Am I crazy, going to Universal with toddlers.

Discussion in 'Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure Forums' started by thor369, May 15, 2019 at 7:26 AM.

  1. thor369

    thor369 Earning My Ears

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    I am kind of new here. Started to plan for Disney for a last minute trip and decided go now go on October when it’s my 5 year olds birthday. But still not sure as people have said with star wars it will be crowded and we want to avoid crowds.

    Now found out about Universal and it feels like it has more to offer for my kids. They are big dinosaurs fans and superhero fans. But also apprehensive that it may cater to older kids vs. younger.

    Am I crazy to consider universal studios for kids this young. We have two boys 4 and 2 and think they will like Universal more than Disney.
     
  2. smiths02

    smiths02 DIS Veteran

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    We loved Universal and we are taking a break for Disneyworld for the foreseeable future. We just bought annual passes to Universal. All that to say, I have nothing against Universal.

    We have friends who had the same feeling as you with boys of similar age. They did Universal and Disney, but more Universal, the children liked Disney much better. There is no way that Universal has more to offer preschool-aged children (boy or girl). Universal just has fewer offerings period. There are 2 parks and a water park versus 4 parks and 2 water parks.

    I think that younger children can have a great time at Universal,especially if the trip is because parents want to go or older siblings want to go, but if height is under 42" that really really limits attractions. My daughter, who is 6 and over 42", also found some of the attractions scary or made her tummy queasy (even if she could ride them).

    Now, I know Disney will be very crowded to a level we can't imagine once SWGE opens. Personally, I would avoid DHS park. However, October doesn't seem like the best time to visit Universal either because park hours will be limited with Halloween Horror Nights and those crowds. Point being, Universal will still have crowds (yes, maybe not Disney, but still crowds).
     
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  4. MooseBucks

    MooseBucks Living the Dream

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    Mostly here to follow and get some personal experience/input but From what I understand Universal is geared (ride and experience wise) towards older kids/teens/adults that very few are age appropriate for littles so while the theming might appeal more to your kids there is little for them to do.
     
  5. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    October is a busy time to visit either park, not even including Star Wars. Between the MNSSHP at MK, Food & Wine at Epcot, and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal - plus slightly cooler/more manageable temperatures - it really draws people in. So, I wouldn't let Star Wars be a deterrent because you'd be up against moderate to high level crowds anyhow.

    We love Universal but I agree with PP that overall, it has fewer attractions. We're usually good with 3 days there, and that gives us time to re-ride our favorites. I'd say *most* of attractions are geared towards older kids and adults that enjoy rides and have no fear. Its especially good for kids into Harry Potter and super heroes. The Jurassic Park/World attractions are enjoyable, but with small kids, the Jurassic World water ride is likely out (depending on height). Its a small section (for now) of dinosaur-related attractions. The only thing really geared towards small kids is Seuss-land.
     
  6. smiths02

    smiths02 DIS Veteran

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    Even some of the Dr. Seuss rides have a height requirement of 36-40"

    According to Wikipedia, Magic Kingdom alone as 48 attractions, with only 5 I can think of with height restrictions.

    USF and IOA have about 40 attractions but 23 attractions are with height restrictions.

    If you were planning Disney with a day or two at Universal, I would say you could definitely have a good time. I would not do Universal over Disney with children those ages, though.
     
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  7. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    That's true. I just meant that the area as a whole (theme, etc) is geared more towards younger kids. Something the littles can relate to and appreciate.
     
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  8. Disxuni

    Disxuni DIS Veteran

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    There is definitely plenty of things to do for little ones. Jurassic has things for children (IOA), Seussland (IOA), Woodpecker / Barney area (USF), Minions (USF), Shrek (USF). Just enjoying the Potter area generally is amazing. Also, you'll have to check the height list to see exactly what they maybe able to ride. You have the shows as well to enjoy. I do not know if you have a partner in crime, but you do, you can do child swap on a few rides as well.
     
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  9. FallsChurchDad

    FallsChurchDad Mouseketeer

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    So your boys will be 5 and 2 when you go?

    We have three kids now, all boys, 8, 5 and 1, and we've done a bunch of amusement park vacations - WDW, Universal, Disneyland, Busch Gardens/Water Country in Williamsburg, and Legoland CA.

