As much as I love hopping on the rides at Universal Orlando Resort, I have to be cautious because of my motion sickness. Rides such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey can quickly turn my day upside down. It's something I've had to deal with since I was a small froglet. My family learned about this — the hard way — when we did a spinning ride at a local fair. Let's just say that the words "funnel cake" stir up some bad memories.
If you’re like me and unfortunately suffer from motion sickness, then this post is for you. I'll let you in on my secrets and tips for overcoming motion sickness at Universal Orlando. That way, you can prepare for those motion simulator rides and roller coasters, which I'll break down with their potential triggers. Of course, there are also plenty of activities and experiences at the parks that you can still enjoy and avoid motion sickness!
Top Tips For Overcoming Motion Sickness at Universal Orlando
Plan, Plan and … PLAN
You can save yourself a headache — as well as a stomachache — if you do your research and know what rides have the biggest potential of inducing motion sickness at Universal Orlando. Showing up completely unaware that Revenge of the Mummy or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts can upset a sensitive stomach can quickly lead to a nightmare once the rides get going. You’ll want to know what rides have the biggest motion sickness potential. That’s why we’ve listed a few that have been known to turn me green (err... I should say greener). Hop here to see them now!
It should also be said that not everyone has the same type of motion sickness. High speeds may make you feel worse than a 3D ride. You may be fine with 3D ... as long as your seat doesn't move. Be aware of the factors that lead you to motion sickness and steer clear of the rides that have them!
Pack the Right Stuff
If you don't want to miss out on swinging with Spider-Man — even though this motion-sickness-inducing ride will shake your stomach — then I suggest packing the right products and using them. Bring plenty of Pepto Bismol (the pill form is most convenient while at the parks) or whatever nausea medicine works best for you. I find that Dramamine is the best for me. It's most handy if you're able to take one before you hop on a ride!
Want to try something more natural? Ginger root is known for its soothing elements. Try taking a ginger root supplement before and after, and drink plenty of water. Some people also swear by acupressure bands for overcoming motion sickness. I have yet to try this out, but hey, it is worth a shot!
Watch What and When You Eat
What I eat before I ride at Universal Orlando largely impacts my potential for getting sick. While it's hard to resist some good ole cheesy nachos, it might not be so great when I feel them slowly coming back up on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Slugulus Eructo! Bland foods are the best to soothe and prevent upset stomachs — think pretzels, crackers or a bland sandwich. Just try to avoid anything too spicy, sugary, greasy and fatty! Caffeine can also make an upset stomach worse.
Perhaps it sounds counter-intuitive, but avoid riding on an empty stomach (it may make you feel even worse). You wouldn’t want to chow down on a full meal minutes before jumping on a ride, either. The sweet spot is snacking on those bland foods about 30 minutes to an hour before going on the ride.
Sit in the Middle
Before you hop on the ride, strategically plan where to sit. Sitting in the middle tends to be more stable than on the sides, where you may feel more rocking and swaying. The same logic applies to roller coasters. Avoid the front and back rows. Generally, there will be ride attendants who assign rows at the loading station. Just politely request a middle row instead of switching spots so you don’t mess up the workflow.
While on the Ride
So, you didn't listen to any of the warnings, you went ALL IN at the Hot Dog Hall of Fame at CityWalk and didn't take a Dramamine before, and now you're sitting on TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3-D feeling pretty green ... what to do?
Believe me when I say this has happened plenty of times to me before. It can easily make a 4-minute ride feel like 30 minutes! If you find yourself in this situation, there are a couple of things you can do to try and ease the symptoms a bit. Try closing your eyes for the duration of the ride, lay your head on the head rest and keep it as still as possible! Take slow, deep breaths to help calm yourself. You could also try applying pressure at the top crease of your wrist with two fingers. (This works similar to an acupressure band.)
I'm not sure of the scientific reasoning behind this, but I always find smiling helps me get through a nauseating ride. Maybe it's convincing me that I'm having a great time or there really is something scientific ... whatever it is, it works for me! You'll find tricks that work for you, as well.
You love Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but you know it will knock you down for the rest of the day. Plan your day around it! Make sure whatever ride triggers your motion sickness the most is the final attraction of your day. It's never fun to walk around with the results of motion sickness at Universal Orlando, but knowing that they won't spoil your entire day can make things a little better.
Rides with the Biggest Potential for Motion Sickness at Universal Orlando
As promised, I'm going to break down the Universal Orlando rides that can induce motion sickness. Ranging from motion simulators to roller coasters, these rides have the potential to make you sick. Remember, what makes me sick might not trigger your motion sickness. Use this list simply as a guide.
Universal's Islands of Adventure
This ride is a 3D motion simulator. The ride vehicle also spins as you transition from screen to screen. For me personally, I can handle most of the ride … until the last couple of scenes. Not to spoil any specific story details, but once we begin swinging across New York City, my stomach is feeling something else that’s not spidey senses.
It’s Universal’s version of a spinning teacup-style ride. ‘Nuff said.
Overall, it’s fairly mild considering it’s a 3D motion simulator. For this ride, you’re sitting in a large, bus-sized vehicle (which by the way runs without a track — super cool!). There are large screens on both sides while the truck shakes with movement.
