Best seats in the house: Where to sit for the most intense thrills on Universal’s biggest rides

Best seats in the house: Where to sit for the most intense thrills on Universal’s biggest rides

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.

Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure.

Dragon Challenge at Islands of 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 Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure.

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.

Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Florida.

Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Florida.

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.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida.

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.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

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.

 

Taylor

About the author

Taylor is a theme park junkie (primarily aligned with Universal Orlando), eight-year seasoned fan of Halloween Horror Nights, three-year season seat owner with the NHL's Florida Panthers, and the Community Manager of the OI Forums. For more, follow Taylor on Twitter.
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24 comments
KatieLail
KatieLail

I have been on Rip Ride Rockit several times. Most of the time in the back but on my last trip this October we got the very front row. I must say it made the ride alot scarier. Something about seeing nothing but track right infront of you on this thing just made for a much more intense experience. Everyone should ride front row atleast once and you will know what I'm talking about.

Nancy Dyck
Nancy Dyck

Two years now I've chickened out on the Hulk. Maybe next year I'll suck it up and ride!

Ashley Roberts Nelson
Ashley Roberts Nelson

Nice post. I also like the front row for Mummy, the launch into the dark of the coaster section is awesome.

Jason Gillo
Jason Gillo

Rows 3/6 for Gringotts on the outside seats. As for Dragon Challenge...Hungarian Horntails Front Row Left Side, Chinese Fireball Back Row Right side (when sitting in the train) but totally agree with everything else :)

Emmett Gulley
Emmett Gulley

Sat in the very front for Gringotts but it's way too short of a ride, other then that, i loved it

Joshua Zeff
Joshua Zeff

4th row on escape from gringots! Breath taking experience.

sxcymike83
sxcymike83

Any particular reason why they stop running the coaster in dueling mode?

CaptainVictorya
CaptainVictorya

Also on any of the rides it is better to sit on the ends in the case where there are more than two seat across. This works great for the roller coasters and you can see more. It doesn't work on Spiderman and Transformers, but its great for other rides.

Also, My family has found that the best place to sit for MIB: Alien Attack is the front row, seat farthest to the right (if you are sitting in it) and of course the left track.

Joshua Zeff
Joshua Zeff

Just wanted to add the back right seat on revenge of the mummy is probably the most intense thing in all of universal. After the main drop shoot out where he "your souls are his" You get a 0 gravity effect for a brief second! Worth waiting for!

CaptainAction
CaptainAction

I like the front row of the Mummy but you can almost miss some of the special effects. The last row gives you more time to see the fireballs and the mummies who jump up on each side in the treasure room. It's difficult to see some of the mummies arise on each side when you are in the front row and the fireballs happen just as you are passing.

Gary Pounds
Gary Pounds

I'm a row 8 junkie for hulk. That zero g roll. Mmmmm

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