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Please read our disclosure for more info.From thrilling roller coasters to the immersive Harry Potter world, there’s plenty to enjoy at the movie-themed Universal Studios Orlando.We love exploring the different lands—hopping from Diagon Alley, London to Springfield, USA, strolling on San Francisco’s wharf and through the streets of New York.In this post, we share our rankings for the best rides at Universal Orlando plus recommendations for other must do activities.ContentsWhat is Universal Studios Florida?Most Popular Rides at Universal Studios OrlandoBest Rides at Universal OrlandoOther Top Things to Do at Universal Studios OrlandoIs Universal Orlando Worth Visiting?Other Universal and Disney PostsWhat is Universal Studios Florida?Take a stroll along San Francisco’s wharf, one of the must do experiences at Universal OrlandoThe Universal Orlando Resort consists of two theme parks—Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, plus the water park Volcano Bay.This post focuses on the best rides at Universal Studios Florida.Be sure to check out our guide to the best rides at Islands of Adventure, as it’s home to our three favourite attractions in the whole resort—Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.The Islands of Adventure post also has tips for avoiding lines at Universal, what to pack, where to stay and more.Note that both parks have Harry Potter Worlds—Hogsmeade is in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios Florida. Both are amazing so it’s worth visiting both parks with a Park-to Park ticket.Back to ContentsMost Popular Rides at Universal Studios OrlandoThese are the top Universal Studios Florida rides that have the longest lines with their average wait times over a year:Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – 62 minutesDespicable Me Minion Mayhem – 46 minutesHollywood Rip Ride Rockit – 46 minutesRevenge of the Mummy – 39 minutesAt busy times of the year, consider purchasing an Express Pass to skip the lines on almost all attractions at Universal Orlando (including all the rides below).It’s included if you stay at one of Universal’s Premium hotels (we loved our stay at Portofino Bay a 10-15 minute walk from the parks).You can also reduce your wait times by joining the Single Rider lines for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, and Transformers.Back to ContentsBest Rides at Universal Orlando1) Harry Potter and the Escape from GringottsJust a dragon chilling on top of Gringotts Bank as you get ready for one of the best rides at Universal OrlandoType of Ride: Thrill Ride, 3D Motion SimulatorMinimum Height: 42 inches (107cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required: Yes for bags (free)Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon AlleyHarry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is by far the best ride at Universal Studios Florida—don’t miss it!As soon as you walk down the wonderfully detailed Diagon Alley in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you notice the large dragon on top of Gringotts Bank—this is where the ride takes place.The grand lobby of Gringotts BankEven the queue is part of the experience as you walk into the grand lobby past goblin bank tellers. It looks so much like the movie and the goblins are incredibly realistic.Goblin bank tellers survey you along the queueThe ride itself is a mix of roller coaster and motion simulator with 3D screens as you join Harry and friends as they try to escape from the bank. There are some fun thrills but it’s not too intense.Harry Potter fans will love being part of key scenes from The Deathly Hallows Part 2.As Escape from Gringotts is the most popular ride in the park, you’ll want to ride this first thing. It’s at the back of the park so power walk straight over there as soon as the gates open.It’s included in Express Pass so we walked right on.2) Hollywood Rip Ride RockitThe vertical climb is not for the faint of heart on this must do Universal Orlando ride!Type of Ride: Thrill RideMinimum Height: 51 inches (130cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required: Yes for bags and all loose items including phones (free)Location: Production CentralHollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the only outdoor roller coaster at Universal Studios Florida. It’s a scary one beginning with a vertical climb up to terrifying heights followed by a massive drop.One of the most fun aspects of the ride is choosing a song as your personal soundtrack (don’t take too long to choose or you’ll end up with the default!).Simon loved Rip Ride Rockit, but I found it too jolty. VelociCoaster in Islands of Adventure is a much smoother (and even more thrilling) coaster.3) Revenge of the MummyThe museum facade sets the mood for Revenge of the Mummy, one of the best rides at Universal OrlandoType of Ride: Thrill RideMinimum Height: 48 inches (122cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required:  Yes for bags (free)Location: New YorkRevenge of the Mummy is a fun indoor coaster that takes place mostly in the dark with some cool special effects.While it doesn’t go upside down, it can be pretty scary as mummies try to attack you and you feel the heat of fire.It’s one of the best rides at Universal Studios Orlando, a classic that’s a must do for most visitors.The single-rider line is useful for this popular attraction.4) Hogwarts Express – Kings Cross