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Universal Studios Theme Park Orlando Florida: A Great Destination For Families With Teens

Updated on April 2, 2014
Universal Studios is a theme park that is great for families with tweens and teens.
Universal Studios is a theme park that is great for families with tweens and teens. | Source

Let's face it, Orlando area in Florida would not be what it is today without Walt Disney World Resort. Families from across the globe come to this gigantic theme park each year.

But while Disney World is a great family destination, it lacks a certain amount of thrill and intrigue for the tween and teen crowd set.

If you have a teen who is looking for a bit more in the way of thrills than the Disney parks provide, consider adding a couple of days at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure to your trip.

It's just a few miles up the road but offers a completely different experience from Walt Disney World.

What Teens Want In a Theme Park

The 12 year old and up crowd often seeks a different theme park experience from the rest of us. They want thrill rides, current and hip themes and a place to burn off energy.

Universal offers super heroes, dinosaurs, Harry Potter, extreme roller coasters and current movie favorite simulators.

Where is Universal Studios Florida in relation to Walt Disney World?

Universal Studios is an easy trip on Interstate 4. If you are at the Walt Disney World Resort just take I-4 going East.

Exit 75A Universal Blvd will take you right into the theme park area and the parking garage.

From there follow the signs to City Walk where you will also see the entrances for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Tip: If you are going to Islands of Adventure, walk around the lake and in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. It is less crowded that way and saves time.

show route and directions
A markerWalt Disney World Florida -
Walt Disney World Lake Buena Vista Florida
get directions

B markerInterstate 4 Florida -
Interstate 4, FL, USA
get directions

C markerUniversal Studios Orlando Florida -
Universal Studios Store, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando, FL 32819, USA
get directions

More Focused on Thrills

Here's the truth; teenagers may love It's A Small World but they aren't allowed to show that interest. They know that in order to keep their cool credentials, they must brag about how many times they rode the triple loop roller coaster or nearly died as their boat plunged down the rapids in the Jurassic Park ride.

Tweens will enjoy facing Dementors in the breathtaking Harry Potter adventure and can even brag about having a beer---Butter Beer----a delicious butterscotch flavored (non-alcoholic) drink that has people of all ages lined up.

There are mutliple coasters in each park as well as thrilling simulators that make even the bravest, boasting teen turn a little pale.

Here are some of the highlights.

Harry Potter Simulator Ride

Harry Potter World and The New Hogwart's Express

Everyone that has experienced Hogwarts and Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure have been blown away by the experience. The line queue for the Harry Potter simulator takes you through Hogwarts with all its magic and favorite rooms and characters. You can even see Ron, Hermione and Harry talking to you from a balcony. (Note: You can go through the line even if you don't want to ride the ride, just tell the attendant at the end that you are exiting.)

Even more exciting is the edition of Diagon Alley in the summer of 2014. There is even going to be a working Hogwart's Express train to take guests from one section of the Harry Potter world to the other. (Guests will need at least a two park ticket in order to experience this first-of-its-kind ride.)

Even the most skeptical teenager will get off the Harry Potter simulator changed by the experience. Or they can join their own Quidditch match on a breathtaking, twisting and turning, dueling roller coaster ride.

This land along offers so many thrills. Be sure to walk down the street and Hogsmeade and look for the hidden magic in the store windows and stop off at the candy shop for some chocolate frogs.

Hogwarts Express will connect the Harry Potter Worlds at Universal Studios.
Hogwarts Express will connect the Harry Potter Worlds at Universal Studios. | Source

Jurassic Park Staying Relevant With Fourth Movie

With Jurassic World scheduled to be released in 2014 as the fourth Jurassic Park movie, a whole new generation of tweens and teens may discover why ripples in a puddle of water make some of us cringe.

Universal's Islands of Adventure offers a fantastic Jurassic Park experience that includes a water ride that goes horribly wrong and a playground that offers caves that have even the adults screaming and running.

No one will want to miss the interactive exhibit which includes hatching dinosaur eggs. Located inside the burger restaurant, the set up looks very familiar to anyone familiar with the movies.

Warning, you will get wet on the water ride so buy some ponchos ahead of time and hang on.

Jurassic Park Water Ride That Your Teen Will Love!

Despicable Me: Fun For All Ages

The popularity of the Despicable Me film series translated into a popular 3D simulator ride experience where the audience becomes minions but ultimately must help save Gru's children.

