Attraction Rankings

Universal Studios Hollywood Attraction Rankings

It’s not often that we jump outside of the Disney bubble on this blog but we’ve been spending some time around Southern California’s other theme parks and will likely publish a few posts about them in the coming months. I was planning to start with a big guide to both Universal and Knott’s but what do people really care about? Attractions. What do people on the internet really care about? Rankings things! Put those together and we have the Universal Studios Hollywood Attraction Rankings!

For the record, there will be guides to follow in the future but attractions do seem to be a good place to start. Ranking them doesn’t necessarily mean doing them in that order but more of what you should prioritize. For example, the Studio Tour is one of the best attractions at the park but you should wait to do that one until the afternoon instead of right away due to the high capacity and lower wait times.

Hogwarts Express moon

Universal Studios Hollywood has a fun list of rides although it’s on the shorter side of things to do. While Universal Orlando suffers a bit from screen fatigue, in my humble opinion, its west coast counterpart doesn’t deal with that as much. Instead its biggest obstacle is the incredibly cramped footprint of the park. Part of what makes Universal Hollywood so unique is that it sits right beside so many working soundstages and movie sets. It’s cool! But it is also noticeable relative to other theme parks. The layout of the park doesn’t make much sense without considering other factors and that is at least part of the reason for a lack of rides.

Like all of my other attraction rankings, I’m going to need to follow some rules! Here they are:

  • No Meet & Greets.  These are impossible to rank and I don’t particularly like them in the first place.
  • No Live Shows.  Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my opinion, but they aren’t rides so they won’t be in this list. Also, big stage shows and parades are out. I will include 3D movies though.
  • These are all my opinion.  “Every attraction is someone’s favorite.” While that commonly used phrase is corny and seems a little silly, the sentiment is mostly true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree (or agree!) with in the comments.
Jaws Studio Tour

There will be a few sentences about each attraction and their placement on the list. Let’s get to it!

11. Silly Swirly Fun Ride – This is just a simple spinner ride in the Despicable Me area. While it’s ranked last, it’s just fine and honestly what Universal could use a little more of. There’s a lack of kids rides there and filling in the roster with C or D-tickets would help the cause.

10. DreamWorks Theater Featuring Kung Fu Panda – I don’t know much about Kung Fu Panda but I didn’t think too highly of this 4D show. We went on an adventure with the characters from the franchise but only after seeing a myriad of different DreamWorks characters. It was a little confusing although not terrible.

9. Flight of the Hippogriff – This kid coaster fits the same description that I gave Silly Swirly Fun Ride. It sits next to Hogwarts though and offers some beautiful views so that moves it up the list a little bit.

Hogwarts from Flight of Hippogriff

8. Transformers: The Ride 3D – This ride succeeds in that it does feel like a Transformers movie. It’s chaotic, loud and completely over the top. It’s a good amount of fun and the ride system is cool. That said the story is all over the place and it does give me a headache… So I guess that’s another similarity to the movie.

Bumblebee Transformers

7. Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride – There’s a large jump from 8 to 7 as we’ve made it to some high quality rides here! Revenge of the Mummy is an indoor themed coaster that looks pretty good in certain spots and less good in others. It’s a solid attraction that could be moved up a spot or two.

6. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem – Minion Mayhem is a motion simulator where guests are shrunk down into Minions and help out Gru and the gang. The ride is a hoot even if you’re not a big simulator fan like me.

5. The Simpsons Ride – Another simulator here except this is a roller coaster. Stepping into the chaotic Simpsons world, this attraction is full of quick wit and plenty of solid jokes. It’s a good attraction that has somewhat surprisingly stood the test of time.

Simpsons ride poster

4. Jurassic World – The Ride – To me, these rankings are somewhat tiered. 8-11 could be swapped out for each other and the same could be said with 4-7. I have Jurassic World at the top of this tier because the changes made to the attraction look really good! It’s not always easy to make water attractions have a cohesive plot but this succeeds.

Jurassic World tunnel

3. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash – Universal’s latest attraction is a massive hit. For what it’s worth, I know next to nothing about The Secret Life of Pets franchise. Apparently there was a sequel? I did not know. But this is a better dark ride than Disney has made stateside in… well, a very long time. There’s a great blend of animatronics, that are adorable, and screens. I’m as surprised as anyone about how good this ride is!

Secret Life of Pets Weiner dog

2. The World Famous Studio Tour – Really, this is 1B to the first place attraction. There is nothing like the Studio Tour in any other theme park in the world. Every ride through is a little different thanks to live narration and entertainment schedules on the sets. There’s also about 3 or 4 extra rides hidden inside of the Studio Tour, including a great King Kong bit. It’s about an hour long and one of the best theme park experiences in the world.

1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – There are very few attractions in the world that are better than Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey right now. The ride system is innovative and perfectly blends practical sets with screens. On top of that, the story flows cohesively while hitting some of the best Harry Potter moments. From the queue that goes through Hogwarts all the way to the exit, this is near perfection. It’s a top 5 attraction in the world and that might be selling it short.

Hogwarts Harry Potter

What do you think of our attraction rankings? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a Disney trip ? Check out our guides to get you started! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages. You can find all of those things on the right side of this page. Have a great day!

18 replies »

  1. I love the Simpsons Ride because of the screens and different smells. It really feels like you are on this bizarre rollercoaster! I only rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey once, but I loved it (thankfully I never got stuck on it). Reading this post makes me want to go on the studio tour though, lol.

  2. I honestly didn’t really like Pets Off the Leash–it was kind of boring, so I’d rate that much lower. Jurassic Park would also be lower on my list, mostly because the giant predators at the end scare me. The Mummy is my absolute favorite ride, but Forbidden Journey is second. Transformers is probably 3rd, but the rest of my preferences more or less seem to line up with yours. I’ve actually never ridden the Silly Swirly Fun Ride.

  3. Thanks for all the great info! I’m curious if you’ve taken young kids on the Studio tour (and any of the rides actually). My kids will be 5 and 7 and both scare pretty easily. They have seen YouTube clips of the rides and think they can handle it. But the studio tour being an hour long is a little scary. What if young kids are freaking out and there’s no way to get them off? Any thoughts on this?

    • Thanks for your comment! Universal is a more adult park than some of the Disney counterparts. Thankfully, they have added some rides in the last few years that make it a little more accessible. Between Minions, Secret Life of Pets, a few of the small spinner rides, and Nintendo World I think there will be enough to do there.

      Speaking specifically about the Studio Tour, I think they’d be alright. There’s a few intense parts (Kong and the earthquake subway scene come to mind) but they’re followed by pretty calm sequences. On top of that, Kong and the Fast and Furious segments are noticeably on screens. I’d just be careful to explain that everything that happens on the studio tour is fake and made to show you how they make movies. I know that’s easier said than done though! I hope this helps!

    • There are really only one or two scary parts–the King Kong 3D section and the earthquake section, both lasting a few minutes only. Most of the studio tour is not scary, so as long as they can get through those two parts, they should be okay. That said, if they cannot make it through those, you can always pull the cord to get ahold of the tour guide and ask to be allowed off. I’ve never actually seen it happen, but they announce at the beginning of the ride that if you need anything or if you absolutely have to use the restroom that they will stop the ride at the first safe opportunity to assist you. I do not see why they would not allow you and your kids to get off the ride if that becomes absolutely necessary.

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