How to Have the Ultimate Dinosaur Vacation at Universal Orlando Resort
Kids who eat, sleep, and breathe dinosaurs can dig up some major fun at Universal Orlando Resort. From sleeping in a dino-themed hotel suite to flying on a Pteranodon's back, here's how to plan an epic theme park vacation for the dinosaur fanatics in your life.
Kids and dinosaurs go together like peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, and practically any other perfect match you can dream up. At Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, little kids, big kids, and those of us old enough to remember seeing Jurassic Park in theaters (and secretly wishing Jurassic Park was real) can live out their prehistoric fantasies.
Here's everything you need to plan an unforgettable theme park dinosaur vacation. And, of course, always follow CDC safety guidelines whenever you travel this summer.
Stay in a Jurassic World Kids' Suite
Loews Royal Pacific Resort is one of Universal Orlando's top-tier hotels. This means luxury accommodations, fine dining, and close proximity to Universal's theme parks. Parents appreciate these things, but kids rarely do. They care about dinosaurs. When you stay in one of Royal Pacific's Jurassic World Kids' Suites, kids get their very own bedroom that is decked out with custom gyrosphere beds, dinosaur bedding and decor, and a large Jurassic World wall mural. The theming stops at the door to the kids' room, so parents can indulge in the tropical extravagance found throughout the rest of the suite.
Pass Through the Jurassic Park Gates
When you're ready to hit the parks, head for Universal's Islands of Adventure. This is where the Jurassic Park area is located, including the iconic Jurassic Park entry gates. For the full Jurassic Park experience, turn right after entering the park and pass through Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As you cross over the bridge adjacent to Hogwarts Castle, the music gently transitions to the well-known Jurassic Park theme as the large stone gates appear before you. You can enter from the other side of the land, but you'll miss out on this awe-inducing kickoff to your adventure.
Go On a Dino-Sized River Adventure
The Jurassic Park River Adventure (42 inches minimum height) begins as a leisurely scenic boat tour of the park's herbivorous (i.e. harmless) inhabitants. In classic theme park ride fashion, things go horribly wrong and you end up nearly missing out on becoming a hungry T. Rex's lunch before splashing down an 85-foot drop and getting completely soaked in the process. If you're concerned this ride might be too intense for your kids, there is a nearby viewing area where you can watch boats emerge at the top of the hill and plunge down the steep drop.
Visit Camp Jurassic
Camp Jurassic is a multi-level playground located adjacent to the Jurassic Park River Adventure and it's the perfect spot to set your kids free when they start complaining about waiting in line all day. Kids can traverse net bridges, explore amber mines, and spray passersby with water cannons. There's even a ride inside this area that parents cannot board without a child in tow. Pteranodon Flyers (36 inches minimum height, 56 inches maximum and parents can only ride with a child who meets the requirement) is a slow-moving suspended ride that flies high above Camp Jurassic.
Play Some Prehistoric Games
As you walk through Jurassic Park, you'll encounter some dino-riffic carnival games. Choose from balloon darts, target shooting games, basketball, a high-striker mallet game, and an InGen Egg Nursery where you choose an egg and win a prize. That last one is the best choice for young kids because they're guaranteed to win a prize. Winners score a brightly colored stuffed dinosaur and major bragging rights.
Ride a Roller Coaster Inside a Velociraptor Paddock
The Jurassic World VelociCoaster may be too intimidating for younger riders, but with a minimum height of 51 inches, they might not be tall enough to ride anyway. If your kid is a card-carrying coaster fanatic, however, VelociCoaster will more than satisfy their need for speed. The coaster sends riders through multiple inversions and two intense launches, the fastest of which boosts riders to a top speed of 70 mph. If your kids fall into the not-quite-ready camp, there is a child swap room with a television and bathroom where one parent can wait with non-riders and then switch off for their turn to ride without having to wait in line.
Eat Like a Dine-osaur
Horrible dinosaur puns aside, there are quite a few dining options in Jurassic Park. For indoor dining (and air conditioning), go with Thunder Falls Terrace or The Burger Digs. Neither requires reservations so you can stop in for a bite whenever hunger strikes. Pizza Predattoria is a quick-service restaurant that serves, well, pizza, along with sandwiches and salads. There are also a number of walkup food stands with snacks and drinks, but parents may especially appreciate the nearby Watering Hole that serves all that plus a selection of creative cocktails.
Play Paleontologist For a Day
Fans of the original films will notice the Jurassic Park Discovery Center building looks remarkably similar to the visitor center where the T. Rex and Velociraptor face off, but the theme park version is more fun than frightening. Kids can observe life-size dinosaur fossils and play games that are interactive and educational, but not so much that they'll realize you've snuck in a bit of learning on vacation.
Meet a Fully-Grown Velociraptor (Or a Baby One)
The Raptor Encounter isn't a ride, but it is one of the most unique and exciting attractions in the Jurassic Park area. It's pretty much the only place in the world kids can meet a Velociraptor so lifelike they might be convinced John Hammond's little DNA experiment actually worked. The full-size raptors are only 2 years old, but they're big enough to make you jump when they snap their razor-sharp teeth. Always one step ahead, Universal rotates in a couple of baby Velociraptors throughout the day that are much smaller and more docile than their fully-grown counterparts. You can take as many photos and videos as you like, and there is typically a Universal photographer to snap pictures, as well.