Traveling with preschoolers? Traveling with teens? Trying to keep everyone in the family happy? You can dream big and win a theme park vacation that’s fun for all ages at Universal Orlando Resort.

True – Universal Orlando Resort is a dream vacation for the littlest theme park aficionados—from Seuss Landing (here’s your chance to eat Green Eggs and Ham!), Camp Jurassic (explore secret caves and wander through a mysterious amber mine) and Toon Lagoon at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, to  Fievel’s Playland (look at the world from a mouse’s perspective; seasaw on a giant spoon!) and the chance to help Shrek save Princess Fiona in Shrek 4-D at Universal Studios Florida!

The two parks are compact enough to let older kids wander on their own, do the daredevil coasters, and meet up with grandma and grandpa at one of the many shows.  Child Swap privileges mean you won’t get too tired pushing the stroller around either; mom or dad get to wait in a special area with the smaller kids while the other ones enjoy the rides. There are plenty of good eats and value meal plans in both parks and, of course, highly-themed swimming pools at the hotels (stay in one and play at all three) for mid-day breaks or after-hours fun.

From swinging above the streets with Spider-Man on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Universal Studios’ newest coaster that combines music and video effects, your family will love it all. Even better, if you stay at one of Universal Orlando’s three on-site Loews hotels —Loews Portofino Bay Hotel , Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort—you can skip the regular lines at participating rides and attractions just by showing your hotel room key card–– a benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day! You can also get into Universal’s Islands of Adventure an hour early to beat the crowds at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This may be the only vacation where your tweens and teens are out of bed before you are!

Local kids say visiting kids shouldn’t go home without trying Butterbeer and getting a souvenir from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Did you know more than a million cups of Butterbeer have been sold at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? It tastes kind of like butterscotch and shortbread cookies, and, of course, it’s not alcoholic.

Can you help get the Statue of Liberty back from the diabolical villains of the Sinister Syndicate? Sure you can—on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Many people think this is one of the best attractions ever created—especially now that it’s got all-new 4K digital high-def animation.

This summer, train to be a minion at Universal Studios’ new 3-D attraction: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, where you join Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes and the mischievous minions when Gru recruits you for his latest scheme.

If you win our contest, your stay at one of Universal Orlando’s on-site Loews hotels means you get to skip the regular lines! Even if you don’t win, you can buy a Universal Express Plus pass that enables you to bypass the lines and feel like a VIP. Prices start at $21 per person and vary depending on when you visit.

I’ve been working on “The Kids’ Guide to Orlando”—it will be out in the fall—and I think Universal Orlando Resort is one place that can keep your entire gang happy whatever their ages.

Let’s not forget Universal CityWalk where you can eat—there are more than 20 restaurants–go to the movies,  see Blue Man Group in a revamped show and shop till you drop. NBA fan? Watch the game on 15-foot screens at NBA City while you chow down on a burger .

The hardest part is deciding where to go first.  This is one time to let the kids lead the way! And you’ll have your chance to do just that with this Dream Vacation contest, which is a joint promotion with our partners at TravelingMom.com and My Family Travels.

What’s Included in The Dream Family Vacation at Universal Orlando Resort Resort

If this sounds like a Dream Vacation, it is. And you’ve got the chance to win a four-day stay that will include :

–Three nights in a 1 Bedroom Suite (or two connecting rooms depending on availability) for a Family of 4 at an on-site Loews Universal Orlando Resort Hotel.Round trip economy class airfare for family of 4 from any of 50 U.S. States to Orlando, Florida.

–Ground transportation to and from airport to hotel.

–Daily breakfast for a family of four.

–4-Day/2-Park Tickets for admission to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parks so you don’t miss a thing! Our sponsors at Universal Orlando Resort are providing these passes for family of 4, but if you decide to bring everyone with you, they will provide up to two additional theme park tickets. Please note that the winner will have to cover airfare, and other hotel fees and expenses for additional guests.

How to Win a Dream Family Vacation to Universal Orlando Resort Resort

It couldn’t be easier to enter this Dream Vacation contest, which is a joint promotion of TakingtheKids.com, our partners at My Family Travels and Traveling Mom and Universal Orlando Resort. Simply answer our Question of the Day about theme park fun for all ages and Universal Orlando Resort in the widget below.

The answer to the question will come from one of the posts listed below, on the three participating sites. We’ll tell you which site each day, but not which specific post – you’ll have to read the posts from that site for yourself to find the answer.

