Universal Studios Hollywood is home to a number of incredible rides and attractions which can make it hard to decide which rides to prioritise during your day at the park.
As annual pass holders we’ve experienced all of the rides inside this park on multiple occasions and decided to put together a list of what we think are the best rides inside the park.
1. Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge
Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is the newest ride to open at Universal Studios Hollywood and is situated in the recently opened Super Nintendo World area of the park. As this ride is so new it often has long lines with guests waiting up to three hours.
Sadly right now it’s not possible to use an Express Pass to skip the line for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. Instead, it seems (albeit not confirmed) that VIP Experience guests will be the only guests who are able to skip the line.
However, a VIP Experience is in our opinion so much more than just Super Nintendo World. Therefore we wouldn’t recommend going on this guided tour with the sole purpose of skipping the line on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
This ride mirrors that inside the Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan and uses AR technology constructed through a Mario hat and visor.
This ride allows you to play Mario Kart in real life, and compete with other riders both during your ride and afterwards (provided you connect your PowerUp band to the steering wheel when boarding).
The technology and incredible virtual reality used in this ride are what make it the best ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. Better still it’s not fast, or scary like some of the other rides on this list which means it’s suitable for the entire family (provided they meet the height requirement).
In our opinion, Super Nintendo World has some of the best things to do in all of Universal Studios Hollywood. From the incredible dining experiences at Toadstool Cafe to collecting points with Power-Up Bands.
2. World-Famous Studio Tour
The World-Famous Studio Tour has long been one of our favourite rides at Universal Studios Hollywood given how unique it is when compared to other attractions at theme parks around the world.
This hour-long experience takes you on a tram ride behind the scenes of a real film studio which has been the home to a number of movie and TV show sets including; Desperate Housewives, The Good Place and the new Bel-Air TV series.You’ll also see what it’s like to experience special effects such as a flash flood and see the plane crash wreckage which was featured in The War of the Worlds.
We make a point of going on this tour during every visit to Universal Studios Hollywood as each time it’s slightly different – yet sadly, we’ve still only seen one famous face in the form of Mario Lopez.
We recently visited Universal Studios Hollywood at the best time of year (January) when the park is least crowded. Subsequently, we only waited 10 minutes to go on The World Famous Studio Tour.
However, during the peak season (Spring Break, Summer Break, Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas) the standby wait time for this ride can often be in excess of 60 minutes. If you don’t want to wait in line then you can save time with a Universal Express Pass.
In addition to the traditional Studio Tour, you’ll also experience two 4D cinema rides on a screen that spans the length of the tram; Fast & The Furious Supercharged and King Kong 360 3-D. Personally, I find these cinema ride additions to be disappointing, but they are non-optional once onboard and thankfully don’t take up too much time.
3. Revenge of The Mummy – The Ride
In our opinion, the scariest ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is The Revenge of the Mummy. This dark ride is located in the Lower Lot of the theme park and is perfect for thrill seekers!
Board the ride vehicle and be propelled at speeds of up to 45mph in virtual darkness as you flee from the Mummy’s revenge. This ride can be scary in places, so might not be the family-friendly ride that those with younger children are looking for.
However, we personally love this ride as it’s a proper physical rollercoaster ride and not a simulator-based ride, which is more commonly found inside the Universal Studios Hollywood park.
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4. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Located inside the incredible Hogwarts Castle in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey ride. During this ride, you’ll soar above the castle grounds alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione in an unforgettable and thrilling adventure.
Throughout your journey, you’ll come face-to-face with an array of magical and terrifying creatures on this one-of-a-kind attraction.
This ride is incredible but does have some limitations. Most notably, guests with a waistline of 40” or more may struggle to fit into the seats and subsequently be unable to ride. Test seats are available outside the ride to check before getting in line.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a motion simulator ride (albeit not as bad as some of the others). Therefore those with sensitivities to motion may want to give this one a miss (or take some medication beforehand).
We recommend visiting Universal Studios Hollywood even if you don’t like rides, as there’s plenty more to experience here than just the thrills of a rollercoaster.
5. Jurassic World – The Ride
Jurassic World – The Ride is the only water ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. Located in the heart of the Lower Lot this ride features the latest technology in rollercoaster development making the immersive land and dinosaurs all the more realistic.
During this ride, you’ll get caught in the fray as an Indominus rex is confronted by her archrival, the Tyrannosaurus rex. This epic battle will see you pummelling down an 84ft drop into a pool of water (as such, you will likely get wet).
