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Universal Studios Florida

- Highlights and Tips for Families

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Universal Studios Florida, Shrek 4D attraction. Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Shrek 4-D. Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Florida.

Universal Studios Florida is one of two theme parks at Universal Orlando; the other --Islands of Adventure-- is just a short walk away. (Just so you know - the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in the Islands of Adventure park.)

The two are linked by CityWalk, an entertainment zone with clubs, shops and restaurants such as NBA City or the NASCAR Cafe. Nearby are Universal Orlando's three hotels: the Portofino, Hard Rock Hotel, and Royal Pacific Resort. (Guests get front-of-the line ride access!) All are connected by walkways and by waterways with free water-taxis.

Universal Studios Florida has sister theme parks in Hollywood and Japan with similar attractions.

What's Special, for Families?

Kids love the attractions based on their favorite movies. (And lots of grown-ups do too.)

Universal Studios Florida has plenty for younger kids: for example, the E.T. Adventure, a fanciful experience where you ride your own bike through the night sky. E.T. is in the Woody Woodpecker Kid Zone, which also has: Fievel's Playground, with tubes, slides, a giant spider web, and a water slide; A Day in the Park with Barney; Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster; Curious George Goes to Town; and the Animal Planet Live show.

All ages will get a kick out of the Shrek 4-D Adventure, which could be called Shrek 1.5, with a plot-line falling somewhere between the movies Shrek and Shrek 2: this "ride" is a 3-D film with special effects, and is 25-minutes long (for the introduction plus the film.)

Across the street is the new-in-2012 Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Ride.

The Simpson's Ride: To say the Simpsons are iconic is an understatement: the dysfunctional bunch transcended their cartoon tv show long ago, so it was probably inevitable they'd get a theme park attraction. About.com's Guide for Theme Parks tells all, about this motion simulator ride. (Click above.)

For older kids, a big draw will be the Revenge of the Mummy attraction, an in-the-dark coaster with pyrotechnics and some unexpected dips and turns: state-of-the-art, and lots of fun even for kids as young as six. (Depends on the kid, of course, and the height restriction; riders must be 48" high.)

Other fun attractions for older kids include Men in Black Alien Attack (where you laser-shoot aliens), andTerminator 2: 3D Battle Across Time. Also fun are JAWS, Twister's simulated tornado, and Earthquake: The Big One, a simulated quake in a subway station that might even come in handy later during science class.

Actually, older kids will probably gravitate to Islands of Adventure's thrill coasters, a short walk away. Islands of Adventure is also home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme-park-within-a-theme-park. Most guests, of any age, will want to buy a pass for both parks.

Keep in Mind:
  • if at all possible stay at a Universal Orlando resort, which will give you nice digs plus the best front-of-the-line ride access. Each of the three resorts has a great "beach pool", and free water-taxi shuttles to the theme parks.
  • Some rides have minimum heights for kids; for ex., kids 40" can ride Spiderman with an adult; you need 52" for The Hulk.
  • not that your kids will care, but Universal Studios Florida has some pretty sections with an Old Hollywood ambiance; it's fun to walk around the simulated New York City, too.
  • buy dual-park passes for admission to Islands of Adventure also, especially if you have teens or 'tweens
  • Universal Studios Florida has major seasonal fun: Halloween Horror Nights in October, and a daily Macy's Holiday Parade in December

-continue to Islands of Adventure theme park

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