If You Didn’t Do These Ten Things, Did You Even GO to Universal Orlando?

We’re going to take a step away from the House of Mouse to visit the other side of the Orlando. The more… cinematic side. Or perhaps adventurous? Epic? Volcanic? … What I’m saying is we’re going to Universal Orlando.


Yes, before I was a Disney Diehard, I was a Universal Enthusiast, and I still love the parks to this day. As fantastic as Disney World is, Universal just has some things that Disney simply can’t offer… and if you didn’t do these ten things, did you really even go?

Become a Wizard, Harry.

Let’s address the erumpet in the room, shall we? If you’re going to Universal Orlando, there’s a 70% chance you’re going because of Harry Potter.

Hogwarts vs Cinderella Castle EPIC DEATHMATCH! Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

It’s okay, we don’t blame you! I love Dr. Seuss, too, but we all know that’s not the reason I’m going to Universal. While Disney is amazing at surrounding you with magic, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is all about convincing you that you are magic.

They really nail the whole wizarding school experience.

So when you go, there are some things that any dyed in the red (or blue, or green, or yellow — I didn’t sort you) Potter fan has to do.

First, get a Butterbeer. Seriously. No other beverage at any theme park ever lives up to the magic of Butterbeer. Whether you prefer it cool, hot, or frozen, it is a must.

A young guest enjoys a cup of refreshing Butterbeer.

Afterwards, you’ve gotta get a wand; especially one of the interactive ones.

Bonus points if you are chosen for the actual Wand experience.

The Ollivanders show is a magical experience, especially if you’re fortunate enough to be chosen as the lucky test subject. It really makes you feel like a wizard. We recommend visiting the Diagon Alley location over the Hogsmeade one, as the multiple show buildings make the line much shorter. Once you’ve got your wand, you can test it out at locations around the park. Try using Aguamenti on the water fountains or Meteojinx near the menagere.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the rides. Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts are two of the most spectacular E-Tickets in the park, and Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure is a mouthful to say, but is definitely a worthy successor to Dueling Dragons. Even the queues are worth exploring. Actually walking through Hogwarts? Dream come true.

Watching the paintings interact is just magical.

Finally, the Hogwarts Express is the most entertaining way to get between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. The experience is different both ways, so be sure to ride it twice to get the full experience.

Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Explore Jurassic Park

Have you ever wondered what Jurassic Park would be like if it actually opened? I mean… yes, I know that’s what Jurassic World was about, but Chris Pratt can’t beat Jeff Goldblum, Mr. DNA, and weird Unix interfaces in my book.

Oh Jeff, you’ll always be near to my heart… shirtless and with a dinosaur induced wound, specifically.

The Jurassic Park section of Islands of Adventure is Jurassic Park, imagining what the park would be like if they got over the whole “dinosaurs murdering the guests” thing.

…well, mostly.


Kids who like dinosaurs and don’t want to be traumatized can explore a replica of the film’s Discovery Center, where you can even watch a dinosaur hatch! You can also explore a dinosaur themed playground and come face to face with a velociraptor! Or, if you want the authentic Isla Nublar experience, you can ride the Jurassic Park River Adventure. Your tranquil tour quickly turns into a nightmare as the dinosaurs escape, leading to a dramatic (and soaking wet) drop!

Speaking of getting soaked…

You Will Get Wet at Toon Lagoon

For having rides like Kali River Rapids, Disney is awfully reluctant to get riders wet. You’ll be splashed a bit, of course, but you can usually escape with some mild dampness at most. Not at Universal. There are multiple attractions dedicated to getting you soaked. Jurassic Park, the Fievel Waterslide, the entire Curious George play land. But no land is as pants drenching as Toon Lagoon.

©Universal Orlando

Honestly, if you’re not careful, you can get drenched just walking through Toon Lagoon. The place has more splash zones than Sea World. If you really want to get wet, though, just hit up the two attractions. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popeye’s Bilge Rat Barges may seem similar to attractions at Disney World, but they’ve got the faucet turned up to eleven. There’s a reason why these rides provide waterproof containers for your phone and bags. Luckily, you can dry off in a special air-drying booth outside the attractions.

Take the Plunge at Volcano Bay

While we’re talking about getting wet, you’ve gotta visit Volcano Bay.

Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay isn’t just a side-attraction like some other water parks in Orlando. It’s a main event, and one of the most spectacular water attractions in the world. Not only are the tropical vistas spectacular, but you can experience some serious thrills.

