The theme park industry is getting more and more competitive as parks continue to build new rides & attractions to keep the guests coming back on a regular basis. Although IP (Intellectual Property) and attraction theming has been popular as of yet, the thrill of a roller coaster ride still dominates the theme park landscape.
Some of the newest and most popular rides combine high quality theming and IP along with the excitement of a roller coaster ride. We’re seeing this across a number of the Orlando area theme parks as evidenced by the Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Universal’s Islands of Adventure), Tron Lightcycle Power Run (The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World) and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Epcot at Walt Disney World).
Both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure at the Universal Orlando Resort are home to several of the most exciting and popular rollers coasters among all the central Florida theme parks. Their array of coasters range from highly intense thrill coasters to more family-friendly offerings. Guests will also dark ride (indoor) and hybrid coasters themed to Universal’s movie library.
Roller Coasters at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Universal’s Islands of Adventure (“IOA”) is one of the most exciting theme parks in Orlando and it was named the Number 1 Amusement Park in the World by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards for 2019. There are a number of amazing themed attractions and thrill rides throughout the park that range from family-friendly to super intense.
To learn more about IOA, please visit our Definitive Guide to Islands of Adventure.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
If you are looking for thrills, The Incredible Hulk Coaster is the ride for you. The 3,670 foot long Hulk is a launch roller coaster that features 7 inversions with speeds up to 67 miles per hour. We consider the Hulk one of the most intense rides at the Universal Orlando Resort. The ride was completed refurbished in 2015 / 2016 with new track, new coaster trains with on-board audio and an updated queue line with modified theming.
Once you enter Islands of Adventure the big green coaster structure just can’t be missed and it’s one of the highlights of Marvel Super Hero Island as well the entire park.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of the Incredible Hulk Coaster to get the full 4G ride experience.
Wait times for the Incredible Hulk can get lengthy and are typically more than 60 minutes on the average summer day. A Virtual Line is not yet offered on this ride but guests can utilize Universal Express or the Single Rider Line.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
At $300 million, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is one of the most expensive (if not the most expensive) roller coasters built to date. With fantastic theming from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this attraction is more than just a coaster – it’s quite an experience.
Located in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmede section of IOA, Hagrid’s is one of the longer coasters at 5,053 feet and speeds reach up to 50 mph. There are no inversions but guests get their thrills from multiple launches, a 70 degree spike (forward and backwards) and a vertical drop.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure for the full ride experience.
As of spring 2021 Hagrid’s is the newest coaster to Universal’s landscape and although it has had its operational issues, we’ve found it to be some of the most fun attractions at Islands of Adventure.
There is no stand-by queue for Hagrid’s at guests can only ride with a Virtual Ride reservation that is obtained from the Universal Orlando mobile app.
Flight of the Hippogriff
The Flight of the Hippogriff is a family-friendly coaster that is themed after the Hippogriff character in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter movies. This attraction if perfect for younger guests and those that enjoy a mild coaster experience.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of the Flight of the Hippogriff for the full ride experience.
Due to the limited capacity of this attraction, wait times can be lengthy (45+ minutes on a typical summer day). Universal Express is offered which can reduce wait times but there is no single rider line offered.
Jurassic Park VelociCoaster
Opened in May 2021, the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster will takes guests on a ride up to 70 miles per hour and soaring up to 150 feet in the air. There is little doubt that with this new attraction, Universal is upping the ante among thrill rides at the Orlando area theme parks.
The VelociCoaster is located in the Jurassic Park section of Islands of Adventure next to the Jurassic Park River Adventure and will feature 2 high speed launches, 4 inversions and up to 12 airtime moments. It is by far one of the best rides at the Universal Orlando Resort
Due to the popularity of this ride, wait times can easily exceed 60 minutes. Unfortunately at this time, Universal Express is NOT offered for the VelociCoaster.
Roller Coasters at Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida (“USF”) was originally developed as a theme park where guests can “Ride the Movies”. Over the years the composition of the park has been updated due to changing trends which included the addition of several new roller coaster experiences.
