Tips for Universal Studios for Toddlers & Babies
Before having kids, my husband and I frequented Universal Studios Orlando and were Annual Passholders for several years. Once we had kids, I became more aware of what the park offered for little ones. While Universal isn’t quite as baby and toddler friendly as other theme parks, it still makes for a great family trip if you know what to do in advanced. Here are a few helpful tips for traveling to Universal Studios for toddlers & babies.
This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Thank you to Universal Orlando Resorts for hosting my family and providing free tickets to enjoy the theme parks.
Bring a Stroller
When traveling to any theme park with little kids, it’s important to bring a stroller along. Universal Studios stroller policy doesn’t limit the stroller size. Can you bring a wagon into Universal Studios? Yes and no. We saw several Keenz Wagons while visiting the parks, however, any pull behind wagons are prohibited.
Single or double strollers are available for rent upon entering Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These are hard plastic strollers. While they work great for older kids, I would highly recommend bringing your own when visiting with toddlers and babies.
Stroller Parking is provided in designated areas throughout both parks. All stroller parking areas are near the entrance of the rides and are typically near staffed areas. We left our stroller without fear of strangers rummaging through our stuff. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to bring strollers into any ride queues or shows. I always bring along my Ergo Baby Carrier just in case I need to carry along a sleeping child.
Florida also has frequent showers and thunderstorms, especially during the spring and summer months. I also always bring our plastic stroller rain cover to keep everything dry in the event of inclement weather.
Universal Orlando Child Swap
There are no rides at Universal Orlando that allow lap sitting babies. There are are a few rides for toddlers, and even more options for preschoolers (more on that below). However, for most attractions, you will need to use Universal Orlando Child Swap. This service allows you to wait in line with your party (baby or toddler included). Once you reach the front of the line, one person waits in a designated area while everyone else rides. They have quiet waiting areas with seating, some also include a changing table and TV for entertainment.
Once your party has ridden, you are able to ‘swap’ one adult so they can stay with the baby or toddler. The rest of the party is able to ride again, and you go straight to the front of the line, without needing to wait. Great right?! I would also recommend bringing a diaper bag in line with you. My daughter was bored waiting and we quickly learned that bringing a snack, book or toy made the swapping time much easier.
Play Areas for Kids at Universal Orlando for Toddlers
Universal has several play areas in each park designed especially for younger children. In Universal Studios, inside the Woody Woodpecker Kidzone they have Fievals Playland, Curious George A Day at the Park (mostly wet), and Barney’s Backyard Playground (air conditioned). At Island of Adventures, there is Dr Suess’ If I Ran a Zoo (with water play area), Discovery Dino Center (air conditioned), and Camp Jurassic play area.
Kids can run, jump, climb and bounce through this whimsical playground filled with oversized props from the films An American Tail and Fievel Goes West. They’ll see the world through a mouse’s eyes as they climb a 30-foot spider web, crawl through giant tin cans, cross swaying rope bridges, explore an enormous cowboy boot, splash in a 1,000-gallon cowboy hat and take on a twisting 200-foot water slide.
Curious George Goes To Town
The Curious George themed playground is overflowing with fun for all ages. Enter the town’s cartoonish buildings and grab a pump, hose, or lever in the water play area. Discover tons of toddler activities for inquisitive littles in the Animal Show tent. And head to the Man with the Yellow Hat’s Ball Factory where you can throw, blast, and launch thousands of soft foam balls at family and friends—and anyone else nearby. There is a dry play area, but most of the playground is wet so a change of clothes or bathing suit is a must.
Barney’s Backyard Playground
My girls absolutely loved this area! And I liked the fact that is was Air Conditioned and a much need break for the heat. Barney’s Backyard play area is full of hands-on experiences for curious kiddos. Hop on BJ’s Express train and plan a pretend getaway. Make music with step-on stones and giant wind chimes. Explore the tall, leafy treehouse. Splash around the water area, or build a castle in the sand area. Using all five senses, little ones can explore every inch of this woodsy indoor space.
Dr Suess’ If I Ran a Zoo
Step into wacky habitats filled with bizarre creatures in this fanciful play area inspired by Gerald McGrew and his extraordinary zoo of unusual animals from the farthest reaches. Slide down the tunnels in Zomba-ma-tant, and trap beasts (or siblings) in a watery cage in the wet play area. Catch the elusive Natch in a cave in Kartoom, ride a curious cow with multiple humps, or play a game on the belly of Tic Tac Joe. But beware the Scraggle Foot Mulligatawny—unless you like getting sneezed on.
