Universal Orlando Resort with Kids
While we feel that Universal is not necessarily a great match for younger kids, that doesn't mean there aren't things there for the younger set to experience. Here are a few of our suggestions
If you are traveling with an infant:
- Make good use of "baby swapping". No, this does not involve trading your child in for another. Instead, it offers you the chance to ride a particular attraction while your wife/husband/significant other waits with your child. When you're finished on the ride, they get to go without having to get back on line. If you have children that are old enough to ride, they usually get to go twice (once with you, and once with the next adult). Make sure to tell the attendant at the loading area that you would like to do a baby swap.
Take the time to get familiar with the attractions located at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Some of them are VERY intense, and may not be suitable for all kids. Only you know what sorts of situations will scare your children, so pay attention to things like:
- Roller Coasters (Dragon Challenge, Incredible Hulk)
- Big drops (Ripsaw Falls, Jurassic Park River Adventure)>
- Dark rides (The Forbidden Journey, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Terminator 2-3D, Twister, Men in Black).
- Just plain scary rides (Jaws, Disaster, Revenge of the Mummy, Dr. Dooms Fear Fall)
Many of the attractions at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have height restrictions.
- Universal Studios:
Men in Black - 42 inches
Revenge of the Mummy - 48 inches
Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - 36 inches
Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast - 40 inches
- Islands of Adventure:
Dragon Challenge - 54 inches
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - 48 inches
Flight of the Hippogriff - 36 inches
Dr. Dooms Fearfall - 52 inches
Spiderman - 40 inches
Pteranodon Flyers - 36 - 56 inches
Popeye & Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges - 42 inches
Incredible Hulk Coaster - 54 inches
Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls - 44 inches
Jurassic Park River Adventure - 42 inches
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride - 34 inches
Some parents seem to enjoy berating cast members when their children are too small to enjoy an attraction. Here are some things to keep in mind. First, the cast members don't make the rules, the engineers who build the attractions do. Second, there is a really good reason why there are height restrictions. It's called safety. Parents who feel the rules don't apply to their kids, are usually the first ones to run to a lawyer when something goes wrong.
Here are some specific tips for touring with children:
ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
Before you enter the park, do yourself a favor and check the height requirement sign out front. It's a convenient way to figure out which attractions your kids will or won't be able to ride. No point rushing over to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey if your little one is just too little.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This is probably the reason you're at Islands of Adventure in the first place, so it's important to know what to expect.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an intense ride built around all-new technology. There are no sections in which you go upside down, but you'll come close. Please check all of the warnings and check out the test seat located outside the entrance of the ride. If your little ones are afraid of dark areas, loud noises or giant spiders, they may want to sit this one out.
- Dragon Challenge is an inverted (meaning that the track is ABOVE you, rather than below you) roller coaster with two trains. At times throughout the ride it will appear as though the two trains are going to collide, only to narrowly miss each other at the last moment. Make sure to check the height requirement first (54 inches).
- If your children don't meet the height requirement for Dragon Challenge or you think it will be too intense for them, they can get a roller coaster thrill by riding the Flight of the Hippogriff. While the coaster banks, turns, and goes up and down a few hills during its one-minute ride, there are no big loops or inversions. The height requirement for the Flight of the Hippogriff is 36 inches.
Seuss Landing is very kid-friendly. Fences, signs, and steps are intentionally set at a lower level for kids. What child has not read a Dr. Seuss book? The familiarity children have with the Seussian works will draw them in. Kids can also enjoy the rides on the island:
- "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" is a Dumbo ride with a twist. You sit in large fish and navigate up and down in a circle like the Dumbo ride at the Magic Kingdom, but you need to listen to the song to avoid getting wet. When the song says go down, you best go down or you will get a shower! When the song says go up, head to the sky. The last part is a free-for-all where you just choose a spot and hope you will not get wet.