If the question is from TravelingMom.com:

http://travelingmom.com/tipsproducts/tips/4688-theme-park-survival-tips.html and http://travelingmom.com/tipsproducts/tips/4704-more-theme-park-survival-tips.html


If the question is from TakingTheKids.com:



If the question is from Family Travel Forum:



Optional extra entries:

For an optional additional entry each day, help us promote the contest by tweeting about it through the widget.

You can earn an extra three entries every day if you leave a comment on each of the participating sites’ contest posts with your best theme park survival tips – see the widget for more details. Please note, each tip left must be unique – a different one each day and on each site. But, you can enter as many times as you’ve got tips – just don’t forget to click ‘did it’ in the widget for the entry to count.

Come back tomorrow for a new question and new chances to enter the sweepstakes.

The Easter and Summer Holidays are coming up – what are you waiting for?

Prizes and details subject to change and subject to availability. All winners will be chosen randomly. Restrictions may apply. You will have 48 hours to respond and claim your prize.

Please!  Read all the legal fine print for contests here.


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This Post Has 175 Comments

  1. My favorite theme park survival tip is…Get there early!

  2. Best survival tip – pack as light as you can, because you’re probably going to end up lugging some souvenirs and goodies home with you.

    1. Yep! But don’t go overboard. Here’s a tip from our Orlando survival strategies in the Taking the Kids E-newsletter that went out last week: “11. Plot a souvenir strategy. Discuss how much the kids can spend. Hold off till the last day to shop (except if they want attraction-specific souvenirs). One parent I know gives the kids gift cards with the amount they can spend on souvenirs. That helps from giving in to impulse buys. “

      1. Definitely true. And I have another tip about souvenirs, but I’ll save the that for tomorrow. Say, do you have the link for the TravelingMom.com contest post? I can’t find it, so I posted comments to a few of the other links on her site above. Hope that can still count — thanks!!

  3. My mom is an inveterate bargain shopper, and being a big Disneyland fan, she’s always on the lookout for souvenirs for my boys. So the strategy is: buy souvenirs (autograph books, hats, toys) outside of the park at a discount, then hide them, and bring them with you on the trip. Then when the kids see something they want in a gift shop, you can tell them you already have something cool for them back at the hotel (or maybe you bring it in with you in a backpack.)

  4. Go early or late..less crowds!

  5. Bring your own snacks, especially if one of your kids has a nut allergy, like ours. Saves money, as well as time waiting in lines.

  6. Dress for the weather!

  7. Drink plenty of water!

    1. And bring a reusuable water bottle!

  8. If you’re fortunate enough to be staying on-site, or nearby, head back to the hotel midday and take a nap. Then stay up late, when the crowds get thinner!

  9. The kids wear Road ID bracelets that say “If found please call (and our numbers)” That way their names aren’t on them anywhere but a way to find the parents is. It also lists food allergies or illnesses in case of accidents.

  10. If you live on the West Coast, sleep in and enjoy late nights out. (Staying up late at the Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom was a treat for the boys.)

  11. Sun hats are a good idea when it’s bright out, and let you avoid having to continually reapply sunblock to faces. Also, helps shade the eyes, too.

  12. If the last shuttle back to the hotel appears to be late, just spend the money and get a cab. Better still, find some other people waiting and split it.

  13. Take Bottled Water and Small snacks, Any special foods for dietary or medical purposes, baby formula/food, Put in small insulated bag.

    Tip for visiting Theme Parks.


  14. If you’re visiting a park that has water features or rides, wear your swimsuit underneath. They dry off faster.

  15. I’m not a bit fan of long lines so on our one trip to Disneyland, we got there early. That was a godsend for the first couple of hours before the crowds started coming!

  16. Best survival tip: bring your own stroller to save $, makes airport travel easier too. At the resort tie a colorful balloon to it to find it easier and quicker in the sea of strollers!

  17. Not sure I could actually eat green ham, lol!

  18. Best Survival Tip: Have a plan but be a bit flexible as well!

  19. My tip is that, if you like movies and plan to visit Universal Studios® then find out which movies are featured in the rides and rent all those movies before you go so your whole family will appreciate all the nuances!

  20. Stay at the park
    s hotels and utilize any benefits they offer, such as transportation.

  21. When I was at Disneyland last spring, I posted a desperate message on Facebook about the long lines and my friend came to the rescue by recommending the FREE iPhone app, Mousewait. It gives wait times for rides, tells you the nearest place to get food, find a bathroom or even an iPhone charging station. The Park also has official apps for a nominal charge.