The Krakatau Aqua Coaster is a full on thrill ride, using linear induction motors to launch your raft up hills that would be impossible for a normal water slide. It’s a surreal experience unlike anything you’ll typically encounter. Or, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can climb 125 feet (38.1 meters) to face off against the park’s three trap-door drop slides. Kala and Tainui will drop you through winding, serpentine tubes, while the Ko’kiri Body Plunge drops you straight down.

If that’s too intense, you can cool off in the Kopiko Wai Winding River… or you can brave TeAwa, the Fearless River. There’s nothing lazy about TeAwa, which will send you through intense rapids and high speed currents.

Face Your Fears on Universal’s Roller Coasters

So let’s just get something straight. Disney’s roller coasters are iconic, but they’re not the most intense in the world. Compared to what you can find elsewhere, most are downright tame. That’s not the case at Universal.

©Universal Orlando

There are seven roller coasters at Universal Orlando: three of them are story-focused like what you’ll find at Disney, and two are aimed at kids. However, two of them provide no holds barred thrills that stand up to even the wildest coasters.

The first is The Incredible Hulk. Now you may be wondering… why is there a Marvel Ride at Universal Orlando? Doesn’t Disney own that? And the answer is… well, read this article to learn more, but this coaster existed long before the MCU, and Universal isn’t giving it up any time soon. You and your friends will get strapped into a gamma cannon and launched at 67 MPH (108 km/h) across a winding track with seven inversions. That’s more inversions than Disney has in the whole resort. This ride is one of the most intense in Orlando, and has even featured in movies: the opening of House on Haunted Hill (1999) uses this ride as a stand-in for Steven Price’s demented roller-coaster.

Next up is Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, which features a 167-foot vertical drop. 90-degrees up, 90-degrees down, all to a soundtrack of your choice. You can even get your ride experience filmed for internet fame. Say cheese!

Finally, the third most thrilling roller-coaster at the park might not have 90-degree drops and multiple inversions, but it will give you chills. Revenge of the Mummy is a fourth-wall breaking story coaster that plays with your expectations to create a psychologically thrilling experience. Beginning as a behind-the-scenes tour of the latest Mummy film, things quickly become to real as you’re drawn into an Egyptian nightmare. We won’t spoil it, but you’ll be wondering what the heck just happened after you escape.

Save New York With Spider-Man

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ©Universal Orlando

While we’re talking about Marvel rides, you’ve got to ride the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Based off the 90’s television series, this ride was revolutionary for its time; a combination simulator-dark ride that sends you on a wild ride through New York. There are other rides at the park that use the same system, like Transformers and even Escape from Gringotts, but Spider-Man was the original. The ride has been updated with better visuals (including a Stan Lee cameo!), but it still maintains a level of campy charm.

Take a Trip to Springfield with the Simpsons

Speaking of things now owned by Disney, the Simpsons Ride is a modern take on an old classic.

The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood

Krustyland is incredibly true to the cartoon, and the ride system that originated with Back to the Future still holds up. It really feels like you’re in a classic episode of the Simpsons… one that pulls no punches when making fun of the theme park experience.

The rest of the Springfield is also pretty iconic, with replicas of iconic restaurants and stores. You can even get a Squishie at the Kwik-E-Mart!

Meet the Minions

Yes, these adorable… mutated corn-pop thingies… they’re everywhere. And you can be one!


Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is a family-friendly experience that might not be the most thrilling, but is a must-ride for fans of the franchise. Not only do you get to be a Minion, but you’ll have plenty of time to meet these yellow guys around the park.

Enjoy a Tasty Treat at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

©Universal Orlando

This steampunk-inspired chocolate factory serves the most decadent treats in the resort, and is a perfect spot to chill after a long day of adventure. Yes, that’s an entire slice of cake on top of a milkshake. You even get to keep the jar! Also, keep an eye out for Penelope Toothsome and her robot pal Jacques!

Honorable Mentions

I know we said there were just ten things, but there’s so much more you can do here! So here’s a short rundown of the extras we didn’t have time to fit in.

©Universal Orlando
  • Get a Dozen Voodoo Donuts.
  • Watch the Blue Man Group perform live.
  • Get spooked at Halloween Horror Nights
  • Go Clubbing at CityWalk.

There you have it, folks. Ten things (plus change) you just have to experience on your next Universal Orlando trip. Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments!

Join the AllEars.net Newsletter to stay on top of ALL the breaking Disney News! You'll also get access to AllEars tips, reviews, trivia, and MORE! Click here to Subscribe!

Click below to subscribe



Trending Now

Austin Lang is an Orlando local with a love of Disney, puns, and Disney puns. He's been a contributing writer for AllEars since 2019, and has been sharing his quirky view of Disney life ever since.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *