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I grew up coming to Universal Orlando Resort and have incredible memories riding all the rides, experiencing my favorite fandoms, and eating tons of yummy food. For years, it was just me coming to the parks with friends, my significant other, or family, spending all day at the parks doing our favorite attractions.
But for those of you in a similar boat like me who now have a baby or little toddler in tow, you may be asking what I was — does the experience change?
Being new parents, my husband and I recently went to the parks with our wee one for the first time, and there is plenty to do with a baby, from rides to shows to meeting characters and more! Plus, mom and dad can still find time to do the things they want to do, too. I’m breaking down everything I learned in this guide, including eating in the parks, what to bring and wear, and my own personal tips and tricks.
THINGS TO DO
Rides & Shows
One of the big question marks for me when it came to going to the parks with a baby was: What rides or shows can my baby do? I quickly discovered there are actually quite a few attractions that babies can do. Here were our favorites.
Seuss Landing in Universal’s Islands of Adventure was so much fun to explore with our daughter. She could ride a couple of the rides, meet characters, and watch a show. The bright colors and fun surroundings also helped to keep her entertained. Confession: It was fun tapping into my inner kid again with her!
- Caro-Seuss-el: This was my favorite ride to do with my daughter. She was able to sit by herself while we stood next to her as we went around and around. She LOVED it. Baby not ready to ride solo? There’s a carriage option that you can sit in, too.
- Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!: We happened to be walking by when this show was happening, and my little girl was all smiles watching the characters dance and sing. Afterwards, we got to meet the Lorax!
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: This is one of our favorite books to read, and the ride is just as fun. Look out — you may get splashed.
- A Day in the Park with Barney: I grew up watching Barney and now I can take my daughter to see him and his friends. This was my favorite area of Kidzone for her. The show is so much fun with singing, dancing, and even being able to meet the characters afterward in a fun play area.
- Hogwarts Express: It’s pretty awesome to say your baby’s first train ride is the Hogwarts Express in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And what a great way to get from one park to the other with a stroller in tow.
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Although we weren’t able to experience the actual ride vehicle (the ride height requirement is 40”), there is a stationary seat option at the front where you can sit with your baby. My daughter loves the Minions and after the ride you can meet one!
- Universal’s Superstar Parade: Speaking of the Minions, watch them and other characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and the Secret Life of Pets dance and sing in Universal Studios.
Planning Tip: See what your little one can do before you visit by clicking here for the ride height requirements for all three theme parks.
Character Meet & Greets
One of the best things to do with a baby is meet all the characters. You can find them throughout the parks, and your baby will love interacting — and in our case — staring in awe at them while trying to capture a photo.
Our Favorite Character Moments
- Having fun with SpongeBob SquarePants and friends from Bikini Bottom
- Meeting the Lorax and other Seuss characters
- Chatting with the Hogwarts Express Train Conductor
- Staring up at wonder with Dad at the Transformers
- Dancing with our favorite Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me
Planning Tip: See all the characters you can meet by clicking here for a full list of character meet and greets.
Take All the Photos
Okay, so this activity is more for the parents, but you’ll be able to capture so many great memories. Besides the photos you’ll get from meeting characters and taking on certain rides and shows, there are also a ton of fun areas where you can snap a pic of your munchkin. How fun will it be for them to recreate that same pic later when they’re all grown up!
Best Photo Spots
- Getting that iconic family vacation photo in front of the Universal Globe
- Repping future house colors in front of Hogwarts castle
- Welcoming everyone to Jurassic Park
- Catching a wave on the Quiet Flight surfboard in Universal CityWalk
- Acting silly at all of the fun Toon Lagoon photo ops (there are so many!)
Planning Tip: If it’s just the two of you and baby, one of you is usually missing in the photo because you have to take it. All of you can be in the picture by purchasing a My Universal Photos package.
Splish, Splashin’ Fun
Being a Florida girl, our daughter loves all things water. There are a ton of places for baby to splish and splash in all three theme parks, at Universal Orlando’s hotels, and even in CityWalk.
Universal’s Volcano Bay
First and foremost, there’s an entire theme park where water is life. Universal’s Volcano Bay is the perfect choice and even has a special area for babies called Tot Tiki Reef, complete with a mini volcano! You can also have fun playing in the sand of Waturi Beach, exploring the caverns inside the volcano, and even trying a nibble of Waturi Fusion Ice Cream.
There are splash pads throughout the parks that are fun to take a minute and cool off with. You can find them over in Toon Lagoon, in CityWalk, and over in the ultimate splash area Curious George Goes to Town. The hardest part will be trying to get your little one to leave!
I highly recommend staying at one of Universal’s hotels during your vacation to take advantage of not only easy access to the parks, but also the pools! Take a relaxing dip with baby in the morning or afternoon with the ability to go back to the room and take a nap any time you want to.
Planning Tip: Being a parent, you’re probably already packing an outfit or two to change the baby throughout the day. I recommend bringing a towel, too, to make drying off and changing even easier.
Baby’s First Souvenir
Picking the right souvenir during a vacation is a must, especially if it’s baby’s first visit. Being a theme park destination, Universal has a ton of fun items you can find that your son or daughter will love. Plus, you’ll have just as much fun as a parent picking out something, too. Don’t forget to nab your free “First Visit” button! You can grab one of these from Guest Services when you first enter the park.
Our Fun Finds
- Getting matching family Minion shirts (or really anything in the Super Silly Stuff shop!)
