10 Best Universal Orlando Rides for Kids

Think Universal's Parks Aren't for Young Children? Think Again.

It is true that Walt Disney World is loaded with rides and things to do for young children. Universal Orlando, meanwhile, is often seen as the place to go once kids have grown out of the princess and pirates phase. It is also true that Universal's two parks are brimming with wild, in-your-face, thrilling attractions. But, families with children under 10 can find some wonderful rides that their youngsters will adore.

A word of caution: Even some of the attractions listed here, while relatively tame, have gotcha moments. It seems as if the creative team that designs Universal's parks just can't help themselves. We've included a 10-point thrill scale to help you gauge the intensity of the rides. 0 would be suitable for complete wimps, while 10 rates a solid "Yikes!" In general, if your kids meet the height requirements and can handle some minor thrills, they should be fine.

01 of 10

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express
Arthur Levine

Young kids (and adults for that matter) will be thoroughly enchanted as they travel between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, the two Wizarding Worlds at Universal Orlando. It's a note-perfect facsimile of the train in the Potter films and includes some nifty special effects to immerse passengers in J.K. Rowling's beloved world. Note that the experience heading to Islands of Adventure is different from the one traveling to Universal Studios Florida.

Height requirement: None
Thrill scale: 1.5 (Beware! There are some mildly frightening Dementors aboard the train.)
Location: Travels between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida and boards in each park’s Wizarding World.

02 of 10

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Universal Orlando Resort

Between The Simpsons, Shrek, and Despicable Me, Universal has a lot of really funny attractions. No matter how many times you've been on the ride, it's likely that you would still laugh out loud at the slapstick antics of the Minions and the supremely silly humor on display—even during the two pre-shows. The motion simulator action could be a bit unnerving for the uninitiated, but passengers can close their eyes to stop the illusion.

Height requirement: 40 inches
Thrill scale: 3.5 (for the motion simulator thrills)
Location: Universal Studios Florida

03 of 10

E.T. Adventure

ET Ride
Arthur Levine

The charming attraction is based on Steven Spielberg's classic movie. Passengers ride aboard bicycle vehicles with E.T. hidden in the front basket. The beginning of the attraction, with officials in pursuit of the alien, can be a tad frightening for impressionable children. But the finale, which takes place on E.T.'s colorful home planet will delight everyone.

Height requirement: 34 inches. Between 34 and 48 inches must ride with an adult
Thrill scale: 2 (The first half of the ride includes some mildly scary escape scenes.)
Location: Universal Studios Florida

04 of 10

Shrek 4-D

Shrek 4-D at Universal Studios

Universal Studios

It's not really a ride, but more of a 4-D theater presentation (although the tricked-out seats move quite a bit). Like the films on which it is based, the jokes are rapid-fire and generally a riot. Most kids will appreciate the irreverent, often sophomoric humor. The thrill scale corresponds to the many gotchas that are embedded in the attraction. One note of warning: When Donkey sneezes, duck for cover.

Height requirement: None
Thrill scale: 2.5 (4-D elements such as pokers and water spritzes may startle some younger children)
Location: Universal Studios Florida

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

The Cat In The Hat

Seuss Landing
Jeremy Thompson/Wikimedia Commons

Kids who have read the classic Dr. Seuss book (and who hasn't?) will love the adorable ride. It retells the story with all of the silliness intact–including Thing One and Thing Two. The thrill scale is slightly elevated to account for the vehicles' (which are made to resemble couches) spinning action.

Height requirement: 36 inches.
Thrill scale: 1.5 (for some vehicle spinning)
Location: Islands of Adventure

06 of 10

Flight of the Hippogriff

Hippogriff
Arthur Levine

Located at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade, passengers board the Flight of the Hippogriff near Hagrid's hut. At 43 feet tall and 28.5 mph, the coaster is a bit more aggressive than Woody Woodpecker's (see below), but it is still relatively tame. It is more charming than the Nuthouse Coaster.

Height requirement: 36 inches. Between 36 and 48 inches must ride with an adult
Thrill scale: 3.5
Location: Islands of Adventure

07 of 10

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster

Woody Woodpecker roller coaster
Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)/Wikimedia Commons

Most kids may not know Woody Woodpecker (to which I say, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha"), but that shouldn't stop them from enjoying this modest junior coaster. It climbs a mere 28 feet, reaches a top speed of 22 mph, and is over in 45 seconds flat.

Height requirement: 36 inches. Between 36 and 48 inches must ride with an adult
Thrill scale: 3
Location: Universal Studios Florida

08 of 10

Caro-Seuss-el

Caro-Seuss-El
Katy Warner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Instead of a traditional carousel populated by majestic horses, this ride is filled with silly Seuss creatures. Go round and round and up and down (on crooked poles; there isn't a straight line to be found at Seuss Landing). Among the charming features of the Caro-Seuss-el is that when it starts up and slows down to stop, the band music revs up and slows down to match the speed.

Height requirement: 48 inches to ride without an adult
Thrill scale: 1
Location: Islands of Adventure

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Kang and Kodos ride at Universal Studios
Eliedion/Wikimedia Commons

These are essentially both Dumbo-style spinning rides. But Kang & Kodo features the demented spirit of "The Simpsons." Like nearly everything throughout the Springfield area, the ride is loaded with puns and gags. When passengers pilot their vehicles up to the highest level, they can hear the aliens spout jokes and ridiculous sayings. At Islands of Adventure, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is a similar spinning ride, but with a Dr. Seuss theme.

Height requirement: 48 inches to ride without an adult
Thrill scale: 2
Location: Universal Studios Florida (Kang & Kodos); Islands of Adventure (One Fish)

10 of 10

Storm Force Accelatron

Storm Force Accelatron ride at Islands of Adventure

Universal Studios

This is similar to a spinning teacups ride, albeit with a bit more oomph. Guests can control the amount that their ride vehicle spins by turning the bar in its center.

Height requirement: 48 inches to ride without an adult
Thrill scale: 2.5 (for the spinning)
Location: Islands of Adventure

Oh the Stories You’ll Hear Universal Orlando show

Universal Studios

But Wait, There's More!

There are other rides designed for young children at Universal, including The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, which is a somewhat tedious, slow monorail ride above Seuss Landing, and Pteranodon Flyers, which is an enjoyable enough suspended coaster, but has low capacity that almost always results in crazy-long lines.

The parks have some play areas as well, which are great places for children to expend energy and have some unstructured fun. At Universal Studios Florida, these include Curious George Goes to Town and Fievel's Playland. At Islands of Adventure, kids will enjoy hanging out at Camp Jurassic, the Popeye-themed Me Ship, The Olive, and If I Ran the Zoo in Seuss Landing.The Jurassic Park Discovery Center offers hands-on exhibits to learn about dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.

Young kids would also enjoy many of the shows such as “Animal Actors On Location,” the “Frog Choir” at the Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade, and the Dr. Seuss-inspired “Oh! The Stories You'll Hear!.”

Of course, if your young kids are daredevils and meet the height requirements, they could also have a ball on the parks' more thrilling attractions. So go ahead, plan a Universal Orlando visit and bring the kiddos.

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