With all the attractions, roller coasters and thrill rides at Universal Orlando, the resort is not typically known to be as “kid friendly” as some of its Orlando area competitors. However, there are still a great number of rides and attractions for the younger ones.
As you can see, this list encompasses ride from both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. We generally determined that a “Kid Rides” is a ride that someone at most any age (beyond a new born of course) would be able to enjoy as well as a ride that is “themed” for kids in general.
The great thing about anyone putting together a “Top 5” list of just about anything is that opinions of which ride is better than the others will vary greatly. This list is based on our own personal experience as well as the large number of guests that Endless Summer has hosted over the years.
You will find a number of our videos, many with full point-of-view (POV) prospective to it will be like you are there.
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish ride
The One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish ride is located in the Seuss Landing island in Islands of Adventure. The entire island of Seuss Landing is themed for the little ones and is based on works of Dr. Seuss as it is filled with all his characters and story lines.
After you buckle yourself into your “fish”, you need fly your fish up & down while spinning round & round to avoid getting wet from the fountains. But since most days in Florida are very hot, the water is quite refreshing. While riding you will listen to great themed Dr. Seuss music – “Here we go!”.
Up to three riders can ride in each fish and wait times are generally less than 15 to 20 minutes. Universal Express is accepted at this ride.
The ET Adventure
No list of top kids rides at the Universal Orlando resort can be complete without this classic ride. The ET Adventure is one of the few remaining rides from when Universal Studios originally opened in 1990.
This indoor / dark ride begins with watching a short video with both ET and Steven Spielberg (original movies director) setting the stage about how you will accompany ET on his journey home to save is dying planet. Like the movie, you will fly through space of bicycles but like Steven Spielberg says, you don’t have to pedal. One of the best parts of the pre-ride experience is the interior queue as you go through a winding forest seeing a number of props from the 1982 movie.
Once you board your “bicycle” you will ride with ET through the forest and then “fly” over the city and through space to ET’s home world known as “The Green Planet”. You and ET will meet some of his friends and then save his planet from dying.
And as you may noticed towards the end of the video, ET says the names of his fellow heros (although this feature is not always properly functioning). So in the beginning of the ride you will give a team member your name and get an “Interplanetary Passport”. A running joke among annual passholders is for your entire group to give the same name.
There is a 34 inch height requirement on the ET Adventure and any children under 48 inches will need to be accompanied by a supervising companion. Wait times can vary at this ride but are typically less than 30 minutes on most days. Universal Express is also accepted on this ride.
High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train ride
One of our particular favorites, you will ride high above Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure on The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train ride. The riders are part of the Sneetches storyline in this ride as you wind through Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous, around the Caro-Seuss-el and over the Islands of Adventure central lagoon.
There are two separate tracks in the Seuss Trolley Train ride so you will get slightly different experiences when you ride each one.
Endless Summer tip – try to ride this after dark so you can see all the lights and sounds from Marvel Super Hero Island as well as catch a great view of Hogwarts Castle when its fully lighted. And if you can time it just right, you can catch a view of the Hogwarts projection shows.
The Seuss Trolley Train ride does not have a large capacity so wait times are typically longer than many of the other rides in Seuss Landing. We have seen wait times as long as 60 minutes during the summer months so if you can get on this ride early before the crowds come to the park, it should save you some time. Universal Express is also accepted that this ride.
There is a 36 inch height requirement for this ride and any children under 48 inches will need to be accompanied by a supervising companion.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
Located in the Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone in Universal Studios Florida, the Nuthouse Coaster is a family-friendly roller coaster themed around Woody Woodpecker.
Although there is a small drop at the beginning of the ride, most kids will enjoy the twists and turns of the fun filled coaster. Its a very quick ride but quite enjoyable for the little ones. And if your child has never rode a coaster before, this is a perfect one to get them started.
There is a 36 inch height requirement on the Nuthouse Coaster and any children under 48 inches will need to be accompanied by a supervising companion.
Wait times can vary but due to limited capacity, we have seen more than 30 minutes during busy summer days. Universal Express is accepted at Woody’s Nuthouse Coaster.
The Cat in the Hat Ride
Our top ride in all of the Universal Orlando Resort is The Cat in the Hat. Also located in the Seuss Landing within Islands of Adventure, you can’t miss than huge red and white hat as you enter this area.
As you may have guessed, this ride is completely themed after the Cat in the Hat storyline by Dr. Seuss and includes a number of the characters not only including the Cat but also Thing 1 and Thing 2. You will enjoy the antics of the Cat as you whirl around in your car through this amazing story.
There is a 36 inch height requirement on The Cat in the Hat ride and any children under 48 inches will need to be accompanied by a supervising companion.
Wait times can also vary on this ride and during busy days, we have seen wait times of more than 30 minutes. Universal Express is accepted at The Cat in the Hat ride.
Honorable Mention: Pterandon Flyers
The Pterandon Flyers is an outstanding ride for kids and we really enjoy this ride which is a two-person ride that flies above Camp Jurassic. You get an incredible view from well above Islands of Adventure and you can see Skull Island: Reign of Kong as well as The Jurassic Park River Adventure.
Unlike some of the other “kid friendly” rides, there is a 36 inch height requirement to ride the Pterandon Flyers and if another person taller than 56 inches wishes to ride, an accompanying rider below that height is required to ride. So if a teenager or adult wants to ride, they better find a child that will take them.
Historically this has been a ride with a very long wait time due to limited capacity so make sure that you get to this one early in the day before the crowds arrive. Most recently Universal added a “Virtual Line Pass” so you can get a specific time to ride the Pterandon Flyers.
