The last time I went to Universal Studios was before I had kids. I celebrated my 21st birthday in CityWalk and rode the Hulk roller coaster over and over again without getting dizzy! Oh, to be young again…LOL
I now have three young kids of my own. Two little girls who are all about tea parties and make-up tutorials, and a baby boy who wants to run and destroy things. Honestly, I didn’t think Universal was going to cater to them and I viewed Universal to be all about action movies that my kids haven’t even heard of.
How dare I put my little ladies into tiny girly boxes. They were absolutely ecstatic to give the wizard wards a spin, hang out with Minions, and ride Jimmy Fallon’s ride 6 times! Rockwell (my one-year-old) had his own fantastic wild time in between naps. Turns out I hadn’t been to Universal in several years and formed a little amnesia about everything they offer.
We spent four days exploring everything (age appropriate) Universal had to offer so I can give you all the ins and outs! I was surprised my three-year-old was able to do the majority of rides with us. Rockwell never skipped a beat with multiple play areas and with the child swap areas (family rooms) for us to take turns riding the more mature rides, no one was left out!
I can’t even express how much of a good time we had with Family Forward at Universal Orlando. There was never that “I’m totally over this” theme park feel, even after four days! Most of the lines to the attractions are interactive and air conditioned and several parades (that seemed totally random, but amazing) started up while we were walking around. We literally bumped into The Secret Life of Pets parade and talked to Max (the dog) while running over to the Jimmy Fallon ride. There was always something incredible to see, and sometimes that something incredible was a fire hydrant gushing water in the middle of the street next to The Blues Brothers creating a dance party. Seriously, none of us wanted to leave!
Now, in order to get all.the.things Universal up on the blog, I’m going to divide all my information into 2 parts so this one post doesn’t become a novel.
Universal Orlando Resort is divided into several parts:
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Everything to do at Universal Studios with kids & babies!
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
**My Favorite! I loved the whole experience of this ride. The hip-hop barbershop performers, feeling like your’e at the actual NBC Studios, and of course the ride itself. Even the “safety precautions” is fun with Jimmy’s EW! character. Universal’s first “no line” ride requires a reservation time that you can make at the kiosks just outside the ride. When you come back at your time, you are transported through NBC Studios to a waiting room where the barbershop performers are and additional video games for the kids. Afterwards, you exit out at retail shop (just like any ride) filled with all things Jimmy Fallon…so if you’re a fan, you’ll sequel in delight!
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (3D)
This ride was a favorite (no-brainer) for all the kids. It was one Rockwell actually got to experience in the stationary seats in the front row. The ride experience starts off in Gru’s living room where he keeps the shrink ray and the girl’s drawings. Gru turns you into a minion and you race around with Margo, Edith, and Agnes. It’s a hilarious and feel good ride! Afterwards, you have a little dance party with some special minions!
Transformers: The Ride 3D (Minimum Height 40″)
A crazy visual 3D experience saving earth from Megatron. Surprisingly my girls enjoyed this ride way more than I expected and they rode it 3 times! This pulse raising ride is action packed and prior Transformer knowledge is not needed.
Curious George Goes To Town (Play area)
Someone turned the whole town upside down! Oh, George!
The girl’s loved this play area and didn’t want to leave. There is a splash zone and ball factory that could keep littles entertained for an hour or more!
Barney’s Backyard (Play Area)
My kid’s aren’t familiar with Barney, but still digged this imaginative play area with a tree-house play ground and musical stepping stones.
Woody Woodpeckers Nuthouse Coaster (Minimum Height 36″)
A perfect kid-friendly roller coaster with lots of twists and turns, without the daredevil freak-my-kids-out drops!
Get to enjoy a funny mini-movie that takes place after the 1st Shrek and before the 2nd, with King Farquaad as a ghost. Accompany Shrek and Donkey on a fun adventure to rescue Princess Fiona. Guaranteed laughs on this multi-sensory adventure with the whole family. Rockwell and I enjoyed it from the stationary seating in front.
Afterwards, stay for a picture with Donkey, Shrek, and/or Princess Fiona! Donkey is in his same hilarious character telling us to move out of the way so his beautiful face was in the picture.
E.T. Adventure (Minimum Height 34″)
Fly through the sky on bikes with E.T. in your front basket. This is a classic and great ride!
Bonus: E.T. personally thanks you at the end!
The Simpsons (Minimum Height 40″)
A virtual reality roller coaster that might make you sick. LOL There’s an incredible amount of twists and turns, falling, crashing through billboards, and of course, laughs! I wouldn’t exactly recommend this for young kids, but the humor went right over my kids heads, as they weren’t paying attention to what was being said with all the visual affects going on. I had some good laughs as the comedy stays true to the spirit of the TV show. The kids enjoyed feeling like they were on a real, wild, and crazy roller coaster.
The whole Springfield area offers a lot for all ages, if you want to split the group into riders and non-riders or take advantage of child swap. Make sure you enjoy a Duff beer and monstrous donuts.
The giant donuts from Lard Lad Donuts isn’t only appealing to the eyes, it’s delicious. Mmmmm donuts!
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
This section of Universal Studios really could use it’s own post. It isn’t huge, but it really is a “world” of it own.
As a family who has never seen any of the Harry Potter movies, I didn’t know if I’d have enough to say about it other than the butterbeer is delicious and the girls loved taking their wands for a spin! I overhead several people awing over the fact that it looked exactly like the movies. Harry Potter fans are walking around with stars in their eyes. It’s unique, magical, and definitely a place kids of all ages will find something they admire.
Home of the fire blasting dragon (I think Game of Thrones fans will like this place…) who shoots 3,560°F flames out about every 20 minutes. TIP: you hear the dragon growling right before he shoots fire.
Aside from the dragon, Diagon Alley offers Hogwarts Express, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, candy & magic shops, food, ice cream, butterbeer and wands!
Some must haves in the Alley include ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and Butterbeer from The Fountain of Fair Fortune. Purchase a wand from Ollivander’s and perform 25 spells through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. These spells take a little practice, but there are many helpers throughout to show you the magical ways.
Hogwarts Express:King’s Crossing Station (Must have park to park admission ticket)
Not your average train ride! This requires a park-to-park ticket because it transports you from London (Universal Studios) to Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure). Experience walking through Platform 9 ¾™ and enjoy the British countryside pass by your window along the ride in your own train cabin. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are even shown walking by your cabin!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Minimum Height 42″)
This ride has.it.all! From a roller coaster to a 3D motion stimulation. We haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies (confession) and really enjoyed this ride for everything it has to offer. Bonus: the line is inside the bank lobby (air conditioned!), has huge crystal chandeliers to gawk at, and bank tellers tapping away.
Other offerings at Universal Studios and Height Requirements:
Fievel’s Playland (Play Area)
Men in Black Alien Attack (Minimum Height 42″)
Kang & Kodos’ Twirl n Hurl
Animal Actors on Location
Revenge of the Mummy (Minimum Height 48″)
Universal’s Superstar Parade
***Take your vacation to the next level of awesome with all three parks! Check out the savings with a 3 Park Vacation Package at Universal Studios Orlando Resort.