Since not every attraction is created equal, we've come up with 10 must-see rides and attractions (specifically at Universal Orlando Resort, although most of these thrills are also at Universal Studios Hollywood as well) that are well worth the wait in line.
Check them out in the gallery below.
Gallery | Universal Studios Rides Review
- Shrek 4-D (Universal Studios)
What It Is: The 4-D movie show is set between "Shrek" and "Shrek 2." The ghost of Lord Farquaad has kidnapped Princess Fiona, so audiences join Shrek and Donkey on a special effects-filled adventure (moving seats, spraying water, wind, etc.) as they try to save her.
Who Will Enjoy It: Everyone. Like the movie, this is an all-ages attraction that even toddlers will appreciate.
Insider Tips: Since it's indoors, this is a great ride when you need some A/C or want to relax after more intense rides – and it's old enough that the lines are usually pretty zippy.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure (Islands of Adventure)
What It Is: You're supposed to be on a tour of Jurassic Park, but like in the film, things go seriously awry and you end up in a restricted section, where the velociraptors are on the loose and ready to attack.
Who Will Enjoy It: After a day in the Florida heat, Jurassic Park is a perfect way to cool off – as long as your kids are at least 42" tall and can handle the animatronic dinosaurs and the dark.
Insider Tips: Unlike the park's other water rides, this one doesn't drench you completely, so skip the poncho and just go with the flow.
- Revenge of the Mummy
What It Is: The Mummy Imhotep would really like to capture your soul. It's just what he does. As you plunge into darkness and try to escape him, you also have to dodge his mummy army, swarms of insects and other threats (we, um, may have closed our eyes during part of it, but apparently fireballs are involved too).
Who Will Enjoy It: Teens and adults. Anyone over 48" can ride, but keep in mind that it's definitely a thrill ride – dark, scary and fast (up to 45 mph).
Insider Tips: Of the roller coasters, the Mummy had the shortest lines while we were there, and the queue is indoors, which always a plus.
- Men in Black: Alien Attack
What It Is: As a Men in Black recruit, you have to prove to Agents J and K that you have the skills to join their secret organization. With the other wannabe agents in your training car, you have to shoot at all the alien prison escapees – including the "aliens" in the car right in front of you.
Who Will Enjoy It: Everyone. It's one of the best family rides at the park. Kids only have to be 42" to ride, and the alien zapping makes it fun for all.
Insider Tips: It's one of those rides kids will want to go on more than once, so do it early in the morning and again in the evening; expect long lines. Also, make sure to ask the staff for their high score shooting tips.
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure)
What It Is: A motion-based 3-D ride in which you're a newbie journalist riding the Daily Bugle's press car, "The Scoop," trying to get a story about a criminal masterminds who've stolen the Statue of Liberty. You follow Spider-Man as he uses his Spidey senses to track down the syndicate of villains.
Who Will Enjoy It: Everyone – but especially comic-book and superhero fans. You only have to be 40" to ride, but be warned – those with motion sickness may get queasy during all the simulated dips, turns and even a freefall.
Insider Tips: Pay close attention and see if you can spot the four times Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee pops up in the ride – as a tribute to his signature cameos in all of the Marvel-based movies.
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (Universal Studios)
What It Is: Universal's most popular (and Orlando's tallest) roller coaster lets riders rock out to their own music (30 songs choices) during the nearly 90-second ride, all the while recording you, so you can edit your experience into a music video at the end.
Who Will Enjoy It: Roller coaster lovers who are at least 51" tall. Because of the loop and the speed (it reaches up to 65 mph), this isn't a "beginner" coaster.
Insider Tips: According to several theme-park blogs, the Rip Ride Rockit offers hundreds of "hidden" songs you can play during your ride, if you know the track codes before you get on the ride. There's even an (unaffiliated) app with the Rockit setlist -- just keep in mind that if you choose one of the secret tracks, you can't make a music video.
