A few weeks ago I took my son on his first trip to Universal Studios. I haven’t been to Disneyland yet in my life but this was my third trip to Universal. My dad took me and my brothers when we were little and all I remember is the T-Rex from the Jurassic Park ride and there was some tour where I was sitting on my dad’s shoulders and there was fire. My second trip was hubby’s and mine first vacation. That trip was about 2 years ago, meaning we were together for 7 years before we took our first real trip together. (And we are never letting another 7 years go by before our next one.)
So for my third, it was Little Man’s and my first trip together just us. We got to visit with some of my family who live in California and go to my favorite place on earth. I know everybody says Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but for me, it is Universal Studios. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I see Disneyland but Disneyland doesn’t have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Little Man is a little guy and was tall enough for exactly 1 ride. Well, one big person ride. There is an awesome area called Silly Fun Land that is modeled after the carnival from Despicable Me. Little Man is tall enough for the rides and things in that area because it was designed for the little people. The one ride he was tall enough for was the Flight of the Hippogriff in Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My son looks an awful lot like my husband, like his little mini me. For every ounce he looks like my husband though, he acts like me. He asked me three more times to go back and ride that roller coaster again. He loved it so much! He also handled the long line for the rollercoaster like a champ. (FYI roller coasters are my favorite.)
So basically, we had a blast and he hasn’t stopped asking me when we get to go back ever since. So, I am going to share some tips and tricks I have from my trips to Universal and all the research I did before these trips
1. Strollers are your friend.
Little Man is four and I don’t think I’ve stuck him in a stroller since he was two. However, when thinking about the crowds and how was I going to keep Little Man close to me, allow me to feel safe and like I’ve got him, my options were a stroller or a leash. Strollers also have the benefit that he gets to rest his legs when he gets tired of walking. If you’re like me and haven’t owned a stroller in years, you can rent one at the park for $15 and it is the best $15 you’ll spend there.
2. Backpacks are a must.
Adios purse! I ditched my cute bag for a backpack and it was so nice to have my hands free. I kept my jacket in there along with my water bottle and other things that I needed to carry around with me, like a battery pack for my phone) Also, it was great place to stash any goodies I bought in the different areas while I was walking around. Like, my son’s transformer. Also, I ditched my wallet for a small id carrier and that made carrying all my important cards and cash so much easier.
If you like soda or just enjoy drinking caffeine all day long, Universal Studios has a souvenir cup they sell that allows you to have unlimited refills of soda all day long. There are multiple fill up stations throughout the park for you to keep it full.
4. Cash is King.
This is a saying that has been around for decades. Pulling out cash just makes the park easier. I like to budget what I get to spend at the park, pull it out in cash and then ONLY spend that. I don’t use my card for anything and just use my cash. Using cash also keeps me in budget and makes me really think about what I am buying. It is so easy to swipe a card but sometimes it can be hard to remember every single time you used it when you’re trying to stay in budget. Using cash, you just count what you have and that is what you have. Simple!
5. Have fun!
Family trips and theme parks are supposed to be fun! Breathe and go in with a go with the flow mentality. This is the opposite of me normally. I’m a planner and I research and make game plans for anything I do. I throw all that away when I take trips. Trips are supposed to be relaxing and fun. Am I going to be exhausted after being out all day? Probably. I’m getting old and being out all day is just exhausting. Once I get into the park though, I have zero control over what happens. I cannot control a 45 minute line to just get popcorn. I cannot control a 60 minute line for a ride while a toddler who wants to jump around all over the place. I cannot control people trying to hang out in a pathway to get to the stroller parking. I can either breathe and let it go, or let it frustrate me and let it ruin my trip. I rather go home with a smile on my face instead of thinking about all the things that went wrong. Let your inner child out and have fun!
P.S. Meet all the characters you can, totally worth it 🙂