The Absolutely Best Ride at Universal Studios Orlando

It wasn’t what you’d expect.

It was NOT, for example, Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey.

HP line

Although my experience with that ride may have been soured by the 60-minute wait, which we had to endure despite sprinting to the ride the moment the park opened, and which felt at least three times that long, because I spent it alternately listening to my 10-year-old denounce — bitterly and at great length — our decision to skip the single-rider line (“we could have ridden it TWICE by now!”); my 12-year-old’s increasingly urgent pleas to abandon the line so he could pee (Me: “why didn’t you say something when we ran by that restroom in Seuss Landing?” Him: “I tried! You were running too fast!”); and my wife’s extended, Hamlet-worthy monologue on the subject of whether she might throw up her breakfast buffet from the Hilton (“I’m not used to eating eggs at this hour… Look at that warning sign: ‘This vehicle will suddenly accelerate, stop, turn, climb, and drop?’ Seriously, I’m really worried about this… Should I just wait for you in ‘child swap’?”).

Nor was it the Spiderman ride, which we went on immediately after the Harry Potter ride, and which, quite honestly, seemed like EXACTLY THE SAME RIDE, only with Dr. Octopus sneering at us instead of Draco Malfoy.


And it wasn’t the Hulk coaster. It would have been, but I spent the whole ride terrified that my wallet was falling out of my shorts.

It wasn’t the Rock-It coaster, either. In theory, I did appreciate the ability to choose my own personal soundtrack to enhance my roller coaster experience. But in practice, it was enormously distracting: I spent the first half of the ride mystified as to why I’d never heard of half the bands in the “hard rock” category, and the second half mentally disputing the placement of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in the hip-hop section (yes, THEY are hip-hop; IT, however, is not).

Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall was automatically disqualified for requiring me to wait 25 minutes to sit on a ride that lasted less than ten seconds. (“WHOOO! Wait–that’s it?” “Yes. Get off.”)

The Twister ride was just godawful — a fifteen-minute forced viewing of Bill Paxtonpaxton hair talking about the “awesome, primal force” of tornados while sporting a haircut that must have already looked ridiculous back when the footage was shot in 1995, followed by somebody spritzing water on my head while dangling a giant plastic cow on a rope halfway across the room.

The Simpsons ride almost made the cut, but I just can’t bring myself to vote for a ride that force-pumps the smell of diapers into my face.

No. In the end, none of those rides delivered the kind of shocking, scream-out-loud-in-terror thrills of THE ABSOLUTELY BEST RIDE AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO:

The auto flush toilet in the restroom across from the Classic Monsters Cafe.

Because it was scary, and violent, and I never saw it coming.

auto flush

I was just sitting there (literally), minding my own business (figuratively), when a roaring noise like the space shuttle launch filled my ears, and the formerly placid water just inches below my most tender anatomical parts was suddenly transformed into a savagely churning maelstrom of gallons — literally, GALLONS — of water, fire-hosing through the bowl with an inhuman fury that even Bill Paxton’s liberal use of adjectival superlatives would have failed to adequately describe.

And it did not stop. Oh, no. It did not. It kept going, and going, and going…long past the point at which — had this been, say, Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall — my shoulder harness would have magically unbuckled itself and a pimply twenty-year-old in a polyester shirt would have given me a transparently insincere thumbs up and ordered me to exit to my left.

I do not exaggerate when I say that my screams could be heard as far away as Revenge of the Mummy.

But as thrilling as it was, when it finally ended — EVEN THOUGH the wait time was less than five minutes — I did not get back in line to ride it again.

Once was enough.

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