Universal Orlando Resort is known as the theme park that grew up. It’s for the kids and their parents who are ready for something beyond the Mouse. Bigger, more intense rides are on the horizon for them. Cinematics play a huge part in these rides, as do the 3D and 4D experiences.
But what about the younger brothers and sisters, and the mom who hates roller coasters but is married to a coaster junkie? Do these family members have a place at Universal Orlando Resort too? Of course!
DISCOVERING UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT WITH YOUNG KIDS
While wandering Universal Orlando Resort with my youngest, we put both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida to the test. I wanted to know what a six-year-old boy could handle. You see, my youngest is nervous when it comes to rides.
Just as his brother had a fear of mascots and characters as a toddler, so too is my youngest hesitant on rides due to a bad experience early on. You wouldn’t like rides either if you had a 103.7 fever on the tea cups and your mom was too dumb to realize you were sick until later that day.
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So, we started out slow, after a false start. I say false start, because I threw him on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts because he said he was ready. He was not.
But after a little exploring, these are the experiences we found that he enjoyed the most, along with the other kids his age and younger.
Some six-year-olds are thrill seekers. My son was certainly tall enough to be more adventurous. However, like his mom, he is a bit more cautious when it comes to speed.
He’s not a huge fan of 3D either, which you would think is a problem at Universal Orlando Resort. Thankfully, it isn’t.
BEST UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT RIDES
When you have a nervous younger child at Universal Orlando, take them to Seuss Landing. All of their familiar book friends will be there. More familiar rides, without 3D or 4D, will be there as well.
The predictable carousel comes to life with Seuss-filled characters that bobbed up and down. Sit on a bench or climb aboard a new friend. Parents are welcome to stand beside their child, just hang on tight.
I say start here, because the carousel is something that most kids are familiar with and can tolerate. We parents like to get those baby photos on a carousel, which acclimates our kids early on. By starting on this ride, you will ease your child into Seuss Landing and the characters they can continue to explore.
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THE HIGH IN THE SKY SEUSS TROLLY TRAIN RIDE!
Who doesn’t love a train? Well, this train takes the ride to a whole new level, literally. Follow the track above Seuss Landing as you wave at everyone down below. The slow pace is just right for younger kids (and scaredy-cat moms). Just watch out—your kid may want to ride it over and over again. That Express Pass will come in handy.
ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH
Once you’ve ridden above Seuss Landing, you may be ready to swirl around like a fish. Water is involved in this ride, which can take a bit of the fear out for young kids. Why? Because they will be so busy trying to get their parents wet they won’t care what else is going on.
TIP: If you don’t want to get wet, just make the fish go as high as you can (it will make sense once you see the ride).
KANG & KODOS’ TWIRL ‘N’ HURL
If your older child has worn out the Men in Black Alien Attack ride in Universal Studios Florida and you’re ready to venture out of Seuss Landing, head to Springfield: Home of the Simpsons. Here you will find Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, which is exactly like One Fish Two Fish.
At night, it is extra fun because it lights up. Plus, who doesn’t like to watch cartoons while waiting in line.
When your youngster is feeling a bit more daring, you can take them over to Jurassic Park to take a look at the Pteranodon Flyers. Smaller children (36 inches) sit in the front chair while an older child or adult (over 56 inches) takes a seat behind.
Once again, you will be flying high over the park and through the jungle. This could be scary for younger children though, as they cannot sit next you and get a hug if they get scared. My youngest was not up for this one, but we saw plenty of kids his age who jumped right on without fear.
DESPICABLE ME MINION MEYHAM: STATIONARY SEATING
If you want to give your kids a taste of a 4D experience, but not the ride, ask for stationary seating on the Despicable Me Minion Meyham ride. We found out this is an option when we walked past and happened to see a sign above the line. We, along with an elderly gentleman and a pregnant woman, were escorted to the very first row, which is a bench.
You sit, while the rest of the people fill into the moving seats behind you.
You can still watch the 3D movie, but you won’t move along with the film. It is hilarious to look back and watch people as they ride.
This turned out to be the perfect solution for my youngest as he really wanted to experience his beloved Minions, but didn’t want to go on the ride. I could also see what the ride was like and later let my oldest go on it by himself. It was perfect!
If you have really little ones or just need to let the kids run and climb for a bit, Universal Orlando Resort has several play zones in both parks.
Camp Jurassic can be found in Jurassic Park. Kids can climb and explore this prehistoric playground. Back in Seuss Landing If I Ran the Zoo offers an interactive playground that is great for babies, toddlers and younger kids.
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Character breakfasts are a great place for kids to be with their families, meet their favorite characters and load up on their favorite breakfast foods. The Minion Breakfast is a big favorite, as it is one of the few places you are guaranteed to see all of the characters from the “Despicable Me” movies.
You can get your photo taken with Gru and the Minions before you enter the dining room, and then enjoy breakfast with your family. Characters come out throughout the meal. In about an hour, your child will meet all of their favorite friends. Just don’t forget the autograph book!
- Grinch and Friends Holiday Breakfast: During the holidays, the Grinch and his Who-ville friends gather in Seuss Landing for a character breakfast. The Grinch is even known to steal the bacon off your plate. I don’t believe there are any green eggs and ham, though I’m sure you could ask.
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One thing many parents forget when they go to a theme park, is that performances are happening throughout the day. In fact, Universal Orlando Resort has some of the best live acts around. The Blues Brothers show up regularly, as do the Beat Builders (construction workers), Marilyn and the Diamond Bellas, Sing It! (an a cappella group) and the Studios Brass Band.
Our favorite performances were to be found in Seuss Landing and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter though.
OH! THE STORIES YOU’LL HEAR!
The story teller is a high energy human who welcomes all of the boys and girls to sit down and meet her friends. Characters then come out to greet the children. Things One and Things Two even sit in the crowd with the kids to hear the story.
Characters reenact an abbreviated version of one of Dr. Seuss’s classic tales, which end with lots of singing and a dance party for everyone to enjoy. Photo opportunities close out this short performance perfectly timed for a kid’s attention span.
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Up near Hogwarts Castle you will see a little stage. This is where you can witness the Triwizard Dual (my son’s favorite) and the Frog choir perform some very silly songs. Grab a spot up front, and enjoy learning a little more about the Harry Potter universe.
The Tales of Beetle the Bard are performed in Diagon Alley using some of the most stunning puppets you have ever seen. The actors are spot on with their performance and the stories change throughout the day. Don’t miss a single one.
It’s a great time to grab ice cream with the kids and take a little break from running around the parks.
Throughout the parks there are character encounters happening all day long. Meet Spider-man, Bumblebee, Po from King-fu Panda, the Cat in the Hat, Homer and Marge, classic characters and one of the Knight bus drivers.
These are prime photo opportunities and a great time to capture that Christmas card photo. Just sayin’.
Looking for an Orlando hotel? Check out the following in Universal Orlando Resort!
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel– Nothing but the best at this resort property
- Hard Rock Hotel– Walk to Islands of Adventure
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort – Walk to Universal Studios Florida
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort– Instagram-worth accommodations
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel– budget accommodations for the tech-savvy traveler