There's a place where your tadpoles can chill with adorable kitties, hug giant stuffed animals AND mingle with wizards. At Universal Studios Hollywood, your tadpoles — as well as your whole frog squad — will have loads of fun. Today, we're going to show you our favorite ways to have a great time at the park with small children by exploring the best attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood for toddlers.
During Universal's reopening period, all guests ages 2 and up must wear a face covering both indoors and outside. We practiced with our own toddler, Lily, before we went and let her pick out a mask with her favorite character on it to help with the process. If you're looking for even more tips for toddlers and masks, hop here. (You'll notice that not all of the photos in this post reflect current policies.) As Universal continues the reopening process character meet and greets are operating a little differently — all of which we'll get into below!
Universal parks cater to an older and slightly different crowd than Disney. The majority of the rides are thrills, but more and more family-friendly experiences are being added. So read up on our tadpole-tested tips and then purchase your discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets to get your trip started! Don't froget to download our Universal Studios Hollywood 1-Day Park Plan and check crowd levels during your visit. As they say in "the biz"... action!
The Best Attractions and Entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood for Toddlers
Ride On ... But Look Out for Potentially Scary Rides
There are eight rides and attractions that allow children at or under 40 inches to ride at Universal Studios Hollywood:
- Studio Tour - No height requirement
- Kung Fu Panda Adventure - No height requirement
- Flight of the Hippogriff - 39 inches
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem - 40 inches
- The Simpsons Ride - 40 inches
- Transformers: The Ride 3D - 40 inches
- Silly Swirly Fun Ride - Kids under 48 inches require supervising adult
- The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash - 34 inches (new!)
Your toddlers may not quite measure up for some of these rides. Kids 40 inches and up may enjoy and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (never mind that Lily was scared she was going to be turned into a minion the first time she rode it!). The Simpsons Ride and Transformers: The Ride 3D may also be scary for younger kids, even if they are tall enough to ride.
One of the newest attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood for taller toddlers (and everyone else too!) is the Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! This slow and gentle ride will turn your family into puppies who need to find a home. Another newer toddler-friendly attraction is the multi-sensory Kung Fu Panda Adventure. This is a somewhat gentle theater experience with seats that move slightly in conjunction with the images on screen (although there are a few non-moving seats). The movements are gentle enough for toddlers.
The famous Studio Tour does not have a height requirement ... but that doesn't mean it's a calm ride. Little ones may get scared during King Kong 360 3-D and Fast & Furious — Supercharged. If you are taking tadpoles on the tour, follow our advice on where to sit (place little ones away from edges) so your kids are safe. Reassure them that it's all pretend. Here is more on Universal Studios Hollywood's height requirements.
Meet Despicable Me Pals, Hello Kitty and Other Friends
Meet a minion outside of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. You'll usually find Kevin or Bob. You can also meet Margo, Agnes, Edith or Gru just outside Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls at certain times throughout the day.
Around the park, keep your eyes open for toddler and preschooler favorites such as Hello Kitty, Curious George and Dora the Explorer. Your toddler will be tickled to meet Dreamworks characters near the entrance to Kung Fu Panda, including Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots, Po, Tigress, Branch, Poppy, Alex and King Julien. SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star are stirring up fun in the Upper Lot, as well as classic characters such as Betty Boop, Dracula and Doc Brown from "Back to the Future." Your little ones may not know them, but they are fun to meet.
Down in the Lower Lot, there are some somewhat scarier character meet and greets, but your toddler might enjoy them. They can meet some of the star dinosaurs from the "Jurassic World" franchise. The gentle giant triceratops, Juliet, and baby raptor meet and greets are a calm, less-scary choice that we recommend for toddlers. Blue, the raptor, is pretty realistic and scary even for adults and big kids. Toddlers will appreciate the view from a safe distance. The Transformers are gigantic and have deep voices, but they might be good for a gentle high-five from the safety of a parent’s reassuring arms for brave toddlers. Check out our guide to Universal Studios Hollywood character spotting for even more tips and tricks!
