A few weeks ago, my family visited Universal Orlando for the first time. We had so much fun!!! From riding the awesome rides to participating in activities as part of the Family Forward conference, it truly was an experience we won’t forget. My boys have already asked several times if we can go back.
Both parks, Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure, are a nice size so you don’t feel like you need to rush through it all in one day. I’d say two days is the perfect amount to spend there. This gives you enough time to explore the parks at your own pace with a chance to enjoy everything they have to offer without feeling rushed.
My kids are at an age where navigating the parks with them isn’t too bad, but they are still kids and they do get tired and cranky at times. So today I thought I’d share a few tips to help make your experience less stressful and more enjoyable!!
Stay on property
We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, which was beautiful. When you stay on property you get access to a lot of amenities, like easy walking paths and water taxi to the parks, early admission, express passes, as well as access to the pools and restaurants on all four properties.
This comes in handy when you have small children. One day it rained, so after a few hours at the park we decided to head back to our hotel room to rest and get showers before dinner. It’s only a five-minute walk if you decide not to take the water taxi.
Look at height requirements for the rides
It’s funny….my youngest son is a daredevil and wants to go on all of the big rides, but he’s only 43″ inches. My older son isn’t a big fan of anything that goes upside down. So we made sure to look up which rides we can all go on before heading to the park. This helped avoid disappointment and allowed us to get the most out of our experience. The website has a list of rides and height requirements and you can also pick up a map at your resort.
Not tall enough? Get a certificate for next time
My youngest couldn’t go on the Mummy ride and it crushed him, even after we explained he would be too short (see even preparing them doesn’t always work). He was devastated. But it made him light up when they gave him a certificate for his next trip. He’ll receive priority admission and can take 5 people with him on this ride. He was really excited about that and truly made his day!! We have this tucked away so we can bring this with us the next time we visit Universal. If your child isn’t tall enough to ride, especially Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which is a must see), make sure to pick one up.
Map out the rides you don’t want to miss
Have you ever left a park and realized you missed one or two key rides??? We’ve done that, so now we like to circle the rides we don’t want to miss and we’ll map out our route keeping them in mind. It can be overwhelming when you are in the park because there’s so much going on, so this really does help.
Start at Islands of Adventure
We received an inside tip about this. If you have passes to both parks start in Islands of Adventure. This park has more rides outside so you will want to get these done before the heat of the day. Then you can head over to Universal Studios, where most of the lines and rides are inside or covered.
You can take the Hogwarts Express to go back and forth between the parks, which you won’t want to miss!!
Take advantage of early access
When you stay on property, you can access the parks an hour earlier. We did this and were able to go on a few rides very quickly with no lines. Make sure you start in Islands of Adventure as most of the rides in Universal Studios don’t open right away.
The line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey does get long, even with early access. We headed there first (it’s in the back of the park) and the line was about thirty minutes long.
Express passes are a lifesaver with young kids
Express passes are another perk when you stay on property. I can’t tell you what a huge benefit this is especially with young kids. With the express passes, you can skip the lines and head straight to the front. I don’t think we had to wait more than ten minutes for any ride. When it’s hot and you have kids, this is huge!!
It’s Florida, so it does rain pretty much every day. We picked up a few ponchos before our trip to bring along with us, and they did come in handy. My youngest was against putting his on (he thought he looked funny wearing it) but then when he saw everyone else wearing one (and the fact that he was getting soaked) he put it on. Kids!
Take a VIP Tour
I know this is not feasible for everyone, but if you have some extra cash or are only going to be there for a day, the VIP Tour is totally worth it! You literally feel like a celebrity and my kids felt so cool that they didn’t have to wait in lines. The VIP Tour is a guided tour through both parks. You’ll get exclusive backstage access, learn fun insider information, and enjoy the parks’ most amazing rides and attractions without waiting in line! Oh and you get preferred seating on every ride. How cool?!
Add a pool day into the mix
If you are going to be on property, I suggest adding a pool day in between park days. This allows everyone to rest because it’s a lot of walking. You can also have a pool day and then head to City Walk for some family entertainment and dinner. If we go too many days without taking a day in between to rest, my kids get really cranky. Even mom and dad need a rest! Plus, this is a great way to check out all of the beautiful pools they have on property.
I hope these tips can help you plan your next trip to Universal Orlando. Have fun!
Don’t forget to read our post for Wet ‘N Wild, plus check out the below video from our experience: