If you’re traveling to Orlando with a toddler or preschooler, Universal Orlando resort may not be on your to do list.
To be honest, it hasn’t been on my radar for several years, too. The last time I visited was while I was in university and all I remember is roller coasters and other thrill rides – none of which I went on – I was just there to eat!
After 7 family vacations to Orlando – all centered around Disney parks – we decided to switch it up and try something new this year.
We took our two kids – 6 and 3 year old – to Universal Orlando Resort.
We spent almost the entire day exploring both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and were pleasantly surprised how kid and toddler friendly both parks were.
We played from 10AM to 6PM to give you an idea of how long we were there. That’s 23,000 steps according to my FitBit!
Here are 6 reasons to visit Universal Orlando with toddlers and preschoolers
1. Shorter Lines than Disney
If you’re a parent of young children, you probably already know that wait times can make or break a theme park visit.
There is nothing worse than waiting in the hot sun for minutes (and sometimes hours) for a ride or to see your favorite characters.
Universal Orlando has much shorter lines than Disney.
While there were plenty of families with young children in the two parks, the majority of guests during our visit were families with tweens and teens or adults.
Attractions like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and areas around the roller coasters were fairly crowded but in the children’s areas (Barney’s Indoor Playground, Curiouse George Goes to Town, Suess Lagoon, The Simpsons were our kids’ favorite), it was very easy to find an empty bench to rest and wait times for rides were always less than 10 minutes.
2. Only Two Parks to See
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are side by side and can be finished in two days with young children. This leaves a lot of time to do other things (like sleep and relax!) during a one week vacation.
3. Discovery and Children Play Areas are Well Themed
All the children play areas we visited are very well themed. From Barney’s Indoor Playground and The Simpsons area to the splash pad at Curious George Goes to Town and the whimsical rides at Seuss Lagoon – it really felt like we were on the set of our kids’ favorite cartoon, TV show or book.
4. Plenty of Shows and Character Meets to Delight Young Children
Theme park visits aren’t always about the rides and at Universal Orlando there’s plenty of shows, activities and character meets (Sponge Bob and Transformers were top of our kids’ list) to keep young kids happy.
5. Make Kids Feel Special with a Ride Certificate
The majority of the rides at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have height requirements – many ranging from 40 to 48 inches.
If your child doesn’t meet the minimum height requirement, you can ask a Universal staff member for a ride certificate.
This ride certificate allows your child to skip to the front of the line on a future visit when they’re tall enough.
6. Parents Can Have Fun Too – There’s Child Swap
For all the thrill seeking parents out there, you’ll be happy to know that there’s Child Swap at Universal Orlando Resort. Parents can trade watching the kids and go on their favorite rides without having to get in line again.
Harry Potter fans, make sure you take advantage of this!
If you’re looking for an alternative to a Disney vacation, Universal Orlando resort may fit the bill.
Just remember to bring or rent a stroller and wear your most comfortable shoes because there will be a ton of walking in your near future!