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.