StationWonky geography aside, the tube station replicas truly transport you to LondonType of Ride: FamilyMinimum Height: Children under 48 inches (122cm) need to be supervisedExpress Pass: YesLocker Required:  NoLocation: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon AlleyHogwarts Express is both a ride and transport between King’s Cross Station at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.A Park-to-Park ticket is needed to ride, and you’ll want to ride it both ways for different experiences.Starting from Kings Cross has the advantage of departing from the iconic Platform 9¾—at the top of the stairs watch other guests disappear through the wall!The video screens in the windows and doors of the train make it feel like you are really riding the Hogwarts Express along with Harry and friends.5) Transformers: The Ride 3DOptimus Prime greets you at the entrance to Transformers: The Ride 3DType of Ride: 3D Motion SimulatorMinimum Height: 40 inches (102cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required:  NoLocation: Production CentralTransformers is a 3D motion simulator where you join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in a battle against Megatron.It’s a thrilling adventure with some fun effects (feel heat and water) and realistic moments (when robots are thrown against the vehicle).Motion sickness can be an issue on this one. It was for me in Universal Studios Singapore, so I skipped it in Orlando. Simon always enjoys it, though.Look out for the Transformers character meet and greet outside.6) The Simpsons RideFun ride, especially for Simpsons fansType of Ride: 3D Motion SimulatorMinimum Height: 40 inches (102cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required:  NoLocation: Springfield, U.S.A: Home of The SimpsonsOn this simulated roller coaster, you join the Simpsons family on a trip to Krustyland.Simon thought it was a fun ride for Simpsons fans but not a must do.It’s notoriously bad for motion sickness, so I skipped it.The Springfield area is definitely worth visiting, though. It’s cool to see locations from the TV show like Moe’s, Krusty Burger, and Kwik-E-Mart. You can play carnival-style games too.Duff beer topiary!7) Despicable Me Minion MayhemA must do family ride at Universal OrlandoType of Ride: 3D Motion SimulatorMinimum Height: 40 inches (102cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required:  NoLocation: Production CentralDespicable Me Minion Mayhem is one of the most popular rides at Universal Orlando, but we rank it lower. It’s a higher priority with kids.It’s yet another 3D motion simulator ride where you join Gru and his daughters to train to become a minion. When it goes wrong, you follow the family through all sorts of dangers.It’s a cute ride but maybe skippable for adults if lines are long, unless you are a big minion fan.If you really want to ride it and don’t have an Express Pass, I’d head back here (it’s near the entrance to the park) after riding Gringotts and Rip Ride Rockit.8) Race Through New York Starring Jimmy FallonEnjoyable family-friendly ride in New YorkType of Ride: 3D Motion SimulatorMinimum Height: 40 inches (102cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required:  NoLocation: New YorkSimon enjoyed the Jimmy Fallon ride more than he expected—it’s silly but enjoyable and worth doing if lines aren’t long when you’re in New York.Jimmy Fallon fans will especially appreciate the jokes, but it’s a family-friendly attraction suitable for most, unless motion sickness is an issue (yep, it’s another motion simulator).9) Men In Black Alien Attack!Who can get the highest score on this interactive shooter ride?Type of Ride: Interactive Shooter Dark RideMinimum Height: 42 inches (107cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required: Yes for bags (free)Location: World ExpoMen in Black is a welcome break from the motion simulators as you ride in cars trying to shoot aliens and rack up the highest score.While it’s not as well done as the interactive shooter rides at Disney like Buzz Lightyear at Magic Kingdom, it’s worth doing if you have time.It’s a good option in the afternoon once you’ve ridden the more popular rides.10) E.T. AdventureType of Ride: Dark RideMinimum Height: 34 inches (86.36cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required: NoLocation: Woody Woodpecker’s KidZoneAnother low-key dark ride is E.T. Adventure. It’s the only truly gentle ride in the park, so it makes a good break from thrills and 3D simulators.You ride on flying bikes in the sky and then, strangely, visit E.T.’s home planet. It’s dated but cute.11) Fast and Furious – SuperchargedFor Fast and Furious fans or car lovers onlyType of Ride: 3D Motion SimulatorMinimum Height: 40 inches (102cm)Express Pass: YesLocker Required: NoLocation: San FranciscoFast and Furious is one of the least popular rides in the park.The various pre-stories feel unnecessarily long and the ride itself is short, shaky, and just not that exciting.Unless you are a fan of the franchise or a car nerd (there are lots in the queue), this one is skippable.Back to ContentsOther Top Things to Do at Universal Studios OrlandoFor me, the best things to do at Universal Studios Orlando are not rides at all.12) See the Knight BusThe attention to detail, even in the recreation of London Georgian townhouses, is astoundingWhile I find the rides at Universal Studios Florida less appealing than at Islands of Adventure, the area I truly