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7 must-do rides at Universal Studios -- even if you hate roller coasters

If you hate roller coasters, this one's for you

Photo: Tom Metevia/ Graham Media Group

Universal Studios is known for being thrilling. You won't find your normal dark rides with cartoon characters and fun music. Instead, you may ride a magical motorbike into the Forbidden Forest.

However, this shouldn't bar you from visiting the park. If anything, it should make you want to visit even more.

As the author of this story, I am by no means an avid theme park enthusiast. I enjoy watching roller coasters from the ground and have no problem holding bags while friends and family experience a new coaster. After visiting Universal Studios in Orlando, I found a new selection of rides that were thrilling and exciting, but also safe for those who hate coasters.

We're going over the top seven rides at Universal Studios for those of us who do not like roller coasters. For this story, we aren't including any rides that are specifically made for kids.

Photo: Tom Metevia/Graham Media Group

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure

Do whatever a spider can when you join your friendly neighborhood web slinger on this epic, dare we say "amazing," adventure -- straight out of your favorite comic book. 

Climb aboard a roving motion base vehicle and fly high above the city streets with Spider-Man. This simulator combines the concepts of a dark ride, adds in larger-than-life 3D projection, sprinkles a dash of 4D elements and tops it off with other high-tech trickery, leaving you with your jaw on the floor and your mind ready to go again. 

2. "Transformers": The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Florida

Prepare to "roll out" as N.E.S.T invites new recruits to help the Autobots save the world. No pressure, right? This attraction uses the same roving motion base ride technology that Universal developed for Spider-Man; we'll let you decide which one is better. Straying away from the comic book look, this attraction uses character design from the Michael Bay films. 

This attraction fuses 3D HD media and flight simulation technology to create an experience unlike anything you've ever seen. There wasn't a moment during this ride where my mouth wasn't open in awe. Did we forget to mention that on top of all other features, your ride vehicle is a state-of-the-art robot? Help protect the Allspark from Decepticons over four stories tall. The fate of humanity is in your hands now.

Photo: Tom Metevia/Graham Media Group

3. Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts at Universal Studios

Walk past the impressive goblin tellers in the lobby of Gringotts and travel deep into the vaults alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione to face dragons, Voldemort and other menaces. Proceed through the hallway behind the lobby to get ready for your tour of the underground vaults.

Like all theme park rides, something has to go wrong. It's just a matter of when.

Oddly enough, the same day you're taking your tour of the vaults, the trio has come to the bank to search for a Horcrux and defeat Voldemort. 

When the car first sets off for the vaults, we are greeted by Bellatrix Lestrange -- if you know anything about the wizarding world, then you would be correct to think this is where something goes wrong. She casts a spell and the car begins to point down, as if the track is bending forward. This is the "high speed" portion of the ride. The car is sent down a drop and makes a couple sharp turns in dark. If you can make it past that portion of the ride, you will be set for the remainder of the journey. 

Insider tip: If your heart drops the second you hear the word "drop," sit in the front row of this attraction. The drop will be so minimal that you won't feel it. You know the ride won't be too intense when they're expecting you to wear 3D glasses.

4. Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure

Take a journey deep into the jungle and brave the dangers that await you on Skull Island. As you board your truck and wave goodbye to fellow guests, prepare yourself for the ride of a lifetime. You're about to find out if the legend of Kong is real or just made up by locals. Spoiler alert: He is very real. 

This is just one of the two rides in the theme park that incorporates immersion tunnel technology, which simulates moving through an adventure. With a choice of two different attractions that use this breakthrough technology, Skull Island: Reign of Kong is by far the better choice.

The Kong animatronic figure at the end of the ride is always worth it. This is his home, his kingdom. And only he reigns.

Insider tip: If you want to see Kong up close, be sure to sit on the right side of the ride vehicle. 

Photo: Tom Metevia/ Graham Media Group

5. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure

Travel by floo powder with Harry, Ron and Hermione to explore the grounds of Hogwarts. The journey will include a getaway through Hogwarts Castle, a high-flying quidditch match, daringly close encounters with dementors and maybe a spider or two.

The robotic arm ride vehicles make for a very smooth adventure that is unlike any other attraction you've been on. The ride alternates between filmed sequences projected onto mini domed screens that follow you throughout your journey, as well as actual sets adorned with all kinds of mechanical dark ride "gotchas." Watch out for the dementors.

This ride may not be good for those with motion sickness, but you can close your eyes and open them during the non-video portions.

6. Men in Black Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida

Agent J is looking for "scrubs" to help with a small alien invasion: 120 different kinds of aliens, to be exact. This won't be your average target shooting game. You'll come face to face with aliens hiding in every nook and cranny through the busy city streets. You'll also go against other recruits in separate vehicles. Shoot the blinking target atop their vehicle to send them spinning.

The fast-spinning ride vehicles will make for a dizzy ride through New York City's streets, and the game play is one of our favorites. Grab your black suit and sunglasses, and see if you have what it takes to join the Men in Black.

As Universal puts it, "With multiple endings possible, it's never the same ride twice."

Photo: Tom Metevia/Graham Media Group

7. Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

Step into Kings Cross station, run through magic brick walls and ride the famous locomotive that transports wizards and witches to Hogwarts. You can travel to and from London and Hogsmeade aboard the Hogwarts Express. This isn't just a way to get from one park to the other. No, this is an attraction all on its own.

The train is highly themed and creates a magical experience that offers a seamless transition throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Anything from the trolley?

Important: Passengers must have a two-park ticket in order to ride the Hogwarts Express.

Do you agree with our list? Is there another attraction that should be included? Let us know in the comments below.


About the Author:

Thomas Metevia

Tom Metevia is an Emmy Award-winning content creator. He joined the News 6 team in May 2019 after interning with News 6’s parent company Graham Media Group in Detroit, MI. He previously worked for: WDIV in Detroit, CBSi in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and WSMH in Flint, MI. Tom specializes in travel, entertainment and theme park news.