What are Universal Studios Hollywood best rides and attractions? How do they rank?
One of the best parts of theme parks is the rides. Universal Studios Hollywood is no exception, and it has a variety of thrilling rides and family-friendly attractions revolving around movies, TV Shows, beloved characters, and more.
Our first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood was about 20 years ago during a visit to Los Angeles. We’ve lived in Los Angeles for over 16 years now and are season passholders who frequent the Burbank theme park throughout the year.
We enjoy spending an afternoon or a day at the theme park strolling around, passing through their themed streets like New York City and Paris, hopping onto our favorite rides, and eating some of the best snacks and eats at Universal Studios Hollywood. One of the best parts about being passholders is that we can drop in as we wish (as long as the dates aren’t blocked) and feel the pressure to experience it all in a short period.
However, if you’re visiting, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible to experience all the rides in a day with some planning. If you splurge for the Universal Express Pass, you can cut your wait times in half and jump on your top favorite rides more than once.
Universal Studios Hollywood is a must-visit Los Angeles destination for movie enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. Its rich history starts in 1964, when it first opened, giving backstage studio tours as its primary focus.
Since then, the park has evolved to feature some of the world’s most exhilarating rides and immersive attractions. This transformation has made Universal Studios Hollywood a top player in the theme park industry, rivaling Disneyland.
Some of the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood cater to fans of popular movies and franchises, providing a genuinely immersive experience that leaves them in awe. From roller coasters to captivating dark movie rides, guests can dive into their favorite cinematic worlds and encounter beloved characters.
In this article, to help you plan your visit, we’ll explore Universal Studios Hollywood best rides and top attractions. We throw in some tips, answer your most frequently asked questions, and even point you toward the best places to eat.
Best Rides and Attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood
What are the best rides and attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood? Let’s dive right into the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Important to remember that what may be the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood may rank differently for everyone. Sometimes the newest attractions and rides will get the top spot, while other times, classic attractions may remain some of the all-time favorites.
Most of these rides are the ones you want to cross off your list first thing.
Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge | Super Nintendo World
Right now, one of the most in-demand rides in Universal Studios Hollywood is the new Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, located in the Lower Lot in Super Nintendo World. Just getting into this part of the park alone requires entry via a virtual line.
But is Mario Kart Bowser’s Challenge one of Universal Studios best rides? You’ll have to find some tips to enter Super Nintendo World below.
And without a doubt, Super Nintendo World is worth the visit as an attraction on its own. It’s a dream come true for Nintendo fans (us included – we go back to the first original Nintendo). It has plenty of interactive elements to explore aside from Mario Kart. Of course, you will purchase an interactive Power-Up Band™ to enjoy these other fun activities at Super Nintendo World.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey | Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Within the park, visitors can explore the enchanting Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where they can feel like they’ve entered the magical world we’ve all read in books or watched in the movies.
Head to the Ollivander wand shop, participate in the interactive experience and see if a wand chooses you.
Our nephew was chosen last summer during his visit to Ollivander’s. It was a surprise and an amazing experience for a new Harry Potter fan. It did help that he was a little kid, not holding a wand in the group.
Purchase a wand with an interactive feature that triggers magical effects at certain locations throughout, or explore Hogsmeade’s charming stores. Don’t forget to stop by Honey Dukes for Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, chocolate frogs, and other fun candy.
The star ride here is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and we’d say it is the best ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s a 3D dark ride that follows Harry through Hogwarts Castle on a journey filled with surprises.
At night, one of the best attractions is the Nighttime Lights or the Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle light show. It should not be missed if you plan to stay to the very end at Universal Studios.
While this entire area of the park is pretty magical, it has to be said that it is not as big or as enchanting as the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando.
Jurassic World Ride
When it comes to rides, one of the most popular is the Jurassic World Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was recently refurbished from the old Jurassic Park to the Jurassic World Ride that it is today. However, it’s still very much the same concept.