- Picking out a new Dr. Seuss book
- Becoming a MIB agent with a cute, suit onesie
Planning Tip: If you’re like me, I like to plan out the outfits my baby wears for vacation. You can find some cute outfits and items on Universal’s online merch store like themed onesies and coveralls.
EATING IN THE PARKS
As any parent knows, you have to be flexible when it comes to a baby’s meals on the go. However, having certain amenities and a level of comfortability sure makes things easier for everyone. During our visit, we were able to enjoy plenty of snacks and have a really fun lunch with our daughter in the Leaky Cauldron. Here are our key takeaways for you.
- Bring Your Meal: You can pack snacks, baby food, water, and formula to bring into the parks. There are nursing stations located in each park, as well as high chairs available at each restaurant.
- Stay Cool: It can get warm in Florida, but there are plenty of sit-down restaurants with A/C to cool off in. If you’re going the quick-service route outside, there are still plenty of shaded areas to sit. Remember to drink plenty of water!
- Get Comfy: Park your stroller outside to free up space and ask a Team Member for a spot that’s comfortable for a high chair. They were very accommodating at the Leaky Cauldron for us and we chose a great place that was open and even gave our daughter a great view to interact and people watch.
Planning Tip: I recommend bringing disposable flatware (bibs, silverware, bowls, etc.), especially one of the placemats you can stick onto the table. It makes for an easy clean up and you don’t have to haul dirty dishes with you.
WHAT TO BRING & WEAR
One of the thoughts that haunts me when traveling with our baby is how much we have to bring with us. For such a tiny human being, they tend to require a lot of stuff! Here’s what we found necessary to bring (outside of the usual baby essentials) and some recommendations on what to wear, too.
- Stroller: If you’re going to bring a stroller, I suggest bringing a smaller, more nimble one to navigate through the crowds. One of those baby-carrying packs is pretty awesome, too. You can also rent a stroller at the parks if you want to save some space when traveling. Just remember, you have to park your stroller outside of each attraction.
- Food & Drinks: As I mentioned above, you can bring in your own food and drinks, so make sure to pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Hat & Sunscreen: Pack baby a hat and sunscreen to protect them from the Florida sun. Make sure to bring some for you, too!
- Stroller Fan: I found a stroller fan to be a great addition to keep the baby cool as we walked through the parks. I also may have borrowed it from time to time.
- Change of Clothes: We all know babies can have accidents or get messy while having fun. Bring a change of clothes in case you need them. There are changing spaces in every restroom, including family restrooms, which I prefer.
- Light Jacket or Blanket: Going from the hot outside into cold A/C can be jarring for baby. Bring a light jacket or blanket in case baby needs to warm up a little bit inside, especially when waiting in Child Swap.
- Baby Headphones: The parks, and some of the shows and rides, can get really loud. Bringing a pair of baby headphones can protect their little ears while also making them stylish.
- Rechargeable Mobile Battery: You’ll find yourself taking tons of pictures of your little one, which will drain your battery.
- Grandma & Grandpa: My parents came with us to the parks, and it was really fun to be able to let loose on some rides with my hubby while they watched the baby. And vice versa!
MY TIPS & TRICKS
I learned quite a bit from taking our daughter to the parks for the first time, including some things I never thought I would ever have to think about, like nap time. Here are some of my tips and tricks to maximizing your time while vacationing with your baby.
Make a Game Plan
When traveling with a baby, you can find yourself moving at a slower pace. The same is true when you’re trying to do the parks. My best piece of advice is to do multiple days at Universal Orlando Resort to make sure you can check everything off your must-do list. Maybe one park a day and then a couple of recovery days to relax at the hotel or pick up any last minute attractions?
Speaking of, research and plan ahead before your visit to create your must-do list. What attractions you want to ride, what shows to see, what restaurants you have to eat at, etc. I would also recommend staying at one of Universal’s hotels to make things even easier. Transportation is a breeze with shuttles or water taxis from the hotels to the parks (no getting baby in and out of a car seat!), and you can take advantage of Early Park Admission, which gives you more time in the parks with fewer crowds. It’s also great to have a place nearby where you can take the little one back for a nap, and each hotel has cribs available upon request. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably need some rest midday, too!
This is one of the greatest things that has ever existed in the history of theme parks. A big statement, I know, but it seriously changed how we do rides with a baby. Here’s how it works: Your party waits in the queue and when you get close to boarding the ride, a Team Member will direct a member of your party to wait in the designated Child Swap area with the baby. Once the rest of your group is off the ride, you can swap places and ride. I found this a great time to give our daughter a snack or a drink. There’s a changing station, too, in case you need it. Some child swap locations also have great views for people watching, movies or music playing, and interactive play sets.
There’s going to come a time when baby is going to crash for a nap. Although our daughter can sleep through a ton of noise, it helps to have a quiet place to escape to so she can get plenty of rest. Keep an eye out for any quiet corners of the parks to escape to. My new favorite spot is down by the lagoon in Central Park in Universal Studios Florida. It’s out of the way of the crowd flow and offers a great view of the lagoon and park.
Keep an Open Mind
Doing theme parks with a baby will definitely shape your overall experience around certain rides, shows, and more, but I think it made it even more fun. You will find yourself doing new things you may not have thought of doing, while creating priceless memories with your family. I was able to feel like a kid again and seeing my daughter so happy made it that much better.
What are you looking forward to doing with your little one during your vacation? Share with me in the comments below, and click here to find even more fun things to do at Universal Orlando Resort.