While not actually a part of Disney World, most people associate the Universal Studios Theme Park with Disney World. There was probably a time where I didn’t actually know it wasn’t part of Disney. Therefore, it gets its own page, but I think it still belongs under the Disney category
I’m sure there are some people who go to Disney World and don’t go to Universal Studios, but I absolutely love this theme park. It’s one of the best, especially for older visitors.
Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure
The first thing to note, is that Universal Studios is really made up of two major parks (there’s also the water park, but I won’t get into that right now). There’s the Universal Studios theme park, now just called Universal Orlando, is the original theme park. Islands of Adventure is the newer park (relatively speaking), and has a lot more thrill rides.
I prefer Islands of Adventure over the original, but there are some attractions in the original Universal Studiostheme park that shouldn’t be missed.
1. Revenge of the Mummy – A tame rollercoaster, but a rollercoaster none-the-less. I don’t have any strong feelings about The Mummy as a movie, but I think it’s a pretty good ride. Must be 48 inches or taller to ride this ride.
2. Transformers – Great motion-simulated ride. Again, I don’t particularly like transformers, but it’s a great ride. Must be over 48 inches or more than 40 inches with adult.
3. E.T. – Talk about nostalgia – this used to be my absolute favorite ride as a young child, so when I went back to Disney World as an adult, I had to ride this ride. There wasn’t much of a line, so we went on this ride maybe 3 times! Must be over 48 inches or more than 34 inches with adult
4. Harry Potter – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spans across both parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. In Universal Studios, you have Diagon Alley, which is absolutely awesome. You can wander the streets, drink butter-beer, buy broom sticks, buy jellybeans, and see the dragon spit fire! Universal Studios is really awesome when it comes to the Harry Potter experience – it truly feels like you’re a part of it.
As far as rides go, the best Harry Potter ride in Universal Studios is Harry Potter and the Escape From the Gringotts. Technically, this ride is considered a rollercaster, but it’s SO much more than that. The entrance to the ride itself is amazing. The set up and just everything you will see before you even get on the ride makes it worth doing. There is a lot of darkness, but overall, the ride isn’t that scary, and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes rides and/or Harry Potter.
5. Hogwarts Express – The Hogwarts Express is awesome! It is made to look just like the train from Harry Potter, inside and out, and it connects the original Universal Studios Theme Park with Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
1. Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey
By far the best Harry Potter experience in all of the parks, this ride is absolutely amazing. Just getting to the ride itself is awesome. Again, you feel like you are actually in Hogwarts, and the thought that went into all the props is unreal. You’ll see talking pictures, the sorting hat, all sorts of stuff that makes you really feel like you’re inside a Harry Potter book (or movie!). The ride itself is one of my favorite rides of all the rides in the Universal Studios theme parks, as well as in the Disney World parks. On this ride, you get to fly through the sky, play Quidditch, go through the Forbidden Forest, and more. Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, it’s still an awesome ride that you must do. You must be 48 inches or taller to ride this attraction.
This ride is VERY busy at all times. Get the express pass for Universal and Islands of Adventure, it’s worth it. Otherwise, get to the park before it opens, and run to this ride so you can experience it without waiting in line for 2 hours.
2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man – Another great 3D simulation ride. Follow Spider-man around as he tries to save The Statue of Liberty! A thrilling ride, but still okay for younger children. Strongly recommend this ride, even if you aren’t a Spider-man fan. The lines can get pretty long, so it’s definitely good to have the express pass.
3. The Incredible Hulk Coaster – This is a really good rollercoaster, if you like rollercoasters. Again, I have no strong feelings about the Incredible Hulk, but it’s still an awesome ride that I highly recommend. You must be 54 inches or taller to ride this attraction. If you don’t have the express pass for the park, you should get in the line for single riders – it’s much quicker. I did this because my partner in crime doesn’t really like rollercoasters, but I still wanted to do it! I’ve also found that for a lot of rides, even if you get in the single rider lane, you may end up riding with the person you are there with, if it’s just two of you.
4. Skull Island: Reign of King Kong – Not my favorite ride – I didn’t think it lived up to all the hype when it first opened. Still worth doing if you have an express pass or can get there at a time where the lines aren’t too bad. This is one of the rides where we went into the single rider line – got on in about 10 minutes and ended up riding together anyway.
5. Jurassic Park River Ride – This is a good one to ride on a nice, sunny day. You hop aboard a raft and float by, looking at the dinosaurs. Then, one of the dinosaurs nudges you off the path – watch out! You end up escaping by taking an 85 foot drop – sounds way worse than it is. Young children may want to avoid because of the drop, but it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds.