the cops – E.T will even help you by making the bike fly over town – a moment that gave me goosebumps. I couldn’t believe this ride was 30 years old and was whisked away into the beauty of it all.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
This is Island of Adventures newest ride, and although it is super unique and exciting, the wait times were immense and we expected a little more from the ride due to it’s popularity. This doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it.
You’ll be taken on a real bus-ride through the jungle of Skull Island and be stuck in the middle of a fight between dinosaurs and King Kong himself – all on a 360 degree screen that wraps around the entire bus which is shaken and tilted in perfect unison to the screen.
Transformers: The Ride 3D
We had the opposite reaction to Transformers as we did to King Kong – we’d heard it wasn’t that exciting and went in with low expectations. We came out utterly thrilled and impressed with the videotronic ride.
Jurassic Park River Adventure
One of Universal’s classic rides, JP River Adventure is a water ride that takes you through a dinosaur infested jungle and leaves the thrill to the very end – no spoiler here.
Unfortunately some of the robotic dinosaurs are getting pretty old and makes it hard to fully immerse in the fantasy, however there are a few very nice surprises along the way.
Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride
This ride is only in last place due to the fact that we’re not as big fans of this movie compared to other rides in the parks. However, the use of fire on this dark roller coaster is really well done and gets you rather warm in places. We would have ridden again if we’d had the time!