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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

Universal Studios Orlando

Updated: Jan 31

Universal Studios is actually two different parks, with the CityWalk walkway between them, and the Volcano Bay water park which you must catch a complimentary bus for. The original park is Universal Studios, home of the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, along with several other Intellectual Properties (IP) including Transformers, Despicable Me, The Mummy and The Simpsons among others. In general Universal is more geared toward older kids and adults, but there are a couple rides for younger kids and some fun shows geared toward the whole family.

Production Central

Getting Your Bearings & Attractions

Production Central

If you keep straight after entering the park you will come to Production Central. Here you will find yourself in a backlot setting surrounded by giant soundstages, bringing the feel of being behind the scenes of the movie making magic. Here you will find some fan favorite attractions including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, which is one of the most intense coasters in the park. While it is close to the front of the park, it takes a bit for this area to get really busy because most people are veering for Harry Potter first thing in the morning.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem:

Ever wanted to just join in on all the fun the Minions seem to have? Wish granted over at Despicable Me Minion Mayhem where you’re recruited to be one of the Minions and assist Gru in his latest evil scheme. This is a motion-simulator ride with a height requirement of 40 inches, though shorter guests may ride in the stationary seating. There is Express Pass access and a single-rider line available at times.


Team up with Evac, an Autobot unique to this ride, and join Optimus Prime in the fight against the Decepticons to save the AllSpark. This is a 3D simulator dark-ride experience with a height requirement of 40 inches. There is an Express Pass and single-ride line available for this attraction.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Featuring a 167-foot-tall vertical lift, racing speeds up to 65 mph, an on-board stereo system, and plenty of loops and corkscrews, this open-air roller coaster is one of the most thrill-inducing rides at Universal Studios. Riders must be between 51 and 79 inches to ride. You can use Express Pass here, plus there is a single-ride line available most of the time.

New York

If you continue past Production Central, keep straight still, you will find yourself in the Big Apple. This is a fun and lively area of the park featuring the attractions Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and Revenge of the Mummy. In addition to the attractions you’ll find lots of fun street performers and awesome food options.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

As the name suggests, you’ll get to ‘race’ through New York alongside Jimmy Fallon in the ‘flying theater’. The is an indoor simulator attraction that will take you through the streets, above the skyline, and even below the waters, of New York. The minimum height requirement is 40 inches. There is also Express Pass access.

Revenge of the Mummy

The cult classic comes to life in the form of a high-speed indoor rollercoaster, complete with jump scares, corny humor, and of course mummies…and a ceiling of fire, it’s fine. The height requirement for this ride is 48 inches, there is an Express Pass entrance and a single-rider line.

San Francisco

Moving on from New York you’ll find yourself on the opposite side of the country in San Francisco (the magic of movie sets I guess). The area resembled Fisherman’s Wharf, an area of San Francisco right along the bay. In addition to the Fast & Furious ride, you’ll find a full-service seafood restaurant and a couple different quick-service options.

Fast & Furious - Supercharged

Guests board a shuttle like bus to be ‘transported’ to a race after-party, only to be intercepted and engage in a high-speed chase, as one does in any Fast & Furious movie. This attraction is a mix of live-pre show and immersive screen experiences. Guests must be 40 inches tall to ride.


Instead of keeping straight upon entering the park, if you veer right at the first opportunity, you will find yourself strolling along a street straight out of Tinseltown (aka Hollywood). If you are familiar with historic Hollywood landmarks, you’ll be able to pick out places like Mel’s Drive In and Schwab’s Drug Store lining the street. If you are not familiar, you will still definitely feel the vibe of Hollywood surrounding you. The main sort of attraction in the area is Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show where you can see how make-up and special-effect artists bring monsters to life for film. There are also some shopping and dining locations along this area.

Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone

While most of Universal is focused on the thrills, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone takes it down a notch for the younger kids but keeps the theming top notch so the entire family will still have fun. E.T. Adventure is the main attraction in this area, but there is also a pizza restaurant, SpongeBob meet and greet and Animal Actors which is a fun little show that gives you a behind the scenes peek on how animals perform so well for the silver screen.

E.T. Adventure

Help E.T. save his home planet aboard your very own flying bike (it’s actually a gondola don’t worry). This is a dark-ride like Peter Pan’s Flight over in the Magic Kingdom. The height requirement is 34 inches and there is Express Pass access.

Springfield, USA: Home of the Simpsons

Located between Hollywood and World Expo, alongside the lake, you’ll find yourself immersed in the bright, color-filled world of the Simpsons. There are two attractions here: The Simpsons Ride and Kang & Kodos’ Twirl’n’Hurl. Beyond the rides you’ll find some Simpsons meet and greets, a couple bars to grab a Duff Beer or other specialty drinks, and a quick service dining location.

The Simpsons Ride

Join the Simpsons as they go to Krustyland, a theme-park from the show. This hilarious misadventure through the ‘park’ is as much fun as it is a satire on theme parks. The Simpsons Ride is a motion-simulator 3D attraction with a height requirement of 40 inches. Express Pass access is available.

Kang & Kodos’ Twirl’n’Hurl

This is an aerial carousel, essentially a Simpson’s-themed Dumbo. This is a great ride for little kids and older kids and adults will enjoy the gags. There is no height requirement for this ride, though kids under 48” will require supervision on the ride. An Express Pass queue is available.

World Expo

Located at the far end of the lake, you’ll find World Expo. Currently this is the smallest area at Universal and only features the Men in Black ride and corresponding shopping.

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack

Put on your competitive hat and compete against the other people in your vehicle for the highest score (hint: listen for instructions about a red button). This is a laser shooter game where your goal is to take out as many aliens as possible. There is a height requirement of 42 inches for this attraction.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

Step into the world of Harry Potter, straight out of the movies (with lots of fun book references for those in the know to catch). You’ll start on the streets of London, set along the lake just past San Francisco but before you get to World Expo. Here you’ll see King’s Cross Station and the Knight Bus, among other fun details, and enter Diagon Alley through a winding brick entrance. Once in Diagon Alley you’ll truly be immersed in the magic, with lots of shopping options, dining locations, and some fun, magical entertainment. And, of course, the star of the show, the large white Gringotts building complete with roaring dragon atop and housing the attraction Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. For those looking for more information about all things Harry Potter at Universal and Islands of Adventure, check out our post over here.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

This is a 3D roller coaster where you will, sort of by accident, help Harry Potter as he steals the horcrux from the Lestrange’s vault and makes his escape, narrowly avoiding Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the process. Not only is this the only ride in Diagon Alley, it is also one of the most popular rides in the parks, so expect long lines throughout the day. This ride does have Express Pass, so if you have that, it is a great way to experience this attraction with a much shorter wait. There is a 42-inch height requirement for this ride.

Hogwarts Express - King’s Cross Station

If, and only if, you have a ticket that allows you to change parks in a single day, you can travel between Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) via the Hogwarts Express. From the Diagon Alley side you’ll get to venture into King’s Cross Station, which is located outside of Diagon Alley along the London side, and get to go through the barrier at Platform 9 ¾, there is a fun view point where it actually looks like people are disappearing into the wall! The line to get onto the Hogwarts Express is generally not too long and then you’ll be ushered onto the train. Each of the compartments on the train will fit 6-8 people, so there is a good possibility you will be sharing with another family. Then off you go! On the ride between the parks you’ll get to enjoy some magical views out your window and see some familiar witches and wizards wandering up and down the train. Then, before you know it, you have arrived and are ready to disembark at Hogsmeade Station

.Read More about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade in our Island of Adventure post here, or in our Wizarding World of Harry Potter post here.

Park Overview

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