Top Twelve Best Universal Orlando Attractions With Kids! – By: Adriane
Universal Orlando has two theme parks, Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
The parks are walking distance from each other, and are also accessible via Universal’s train, Hogwarts Express, so you can easily bounce between them.
Both contain several great attractions, but there are twelve (with some stipulations) that are not to be missed and considered the BEST Universal Orlando attractions with kids.
12. E.T. Adventure – Universal Studios Florida
E.T. Adventure is bliss.
It is a slow moving, dark ride on a bicycle with an E.T. covered by a sheet that was clearly manufactured sometime during The New Deal.
The bicycle you are riding flies into space. E.T. says your name at the end, but we could not understand it.
Everything about this ride is grossly outdated, but that seems to be part of its charm.
This ride is one of my favorites. I love the classic feel. It is reminiscent of childhood.
Everyone over 34” can ride. There is not a screen in sight. It is perfect.
11. The Cat in the Hat – Universal Islands of Adventure
The Cat in the Hat is a slow moving ride with animatronics that tells the story from the book.
It is located in Seuss Landing, which itself is worth a walk through.
Seuss Landing is definitely for small children, but it is well themed and is guaranteed to improve your mood upon entering.
The Cat in the Hat is adorable. Everyone can ride.
It was a walk on everytime we rode it. No one felt nauseous or scared at the end.
Thing One and Thing Two make an appearance. It is everything I love about Disney attractions.
It is not a thrill ride, but it is definitely worth a try.
10. Jurassic Park River Adventure (on a warm day) – Universal Islands of Adventure
Jurassic Park River Adventure is a slow moving boat ride through Jurassic Park.
You cruise down a river where you see some dinosaurs. Everything is cool until some raptors get loose.
You are then taken up a hill within a building where people scream like everyone is going to die.
Right before the T-rex eats you, you slide down a steep drop and get soaked.
I appreciate this ride for the nostalgia of the Jurassic Park movies and the middle school memories it brings.
The ride has an old school feel. It is screen free. I recommend a poncho and not going when it is cold outside. Like we did. A+ parenting.
This ride has a 42” height requirement. It is also loud and scary, so it is probably not appropriate for small children.
9. Jurassic Park Discovery Center – Universal Islands of Adventure
Jurassic Park Discovery Center is an indoor, air conditioned, interactive play area.
It was not crowded when we visited. There are several things with which to play. There are large dinosaur skeletons and dinosaur statues with skin still painted on.
You can watch baby dinosaurs hatch. There is a screen that generates what you would look like as a dinosaur.
The kids were thoroughly entertained. It is a great break from the sun and motion simulators. A break that is much enjoyed while visiting Universal Studios Orlando
8. Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Parade (when in season) – Universal Studios Florida
Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Parade. Is. Awesome. It was the best parade of all time.
The floats, upon which guests can sign up to ride, are intricate. The colors are bright.
The music is upbeat. There are a whole bunch of people on stilts. Beads flow plentifully.
Our kids gained about five pounds each without slipping any nipple whatsoever. If you are there during Mardi Gras, do not miss this.
7. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (in two years when the craze dies down) – Universal Islands of Adventure
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a new attraction at the time of this writing.
It is a unique roller coaster that has already developed a cult following.
The line is never less than two hours. The ride was great, but for me, the line canceled that out.
We “ran” there as soon as the park opened, and by ran, I mean we walked quickly and I almost ripped my seven year old’s arm out of the socket because he was slowing me down.
What was the payoff for this near maiming of my child? A posted 120 minute wait time.
How long did the line actually take? 190 minutes.
The queue itself is torture. It is long winding line after long winding line outside, followed by long winding line after long winding line inside.
There is almost nothing to see on the walls. There is not an employee to be seen anywhere within the queue, and there is no indication as to where the line will end.
People yelled at no one, in particular, asking how much longer this line could possibly be. It was a disgruntled mob, to say the least.
But then….you get to the ride.
The format is a motorcycle and a sidecar.
The roller-coaster twists and turns in various directions.
A good portion of the ride goes in reverse unexpectedly. There is an animatronic.
The ride itself is awesome, but I wouldn’t wait three hours for a lifetime supply of White Claw.
Definitely try this ride, but weigh your options if the line is crazy.
There is a 48” height requirement, so for the love of God, make sure your kid will make the cut before you wait three hours.
6. Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon – Universal Studios Florida
Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon is a motion simulator with 3-D glasses.
Universal Orlando has no shortage of motion simulators, but this one is better than the others because of the quality of the video and the queue.
You need to reserve a spot for this attraction.
When it is your turn, you walk a queue that looks like his studio.
You can walk around or sit and watch highlights of his show while you wait for your turn. It is the most chill queue of all time.
During the ride, you sit in the studio audience and shake.
Jimmy Fallon races you through New York and into the ocean.
The ride is relatively new, so everything looks high quality. My kids, who have never heard of Jimmy Fallon, loved it.