It’s a thrilling dark water ride with you face-to-face with an Indominus Rex and other fierce dinosaurs, and the special effects will have you on the edge of your seat. But don’t worry; you’ll be in good hands with Chris Pratt’s character, Owen, guiding you to safety on a screen.
The ride is located in the Lower Lot and follows an up-close encounter with the dinosaurs of Jurassic World.
This is a water ride, and you will likely get wet.
The Studio Tour
The famous studio tour available at Universal Studios Hollywood is a 60-minute tram tour that takes guests through the Back Lot of Universal’s working studios. This tour offers a glimpse of iconic movie and TV sets, including the iconic New York City sets used in many famous productions.
Not to be missed is the King Kong motion simulator ride. Ingeniously incorporated into the Studio Tour, this attraction offers guests an immersive tunnel experience as the tram is locked onto a motion base platform, transporting them into the world of the giant ape.
Universal Studios Hollywood Best Rides Ranked
We rank the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood based on opinion and popularity. Usually, the lines and wait times say it all. Although sometimes, we don’t understand why a certain ride has such a long wait time. Remember that this theme park is compact and not as big as Universal Orlando.
We have also categorized and added to these rankings the family-friendly rides, so it’s easier to know which ones you should take your littles to.
1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
While everyone is flocking to the new Super Nintendo World because it’s new and shiny, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is number one on Universal Studios best rides list.
Located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, this ride takes guests on an immersive journey through the halls of Hogwarts™ Castle. This ride combines incredible special effects, dynamic motion, and amazing set designs to create an unforgettable experience for fans of the magical life.
What makes this ride special is that there is a combination of real sets and screens, and it’s not entirely based on a virtual reality experience – an experience we’re losing in the world of theme parks. You’re being taken into this world and seeing actual physical sets and creatures while being swung around from set to set on this adventure.
Tips: The queue for this ride can get quite long during peak hours. Plan to visit during opening hours or closer to closing time to get in without long waits if you do not have the Express pass. The single-rider line can also be another great way to bypass some wait time.
2. Jurassic World – The Ride
The best water ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is the Jurassic World Ride, especially on a hot summer day and at its peak when the weather is warm.
This thrilling water ride takes visitors through scenes from the Jurassic World™ movies, featuring incredible animatronics and immersive environments. You will feel like you’re part of the action while floating through the enclosures, getting to safety, and when you see the light at the end of the tunnel with a terrifying dinosaur looming over you, you end in a massive drop.
It’s thrilling. The T-Rex at the finale and the drop make the ride.
The Jurassic World Ride is located in the Lower Lot.
Tips: Be prepared to get wet! Consider wearing a poncho, bringing a change of clothes, or just wearing clothing you'll be comfortable getting wet in. So you may not want to wear jeans.
3. Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
Indoor rollercoasters are always a ton of fun and super popular.
This ride is based on the popular movie franchise, The Mummy and takes you on a journey through darkened tombs and ancient ruins. Riders experience sudden drops, sharp turns, and even backward sections while immersed in the story and surrounded by impressive special effects like fire, smoke, and animatronics.
It’s located in the Lower Lot across from the Jurassic World ride.
If you are prone to motion sickness, this ride may not be suitable. Be prepared for sudden stops and changes in movement. That’s one of the reasons I tend not to go on this ride and let my spouse go on his own, but that doesn’t make it any less one of the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Foodie Tip: Stop by Mummy Eats for the Korean Corn Dog.
4. Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge
Located in the new Super Nintendo World™ area, in the Lower Lot, this interactive virtual reality racing experience puts riders at the wheel of a Mario Kart™ vehicle. You’ll wear virtual goggles as you race and compete against each other while navigating through the chaotic world of Mario Kart™ collecting coins, mushrooms, and other power-ups while completing challenges.
