1. Everything is so close together
One of the best things about Universal Orlando is the convenience when you are staying at an onsite resort. All of their hotels are within walking distance of the parks, and most have complimentary water taxis that will take you to the parks in a matter of minutes. That means no packing up strollers and waiting for buses! If your child is getting tired in the middle of the day, you can be back at your hotel for a midday nap in a matter of minutes.
Located in Islands of Adventure, Seuss Landing is an area that is totally dedicated to kids. The theming is so bright and whimsical, and you can meet classic characters like Sam I Am and the Lorax. From reliving the classic stories in the Cat in the Hat dark ride and the High in the Sky Trolley Ride, to fun for little ones on One Fish Two Fish and the interactive walk through If I Ran the Zoo, this magical land offers something for kids both big and small.
3. Fun with Water in Toon Lagoon
Kids LOVE water, and Toon Lagoon is the perfect place for little ones to cool down on those hot summer days. As you walk through this classic cartoon land in Islands of Adventure, there are water fountains and spouts throughout the landscape that kids love to run through. There are also some great photo spots for parents to capture these fun moments. Me Ship The Olive is an interactive water playground where kids can shoot unsuspecting guests riding Bilge Rat Barges, where you will definitely get soaked! Bigger kids can board a log and follow everyone’s favourite Mountie Dudley Do Right on an adventure on Ripsaw Falls. Speaking of water, don’t forget Volcano Bay is open, with lots of attractions for kids of all ages!
For some little ones, although they might be young, they want to go fast! Many of the rides that are considered thrill rides at Universal Orlando actually have quite small height requirements, which allows younger guests to experience some of the “big kid” rides. Rides like Jurassic Park River Adventure, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Transformers and Men in Black all of height requirements of 42 inches or less, which make them accessible for many kids. I went on the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman with a four year old, and it ended up being her favourite ride!
5. Fun Character Interactions
Universal has so many unique character experiences that kids of all ages love. Whether it’s talking to Optimus Prime, goofing off with Shrek, posing with Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe, or watching the Marvel Superhero’s ride through the streets on their four wheelers, you never know who you meet run into. What’s great about meeting the characters at Universal Orlando, is that they are often found just roaming around the park, and usually don’t have long lineups to take a photo.
Aside from the two marquee attractions, there is so much to see and do in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, much of which is accessible to kids. One of the most popular experiences is Ollivander’s wand shop. Ollivander chooses a wizard from the crowd, and they get the full experience of the wand choosing the wizard, just like Harry did in the Philosopher’s Stone. Wands are available for purchase in many of the stores, and the best part is that they are interactive! There are special magical spots throughout the wizarding world where young witches and wizards can perform spells with their new wands and watch what happens! Other highlights include trying on robes at Madame Malkin’s, eating at the Three Broomsticks or the Leaky Cauldron, and tasting sweet treats from Honeydukes sweet shop and Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlour. After they have enjoyed taking in all of the details in either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, they can hop on the Hogwarts Express and experience a whole other theme park!
7. Family Rooms for Rider Swap
If you have a little one with you who is not yet tall enough to ride a particular attraction, Universal has a great rider swap program. When you get to the front of the line, one person in your party stays with the child in the rider swap room. Most of the rider swap areas are air conditioned rooms, with TVs showing programming for the kids to watch, all within the theme of the ride. The best part is that when the rest of your party is done riding, one person switches, and everyone else gets to ride again with them! For rides like Escape from Gringotts and The Forbidden Journey that have amazing queue experiences, there is also an option to do a walk through, so you are still able to experience the theming, even if you can’t yet go on the attraction.
8. No Need For Dining Reservations
Universal has so many amazing dining options available, and the best part is that you don’t need to make advanced dining reservations for most locations. It can be hard with kids to know when they will be hungry, or when they will be tired, which can make planning your dining reservations in advance tricky. At Universal, whenever your family decides its time to eat, not only can they pick a spot in the parks, they also have all of City Walk a short walk away. I’ve eaten at the Hard Rock Cafe, Margaritaville, Cowfish, and many more, all without a reservation. Whenever you need a break from the park, just walk on over!
All of the onsite hotels and Universal Orlando Resort are highly themed, and have great pools and activities for those days when you aren’t visiting a theme park. The best part is that Universal encourages pool hopping within the resorts, so you can experience any of the pools when you are staying on-site. With poolside table games like ping pong, in pool movies, and a relaxing atmosphere for parents to also enjoy, the pools are a great option to let kids let loose. The hotels also have other activities for kids, such as arcades and arts and crafts. Cabana Bay even has a bowling alley that you can book! Don’t forget to check out some of the family friendly dining options at the hotels as well, like the Hawaiian Luau at Royal Pacific.
10. Universal’s Photo Packages
Adding a Photo Package to your Universal vacation is a great way to capture some really fun moments with your family. In addition to ride photos and character interactions, there are so many great spots around the parks that are great photo ops. Kids love posing with the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, or dancing with the Minions at Universal Studios Florida. Many of these photo ops don’t even require a photographer. You simply scan your photopass and hop into the frame!
11. Kids Play Areas
Within all three Universal parks, there are fantastic play areas for little ones to enjoy. Whether it’s exploring the colourful Runamukka Reef at Volcano Bay, climbing through Feivel’s Playground at Universal Studios, or discovering about dinosaurs at Camp Jurassic, there is fun and excitement around every corner geared towards the smallest adventurers. Each of the children’s areas only has one entrance/exit point, so parents can let their little ones play freely without worrying about them leaving the area on their own. These areas are so well themed and have so much to experience that kids can run around and explore for hours on end.
Giselle is our certified Authorized Universal Travel Professional.