My husband and I have been going to Universal Studios and Disney even before we had kids. When Lorenzo was 4 months old we went to Magic Kingdom for the first time, and believe it or not, we had an amazing time. Two years later Giancarlo was born and every year, at least once a year, we would buy the package to visit all Disney World Parks and every time it was a hit.
Lorenzo is now 6 and Giancarlo is 4 and this year we decided, for the first time, to take the boys to Universal Studios and Island Adventure in Orlando. I cannot lie, I was very concerned to take my boys there because in my head they wouldn’t be able to do much (specially Giancarlo) and to be sincere that is not much information over the internet about kids this age visiting the Universal Parks and what to do.
I can start by saying that what I was feeling is a common misconception about Universal Orlando Resort! Moms and Dads think that the attractions are designed for older kids and adults in mind. This is actually not true! There are many rides, attractions, and activities for younger children and YES it is more than worth to take small children to visit these two amazing parks.
Here I will give you all the information about my trip and hopefully help you to make a decision if either is the right time to take your kids or not yet!
We decided to stay at the Disney Art of Animation Resort. This resort is fantastic and it looks like you are inside a cartoon. We stayed at the Cars building and the room is very comfortable. It has 2 bathrooms, one private bedroom and in the living room it has 2 beds, microwave, a small refrigerator and a sink, perfect for families with kids. The reason we stay there was the boys. They kept telling us they wanted to go to Disney and we want them to have the best vacation ever. We didn’t know what to expect at Universal, but we knew that if we stayed at this hotel they would feel as if they were at a Disney park.
We only have amazing things to say about the Disney Animation Resort and if you are taking your kids to the Disney Parks this hotel is an amazing option. The complex has 3 awesome pools, 2 nice playgrounds and the hotel itself is really amazing for the eyes. It also has 2 cute playgrounds, a splash pad and great places to take pictures.
FIRST MISTAKE: Although the kids loved this hotel and had we lots of fun, I think we’ve made a mistake staying there. Universal Studios is 30 minutes away and for obviously reasons there are no shutters to Universal so we had to take our own car and pay $22 for regular parking . If we had stayed at Universal Studios Resorts the rooms were not only cheaper, but the hotel was closer and very nice too. More than that, staying at the Loews Hard Rock Hotel , Loews Portofino Bay Hotel or at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel you enjoy FREE Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip regular lines a $129 value per person and very useful specially when you are with little kids.
We woke up at 6AM . The kids were so excited that they couldn’t sleep anymore. I took my time to make our backpack . We took water, protein bars, little snacks for the kids , sun protection, rain coaches ( at the park they cost around $10 each) , towel, umbrella, one extra change of clothes and socks per child and my good and old double stroller. My kids can’t walk the entire park the entire day and not complaint that they are tired, that is too hot, that they want us to carry them… so to avoid the stress I always bring the stroller although they are not babies anymore. After all was packed we went to eat breakfast at the hotel and start our drive to Universal.
Orlando has a lot of traffic so we did got stucked on the way to Universal and took us 45 minutes to get there. When we arrived at the parking, they suggested 2 other different parking options that were more expensive and closer to the entrance but we decided to go with the regular $22 parking.
Parked the car, pack the stroller and started our walk to the park. Right when you arrive at the main entrance they have these great metal detectors just like the ones at the airports, we love that!
We decided to buy the park-to-park tickets to be able to ride the Harry Potter train otherwise you cannot ride the train. We were luck that when we bought the tickets they had a residents promotion and when we purchased the park-to-park tickets for one day we received the second day FREE, so we were able to explore the parks in two days which was really awesome. In one day, with small kids, it is almost impossible to do both parks . We paid each ticket $170 each plus taxes, and for the kids $165.
Universal Studios was were we began. Right when you enter is the Minions Ride. The minimum height for this ride is 40″ so we were trilled that everyone could ride in it and it was a hit! Super cute! Right after the ride one of the minions was there waiting for pictures, we were so lucky ! The ride is fun but it does moves a lot. If your child is not comfortable with so much moving you can request the stationary seats .
This is a good choice for kids because the line moves quickly and does not require a minimum height (It is across from the Minions ride). It is a seating show with 4D glasses that all ages will enjoy. Not only is it a fun time, but this is a great place to cool off . Shrek and the Donkey were also there after the show to take pictures.
Transformers ! This ride was very fun too! The kids had the opportunity to take pictures with Optimus Pride. It is amazing to see that gigantic Robot coming out of the door. Really Cool! The height limit for the ride is 40″ and we all could go! My 6 years old got scared in the ride and had his eyes closed almost all the time. My 4 year old loved it, go figure 🙂 This 3D ride with great visual effects is very intense and also moves a lot . I don’t think every child would feel comfortable in it.
This area is amazing! The kids were very excited!!!
Animal Actors is a really cute show with lots of amazing pets, like dogs and cats, as well as birds and little animals. Some of the dogs are in real movies and they have impressive skills. It is a show for the entire family.
E.T Adventure is a great ride to bring back memories of ET and the 80’s. The height requirements are 34″ so we all could go! It was great but my 4 year old got a little scared.
Flevel’s Playland is a great playground packed with fun for little kids. Kids can run, jump, climb and bounce through this whimsical playground filled with over sized props . They’ll see the world through Fievel’s eyes as they climb a 30-foot spider web, crawl through giant tin cans, cross swaying rope bridges, explore an enormous cowboy boot, splash in a 1,000-gallon cowboy hat and take on a twisting 200-foot water slide. The Water Slide is fun and there is no height requirement but parents must ride with small kids.
Barney Backyard is a great indoor playground for the little ones. It is very cute and kids can learn from imaginative play. There is a little train, you can make music with step-on stones and giant wind chimes, explore the tall, leafy tree house, splash around the water area, or build a castle in the sand area.
Day in the Park with Barney is a sing-along, clap-along musical show with lots of surprises for all ages.
Woody Packer Roller Coaster is fun! If your child is tall enough to ride this ride they will probably really like it. It is a small roller coaster but young children sometimes get a little scared. The height requirement is 36″ and I can’t even count how many times we went! Both of my kids love it!
Curious George goes to Town is an amazing Splash Pad that I am sure your kids will love! The structure of this place is awesome and be careful you might get very wet too! In the back of the splash pad is a “secret door” for a ball pit.
Oh and I can’t forget to mention! This park has AWESOME photo opportunities ! Keep your eyes open as the kids will enjoy very much taking pictures with their favorite characters.
Kids of all ages ca enjoy the parade. It lasts about 25 minutes (double-check your park map for the parade time). This is a fun entertainment experience featuring Dora and Diego, SpongeBob, the Minions and more. The parade stops and a street show is performed for the audience in New York (near Revenge of the Mummy and Finnegan’s) and again in Hollywood (near Schwab’s Pharmacy).
After the Woodpecker land we went to Simpsons Land, and I must say it was already 3 PM. The first thing we did was stop to get a Beer! The Duff beer original is so yummy and refreshing.
Right by the “Beer” is a basic “spinner” ride that has no height requirement. The kids really enjoy riding this ride that it is an attack to Springfield. Super fun!
The Simpson ride is also right there and it was a big hit. The height restriction is 40 inches and we all enjoyed very much the ride. Although is not a new attraction going with the kids for the first time is always an amazing experience.
On my next post I will tell you all about the Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios and the great attractions for kids at Island Adventure. Stay Tuned .