Universal has a reputation as the perfect destination for thrill-seekers, foodies, Muggles, and Wizards, but what about toddlers? Will my family with varying ages be able to find entertainment for everyone- even the littles? Happily, I can answer- yes!
My three children span ages 12 to 2 years old. With varying interests and thrill levels, we found that there was plenty to enjoy for each age. Here are some specific areas of interest and some tips to help you with your next trip to Universal with little ones!
Tip #1: Ride the Hogwarts Express!
Sure, the Hogwarts Express is like a train, but in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, it’s so much more! The train will take you between Kings Cross Station in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. This 10-minute trip is not only a mode of transportation, but also an attraction in itself! Just enter and sit in your car- you’ll be surprised by who you “see” along the way!
When pushing a stroller through the queue, Team Members will direct you to the elevators so you can avoid the stairs to enter. Once at the platform, Team Members will take your stroller or scooter as you enter the Hogwarts Express so you can sit and relax in your car. Upon exiting, your stroller will be brought right to you. It was wonderful that we didn’t have to fold up our stroller!
My toddler loved the “choo-choo” the most of any attraction at Universal! This one is not to be missed for toddlers and adults alike!
Bonus Tip: Make sure you have Park-to-Park tickets! These tickets allow you to visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day and having this ticket type is the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express!
Tips #2: Make sure to visit Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure
Seuss Landing is an amazing Seuss-themed land in Islands of Adventure. From the “Whos” to the Cat in the Hat to the Green Eggs and Ham stand, there is so much Seuss to be had here! For little ones who are 36” and taller, they can enjoy the Cat in the Hat attraction as well as The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! For those under 36”, they can enjoy the “Caro-Seuss-el,” “One Fish, Two, Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and meeting all of the characters in Seuss Landing! My little one just loved walking around and taking in the theming of this area!
Tip #3: Visit Volcano Bay
If you have little ones, Volcano Bay is where you want to go! From the giant wave pool to the sandy “beach” it’s a toddler’s paradise! Further inside Volcano Bay, your toddler will find Tot Tiki Reef (for those under 48” tall) and Runamukka Reef (for children under 54” tall) where they will likely want to spend most of their day! It’s an incredible interactive water playground with water cannons, shallow pools, and slides of varying sizes and thrill levels! And while toddlers must wear life jackets in the water of most of Volcano Bay, no life jackets are required in Tot Tiki or Runamukka Reef! Even better, while you must be under 48” to enjoy the toddler slides, lifeguards allowed an older sibling or adult to slide with my toddler. It was the best of both worlds for us!
Tip: Swim diapers are required for children who are not potty trained. If you forget swim diapers, they are available poolside at your Universal Resort Hotel or at Guest Services at Volcano Bay! Life jackets are also provided free of charge in Volcano Bay!
Tip #4: Take advantage of your resort hotel amenities
The amenities in Universal resort hotel are enough to keep anyone occupied – even a busy toddler! At Cabana Bay, the highlight of our hotel was the bowling alley! Every day at 3 pm, you can show up in person to get a bowling reservation for later that day. During our bowling game, we had free shoe rental, and they even had bowling shoes that were the right size for my toddler! As we started our game, we realized that they had metal ramps available for toddlers to help them bowl. All she had to do was push the ball down the ramp! It worked perfectly, and we were thrilled to have her participating in the game with us! We had a 5:30 pm time slot, which was perfect for bowling and then eating at Galaxy Bowl’s restaurant. They had a great adult and children’s menu, and everyone in our family found something they enjoyed!
And don’t forget about the incredible pool area of your resort! Many resort hotels have a children’s pool in addition to the larger family pools. The pool deck also has games, activities, and lounge chairs if your little one gets tired.
While there are several rides in Universal with a height requirement, there is a number where even the smallest Universal fan can ride! Make sure you ask your travel specialist about which rides they will be permitted to enjoy based on their height. We loved “One Fish, Two, Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” in Seuss Landing the best! And my daughter loves a good carousel, so the Caro-Seuss-el is also a favorite! She also loves walking around the Wizarding World and Marvel Superhero Island to see the characters, visit shops, and take in the theming of the lands!
And pack your swimsuits! In the warmer months, kids can splash and play in the Curious George Goes to Town splash area of Universal Studios! And if you’re not wanting to get wet, go right next door to Fievel’s Play Land where kids can enjoy a full playground just steps away from the Woody Woodpecker Rollercoaster!
My daughter also enjoyed the “Kang & Kondos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl” in Universal Studios and Storm Force Acceleration in Islands of Adventure!
Bonus tip: While there are no dedicated nursing rooms available at Universal, you can utilize the first aid rooms to nurse or change diapers!
Tip #6: Visit Characters
Some of my kids’ favorite characters can be found throughout the Universal parks! We loved visiting with The Cat in the Hat from the famous Dr. Seuss books, King Julian from “Madagascar,” the “Boss Baby” and Trolls! We saw all of these characters and more while walking around the parks. Universal Studios also offers a parade in the afternoons with characters from your favorite Universal movies! We were thrilled to see our favorite minions, Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob, Secret Life of Pets friends, and more!
Tip #8: Use the Child Swap Program
When your child is too small to ride or does not want to ride, Universal has a great option so that everyone in the family still gets a chance to ride attractions. The “child swap” program allows the family to wait together in line, but one or more adults can wait in the family room at the attraction while the other ride. When they are finished riding, you can meet up in the family room again and those who stayed behind the first time get a chance to ride! This prevents you all from waiting in line twice!
Tip #9: Stay in a Suite
While we love being together, sometimes as a family of five, we need a little extra space! We were so thrilled that we booked our stay in a Family Suite at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort! We loved the partition in our room to separate our space from the baby when she went to sleep early. The full kitchenette and split bathroom design were also fantastic features that made our room even better! All Universal hotels offer suites of some type; make sure you speak with your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist about the best option for your family!
Universal offers complimentary cribs on a first-come, first-served basis. When we arrived in our room, we simply told housekeeping that we were ready for the crib, and they quickly delivered it right to our door. The crib we received from housekeeping was perfect for our toddler and far superior to the play yard we would have brought from home! She slept soundly each night!
After spending a week at Universal with three children, I would not hesitate to recommend a Universal family vacation to anyone- no matter the ages of their children! From character experiences, to resort amenities, to attractions, there is something for everyone at Universal Orlando!