The Best New Universal Ride of Every Decade

Universal Adventurer

Universal Studios Orlando Florida Globe At Night

Universal theme parks are some of the best in the world, and throughout their entire history, they have made some amazing rides and attractions.

So today I am going to be running through the best new Universal ride or attraction of every decade. This will include only rides that are the first of their kind, not clones even if they are significantly changed. It will also not include studio tour scenes as attractions as they are merely parts of a much larger ride. This will consider rides from all Universal parks around the globe, including Port Aventura during the years that it was owned by Universal.

Due to the complex history of Universal Studios Hollywood, for the purposes of this list, we are starting in the 1970s as it is the first decade with enough attractions to warrant inclusion in this list.

The 1970s

This was the decade where Universal Studios Hollywood started to become the theme park it is today. While it was still mainly focused on shows in addition to the main studio tour experience, think a more extensive version of what the Warner Bros studio tour in Hollywood is today, they began becoming more elaborate, with some becoming classics of the parks.

One notable entry that I almost chose as the best of the decade was The Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show that became a classic of the park for an extended time, even coming eventually to the Orlando park.

Chicken Universal Animal Actors Show Universal Studios Hollywood

But the best new attraction of the decade was easily Universal's Animal Actors show. While it has gone through many iterations over the years, this show has become an icon of the Universal parks, becoming one of its longest-lasting elements. Its ability to constantly change and evolve with its fun and educational show make it the best show of the decade that brought Universal so many shows. It was the one that lasted, and the one that helped Universal find its footing.

The 1980s

This was yet another decade of shows, and relatively little that originated in this decade still remains at Universal Studios Hollywood.

There is really only one natural fit to choose for this decade, and despite it being relatively forgotten, and that is the Miami Vice stunt show.

Waterworld Stunt Show Universal Studios Hollywood 1990s

This show was not long-lived, but it paved the way for what is likely the best show Universal has ever built, Waterworld. This show is what allowed Universal to even attempt something on the level of Waterworld, let alone pull it off as well as they did.

The 1990s

The 1990s was when Universal started to really expand. This is when the first park in Florida opened, and Islands of Adventure opened to the public.

The parks also really started investing in traditional rides in this decade. There are so many choices that would fit as the best ride of the decade easily, including Jaws, ET Adventure, Kongfrontation, Back To The Future The Ride, and more. With two new parks, as well as additions to the original, this is easily the strongest decade yet.

The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman Ride Entrance Marvel Superhero Island Universal Islands of Adventure

But one ride at the end of the decade is the easy choice, and that is The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman.

This ride basically helped create an entirely new type of attraction that practically every ride being built today is modeled off of, a combination of a dark ride and motion simulator combining practical effects and screens. This ride is the reason we have modern hits at both Disney and Universal from Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to Star Wars Rise of the Resistance and more.

While somewhat common today, there was nothing like this when it opened, and it changed what a theme park ride could be. Even today it is still one of the best rides of all time in the world, not just at a Universal park.

The 2000s

This decade also saw a new park open, this time being Universal Studios Japan, as well as this decade including most of Universal's ownership of Port Aventura.

These parks ended up accounting for most of the new rides of the decade as the US added relatively few new rides following the economic impacts of 9/11 on the tourism industry. While the US did have some significant additions in this decade, including Men In Black Alien Attack, most of the additions in the US were just rethemes of pre-existing ride systems like The Simpsons Ride or relatively simple attractions like Shrek 4D.

Universal Revenge of the Mummy Ride Entrance Building Universal Studios Florida

While there are some strong attraction candidates internationally, including the Hollywood Dream roller coaster, the best attraction from this decade was the original version of Universal's Revenge of The Mummy attraction.

This ride perfectly captured the spirit of this version of The Mummy franchise, while managing to provide a highly themed and thrilling ride experience unlike anything else at the time, showing how themed an indoor roller coaster could be.

The 2010s

The 2010s is undeniably the strongest decade in the history of Universal parks. It saw amazing additions from Diagon Alley, to Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, to Skull Island Reign of Kong, to Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. But the best attraction of all is the one that caused all of these to happen.

Hogwarts Castle Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a ride unlike any other. Utilizing a brand new ride system, and taking the combination of screens and sets from Spiderman and putting it on steroids, this ride showed what Universal could be, a theme park company capable of building the best rides in the world, something they continued to do throughout the decade on a consistent basis.

This ride set the standard for all that followed, but it remains unmatched in its immersive nature and highly developed theming. This attraction not only created an amazing ride experience but allowed fans of the Harry Potter franchise to experience Hogwarts not only in the ride but on foot. This was the complete experience from entering the queue to exiting the gift shop that Universal has yet to match.

The 2020s

It may be a bit too early to judge this decade, being less than two years into it, but I am going to judge it based on the open attractions so far as of late 2021.

Already there are several strong contenders. The Secret Life of Pets ride is unlike anything Universal has done before. Velocicoaster is one of the best roller coasters in the world and an incredibly themed ride on top of that. Super Nintendo World, while not as revolutionary as it could have been, featured some incredible theming.

But what is undeniable about this decade so far is the opening of Universal Studios Beijing, where the best ride of the decade so far come from.

While many of the attractions in this park are clones, one of its original attractions stands out from the pack, that being the Jurassic World dark ride.

With no space confinements or need to utilize a preexisting ride system, Universal created an animatronic-filled, highly immersive experience that may be the best ride based on the franchise yet. It looks like a modern version of Disney's Dinosaur attraction, but with much more elaborate sets and modern technology.

This ride is a unique experience that takes some of Universal's best technology and turned it into one of the best rides ever built.

There are plenty of new rides that will come out this decade, and with Universal's Epic Universe on the way I doubt this will remain the best ride of the decade, but it holds the title at least for now.