- The Caro-Seuss-El is a carousel ride populated with various Seussian creatures. The creatures move up and down just like any other carousel. The Caro-Seuss-El is accommodating to handicapped guests. Handicapped guests roll their wheelchair into a special area on the Caro-Seuss-El and the area bobs up and down like the other creatures.
- The Cat in the Hat is a dark ride based on the popular book, but it spins you around. Kids have fun on this ride, but you may want to avoid the ride if yours have motion sickness.
- If I Ran the Zoo is a play area based on the book of the same name. The kids can crawl through holes, squirt water on a small island, play tic-tac-toe with Old Joe, and interact with many characters.
The Lost Continent:
Although the island may not appear kid-friendly, there are things for kids to do here.
Kids can be entertained by the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad show. The show can be loud at times, so check to see if your kids are scared by loud noises. Otherwise, the plot of the show is pretty easy to follow and once the action starts, the fights, swings, ducks, falls, and explosions continue until the end. The Sinbad characters can be seen roaming around the Lost Continent before and in between shows. Even if you cannot see the show, do not miss the Mystic Fountain at the entrance. The fountain talks back at you and tries to make you wet. Most of the time, it succeeds. Kids seem to have the most fun talking back to the fountain and trying to get it to squirt them.
Sinbad’s Bazaar has many carnival-type games at an extra cost. Your kids may want to knock down bottles to win the huge Scooby-Doo stuffed animal.
- If your children are not tall enough for the Jurassic Park River Adventure, they can meet a living Triceratops at the Triceratops Encounter. You can see one of three Triceratops: Sara, Topper, and Chris. The Triceratops will move, yell, and even go to the bathroom. Kids have a chance to pet the Triceratops if they are as tall as the fence surrounding the dinosaur.
- The Jurassic Park Discovery Center is a mini-science center where every exhibit is based on dinosaurs. Children can play You Bet Jurassic to test their dinosaur I.Q., they can X-ray the insides of a dinosaur egg, they can have their DNA sampled to create a new dinosaur, they can search for dinosaur bones in a rock, and they can “Be-A-Saur” by looking through VR glasses in a dinosaur model. If a dinosaur happens to hatch in the nursery, your child may be lucky enough to name the newborn.
- Camp Jurassic is another play area. Kids can run through caves, squirt each other, climb over rope bridges, and go down slides. Be careful because Camp Jurassic winds around a lot and it is easy to lose a child in there. Camp Jurassic is also home to the only ride exclusively for kids, Pterandon Flyers. Children must be 36 to 56 inches to ride. Anyone over 56 inches tall will need to ride with a child who meets the height requirement.
- If your kids still want to get wet, but they are too short for the Jurassic Park River Adventure, they can stand in the splash zone for a dousing. The splash zone is by the Thunder Falls Terrace. When a boat comes down, it splashes a huge wave that hits anyone standing in the splash zone. You may even get more wet in the splash zone than on the ride itself!
If your kids do not meet the 44-inch height requirement for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls or the 48-inch height requirement for Popeye and Bluto’s Bildge-Raft Barges, they can still have fun on Me Ship, the Olive. Me Ship, the Olive is a three-level interactive play area. It is Popeye’s ship modeled after his girlfriend. Kids can climb up and down the stairs, go down the slides, and play on a piano. An elevator is provided for those who cannot climb stairs. The most popular level is the second level. On this level, squirt guns are provided so you can nail the passing boats. Although the boat riders have a wetter experience in other parts of the ride, the squirt guns seem to annoy them the most. The guns bring out the little devils in children. The bridge to Popeye and Bluto’s Bildge-Raft Barges also has water cannons for 25 cents a shot.
Children can see their favorite Toon Lagoon characters around the island of during the Toon Trolley Show. Consult your park map for times.
Marvel Super Hero Island:
The three major rides on this island – The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Dr. Doom’s Fearfall, and the Incredible Hulk Coaster – have height requirements (40 inches, 52 inches, and 54 inches, respectfully). The only ride that doesn't is Storm Force Acceleration. This is a teacups clone that is themed after the X-Men and Storm. If your kids have motion sickness, they may want to avoid the ride. Otherwise, just sit and spin the control as fast as you can!
