My youngest has always been afraid of rides. It could be because when he was four we took him to a theme park, put him on rides and then discovered that night that he had a 103.9 fever. Yes, we are those parents. We thought with age, a little peer pressure from his older brother, and encouragement from his dad, he would be ready for a few of the 3D and 4D rides when visiting Universal Orlando Resort with kids this year.
DIFFERENT AGES IN UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
This posed a big problem that I have seen time and again in the park. What do you do when you are visiting Universal Orlando Resorts with kids who are old enough for all of the rides, but have younger siblings?
It gets even more complicated when you are traveling as a single parent or a solo mom and you have to navigate one child’s fears and the other child’s desire to see and do it all without causing an all-out war in the family.
Fun times, I know. But, it is possible.
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FACING FEARS AT THEME PARKS
My oldest was terrified of people in costumes as a child. As much as I tried to push him past these fears, he had to come to terms with them in his own time.
The same is true for my youngest. He gets overwhelmed in large, chaotic crowds. He’s my high-energy introvert (yes, they do exist).
We’d been slowly working on my youngest though. Always going at his pace. He rode a flume this summer, and a tiny roller coaster. He was thrilled and wanted more. Anything to keep up with his brother and his dad.
Naturally, as soon as we got to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, I took him on the Escape from Gringotts ride… And promptly broke my son.
That was it. He was done with rides. He had no interest in any other ride at all.
Ready for the holidays?
Read our Wizarding World of Harry Potter holiday guide!
DON’T RUSH IN NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY
He went in saying yes, he wanted to do the ride. I believed him. He strapped onto the ride and promptly burst into tears. I had no idea what to do. I couldn’t get him off the ride (could I?) and we were on our way. He seemed to enjoy it once we got going; was even smiling when we got off the ride.
But he was done. It would take more than 24 hours for him to show any interest in any ride at all at both Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure.
Meanwhile, his brother wanted to go on everything and experience all the rides.
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HELPING OLDER KIDS BE PATIENT
Being a giant, my older son, who was 9-years-old at the time of our visit, was tall enough to even go on the mega roller coasters. Thankfully he didn’t want to go on the Incredible Hulk Coaster or Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. I might have had a heart attack if I had to argue him out of that one.
He was dead set on going on the Transformer ride though. It couldn’t be helped. He had to do it. I was still hesitant, so we tried to do another ride first. We finally got his brother to go on the “Stationary Seating” on the Minion Ride, which he seemed to do OK with. My oldest then ran back in to do the full ride on his own.
OK, he could do this on his own.
We gave Transformers a try. I gave him a meeting spot (there is a Starbucks just down the lane that is the perfect meeting spot moms!) and he met me there… twice.
Get in on the Christmas fun–
read our Universal Orlando Resort Holiday Guide
LETTING YOUNG KIDS FIND THEIR RIDES
Later that night, while walking through Krustyland, after only riding the Caro-Seuss-el in Seuss Landing in the past 24 hours, my youngest declared that he wanted to ride Kang & Kodos’ Twirl and Hurl in Krustyland, which he had seen flashing across the river. At night, it must have looked so bright and shiny. What little boy could resist a blinking neon light (not him. I have the blinking-light crystal Minecraft sword to prove it).
We rode it together, his brother sitting in the space ship right in front of it. He loved it. We road it again.
Although we had to run off to watch Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration, my youngest declared that he would ride the Twirl n’ Hurl again the next morning. His dad was due to fly in that night and he wanted to make sure he got to ride with his daddy.
I reminded him that there were other rides just like that one throughout Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. He looked at me confused, as if I had lost my mind.
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UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT WITH YOUNG KIDS
I declared that while his dad went on all of the big rides with his brother, he and I would go on the hunt for rides he would actually enjoy. If it looked too scary, we wouldn’t do it.
We were going to figure out how he could best enjoy the park. If it meant we watched shows and ate sugar all day, we would do it.
Thankfully, we found more than enough to occupy our time, even found a few things big brother could enjoy with us.
THE BEST WAY NOT TO TACKLE THEME PARK FEARS
My little guy hasn’t conquered all of his fears yet, but I’m learning. He needs a little more time to ease into a new place.
I probably shouldn’t throw him onto an indoor roller coaster right out the gate. And maybe watching Youtube videos of the rides isn’t quite enough prep work for him. We will walk the parks first on our next visit.
Want to know how we spent our day and what he enjoyed?
Grab your guide to visiting Universal Orlando with younger kids.
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
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