This isn’t one of those lists where we try to rank the best attractions at Universal Studios Orlando — that’s going to depend way to much on your age, gender, tastes, and age. Nope, this is just a no-particular-order list of what you need to see when you visit Universal Orlando — and why.
The only original Universal Studios ride that is still in operation — if you remember the words “penis breath” being gently rebuked by a laughing mother and bicycle silhouettes against the full white moon, this one is for you. The ride actually puts you on ‘bikes’ and sends you sailing across the scenes of the movie, ending with a twist — a visit to E.T.’s home planet, which looks like Jim Henson had a psychedelic experience, had Bob Ross paint it, and then asked a foam rubber company to bring it to life. So basically spot-on accurate to the movie.
Revenge of the Mummy
If you’ve ever ridden on the California classic coaster Space Mountain, you might think you know what the roller-coaster-in-the-dark experience is all about. You’re wrong, unless you’ve also ridden Revenge of the Mummy, which intersperses the darkness with amazing glimpses of massive sets designed to make you feel like some sort of hyperkinetic Indiana Jones (OK, well, Brendan Frasier) exploring an ancient Egyptian ruin. And just on the off chance that you aren’t a Brendan Frasier fan, this is exactly the ride for you…because in this case, in the end, the ‘good guy’ dies. Proper.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Diagon Alley, a subsection of Universal Studios Orlando, genuinely feels like its own miniature world, unique and fully-formed. Every element of the architecture, from rooftops to pavement, is just a little bit off — enough that you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Smack dab in the middle of it is the Escape from Gringotts…experience. You can’t call it a ride; it’s easily the single most immersive experience offered at any modern theme-park. Even waiting in line is epic, as mystical bank tellers and magically-animated newspaper headlines keep you engaged until you get inside. Then, inside, the train cars can (and do) split up, rotate a full 360 degrees, and otherwise put you fully engaged into a story of Harry and friends battling Voldemort’s forces as they attack Gringotts bank. It’s so good, they have special mechanisms in place to keep people from coming back through too quickly. Just ponder that.