Complete Guide to Universal Studios for Kids

universal-studios-kids-rides

Complete Guide to Universal Studios for Kids

This blog post is your complete guide when planning rides and entertainment at Universal Orlando for kids!

Universal Orlando Resort is a mega amusement park full of thrilling and exciting rides, typically known to be targeted towards teens and adults. However, the park is just as much for kids as it is for the older crowd. As much as it may not seem like the best age for Universal, kids are able to have just as much fun as the older crowd.

Our guide includes venturing on age-appropriate rides, meeting silly and famous characters, and seeing all the shows and events the park has to offer. In this guide, we will cover the best rides at Universal Studios for kids, best rides at Islands of Adventure for Kids and so much more!

We hope you find this post helpful! Our goal at The Park Prodigy has always been to help you save time and money on your next Universal Orlando vacation!  If you are planning a trip to Universal Orlando be sure to check out the latest deals on Universal Orlando vacation packages and our discounted Universal Orlando tickets which include EARLY PARK ADMISSION to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

So if you’re ready to learn more about visiting Universal Orlando with kids here’s what you need to know!

SPECIAL NOTE: If you need help picking the best time to visit Universal Orlando for your next vacation be sure to check out our Universal crowd calendar!

 Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar

Is Universal Orlando Kid Friendly?

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There is no age limit when it comes to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Although toddler rides at Universal Orlando are limited, there are still ways to keep little ones occupied. Kids are always welcome to enjoy all Universal Studios has to offer, and it’s most likely a guarantee that your little one will be amused with all the fun music and colorful and vibrant décor.

Universal Orlando for Toddlers and Babies

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The good news: there’s no admission fee for children under 3 years-old. There are no age restrictions at Universal that don’t allow babies and toddler in the park. However, the Universal Studios age recommendation is a fairly mature 8 years-old. If they’re younger they probably won’t be able to appreciate much of the entertainment or be able to go on many rides, but families do have a fun experience when taking a trip together.

Although the little ones may not appreciate all Universal has to offer, that doesn’t mean they’re unwelcome. Both Universal theme parks have Family Services facilities for infant and toddler care. These are equipped for changing diapers, preparing formulas, warming bottles, and providing food. Supplies are for sale, and special chairs for nursing mothers are provided along with rockers.

Comparing Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for Kids

Universal Orlando Resort offers two different theme parks full of exciting themes for both children and adults. While Universal Studios may seem like the best park for kids, Islands of Adventure has plenty of activities for children, as well.

Let’s compare the two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, to see which park will be best for kids at Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Studios Florida for Kids

What is best age for Universal Studios?

This question depends on the family! There are many activities for children in Universal Studios for a vast age range.

There are many thrilling rides meant for the grown-ups at the parks, making it seem like the best age to visit Universal Studios is a teen or adult. However, the theme parks make sure to incorporate everything for even the youngest fans. They even have a dedicated area for kids visiting Universal, so there really is no bad age to visit. Plus, the memories might fade a little for them, but your memories of having a blast as a family will last a lifetime!

Universal Studios is a wonderful introduction park for most families who are bringing young children to Universal Orlando Resort. There are plenty of rides available with a rather low height requirement, making it very kid friendly. Universal Studios has rides like Men in Black, where you can shoot away at intergalactic aliens for points, or E.T., which takes you on a magical bike adventure into space. You can also meet some of our favorite childhood friends like SpongeBob Squarepants or Shrek!

Universal Studios Florida Height Requirements

Transformers Ride Universal Studios

One of the most important things about making your Universal Studios trip with kids run more smoothly is measuring their height before you leave. Once you have that magic number, it will be easy to see which rides are available for your family to experience while in the parks. Let’t talk about the best rides for kids in Universal Studios, starting with height!

