Your Everything Guide to Universal Orlando Resort
COVID-19 UPDATE: Universal Orlando reopened on June 5, 2020. They ask that visitors follow guidelines from the CDC and health officials, and also follow Universal Orlando’s policies, including the mandatory wearing of face masks. Full details on their policy here.
There’s nothing more fun than taking your kids to an awesome theme park like Universal Orlando Resort (UOR), home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP) and many other rides and attractions. However, unless you live two blocks away from the parks and/or have the bravery of a Navy SEAL, a visit isn’t as easy as just showing up at the gate and buying tickets. Instead, there are many considerations, tips, and plans you need to take into account both before and during your sunny Florida vacation to keep your sanity, and your wallet, in check.
The good news is that my boys and I were just at the parks for a fun-filled three days, and I’m going to share with you all of the information you need over a series of four posts, including this one. (Especially if you need information about how amazing the churros are.) (Very. The churros are very amazing.) My main reason for our visit was so the boys could experience the Harry Potter rides and attractions before they’re too old to enjoy them. However, we really had fun with the parks’ other rides and attractions, too.
Starting at what age will kids get the most out of the Universal Orlando theme parks?
At the time of our visit, my kids’ ages were 14 and 12. For that reason, my guide to the parks is viewed through the lens of tween/teens because we didn’t go on any rides designed for the sippy-cup crew. If you want information about the diaper changing stations, I’m not your gal. That said, most of the offerings from Universal Orlando Resort definitely skew towards kids over the age of eight, as the rides are faster and more intense than most of Disney World’s. It’s the perfect destination for thrill-seeking younger teens who’ll still pick up a magic wand without embarrassment.
Harry Potter definitely rules with the tween/teen crowd, so I would wait until your kids are at least over the age of eight before bringing them to WWHP. Younger fans may have read the books and seen the movies, but with the exception of one Harry Potter ride (Flight of the Hippogriff—height requirement is 36 inches), the others are a little too intense for those under the age of eight (and they have height requirements ranging from 42 to 54 inches.) Older kids also pick up all of the subtleties from the stories in the parks’ and rides’ designs that may go over the heads of the small fry. Of course, that’s my opinion, and if your kid isn’t scared of giant spiders spitting water into her face while she’s whipped around in the dark, godspeed, mama.
When’s a good time to visit the Universal Orlando theme parks?
We visited the Universal Orlando Resort (UOR) parks in mid-February, which I highly recommend as the optimal time to visit. The weather isn’t humid, and temperatures average in the mid 70’s. Plus most of America is in school, with only some students having the odd “mid-term” or “winter” break like we did. Summer would be a whole other story, with the heat factor, plus larger, more sweaty crowds. (Shudder.) However, UOR does have many misting stations about, as well as shaded places and plentiful air conditioning. And if you stay at one of their hotels, it’s an easy trip back to take a mid-day rest in your room, then return for more fun during the cooler evenings.
Now, let’s get this ride started!
Planning Guides for Universal Orlando Resort
As you read my guides, keep in mind that “Universal Orlando Resort” is the umbrella name for the destination, and UOR includes five hotels, two theme parks – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida – and the shopping and restaurant/entertainment area called CityWalk. Because the destination is so big and there are so many offerings, we’re going to help you navigate it all with four specific posts.
What you’re reading right now is the Main Guide, and you can click through to these other guides to learn more about the following and make your Universal Orlando Resort experience the best it can be. Click on the pictures or the titles to be taken to these individual guides below that are chock full of information and tips.
Thank you to Universal Orlando for hosting me and my family during our stay and visit; as you read, we had a fantastic time! All opinions are my own.