You can have your fresh churros or the delicious sugary aroma of Voodoo Doughnuts — for me, there’s only one quintessential smell at Universal Orlando Resort. One scent that not only brings me back to my childhood, but also makes me feel at home. And no trip to Universal Orlando Resort is complete without me breathing in all of its wonderful awesomeness…
The smell of the forest in E.T. Adventure!
I visited Universal Studios Florida for the first time in the fall of 1990, just a few months after the park opened. I loved everything about it.
What I especially loved was getting, as the tagline promised, to ride the movies. And one of my favorites to ride was, hands down, E.T. Adventure. In the 80s, there were few things more awesome than E.T. So the fact that Universal Studios Florida was giving me the chance to actually ride a bike with E.T. himself in the basket?!? Pretty awesome.
Let’s fast forward to present day. Yesterday, to be specific, when I made a solo trip to Universal Studios Florida to ride this classic attraction. Here’s the story of my trip from the queue to E.T.’s home planet and then back to Earth — and all the facts and details you need to know as you prepare for your own adventure.
Standing in the queue for E.T. Adventure just feels special. As the only original ride from the park’s opening day still in existence, E.T. Adventure gives longtime guests the chance to continue to enjoy a beloved ride and newer guests the chance to experience a classic. And it all starts when you walk into the building and watch a video message from the film’s director, Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg cuts right to the chase. Bottom line, E.T. needs your help. There’s a big problem on E.T.’s home world, the Green Planet, which, inconveniently enough, is three million light-years away. As if that wasn’t enough stress, E.T.’s friends are in danger because their planet is dying. Hold on, there’s more: only E.T.’s magic healing touch can save his friends and bring his planet back to health and only you can bring him back to his planet. No pressure, right?
After you get your mission download from Spielberg, you continue through the queue where a Team Member will ask your name. They’ll give you an official Adventure Passport and you continue on your journey…
…right into the forest. This is the magic smell I described earlier. As soon as you walk into the forest, you’re greeted by giant redwoods and the unmistakable smell of fresh pine. As you venture deeper into the forest, you really feel like you’re on a movie set. The theming and immersion into the E.T. story is incredibly detailed. Keep an eye out for Bottanicus beaming down from his ship to deliver a special message and a Speak & Spell with the letters HELP ET on the screen.
OK, let’s do this. A Team Member will collect your Adventure Passport (spoiler: something really cool is going to happen) and then it’s time to board your bike to bring E.T. home, provide that healing touch, save his planet and bring everything and every creature back to health. You know the drill.
Once you’re on the bike, it’s on. You’ve got E.T. hidden safely in a basket and you’re racing through the forest, past police officers, scientists, and other officials who want nothing more than to stop your mission. These folks are serious, too! They’re coming at you from all sides, screaming things like, “They’ve got E.T.!” and “They’re getting away!” while jeeps and police cars make attempts to block your path. Fools! E.T. soon works his magic and your bike takes flight — out of the forest and over the city far, far below.
Now I don’t care how old you are or how many times you’ve been on E.T. Adventure. You can’t tell me you don’t get just a little bit emotional when you’re flying high above the city, all those twinkling lights below you, with that iconic score in the background. That, my friends, is riding the movies.
All the feels aside, your journey’s far from over. From here, you’re transported right to the Green Planet and, amidst the smoke and flashing lights, Bottanicus is there to welcome you. But again, there’s not a moment to lose. So you ride through the planet, all the while as E.T. is using his healing powers. All this leads to a big “you saved our planet” celebration worthy of, well, an extra-terrestrial.
Colorful lights, jumping water, and singing creatures make a big scene as everyone rejoices in the planet being saved from disaster. Wait, what? No, that’s nothing. There’s just, um, something in my eye. Ahem.
Anyway, there’s one last stop before your bike returns to Earth. Remember those Adventure Passport cards? Thanks to some Universal Studios Florida magic, your bike passes right by E.T. who says goodbye. To you. By name. I’ve been riding this attraction for 31 years and it’s still pretty cool.
Then — boom, bam, flash — you return to Earth (with a full heart that only comes from doing something amazing like saving a planet from destruction or smelling the pine scent of the forest in the queue).
RIDE DETAILS AND FUN FACTS
- Height requirement: 34”
- Under 48” requires supervising companion
- When the attraction originally opened in 1990, you could choose your mode of transportation: bike or spaceship!
- While walking through the forest in the queue, take a close look. You just might see two bunnies hiding in the bushes, as well as an owl on a tree branch.
On your way out of the attraction, be sure to stop by the E.T. Toy Closet. There, you’ll find a ton of cool merchandise (dolls, shirts, even red hoodies). This is also your chance to actually meet E.T. himself — and to leave with a photo to make all your Earth friends jealous. You can hop on a bike with E.T. and get a cool souvenir photo of you two flying past the moon or you can do what I did and cuddle up with E.T. in a set you’ll remember from the film.
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From my first visit to the Green Planet 31 years ago to my trip yesterday, E.T. Adventure still holds a special place in my heart. It’s a classic Universal Studios Florida attraction where, for just a few minutes, you forget about everything else and just simply immerse yourself in a wonderful story.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this classic Universal Studios Florida attraction! Share your memories of E.T. Adventure in the comments below.
Best. Ride. Ever.
P.S. My daughter’s name is Elliot❤️
E.T. is my all time favorite ride and we always make sure to go at least once every day we spend at Universal!