Universal Studios Orlando Rides With No Height Requirement

  • Shrek 4D
  • Hogwarts Express – King’s Cross Station
  • Kang and Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

If you have a park hopper ticket, the Hogwarts Express magical journey from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade, just like in the Harry Potter movies!  You board a train and get to hang out with all of our Harry Potter friends on the Hogwarts Express, just like it’s the first day of school at Hogwarts.

Universal Studios Orlando Height Requirement

E.T Adventure

  • Height Requirement – Minimum Height 34″ (86.36 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 36″ (92 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 40″ (102 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 40″ (102 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

The Simpsons Ride

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 40″ (102 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 40″ (102 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 42″ (107 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Men In Black Alien Attack

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 40″ (102 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Revenge Of The Mummy

  • You must be at least 48 inches tall to ride Revenge of the Mummy.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

–  You must be between 51 inches and 79 inches in height to ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Best Universal Studios Rides for Kids

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E.T Adventure

Guests of all ages join E.T. on a journey from Earth to the friendly alien’s home planet. While adults feel the nostalgia from the 1982 movie, the little ones will be in awe over their journey. This wholesome adventure makes for one of the best family rides at Universal Studios Orlando.

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster

This is a great beginner’s roller coaster for kids who are at least 36 inches tall (if you’re looking to get them into thrilling rides early). Universal rides for kids typically include entertainment throughout the entire segment, including fun signs kids get to read while waiting to ride this coaster.

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The Simpsons Ride

Although little kids may not appreciate the longest-running sitcom, they can enjoy their ride (if they’re 40 inches or over). Clips from the hit show play before guests load onto the 4D ride vehicle. You and the kids will truly feel as if you’re being featured in one of the episodes, which will make for a good laugh.

Kang & Kodos’s Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

One of the other kid friendly rides at Universal Studios Orlando is also located in Springfield: Home of the Simpsons. Spin in flying saucers and soar above the crowds on this fun ride with no height requirement. Each flying saucer can fit an average adult with one or two kids, making this one of the fun Universal Studios rides for little ones.

Best Universal Studios Shows for Kids

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One of the most entertaining things for toddlers to do at Universal Studios Orlando (and to keep them occupied so the parents can take a breather) is sitting and watching live entertainment. At KidZone, families can enjoy shows like A Day in the Park with Barney and Animal Actors on Location!

Animal actors on location!

The large open-air theater hosts a live show featuring Hollywood’s famous animal performers, including pigs, birds, chickens, roosters, dogs, cats, and even a skunk! Kids also may be selected to volunteer to be in the production. After the show, you get the chance to take a photo with some of the trainers and animals.

 A day in the park with Barney

This is the perfect activity at Universal Studios Orlando for toddlers because they get to watch one of their favorite characters come to life. Families watching the show are encouraged to sing along to all the songs with Barney, Baby-Bop, and BJ. Afterwards, guests can make their way through the gift shop to Barney’s Backyard. If you’re visiting Universal Studios with preschoolers, this is the perfect place to go, because it’s mainly designed for anyone under 36 inches.  This part of Universal for little kids includes “riding” on BJ’s Express train and climb the treehouse, making this an imaginative place. You don’t have to see the show to visit the indoor playground.

Fear Factor Live

Kids of all ages can enjoy contestants competing in physical challenges. They can laugh, cheer the contestants on, and enjoy recharging in a covered auditorium.

Best Universal Studios Character Appearances

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SpongeBob SquarePants

Say hello to your favorite undersea creatures. SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward meet throughout the day inside of Spongebob StorePants shop. Character appearances will vary throughout the day.

Shrek

Greetings from the swamp! The Shrek 4D show takes the audience on a hilarious adventure jam-packed with fun. However, there are parts of the show that are a bit spooky. Keep in mind that 4D means seats will remain stationary, but there will be some jolts and vibrations.

After riding Shrek 4D (which is another no-minimum height ride), stop by and see if Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey are waiting to meet you!

Despicable Me

If you’re a Universal veteran, you may remember the old Jimmy Neutron ride… Well, that ride was renovated and turned into a Despicable Me story. However, the format of the ride is basically the same as it was for Jimmy Neutron.