love is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.You start in London with the Georgian townhouses of Grimmauld Place and Kings Cross Station, where you catch the Hogwarts Express.One of the top attractions in this area is the purple triple-decker Knight Bus, one of the actual prop buses used in the Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban film.See one of the prop buses used in the Harry Potter filmsYou can peek inside, meet the conductor, and occasionally watch him converse with the shrunken head that hangs above the dashboard.13) Explore Diagon AlleyRecreate Harry’s first steps into a magical worldThis is where it gets really good. See if you can find the hidden entrance to Diagon Alley then emerge into another world.This immersive area is incredibly detailed with lots to explore. You can buy a wand in Ollivanders, jokes at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Every Flavour beans at Sugarplum’s Sweetshop and feather quills and parchment at Scribbulus.Get the best jokes to play on your friends from Weasleys’ Wizard WheezesWhile the stores sell plenty of souvenirs, the decor feels authentic and there’s lots of cool stuff to see, even for non-shoppers.Stock up on all your textbooks for the upcoming Hogwarts semesterThe street is dominated by the huge dragon on top of Gringotts Bank, which breathes actual fire every now and then.The dragon enjoying the view of Diagon AlleyDiagon Alley gets really busy so it’s best enjoyed at the very beginning or end of the day.We came here first thing to ride Gringotts and look around and then returned for lunch after looping around the park. It also looks especially magical after dark.14) Wander Down Knockturn AlleyGet your Dark Arts on down Knockturn AlleyAt the end of Diagon Alley, you can find the entrance to Knockturn Alley, home to vendors specialising in darker forms of magic.It is literally dark down here with a genuinely creepy vibe that doesn’t feel like a theme park at all.Make sure to go inside Borgin and Burkes to see all kinds of powerful Dark Arts objects.15) Watch the Wand Ceremony at OllivandersThe wand ceremony at Ollivanders over at Islands of AdventureWatching the wand ceremony at Ollivanders Wand Shop is a must do at Universal Studios Orlando.The dark store in Diagon Alley feels so authentic with its towering piles of wand boxes on dusty shelves.One person is chosen from the room to be paired with their perfect wand by conducting spells. They can then choose to purchase the wand next door, as can anyone watching.You can also visit Ollivanders in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, but obviously, the Diagon Alley location is most authentic.16) Cast a Spell with a Wand!With my wand at Universal Japan!Buying an interactive wand (from $63) is a fun way to enhance your experience at Harry Potter world. You can cast spells in Diagon Alley and over in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.We loved creating wand magic on our Universal Studios Japan visit!Look out for the gold medallions on the floor that show you where and how to cast a spell.It might take practice to get the wand movements just right to create magical effects like making it rain, illuminating lanterns, and levitating a quill.17) Eat in the Leaky CauldronDine and try Butterbeer in the Leaky CauldronThe Leaky Cauldron pub is the main place to eat in Diagon Alley. It serves British fare like fish and chips and bangers and mash.Vegan options include Irish Stew and Shepherd’s Pasty Pie (with meatless beef crumbles and vegetables), which Simon enjoyed.Accompanying your meal with a glass of Butterbeer (hot, cold or frozen) is a rite of passage. We also tried a Fizzy Orange Juice but regretted it.18) Enjoy a Butterbeer Ice CreamTrust me, the best way to enjoy Butterbeer!The Butterbeer beverage is super sweet and I prefer it in soft-serve ice cream form, which you can enjoy from Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley.19) See a ShowFor a change of pace, there are two indoor shows at Universal Studios Florida.The Bourne Stuntacular is a live-action stunt show as you watch Jason Bourne on his adventures.Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up Show gives you the opportunity to see how makeup and special effects are created for the big screen including how to make fake blood.20) Look out for Street EntertainmentYou can also find street entertainment throughout the park—check the app for schedules.In Diagon Alley, you can watch musical sensation (and Molly Weasley’s favourite singer), Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, and enjoy storytelling and puppets with The Tales of Beedle the Bard.In New York, listen out for the soulful sounds of The Blues Brothers.Back to ContentsIs Universal Orlando Worth Visiting?Universal Orlando is definitely worth visiting—it’s a must for movie fans.While we prefer the rides at Islands of Adventure, we wouldn’t miss Universal Studios Florida for the incredibly immersive Diagon Alley and the excellent theming throughout the park—from New York to London to San Francisco.Try to spend a day at each of the parks if you can, although with a Park-to-Park ticket you can see the highlights in one day, especially if you have an Express Pass.Don’t miss our guide to the must do Islands of Adventure rides.Back to ContentsOther Universal and Disney PostsRead our guides to other Universal Studios and Disney parks in Orlando and beyond.USAElsewhere