ET is one of my favorite rides, it holds such a special place in my heart from childhood. I hope it sticks around for a really long time.
We love E.T. Adventure and hope it never goes away!
Actually was on the crew that built that forest Que. I worked with Lexington Scenery and Props – our team did much of the creative art and paint across the original USF for the 1990 grand opening. ETs adventure was just one of the awesome rides we created and painted. Our team sculpted and painted the original trees and rocks in the Que area. Other rides we had our hands in was “Jaws”, “Ghostbusters Stage Show” and “King Kong”. Also was on the film crew of USF’s first movie “psycho IV” which starred Henry Thomas as young Norman Bates. Thanks for your awesome post!
One Of Our Favorites, all ages
E.T. Adventure is such an awesome ride!
Definitely one of my favorites at Universal Studios Florida!
ET is a family favorite ❤️
Love E.T. It’s a must-ride for any trip we make out to Orlando. Shame he hasn’t returned to the Hollywood park yet. I’m sure we could all use some more E.T.
My baby boy (2 yo) rode this like 7 times everytime we go to universal! And he falls asleep hearing a story about E.T… but not the movie… the ride!!!
This is my favourite thing from universal despite being a major Harry Potter and Jurassic park fan. The sense of nostalgia from a time period I wasn’t even alive in is incredible. It makes me feel like a kid again. The simplicity and aesthetic of it is so beautiful and leaves you to experience something like no other. I hope they never get rid of this ride. Nowadays it seems parks are all about screens. But in the E.T. Ride you genuinely feel like you’re there, not just sitting in a cart staring at screens. Wish they would make more rides like they used to.
Hi Lexie! We’re so happy to hear that you love E.T. Adventure as much as we do! We can’t wait to see you again soon so you can ride it!
Absolutely a must-do and my husband’s favorite attraction! Universal needs to figure out a way to bottle up the smell of this attraction and sell it because I would buy it and I know I’m not alone!
Hi Susie! We’re so glad that you enjoy this attraction! We appreciate the feedback and will share it with the proper leadership teams! We can’t wait to see you again soon!
Like the author, I remember the same things, riding this ride when the park opened and being amazed. Now, as a passholder of about 15 years (can’t even remember) I visit with my family (including my wife, who I met while working at dueling dragons) this was my son’s favorite ride when he was finally tall enough to ride. He’s now about to be 14, and he still lives going on this ride. Now his sister, almost 9 now, has followed in his footsteps. Such an emotional non-roller coaster, roller coaster of emotions with this ride. Universal has always been and will continue to be my happy place. THIS is the happiest place on earth!
Hi Corey! We’re so glad you’re a part of our Passholder family and have such great memories! We can’t wait to make more with you in the future! We look forward to seeing you again soon!
So I am assuming not a good ride for me if I don’t like heights?
Hey Brenda! Since you will board your flying bike and take off on a thrilling (but gentle) ride through the sky, there are times when it may feel like you are high off the ground!
E.T. is my all time favorite movie and favorite ride at Universal! I actually have an E.T. tattoo just to push it a step further, haha. I have all kinds of memorabilia and even have a few E.T. passports from the ride, don’t tell amyone;) Loved this article, as it really hits “home” for me.
Every time I go to Universal , E.T is always my must do ride! We always go on it several times each day. I would love it if they would do another E.T Movie!
We were there for our honeymoon in ‘93 and we loved the E.T. Ride! Gone are our other favorites, JAWS and Back to the Future but every time we travel to Orlando we make it a point to ride E.T. at least a couple times. Who know when they will decide to tear it down in favor of some new ride. Great nostalgia.
I love this ride, start to finish! One of the few rides in any park that I don’t mind waiting in a long line for. The walk through the forest is magical. 🙂
It’s a classic and a must every visit for sure! 🤩
Nailed it on the smell! It’s quintessential theme park nostalgia 👃
A scent we could never forget 😍
It’s a classic. I told my wife and kids we’re driving down there whenever we hear inevitable announcement about its closure.
Beautifully written! I visited the Florida theme parks for the first time, as an adult, in the early 1990s. ET was one of the first rides I went on and definitely one of the most magical, as it still is! We visited Universal again a number of years ago and stayed at a hotel on property, which gave us line-skipping privileges. After the ride I realized how big a part of the experience the line is – that amazing forest environment and the lovely scent (which I totally would purchase, along with many other theme park scents). My husband and I got back on the line just to experience those things!
Hi Lori, thank you so much for your kind words! That queue is one of our favorites in the park, and we love spending as much time as we can there. We can’t wait to see you back with Botanicus and ET soon!
This was one of my favorite rides as well. Along with Jaws,King kong,Earthquake and back to the future. And yes tears were in my eyes when we took flight. Brigs back great memories when I was a kid with my parents taking me an my younger brother there.
One of my son and my favorite rides! It’s always on the list to ride when we visit the park!
It’s truly a classic! We hope to see you again soon!
Unfortunately the store was closed thursday. We weren’t able to take the picture in the bike with ET. So Said..
Hi Aleta, we’re sorry you weren’t able to experience this amazing offering during your visit. Please feel free to reach out to Guest Services with any additional concerns you may have. They’re available at 407-224-4233 or at GuestServices@UnivesalOrlando.com. We hope you’ll be able to stop on here on your next visit.