Universal Studios Orlando {Review}

Last month, Lucia and Adrian awoke to a monstrous surprise upon hearing that we were heading to the airport to take our first family vacation to Orlando, Florida.  If only I could freeze that moment in time.  Amidst screams of joy and serious bed jumping, I managed to share a bit of info about our destinations.  Adrian’s first questions were: “Can I come?” and “Can  I meet a minion?”.  We were beyond excited to spend our first full vacation day at Universal Studios Orlando.

Universal Studios Orlando review

We entered the gates armed with express passes and quickly spotted the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.  Lucia and Adrian studied the structure in wide-eyed amazement and were quite content staring at their favorite Despicable Me characters plastered everywhere in gargantuan size.  When we finally convinced the kids to make our way over to the line, we moved rather quickly thanks to our express passes.  Although Adrian (3.5 years) didn’t make the height requirement of 40″ – Universal Studios makes the ride accessible to everyone – with a stationary seating option.  After receiving some pretty spiffy glasses, we found ourselves in “minion training” entranced on a 3-D adventure alongside Minions, Gru and his beloved daughters.  My almost six-year-old enjoyed the action-packed motion, and I appreciated my stationary seating next to my son (as I’m prone to motion sickness!).  Adrian loved going to Gru’s house to help save Margo, Edith and Agnes, and best of all his dream came true – he met a real Minion!

minions universal orlando Despicable Me Minion Mayhemmeeting a minionmeeting a minion universal orlando

After another round on Minion Mayhem, Adrian took a massive stroller nap, and we had to time to focus on the big girl. She asked to go on the Transformers: The Ride 3D – which her father described as a high speed battle zone featuring well know Transformers including Optimus Prime and the Decepticons.  My husband had Lucia close her eyes several times when he perceived the battle scenes to be too much for her. She was a bit scared (although it was my husband’s favorite ride!), and we imagine that it will be a huge hit when our kiddos are a bit older.

Transformers The Ride 3D Universal Studios

I explored the park with my napping boy and enjoyed spotting the Blues Brothers before catching their performance.  I experienced a touch of home while strolling around the (meticulously clean!) New York City, and the extravagant Holiday decorations injected our vacation with a special Christmas spirit.  When I caught up with my other two companions, I even climbed a wall (just to show my big girl that I could!).  And unbeknownst to Adrian, the adventures continued in the Springfield area – even while he was sleeping.

Blues Brothers Universal OrlandoNew YorkUniversal Studios Orlando Florida Review

When Adrian woke we ventured to Krusty Burger and Moe’s Tavern to dine Simpson’s style.  The Simpson’s themed restaurants and decor truly look like replicas from the animated television series.  My husband enjoyed their specially brewed Duff Beer, and I was pleased with the healthy food options (I had a salad, the kids had fish, fruit and hummus).

simpsons universal orlando

After meeting a bunch of Simpson’s characters, the kids’ energy levels seemed to skyrocket, so off we went to Fievel’s Playland to run around. They jumped, climbed and ran through ball pits, netted climbing structures and gigantic props from the films American Tale and Fievel Goes West.  Although Bob and I were intently watching Lucia and Adrian, it gave us a bit of a break to converse alone about the day’s adventures.  We literally had to carry our kids out of the play area to pack in more rides.

Fievel's Playland Universal OrlandoUniversal Studios Orlando with Little Kids Universal Studios Orlando for young kids

We finally made our way over to E.T. Adventure –  a ride that is incredibly nostalgic of my own (and Bob’s) 80’s childhood.  I loved that the ride didn’t feel modernized (there are no advanced motion-simulation elements) and transported us back a few decades with real props and magnificent scenery.  After handing in our Interplanetary Passports, we all enjoyed riding side by side bikes on a truly magical adventure.

ET Universal Orlando

The express passes cut down on our wait times considerably, allowing us to enjoy rides without wasting time in lengthy lines.  We found the park to be incredibly clean, and the staff was warm and welcoming.  We packed so many adventures into one day, and there were still things that we didn’t have the chance to squeeze in.  Our entire vacation was made much easier by renting a double stroller via Kingdom strollers. Although I had qualms about giving my near six year old the option of sitting in a stroller, she absolutely needed it during lengthy days at the parks.  Kingdom strollers gave us a seamless experience with an on-location drop-off and pick-up.  Furthermore, our City Mini Double had ample storage space to haul all of our gear and the single hand fold made for easy transports.

Kingdom Strollers Review Florida

We ended our memory-filled day by taking in an intensely creative Blue Man Group performance (catch my full review within the next few day).  I’m hanging on to memories of my kids excitement during the Minion ride and while spotting their favorite characters in the parade.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget riding  bicycles into the moonlit sky with my family on E.T’s Adventure, and we hope to return with plans to spend a few more days at both of Universal Orlando’s parks.  We left with an incredible amount of memories packed into one day and can’t recommend Universal Orlando enough – It is truly a memory making destination full of endless family adventures.

Despicable Me Minions Universal Studios despicable me minionsponge bob square pants universal studios orlando parade universal orlandoFamily vacation at Universal Orlando

Special thanks to Universal Orlando for providing my family with park tickets/express passes for review purposes – our family experiences were incredible.  And thank you to Kingdom Strollers for providing a stroller for review as well.  As always, opinions are strictly my own.




  1. That was certainly a fun filled and packed day! Those kids were obviously enjoying themselves-the smiles and pics of them hugging their favorite characters are priceless!

  2. It looks like you all had a ball! The Despicable Me stuff looks really fun. I loved the pic of your kids walking through the book. We have been to Disney parks, never Universal, but seeing your review definitely makes me more interested in going to Universal Studios! 🙂

  3. Awww, I haven’t been there in about 10 years. We go to Disney every year, but we stay at Disney, so my kids haven’t been to Universal yet. I always figured once they outgrew Disney, we’d start doing Universal.

  4. I’ve been to Universal once and it was fun! The pics are great, and how very cool that you climbed the wall!

  5. We went to Universal 2 years ago and had a blast! My daughter is really into Harry Potter, so we spent most of the time in Hogwarts area. Now, with the new Harry Potter expansion opening up this year, we plan to return again this October. I am super excited! Glad your family had a wonderful time!

  6. How exciting!!! Looks like a fantastic excursion!

  7. Wow, looks like a ton of fun! I was waiting until my kids were a bit older but it looks like there is plenty for them to do there, have to book a trip soon!

  8. amanda @attachedmoms says

    we have never been to universal studios – but it looks like a lot of fun for the kids!

  9. I can’t wait to take my kids there…although I don’t know when we’ll ever be able to (we’re too busy booking our vacations to Italy every summer, lol!). I know we still have a few years until it would be appropriate…I keep thinking that if my 2 1/2 year old son saw all of those characters he’d freak out!!! lol!

  10. Looks like you all had a fantastic time. Love all the pictures. I hope to take my kids one day to universal but this year I think its Busch Gardens.

  11. Oh my lord! This is soo much fun! I can’t wait til our Disney Land trip! My son would flip out if he saw that transformer. He loves them! How fun!

  12. What an amazing day. I love Minions, secretly wish we could buy some as house guests, my kids think I a crazy.
    i was interested to see ET there. I recently noticed ET dolls at a carnival and asked the kids if they knew who he was, they looked at him and both went “uggh what is it?”
    May need to invest in the movie.

  13. Looks like a great experience, memories they will keep forever

  14. Oh that sounds great. And the fact that you surprised them the day of departure.. their minds must have been blown!

  15. Katie Lynn says

    It looks like your family had a great time! Lovely photos!

  16. Alphonso says

    This is such helpful info for my family. Thank you!


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