Bringing your family to Universal Orlando means fun, excitement and adventure. The best way to make sure everyone in your family has a great time is to do some pre-planning. Universal Orlando offers these tips to help make sure your family has an unforgettable vacation:
Keep in mind the many benefits of staying on-site: In addition to allowing for resort-wide charging privileges, the hotel’s room keys double as Universal Express Pass access, which allows your family to skip regular lines at most attractions. You can also enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before the park opens, with early admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Enjoying lunch and dinner has never been easier, with priority seating at select restaurants throughout both theme parks. In addition, mom and dad can plan a date night at Universal CityWalk, thanks to the on-site hotel’s kids camps.
Buy your admission tickets in advance: Scratch the ticket booth line by buying your tickets online at www.officialticketcenter.com and receiving them before you arrive at the parks. In addition to saving time, you can take advantage of The Official Ticket Center’s online discounts. You can also explore vacation packages that include accommodations and special benefits at Universal’s three on-site hotels.
Have a game plan: Visit Universal Orlando’s web site with your family before your vacation to explore the resort and develop a basic plan for your visit. Here, you will find information about special events (Mardi Gras beads, anyone?) and attractions suited for the entire family. Talk to your children about what’s most important to them, and make a prioritized check list. (But remember it’s a vacation and that it’s okay to be flexible).
Pack smart: Make sure to pre-pack all of the essentials:
- Hats and sunscreen for the entire family
- A change of clothes and a large plastic bag for those who may enjoy water play areas
- Water bottles, snacks for the finicky eaters, juice boxes, and sippy cups or bottles
- Ponchos or umbrellas and a towel
- A camera (with an extra battery and memory card)
- Baby and hand wipes
- Any needed medications
Be theme park savvy:
- Upon arrival, grab a map to check in-park showtimes and character meet & greet times, to make sure you are up-to-date
- Mix up the schedule: start one day early and end the night relaxing by the pool at your on-site hotel enjoying a Dive-In movie; or start the day in the afternoon (perhaps after nap time) and end with a family night out to watch the Blue Man Group show. With live music, its unexpected humor and lots of paint, the show has a unique, family-friendly party atmosphere that kids of all ages absolutely love! If you want to have dinner at CityWalk before the Blue Man Group show, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Pastamore are both great family friendly choices.
- If you arrive early to the park, start in the back, working your way to the front to avoid the predictable morning traffic pattern.
Know our family-friendly amenities:
- Take advantage of the Child Swap program: one member of your group can wait with the little ones in a comfortable room while other family members experience the attraction, and then swap places. This feature is available at nearly every marquee attraction.
- Stroller rental, nursing facilities and a companion restroom are available at Family Services in both theme parks.
- Many of their restaurants and food locations offer healthy and delicious dining options for everyone. At select locations, side options for adults and children include healthy choices such as fruit for kids or salad for adults, or trans-fat free fries.
- If your teenager is looking for a special treat, take her to the Mandara Spa at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. The spa’s YCARE program was created with teenagers in mind, offering a special selection of services for guests ages 13 – 17, including massage, facial, manicure, pedicure and more!
- Take a picture of your parking location with your cell phone to make it easier to remember where you parked.
- Don’t deviate too much from nap schedule for the little ones. Great stroller nap spots include inside Mythos at Islands of Adventure in the late afternoon (while your child naps, you can enjoy great sit-down meal) and Central Park in New York at Universal Studios Florida.
- The night before visiting the park, soak a washcloth in water and freeze in a plastic bag. Bring it with you to the parks the next day for a very refreshing cool down during hot days!
- The splash pad areas are great for little ones – in Islands of Adventure take them to If I Ran the Zoo or Me Ship the Olive. In Universal Studios Florida, they will enjoy Curious George Goes to Town and Fievel’s Playland.
- Traveling with teenagers? Then consider purchasing the Meal Deal. For one low price, they can enjoy as much food as they like throughout the day at participating locations.
- Older children sometimes don’t want to hang with their parents, so always have a meeting point with your family. Let them be on their own and meet at a pre-determined location every two to three hours. That way if cell phones don’t work you can always touch base several times during the day.