Sadly, while many youngsters love dinosaurs, not all of them can go on this ride as the minimum height requirement is 42” with an accompanying adult of 48” or taller or 48” when riding solo.
6. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is sure to be a hit with Minion lovin’ families. This ride sees join Gru on an adventure to become a Minion. During this time you’ll take a trip through Gru’s laboratory, but of course, the journey doesn’t quite go to plan!
This ride is a great introductory ride to motion simulation projections for kids as for the most part it’s just a show, with a large projection on the screen at the front and a number of single rows of seats that move slightly through motion simulation.
You don’t go anywhere on a track, there are no heights and it’s not really that dark so the family-friendly factor is 10/10.
7. Transformers: The Ride 3-D
Transformers: The Ride 3-D is an immersive thrill ride located within Universal’s Lower Lot.
This ride uses a combination of 3D media and flight simulation technology to take you into the middle of a war zone as you fight alongside Optimus Prime and try to survive as you protect the Allspark from Decepticons over four stories tall.
Just to the side of this ride opposite the Studio Cafe, you’ll find character meet-and-greet opportunities with characters from the franchise including; Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and even one of the Decepticons.
8. Secret Life of Pets
One of the latest additions to the Universal Studios Hollywood park is the Secret Life of Pets ride.
Based on the hit animated film of the same name, this ride is perfect for all ages but does have a rather tall height requirement given the film’s target audience so be sure to watch out for that.
As you wait for this ride you’ll do so inside the New York City apartments of the characters featured in the film which is sure to keep little kids entertained.
The ride itself sees you board a specially designed vehicle that looks like a pet carrier.
The ride itself is a trackless, motion-based attraction that takes you through various scenes and environments from the movies.
You’ll see all of your favourite characters, including Max, Duke, Snowball, and Gidget, as they help you in your journey to being adopted.
One of the best things about this ride is the special effects. As you move through the different scenes, you’ll experience a range of sensory effects, including water, wind, and even smells.
9. Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff is a fantastic introductory rollercoaster ride for little kids who meet the 39” height requirement (when riding with a person 48” or taller).
Situated inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this ride will see you enter the Care of Magical Creature grounds.
Once onboard, you’ll spiral and dive around the pumpkin patch, before swooping past Hagrid’s hut on this family-friendly rollercoaster.
10. The Simpsons Ride
Located in the park’s Upper Lot is The Simpsons Ride. While I’ve been on this ride a number of times both at Universal Studios in Orlando and Universal Studios here in Hollywood it’s now one I sadly have to avoid due to motion sickness, hence the reason it’s so far down the list.
However, if you don’t have a problem with motion sickness, and love The Simpsons as much as I do then this is a ride you’ll definitely want to check out!
This ride sees you head out on a journey with The Simpsons to Krusty’s the Clown’s newest theme park Krustyland. However, unlike Universal, Krusty hasn’t invested the time or money into the park and as a result, you’ll be experiencing some incredible high-speed twists and turns.
11. Dreamworks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
The Dreamworks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda is not so much a ride as it is a multi-sensory attraction experience.
The theatre in which the attraction is hosted features a 180-degree screen that spans 180 feet wide and 40 feet tall as well as 360-degree surround sound and special effects, such as water, wind, and scent effects, which make the experience feel even more realistic.
During the short film showing you’ll be transported to the world of Kung Fu Panda, where you’ll follow Po and his friends as they battle villains to protect their home.
The action will feel up close and personal, and the special effects will make you feel like you’re right in the middle of it all.
This ride is suitable for all ages and heights, making it one of the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood for families.
12. Silly Swirly Fun Ride
The Silly Swirly Fun Ride is the best ride at Universal Studios Hollywood for toddlers, and it’s the only ride with no height requirement.
I went on this ride with our 14-month-old little boy during our latest trip and it was perfect. Just make sure the child can sit up on their own unaided.
The ride goes surprisingly high, however, the height can be adjusted using the lever situated inside one of the 12 uniquely-styled ride vehicles that you’ll be in.
If you’re daring enough to reach the maximum height then you’ll benefit from an incredible 360-degree view of the land below as you circle around.
Universal Hollywood Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Hollywood?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Hollywood tickets.
Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.
Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Hollywood theme park tickets from AttractionTix.
I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?
If you’re travelling to Universal Hollywood for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Hollywood, as the theme park has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points.
However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Los Angeles.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Hollywood?
When visiting Universal Hollywood, I recommend staying at Loews Hollywood. From this hotel, you can take an Uber or Lyft to Universal Hollywood in under 15 minutes.