    Honestly, the height requirements create challenges at every park. For our older two boys, the more exciting the ride, the better. So they want to do whatever their height allows. My wife and I both enjoy roller coasters, etc., too. But this means a lot of rider swapping.

    Rider swap at Disney (especially WDW) used to be great, but now it is the worst of any amusement park. Your 2-year-old will not be able to go into the queue with you, so you have to split up at the entrance to each ride. Then you get a rider swap pass that is only good for about an hour (they went from "good for a month" at WDW to "good for an hour"!) The returning party has to go back through the Fastpass line, which can often still take 15-20 minutes, plus the ride time. For stuff like Soarin' or Flight of Passage, the pre-show + ride experience can add another 15 minutes. So you can be looking at 30-35 minutes per ride, which means 60-70 minutes for both parties to ride - with Fastpass!! And for that entire time, the family is split up. The 5-year-old does get two rides, but it is still a drain on your day. Disney has also reduced/eliminated a lot of the in-park play areas and quiet areas that used to be good with toddlers. For example, we used to love Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area in HS, but they demolished that before building Galaxy's Edge. It used to be better at Disney than Universal, since you could get the swap pass, then go off and do something different with the toddler - but now the swap pass at Disney must be used almost immediately, so you can't go too far away, but you still have to split up = worst of all worlds.

    Rider swap at Universal is pretty good. The whole party can stay together in the queue, and the queues are often very well-themed. At the biggest rides, there are nice areas for the non-riders, like a TV room for the non-riders at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Then you can do the swap and the second group rides almost immediately. So everybody only has to wait once, and the toddler will probably enjoy the queue.

    So if the focus of your trip is the 5 year old, and they are at least 42 inches and like exciting rides, there will be a ton to do at Universal, and the 2-year-old will just get to tag along. Honestly, a 2-year-old will probably enjoy being carried for a bit and then walking through a castle (e.g., Harry Potter) as much as they will enjoy sitting on a boat ride (e.g., Pirates of the Caribbean).

    With all that said -- you can check, there are very, very few rides that the 2-year-old will be able to do at Universal, and really there is not a single amazing ride with no height requirement. Whereas WDW has lots of fun, iconic rides with no height requirement - Kilimanjaro Safaris, Toy Story Mania, Frozen, Pirates, Jungle Cruise, etc.

    Also, the water parks can be perfect in October, so it's worth considering -- Volcano Bay bizarrely has no family water rides, whereas the Disney water parks have a handful of family raft rides that would be fun with a brave two-year-old.
     
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  10. amberpi

    amberpi DIS Veteran

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    We are pulling away from WDW this year. The children have been 3 times in about 9-10 months. The lack of planning needed for a Universal trip is so much less stressful, as well as not having to wait in the lines, and the smaller parks seems like (or we hope) to be perfect for our family of 4 with a 5 and a 3.5yo. My DH is actually looking forward to this vacation as we can sleep late (night-owl family) and the smaller size takes some strain off of him (I'm restricted on how much weight I should lift/push).

    We are doing DAH because of the low crowds, but that's it for a week long vacation. They recently decided they didn't want DH's money (he smokes :confused3) so this was our small concession to the mouse. If they weren't offering DAH we'd skip altogether, so I guess WDW got about $600 from us, but not $6k or more.

    The kids are SO excited for Spiderman, Minions, and OMG Harry Potter. Every day if we go to the park they find wands to play with and are SO excited to get "real wands." I can't wait. I'm even considering a trip report.
     
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  11. smiths02

    smiths02 DIS Veteran

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    My daughter (6) who was either too short or too scared, actually liked hanging out in the Rider Swap areas. We were fine with it because it saved us from using the lockers!
     
  12. smiths02

    smiths02 DIS Veteran

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    So true. I also believe that the highlight of the trip for my daughter (who doesn't love "scary" rides) was the giant cotton candy we got there!
     
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  13. crazylady

    crazylady DIS Veteran

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    We first took my son to Universal at 5 and he loved it. He definitely was more into the characters at Universal. His favorite the rides were the Spiderman ride and the Transformers. That said, we only went for a day and he is a dare-devel so he rode everything he was tall enough for. While there was alot for kids his age at Universal, I don't feel there would have been enough stuff for an extended trip at that age.
     
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  14. skylock

    skylock DIS Veteran

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    Universal is geared more for older children. Younger children in a group are not left completely out at universal, but at the ages of your children, I think you should be making plans for disney.
     