Jurassic Park Discovery Center
Unearth the mysteries of our planet’s prehistoric past at this interactive center where dinosaurs have been brought back to co-exist with humans. Test your DNA to see what kind of dinosaur you would be, experience how they view and hear the world, and play the hilarious trivia game You Bet Jurassic. Marvel at towering fossils of a massive T Rex and other creatures that once dominated the earth. Hold a dinosaur egg in the nursery where, if you’re lucky, you might see a baby Velociraptor hatch.
This mega recreation area is a multi-level prehistoric playground where kids can have mammoth-sized fun. Explore dark caves and mysterious amber mines, climb dinosaur capture nets, play on themed slides, and negotiate swaying suspension bridges. Survey the lava pit chamber, walk the Thunder Lizard Trail as the ground rumbles with the roar of dinosaurs, and join in a water cannon fight in the containment paddock.
For toddlers, I would recommend the Dr Suess playground, Barney’s Backyard Playground and the Curious George playground. The others seemed to be geared toward preschool age kids and older.
Rides at Universal Orlando for Toddlers
There are only a few rides that toddlers can go on at Island of Adventures. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish allows toddlers who can walk on their own to ride with an adult. The same applies for the Caro-Suess-el, also located in Suess Landing. On Marvel Island, toddlers can also ride Storm Force Acceleration. For all three rides, the child must have good head and body control and be able to sit up on their own. No lap sitting is allowed.
Between the two parks, kids and babies of all ages can ride the Hogwarts Express. But you will need a 2-park pass to ride this, since it connects at the back of both parks.
At Universal Studios Orlando, toddlers who are 34″ can ride E.T. Adventure. In the Simpson’s area, toddlers can also ride Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl. This is very similar to One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Rides at Universal Studios Orlando for 3 year old
Preschool age children can ride a lot more at Universal Studios and Island of Adventures. Here is a list with corresponding height requirements. What your child can ride will be determined by their size.
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong 36″ (Island of Adventures)
- Pteranodon Flyers 36″ (Island of Adventures)
- Flight of the Hippogriff 36″ (Island of Adventures)
- Cat in the Hat 36″ (Island of Adventures)
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! 36″ (Island of Adventures)
- Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster 36″ (Universal Studios)
- Plus the “toddler friendly” rides mentioned above!
Meeting Characters at Universal Orlando
There are lots of popular characters to meet at Universal Orlando. Be sure to check a park map or The Official Universal Orlando Resort™ App for character meeting times and locations. Universal Studios also has a parade with several favorite characters.
Kid-Friendly Universal Studios Orlando Characters List:
- Minions (at the exit of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem inside the Super Silly Stuff store)
- Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes (Superstar Parade)
- Vector – Minion Villain (Superstar Parade)
- Knight Bus Conductor (by the bus outside of Diagon Ally)
- Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron (outside of TRANSFORMERS ride)
- SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, and Squidward Tentacles (inside SpongeBob StorePants and in Superstar Parade)
- Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, and the Gang (near Brown Derby Hat Shop)
- Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey (near Shrek 4-D)
- Hello Kitty (Hollywood Blvd. near Hello Kitty Store)
- Penguins of Madagascar (Hollywood Blvd. near Garden of Allah)
- Dora, Diego, Boots, and Baby Jaguar (Superstar Parade)
- Barney and Friends (Woody Woodpecker’s Kid Zone near A Day in the Park with Barney)
- Poppy, Guy Diamond, and Branch (outside of the E.T. Exit)
Kid-Friendly Island of Adventures Characters List:
- Marvel Super Heroes: Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, and Rogue (Marvel Super Hero Island)
- Jurassic Park Raptors (in Jurassic Park) a little scary!
- Po from Kung Fu Panda (at Port of Entry)
- Puss in Boots (at Port of Entry)
- Alex the Lion (at Port of Entry)
- Popeye and Olive Oyl (Toon Lagoon)
- Dr. Seuss Characters: The Grinch, Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Sam I Am, and The Lorax (in Suess Landing)
- She-Ra (near Mythos Restaurant)
Shows & Entertainment for Little Kids
There are also lots of shows to see at Universal Orlando for toddlers and little ones. In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Island of Adventures, check out the magic of Olivanders. If you purchase a wand, little ones can explore the world of Harry Potter and make magic happen with the flick of a wrist.
