We were provided complimentary tickets to Universal Orlando to facilitate my review. The opinions in this post are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
We had the best time at Universal Orlando when we took the kids a couple months ago. This was our first trip to these parks and it was SO much fun! Today I’m sharing some of our favorite attractions that you’ll want to hit while you’re visiting with your kids. Be sure to check out my post on the 9 3/4 Things To Do In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter too. So much to see there I had to make it a separate post!
Before I dive into our favorite rides and attractions I want give you just a few tips.
- First, Universal Orlando is comprised of two separate theme parks: Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley is in this one) and Universal Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade is in this one). If you want to go back and forth between both parks you’ll need to buy a Park-To-Park admission ticket. You can get the rates here and even purchase your tickets online. I definitely suggest this. There’s a lot to do in each park.
- Check the hours each park is open on the day(s) you visit and plan your day accordingly. We were not smart and started in the park that was open later, and then went to the park that closed earlier afterward. Don’t be like me.
- Along that same line, familiarize yourself with the parks and attractions before you get there. There’s a lot to see and do and you want to prioritize the attractions so you don’t miss your must-dos. Here are the theme park maps for your convenience.
- Try to pack light. There are a few rides that do not allow you to carry a purse or bag with you onto the ride. They provide free lockers for a limited period of time for this purpose and they’re great – clean, easy to use, and convenient to the rides’ entrances. But it is one more thing to go do before you get in line for your ride. So if you can avoid carrying a bag into the park, I’d suggest trying to. I had my purse with me and it wasn’t a big deal but worth mentioning.
- For easy access to the parks consider staying in an on-site hotel. They have some fabulous options including the brand new Cabana Bay Beach Resort!
Now, onto those rides!
Top 9 Things You Need to Do at Universal Orlando Theme Parks
1. MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack
MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack is serious fun. I think we went on this ride four times. In a row. My kids LOVED it, and if you’ve got a competitive streak it’s tons of fun. Get whipped around the streets of New York while you shoot at aliens. It’s good fun for the whole family. I was determined to get a higher score than my husband!
2. The Simpsons Ride
There’s a lot to do in Springfield, U.S.A. We actually ate lunch here too (Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is some good stuff!), but the highlight was The Simpsons Ride. You guys, this ride is crazy. It’s like a 3D trip through Krustyland and it is WILD! Universal has really nailed the 3D effects. Honestly my husband and I were both a little woozy when we got off this ride but my kids were begging to go on again.
3. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
If you’ve ever wished you were a minion (I mean, they have so much fun!) this is your ride. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is so cute. It’s a fun and exciting 3D adventure through Gru’s labratory but Gru and his girls make it more heartwarming than harrowing. We all LOVED this ride.
And at the end the kids got to have their picture taken with a real live minion! (I think Leo is still a little wet from his Curious George Adventure…keep reading!)
4. TRANSFORMERS – The Ride-3D
TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D is another totally immersive experience. You are INSIDE the world of Transformers on this ride. It’s grab-someone’s-arm exciting!
So many cool effects. My son is 5 and he really was on the edge of being able to handle this but he did want to go on so we took him. A tip for parents: I told both of my kids (and myself!) that if these 3D rides get too intense, just take off your 3D glasses. It’s still thrilling but a little less extreme. If you ARE an extreme thrill seeker, don’t miss this ride. I happened to love it!
5. Curious George Goes To Town
Curious George Goes to Town is the hot spot in Universal Studios Florida for kids, at least according to my kids. And I quite enjoyed it too because while they were having fun in this storybook land, I was able to sit in the shade and take a breather without taking my eyes off of them. Bonus!
There is a section for very small kids and lots of places to get wet. Smart parents (this is not me, folks) brought bathing suits for their kids. Mine just dove in fully dressed. YOLO. They were having far too much fun for me to worry about it and the Florida sun dried them off pretty quickly.
You can see Leo didn’t hold back. Before we left this part of the park we actually ran into Curious George himself. If you’re visiting with children of any age this should be on your must-do list!
6. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
In the interest of full disclosure, we didn’t actually ride this one. My kids had finally dried off when we headed from Universal Studios Florida to Universal Islands of Adventure and we didn’t want to get wet again. But just look at this. Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls is the flume ride to end all flume rides with a 75-foot drop. Yes, you’ll get soaked.
7. Pteranodon Flyers
Pteranodon Flyers was one of our favorite rides of the entire day and it was the last ride we went on. I’ll tell you, the wait was a little long for us because you can only load 2 people on at a time but it’s worth it. This is a really gentle and beautiful ride that flies you high above the park, flying like a Pteranadon would have.
Lily loved it! (Don’t take pictures up here. You’re not supposed to and what if I would have dropped my phone?! Do as I say, not as I do. 😉 )
8. Seuss Landing
This is the part where I kick myself for being a poor planner. We stayed too long at the first park and totally missed out on this attraction and I know my kids would have LOVED it. There’s a ton of kid-friendly rides and attractions in Seuss Landing and we’re huge Dr. Seuss fans. So follow my tips at the top of this post and make sure you plan your day well.
9. Universal CityWalk
When you’re pooped out from a long, exciting day at the Universal Orlando parks, grab some dinner at Universal CityWalk before you hit the road. We had the best Mexican meal at Antojitos, and I’ll be honest, I was shocked how totally reasonable the prices are. Excellent food, really cool atmosphere, and family-friendly. It’s a win. Of course if Mexican isn’t your thing there are tons of other choices. And there’s shopping there too, so… Don’t miss it!
Be sure to follow Universal Orlando on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for all the latest news about these attractions and more! I love seeing a taste of Universal in my Instagram feed, too. Hope to take the kids back soon!
Don’t forget to check out my post on the 9 3/4 Things You Need to Do In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter plus my review of Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food at Universal CityWalk!
So those are my family’s favorites from our whirlwind day at the Universal Orlando parks. Have you ever been? I’d love to hear about your favorite ride or attraction, too!