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  15. Disxuni

    Disxuni DIS Veteran

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    The baby swap concept is so much better and makes more sense at Universal than Disney. Also, they seem to advertise it and encourage it a lot more. However, Universal seems to have always had it planned out, with the fact that you have actual rooms in order to wait in on top of that, you get to sit and relax in air conditioning. It makes sense though they'd be prepared, because it is geared for a more mature audience. However, I like the fact that Universal thought about that ages ago and planned accordingly.

    Disney's concept seemed so obscure I had to actually look it up years ago. The idea of having to wait outside of the entrance seems ridiculous to me, considering most of the time that means you're essentially waiting in the heat and sun. I bet children and parents are thrilled to do that... Then on top of that, you have to go through the FP line, where as at Universal you walk from the room onto the ride. Which typically is only a few feet away.
     
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  16. nursemelis374

    nursemelis374 Mouseketeer

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    Took my almost 2 year old to Universal after a week at Disney last summer. This was my 5th trip to Universal. I was really frustrated at how few things he could ride. I knew it going in but it was hard there. We had Express Pass so that helped lessen the time we waited for others so that helped. As others have said, the rider switch was great though.

    We are going to Orlando again in a few weeks and half of our party is going and the rest are staying at Disney.
     
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  17. wendlle

    wendlle Aussie Wendy

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    We took our eldest DD when she was 19 months old in 2017 and she LOVED it.
    The Curious George area in Universal is amazing, we spent so much time there she loved it. Also the Barney show was a big hit and she doesn't even know who Barney is.
    IOA was equally a hit, she enjoyed everything. Kids don't need to go on rides they just enjoy the experience. There was very little my DD could go on at that age but she had a blast anyway.

    We are going again in a few months and she will be 3.5 and we will also be bringing our 10 month old.
     
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  18. thor369

    thor369 Earning My Ears

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    I think wdw sounds overwhelming but I am slowly learning that it requires planning.

    I know my 5 year old is not a dare devil but also know that besides animal kingdom and the dinosaur area he won’t care for anything else.

    When we go to our local small park he skips everything and for the dinosaur area. I am hoping Disney will be very different for him. But the more I think the better way to do it would be to go to Disney and do Universal maybe for a day or two? And the rest on MK and AK for a 5 day trip. I know he likes Spider-Man and we have been taking about HP and he also likes transformers. He can relate to these characters more than Disney ones.

    Is this a good plan?

    Also which hotel in US to consider if there there for 2 or more nights?
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019 at 6:54 PM
  19. SG131

    SG131 DIS Veteran

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    My cousin has taken her boys at about this age. Neither dare devils and definitely not into princesses or generally into characters much at all but they LOVED Disney. It’s so much more than an amusement park. There’s buzz light year and toy story midway mania that the whole family can ride on and it’s a shooting game so tons of fun for little boys. Tom Sawyer island is great to run around. I think there’s a good chance your 5 yr old will enjoy it a lot more than you realize.

    Disney seems very overwhelming at first. Some people plan every minute of their day. I plan meals and my fast pass rides and that’s it. The rest of the day is a bit more relaxed. If it seems like a lot for you, get a travel agent. There are some agents that will do the dining and fp booking for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
     
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  20. jlwhitney

    jlwhitney DIS Veteran

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    Child swap at universal is hit or miss. We generally don’t love it because it’s easier for us to split up since it’s a pain to drag everyone through a line especially with a napping baby/toddler or a ababy that cant walk yet.
     
  21. imprint

    imprint DIS Veteran

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    There's a couple of hidden gems in IoA that people with little ones should keep in mind. The Mystic Fountain located in The Lost Continent area interacts with kids and squirts water at the kids. We're usually there 20 minutes or so, and there's been days where we've had to go back for another round. Second, when we have a water ride day, we maximize our express passes and ride Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-rat Barges 3-10 times in a row. There's another opportunity for fun here too. There's coin-operated water sprayers outside the ride, so you can spray other people riding as they pass by. There's also free sprayers on the Me Ship, The Olive where you can really nail people riding with a stream of water. We've spent some serious time there too. Kids (and adults!) love doing that. Obviously, these will not eat up a whole lot of time, but hey, it's fun!

    Does anyone know if the new Jurassic Park ride construction has affected the huge playground area there? That's another really fun area for kids to play.
     

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