10 Most Thrilling Rides at Universal Orlando

Universal's Parks Are Known for Thrills. These Are the 11 Scariest.

Unlike the more restrained Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando lets it ride when it comes to thrills. (For those seeking maximum mayhem at the nearby Mouse House, read my feature, Top 10 Walt Disney World Thrill Rides.) Nearly every attraction -- even the ones intended for general audiences -- includes amped-up, in-your-face moments.

Visitors on the low end of the thrill-tolerance spectrum may find themselves a tad challenged at Universal. But coaster-loving tweens and teens, as well as adults, who want to get their adrenaline pumping will find plenty of opportunities to test their mettle. (If you will be visiting the theme park resort with younger children in tow, check out The 9 Best Universal Orlando Rides for Kids.)

The following are the 11 most thrilling attractions at the resort's two parks. As you might expect, roller coasters figure prominently. They can't match the world's fastest coasters for sheer terror, but the three Universal rides at the top of the list are...MORE truly world class and don't skimp on the thrills.

Most of the rest of the attractions offer a combination of physical and psychological thrills. Using innovative ride design and an impressive array of special effects, Universal is masterful at creating suspense, rattling nerves, and keeping guests on the edge of their seats -- even if, despite appearances, the ride vehicles aren't really moving all that much.

The rides are listed in reverse order, with the most thrilling at the end. Each attraction includes a 10-pont thrill scale with a maximum score of 10 equaling a solid "yikes!" down to the wimpiest rating of 0. You can read full reviews of most of the rides by clicking on their names.

  • 01 of 10
    Simpsons.jpg
    ••• © Arthur Levine

    Thrill scale: 3.5
    Location: Universal Studios Florida

    This is one of Universal's attractions that barely moves more than a few inches in any direction, but effectively uses theme park trickery to scare the daylights out of passengers. The motion simulator ride features motion-based seats that move in sync with the wacky action projected onto an enormous domed screen. Passengers feel as if they are riding with Homer and the gang at the not-especially-safe Krustyland theme park. Watch out for the giant wrecking ball!

  • 02 of 10
    Transformers Universal Orlando
    ••• © Arthur Levine

    Thrill scale: 3.5
    Location: Universal Studios Florida

    The second attraction to feature Universal's groundbreaking roving motion-base ride system it developed for its Spider-Man ride (see below), Transformers offers the same kind of wild, frenetic action. The combination of 3-D photo-realistic imagery and the movements of the vehicles makes for a harrowing (in a good way) experience. The two-story show building includes an elevator to raise and lower the ride vehicles. Give Transformers a whirl, and help the Autobots save the world.

  • 03 of 10
    Spiderman Universal orlando
    ••• © Arthur Levine

    Thrill scale: 3.5
    Location: Islands of Adventure

    The revolutionary Spider-Man ride, which incorporates 3-D scenes, 4-D film elements, motion-base vehicles, and more, wowed visitors when it first opened in 1999. A 2012 makeover, which enhanced the attraction with stunning 4K media, makes the entire experience, including the (simulated, thank goodness) freefall off the top of a skyscraper, all the more thrilling.

  • 04 of 10
    Gringotts
    ••• Courtesy of Universal Orlando. Used with permission.

    Thrill scale: 4
    Location: Universal Studios Florida

    The featured attraction at Diagon Alley, the second Wizarding World of Harry Potter land at Universal Orlando, Escape from Gringotts combines real roller coaster thrills (although they are fairly tame) with Spider-Man-style ride-film trickery to tell a great story and kick up the excitement.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Jurassic Park
    ••• © Arthur Levine

    Thrill scale: 5
    Location: Islands of Adventure

    Ok, it's actually the 12 most thrilling rides at Universal Orlando. I lump Islands of Adventure's two flume rides together. Like most water rides, neither of them are particularly thrilling until the finale. But, oh, what finales. The logs on the Dudley Do-Right ride drop 75 feet (compared to the 52.5-foot drop on Splash Mountain) and appear to momentarily disappear underwater. Passengers aboard the Jurassic Park shoot-the-chutes ride, meanwhile, need to brace themselves for an 85-foot drop. Yikes!

  • 06 of 10
    Forbidden Journey
    ••• © Arthur Levine

    Thrill scale: 5.5
    Location: Islands of Adventure

    The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade invites muggles inside Hogwarts Castle to journey with Harry and his pals. The robotic arm ride system, a first of its kind, provides some wild, disorienting moments. In addition to being thrilling, the attraction is so well done, I consider it the best theme park ride in North America.

  • 07 of 10
    Dr Dooms
    ••• Dave Walker / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Thrill scale: 6.5
    Location: Islands of Adventure

    While it has some cool Marvel themes, Dr. Doom's is essentially the same kind of drop tower ride found at many amusement parks. Blasting up and freefalling down the two towers provides some giddy positive and free-floating negative G-forces.

  • 08 of 10
    Revenge of the Mummy
    ••• Pierre André / Wikimedia Commons

    Thrill scale: 6.5
    Location: Universal Studios Florida

    The first act of the Mummy ride presents some great animatronics and dark ride scenes. The second half delivers a pulse-quickening coaster ride in the dark. There are no inversions, but the ride is fairly intense.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Rip Ride Rockit
    ••• © Arthur Levine

    Thrill scale: 8
    Location: Universal Studios Florida

    The daunting coaster sends passengers up a 17-story vertical lift hill (when Universal says empty your pockets before boarding, they mean it) and releases them into a steep drop at 65 mph. The twisting track meanders through Universal Studios' New York backlot and includes many attention-grabbing inversions.

  • 10 of 10
    The Hulk universal orlando
    ••• LiftLaughLipstick / Pixabay

    Thrill scale: 8
    Location: Islands of Adventure

    How's this for thrills? Hulk sends passengers soaring up its "Gamma Force Accelerator" tube only to turn riders upside down as they emerge. And that's only the first few seconds. Lots of inversions and crushing positive G-force moments follow in the wild ride.