I have a 7yr old, 5yr old, and a 3yr old. We just moved to Florida late August and have slowly been making our way through the different tourist sites and amusement parks here.
We did Disney, Sea World, and the water parks first and we have just now made our way through Universal. We kept putting off because everyone told us that Universal is best for older kids. We finally went and I have to say it was an amazing time! Despite the ages of our young kids, we had plenty to do and it was one of our most enjoyable trips yet!
We broke the trip up into two days since there are two separate Universal parks. You can get a park hopper pass if you’d rather go between both parks on the same day. We wanted to take our time and experience everything. The two parks are Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.
Universal Island’s of Adventure is more thrill rides and roller coasters. It has several different themed areas: Jurassic park, Harry Potter World, Dr. Seuss Landing, Marvel Super Hero Island, The Los Continent, and Toon Lagoon.
We loved all of it! There were only three rides my 7 year could not ride, Incredible Hulk Coaster, Dragon Challenge, and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. There was one more coaster (Harry Potter Coaster) that my 7 year old road that my 5 year old could not. Then two more that everyone but our 3 yr old could ride. There were plenty of things for all of us to do together!
It was really easy to use the parent swap as well. Ride with everyone tall enough while the other parent waits in the exit lane, then as you exit you switch places. Parent waiting goes straight on ride while you wait with kids to young. The best part is that they let the older kids ride again with the other parent so the kids got to ride those rides twice!
My favorite part of the park for my 3yr old and 5 yr old was Dr. Seuss Landing and Camp Jurassic in Jurassic Park Land. Dr. Seuss landing had a ton of younger kid rides (trains, a flying fish ride, interactive play area, etc..). Camp Jurassic was this huge park with slides, climbing nets, and caves to explore. We could have stayed at that one spot all day!
My favorite part for my 5yr old and 7yr old kids would be the 3D Spiderman ride and Harry Potter World! It was pretty cool! We also love seeing all the Marvel characters come out riding four wheelers! My boys are obsessed with the Avengers so they thought this was “so so so AWESOME!!!!!!”
I would highly recommend paying the extra money for the EXPRESS pass at Universal Islands of Adventure if it is a crowded day. It is worth it when you consider how much time you will have to wait in line. The express line will move 3 times faster! I watched them load 3 full coasters from the express line to everyone one coaster from the regular line. It was killer!
Universal Studios was awesome too! This park wasn’t thrill rides as much as experiences. There was one ride only that my 7 year old could not ride. It was the only big coaster in the park (Hollywood Rip Ride Rock it). He was literally a “hair” too short. Besides that ride,The Revenge of the Mummy was the only other ride my 5 yr old could not ride and only two more rides my 3yr old could not do (Despicable Me and Men in Black).
There was a ton we could all do together and we used the parent swap for everything else. Fieval’s Playground and Curious George Goes to Town playground are at the top of my list! Kids loved it and we took a whole hour playing at each of these places! We pretty much loved everything in this entire park. Twister and Mummy were awesome and would rate more in the “thrill” area (my 3yr old and 5yr old closed their eyes at several parts). Distaster was fun, but more of a comedy than thrilling.
The Men in Black ride is a shoot aliens as you ride a 6 person car and see who has the highest score at the end. It was fun and the kids loved it, but I am still trying to figure out why my 3yr old couldn’t ride. I wouldn’t recommend taking the younger kids to see the 3D Terminator 2 show. It is not just the robots getting shot at and some of the robots still look human.
We used this fabulous calendar that tells you what the crowds will be like on any given day. We went when it said the crowds would be moderate and had a great time and felt like we got to do everything we wanted with the kids riding some of their favorites twice when using the parent swap.
I would highly recommend going to Universal! Ignore people when they say it isn’t fun for younger kids! We LOVED it!!!!!
MY BEST TIPS
1. Use the parent swap! Kids get to ride twice and it is so easy!
2. Check out the crowds calendar and try to go on a lower crowd day.
3. Suck it up and by the EXPRESS pass at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It is expensive, but when you are already paying so much anyway, it is worth it to pay a little more to shave hours off your total wait times.
4. Bring food! You can bring in all the snacks and drinks you want (no glass containers). Keep the kids full and spend less on food in the parks.
5. Don’t skip the parades or character greets. The characters are so much fun and more in this era. It is worth giving the kids some time to meet and greet!
About Jamie Hinckley
I am a mom of three crazy boys! We love life, play hard, and ALWAYS get messy! Life is busy and full of fun, jumping, crashing, skinned knees, rough housing, torn jeans, scratches, but most of all LOVE. Yes, life is crazy. Actually its completely nuts, but I wouldn't change a thing! We love life and can't wait for our next adventure... and one day, possibly a little girl! Haha!