The Despicable Me ride is similar to the Shrek 4D adventure in the sense that it is an audience show, but is designed a little more like a simulation ride. The audience seating is sectioned off by two rows of four seats that share lap-bar. It has a height requirement of 40 inches. Be sure to meet the Minions after the ride!

Hollywood Character Zone

The Character Zone is the perfect spot in Universal for toddlers, kids, and adults to enjoy a mix of celebrity meet and greets. Fun characters like Curious George, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker and more are available for pictures. Characters like Scooby-Doo and the gang are always sure to make the kids laugh!universal-orlando-ticket-banner

Islands of Adventure for Kids

Seuss Landing Rides

What is the best age for Islands of Adventure?

Unlike the best age for Universal Studios, you may be worried that the best age for Islands of Adventure may be different! Luckily, there are still plenty of things to do in this thrilling sister park of Universal Studios.

Islands of Adventure is a thrilling park, with plenty of modern pop culture for even the youngest of fans to enjoy. Islands of Adventure is home to the original Hogsmeade, for the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the cult classic Jurassic Park, with many rides and activities for all. Unfortunately, this park is aimed more toward adults, but can still be plenty of fun for kids, as well.

Islands of Adventure Height Requirements

Harry Potter Ride Islands of Adventure

Universal Islands Of Adventure Rides With No Height Requirements

  • Caro-Seuss-El
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Hogwarts Express – Hogsmeade Station
  • Storm Force Accelatron

Universal Islands Of Adventure Height Requirements

Skull Island: Reign Of Kong

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 36″ (92 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Flight Of The Hippogriff

  • Height Requirement- Minimum Height 36″ (92 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Cat In The Hat

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 36” (92 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Pteranodon Flyers

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 36” (92 cm) Max height 56” (142 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

The Amazing Adventures Of Spider-Man

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 40” (102 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

The High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 36” (92 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 42” (107 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Jurassic Park River Adventure

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 42” (107 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

  • Height Requirement – Minimum Height 51″ (130 cm)

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls

  • Height Requirement- Min Height 44” (111.8 cm)

  • Supervising Companion Required – Under 48” (122 cm) Requires Supervising Companion

Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey

  • You must be at least 48 inches tall to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

  • Height Requirement – Minimum Height 48″ (122 cm)

Doctor Doom’s Fearfall

  • You must be at least 52 inches tall to ride Doctor Doom’s Fearfall.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster

  • You must be at least 54 inches tall to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Best Islands of Adventure Rides for Kids

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is a very popular ride, that typically has a low wait time, which is great if you’re looking for the best Universal rides for kids. This ride is located in Seuss Landing, a themed land that is absolutely geared for the younger travelers in your party. With the familiar story of the zany Cat in the Hat, this ride is nostalgic, goofy and fun. With quick spins, life-sized animatronics and low wait times, it is a no brainer that The Cat in the Hat ride is one of the best Universal rides for kids. 

The Flight of the Hippogriff

This is a great beginner’s roller coaster for kids who are at least 36 inches tall (if you’re looking to get them into thrilling rides early). With incredible views of Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts Castle, any Potter fan would agree that the Flight of the Hippogriff  a wonderful Universal ride for kids.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Another kid friendly ride at Universal is located in Marvel Island. If you have a little superhero in your family, they will love this ride. As an honorary guest of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, you travel through the streets of NYC and fight off our favorite villains. This ride is 4D and a ton of fun, making it a great kid friendly Universal Orlando ride.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Another Seuss Landing Ride has made the list, and that is because of how kid friendly the land is! Being a ride with no height requirement, this Universal ride is good for little ones! In this ride, you are a flying fish that gently glides up and around fun flowing fountains.