  22. Pack light snacks (crackers, goldfish, fruit cups, etc) to satisfy your kids hunger bursts, and save money!

  23. Don’t rush to see everything. Prioritize what you want to do.

  24. I’d have snack available (keeps the kids from being cranky and saves money, too)

  25. Use apps that tell you wait times for lines.

  26. Tip: get a map of the parks so you know where you want to go before you get there. Pick the ones you want to see most and go there first!

  27. Some hotels (like around Disney World) are almost attractions themselves, and worth exploring.

  28. Pack healthy, protein rich snacks that don’t need refrigeration. Nuts, granola bars, trail mix, etc. Snacks at the parks are expensive!

  29. Have a meeting place in case you get seperated from your older kids.

  30. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

  31. If you can stay up late (West -> East time change), the rides get pretty empty in the last few hours of the park being open. Also it’s usually much cooler (bring a jacket!)

  32. I went over spring break last year and it was BUSY. I did some research re: the best time to Disneyland and I found it is early September, when the weather is warm but not hot and crowds are light.

  33. Survival tip: Always have a meeting place st up in advance in case you get separated

  34. Watch your expectations, breath, and stay in the moment. Just enjoy without the pressure of having to do this or that….trust it will all go as it should. It’s supposed to be fun 🙂

  35. Theme park survival tip: be judicious about what you need to carry for the day. ID, money, small backpack with containers for water seem ideal to me!

  36. If your kids are on the shorter side, make sure you measure them beforehand, then go online or carefully review the park map/guide the night before so you don’t end up with the heartbreak of “not tall enough” for a particular ride.

  37. Bring snacks and drinks with you if your allowed to

  38. go on the white water rafting ride last! lol

  39. loved the twitter party last night! It was fun & Informative!

  40. Plan your trip during off periods when most kids are in school.

  41. I follow Disneyland on Twitter (a great idea for breaking stories) and today they tweeted out some good offers. A great one included save 25% at a Disneyland Resort hotel!

  42. My survival tip is to pace yourself. It’s not a race 🙂

  43. survival tip – don’t expect everything to go perfect just go with the flow and everyone will be happy

  44. Baby wipes, even though our boys aren’t babies any more. They’re handy for spills, quick hand-cleaning, etc.

  45. Bring a small notebook or sketchpad for the kids (and you) to doodle in while you wait in lines.

  46. Bring those small etch a sketch’s for the kids. Pack frozen yogurt! Kids love them, well mine do 😉

  47. utilize phone apps for ride wait times, if available.

  48. My tip: have a second person walk to the ride you all want to use the fastpass for while you wait in line for a less exciting ride with the kids. Saved us tons of time.

  49. Look for discount tickets to save money.

  50. I’m learning a lot by researching all these tips. 😉 Here’s one from disneylandvacationtips.com: Lines 13, 20, or 21 move fastest at the Disneyland entrance.

  51. Survival tip: comfy shoes!!!!!!!!!

  52. My tip is to go to the left when you enter. Most people go right so you might be able to avoid some of the crowds.

  53. Use your phone to take a photo of the parking lot sign where you parked (letter, number, character, whatever) so you can easily find your car at the end of the day.

  54. Make sure everybody is wearing comfortable shoes — you’re going to be on your feet all day (and night!)

  55. The Express passes are the best, especially when traveling with kids. We ended up being given the passes by Universal because of a mixup by our hotel….and it made our final day in Orlando one of the best!

  56. carry a small first aid kit with waterproof band aids.

  57. Here’s a smart one: when the park opens avoid the temptation to hit the nearest attractions. Go to the further point away in the park and work your way backwards; you’ll miss a lot of the crowds that way.

  58. Allow your kids one souvenier and make it clear before shopping.

  59. Study up beforehand by reading on internet or in libraries from people who have been there.

  60. Buy a good pair of Arch supports like Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics – worth the cost to save your feet and legs from fatigue.

  61. Bring bandaids with you in different shapes & sizes. They’ll come in handy if someone’s shoes are bothering them.

  62. Don’t lug heavy stuff (jackets, extra food) that you don’t really need. Either leave it in the car, or use a locker — your back and feet will thank you later.

  63. Bring granola bars or meal bars. They’ll give you a healthy energy boost, and they’re small and won’t melt in the heat!

  64. Write your name and cell phone number on pieces of paper and stick them in your kids’ pockets in case they get lost.

  65. don’t expect to do everything in one visit. Theme parks are designed so you have to come back!

  66. We focused on the most-wanted rides first, to make sure that no one was dissapointed.

  67. Take a deep breath and count to ten when you get “that” feeling.

  68. Since most families with small children leave early, the lines for popular kiddie rides like Dumbo and Peter Pan are shorter at night.