Don’t miss “Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!” a fun story time experience in Suess Landing. Poseidon’s Fury is a neat walk through adventure with lots of special effects. Check out the Mystic Fountain for a good laugh. It sang a song about my 4 yr old that she absolutely loved. End the night with The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, a magical projection of lights and fireworks.
In Universal Studios, A Day in the Park with Barney is a great show for little kids. If your kids love animals, the Animal Actors on Location show is also lots of fun. Additionally, don’t miss the Superstar Parade to see some of your child’s favorite characters.
Universal Studios Orlando Baby Care Center
Universal Studios Orlando has several baby centers throughout the property. These are located at the Health Services center at each park. At Universal Studios, the family services center is located near the lockers to the right of Lost and Found. This was a small room with a few chairs, a changing table, one private nursing room, bottle warmer, rocking chair and microwave.
At Island of Adventures, the family services center was located to the right of the entrance near the First Aid center. This room had a small kid sized table and chairs, two private nursing areas, a microwave, sink, water dispenser (cold or hot) and a bottle warmer. Both facilities are staffed by first aid employees and upon arrival you may be asked for your name prior to being admitted.
I was informed that there are also Universal Studios Orlando Baby Care Centers near the creamery on City Walk, toward the back of Islands of Adventure near the old Sinbad show and on the backside of Universal. Most staff members didn’t know about these services, and couldn’t direct us where to go. Look for the First Aid signs on your map.
Universal Studios Orlando Food Policy
The Universal Studios Orlando food policy allows you to bring in several snack and food items. The following items are allowed to be brought into the parks:
- Bottled Water (maximum 2 liters)
- Small snacks that do not require heating
- Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements
- Any food required for special dietary needs
- Baby food/baby formula
- Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep
Prohibited Items Include:
- Glass containers
- Open containers
- Hard-sided coolers
- Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep
- Picnic lunches
- Food that requires heating or refrigeration
Make sure you have enough food, snacks, drinks and diapers for baby as these are not available for purchase in the park if you run out. Most restaurants offer kids meals, but didn’t have apple juice or milk. We brought our own juice into the park, as well as snacks (Goldfish, Teddy Grams, Fruit, etc) baby food, and kids Tylenol just in case.
Parking & Arrival at Universal Orlando for Toddlers & Young Kids
Parking at Universal consists of two parking garages, preferred parking ($30/day) and regular parking ($20/day). They have moving walkways to help expedite the walk to the main theme park, but strollers aren’t permitted. After walking extremely far the first day, we opted to pay for preferred parking the remainder of the trip. The best part about preferred parking is you can park yourself without really being guided to a specific area. If you pay for preferred parking, be sure to go to the Jurassic Park section. That is the closest and makes for the shortest walk to the parks.
TIP: Take a photo of the section you park in so you know where to find your car at the end of the day.
Prior to reaching the park, you will need to go through security, all guests go through metal detectors (including the stroller) and all bags must be put through an X-Ray machine (similar to airport security). This was a pretty quick process. There’s no need to remove baby or any loose baby items from the stroller.
Final Tips for Universal Orlando for Toddlers & Babies
Florida is HOT. Universal has very few shaded areas when walking through the park. We have a clip on stroller fan that helps circulate air for our kids. Ensure you bring plenty of sunscreen and light, cool clothing for your baby/toddler. Be sure to stay hydrated and take strategic breaks throughout the day to stay cool. Placing frozen water bottles in your soft cooler can help keep your food cool while also providing something cold to drink later in the day.
Is Universal Orlando Good for Toddlers?
Ultimately, yes I would say that Universal Orlando is good for toddlers! Although little ones cannot ride a lot, there are tons of play areas and entertainment to keep them happy. I love how accommodating Universal Orlando is with their Baby Care Centers and Child Swap options for parents to use. If you’re considering a trip to Universal Orlando with a baby, toddler or young child, I would definitely recommend booking!
Are you planning a trip to Universal? Let me know what questions you have about Universal Studios for Toddlers & Babies!
This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.