7. The Simpsons Ride
I jokingly refer to Universal Orlando Resort as the motion simulation capital of the theme park industry. I do so because so many of its newer attractions use this ride structure. You put on a pair of glasses, sit in a chair, and watch a cinematic as your ride cart shakes appropriately. It’s neither original nor imaginative at this point, but Universal has definitely perfected the craft. On this list, three rides fully qualify while a fourth gets partial credit. Three others narrowly missed selection, too. Motion simulation is Universal’s thing.
I struggle to complain about the concept when constructors are so good at motion simulation, though. The Simpsons Ride is particularly delightful. In fact, it reminds me of the four-player Simpsons arcade game I used to love many moons ago. The only difference is that you enter the game and experience the virtual world of Springfield on your own. Fittingly, Sideshow Bob tries to kill you the entire time you’re there.
As a Simpsons aficionado since day one, I adore all of the unique in-jokes from the show just as I admire the game’s willingness to provide tongue-in-cheek commentary about theme parks, also. This is my favorite ride at Universal Studios, and I lament that it didn’t do better in the scoring.
6. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Everyone’s favorite green rage machine has his own coaster at Universal. Built in 1999, it got overhauled a little while ago and came back better than ever. Its main selling points have remained the same, though. It’s still a short, violent ride that goes from 0 to 40 almost immediately before topping out at 67 miles per hour. It also throws four G’s at riders, making it an electrifying 75 seconds of coaster thrills.
Regarding grading, critics were divided on The Incredible Hulk Coaster. A couple left it off the list entirely. Two others placed it in the top three with one suggesting it's THE best ride at Universal. I don't think most people are prepared to go that far, but it's certainly a lot of fun. Since Universal is thin on coasters, it stands out that much more.
5. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
The top five is where things get interesting. It's a real struggle between the top attractions at Universal, as each of them garners strong support across sites. Theme Park Tourist fans, in particular, adore The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. You've voted it one of the ten best attractions in the world.
Other critics agree with you to an extent. Most of them line up on the opinion that it’s one of the best rides at Universal. They just don’t think it’s in the conversation for best. To them, it’s aged out of the top few spots over time, a natural progression for most attractions. Walt Disney World is an exception since its rides are standalone enough that something like Haunted Mansion is timeless and impossible to top.
As the first noteworthy motion simulation attraction at Universal, Spidey was once the gold standard. Now that this kind of ride is the base model at the park, however, others have evolved the technology to the point where some find Spider-Man’s adventure less than amazing today. I think such evaluations are criminally insane, but I don’t get a vote here. You agree with me, though, right?
4. E.T. The Adventure
Ah, the classics. The E.T. ride is something of a survivor. When the park opened in June of 1990, E.T. stood out as one of the signature attractions, arguably the strongest selling point of Universal. Since then, it’s opened at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. It’s also closed at both places.
As Theme Park Tourist's Amanda Kondolojy jokingly (?) told me, however, if Universal ever tried to close down the original in Orlando, people would riot (ed. note - I would absolutely show up at Universal with signs). The enthusiasm is real for this dark ride, as it should be. E.T. is one of the best rides ever translated from a popular movie. It would seem right at home at a Disney theme park. And the best part is that you ride a bicycle throughout the attraction. How perfect is that?