This ride has a 40” height requirement. It may make you feel a little sick if you are sensitive to motion sickness, but it is worth a try.
5. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack – Universal Studios Florida
MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, while an outdated intellectual property, is really fun.
The movie came out right around the time I took the SATs. The ride is definitely better than the SATs. The queue has some cool stuff at which to look.
You ride around a building and shoot aliens and other cars. There is some spinning.
One of my competitive children inevitably gets mad when he loses.
My kids have never heard of this movie, but that didn’t affect their experience.
This ride has a 42” height requirement, but other than that, I don’t think there is anything that should prevent small children from riding.
4. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade – Universal Islands of Adventure
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade is so amazing that it gets its own mention on the list.
Universal hit it out of the park with this one. The theming is amazing.
You are truly transported to another land upon entering.
You could spend hours just walking around exploring the stores and decor.
We visited this section in both the morning and afternoon.
The morning was blissfully empty.
It was a miracle I didn’t get arrested for throwing an elbow in the afternoon. The crowd builds fast.
Make it a priority to visit this land first thing in the morning.
There is a store called Ollivanders that sells interactive wands to use throughout the land.
We didn’t even enter the store because we decided to send our kids to college instead.
It also has a long wait, so get there early.
3. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Universal Studios Florida
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a great attraction.
The interior queue is awesome. You walk through a bank.
There is a ton to see at every turn. The video before the ride is entertaining. Waiting in the line is not unpleasant.
The ride itself is fun. You wear 3-D glasses and move from screen to screen on a roller coaster track.
The track feels like it is dropping at some points. The videos are well done. It is definitely worth a ride.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is not for everyone.
There is a 42” height requirement. Parts of this ride are a motion simulator, so people with motion sickness may not feel well on this ride.
It also has some parts that may be scary for young children, but I didn’t think it was too bad. This ride requires a locker.
The lockers are free, but the room is crowded. Overall though, this is a great ride that should not be missed.
2. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – Universal Studios Florida
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is also special enough to get its own place on this list.
It is close, but I actually prefer it over Hogsmeade.
The amount of detail in this land is amazing.
It has a secluded entrance, and once you enter, you no longer feel like you are in a theme park.
Every inch of the land is themed, complete with fake storefronts, a bank you can enter, and a fire breathing dragon. There is also a large Knight Bus with a talking head.
Diagon Alley also has Ollivanders and interactive areas, because this isn’t Universal’s first day operating a theme park. They know how to make money.
Arrive early! Like Hogsmeade, you should make it a priority to visit in the morning. The ambiance is much less inviting when the cast of Duck Dynasty arrives.
1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – Universal Islands of Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey might be the best attraction upon which I have ever been, and I am not a Harry Potter fan.
The queue has a ton to see. It is largely interior (read: air conditioned). It has a spooky, haunted mansion vibe with a lot of photos and a pre-ride video.
During the ride itself, you fly around on a track well above ground level at a relatively low speed. There are several screens and 3-D glasses.
I am usually not a big fan of rides with screens and 3-D glasses, but this ride is so much better than the average motion simulator it is not even funny.
Between screens, your car twists and turns, almost flipping you upside down a few times.
Harry Potter and other
nerds people from Harry Potter movies are featured in the videos. They are quite well done.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is not for everyone.
Universal Orlando’s website tells me the height requirement for this attraction is 48”, but I am fairly sure it was less than that when we were there two months ago.
My five year old is not 48” and I forgot his platforms. Regardless, small children cannot ride.
In great parenting moment number two of the trip, I forced my five year old to get on the ride over his objection, and he was definitely scared.
It is dark and loud. It will be too much for some kids.
If you are prone to motion sickness, this one is probably going to get you.
Finally, this is not a reason to skip the ride, but the lockers are back.
The small lockers are free, but the room reminded me of a mob of people waiting to buy a Tickle Me Elmo on Black Friday in 1996.
Universal Orlando Resort is worth a visit and amazing adventures await at this theme park.
The theming within the lands is substantially better than that of Walt Disney World in my opinion.
You can also do more to avoid lines and have easier access to restaurants at Universal.
I still prefer Disney for travel with small children, but Universal Orlando is no longer an afterthought for us.
If you take a break from the kids for a bit you’ll also want to be sure to visit Rip Ride Rockit, Incredible Hulk Coaster,
And if you have a chance to visit Universal’s Volcano Bay be sure to check out the Ko’ Okiri Body Plunge as well as Krakatau Aqua Coaster for further thrills too!
—–> Looking to visit Universal Orlando Resort? Be sure to check out our rental home close to the Orlando theme parks as well as the discount offered for blog readers!
Adriane is a blogger with Put on Your Party Pants (and Keep Them on Until 8pm). She writes about family travel planning, savings using miles and points and Disney hacks, and gluten free travel. She hopes to help others get the best value while maximizing their experiences. Check out her site at https://putonyourpartypants.com. Follow her on Facebookand Twitter
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