My Top 5 Rides @ Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure – Orlando, Florida
With spring and summer swiftly approaching, we are getting in a theme park kind of mood around here. This has inspired me to share with you some of my favorite rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. Check out my Top 5 list and let me know what your favorite rides are!
#5 The Simpsons Ride
If you are a child of the 90’s, a fan of The Simpsons, or just want to know what it’s like to live inside of a cartoon, then The Simpsons Ride is for you. This simulator ride opened in 2008 and is about 4 ½ minutes long. This ride has a little bit of everything, from drops, wrecks, water-effects, scent-effects, fire-effects, smoke, mist and even some baby slobber – thanks to Maggie. Fans of the TV show will love how many of the regular characters make an appearance. From the pre-show to the end of the ride about 24 characters are involved in the journey in one way or another. Though some riders have complained that the attraction can be a little discombobulating, the combination of comedy and thrills make it more than worth it – given you don’t have any pre-existing heart conditions, or anything.
#4 The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
This motion-based 3D dark ride open up in 1999 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This is one of the most well executed hybrid rides I have ever experienced and has won the Golden Ticket Award for Best Dark Ride for 12 consecutive years. Though the ride is mostly just you, as a “cub reporter”, following Spiderman around town as he battles a number of foes, it is definitely the closest you will ever come to knowing what it’s like to be inside of a comic book. The ride took over 3 years to produce and a number of new ride technologies were born of its creation – and you can tell. From beginning to end, there is never a dull moment.
One of the best effects is when your vehicle is lifted up to about 400 feet, or so you think, as you never actually leave the ground. Experiences like this, the moveable building sets, lighting, simulator movement, projections and wind effects make you forget that you’re riding on a flat track in front of projection screens.
#3 Revenge of the Mummy
This ride was opened back in 2002, after the close of Kongfrontation and E.T. Adventure. Revenge of the Mummy is a dark roller coaster that carries its riders in mine cars inside Imhotep’s tomb. Like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, there are no inversions on this ride, but the cars are launched from a complete standstill to top speeds of 40-45 mph in a few seconds, with 180 degree turns, jarring crashes and a few spins and twists. The best part of the ride is the 40 ft drop through a Medjai symbol, as Imhotep shouts in frustration as you reach safety.
Usually, I’m not one to even discuss the queue and pre-show of a ride, as I find most all of them boring and corny, but I always enjoy seeing props and sets that were used in the actual film. As you walk through the queue you can find molds and casts that were used in fabricating prosthetics and props for the films, which are pretty interesting.
#2 The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Now we are getting into some serious coaster action. This bad boy, wihch has been running since 1999, never fails to get the blood pumping. The first drop of the ride is about 105 feet, with seven inversions to follow including a zero-g roll, a cobra roll, two vertical loops, and two corkscrews. Riders reach a top speed of 67 miles per hour – all of this happening in 2 minutes and 15 seconds. I love the subterranean dives, especially at night when the water is illuminated in Hulk-green.
If you’re not a fan of inversions, g-force falls, or 105-ft drops, then this ride is probably not for you. Arthur Levine of About.com gave the ride 9 out of 10 stars. Levine describes the ride as “both terrifying and exhilarating”, but “not for the faint of heart”. For those who don’t find that review appealing, I’d say stick with Harry Potter.
#1 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
I never would have thought that my #1 choice of rides at Universal Studios would be anything other than a roller coaster, but Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is, by far, my favorite thing about Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure. I might be a little biased, since I have been a Harry Potter nerd since I was given the first 4 books for Christmas back in 2000, but the fact remains – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rocks my socks.
The Forbidden Journey is a scenic dark ride that takes you on a soaring adventure through the iconic locations of the Harry Potter story, like Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room and the Room of Requirements. Some of the experiences include a flight around Hogwarts castle, a battle with the Whomping Willow, a race from a slew of Dementors, a quick cameo in a Quidditch match and a flaming encounter with an animatronic dragon. Though you won’t be flipping over head or racing at top speeds, the 4-person enchanted bench drops, spins, twists and turns enough to make you feel like you are, indeed, on a roller coaster.
Chelsea is Treadway Industries’ resident Web Master, employing her experience in digital media and theme park know-how to create blogs – both entertaining and informative.