By Chelle Koster Walton
Must-know information for taking kids of all ages to Universal Studios in Orlando.
Children of grade-school age will get the most out of Universal Studios, which excels at turning their favorite thrill movies into their favorite thrill rides. Children less than 48 inches tall must be accompanied by a parent on all rides. Special lands and attractions throughout the park cater to both the younger and the older sets. 'Tweens and teenagers love scary, extreme stuff, and Universal seizes the opportunity.
With little kids, head first to "Woody Woodpecker's KidZone." Here, they feel downsized to mouse proportions in "Fievel's Playland," which includes a 200-foot water slide where you get moderately wet. Get wetter still at "Curious George Goes To Town," an interactive playground with a pair of 500-gallon buckets that periodically dump water in a spectacular splash on the street below. For "Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster," kids must be at least 36 inches tall.
To get out of the weather, sit in on "A Day in the Park with Barney." At 25 minutes long, the sing-a-long clap-a-long musical show is just right for short attention spans. After the show, guests can visit “Barney’s Backyard” fun and educational interactive play area for kids.
"Shrek 4-D" OgraVision glasses and experience a “4-D” aventure featuring Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona.
"E.T. Adventure" iinvites guests of all ages to climb aboard bicycles and venture across the endless universe with E.T. in an effort to save his dying home- the mysterious mist shrouded “Green Planet”. Older children may want to tackle some of the "juicier" rides. They love "MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack" (42-inch height requirement) because they get to score points by laser-shooting extraterrestrial villains.
At showtimes, see "The Blue Brothers" and "Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue."
To feed their love of the silly and macabre, dine at Monsters Café.
Terrific for 'Tweens, Teens and Upwards
Save the really scary rides for kids' middle school and teen years. Attractions such as "Twister - Ride It Out" contain mature content and so are rated PG-13.
"Revenge of the Mummy," unveiled in 2004, has been called the world's first psychological thrill ride.
Teens particularly go for the "Universal Horror Make-Up Show," also rated PG-13.
Adults will welcome the nostalgia of "Lucy - A Tribute" and "The Blue Brothers," or simply strolling, nibbling and shopping their way through the set streets. For leisurely sit-down fare, try Lombard's Seafood Grille for seafood and Finnegan's for an Irish pub setting. Adjacent CityWalk provides additional venues for fine dining and lively entertainment such as Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Emeril's and Hard Rock Café.
If you're willing to pay extra, you can save time in line and receive other perks at Universal Orlando parks. Universal Orlando offers two different tiers of VIP tours for its parks, both of which include benefits such as free valet parking, access to backstage areas, complimentary drinks, food and merchandise discounts. For $150, plus park admission, you get a non-private, guided, five-hour tour of either park with priority entrance into at least eight major attractions. The Exclusive VIP Tour Experience lasts eight hours, and provides behind-the-scenes narration and priority entrance into attractions of interest to the group. It can be arranged for any time during regular park hours and costs $2,000 per group of up to 12 at each park. One-day, two-park tours are also available for individuals or for groups for $2,500, both offering eight hours of priority access to the parks' greatest attractions. Guests at Universal Resort properties also receive some additional admission benefits. For information and reservations, call 407-363-8295.
For more general information, log on to www.universalorlando.com.