This past weekend, I was able to take my 6-year-old niece Sophie to Universal Orlando for the first time.
She and my sister met me at CityWalk and we made our way into the parks with our unlimited express passes in hand (BEST INVESTMENT EVER).
Obviously being an Orlando local, Sophie was very accustomed to Walt Disney World and the much tamer attractions of the Magic Kingdom, with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train being her favorite ride.
At Universal Orlando however, the rides are more intense and much, much scarier (Haunted Mansion vs The Mummy).
Our first stop was Islands of Adventure’s Marvel Super Hero Island and we decided to start off strong at The Incredible Hulk Coaster. Sophie was all for it until we walked under the launch tunnel and a train shot out hitting 50 mph at the top of the launch hill.
I felt the tug on my hand become stronger and her face was that of “I don’t think so.” So we measured up to see if she was tall enough, and to her delight, she was not. As she so happily put it, “maybe next year,” and she skipped off. But not before we met Dr. Doom!
Next up was The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Here she, my sister and I, boarded our ride vehicle and were off to fight crime alongside Spider-Man. She wasn’t a fan of the 3-D as things were popping out at her. At the end of the ride though, she was enthralled by the gift shop and one particular Spider-Girl bathing suit she saw.
Our next stop was Toon Lagoon, where rather than get soaked ourselves on the 2 water rides, we went to watch the other guests ride Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Rapids and Dudley Doo Right’s Ripsaw Falls. She loved squirting people with the water gun in the children’s play area behind the entrance to Popeye and Bluto’s ride.
Following Toon Lagoon, we entered Jurassic Park, where Sophie wasn’t too sure about the Raptor encounter as she swore it was real. To be fair…Universal Creative did a bang up job with this encouter as that raptor DOES seem VERY real. Just ask this mom…
We then went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where she absolutely LOVED Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hippogriff kiddie coaster.
My sister and I enjoyed a butter beer while Sophie waited for a Coke Icee (she wasn’t a huge fan of the Butterbeer).
We then entered Suess Landing where Sophie was in her comfort zone. Vibrant colors, smells of cotton candy and whimsical music . . . a 6-year-old’s paradise! We rode the High in the Sky Suess Trolley Train Ride and the Caro-Suess-el and Sophie got her Icee as we made our way over to Universal Studios.
Once inside Universal, the park was preparing for The Beach Boys to perform and the Mardi Gras parade, so we decided to use our express passes to ride The Mummy.
This is my sister and I’s favorite roller coaster as it’s just enough thrill while still being an incredible dark ride. Sophie LOVED this ride. The initial scare of the first few rooms on this ride made me think she wasn’t a fan, but after we got off the ride, she was so excited, high-fiving me as a sign of approval.
We bought her on-ride photo and the team member zoomed in on our row and even slapped a “My First Coaster” sticker on as a souvenir for Sophie to always remember. I thought that was a nice touch.
We then went to The Simpsons’ Springfield section of the park and had dinner. Get the fried chicken platter with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. It was VERY flavorful and worth the price.
After dinner, we finished our night at Diagon Alley and Sophie got to see the fire-breathing dragon before we rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts which I think she enjoyed more than The Mummy and any ride in Suess landing.
All in all, watching a 6-year-old experience more thrilling rides for the first time was a cool moment for this uncle. She loved every minute of these parks.
So if you’re questioning whether or not your kid will like “more thrilling attractions,” take it from me. Bring them. You’ll know by the time the ride’s over when they’re smiling ear to ear and asking to come back next weekend.