Honorable Mention: Flight of the Hippogriff
The Flight of the Hippogriff is an outstanding family-friendly coaster will give you a birds eye view of the entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hogsmeade. And like Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, the Flight of the Hippogriff is a great place to start as a first time roller coaster rider.
This ride has a minimum height requirement of 36 inches and any rider under 48 inches is required to have a supervising companion. Due to the limited capacity of the coaster ride vehicle, wait times can get lengthy and easily exceed 45 minutes on a typical summer day.
Check our our front row full on-ride POV video below.
Additional Rides and Attractions for Kids at Universal
There are a number of amazing things for kids at Universal that did not make our Top 5. But you can see the all the family-friendly rides and attractions shown below, the Universal Orlando resort is a great place for kids of all ages (including us over the age of 40).
- A Day in the Park with Barney: Spend some time with Barney the purple dinosaur as well as play in Barney’s Backyard.
- Animal Actors on Location: Get close up with dogs, birds, cats and more to see how animals work in TV and movies.
- Fievel’s Playland: A fun and exciting playground with a 200-foot water slide and a 30-foot spider web.
- If I Ran the Zoo: Playground at Seuss Landing themed around the stories of Dr. Seuss.
- Camp Jurassic: An amazing playground in the Jurassic Park area with rope bridges and hideaways.
- Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl: Take an intergalactic ride with your friends from the Simpsons show.
- Curious George Goes to Town: A full water play area themed after Curious George. Don’t forget to check out the Ball Factory where you can blast your friends with soft foam balls.
- Universal’s Superstar Parade: See many of your favorite characters including the Minions, Sponge Bob and the animals form the Secret Life of Pets. Check out the full parade in the video below.
And for those kids that are more daring, the following list of rides offer a little more excitement than those above and are considered to be “kid themed”.
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Turn yourself into a minion as you enjoy a fun experience with Gru and the girls. This ride is a little bouncy but since it’s no longer in 3D, it’s much easier on the little ones. At the end of the ride there is a meet and greet with one of the minions.
- Shrek 4D: Guests go on an adventure with Shrek, Donkey and Fiona. This 3D show is a little dark but fun for the kids. There is a meet and greet with Shrek and Donkey just outside of the gift shop.
- Posidons Fury: You will explore the the depths of an ancient temple as you find Poseidon’s trident and watch him battle with Lord Darkenon. This walking show is quite funny but could be a little dark and loud for the kids.
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges: You will get completely soaked on this water ride as you brave the rapids to save Olive Oil from Bluto. This is one of our favorite water rides at Universal and should be a fun ride for kids of all ages.
The perfect way to cap off a great day at the Universal theme parks is to watch the Cinematic Celebration show from Central Park. Kids will recognize some of their favorite moives in this show including Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing!.
Along with clips from their favorite movies your kids will enjoy a spectacular fireworks and projection light show. Even after a long day at Universal, this is a show that is not to be missed.
Check out the entire show at our video below.
Where Should We Stay When Visiting the Universal Orlando Resort?
There are a number of great on site hotels at Universal and each and every one of them have their own benefits and characteristics. If you are coming with the entire family that will include young children, then your best bet is the Cabana Bay Beach Resort or one of the two hotels that encompass the Endless Summer Resort.
Both hotels are relatively inexpensive for on-site theme park standards and offer larger rooms than most other hotels in the area that will give everyone in the family plenty of space.
Cabana Bay is an amazing resort that has a retro 50’s & 60’s style hotel theme and is one of the less expensive at Universal Orlando. There is plenty to do with the kids including two massive pools with both a lazy river and a water side, a 10-lane bowling alley, a large game room and a massive on-site food court.
There are number of different buildings at Cabana Bay including two tower buildings that overlook Volcano Bay (Universal’s water park). In addition to traditional hotel rooms there are 430 square foot family suites which sleep up to six and include a kitchenette with mini fridge, microwave and sink.
The Endless Summer Resort
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is comprised to two hotels: The Surfside Inn and Suites and the Dockside Inn and Suites. Both hotels are part of the “value” orientation at Universal and have a beach “vibe”.
In addition to standard rooms, these hotels feature two-bedroom suites that sleep up to six people and are perfect for a family that is traveling with small children. These two-bedroom suites contain 440 square feet, a kitchenette area with picnic table, two queen beds in the main room and another queen bed in the second bedroom.
On site amenities at the Endless Summer Resort hotels include resort style pools and splash pads, game rooms, fitness centers and an on-site marketplace that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
*** As of May 2020 the Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites has yet to hold their grand opening. It was originally planned to open in Spring 2020 but has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and closure of the Universal Orlando Resort.
When staying at Cabana Bay or the two hotels at the Endless Summer Resort, you get a number of great benefits including early park entry, complimentary transportation to the parks as well as CityWalk. Unfortunately Universal Express is not included with your stay at Cabana Bay or the Endless Summer Resort hotels.
Check out all the Universal on-site hotels and resorts as well as our recommended off site local area hotels by CLICKING HERE.
Universal Orlando During the Winter Holidays for Families
During the winter holiday season the Universal Orlando Resort has a number of special holiday events and shows which are perfect for kids. These include:
The Grinchmas Show at Universal Orlando
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle
So if you are looking for something great to do this holiday season, come visit Universal from November 16, 2019 to January 5, 2020 to see all the amazing holiday events.
We will update this post with all the family-friendly offerings at Universal Orlando for the upcoming holiday season in 2020 – 2021.