Islands of Adventure - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade
“How old should my children be, before visiting Universal Orlando Resort?”
This is a question commonly asked by parents excited about visiting the world’s premier movie and TV based theme parks. Our children were 10 and 12 years old on their first visit, although I would say even 8 or 9 years old is a good age. Don’t get me wrong - there are attractions specifically geared to younger children; however the height restriction and fear factor of many rides, lend themselves to older children.
Universal Orlando Resort is comprised of three theme parks: Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Universal's water park attraction, Volcano Bay. Combined, these parks have only 7 rides that accommodate kids under 34”. In order to experience most of the rides, guests must be at least 42”. To enjoy the bigger roller coasters such as Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall and The Incredible Hulk Coaster, riders must be 51”, 52” and 54” tall respectively. Having said that, adult guests can take advantage of “Rider Swap”. This allows one adult to go on the ride, while the other waits in a designated room with the children. When the first adult returns, they swap and the second adult is able to enjoy the ride (immediately, without waiting in line again) while the first waits with the children. This is certainly a strategy for navigating the parks with young children who are not tall enough to ride. The downside is that time is lost waiting.
If you are comparing Universal Resort rides to those you’ve experienced at Walt Disney World in Florida, you will find Universal is home to scarier, more aggressive attractions. Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have several 3D simulator rides, where the audience is shown a movie while their seats move to correspond to the action on screen. Many of these rides also move quite aggressively and feature intense audio and visual effects. The fear factor can be high; you can expect to encounter menacing mummies, exploding insects, man-eating dinosaurs, demonic soul-sucking Dementors and fire-breathing dragons. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is absolutely spectacular and a must-see, however, be prepared to face a photo-realistic Lord Voldemort in Escape from Gringotts. Children must be old enough to not only handle the physical aspect of the simulators, but also the fear factor of the monsters and demons they will encounter. When it comes to these things, it really depends on the child. Although ours were 10 and 12 the first time they took a ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, I know they would have handled it easily a few years earlier. In these circumstances it comes down to knowing your child and what they can realistically handle.
Islands of Adventure - Seuss Landing
Keep in mind however, that Universal Orlando does have themed playgrounds and live shows that will thrill its younger guests. At Islands of Adventure little ones will enjoy colourful Seuss Landing, while they ride Cat in the Hat and Seuss Trolley. At Universal Studios, youngsters can enjoy shows and a milder ride like ET’s Adventure, in Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone. So, Universal doesn’t completely forget about its youngest fans.
We’re glad we waited until our children were a little bit older, because we got to really enjoy all the attractions that Universal is well-known for. Our kids were tall enough to meet all the height requirements and old enough to really appreciate the scary stuff, without becoming traumatized. If you have children who are far apart in age, rest assured that you will find attractions to entertain the little ones, while the older ones can still be thrill seekers. If your children are close in age, then my suggestion would be to wait until they’re 8 or 9 before visiting Universal Orlando Resort. You will find the experience to be all-around more enjoyable.