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (Universal Studios)
What It Is: A 3-D motion ride that transforms people into Minions working for Gru, whose daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes must train to be part of the crew. But once we're in Gru's super-secret laboratory, being a Minion leads to all sorts of trouble – including the need to save the girls (and Gru).
Who Will Enjoy It: The height requirement is only 40", so almost everyone can join in the mayhem. The Minions and the girls are pretty irresistible, and even the queue (it's Gru's home) is filled with hilarious family portraits and trivia.
Insider Tips: At the end of the ride, everyone is treated to a dance party in the room leading to the gift shop; it's also a photo-opp for "Despicable Me" fans to take a snapshot with a character (usually a Minion).
- Springfield (Universal Studios)
What It Is: What used to be just The Simpsons Ride and a Kwik-E-Mart gift shop has been expanded into a brand-new Springfield area, that includes a carnival games section and a Fast Food Boulevard including a Krusty Burger, Moe's Tavern, Cletus' Chicken Shack, and Lisa's Tea House of Horror, etc. By the end of the summer, the area will include a new ride -- Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl, a Bumblee Man's Taco Truck, Lard Lad's pastry shop, and, best of all, a Duff Brewery.
Who Will Enjoy It: "Simpsons" fans will be as happy as Homer with a can of Duff beer and box of donuts, but you don't have to be a diehard devotee to have fun in the area. Between the ride, the food and the carnival games, the area appeals to all ages (hey, who doesn't love the idea of beer and donuts?
Insider Tips: Everything in Springfield – including all of the food in Fast Food Boulevard is based on actual Simpsons' references. Make sure to get a Flaming Moe at Moe's Tavern; kids will love the nonalcoholic orangey drink that sizzles.
- Transformers: The Ride 3D (Universal Studios)
What It Is: Universal Orlando Resort's latest 3D motion ride is an instant classic – the kind of ride that like the toys will still be popular in another generation. The story is simple – the Decepticons have infiltrated Orlando with the intention of stealing the AllSpark. Riders are N.E.S.T. recruits sitting in an Autobot called Evac, and together you will help Optimus Prime and his team of Autobots to defend the AllSpark. The ride uses screens that are up to 60 feet tall, and simulates speeds up to 60 mph, including one intense fall.
Who Will Enjoy It: As long as you're 40" tall, you too can be a NEST recruit. Even kids who've never heard of the Transformers will love this ride, but those who play(ed) with the iconic Hasbro toys and enjoyed the movies will particularly get a kick out of seeing Optimus Prime, Bumblee and co. battle the Decepticons.
Insider Tips: See if you can spot when the ride pays tribute to director Michael Bay's signature slow-motion action shots. There WILL be long lines, especially since the ride just opened in June, but it's definitely worth the wait. Go at least twice (it's a great "final" ride before the park closes) and sit in a different row of the Transformer.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Islands of Adventure)
What It Is: Because it's an entire "world," we're giving Harry Potter the top spot. It's a Potterhead's dream come true: you can take a picture in front of the Hogwarts Express, pick a wand (Ollivander's), tour Hogwarts, send a owl mail postmarked from Hogsmeade, fly with Harry, Hermione and Ron (the Forbidden Journey), ride on Dragons (Dragon's Challenge coasters), buy sweets and pranks (Honeyduke's and Zonko's), and chow down at the Three Broomsticks or Hog's Head. Plus, in 2014, there will be a Wizarding World expansion with Diagon Alley on the Universal Studios side.
Who Will Enjoy It: Naturally Potter fans will delight in it the most, but most muggles will find some aspect – whether it's the roller coasters or the Forbidden Journey or the Cornish pasties – magical enough to want to visit.
Insider Tips: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the uniformly crowded areas of the park, regardless of what time it is, so if you're staying at one of the Universal Orlando Resort properties that entitle you to early admission, use it for Harry Potter (or the Transformers ride). Then come back much later in the day when the crowds thin out around dinnertime. And don't forget to try a Butterbeer.