A big criticism Disney fans have towards Universal is that the park down the street has nothing interesting enough to make them want to make the trip across town. Yes, Universal Orlando is known for thrill rides and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but there is a lot more happening at the resort than just those two things. A lot of attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are very similar to attractions at Walt Disney World, but there are differences, which sometimes make Universal rides potentially better and should warrant a trip to the competition. Here is our list of what to try at Universal Orlando based on select rides at Walt Disney World.
1) Like Peter Pan’s Flight? Try E.T. Adventure.
Peter Pan’s Flight is considered a classic ride at WDW and Disneyland and will most likely never leave either park. E.T. Adventure may be on the chopping block, because Universal is okay with replacing the original opening day attractions, but it should be considered a classic along the same lines as Peter Pan’s Flight. Both attractions use the same overhead track system to fly guests over the films and are must-dos when in Orlando.
2) Like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or Toy Story Midway Mania? Try MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack.
Disney has always been on the cutting edge of interactive attractions and 1998’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and 2005’s Toy Story Midway Mania are proof of that. In 2000, Universal opened MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack which borrowed the same track system used on Islands of Adventure’s Cat in the Hat, but added the interactive shooting element which could be found on Buzz Lightyear. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack might not be as good as either shooting game at WDW, but riding through the attraction without touching the gun once can still prove to be a fun time.
3) Like Star Tours? Try The Simpsons Ride or Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
Motion simulators are not the most complex attractions in the world, but they have the ability to make you feel like you are doing extraordinary things you’re not. Star Tours puts you in a StarSpeeder and sends you off in the worlds of Star Wars, but The Simpsons Ride and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem are completely different. The Simpsons Ride takes multiple cars on multiple levels and puts them in front of giant IMAX screens, similar to those used in Soarin’. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem takes the same idea, but the screen you watch in that attraction is nowhere near IMAX size. Still, the open air aspects of Universal’s motion simulators could be a lot more enjoyable for some who don’t enjoy being put in a box and moved around like at WDW.
4) Like Kali River Rapids? Try Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.
Kali River Rapids brought a raft attraction to WDW, something that was completely necessary to cool down on a summer day, but the main issue with the ride is typically only two people walk off soaking wet. This might be a good thing for those that want to experience the attraction and the conservation message, but if you’re looking to get soaked then head over to Islands of Adventure and ride Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. Most adults should know who Popeye actually is (most kids probably won’t), but knowing the characters is not at all necessary to enjoy this attraction. The ride is not short by any means and every single person that gets on will walk away from it completely drenched, the way it should be.
5) Like Splash Mountain? Try Jurassic Park River Adventure or Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls.
Splash Mountain was not the first themed log flume ride to exist. In fact, if Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter wasn’t such a fan of Knott’s Berry Farm’s Timber Mountain Log Ride then Splash Mountain would’ve probably never made it to a Disney theme park. Splash Mountain may be a classic Disney attraction, but Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls takes the concept and adds in way more water – almost on the same level as Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. Jurassic Park River Adventure goes even bigger with a massive drop and a lot more thrills due to out of control dinosaurs. Splash Mountain is a classic, but for more thrills and water look towards Islands of Adventure.
There are a lot of other attractions at Walt Disney World and Universal that are similar and our list doesn’t end here. To find out our complete list, check out episode 12 of the DIS Unplugged: Universal Edition where we discuss which other rides you should try at Universal Orlando depending on what you enjoy at Walt Disney World!
Watch episode 12 of the DIS Unplugged: Universal Edition here:
Listen to episode 12 of the DIS Unplugged: Universal Edition here: