Universal Orlando – The best rides and attractions for tweens and teens

We recently went back to Universal Orlando with our children (ages 12 and 15) for a thrill-seeking two days riding the most exciting attractions at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Whilst Walt Disney World is best known for its family friendly attractions and Seaworld has lots of thrill rides, Universal Orlando takes this to the next level with its clever combination of theming and adrenaline filled attractions.

We had a fabulous time at Universal Orlando, and if you are coming to Orlando with tweens and teens you definitely should add a visit onto your itinerary as there is so much for them to see and experience at Universal.

Here is our pick of the best Universal attractions, shows and experiences across Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure as chosen by a tween and a teen.

Universal Studios Attractions for Tweens and Teens

Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast

This is the latest ride at Universal Studios, part of the brand new Minions Land area of the park.   The ride cleverly combines sets, props and unbelievable technology all of which which are really immersive –  once you grab your blasters and step onto the moving walkway you try to outscore each other as you battle the villains featured in the Despicable Me movies from Vector to The Vicious 6.

This was unlike anything we’ve experienced before and you can even sync your blaster with the Universal app which makes this ride even more interactive, the kids will love it.

Location: Illuminations Minion Land, Universal Studios Florida

Revenge of the Mummy

This indoor coaster is fast, intense and the best coaster at the Universal studios park.  It’s a good first coaster for tweens as its indoor and it’s so dark you can’t actually see the track so you have no idea what’s going to happen next which makes it seem scarier than it actually is.

Based on The Mummy film this ride provides a clever mixture of a dark ride and a really fast coaster, we also love the twist at the end when you think you’ve reached the end of the ride.

Location: New York, Universal Studios Florida


Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Located under the fire breathing dragon of Gringotts bank in Diagon Alley this is by far the best ride at the Universal Studios Florida park. The experience starts in the queue for the ride, where you see the bank from the movies complete with talking goblins.

This is another unique ride that cleverly combines a dark ride with a coaster (with some launch and drop sections) and 3D storytelling that keeps you on the edge of your seat.   This is a thrilling and immersive experience as much as it is a ride that even non Harry Potter fans will be impressed by.

Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Florida

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

This coaster dominates the skyline as you enter the Universal Studios park, starting with a 167-foot-tall 90-degree lift , before a steep drop where you reach top speeds of 65 mph – there are also loops and corkscrews as the track meanders through the production central area of the park.

What makes this unique and why teens will love it is the fact that they can select their own soundtrack which they can listen to as they zoom around the track.

Location: Production Central, Universal Studios Florida

Men in Black Alien Attack

If your kids enjoyed Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at Disney then they will love this more extreme version at Universal.  With 120 animatronic aliens to zap on this interactive ride and to challenge each other to see who has the highest scores.

Location: World Expo, Universal Studios Florida

Transformers: The Ride 3D

This 3D motion simulator dark ride creates a really immersive and often intense experience featuring huge 3D screens and the movement of vehicles over its two floors.  While similar to the Spider-Man ride at Islands of Adventure this ride, uses more advanced technology creating a more thrilling journey between the Autobots and Decepticons.

Location: Production Central, Universal Studios Florida

Bourne Stuntacular

Ok, this is not a ride but it is intense and will be one of the coolest things your tween and teen will see at any park in Orlando.  This high octane show based on the Bourne movies, cleverly blends the latest technology with live action in a stunt show that features everything from helicopter chases to rooftop brawls.

Location: Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida

The Hogwarts Express

This is not an extreme ride but it’s a ride that should not be missed.  The Hogwarts Express allows visitors to travel between Universal Orlando’s two parks on an actual steam train without leaving the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Each leg of the journey is a totally different experience and feels like you are part of the movie, from the storytelling on the journey to some of the characters you might see onboard the train from your carriage window.

Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Florida


Islands of Adventure Attractions for Tweens and Teens

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

The scariest ride at Universal Orlando by far is Jurassic World VelociCoaster.  This is one of the very best coasters that you’ll ride anywhere in the world and forms an impressive spectacle on the horizon.  Not only is the theming incredible as you’d expect at Universal with highly detailed raptor animatronics, the ride is terrifying and perfect for adrenaline seeking teenagers.