Since this is the newest ride, be prepared to wait. While it is not ranked #1 as the best, it is the first ride you should run to because of its current popularity. Once we got into Super Nintendo World, we waited 2 hours to get on this ride. As the popularity dwindles, this will change.
Was the ride worth the wait? In our opinion, which is probably unpopular, it was fun but not worth waiting for. However, it is better than other rides at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is why it makes it in the 4th spot on this list.
This ride has many cool factors, such as virtual reality and the challenges that take you down memory lane if you’ve ever played any Super Mario games. It’s exciting when you get the power up, and you start to go down a rainbow track, but if you are not a fan of virtual reality rides, this may not be your thing.
The ride was also not smooth because you’re trying to drive and score points at the same time by shooting ducks. It jolted a lot. Felt like we were being yanked in the kart one way and then another. Hopefully, these are kinks that can be worked out with time.
Foodie Tip: You need to make reservations to eat at Toadstool Cafe once you're inside Super Nintendo World. If you can't get in, don't worry, they sell Mario's Cream Sodas outside of Super Nintendo Wrold at the Character Shop and they are delicious.
You must gain entry to Super Nintendo World in order to get on the Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge ride. Right now due to it's popularity there is a Virtual que. Have tickets or passes ready in your Universal Studios App. Sign in and join the Virtual Line to get an assigned time. Even if you arrive late in the day, check multiple times, and spots open up –this has been our experience. However, if you're here for a day only, you can purchase Early Access Ticket to enter Super Nintendo, which runs about $20-30 depending on how busy it is, and only limited quantities are available.
Check out the Undercover Tourists guide on accessing Super Nintendo World Hollywood.
5. Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour
You should not miss this classic ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. It is the first ride ever at the park and has been running since 1964.
Originally, the tour was a simple tram ride that took visitors around the backlot of Universal Studios, showing them various sets and sound stages. Over time, the tour has expanded to include more interactive experiences and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the movie-making process.
Throughout the years, the ride and the park have become more expansive and now include a variety of sequences. During the tour, guests will have the opportunity to experience the following attractions:
- King Kong 360 3-D
- Fast & Furious – Supercharged Ride
- Jaws Ride
- Airplane wreckage from War of the Worlds
- Earthquake – The Big One Ride
- Stop by Bates Motel (Psycho)
- Drive through the Set of Nope
Keep in mind that this ride takes about 60 minutes on a tram.
Tip: We suggest taking this ride during the early hours or closer to the end of the day during the last tours as it cools down.
6. Transformers: The Ride-3D
While not a personal favorite, the Transformers ride is among the best rides at Universal Studios for many others. The ride takes visitors on a high-speed adventure through the world of Transformers, complete with 3D visuals, special effects, and motion simulation.
The ride features realistic sets that make visitors feel right in the middle of the action, with 3D glasses and objects flying at you as things explode. The storyline tries to engage visitors and keep them entertained as they help the Autobots battle the evil Decepticons in a fight to save the world.
This ride is located in the lower lot next to Super Nintendo World.
This ride can be overwhelming for riders sensitive to loud noises and fast movement.
Tip: See when Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Bumblebee will appear nearby. This character meet, and greet is a cool experience.
Universal Studios Hollywood offers a variety of family-friendly rides that cater to children and adults alike.
7. Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff is a kid-friendly roller coaster in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is a fun ride with gentle twists and turns that is the perfect coaster for older guests and those new to roller coasters. It also has amazing views of Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade.
The ride does go quite fast. You’re on it for about a minute or so before it ends.
Even if you decide not to get on this ride, just getting on the line to see Hagrid’s pumpkin patch and past Hagrid’s hut is worth the detour.
Foodie Tip: Don't forget to try butter beer!
8. The Simpsons Ride
Located on the upper lost is The Simpsons Ride, one of the best rides in Universal Studios Hollywood. We still consider this one of the old classics since the concept of this ride used to be themed around Back to the Future.
