Updated: Feb 16
Although you know I’m a Disney girl through and through, there are so many incredible offerings to explore in Orlando outside of Disney, and Universal is one of them. With three theme parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and the Volcano Bay Waterpark) as well as a shopping and dining district, CityWalk, there's a lot to explore.
We've recently had the opportunity of becoming passholders again at Universal and we couldn't wait to experience the parks for the first time as parents of a toddler. Since the parks offer a lot of thrill rides and seem to cater to an older audience (late elementary school ages through adults), we didn’t know what to expect when visiting with a toddler. I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised.
In future posts, I'll go into detail on the perfectly adorable play zones as well as share specific activities that are perfectly fitting for toddlers to enjoy, but in today's post, I'm sharing the top 7 things that we love about Universal in general, and what keeps us coming back for more.
Without further ado...
7. Parking is simple - Universal has two six-story parking garages to park all three theme parks and CityWalk guests. My favorite thing about this is since every time you visit, you park in one of the same two connected garages, so you can be spontaneous about which park/parks to visit that day and how you want to bop around once you’re already there instead of needing to plan in advance.
6. CityWalk, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are all connected - Piggybacking on the parking bullet, the entrances to both non-water parks are only a few feet from each other and are connected via CityWalk, so it’s really easy to do both parks and CityWalk however you choose to. No additional transportation needed (unless you want to go via the Hogwarts Express, but that’s an adventure of its own).
5. Bag check is easy - I know, this is such a practical note, but for all my parents out there, you know what a pain-in-the-patoot bag check can be when you're lugging around a purse, diaper bag, snack bag, diaper changing pad, cooler and/or bag of jackets/changes of clothes in case you choose to do a water ride. At Universal, you just put your bags on a belt and they go through a scanner so you/the Team Members don’t have to take anything out. It’s a game changer and quite hygienic which I really appreciate :)
4. The theming is GORGEOUS - You know what a sucker I am for beautiful theming, and man Universal does not disappoint! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas in particular are absolutely stunning to walk through and explore.
Every inch is perfectly themed and beyond photo ready. It is an immersive experience for sure!
(TIP- Diagon Alley is insanely beautiful but also really popular and can be a bit overwhelming with a stroller. We like to park our stroller once inside and walk the area with Tallulah. We can explore every little shop and themed area without flat-tiring anyone with the stroller.)
Outside of The Wizarding World, the theming throughout the park is also beautiful.
I'm slightly more partial to Universal Studios than Islands of Adventure simply because I love the New York streets as well as the old Hollywood walk complete with an adorable Schwab's Drugstore which makes me think of I Love Lucy when I walk past it :)
3. They have small crowds, which in turn means happy people and plenty of room for spontaneous dance parties - I love that the parks feel, most of the time, quite open due to small crowd sizes. With all of the thrill rides offered at the parks, it feels like guests are ride focused, which, if you have a toddler is a wonderful opportunity to hang out, walk around and dance in the streets without being in the way.
Plus, smaller crowds usually mean lower wait times and more overall personal space, culminating in happy people.
2. There are a bunch of musical performances that take place throughout the day, and are easy to stumble upon - This was a huge hit for our music-loving toddler. In our four-ish hours of being there, we ran into six musical performances all while walking around.
Tallulah loved every single show and danced her way through the park.
1. The Team Members are very sweet and helpful - Both Disney and Universal employ some of the most incredible people as their Cast/Team Members! These hard working individuals can seriously make dreams come true and brighten your day in ways you didn’t know you needed. They’re the real MVPs and I am so thankful for their passion and care!
I hope this list is helpful for you as you plan your own Orlando theme park travels. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me or ask via the comment section below.
What's one of your favorite things about Universal? :)