With two magnetic launches, one of which sends you off at speeds of 70mph, there are four inversions and because you only have a lap bar the amount of air time is immense – you’ll also climb to a height of 155ft, followed by an 80 degree drop on this unbelievable coaster inside the raptor paddock.

Location: Jurassic Park, Islands of Adventure

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Although VelociCoaster takes some beating, we feel that Hagrid’s is the best coaster in the park, when you ride it you’ll know what we mean. This unique coaster has motorcycle or sidecar seating both of which provides totally different experiences so if you can, ride it twice.

With seven launches throughout the ride, a 17ft drop, a 65-foot tall dead-end spike and even a section where you travel backwards, this is an action packed experience that teens will love as you fly deep into the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid as your guide

Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Islands of Adventure

The Incredible Hulk

One of the most recognisable rides at Universal Orlando is the Incredible Hulk, thanks to its bright green tracks and multiple loops.  The thrill factor here is the 0 to 40 mph in two second launch at the start where you are shot through the “Gamma Force Accelerator” tube before travelling through 7 inversions complete with G-force moments at top speeds of up to 67mph.

This is one of the most intense rides at Universal so it’s perfect for teens hooked on the stomach-churning adrenalin rush they experience being flung around bends and tipped upside down, all at top speed.

Location: Marvel Super Hero Island, Islands of Adventure

Dr. Doom’s Fearfall

Even if you are not a Marvel fan you’ll love this drop tower.  Although it’s a short ride you’ll get amazing views of Universal once you are shot 185ft into the air before plunging you back down to earth at speed.

Location: Marvel Super Hero Island, Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

This is an incredible dark ride which combines amazing state of the art technology as you travel through Hogwarts Castle with Harry.   The ride itself uses the technology to simulate the feeling of flying and because it’s so immersive and uses a combination of screens and practical sets , there is nothing quite like this ride anywhere else.

The only downside is if you are prone to motion sickness then this ride might not be for you.  Even if you decide not to ride, we would recommend just walking through Hogwarts Castle, what Universal have created as you walk past corridors, classrooms and even the sorting hat is just like being in the movie itself.

Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Islands of Adventure

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

The perfect ride to cool down on hot days in Orlando mixed in with some adrenalin-pumping fun.  This colourful adventure is not your typical log flume, it combines roller coaster track with a 75 feet drop ensuring a soaking when you hit the water, teens will love this one and in the Florida heat you dry out pretty quickly.

Location: Toon Lagoon, Islands of Adventure

Jurassic Park River Adventure

Another water ride that tweens and teens will love is the Jurassic Park river adventure.  It starts quite tame as a gentle riverboat adventure through a dinosaur park but things take a turn for the worse as you escape the clutches of a T-Rex and go down the 85ft drop at a 55-degree angle into the water.  As a comparison, the most extreme water ride at Disney World Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (Splash Mountain) only has a 52ft drop.

Location: Jurassic Park, Islands of Adventure

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

Although not extreme as Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls what is more extreme is the massive soaking you’ll have on this really fun raft ride.  It’s really popular and the perfect way to cool off from the heat. Even a poncho will not save you one this one and a change of clothes/footwear is advisable!

Location: Toon Lagoon, Islands of Adventure

Shop and Dine at CityWalk

Teens love to shop and at CityWalk they will be in retail heaven.  There is a huge Universal Studios store here filled with the coolest merchandise that is unique to the theme park, our children’s favourites were the LoungeFly bags which ranged from Jaws, ET and Dr Suess to Despicable Me.

There are also so many restaurants and dining options to choose from at CityWalk, from the Chocolate Emporium to the coolest dessert treats at Voodoo Doughnut.  If your kids are music fans, then they will love the music and atmosphere of the Hard Rock Café which is also home to the largest selection of music memorabilia in the world.

Ready to book?

From the UK, the best value tickets for Universal Orlando’s can be purchased in advance from AttractionTickets or FloridaTix – these include unlimited 14 day access to the Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay Water Parks.

For more information on Universal Orlando, its mobile app, parks and hotels – I highly recommend visiting the official Universal Orlando website.


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