  69. Bring an energy bar with you for a quick snack. That way you won’t have to waste any precious theme park time by standing in a line for a popcorn or ice cream bar.

  70. bring your own snacks..

  71. Don’t buy head to toe THEME PARK duds because you’ll just look silly when you get home. 1 thing is plenty.

  72. For big parks, you’ve gotta allot more than one day. They really are huge, and it’s great to be able to take your time.

  73. On hot days the water play areas are a great place for the kids to cool off and for you to sit down and rest for a while.

  74. It’s cheaper to pack warm clothes like hoodies & pants & rent a locker than it is to buy them in the park!

  75. Pack a rain poncho for the water rides. It’ll save your clothing.

  76. Flying tip – check your bags curbside. It’s worth the $1 tip/bag to not lug that stuff and wait in line w/ two anxious boys. Forget about carry-on.

  77. There are a few apps and services that let you take a photo on your phone and then send actual postcards. Grandparents love this. Check out: Postagram, Postcard On The Run, SnapShot Postcard, Postcardly (via email), Cellphonepostcard (via SMS)

  78. Bring your own stroller!

  79. Remember, this a vacation, so have fun!

  80. pack hand sanitizer!

  81. Pay attention to the weather forecast. If lightning storms are predicted, bypass the water parks.

  82. Safety Tip: Put ID tags on each of your children’s shoes. We use http://www.whosshoesid.com because they’re inexpensive and very visible.

  83. Don’t drink carbonated drinks in the parks as they will dehydrate you.

  84. Don’t worry about pleasing everybody all day long. It’s not likely to happen. Just do the best you can.

  85. If you’re unfamiliar with the theme park you’re going to visit the next day, stop by your hotel’s front desk and pick up a map. Look through the map for key attractions that you think your family will enjoy and make a note of them.

  86. Bring gum with you from home because they do not sell it at Disney or Orlando Airport!

  87. Take an afternoon break in the heat of the day. The evening is much easier to enjoy with rested kids, and they last longer. The parks are always most crowded during the heat of the day anyway, so you’re mostly missed out on time spent in lines.

  88. Take the kids when they are old enough to explore on their own!

  89. My kids are huge Harry Potter fans (me, too!), so we’d love to go the the Wizarding World at Universal! My theme park tip is to travel in cooler weather. You have more stamina and can cover more ground in a day!

  90. Freeze your water bottles so that your water stays cold all day.

  91. A Camelbak is a pretty handy way to carry water around with you all day.

  92. Bring wipes and hand sanitizer.

  93. If it’s hot: The Tiki Room is a great way to sit and relax indoors for a while and the fruit/ice cream refreshments in Adventureland are a great alternative to soda.

  94. If you take a sit down break when tired, elevate your legs/feet. This should help if they’re getting sore or tired.

  95. Join any dance party you see – have fun!

  96. plan to drink plenty of water and limit the amount of caffeine you consume. it only makes you more thristy.

  97. pack light but bring essentials – small snacks for long wait lines, Kleenex, a couple bandages, water.

  98. Pack zip lock bags for wet bathing suits and clothes.

  99. Pack light but always the essentials….. sanitize, wipes, and snacks………

  100. I think they look ridiculous and creepy, but some people swear by those 5-toed Vibram shoes. You should see if you can try them out in the store first.

  101. If you bring in your own stroller you won’t have to pay to rent one from the park. It’s great for carrying your stuff.

  102. Save money on drinks by bringing a refillable water bottle & clipping it to the stroller or your backpack.

  103. In the warm months, make sure to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Sunstroke is a real danger that shouldn’t be overlooked.

  104. If eating breakfastin the park, book as late of a reservation you can (10:30 – 11:00). This will take care of breakfast and lunch!

  105. Have a mini-fridge in your room to keep snacks and beverages in.

  106. Only pack the essentials!

  107. We bring our own ponchos with us in case of rain- they have come in handy on many theme park trips. We buy them at Walmart before leaving home for under $1 each. This is a huge money saver, since vendors in the parks charge A LOT for ponchos. Not to mention, if it does rain, it saves you from scrambling to try to find a vendor who sells them, and it saves the long wait in line!

  108. Check online for ticket discounts before you go (AAA or others).

  109. Bring your own stroller. You’ll save $$ on the rental fees.

  110. Sunblock every 3 hours. Sunburnt skin is the worst, especially for kids.

  111. Don’t forget to wear a hat to keep the sun off your head and out of your eyes.

  112. best survival tip: if you buy a sourvenir anywhere in the park, will they store it for you at a general store near the entrance/exit? love six flags in MD for this amenity!