Meeting favorite characters can be a memorable moment for small children at Universal Studios Hollywood. Sometimes it can also be scary. If this happens, don't force an encounter. You can try holding your little one while you approach or try again later. Talk to your child in advance about the very tall characters they may see. For Lily, some characters may always be too scary (I'm talking about you, Frankenstein). Right now, meet and greets are extra toddler-friendly as they take place from a safe distance — a wave from a comfortable spot is the norm!
Explore the Wonders of The Wizarding World
If you've introduced your tadpoles to Harry Potter, or they've been exposed thanks to older siblings, a visit to Hogsmeade is definitely in order. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a wondrous and magical place.
Little ones may not be ready or tall enough to experience Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey just yet, but they can definitely do the castle walkthrough. Parents can take turns watching them by waiting in the Child Switch room. See if they are ready (and tall enough) to tame Flight of the Hippogriff. It's a perfect first roller coaster — low-key and over quickly in case it happens to be too much. Aspiring wizards will love the interactive wands and the Ollivanders wand selection show. If you purchase an interactive wand, you can help your tadpole cast magical spells! (We know you parents want to use the wands too! "Helping" little ones gives you the best excuse to be a wizard.) Toddlers are sure to be dazzled by the Frog Choir show (our faves!), as well as the Triwizard Spirit Rally. Go, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic!
There are plenty of wizards and villagers for your kids to chat with. A photo with the Hogwarts Express Conductor and the Hogwarts Express makes for a fun memory too. If you're OK with letting the tadpoles enjoy some sweets, have them choose a treat inside Honeydukes. (Chocolate Frog, please!) Don't froget, there's always fun with small children at Universal Studios Hollywood when Butterbeer is involved. (It's alcohol free!) The Three Broomsticks restaurant has kid-friendly choices such as macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, a chicken quarter and fish and chips. The kids meals come with grapes and either wedge fries or veggies. The desserts are also delicious and fun to share with a toddler.
Let Them Get Wet
One sure-fire way to entertain small children at Universal Studios Hollywood involves a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen. Your little minions will love to jump and splash in the Super Silly Fun Land spray area. It is equipped with over 80 water play features and slides. There is a changing room nearby. If you forget their suits, they sell everything a tadpole needs inside the gift shop, from Minion suits, to towels, to hats and sunscreen. For more water fun, there are water features in Universal Plaza and Universal CityWalk. Water may be an odd way for you to entertain small children at Universal Studios Hollywood, but sometimes a little soaking is all the thrill your tadpoles need.
Walk and Climb with the Dinosaurs
For tadpoles who love dinosaurs, there's one area they are sure to "dig." Visit the Dino Play climbing structure in the Lower Lot. This spot lets little ones burn off energy while other family members go on rides. There is more to do in the this newly refurbished playground, with even more climbing spots and a new dig site. It's also fun to go watch the boats make a splash at the end of Jurassic World — The Ride!
Use Child Switch and Single Rider
Entertaining small children at Universal Studios Hollywood can get awkward when it's time to hit the rides. What happens when your party wants to ride something that your tadpole isn't tall enough for? Enter Child Switch! This program lets family members ride the big rides while someone waits with the baby or toddler in a Child Switch room. When the riding party is done, the person that waited with the tadpole can take a turn. BONUS — they do not need to wait in line again!
Ask employees near ride entrances about Child Switch. The whole party will enter the line together (whether you are using the standby line or Universal Express — both parents would need Universal Express to use that line) and then part ways at the ride boarding area. When the first parent to ride returns, the other parent and one other guest can ride — perhaps a lucky older sibling gets to ride twice! Both Child Switch and Single Rider options are great ways to manage crowds in the Lower Lot and manage your time in the park. Child Switch also comes in handy if your tadpoles have won some large prizes that do not fit on rides or in lockers. The person watching the child can also watch all the stuff!