To learn more about USF, please visit our Definitive Guide to Universal Studios Florida.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Guests will notice the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit from just about anywhere in the Universal Orlando Resort. At a height of 167 feet and bring yellow & red colors (which are well light at night), this steel “X-Coaster” is one of the most popular attractions at Universal Studios Florida.
The ride starts with a 30-second climb to the peak of the attraction before dropping back to the ground at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. Guests get to choose their own music for their ride and there are even “secret playlists” that can be found on-line.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit for the full ride experience.
Wait times for this attraction can get lengthy and are typically more than 60 minutes on the average summer day. A Virtual Line is not yet offered on this ride but guests can utilize Universal Express or the Single Rider Line.
Revenge of the Mummy
One of Endless Summer’s favorite rides at Universal is the Revenge of the Mummy. This attraction is within a 62,000 square foot, six-story building and replaced the Kongfrontation ride in 2004. As it is fully indoors, guests can enjoy this ride no matter what the weather outside looks like.
The Mummy is a a dark ride that includes 2,200 feet of ride track where guests travel up to 40 miles per hour through a variety of scenes taken from the movie franchise. Although there are inversions, the ride is very exciting and its features include 80-degree banked turns an a 50-degree descent.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of the Revenge of the Mummy for the full ride experience.
Wait times for this attraction can get lengthy and are typically more than 45 minutes on the average summer day. Additionally, guests utilize Universal Express or the Single Rider Line.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
Located in Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, this family-friendly coaster is perfect for younger guests or first time roller coaster riders. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster is a quick ride that lasts less than one minute but offers some excitement and thrills for those not ready for some of the other coasters offered at Universal.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster for the full ride experience.
*** WOODY WOODPECKER’S NUTHOUSE COASTER will be permanently closing on January 15, 2023 to make way for new attractions that have yet to be announced.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is the signature ride at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Opened in 2014 with the expansion of the Harry Potter lands in Universal Studios Florida, this attraction is know for its extensive queue and amazing theming based on the popular movie franchise.
The ride itself is a hybrid roller coaster / projection ride where guests follow along a similar story line of Harry, Ron and Hermonie infiltrating the vaults of Gringotts Bank and making an escape on a fire breathing dragon.
Escape from Gringotts is a five minute ride, is fully indoors (dark ride) and features 2,000 feet of track that takes guests through several different themed scenes where they encounter Bellatrix Lastrange and Lord Voldemart.
Watch our complete on-ride POV of the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts for the full ride experience.
Wait times for this attraction can get lengthy and are typically more than 60 minutes on the average summer day. Additionally, guests utilize can Universal Express or the Single Rider Line.
Coasters at Universal’s Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando’s water theme park and it is (currently) the newest park at the Universal Orlando Resort. While it is a water park, it does have a ride that differs from a traditional water slide and is known as a “water coaster”.
To learn more about Volcano Bay, please visit our Complete Guide to Universal’s Volcano Bay.
Krakatau Aqua Coaster
The Krakatau Aqua Coaster is a water themed coaster that uses “linear induction motors” to propel the four-person canoe type ride vehicle up hills. Guests will get wet as the ride vehicle navigates a number of drops and climbs through the heart of the Krakatau volcano.
The Aqua Coaster has a 42 inch height requirement and guests under 48 inches need to ride with a supervising companion. Wait times are typically among the longest of any attraction at Volcano Bay so we recommend that you get there early and ride this one first.
Learn More about the Universal Orlando Resort with our Theme Park Guides
Where Should We Stay When Visiting the Universal Orlando Resort?
The Universal Resort has a number of great on-site hotels and each and every one of them have their own benefits, characteristics and price points.
There are multiple “categories” of hotels but the highest quality on-site hotels are the Premier Hotels. Premier hotels are Universal’s premium hotels that have the highest quality amenities & accommodations, the closest locations to the theme parks and largest amount of on-site hotel benefits.
What sets Premier hotels apart is that they provide a free Universal Express pass to every guest staying in the room. Universal Express allows guests to skip the regular lines and ride the most popular rides as many times as they would like. Once you get used to Universal Express, you will never want to visit a theme park without one.
In addition Universal’s Premier hotels and resorts, there are a number of other on-site and off-site hotels options.