If you’re currently planning a vacation for a young family (with children aged five and under) or you’ve already booked a visit to Universal Orlando, here’s what you can expect for young kids and some tips for making the most of your visit:
(1) Plan for the Journey into the Theme Park
Universal is well-mapped out and easy to navigate so don’t let its size intimidate your family. In a nut shell, you park your vehicle, walk through the parking garage terminals, go through security and then head into the City Walk area (full of restaurants, shops, a movie theater and more) all before getting to the actual rides and attractions.
It’s an exciting time for young kids with so much to see. Everyone around you is full of excitement about arriving at the park and there’s a playful energy in the air. It takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the actual main gates of the parks. So just just a head’s up (in terms of potty breaks, snacks, waters, nursing etc)
(2) Bring Card Holders (preferably for around your neck if age-appropriate)
You’ll see a lot of experienced travelers with their clear, plastic pass holders. If you’re planning on getting the Express Pass (which we highly recommend if it’s within budget) you’ll want easy access to your pass. They’re just small slips of paper and could be easy to lose. So if you think you’ll be taking them in and out of your pocket/purse or the kids want to hold their own, we’d suggest getting a pass holder so you admittance stubs are secure, protected and ready for the rides!
(3) Map out your route: consider Seuss Landing in Adventure Island as a first stop!
When traveling with toddlers, you’re often on a more strict timeline than when vacationing with older kids. You’ll maximize all that Universal Orlando offers your little ones if you know where to go.
Starting the day at Seuss Landing is a great “break the ice” type experience for little kids. It’s very close to the entrance of “Islands of Adventure” and it’s on route to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s a colourful, interactive area with things to see and do at all eye-levels (even for those in the stroller or baby carrier). There’s cool-down water play areas, slides, mazes, concessions, character meet-n-greets, restrooms and so much more.
(4) Use Child Swap
Our 22-month-old son was able to go on two main rides in the Seuss Landing area: One-Fish-Two-Fish…
and the carousel ride.
He really wanted to get onto the overhead train ride, but try as we might, there’s no budging on their height restrictions. On certain rides though, Universal offers a Child Swap program where one parent can take one child on while the other waits in a special area. And then when the ride returns, the child can stay at the ride while the parents swap (so both adults can experience rides). You don’t have to wait in line all over again and that way all adults or older siblings get a turn on the exciting rides.
(5) Bring your Stroller & Supplies
There’s ample stroller parking in main areas that feature kiddie attractions so feel free to bring in what you’ll need. They do have rentals on site though for those who decide to get one at the park.
(6) Visit Universal Studios for 5:00pm
We stumbled upon a parade in Universal Studios at 5:00pm. Streets shut down and everyone watches as Dora & Friends and other popular characters dance through the streets. We compared this experience to the Disney Parade at 6:00pm and this is a superior experience.
(7) Take a Stroll in the Dark
A lot of traveling families message us because of their concerns about nap/bedtime. If you’re one of those families who needs to make sure their children rest, you can still make those most of these theme parks. We break the day up into two main parts: (a) we arrive at opening and stay until nap time at which time we head back to our hotel (b) we come back after nap and remain until the kids are visibly tired. Strolling around Universal Studios at night is engaging and trilling in and of itself. There’s so much to see, hear and smell as characters, shops and restaurants come to life in the dark. We’d put our kids into their jammies and walk slowly through the excitement until bedtime.
(8) Woody WoodPeckers Kid Zone & Fievel’s Play Ground
In Universal Studios, there’s an entire area dedicated to little ones. There’s an exciting toddler-friendly roller-coaster, a playground for small tots, Barney’s stage/store and a gigantic water park for those hot days.
The best part about these areas is that they’re somewhat contained so you don’t have to zig and zag through all of the thrill rides to get from one toddler-friendly ride to another.
Simply put, Universal Orlando is our one of our favorite amusement parks for pre-school aged kids. Despite its reputation as a thrill ride park (and other bloggers say your kids should be at least 8 years old to truly appreciate Universal) we find it to be a well thought out place for tots. We’ve visited twice nice with kids between the ages of 18 months and four-years and when we compare it to other experiences, it far surpasses most other locations.