April 2012: This Universal Studios Ride Describe explains everything important about the rides, including details that could ruin the fun for people who want to be surprised. This Ride Describe is ideal, however, for visitors who want a complete overview before deciding what to see – and what to avoid.
The descriptions assume you ride the first attraction inside the door (though that’s the currently closed Jimmy Neutron) and work your way around the park clockwise.
Click here for the Universal Studios Ride Guide.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Guests sit movie-theater style, but after the movie begins, individual sections rise a foot or so off the floor and become motion simulators, dipping left, right, forward, and down in reaction to what guests see on the screen courtesy of a 3-D movie. For a motion simulator, it’s one of the milder ones in Orlando but still tosses guests around.
This theater attraction assumes visitors who saw the first Shrek movie buy the idea that the villain, Lord Farquaad, somehow returned from the dead. It doesn’t have the same cutting humor as the movies, though it tries and nails it once or twice. It’s a must-see for Shrek fans.
Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit
The hallmark feature of Orlando’s newest coaster is a vertical climb at the beginning, followed by twists and turns that dip into the (fake) streets of New York City. Each rider gets to select a song to accompany the journey, and categories will please everything from heavy metal fans to country aficionados. Bags must be checked in a locker before riding, and guests must be 51 inches tall (1.3 meters).
Twister … Ride it Out
Guests stand for this theater-style show and pre-show. The room recreates a scene from the movie – the one where a twister hits a drive-in movie theater and takes out the screen and refreshment stand. It includes wind, rain, and a well-done tornado; plus it throws in (literally) a cow. There are a few surprises, such as a slight floor drop toward the end that startles guests.
The Blues Brothers
This street show recreates the Blues Brothers, made famous in movies and on the television show Saturday Night Live.
Revenge of the Mummy The Ride
While the Mummy ride has clear coaster elements, it’s also a breed of the newer attractions in Orlando because it includes stops, backward runs, and slow movement at times as the evil Mummy threatens guests with imminent destruction. The speed of the coaster and monster effects make it great for adults but not so good for kids. Bags must be stowed in a locker before riding, and guests must be 48 inches (1.22 meters) tall.
Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Review
Beetlejuice, this theater show’s master of ceremonies, is a semi-rotten corpse with a taste for tacky jokes. While the first few minutes of the show feature classic horror monsters and frightening music, it quickly turns funky – more of a tour de farce than a scary production. Most kids should be fine, and the songs are largely classic rock-and-roll favorites.
The physical movement in Disaster – a subway train caught underground during an earthquake – is less scary than the enclosed underground location and sights of destruction. While the subway car dips and rocks, it’s not enough to require seatbelts, though a stranger’s elbow could catch a soft spot as you juggle back and forth. Riders sit through two pre-shows before the main ride and, along the way, get some education on how the movie special effects people fake disaster sequences. If you ride twice, sit on opposite ends of the subway car for a different perspective.
Fear Factor Live
In this theater show, invited guests eat disgusting things and do stunts in front of a live audience. The eating part is gross, and the semi-dangerous stuff not really dangerous.
Men in Black Alien Attack
Guests travel on moving vehicles that maintain a steady speed but spin independently at times in a tight circle. The movement itself should stop only the very squeamish. While moving, riders shoot lasers at aliens that pop up along New York City streets, as they compete for high score with another car of guests traveling alongside them. For those who somehow missed the Men in Black movies, the short story is that aliens from other planets live in New York City in disguise because, well, who would notice? Guests must be at least 42 inches (1.07 meters) tall.
The Simpsons Ride
Unlike most motion simulators where guests watch a smallish movie in the front of an enclosed car, the Simpsons’ cars, which appear to exist inside a small room, elevate upward about 10 feet when the ride begins, and an audience of about 32 cars watches the same large, oval movie. As the movie dips and turns, the cars dip and turn. While the forward/backward/left/right jerks can significantly shake riders, the cars don’t actually go anywhere, so coaster haters might still enjoy it. Beyond motion, the humor of the cartoon translates well to the ride for those who enjoy the television show. Minimum height of 40 inches (1 meter) to ride.
Animal Actors on Location
While not specifically for kids, this theater attraction nevertheless seems attuned to that age group. Famous animal movie stars of various breeds swim, dance, and fly.
While the robots and even the E.T. franchise feels a bit dated, E.T. Adventure faithfully recreates the atmosphere of the movie, at least at first. The ride queue winds through woods at night, and while the trees end about 20 feet above visitors’ heads, the darkness covers their lack of canopy. The plot beyond the trees is a bit dicey since E.T. apparently has greater power than the original movie suggested, but that provides a segue to visiting a new planet. The carts look like bikes but without the seat discomfort, and riders feel as if they’re flying since the carts attach overhead as guests look down on the action. While the cars dip and turn a bit, the movement isn’t wild enough to bother most people. Guests must be 34 inches (.86 meters) to ride.
This playground based on the Fievel movie series treats guests as if they’re the size of mice playing on human-sized hats, glasses, etc. It has slides, rope climbs, and some water attractions. With limited exits, adults can hang around outside while older kids play.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
A short coaster, Woody Woodpecker appeals to kids too young for Universal’s major coasters yet too old for the carousel. It’s less hilly and fast than its big brothers, which makes it ideal for some ages and “not worth it” for others. Guests must be at least 36 inches (.91 meters) to ride.
A Day in the Park with Barney
You must love Barney, the big purple dinosaur, to enjoy this theater show. If you do, however, it’s a faithful recreation. Adults with kids younger than six must go; adults with or without older kids should avoid it.
Curious George Goes to Town
If kids or adults want to get down-to-the-bone soaked, this is the place. It almost qualifies as a water park, and a giant bucket occasionally pours a hundred gallons of water on whoever stands below it.
Universal Horror Makeup Show
This theater show is both entertainment and education, teaching the audience a few tricks about movie makeup. Actors pretend to be famous Hollywood artists, and the entertainment value comes, in part, from scaring the audience – one monster surprisingly comes to life or another looks gross, even if the audience is told ahead of time how it’s done. Younger kids make get the willies and jump when certain monsters appear, but it’s generally fine for older age groups.
Terminator 2: 3-D
Guests sit in a large theater and enjoy an impressive show that combines live actors with a 3-D movie. Hidden doors in the curtain almost seamlessly allow actors to walk forward and then enter the movie. The 3-D effect is dated compared to today’s technology, but a few extra surprises common in Orlando theater shows, such as a small burst of water in your face, make the show seem somewhat real. Some kids will get scared.