Universal Just Opened Its Most Intense Ride & It's Already One of the Park's Best

The new Jurassic World Velocicoaster opened at Universal Studios Florida on June 10, and it's intense.

velocicoaster review
Photo courtesy of Universal Studios
Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

Thrill-seekers will be glad to hear that Universal Studios Florida's newest attraction delivers on its promises of being an intense experience. 

The Jurassic World Velocicoaster opens on June 10 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and it might be the first time a Jurassic Park-themed ride has delivered on the kind of bone-shaking thrills you’d expect from a movie franchise that prides itself on intense moments, speed, and chaos. It's the third Jurassic ride in Islands of Adventure, following the all-ages Pteranadon Flyers and the animatronic-heavy River Adventure.

Like the park’s last big new ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, it’s a ride with a story, and you’re immersed in it from the second you start down the walkway toward the velociraptor paddock with twisted tracks snaking through the air above you.

jurassic park roller coaster
Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

The entrance is reminiscent of the very first moments of any Jurassic Park movie, where Robert Muldoon loads a velociraptor into its pen with the park's crew, but the raptor won't go in quietly and takes a park worker for dinner. Here, the concept is that you’re riding a roller coaster at Jurassic World where the raptors are intentionally set free to run alongside the coaster.

The comparison to the Hagrid ride may end there, though. The Harry Potter-themed ride is an immersive storytelling experience and a unique ride but isn’t best described as relentless. The Velocicoaster is relentless. 

The walk through the line—where you're sure to spend a lot of time before you reach your seat—is littered with easter eggs taken from the first movie, though the park says that there are also a couple of smaller easter eggs from the forthcoming Jurassic World: Dominion. You are welcomed by Mr. DNA and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, who recorded new videos for the ride). You’ll also pass by books by Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil), and Dr. Elie Sattler (Laura Dern), all of whom will return in Dominion. There are also animatronic velociraptors ready to break free, rattling their cages, muzzles poking out towards waiting riders. 

As you work your way through the line, the staff will ask you to put everything you have in a locker. You can’t have anything in your pockets for this ride, and for good reason. I was told I could wear my glasses, but I almost lost them, so I suggest glasses-wearers might want to put them in a locker as well. 

The ride starts slow. You roll forward at a leisurely pace into the raptor paddock. Screens behind metal cages show raptors waiting in the wings for their release. Once they're released, you're rocketed forward at raptor speed. It's one of two launches during the ride, the fastest of which hits 70 mph in just 2.4 seconds. 

All told, the ride includes those launches, multiple inversions, a 53-mph barrel roll over the Islands of Adventure lagoon, and what the park calls the ride's "Top Hat," which propels you 155 feet into the air, then twists into an 80-degree drop. That's the steepest drop at Universal to date. 

However, what makes this ride special is its design. Your chair is slightly tilted back, and your feet don’t quite reach the floor because of it. There’s a certain vulnerability in this. That feeling extends into the layout of the ride. Throughout the experience, you never really see what’s coming next, try as you might. The twisting track you can see ahead tricks you into thinking you know what’s around the corner—but you’re almost always wrong. The inversions, twists, barrel rolls, and steep drops come out of nowhere, often taking you by complete surprise. By the time you realize you’re finally hitting the big drop, you’re almost at the top. (The "Top Hat" both appears out of nowhere and comes after a launch, so it’s on you fast.)

Velocicoaster review
Photo courtesy of Universal Studios

The Velocicoaster is the ride that the Jurassic Park franchise deserves. It’s the kind of experience that emulates the thrills of the movies, and it is instantly one of the essential, must-ride attractions at Universal.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.