If only I could drink a potion that would prevent motion sickness on this ride (or really any, but especially this one)! Out of all the rides in Islands of Adventure, this one gets me the most nauseous. I don’t know if it’s because you’re pretty close to the screens or if it’s the ride’s unique robotic arm system, but you’ll definitely want to prepare for this one.
Oddly enough, I don’t get motion sickness on roller coasters as much as the simulator rides. However, I know other frogs avoid roller coasters for this reason! The Incredible Hulk has a grand total of seven inversions that can leave you dizzy and disoriented afterwards.
The newest Wizarding World attraction is a high-speed roller coaster that packs in seven launches, backwards motion and a vertical drop. Gotta know what you’re up against, right? I will say that I fared better while sitting in the sidecar than on top of the motorbike.
One of the smoothest rides on all of Universal property, I'm normally okay on this coaster. However, I did recently make the mistake of eating a big breakfast at Three Broomsticks prior to boarding and was feeling the consequences of my actions pretty soon after. Florida's fastest and tallest launch coaster, VelociCoaster features two launches, four inversions (including a zero-g stall and a barrel roll just above the lagoon) and a top hat that sends riders 155 feet in the air and down an 80-degree drop — making for a total of 12 seconds of airtime.
Universal Studios Florida
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a 3D motion simulator ride that includes short roller coaster sequences. The carts mildly spin between screens, as well. *Spoiler alert: There is a small drop at the beginning, but you can’t see how far down it goes, which could trigger motion sickness. Despite everything that happens, I don’t feel awful after this one. Must be magic!
Just the sight of the vertical lift and initial drop will probably have you shaking your head. However, that’s the “worst” part of the ride. It has a non-inverted loop (the first of its kind), which means you never truly go upside down. This roller coaster features multiple drops. If you don’t do well with that type of falling motion, sit this one out.
This roller coaster sometimes surprises frogs with its intensity since it is fully indoors. The more thrilling coaster sequences happen in very low lighting, so it’s hard to see the twists and turns. However, it does not go upside down. At one point, you move backwards for a short time. Lastly, there are some sudden stops.
The Simpsons Ride is notoriously known for being one of the worst rides for motion sickness at Universal Orlando. Even frogs who aren’t prone to motion sickness can feel a bit nauseous afterwards.
This 3D motion simulator ride is comparable to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man with slightly more intensity and a longer time in front of the screens.
It’s another 3D motion simulator. This time, you’re seated in a large flying theater that moves. Try to sit in the middle if you can.
The motion simulator ride originally had 3D elements, but it recently switched to 2D, making it a tamer experience for me. You can also sit in stationary seats at the front if you don’t want to deal with the rockiness.
I think the name of this ride is self-explanatory … yes, it is indeed a spinning ride. However, it truly isn’t as bad as it sounds. You fly your own saucer around an alien from Rigel 7 and can make it swoop up and down.
In this point-and-shoot interactive dark ride, it's all about aim. If your vehicle gets targeted by extra-terrestrial invaders, you can find yourself being spun around up to five or six during this four minute mission. You can't control how many times your own vehicle spins but you can control how many times other ride vehicles spin.
Alternative Experiences to Avoid Motion Sickness at Universal Orlando
Don't be discouraged if you think you won't be able to handle the motion simulators and roller coasters. You can still have a fantastic time at the parks, which have many shows, entertainment and other experiences to offer.
Universal Orlando has several sit-down and street-style shows that you don't want to miss. Over at Universal Studios Florida, be sure to watch the Universal Horror Make-Up Show (that's one of our favorite hidden gems!). You can also catch The Bourne Stuntacular and Animal Actors on Location. Tadpoles will love chatting with the shrunken head at the Knight Bus at Universal Studios Florida and catching up with beloved characters at Oh! The Stories You'll Hear! in Islands of Adventure.
The street-style shows are also loads of fun when you pass by them. We enjoy rocking out to The Blues Brothers and Beat Builders in Universal Studios Florida, or watching the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally in Hogsmeade.
Of course, you'll have to end the night with Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration. This nighttime spectacular uses water curtain projections, water fountains and fireworks to celebrate your favorite Universal Pictures movies and characters.
Character Greetings and Parade
Meet your favorite characters at the various character zones throughout both of the parks. We've got a separate post that covers everything you need to know about meet-and-greets at Universal Orlando.
Interactive Wand Experiences
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter provides a magical escape to both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. There are so many details packed into these immersive areas that you can spend lots of time just exploring. However, the best part has to be the interactive wand spots!
But first, you should head to Ollivanders (which can be found in both parks) and attend the Wand Choosing show. If you're lucky enough to be the wizard or witch that the wand maker selects, you'll be paired with the wand that chose you. Even if you're not the chosen one, it's fun to experience, and you can still pick out a wand after the show.
Once you've gotten an interactive wand, you'll get a map of the spots where you can perform magic with your wand! It's a dream come true for tadpoles and fully grown frogs alike.
What are your tips for overcoming motion sickness at Universal Orlando? Let us know in the comments below!