Taking kids to Universal is a lot cheaper than taking them to Disney World. But it’s not quite as easy. The parks have plenty of kid focus activities but the kid areas tend to be very separate from the general areas of the parks.
Taking Kids to Universal Orlando
One exception is the very family-friendly Wizarding World which is sort of a park unto itself. Here are the tips for taking kids to Universal Orlando if you have never done so.
Study Up On Harry Potter
Probably the first thing you should do when you know you are taking kids to Universal is to brush up on your Harry Potter. Depending on how much time your vacation dates allow, you should delve deep into the Wizarding World. That means books, movies and of course, the parks. Universal Studios has lands dedicated to Harry Potter lore in not one but two Universal Orlando theme parks. That means you will need to do your homework and play things just right if you want to optimize your immersive experience.
For starters, it’s best if you purchase park to park tickets. It’s the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express. This attraction provides actual transportation, seamlessly connecting Diagon Alley in Universal Studios to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure!
Both Wizarding World realms are full of details and interactive elements to discover as well as their own unique dining and shopping experiences. You can easily dedicate almost a full day to just exploring these two areas. The attractions in the Wizarding World include:
- Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts in Universal Studios
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in Islands of Adventure
- Flight of the Hippogriff in Islands of Adventure
- Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure in Islands of Adventure
- Hogwarts Express at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios
Do a Complete KidZone Breakdown
Universal is a typical theme park in the way that there are predominantly thrill rides with a section or two separated for the little ones. That’s not to say that kids can’t enjoy most universal attractions, but many of them can be prohibitive if you have very small children. For those youngsters, there are designated areas in each theme park to enjoy.
As part of the Woody Woodpecker KidZone, Universal Studios’ kid friendly area was recently revitalized with an updated look and premise. in Dreamworks Destination. This fun interactive character meet and greet experience is just one of many character encounters you can enjoy around the park. Kids can also meet the Simpsons on their way to Kang & Kodos Twirl and Hurl, or the Transformers.
Rides kids will love include Minion Mayhem, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster and E.T. Adventure.
Islands of Adventure
At the Islands of Adventure there are more attractions for little ones and more environments for them to enjoy. Marvel Superhero Island has Storm Force Accelatron, which is a fast spinning ride you can somewhat control the speed on. Kids over 44 inches might like Dudley Do-Right’s RipSaw Falls, but Seuss Landing is the number one spot in Islands of Adventure for every kid to enjoy. Seuss Landing includes attractions such as:
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
- Cat in the Hat (show)
One Fish, Two Fish… is a spinner ride like Dumbo, but it includes instructions for kids to go up or down in order to miss getting splashed with water. That makes it a great learning experience and a lot of fun! The show includes Cat in the Hat, Things 1 & 2, The Grinch, and Sam (from Green Eggs and Ham)
Even Volcano Bay has its spots where little ones can be safe and have fun. Runnamucca Reef and Tot Tiki Reef are ideal places to take little ones on a day at the water park.
CityWalk for Kids
A huge part of the Universal Orlando experience is the City Walk and it’s so important to know what is there for kids so that you can take advantage of any extra time while you are hanging around the resort. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is essential when taking kids to Universal. They have incredible milkshakes and other delectable delicacies made with artisan chocolate. Besides being a confectionary, it’s also a full-service restaurant and bar. You can find it between Hard Rock Cafe and Islands of Adventure.
On the other side of the Universal CityWalk, you’ll find miniature golf courses and a Cinemark Movie theater, this is the perfect place to end a day of excitement at the parks, or enjoy some time off from the hustle and bustle.
Another family restaurant to be sure and enjoy is Bigfire. This is a charming little restaurant ideal for families. It’s built to evoke feelings and memories of a lakeside vacation home. The Smores is a shareable dessert that is sure to become a new favorite memory.
Best Universal Resorts for Kids
Just as some areas in Universal parks are better for kids than others, some resorts may be best for kids too. When traveling as a family the cost is always higher, so more affordable resort options are very appealing when taking kids to Universal. Even so, when compared with the prices at Walt Disney World, even the top tier hotels are reasonably priced and come with some theme park perks to consider such as Access Passes and early park entry. Universal Orlando is a fairly compact resort and the transportation makes most hotels very accessible from the parks. However, the easiest access is often the best, if you have very small children and want each day to go smoothly.
For this reason, I recommend either the family suites at Endless Summer or Cabana Bay when taking kids to Universal. Each is inexpensive with well-themed lodging. Cabana Bay has an especially fun retro theme and a cool bowling alley.
On the other end of the pricing spectrum with more perks and a nicer way to get to the parks is Portofino Bay. They’ll take you on a cruise down the river to the end of CityWalk to begin your day’s adventures.
Wherever you decide to stay and whatever activities you plan, you’ll be sure to have a great vacation when you are taking the kids to Universal Orlando!