The ride and the entire area were refurbished and transformed into the crazy world of Krustyland in 2008. On this ride, you join the Simpson family on a wild journey full of twists, turns, and laughs.
It’s not a roller coaster, but it feels like one since this immersive experience has you sitting in a car that lifts you face-to-face to a large screen that takes you on this adventure. You’ll feel like you’re part of the story as you dodge obstacles, avoid danger, and interact with the characters from the show.
And the best part? You don’t have to be a die-hard fan of The Simpsons to enjoy this ride.
Foodie Tip: Stop by Lard's Donuts or Kwiki-mart for a pink donut –one of the best treats.
9. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, we wouldn’t call thrilling, but it is a fun ride and one that is enjoyable for everyone, no matter what age. And if you love the Minion, like we do, you will appreciate this adventure.
This 3D motion-simulator ride takes you on an adventure with Gru, his daughters, and their hilarious Minions. You’ll get to experience what it’s like to be a Minion, complete with all the silly antics and shenanigans that come with it.
And don’t worry if you’re not already a fan of the Despicable Me franchise – this ride will surely win you over with its humor and charm. As you walk off the ride, you’re welcome into a full-fled room with music and light, inviting you to dance out into the Minion store.
Fun tip: Ring the doorbells outside the Despicable Me ride's entrance and hear the Minions laughing and acting silly behind the doors.
10. The Secret Life of Pets
The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the newer rides that opened in 2021. We’d say this is an indoor attraction and a ride in one, as they keep you quite entertained while you’re in line making your way to the ride.
The first time we experienced this ride, we wondered if this was a ride or a walk-through attraction. We moved from one apartment to another, witnessing the pets getting up to some entertaining mischief. Fans of Secret Life of Pets will love it as it takes them on a journey through the lives of their favorite characters, and they can see what they are up to.
Don’t fret. There is a ride! Once you get onto the ride, get ready for a wild journey through the streets of New York. You get to experience what it’s like to be a pet in the big city. And kids love it because the ride is full of surprises and hidden Easter eggs that only true fans of the movies will catch.
Live Shows and Entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood
Take a break from the warm summer and Universal Studios best rides and attend a live show.
They used to have a Special Effects show, and an Animal Actors show, but they were canceled to make room for future rides.
WaterWorld is a live-action stunt show based on the movie WaterWorld starring Kevin Costner.
The show successfully brings the film “Waterworld” to life and offers an immersive experience for guests of all ages. From jet ski chases to high-dives off towering structures, the talented performers showcase their extraordinary skills in this action-packed production.
The closer you sit to the pool area where the show takes place, the chances of you getting wet are higher.
Character Meet & Greets
How to find characters at Universal Studios Hollywood?
Universal Studios Hollywood offers character meet & greets that are fun for everyone. Many characters like Gru and the minions from Despicable Me, The Simpsons family, Transformers, Shrek, Maria & Luigi, Princess Peach, and even Velociraptors from Jurassic World can be found outside the rides at different times during the day. from Secret Life of Pets are in Universal Studios Hollywood every day. There will be signs outside the meeting area the next time they’ll be out so you can line up for pictures.
And other characters like Frankenstein and his bride, as well as I Love Lucy, Marilyn Monroe, and Beetlejuice, will frequently walk around the park and mingle with visitors.
Where to Eat at Universal Studios Hollywood
We need to refuel with all the walking we do at theme parks. There are a variety of places to eat at Universal Studio Hollywood.
This restaurant is in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and serves delicious British fare like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, toffee pudding, and they also sell butterbeer. We consider this to be the best restaurant inside Universal Studios Hollywood.
At Minion Cafe, you’ll find some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches and popular pulled pork grilled Cheese with banana BBQ sauce. You know, Minions love their bananas! Their Nutella™ Banana Pudding is really good. While everyone gets the grilled cheeses, we love their loaded nachos.
