We visited Universal Orlando three summers in a row. My Universal Studios with Kids tips post continues to be a favorite around here. The last two times we visited, went went with one of The Soccer Moms families and this is my friend Jen’s take on the trip, as her youngest is younger than mine. It was originally posted over on The Soccer Moms in summer 2015, but am sharing here for those of you who may have missed it. -Shell
When we first talked about a vacation at Universal Orlando, friends who had gone raved about what a fun place it was for older kids due to the larger thrill rides and the themes of the various attractions.
Our older two, at 9 and 11, were tall enough for every ride and they loved the roller coasters at Universal Orlando.
But there was plenty to do for our kindergartener as well. If you’re thinking about heading to Universal Orlando with a younger child, I’ll share your best bets and what you should know to help plan your visit.
Universal Studios Florida
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (40″ to ride) This 3-D motion ride that turns riders into Minions is a favorite.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (42″ to ride) This is a 3-D roller coaster type of ride that does go into completely dark areas, so consider your child before going on this ride, but our kindergartener loved it.
The Simpson’s Ride (40″ to ride) This motion ride was a little intense for the adults, but all the kids loved it.
Men in Black: Alien Attack (42″ to ride) Shoot aliens and rack up points as you go through this ride. The aliens part might make you think it’s scary, but it’s more cartoon-like than terrifying.
Fievel’s Playland Plenty to do in this area of the park, including a small waterslide on a raft where you might get a little damp, but not soaked
Animal Actors on Location Watch how animals are trained and perform in movies and on tv.
Also for the under 44″ set in Universal Studios Florida: Shrek 4D, Curious George Goes to Town, Universal’s Superstar Parade, E.T. Adventure, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Transformers( a favorite with our older kids, but might be a little overwhelming for younger kids), Twirl ‘n Hurl
Islands of Adventure
Seuss Landing This island will probably be your kindergartener’s favorite. The rides: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; The Cat in the Hat; Caro-Seuss-el, and The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride(only ride in Seuss Landing with a height restriction: 40″). Plus, there’s the If I Ran the Zoo play area.
Flight of the Hippogriff (36″ to ride) This was our kindergartener’s favorite ride between the two parks. It’s a small rollercoaster. If you go to the Hogwarts area of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the hour before the park opens when guests staying on property are allowed into the park, your child can ride this over and over again with little to no wait.
Pteranodon Flyers Fly through the sky on this ride. Adults may only ride if accompanied by a child 36-56″
Camp Jurassic This is another play area in the park, this one dinosaur themed. This is an area where your child may get wet.
Dudley DoRight’s Ripsaw Falls (44″ to ride) You could get wet on this log ride, though not as soaked as on the Bilge Rat Barges.
Also for the under 44″ set in Islands of Adventure: Me Ship the Olive, Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges, Jurassic Park River Adventure (some scary dinosaurs in this one and you will get wet if you sit in the first row or two), The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man(similar to Transformers)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Take the Hogwarts Express between the two parks. Even if your child is too young to have read the books or seen the movies, these areas of the park are still magical. In addition to the rides, there are many shows to watch. Be sure to go into Ollivanders Wand Shop and watch the wand choosing ceremony and purchase an interactive wand that your child can use in designated areas to perform spells. Honeydukes is an amazing candy shop, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes is a joke shop, and check out the Magical Menagerie for all the adorable animals.
If your child is too short for a certain ride, ask for a height certificate. When they are tall enough, they get to go to the very front of the line at that ride. Last year, our daughter was too short for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts but she used her height certificate to go to the front of the line with our whole family. Since this is one of the few rides where you can’t use your Express Pass, we were all happy to have had this with us!
No one really likes to wait in long ride lines, but it can be especially hard for the little ones. If you stay at one of the deluxe resorts on property (Loews Portofino Bay or Loews Royal Pacific or Hard Rock Hotel), your Express Passes are included with your stay for each day when you have park tickets.
Character Meet and Greets
Watch for these throughout the parks. If you’re looking for the Minions, they can be found in the dance area as you exit the Minion Mayhem ride during certain times of day.
My family attended Family Forward at Universal Orlando. With our paid conference fee, we received discounted park admission, hotel, and experiences like the VIP Tour. All opinions are my own.