See a Show
One of the best shows for entertaining small children at Universal Studios Hollywood is Universal's Animal Actors. Try to arrive early to get a seat closer to the front. This seating will allow little ones to see the dogs, cats and small animals up close. You may even meet a famous animal star! Tad enjoyed meeting an owl from a Harry Potter movie. If you buy a Universal Express Pass, you’ll enjoy perks at this show, such as special seating. These pass holders also receive an intimate meet-and-greet with some of the animal stars after certain showtimes.
Kids may find the Special Effects Show (temporarily unavailable) interesting, or maybe a little scary. Let your tadpoles know that the stunts in the show are done by professionals. THEY SHOULD NOT TRY THESE AT HOME, TAD. WaterWorld is the park's most popular show. There are loud noises and explosions, so prepare your tadpoles. If it's hot when you visit, consider sitting in the splash zone. Seeing mom or dad get soaked with water is a great way to entertain small children at Universal Studios Hollywood. We frogs have no fear of the water. If wet isn't your thing, choose your seat wisely.
Super Silly Fun Land and Springfield U.S.A. have carnival games that kids can enjoy. Perhaps you can win your souvenir? Lily won a fluffy unicorn like the one Agnes from "Despicable Me" owns. "It's so fluffy!" Interested in a money-saving secret? If you make a purchase at one of the stores or pay for one carnival game, you'll receive a voucher for two-for-one carnival games that you can use all day. We used that puppy multiple times. Ask about this in the gift shops before you play. Also, if you have a little one who has a hard time losing, there are a few games that guarantee your child will be a winner every time. Alas, the coupon will not work for those!
Take a Break
There is a lot of stimulation at Universal Studios Hollywood for toddlers. If you need a quiet spot to decompress (or you need to nurse a baby), hop into a quiet room in the Family Center located near WaterWorld. You can use a private room with a chair for an adult, and one for a child with some toys. If you stay at a nearby hotel like the Hilton (as low as $186 a night though Undercover Tourist) or the Sheraton, which are a five-minute walk from the park, you can leave midday to take a nap or splash in the pool if you need a break. This is easier to do when the park has longer hours (as in 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. versus a short day of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when you’ll be more pressed for time).
Use a Stroller
If you don’t bring your own stroller, you can rent a single or double stroller at Universal Studios Hollywood for toddlers to let them rest and keep them contained and shaded. It’s best to park it before heading down to the Lower Lot. Don’t leave any valuables in your stroller.
Visit During Grinchmas
From late November until early January is one of our toddler's favorite times to visit Universal Studios. Whoville takes over the middle of the Upper Lot. There is special decoration and entertainment. You can meet the silly Grinch and Max, see a tree lighting, experience snowfall and more. Cindy Lou tells the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and we can all enjoy festive foods and treats.
Even More Things to See and Do at Universal Studios Hollywood for Toddlers
Beyond shows and rides, there is plenty to see at Universal Studios Hollywood for toddlers. Browse the gift shops in the park and at Universal CityWalk. Take selfies near the Hollywood sign by the Studio Tour tram exit. Get your toddler's face painted. Have fun with all of the colorful details in Springfield U.S.A. Splash in the fountains. Pull up a table in Three Broomsticks and enjoy the atmosphere of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Definitely ring all the doorbells for the “houses” in front of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Each ring will produce a different giggle-inducing Minion sound from within. That never gets old.
There are more kid-friendly rides to come. You can read more about the ride and what else is to come in What's Coming to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Your little ones may not have seen most of the movies at Universal Studios Hollywood. My little girl doesn't mind. It's doubtful yours will, either. They will have fun spending time with you. That’s the ticket to enjoying Universal Studios Hollywood with toddlers.
Have any tips to share on Universal Studios Hollywood for toddlers and small children? Let us know in comments below! Making a visit to Disneyland? Be sure to check our advice on bringing a toddler or baby to Disneyland.