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Nighttime lights at Hogwarts Castle, Universal

11 best new Universal Studios theme park attractions of the decade

The top Universal Studios theme park attractions of the decade.

As the decade draws to a close, we take a closer look at the 11 best new Universal Studios theme park attractions over the past 10 years. One name dominated new attractions arriving at Universal Studios theme parks over the past decade: Harry Potter.

by Brady MacDonald

brady-mcdonald-blooloop 50 theme park influencer 2019 judgeIn the past 10 years, the Boy Wizard was everywhere at Universal parks around the globe. From breathtaking themed lands to ground-breaking dark rides to thrilling roller coasters. But, beyond the Wizarding World, Universal also introduced many other new marquee attractions themed to major movie franchises. Here are the 11 best new Universal Studios theme park attractions from the past decade.

The best new Universal Studios theme park attractions

1) Original Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal opened the first theme park outpost of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010 at the Islands of Adventure in Florida.

At the centre of the themed land is a faithful recreation of Hogwarts Castle and Hogsmeade village. The spectacularly-detailed land is based on the Harry Potter books by author J.K. Rowling as well as the subsequent movie franchise.

The new land’s marquee attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The motion-based dark ride takes riders through scenes from the books and movies. Islands of Adventure’s former Dueling Dragons inverted roller coaster was reimagined as the Potter-themed Dragon Challenge. In addition to this, Wizarding World included a Flight of the Hippogriff family roller coaster.

theme parks can personalize the guest experience potter universal

Hogsmeade village also features a Three Broomsticks restaurant, Hog’s Head pub, Ollivanders wand shop and other shops from the fictional wizarding village.

2) Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley best new Universal Studios theme park attractionsThe second phase of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter debuted in 2014 at Universal Studios Florida. This featured a faithful recreation of Diagon Alley, the hidden London street in the Potterverse where wizards and witches shop.

Diagon Alley’s flagship attraction is the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts coaster-dark ride combo. Riders travel through Gringotts Bank as scenes from the Potter films are recreated on large projection screens and with detailed physical sets.

The two Potter-themed lands in Florida are also connected by the Hogwarts Express people-mover ride. The ride features special effects and video journeys that play in the train windows.

Diagon Alley includes the Leaky Cauldron restaurant, Ollivanders wand shop, Borgin and Burkes dark arts shop as well as other locations found in the fictional wizarding shopping area.

3) Universal Studios Singapore

The first Universal Studios theme park in Southeast Asia soft-opened in 2010, then held an official grand opening in 2011.

Universal Studios Singapore debuted with themed lands dedicated to Hollywood, New York, Egypt and science fiction as well as the Shrek, Jurassic Park and Madagascar franchises.

The marquee attraction was the problematic Battlestar Galactica duelling coaster, which underwent subsequent modifications. The more extreme Cylon track has inverted trains and five inversions. The Human track is intended to be more family-friendly.

In addition to this, the park plans to add more new themed lands dedicated to the Minions and Super Nintendo.

4) Wizarding World of Harry Potter clones

The success of the Harry Potter lands in Florida also prompted Universal to open Hogsmeade clones at its parks around the globe.

Wizarding Worlds debuted in 2014 at Universal Studios Japan and in 2016 at Universal Studios Hollywood. Both lands have Forbidden Journey dark rides and Hippogriff coasters.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the seven themed lands planned for the new Universal Studios Beijing theme park set to open in 2021.

5) Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure takes riders on a “story coaster” journey through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures from the Wizarding World.

Hogsmeade Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, story coaster

The multi-launch coaster opened in 2019 in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida. The ride features seven launches and a spike track element, as well as a drop-track segment.

The new Hagrid’s coaster replaced the Dragon Challenge duelling coaster in the Hogsmeade section of the park.

6) Transformers: The Ride

The 2010s also saw three Transformers 3D dark rides debut at Universal theme parks. Plus, there is another soon on the way.

Transformers: The Ride opened in 2011 at Universal Studios Singapore, then in 2012 at Universal Studios Hollywood and 2013 at Universal Studios Florida. The next Transformers attraction is planned for the new Universal Studios Beijing theme park, opening in 2021.

The motion-based dark rides travel past a series of massive curved screens depicting a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.

7) Springfield: Home of The Simpsons

The decade also saw The Simpsons simulator rides in Florida and California get incorporated into themed lands based on the animated television sitcom town of Springfield.

These towns include a Krusty Burger, Moe’s Tavern, Duff’s Brewery and Luigi’s Pizza as well as Phineas Q. Butterfat’s ice cream parlour.

The Simpsons, Universal Studios Florida

The Simpsons’ Springfield themed lands opened in 2013 at Universal Studios Florida and 2015 at Universal Studios Hollywood. The Orlando version of Springfield includes a Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n Hurl spinning ride. The classic flat ride is based on a Zamperla Aero Top Jet attraction.

The Simpsons simulator rides were both converted from their former Back to the Future themes in 2008.

8) Fast & Furious: Supercharged

Furthermore, two of the best new Universal Studios theme park attractions of the 2010s were Fast & Furious: Supercharged, based on the street racing film franchise.

The Universal Studios Hollywood version of the ride opened in 2015 as part of the Studio Tour. The Universal Studios Florida version arrived in 2018 as a stand-alone attraction.

Fast and Furious – Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida

The action in each of these Supercharged attractions follows a high-speed car chase that plays out on large screens. The Florida ride swaps the Hollywood backlot tour tram for a party bus.

Universal’s new Beijing park opening in 2021 will also boast a Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction.

9) Volcano Bay Water Park

Another of the best new Universal Studios theme park attractions is the Volcano Bay water park in Florida. This opened in 2017.

The park consists of four themed lands: Krakatau Volcano, Wave Village, River Village and Rainforest Village. Volcano Bay’s centrepiece mountain transforms from daytime waterfalls to nighttime lava flows.

Volcano Bay open Universal Orlando

The park’s Krakatau water coaster ascends the park’s 200-foot-tall volcano with the help of magnetic propulsion. The other attractions on the water park’s signature volcano include trap-door body slides and a manta ray-themed racing slide.

10) Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

The adorable yellow Minions from the Despicable Me film franchise arrived in the 2010s at Universal theme parks.

The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem motion simulator attraction opened in 2012 in Florida, 2014 in California and 2017 in Japan. The Singapore and Beijing parks will also get the rides in 2021.

universal beijing resort

The Minion Mayhem rides serve as anchor attractions in Minion-themed lands in the California and Japan parks. In addition, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Super Silly Fun Land features a Silly Swirly spinning ride.

11) Hollywood Dream: Backdrop

Finally, rounding off the list of the best new Universal Studios theme park attractions of the decade is a twist on an existing ride.

best new universal studios theme park attractions

In 2013, Universal Studios Japan turned around some trains on the Hollywood Dream roller coaster to create a backward version of the ride called Backdrop. On this, riders can’t see where they are going and can’t predict what will happen next.

The park still runs the Backdrop experience. The 144-foot-tall Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard hyper coaster reaches a top speed of 56 mph over a 3,900-foot-long track.

In conclusion, it’s been a great decade for new attractions. We’re excited to see what Universal has planned for the next 10 years.

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brady mcdonald

Brady MacDonald

Brady MacDonald is a freelance writer based in California. He wrote the Funland theme park blog for the Los Angeles Times for a decade. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, New York Newsday, Philadelphia Inquirer, Seattle Times, Orlando Sentinel and Orange County Register.

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