  113. Don’t wear new shoes. You will regret it!

  114. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a good time to see parks that decorate for the holidays. Lighter crowds!

  115. Don’t go w/new shoes! Break them in before you go!

  116. order the free vacation planning DVD if available. It gets the kids excited about the trip!

  117. Bringing your own character stuffed animals/pillows will make the hotel stay that much more fun!

  118. Bring a refillable water bottle.

  119. If you have teenagers in your traveling party, plan to stay at the theme park until closing time. The attraction lines are much shorter then and your teenagers will really be able to enjoy themselves.

  120. Bring small bills with you if you have older children so you can give them a few dollars if they need it.

  121. Plan ahead on what rides are on your ‘must’ list.

  122. Get lots of sleep before you go, since you won’t get any once you are there!

  123. Make sure you have plenty of water!

  124. It can definitely be worth it to stay at a hotel on site if available.

  125. I saw a suggestion where someone else recommended using a poncho on the water rides to thwart getting soaked. I thought this was a pretty good idea

  126. If possible wear sandals if you plan on doing water rides. No soggy socks and tennis shoes to wear and be uncomfortable.

  127. Shuttle schedules – pick them up, look them up, learn them.

  128. Do NOT forget a sun hat that can get wet.

  129. My tip is to make sure your kids know their name, your name and their phone number. In case they get lost that will help you to find them. Also take a photo before they enter the park so you have a recent photo with the outfit they are wearing.

  130. If you have the budget for it, plan on at least one character meal during your vacation. It makes for a very fun and memorable meal.

  131. before the trip, I take out all the non-essential stuff out of my wallet. Only carry what you need for the trip – credit cards, drivers license, insurance cards, cash.

  132. I was worried my 5-year-old wouldn’t be able to ride the same rides of his older sister so was peeking around and was excited to go to http://www.disneyworld.com and check out the Disney Attractions webpage. On the left-hand side of the Disney Attractions webpage, you can narrow your search by clicking the Height tab and even the Type tab. That way you can avoid those attractions that have height restrictions or look for attractions that are considered thrill rides.

  133. Carry an autograph book for character autographs.

  134. My tip is to make sure your kids know what to do if you get separated. I would also make sure they know your cell # or use something inside their clothing with your contact info.

  135. Take breaks when needed, even if it is just sitting on a bench and watching the people.

  136. Research restaurants before the trip. Some are so popular and require reservations far in advance.

  137. Wear layers because the weather can & does change over the course of the day!

  138. Be sure to look for coupons in local free visitors guides, newspapers, etc.

  139. Some stores let you pick up your purchases at the gate when you leave. Really handy to not have to lug around gifts all day.

  140. relax and have fun!

  141. Set aside one day to simply relax at your hotel. Your family will enjoy some true together time that way and their day won’t feel so hurried.

  142. If you’re bringing a car seat on the plane, consider getting a GoGo Babyz Kidz Travelmate, which gives you wheels and a handle for your car seat (like on rolling luggage). We used one for taking our kids to Seattle and even managed to use it as a stroller. Also, if your kid doesn’t want to ride in it you can pile in bags and stuff onto it.

  143. Bring a fanny pack!

  144. love universal!

  145. love islands of adventure!

  146. Definitely stay onsite and avoid the long lines! Well worth the cost!

  147. Freeze juice boxes the night before – they will be perfect treats for the little ones when the weather is warm!

  148. Go early…Go early….Go early!!!! Best tip ever! Sleep when your vacation is over!

  149. Great tips. I thought Universal would be something we did after my kids outgrew Disney. Now I think we should go right away!

  150. Good to know there are things for the little kids to do!

  151. Go to a show when you start to get tired, and take a break!

  152. Take a disposable camera. It’s one less thing to worry about, should it break or get lost.

  153. I check the weather forecast daily, beginning 10 days before the trip.

  154. Make the investment in a front-of-the-line pass at Universal. Will free up an entire day of not waiting in line!

  155. Take a break and enjoy water rides on hot days.

  156. Pack water!

  157. Do NOT wear cheapo flip flops! Good shoes make for a happy vacation!

  158. Myu tip for little children is to buy some themed souveniers before you go. They give them to the kids on the trip.

  159. My theme park tip is to wear comfortable shoes. and bring band aids incase someone gets a blister.

  160. Use Yelp to find recommendations from locals on where to eat, smaller local attractions, etc.

  161. Get to a park and go counter clockwise. Most people go clockwise, so you can beat the traffic!

  162. So hey, who won?

    1. Announcement coming soon.

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