As the Mom to six year-old Daredevil-in-training, our experiences at the Universal Orlando Resort have been changing a lot lately as we have gone from spending a lot of time in Fievel’s Playland to riding the Mummy…which has been quite a jump! We have had many successes and a few failures, but the two parks at Universal Orlando Resort offer up a lot of great experiences for younger or more timid guests to jump into the world of thrill rides.
The first thing that we had to do, was to look at what my daughter’s threshold for ‘thrill’ was and look at the attraction experiences were like to make sure that we introduced her to the right ones in hopes of not ruining future trips.
While she is really excited to ride attractions, we wanted to be really realistic about what she could handle. We rode attractions that we had previously ridden and took into account the ride experience, theming, and back-story since we knew that we would be explaining a lot on most rides since they would be from movies that she hasn’t seen.
We decided that we would begin in Universal Studios Florida, since we knew that if she got overwhelmed we had good old reliable Fievel to save the day!
The first attraction that we rode of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, in this ride you Join Gru, his daughters, and the mischievous minions on an all-new 3-D ride. You start your adventure by walking in Gru’s house, where you’re recruited for his latest scheme – one where you’ll become an actual minion. It is a motion simulator ride that has some pretty intense twists & turns and ultimately ends in a dance party. This was a great introduction to ride simulators at Universal Orlando, because most of them are more open than she has previously experienced.
After this we decided to go to Twister…Ride it Out to let her experience a show that had more intense effects so we could gauge how she might do with some of the more intense theming around the two parks at Universal. Twister...Ride it Out re-creates all the nail-biting excitement and unforgettable moments from Twister where you get to see what it’s like to be a storm chaser and experience a tornado in person. It hardly ever has a wait and the theming is dark and ominous, and we had to do talk about tornados and that what was going on around her would be safe since it involves things flying around…including a cow!
Then it was time for a big one…Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride. Now this was one that we did not go lightly into, because it was going to be a make or break moment in our trip. This is an amazing attraction! The queue is beautifully themed, including booby traps in the queue itself, and the ride is thrilling! My daughter has ridden dark rollercoasters before, but this hybrid dark-ride coaster was definitely a step up for her. We talked her through the queue talking about the Egyptians and the booby traps, and as we answered as many questions she had about the attraction itself, without ruining too much of the surprise. While the beginning was a little intense with the Mummies and such, she really enjoyed the attraction once it really got moving. We knew that once we got off and she asked to go again we were safe!
MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack was our next stop. While Zoe is a huge fan of Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at Walt Disney World, this was going to be a step in scale, skill, and fun. As an agent trainee, you'll zap aliens as you chase them through the streets of New York in this high-tech, interactive ride based on the hit movies. But be warned... these aliens zap back, spinning your vehicle out of control. The spinning is intense on this attraction, but she outscored us all by about 200,000 points…I still don’t know what she hit, but I want to find that alien!
And our thrill ride trip to Universal Studios Florida ended with a The Simpsons Ride. Ride along with The Simpsons™ as they visit Krustyland, the low-budget theme park created by famed TV personality and shameless product huckster Krusty the Clown. This ride if full of intense motions and what could be scary situations, and we had to reassure her the most during this experience. It was not the reaction we thought we would get, but we now know that it’s just a little too much for her.
And after The Simpsons Ride, we decided to head over to Islands of Adventure since we were doing so well with the thrill rides!
She is crazy about super heroes, and we decided to head over to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. The diabolical villains of the Sinister Syndicate have stolen the Statue of Liberty and it's up to Spidey to save the day. You'll follow right alongside the web-slinger, careening and crashing through the streets, scaling skyscrapers and plummeting to the pavement below in a simulated 400-foot freefall. She surprisingly did a lot better with this ride than she did with The Simpsons! She was a little overwhelmed during the simulated fall, but other than that she was right there in the moment as we went through both the screens and ride scenes. We were hoping that this would be a good tell of how she would handle the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Speaking of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we decided to go back through Suess Landing to experience all that there was to offer! She isn’t familiar with the World of Harry Potter, so on the way over we gave her a brief overview of the story and explained how we were entering a world of magic which got her really excited! First on our list was the Flight of the Hippogriff. Follow Hagrid's instructions as you learn the proper way to approach a Hippogriff, which has the head of a giant eagle and the body of a horse. Then you’ll take off on a family-friendly coaster that spirals and dives around the pumpkin patch, and swoops past Hagrid's hut. She absolutely loved this coaster! It is a smooth ride and a lot of fun.
As we got off of the Flight of the Hippogriff, she started asking a lot of questions about the castle so we headed to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It was a quiet day in the park, so there wasn’t too much of a line which meant that we could take a little more time lingering in the queue. Make your way through the familiar classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Then soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter™ and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with magical creatures! This amazing new attraction uses groundbreaking technology (and a little magic) to create a one-of-a-kind ride experience. This attraction is extremely intense, and goes between scenes and screens and is completely overwhelming. It’s important to know that you are jostled quite a bit and come face to face with some of the more scary things that Harry and his friends encounter in the books. And while she enjoyed the ride, there were definite parts that made her scream. She has since asked if we could read the books together before she rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey again.
We then headed over to the Jurassic Park section of Islands of Adventure. Our first stop here was Camp Jurassic, which is a larger play area full of caves, caverns, fossils, slides, and rope nets that let her get some of her nervous energy from Forbidden Journey out.
As we were playing, she noticed that there was something around her. Located in the Camp Jurassic® play area inside Jurassic Park®, the Pteranodon Flyers enable you to glide and soar through the air to get a prehistoric bird's-eye-view of the surrounding area. She loved the ride, and I was beyond thrilled that I FINALLY got to experience it since this attraction is designed for children 36" to 56" in height. Guests over 56" in height must be accompanied by a child meeting the 36" height requirement. Children between 36"-56" must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion. It does swing quite a bit, but the gliding experience was a unique and a lot of fun.
On the Jurassic Park River Adventure we learned something else about our daughter, she doesn’t like to get soaked on rides! Gently glide past an enormous Ultrasaurus. See a baby Stegosaurus and its mother. Watch out for the Dilophosauruses, commonly known as "spitters." Then suddenly you're bumped off course and into a restricted section of the park… the Raptor Containment Area. The power to the fences is down. The raptors have broken loose! You ascend into the Environmental Systems Building as chaos unfolds around you. The lights are out. Raptors stalk your every move. And your only escape from the terrifying jaws of a towering T-rex is an 85-foot plunge in total darkness, She didn’t mind the dinosaurs or the plunge, but boy did she mind how soaked she got on this attraction!
Since it was getting pretty late in the day and she was getting tired, we decided to call it a day. I hope that these experiences and tips help you with your Daredevil-In-Training and their visit to the Universal Orlando Resort!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelley Caran moved to Celebration, Florida a little while ago from Virginia, but has had a passion for Disney World and SeaWorld since her first visit in 1986. She is a wife and stay-at-home Mom, who never seems to stay at home! She loves to take pictures, talk about her adventures, and what is important to know as you are on the go in the Orlando and Tampa attractions. In addition to her own site, On the Go in MCO (www.onthegoinmco.com) she is a contributor for Touring Plans (www.touringplans.com).