The ride gives everyone from thrill seekers to the motion sick a chance to experience exciting 3D effects.

Note: There are stationary benches for those that can't handle motion.

Once you put on 3D glasse, the moving seats help to add to the thrill of flying, falling and sliding through the labs and experiments.

This is a ride that is good for multiple ages so a family with teens or younger kids can ride this together.

Become a minion in the Despicable Me ride.
Become a minion in the Despicable Me ride. | Source

Men In Black: A Classic From the Moment It Came Out

While Men In Black came out as a film over a decade ago, it retains a freshness and a certain amount of hip coolness that still resonates with teens today.

The ride at Universal lives up to that coolness by allowing the rider to become a part of the training program and be inside an interactive video game.

Like the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disney, the Men In Black ride allows teens and adults to compete for scores.

It also has the added bonus of making the ride a slightly different experience each time.

There are also rumors that another movie in the MIB series may be in the works so it will make this ride fresh and appealing for the younger set.

The Men In Black ride is very cool!
The Men In Black ride is very cool! | Source

Buying Tickets

If you are purchasing tickets for the park, I suggest that you get the two park ticket as there are great rides and attractions at both parks.

While a one day ticket is more expensive than a Disney ticket, the price for additional days declines steeply and is a better bargain than Disney.

Ticket Prices for Universal Studios Non Florida Residents

(click column header to sort results)
Cost  
Days Covered  
Parks Covered  
Adult or Child  
$136.00
1
2
Adult
$175.99
2
2
Adult
$185.99
3
2
Adult
$195.99
4
2
Adult
$130
1
2
Child
$165.99
2
2
Child
$174.99
3
2
Child
$183.99
4
2
Child
$96
1
1
Adult
$90
1
1
Child
$135.99
2
1
Adult
$124.99
2
1
Child
$145.99
3
1
Adult
$134.99
3
1
Child
$155.99
4
1
Adult
$143.99
4
1
Child
Go to: https://www.universalorlando.com/Ticket-Store/PurchaseTickets.aspx?ParkTickets to buy tickets. Children are ages 3-9. Children under 3 are free.

Ticket Prices for Universal Studios Florida Residents

(click column header to sort results)
Cost  
Days Covered  
Parks Covered  
Adult or Child  
$136
1
2
Adult
$130
1
2
Child
$132.99
2
2
Adult
$123.99
2
2
Child
$145.99
3
2
Adult
$134.99
3
2
Child
$96
1
1
Adult
$90
1
1
Child
$112.99
2
1
Adult
$103.99
2
1
Child
$128.99
3
1
Adult
$117.99
3
1
Child
$174.99
Annual Pass-Power Pass With Blockout Dates
2
Adult/Child
$244.99
Annual Pass--Preferred Pass With No Blockout
2
Adult/Child
$369.99
Annual Pass--Premium Pass With Valet Parking, City Walk Club Admission and Halloween Horror Nights
2
Adult/Child
Note: Prices are subject to change.

What is the Express Pass?

The express pass is like Disney's FastPass. It allows you to bypass the long lines for rides.

There are two ways to get an express pass.

  • Purchase it at a ticket window or in the park.
  • Receive it with a Universal hotel stay.

The prices for buying a fast pass vary based on the season and crowds. You can buy passes ahead of time and bundle them with your park ticket for extra savings.

Add Universal To Your Orlando Trip Plans

If you have teens or older kids who are seeking a bit more than Disney offers, consider carving a day out of your trip to explore the exciting world offered at Universal Studios Orlando.

Do you think Universal Studios in Florida is a good place for a family with teens?

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    • Robilo2 profile image

      Lori Robinson 2 years ago

      We liked the Men In Black Ride the best!

    • LCDWriter profile image
      Author

      L C David 3 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for commenting! We went to Diagon Alley and rode the Hogwarts Express over Labor Day Weekend. It was amazing! We are heading back in a few weeks to see it again. It's well worth it.

    • VJGSA profile image

      VJG 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for the comment re: Disney and Nixon. I found your article regarding the Universal Studios Parks timely because my family and I will be visiting Orlando during Thanksgiving Week, and we'll be staying at a Disney resort but spending two days at the Universal Parks - you provided valuable information. Our first stops will be the Potter attractions. My only problem now is waking my wife and son early in the mornings to get to the parks before Universal gates open!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Great review! I've never been to Universal, but my son has. I enjoyed the Jurassic Park video. Too cool!