Best Islands of Adventure Shows for Kids

Diagon Alley Universal Studios Orlando

Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally

All Harry Potter fans will love the Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally shows. Hogwarts students perform Wizarding World songs alongside giant crooning frogs. Triwizard Spirit Rally gathers witches and wizards from all Magical schools, like the Beauxbatons and Durmstrangs. They dance, march and perform to show their school’s pride and even stick around for some photo-ops. Any Potter kid would agree that this show is one of the best Universal shows for kids!

Ollivanders Wand Shop and interactive wands

A very popular attraction, for kids and adults, in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley is Ollivanders Wand Shop. Small groups are allowed into Olivanders, and one guest is chosen to experience the coveted wand selection. An Ollivander’s Wand Specialist brings to life what every witch or wizard is waiting to experience: the wand choosing the wizard! Just know that only one individual is chosen to “choose their wand,” but the experience is very magical for all of those involved.

Whether or not you are chosen, you have the option to purchase an interactive wand from Ollivanders and participate in spellcasting experiences. There is a special map with all the locations in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley where you are able to try out your spells. You can only enjoy this experience if you purchase an interactive want through Universal, starting at $55 per wand.

Best Islands of Adventure Character Appearances

Dr. Seuss character zone

If your little one, or you, want to meet the Dr. Seuss classic characters, they appear regularily throughout Seuss Landing for plenty of photo-ops. You can expect to see the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam I Am.

Raptor Encounter

While this might not be a great opportunity for very small children, if your child is a dinosaur enthusiast, the Raptor Encounter is a must. In Raptor Encounter you can a very realistic velociraptor Blue, from Jurassic World.  Blue is a wild animal, and is known to be feisty, so make sure your child is okay with loud noises and sudden movements.

Marvel Super Hero Island Heroes and Villains Meet and Greets

All over Super Hero Island are our favorite friends and foes in uniform ready to take fun photos with the family. Green Goblin, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, and many more comic book characters are out and about with special photo-ops.  Make sure to keep your eyes open as you are making your way around the land.

Visiting Universal Orlando Resort With Kids Pros & Cons

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Universal for kids pros

  • One of the biggest benefits of visiting Universal Orlando is there is not as much planning that goes into your trip. Guests for the most part don’t have to worry about advanced dining reservations, fastpass+, and the new park reservation system.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is unlike anything we have ever experienced before and it’s simply a must-see for any aspiring young witch or wizard. Although a majority of the rides are geared towards teens and adults we find that young ones will really be able to enjoy the theming. Another great option is to purchase a Harry Potter interactive wand and explore the different interactive spell zones in the parks. (more on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter later)
  • All rides offer a child swap area, which is where you wait in line for the “big rides” together and then one person waits in a waiting room with the child(ren) and the other rides the ride solo. Then, you swap places without having to wait in line twice! Child swap rooms have coloring books and usually play a kids movie to help you keep them entertained.

Universal for kids cons

  • Although Disney’s Magic Kingdom park is one of the friendliest parks in the world for young kids, Universal Orlando only has seven rides with a height requirement of 34 inches or less. For comparison, the  Magic Kingdom has 12+ rides that don’t require a height requirement at all.

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Which Universal Park is Better for Kids?

Answer: Universal Studios

So which Universal park is better for kids? We find that Universal Studios is the better choice as it has plenty of kid-friendly options when it comes to rides, shows, and character meet and greets! We feel like Islands of Adventure does have some great rides in Dr. Seuss World however we feel the Shrek and Minions shows are more fun not to mention all of the other rides.

It’s also important to note that the answer to this question depends on the child’s age and what Universal characters they like best. Islands of Adventure may be the best choice if your child wants to some more thrilling rides. Another  great place to go check out is Dr. Seuss World, where they can ride One Fish, Two Fish (similar to the Dumbo ride at Disney World, but includes water guns), a merry-go-round, and the Cat-N-Hat ride. A highlight for many younger kids is the High in the Sky Trolley, which takes you on a laid-back ride around the entire Dr. Seuss World section of the park – perfect for kids who like play I Spy!

