Universal Orlando is the perfect place to take a family if you’re visiting Florida. Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, there’s something for everyone (I know this sounds cliche, but it’s true). In fact, my whole family preferred this amusement park to any other place we visited.
LOCATION: Universal Orlando Resort
DURATION: One day
DATE: Sept 25, 2015
WHO: Rick, Angie (pregnant), 1.5 year old boy, 10.5 year old boy
The park offers so many activities that it’s hard to fit them all into one visit. I’m hoping that if you’re reading our website, you’ve basically decided to go to Universal — you’re now simply looking for some advice from families who have been there, done that. So I will save you/me the lengthy description of all the fun rides and attractions and get right to some tips. Overall, from both a parent and child’s perspective, this place is a 5/5* on all fronts.
Both my 10 year old step-son and I agree that if you’re planning a trip to Orlando, this is a must-do, must-visit destination.
Tips for touring Universal with kids:
- Do your research and plan your route ahead of time. Depending on the ages of your family members, you’ll likely have different goals in mind. For our family, we went with a toddler and a tween so gearing our day toward kids’ areas was the focus. Start with your favorite attractions first and work backwards from there so you’re guaranteed to see your top picks and revisit your favorites.
- If traveling with kids under 2, start in Islands of Adventure. If you buy the ‘park to park‘ pass, you’ll have the option of visiting both Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios. For young kids, we recommend starting in Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure. For more on our experience here and why we loved Seuss Landing, click here. Then, when it gets hot head over to ‘Curious George Goes to Town’ and ‘Fievel’s Playland’ in Universal Studios (there are huge fans located here and lots of water parks for refreshment). All of the above specifically cater to toddlers.
- Buy the Express Pass. It might seem like a luxury, but if it’s within your budget, please do yourself a favour and buy the express pass. When you’re visiting these parks with kids and the sign at the entrance to a ride reads: “60 min” or “90 min” wait, you’ll be grateful you splurged on the Express Pass. With our passes, we boarded some rides right away while on others we waited a mere 15 minutes compared to those without passes who waited over an hour. Also, if you’ve got family members waiting for you at the exit, especially if we’re talking about infants/toddlers, you’ll want to expedite the line up process.
- Plan for the heat. The bottom line — unless you visit the park in the off season, it’s fricken hot. We went in September and the heat was stifling (88+ F). I can’t imagine being there in the thick of the summer months. I’d recommend packing cooling devices/agents like Ice Cold Towels, which provide a cold compress when wet, stroller fans for young infants and other cooling techniques that we’ve come up with over the years.
- Bring your stroller if your child fits in one. There’s ample stroller parking all over the park so you can ditch it in certain areas and explore. It’s a large park and once the kids get tired it’s nice to have a place to strap them in — especially for the longer walks between parks. So whether you normally use a stroller for your child, or not, this is the place to dust it off and bring it with you. It’s also a great way to store snacks, water, sunscreen etc.
- Child swap. We visited the park with a 10 year old and an infant, which meant we needed to divide and conquer some rides. Even if your kids are older you might encounter one wanting to ride and the other wanting to stay behind. Many rides offer a “child swap” area where everyone in your family lines up together but then one parent rides while the other stays behind with the child not wishing to ride. When the ride returns, the parents can switch off and the other gets to ride.
7. Ride the Rocket. I couldn’t finish a post about Universal Studios without recommending the “Rocket.” My step son isn’t the biggest fan of some of the larger rides (he didn’t want to do the ones in Harry Potter) but he quickly declared that this was his favorite coaster ever. If you’ve got kids that clear the height requirement, take the time to check out this coaster.
Overall, Universal Orlando is perfectly equipped for those of all ages. We were pleasantly surprised at how thought out the park is designed. They really cater to everyone from infants on up. The care put into the planning of the park is quite evident – from high-powered fans to provide infants with a breeze to ample water parks, this place deserves a 5-star reward.
For more information on taking young kids to Universal, click here to visit their official website.
For more of our thoughts on Seuss Landing (our favorite part of Islands of Adventure) click here.