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Introduction As Orlando Travel Professionals we are experts in the area of planning travel for families. There are many misconceptions when it comes to traveling to Universal Orlando with small children. There are actually plenty of options in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures for children of all ages. Families with young children can truly enjoy a week-long vacation on property at the Universal Orlando Resort. The manageability of the Universal Orlando Resort makes it one of our number one choices when planning family vacations.
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Key Points for Families with Kids A common myth we debunk is, theres nothing for kids to do at Universal. This could not be further from the truth. One of the things we encourage you to do is not to compare it to other Orlando theme parks. Universal Orlando stands on its own for what it has to offer. What they have to offer is a theme park experience that is manageable due to the lack of pre-scheduled activities. This in turn can actually make for a highly enjoyable vacation for everyone involved. Families that we work with tell us that they have been able to slow down, and play with their family and in some cases even ditch a watch. There is no need for time because you dont need anything scheduled. Crowds tend to be lighter at Universal Orlando and streets are wider thus allowing for more roam space for families with strollers and other gear. While there is more movable space in the two parks, Universal Orlandos park are much more compact, making them easier to navigate which again, makes it a very manageable option for families. Another huge hit is the proximity of the on-site resorts. I absolutely LOVE that I can be back in my room in as little as 4 minutes (if staying at Hard Rock) or a long as only 10 minutes if staying at Cabana Bay. When traveling with my kids, this feature is HUGE!
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Last, Universals Express Pass is something to boast about. The Express Pass allows on property guests (staying at Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino, and Hard Rock Hotel) UNLIMITED access to bypass the lines anytime and as often as desired. The best part is, this benefit is worth staying on Universal property as it significantly reduces your wait time therefore creating a highly stress free vacation for the family, no matter what time of year you decide to travel. Of course I have special touring plans for our booked clients. These plans will help you maximize your park time and give you time to enjoy some downtime back at the resort. Quick Tips:
Children 42 tall will get to experience most of the rides. If you travel with a small child that is too short but brave enough to ride, make sure you have a conversation before you arrive to avoid stress. In a situation where a child wants to ride but cannot, offer up another alternative such as, a popcorn treat, facepainting, or arcade time.
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My Recommendations Per Park for Families with Small Children: Universal Studios: The attractions I am recommending eliminate rides/attractions that have a height requirement over 40 inches. Despicable Me: Minion Mayham Shrek: 4D Transformers:The Ride 3D E.T. Adventure The Simpsons Ride Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl Fievel's Playland- A great spot to relax. Animal Actors on Location Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster A Day in the Park With Barney Curious George Goes to Town-Have clothes that you dont mind getting wet. Universal's Superstar Parade Ollivanders Diagon Alley-Explore Knight Bus Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 Years of Movie Memories
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Islands of Adventure The attractions I am recommending eliminate rides/attractions that have a height requirement over 40 inches. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Storm Force Accelatron Pteranodon Flyers Camp Jurassic Me Ship, The Olive Oh! The Stories You'll Hear! If I Ran the Zoo The Cat in the Hat One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Caro-Seuss-el The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show The Mystic Fountain Poseidon's Fury Jurassic Park Discovery Center Flight of the Hippogriff Ollivanders
Quick Tip: With a park to park ticket you can ride the very magical Hogwarts Express Train. This is highly recommended.
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Strollers Strollers are available for rent at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks. You can rent the following:
Single Stoller $14.99 per day Double Stroller $24.99 per day You will be required to deposit $50 cash or credit. This will be fully refunded upon return. If you leave and switch parks or go back to the room for a break and come back, simply show your receipt and you will get a new one. Quick Tip: The strollers are large and uncomfortable. I like to bring my own or purchase a cheap umbrella stroller. All airlines will allow you to roll your stroller to the gate and they will store it for you for free.
Universal Orlandos Rider Switch/Family Room I have personally traveled to the Universal Orlando Resort with and without my family. I understand the importance of managing parties of all ages and sizes and appreciate convinces when I see them. Very unique in theme park travel Universal Orlando has a wonderful Rider Switch/Family Room area on their attractions that allow your party to stay together. Rider Switch / Family Room Parties with a small child may take advantage of Universal Orlandos Child swap program. This allows one member of a party to wait with the child while the rest of the party rides. They then change places so all may enjoy the ride. This amenity is located at most major rides within Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios have a waiting area which parties with small children, seniors, or customers who wish to not ride the attraction may take advantage of. Rider Switch / Family Rooms are available at all rides that have a minimum height requirement. How it works: For parties with small children, one member of a party can wait with the child while the rest of the party rides, then the adults change places so all may enjoy the ride. The second adult and party are not required to re-enter the beginning of the que line. Most Child Swap/Family Rooms are indoors, air conditioned, with seating and some offer
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video entertainment. The service is complimentary and allows all guests to enjoy as much time with family and friends while they experience the storytelling that occurs while walking through the queue lines of the attractions. When the guest reaches the ride, they can choose to sit-out the ride and wait for their group to complete the ride.
Universal Orlando Characters When venturing out into the parks make sure to take note of the following locations where you might find your favorite characters for a photo opportunity:
In Universal Studios Florida be on the lookout in Hollywood and in the KidZone In Islands of Adventure take notice in Marvel, Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon It is important to know that if you are used to character meet and greets at Walt Disney World, this is going to be way different. Characters are not as well sought out as they are at Walt Disney World. The meet and greets are very relaxed and even can be so relaxed that they dont happen.
Quick Tips Get a copy of the 2-park guide map. They have a printed schedule of character locations.
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Superstar Parade characters appear in the Character Party Zone they do a meet and greet and mini show. Some extra exciting characters to meet are; Shrek meet and greet with Donkey, and the Transformers photo-op, Dont forget to bring an autograph book and pen.
Character Dining Character Dining is another item that is briefly touched on as it is not as popular at the Universal Orlando Resort as you may be used to. While we always recommend our Clients are prepared for dining, it is not always necessary to schedule your dining in advance. Character Breakfast
Universal's Superstar Character Breakfast - Share a delicious breakfast at Universal Studios Florida with some of the characters from Universal's Superstar Parade. Breakfast buffet includes scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, fluffy pancakes, fresh fruit, yogurt, muffins, croissants, and more. Opportunity for photos and autographs with characters from Nickelodeon's hit comedy Hop and Universal's Despicable Me. Hard Rock Hotel Character Breakfast Join us in The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel every Tuesday morning for our Character Breakfast featuring some of your favorite theme park characters! The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel-Tuesdays 8:00am-11:00 am Loews Royal Pacific Resort Character Breakfast Every Sunday, experience an island twist on the traditional breakfast with your favorite theme park characters at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. You'll enjoy: A full buffet of breakfast favorites, plus an omelet station. Opportunity for photos and autographs with your favorite theme park characters Island's Dining Room at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Sundays 7:00am-12:00pm
Character Dinner On select evenings at our participating on-site hotel restaurants, you and your family will be visited by some of your favorite Universal Orlando Resort theme park characters