Guest travel correspondent Julie Kahle of BalancingMama.com shares her Universal Orlando tips and “best of” awards for visiting the parks with a preschooler. She visited the park with her big kid Harry Potter fan and a 2 ½ year old active (36” tall) little boy. Julie received free two-park admission from Universal Orlando Resort for the purposes of this article.
Universal parks in Orlando have received numerous awards for groundbreaking and thrilling rides. So, what is the experience like when you travel with a preschooler? Can the Universal Orlando theme parks entertain the young ones in a family as well as the thrill seekers?
Yes! Everyone in the family can have a fun-filled day at Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. There are many play areas for smaller children and several rides for adventurers at 36″ tall. Do a bit of planning and understand the height requirements. Here are some helpful Universal Orlando tips and favorites for a preschooler.
Visiting with a preschooler: Universal Orlando tips and “best of” for the little ones
Tip: This probably goes without saying but, bring a stroller. Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure are each over 100 acres, so there is a lot of ground to cover. The parks have ample stroller parking throughout the park for attractions and indoor dining, so bringing the stroller is easy.
Best play area: Camp Jurassic prehistoric playground in Islands of Adventure. What’s not to love about climbing nets, slides, caves to explore, a mysterious amber mine, and the really cool Pteranadon Flyers ride? This area provides a family fun for all ages.
Tip: Bring your preschooler a change of clothes. This Universal Orlando tip is a must-follow if your preschooler loves water. Universal Studios has Curious George Goes to Town with colorful buildings, toddler play spaces, and water cannons. The Islands of Adventure park has If I Ran the Zoo, an interactive play area with water elements. These provide splashing fun for the preschoolers when bigger members of the group step away for a thrill or two.
Best ride to feel like a big kid: The Woody Woodpecker coaster in Universal Studios. This is a roller coaster ride for riders at or above 36″ tall. It has small hills, turns, and some speed that gets the little ones in on the theme park action.
Tip: Use Parent Swap. When all the “big kids” in your party want to experience award-willing thrills, do not fret. The Universal Orlando parks have an easy parent swap system. Simply bring the smaller child in the line with you. When you reach the ride, one adult can stay in a special family room with the child while the others ride. When the riders return, they can swap and the adult who has not ridden can get a turn with no wait. (The older siblings also get to go twice this way!)
Universal Orlando Tips for Harry Potter World
Best preschool-friendly Harry Potter: Treats and giggles. Yes, some of the attractions in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter may be a little scary for the young ones, but there are a few preschooler-friendly places to hang out. In Diagon Alley, grab a cool treat at Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor or browse the jokes and toys at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
Tip: In Hogsmeade, parents beware. Honeyduke’s candy shop will have the kids asking for everything in sight! It is a magical and colorful shop with candy and mouth-watering gooey treats. Also, any train-loving preschooler will enjoy the Hogwarts Express. Take the train back and forth between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and view the magical window. There are very brief scary moments, but these are in silhouette opposite the magic window so the little ones may not even notice.
Tip: Think twice about Flight of the Hippogriff. This Universal Orlando tip may help you avoid some tears. Flight of the Hippogroff at Islands of Adventure allows riders who are 36″ tall, but it is much more intense than Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse coaster at Universal Studios. It is safe and fun, but make sure the littlest riders are prepared for a thrill.
For us, it was unanimously Seuss Landing. The smile-inducing whimsy that is true to Dr. Seuss is perfect. The Car-o-seuss-el, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and the Cat in the Hat rides will have preschoolers asking to ride again and again. Of course, dining is also fun in this area. Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous serves kid-friendly favorites with animated characters swirling and swooping overhead. You may also get a photo opportunity with The Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2.
There are so many things to see and do at the Universal Orlando theme parks. So much, in fact, that there is truly enjoyment to be had for visitor of every age. To have a fantastic adventure, follow these Universal Orlando tips, do not miss the preschooler favorites, and have willingness to split up your group now and then. We had a blast with our big kid and little guy!