Cletus’ Chicken Shack
Based on the actual fictional fast-food spot in The Simpsons, you’ll find Cletus’ Chicken Shack serving some pretty decent fried chicken options. We love their waffle chicken sandwich. Pair that with a beer from Moe’s.
Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck
Right behind Duff’s Beer Brewery Garden, you’ll find Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck. Perfect opportunity to grab some delicious nachos and some beer. Their Bumblebee Man’s Mucho Mucho Nachos is piled with your choice of meat and toppings, making this a great plate to share.
If you can get reservations, check out Toadstool Cafe at Super Nintendo World. They are serving some of Mario and Luigi’s favorites, like cheesy garlic knots, burgers, spaghetti, and meatballs. We can’t wait to try the Princess Peach Cupcake.
We love the following spots if you’re looking for places to eat at Universal Studios City Walk. We recommend making reservations in advance if it’s available.
Does Universal Hollywood have a lot of rides?
No. Not really. While there are different levels of Universal Hollywood, apart from the studio lot, the theme park area is compact, and there are as many rides as their theme parks in Florida.
What rides should I go on at Universal Studios Hollywood?
The best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood you should get on are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Jurassic World, The Mummy Ride, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, The Simpsons Ride, and Flight of the Hippogriff.
What to ride first at Universal Studios Hollywood?
Start your day early and get access to Super Nintendo World to ride Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, as it is the newest and busiest ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. We’d follow that next with Jurassic World Ride, The Mummy Ride, Harry Potter, and the Forbidden Journey.
What is the most intense ride at Universal Studios Hollywood?
The Mummy Ride is the most intense ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. You will be taken on a fast-paced adventure through a mysterious Egyptian tomb full of special effects, high-speed turns, and drops. This ride is not recommended for those fearing dark or enclosed spaces.
Can you do Universal Studios Hollywood in one day?
Yes, you can do Universal Studios in one day. However, we recommend planning your visit to make the most of your time and making that you get to experience all the different rides and attractions.
Try getting there before opening time and start out by going to the most popular ride, which right now is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
You may also want to consider upgrading to a VIP Express Pass or even doing a VIP Tour.
Can you do Universal Studios Hollywood in one day?
Yes, you can do Universal Studios in one day. However, we recommend planning your visit to make the most of your time and making that you get to experience all the different rides and attractions. Try getting there before opening time and start out by going to the most popular ride, which right now is Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. You may also want to consider upgrading to a VIP Express Pass or even doing a VIP Tour.
Is Jaws still at Universal Studios Hollywood?
Yes! Jaws is still at Universal Studios Hollywood. You’ll be able to experience this classic “ride” when you do the Studio Tour. The tram will take you into a replica of Amity Island, and you’ll see the massive Great White Shark lurking in the waters. Try to get a seat on the right side of the tram.
What is the best time to visit Universal Studios Hollywood?
The best time to visit Universal Studios Hollywood is during the off-season, which is usually from late September through early December. During this time, the lines are shorter, and the park is less crowded. Avoid visiting during school holidays or major holiday weekends as it can be very busy.
Are the rides at Universal Studios Hollywood suitable for kids?
Plenty of the rides are suitable for kids. If you have little ones, they’ll love Super Silly Funland, Secret Life of Pets, and Despicable Me. They’ll also love the Studio Tour; just remember that the studio tour does go into King Kong 3D.
Are there any discounts for Universal Studios Hollywood?
Yes, there are plenty of discounts available for Universal Studios Hollywood. Check out the website for special deals and discounts available. Before we got our season passes, we took advantage of buy one day, get one free on their website. You can also check out Undercover Tourists for discounted tickets.
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Meet Kathy Ava – a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she’s become a pro at crafting unforgettable travel itineraries. She’s always looking for delicious, fun cruise itineraries and travel destinations and is slightly obsessed with Italy. Her passion and curiosity for travel started in childhood on her yearly and sometimes bi-yearly trips to PR. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it – so let’s explore the world and make some incredible memories.