So you’ve made it to Universal Orlando, and you’re ready to head to the parks and ride all the major headliners. While any seat on the major attractions is plenty of fun, there are certain spots that can enhance the ride experience even more. Today, I will share with you a list of my personal favorite seats to grab on Universal’s major attractions that will bump your ride up a notch and give you the absolute best thrill possible!
Dragon Challenge – front row
Located inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Dragon Challenge is definitely a personal favorite. Unless the line is obscenely long, you really want to go for the front row on this one, no matter if you choose to ride Hungarian Horntail (the blue one) or Chinese Fireball (the red one). Front row seats are always the best on an inverted coaster because every other row provides a view guests’ feet and track machinery, due to the entire track system actually being above your head. Dragon Challenge is no exception, so head for the front row to have an unobstructed view of several areas of the resort on your high-speed adventure.
Are you still upset the coasters don’t run in dueling mode anymore? Fear not! With the Wizarding World expansion completed, both dragons have a section that goes right by Hogsmeade Station. I rode these recently, and I can tell you this visual near-miss on the front row is a thrilling addition to this ride. The Hungarian Horntail coaster also has an additional visual near-miss when it looks as though you’ll run into the castle section of the queue. While the dueling is missed by many, the front row on both sides of Dragon Challenge is still well worth the extra wait to experience a truly thrilling flight in Harry Potter’s world.
Incredible Hulk Coaster – back row
Wait, what? The front row isn’t the best? Well, the front row is cool and does provide the best visual experience for riders, but I’ve often found that the front row wait is significantly longer on Hulk than the wait for any of the other rows. Since this is a standard sit-down coaster with only eight total rows of seats, every row provides a similar enough visual field for everyone. Also, after you’ve ascended from the underground water tunnel section, the ride doesn’t have a lot of visual pizzazz to look at, and instead it continues the focus on one of its main aspects – awesome speed.
The back row seats enhance that feeling of speed by making you feel like you’re being pulled along with the car. Every turn becomes a little zippier, the launch becomes a little crazier, and the overall ride becomes a little more intense. Ride this bad boy in the back and experience this coaster in all its glorious rage…and save yourself a little time in line.
Spider-Man & Transformers – front row
Before the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man underwent its 4K HD makeover in spring 2012, the 3D effects actually used to be a bit better in the back row. The refurbishment has changed that, and the same level of clarity can now be found on any row. This is also true with Transformers: The Ride, which is equipped with the same 4k HD technology. Now with the 3D experience being perfect from any seat, it’s definitely best to sit right in the front row of the three rows in each ride vehicle.
Being in the front row will put you face to face with all the physical props and make the movie screen moments seem literally in your face. During those moments when a character jumps onto your car, points right at you or throws something at you, you’ll really feel like the experience is actually happening. Both rides are amazing no matter where you sit, but the front row creates the sensation of a movie brought to life, where you’re the co-star riding along with big-screen heroes to save the day.
Mummy & Rip Ride Rockit – back row
Again, the back row seats on both of these coaster rides are a bit more intense than the front row ones. They both also follow the rules of the Hulk coaster, where a huge visual element won’t be sorely missed by sitting in the back. When experiencing Revenge of the Mummy and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit from the back, every turn and drop gives you more of a feeling of being pulled along with the rest of the car. The most dramatic “pull” in Revenge of the Mummy is right after the dramatic launch, when the more intense roller coaster portion begins. The most dramatic “pull” in Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is right after the vertical lift is about to dump you into the first drop. When you’re in the very back of the ride vehicle during these moments, you increase your airtime and speed, and you’ll be propelled into an awesome experience… just keep remembering to smile for the camera.
One more tip: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is also really cool on the right side (your right as you’re sitting in the seats, facing the lifthill). From the right side, you’ll more clearly see Universal Studios on the first brake run, and you’ll really be tilted on the jump cut section near the ride’s entrance.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – back row
Diagon Alley’s signature attraction may not be the traditional thrill ride some fans were hoping for. Nevertheless, a more intense experience can be found by sitting in the back. This row (number 6) provides a taller drop at the beginning of the top than any of the other rows, and like most other coasters, the back row also provides for a more forceful experience. If you’re really looking to max out the intensity of Gringotts, I can tell you the far left seat of the back row equates to the most intense visit to the vaults that’s possible.
If you’re concerned about not being able to see from six rows back during the 3D portions, you needn’t be! Gringotts employs stadium seating, allowing for guests in the back row to be able to see the show as well. In addition, an argument can be made that the 3D is actually better from the back: in select rows, specifically row 1 and row 4, you’ll find yourself very close to the screen in some scenes. This results in a less than satisfactory 3D experience, with characters feeling somewhat flat. When you’re in row 6, you’re guaranteeing that you’re far enough away from the scene that the characters pop out and really seem real. In some sense, the best of both worlds can be found from the back row.
If you’ve got more tips to add, or you think you’ve found a better seat, please feel free to leave a comment below. Otherwise, if you’d like to learn more about any of these attractions, read real guest reviews, or share your own review, just jump over to the OI Universal Center.
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