Traveling with multiple generations might sound like an amazing bonding experience, or a recipe for someone to get bored. However, a vacation in a theme park can be the solution: you just have to know which are the best attractions for each of your companions. Good thing we’ve solved it for you!
Universal Orlando is known for its thrill rides (teens: check it out!), but there are also thoughtful treats for toddlers and grandparents (and everyone in between). There are tame roller coasters, fascinating but not scary rides, cool shows, and even places to relax.
Before you go, know that there are three parks you can visit, each with its own entrance. The famously enchanting Harry Potter attractions span two of them, so if you have a wizard in your crowd, you’ll definitely need Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure tickets. Even if that’s not the main reason for your trip, each of those parks has reasons to visit for all ages. The third location is the Volcano Bay water park, which is worth getting away from the attractions for: it’s a bit quieter without being sleepy.
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So if you’re on a multigenerational family road trip, here are his best hits for each age group:
We are talking about young children up to 5 or 6 years old, depending on how expert they are on the roller coaster. These are the rides that won’t scare anyone, but won’t bore the accompanying adults to tears, either.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Ride! (Islands of Adventure)
A great first roller coaster (for kids at least 36 inches), this calm and colorful ride takes you up high, but your little one can sit next to you on the tram. The pace isn’t too fast and you’ll get to see lots of whimsical creatures from Seuss stories.
Curious George goes to the town playground (Universal Studios Florida)
Yes, you are in a theme park, but do you know what children love? A playground. With water. It’s okay, it’s good! Let them have fun like that. This bright and friendly space will rejuvenate them and you.
Kopiko Wai Winding River (Volcano Bay)
Little ones can slide down this lazy river in a tube and enjoy the sun and water. Not to be confused with TeAwa the Fearless River – it moves much faster!
Elementary to tween: the kids who think they’re big but turn pale when they see a real roller coaster. These attractions are exciting and fun.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorcycle Adventure (Islands of Adventure)
If there is a long line for this (and there will be), don’t be discouraged. Kids guarantee it’s worth the wait! You’ll ride through Hogwarts with Hagrid and experience some exciting surprises along the way (sudden drops and backwards rides, anyone?). Emotion level: Perfect.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (Universal Studios Florida)
This simulator ride is a big hit with the big kids: the story is silly, the thrills are perfect, and everyone leaves smiling.
Maku round raft rides from Makue Puihi (Volcano Bay)
These six-person raft rides take you down a massive water slide, spinning you around as you splash to the bottom. Children like being able to see their adults to calm down on the round raft! (Try the Honu ika Moana’s ika Moana for a more leisurely raft ride.)
People who are notorious for making bad decisions can’t go wrong here: these attractions feed their thrill-seeking spirits, but mom and dad need not worry.
Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Islands of Adventure)
Not for the faint of heart, this true blue roller coaster will give them a thrill – this may be the most thrilling ride in the park, with steep drops, super speeds and upside down action.
Men in black alien attack (Universal Studios Florida)
This is a motion simulation ride with a few twists: you can shoot aliens from your seat and fight another car, and there are multiple endings depending on how you do it, so you can strategize while you wait to ride a second time. .
Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Flip Flops (Volcano Bay)
How does a hatch sound that opens under your feet? Something a fearless teenager would do? There are no comfortable rafts on this one, just an exciting plunge you can do as a couple if you have a couple of daring youngsters on your trip.
Being an adult doesn’t mean you’ve left the fun behind. These rides and shows will have you screaming and gasping and forgetting about all your family responsibilities for the time being.
The Bourne Spectacular (Universal Studios Florida)
It has air conditioner! And you can sit! But don’t worry, it’s a super cool show that combines video and live action (but not in a stomach-sick way) and will have everyone saying wow!
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida)
Beneath the fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley is the enjoyable Gringotts experience, combining a moving ride with 3D and 4D effects. The story is great and moving through the underground vaults is exciting – it was worth the wait!
Krakatau water coaster (Volcano Bay)
The best of all worlds here: you have your perfect roller coaster and water ride. Take the kids on the 4 person boat or drop them off at the wave pool!
Any grandpa who goes to a theme park is by definition a fun grandpa, but if major roller coasters are off the list and you’re looking for something charming and unusual with a minimum of walking, here’s what to do.
Hogwarts Express (Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure)
The train between the two worlds of Harry Potter requires admission to both parks, and it’s worth taking in both directions – you’ll see the action around you differently as you travel (look out the “window” of your train car, but be sure from watch your cabin door too!). It is an immersive and delicious way to travel.
Universal Orlando Horror Makeup Show (Universal Studios Florida)
Learn a few things, laugh a lot, enjoy the good-sized, air-conditioned theater. Kids will love the pranks and gore, so send them off to the grandparents while older kids and adults enjoy an exciting ride.
Spring for the private cabana if you have adults who primarily want to relax, with occasional trips to the wave pool. You’ll get a great view of the action, plus towels, comfy chairs, fruit and snacks, and concierge service that delivers food and drinks right to you. Grandma deserves this, doesn’t she?
Sarah Smith is the editor-in-chief of Prevention and oversees the health brand across all platforms, including the monthly print magazine, digital site, books, events and more. Prevention has been at the forefront of wellness for more than 70 years, and Sarah has broadened the brand’s reach and deepened her commitment to science. Previously, Ella Sarah was Executive Editor of Redbook and Editorial Director of Kiwi Family Health Magazine. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and her son.