Marvel superheroes appear on the island throughout the day and during the Meet the Marvel Super Heroes parade. Consult your map for times.
- Shrek 4D - "Ogrevision" is used in following Shrek and Fiona as they head to their Honeymoon. This motion simulator features the voices of the original cast. There are no height restrictions and stationary seats are available for those with motion sensitivity.
- Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast - (40" Height requirement) - Jimmy Neutron has you board the Mark IV rocket and head out on an adventure featuring SpongeBob, the Fairly Odd Parents, Rugrats and Hey Arnold.
- The Simpsons Ride uses the same technology as its predecessor, "Back to the Future" which means if you or your child is sensitive to motion, you'll want to skip this one.
- Men in Black Alien Attack is a lot of fun. There is a 42" height requirement and is a must do if your kid is tall enough. It puts you in the middle of an arcade game shooting at targets. The "aliens" are so cartoonish that they shouldn't scare anyone.
Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone:
- Younger guests can watch A Day in the Park with Barney, starring their favorite purple dinosaur. Check your park map for showtimes. The show exits into Barney’s Backyard, an interactive play area where kids can make music, splash in water, or draw on the walls. Some activities are off-limits to those over 48 inches and 36 inches. Barney’s Backyard has its own entrance if you don’t wish to see the show.
- Curious George Goes to Town is a wet and dry play area based on the Curious George books. You can squirt people below with water cannons or be the one below who is being squirted. You can go through areas and play with different wet guns. Watch out because people above may be trying to dump water on you! If you hear a bell ring, you better know which way you are going because a huge bucket of water will be dumped on you! If you are not inclined to get wet, you can take the dry path to the ball room. You collect balls around the room and then, using the huge guns on the second level, shoot them at people. The balls are so soft and lightweight that they do not cause any pain. In fact, most people do not know that they have been hit!
- Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster is truly a kiddie coaster. It basically spirals you down to the end. The height requirement is 36 inches.
- Fievel’s Playland has many interactive play elements at a “mouse-eye view.” The centerpiece of the playland is the slide. You can take a two-person raft down a water slide.
- The Kidzone houses the E.T. Adventure. You venture aboard bikes to find E.T. and bring him back home to the green planet, where only his healing touch can save the dying planet. The ride can be scary for kids during the opening chase sequence, but it is pleasant after that. E.T. may even call your kids by name!
- Animal Actors on Location is a show where kids can see dogs, cats, monkeys, and other animals perform tricks. You can have your kids watch the show to see what well-trained pets are like.
Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone can be termed as “kid central.” This is an area devised for kids in mind.
Characters like Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Spongebob Squarepants,Lord Farquar, Shrek, Woody Woodpecker, and others make appearances in the Kidzone throughout the day. Check your park map for times.
- Disaster and Jaws can scare kids, so what else can they do in this area? They can see the Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue. There are loud pyrotechnics, but the show also has rock and roll tunes that can get the kids dancing on the bleachers.
- Fear Factor Live! involves audience members in a re-creation of the TV series. While only older guests will get picked, kids might enjoy seeing the stunts they're asked to do.
Twister is dark and loud. While Twister can be scary for kids, this area hosts the Blues Brothers show with tunes that will have them dancing. The show is standing room only, but the songs can be entertaining to kids. They’re not the Backstreet Boys, but your kids will probably not care.
This section is also home to the Revenge of the Mummy Attraction. It's very scary and is better off for older kids.
If you still are unsure if a certain ride would be good for your kids, consult with the ride attendant or Guest Relations. They will give you plenty of information.
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- Harbor Nights to be held October 17 at Portofino Bay Hotel - Guests will enjoy wine, gourmet food, complimentary hand-rolled cigars and live jazz on the Harbor Piazza at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.
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