Universal Orlando has positioned itself as an edgier, more adult alternative to the Mouse. Even Disney diehards will admit that UOR sports more attractions aimed at older teens and young adults than Walt Disney World (WDW) currently does. But the commonly heard rejoinder is that there’s “nothing” for little kids to do at Universal’s parks. Seth Kubersky, author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando, shares with us all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando with kids.
Please note that due to COVID-19 some attractions, character meet-and-greets, shows, and playgrounds may not be open during your visit.
That stereotype has seeds of truth. While the Magic Kingdom can claim more than a dozen rides with no height restrictions, Universal Studios Florida (USF) and IOA combined have only seven rides that accommodate kids less than 34 inches tall.
As popular as Universal characters like the Minions and SpongeBob are with the single-digit set, it’s tough to compete with the multibillion-dollar marketing machine behind Mickey’s menagerie. But who could resist spending time at Seuss Landing?
Numbers alone don’t tell the tale because a vacation at UOR can actually be a better experience for the youngest visitors (and therefore the family members around them) than the equivalent WDW escape.
For starters, while Universal lacks many moving attractions for tots, it makes up for it with the best themed playgrounds in town.
Second, without theme park reservations and Advanced Dining Reservations to worry about, a stay at UOR requires much less pre- planning, which means less damage to your day when the inevitable toddler tantrum derails your carefully laid touring plans.
Universal’s parks are more compact than Magic Kingdom and Epcot, which means that little legs won’t tire as quickly. Also, on any given day, the crowds are likely to be lighter at UOR, welcome news for anyone shoving a stroller through the streets. Finally, it’s far easier to travel from Universal’s on-site hotels to its parks and back, a key benefit when heading back to your room for that essential midday nap.
Ideally, your kids should be at least 42 inches tall to experience the bulk of the parks’ dark rides and simulators, or 54 inches tall to brave the biggest roller coasters. But traveling to UOR with a toddler, or even an infant, can be equally rewarding, as long as you know what you’re getting into and prepare thoroughly. The biggest danger is in dealing with a child who’s barely under the minimum for something they’ll “just die” without riding, so check up on height requirements in advance to avoid disappointment on the day.
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