Islands of Adventure also has Marvel Universe, where older kids can ride the Adventures of Spiderman. There’s also the X-Men Storm Force Acceleration ride, which is a similar concept to the spinning teacups, but faster. They can also meet all of their favorite Marvel heroes while there! Next, you can head over to Toon Lagoon for some fun water-themed rides. Definitely save this for the end of the day, because you may get soaked depending on where you sit!

Related post: Universal Orlando Dining Plans Guide

Wood Woodpecker’s KidZone

This section is entirely dedicated to Universal Studios for young kids and is located between Hollywood and Springfield: Home of the Simpsons. The KidZone is the perfect section for your kids to spend an ample amount of time, as it features Universal Studios Orlando little kid rides. It also includes two themed play areas; Fievel’s Playland and Curious George Goes to Town, which have playgrounds, water play areas, a waterslide and foam ball cannons.

Universal Superstar Parade

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Our guide to Universal Orlando for kids wouldn’t be complete without the entertainment of floats and characters dancing down the park to catchy music. Little ones will love to see beloved characters like Dora and Diego waving at them. Other parades are also scheduled throughout the day at the top of Hollywood Boulevard and feature some character photo-ops.

Strollers at Universal Studios Orlando

Parkgoers are able to rent single strollers for both parks for a price of $15 per day and doubles at $25. Parents can also rent “Kiddie Cars” that feature a plastic steering wheel for your kids for $3 more. There is a $50 deposit that’s required, but will be fully refunded once you return the stroller. If you plan to leave the park and come back or switch parks during the day, you can get a free stroller by showing your receipt. Although there is no Universal Orlando stroller policy, it’s recommended you use one so you don’t have to carry your little ones around all day (because you know they won’t walk).

Adult Swap Clubs

Parents, we know you are kids at heart. But we also know you’re tired of going on rides for toddlers at Universal and want to experience some of the more thrilling stuff. If you’re not willing to sacrifice all the adult rides for toddler rides at Universal Studios Orlando, then you’re going to want to take advantage of “Child Swap.”

There must be 2 adults present in order for this to take place. The adults and children wait on the ride line together. Once you get to the entrance of the attraction, tell the team member you want to child swap. You’ll be directed to the attraction’s loading area, and one adult will ride while the other waits in a special child swap holding area with the kids. When the first adult is done riding, they will switch roles and watch the kids while the other adult goes on the ride. If one of the kids is old enough to enjoy the ride, they can ride twice; one time with each adult. It’s a win-win!

Universal Studios For Kids FAQ

Q: Which Universal Park is better for toddlers?

So which Universal park is better for toddlers? Very simply we still feel like Universal Studios would be the best option when visiting Universal with small kids. Overall it has more rides, shows and characters. We also feel like it has a more laid back vibe as well when compared to Islands of Adventure.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Universal Orlando?

Our Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar is the best tool to help you get the most out of your time in the parks. We breakdown the park crowds, park hours of operation, ticket prices by day, and average temperature.

Are You Ready to Plan Your Next Universal Orlando Trip?

If you’re ready to plan your trip to Universal Studios, be sure to check out our Universal Orlando Tickets! All Park Prodigy Universal Orlando tickets will get you into the park one hour before regular park guests with Universal Early Park Admission! 

Michael Belmont

Michael Belmont is the owner and chief editor at Theparkprodigy.com, an authorized Disney and Universal travel agent. He specializes in Disney and Universal theme park tickets and vacation packages, as well as daily park plans to help optimize vacation time. Michael and The Park Prodigy have been featured on ABC’s Florida affiliate, WTFV, as well as over 10 Disney focused blogs. As owner, Michael manages The Park Prodigy blog and social media, a Disney themed podcast, and a Disney and Universal focused YouTube channel. Prior to starting The Park Prodigy, Michael was a long time Disney and Universal enthusiast, frequent visitor of the parks, and even served as a Walt Disney World Cast Member in Orlando, Florida!