Living in Orlando we are spoiled when it comes to looking for a weekend activity or staycation. There is no shortage of things to do, especially when it comes to the theme parks… for us, specifically Universal Orlando.
As I’ve written about before, earlier this year we purchased annual passes for Universal Orlando. Honestly, it’s been the best money we’ve spent since moving here! Being that we go almost every weekend, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way, particularly as it comes to navigating the park with little ones.
Universal Orlando Food
This is always something we get asked about! While exploring the different theme park food options is part of the experience, we have a system that works like a charm for our family.
- Eat at home or on the way to the park. Nothing is worse than showing up for a day of fun on an empty stomach! There are lots of options at City Walk, but restaurant wait times can be unpredictable and you know the kids are going to be too excited to sit for a meal once they see the rides…
- Pack snacks and a water bottle. One thing we love about Universal is you can bring in food and drinks. We usually fill up a lunch box with snacks, like protein bars, beef sticks, fruit, chips, nuts etc. Sometimes we pack sandwiches or wraps if we know we’ll be there over a mealtime. Bring a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Treat yo’ self to something fun. My husband and I are not really into park food, yet our kids love some of the offerings. We have a refillable popcorn bucket, so we generally fill that up 1-2x ($2.19!), and sometimes we’ll get them a soft pretzel, a churro or an ICEE. If you do like to eat at the park, there are tons of options and a variety of cuisines.
*Pro-tip – most of the restaurants let you make a reservation or order ahead!
Pack a Backpack
Speaking of packing food and a water bottle, there are a few other things that we always bring in our backpacks:
- Sunscreen and hats
- Band-aids (trust me, learned the hard way a blister can ruin the day!)
- Electrolytes to mix with water on the super-hot days
- Wallet and passes
Make a Plan
As moms, we know we can’t always please everyone so it’s best to come up with a plan of what you want to do in advance. Make sure you’re familiar with the height requirements, so you can figure out which ones do together and if you need to divide and conquer for others. Universal also puts on lots of shows and will bring characters out for photos, so check out what’s on the schedule and figure out what works best for your family so everyone gets to do something they want.
To stroller, or not?
I am the type of mom that was so excited when my kids outgrew the stroller, so I promptly got rid of them… and then I realized how great a stroller would have been for days at Universal Orlando. Sigh. Consider bringing a stroller for when those little legs get tired (so you don’t have to deal with whining or carrying a heavy kid around!) They have stroller parking at every ride. You can also rent them for the day, which is what we did when our 7yo broke his foot last summer.
Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure is home to Suess Landing, which has rides for small children, character encounters and shows. Jurassic Park has a couple of great rides for the littles, like the Pteranodon Flyers, as well as an amazing outdoor play area that you should definitely add to your list. You’ll find splash pads sprinkled around park as well.
Probably our favorite area of the park! Our 4yo only meets the height requirement for one ride, but there are so many other things to explore! Like the shops in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, as well as the Hogwarts Express, which will take you between parks.
Florida Resident Perks
Again, we are spoiled living in Florida and not just because we live close to the parks. Some of the tickets and annual passes offer Florida Resident Rates, as well as discounts on food and merchandise, hotels and free parking!
Last edited 12/24/19, updated 10/22/23