10 Best Rides For Toddlers At Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the best family-friendly theme parks in southern California.

However, the park predominantly has a target market of older children, tweens, teens and adults. Thankfully, despite this, there are still a number of rides and attractions available at this theme park which are suitable for small children.

Better still, children two years old or younger enter the park for free (and subsequently don’t require a general admission ticket), so there’s really no reason not to bring them along with you for a fun, family day out.

The average four-year-old is around 40″ tall. As such this list only includes rides with a height of 40″ or less (including those with supervision).

However, there are still a number of other rides inside the park that have a height limit of more than 40″, therefore if you are travelling with older kids (taller than 40″) our guide to the best rides at Universal Studios Hollywood for kids will be the more comprehensive list.

1. Silly Swirly Fun Ride

📏 Height Requirements: None
😬 Fear Factor: 1

If you’re travelling to Universal Studios Hollywood with a toddler then expect to spend a lot of your day in Super Silly Fun Land just behind Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem.

Here you’ll find;

  • The Silly Swirly Fun Ride
  • A Splash Pad
  • A Playground
  • Carnival Games
  • Minion Cafe

The Silly Swirly Fun Ride is the only genuine ride (aside from the World-Famous Studio Tour) inside Universal Studios Hollywood with no height requirement which makes it one of the best rides for families travelling with a toddler.

We went on this ride with our 14-month-old little boy during our most recent trip to Universal Studios Hollywood and it was perfect. Just make sure the child can sit up on their own unaided.

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This ride rarely has a standby line of more than ten minutes, however, it does go surprisingly high which provides an incredible 360-degree view of the land below as you circle around.

Thankfully, the height of your ride vehicle can be adjusted using the lever in front of you if children begin to feel uncomfortable.

Based on our personal experience we’d recommend the person travelling with the child sits on the outside of the vehicle and the child on the inside as it’s less scary and doesn’t have a gap for climbing out of the ride vehicle.

If you’re travelling during the summer months then be sure to bring a towel and a change of clothes for the little ones as keeping them out of the splash pad in this area is near impossible.

We travelled during the winter months (February), and as such the splash pad was off-limits. However, we still enjoyed the small playground here.

Sadly, the playground is small, so if you happen to be visiting during the more popular times of year then you may find that it’s too busy for smaller children.

2. Dreamworks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda

📏 Height Requirements: None
😬 Fear Factor: 0

The Dreamworks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda is situated on Main Way (the main strip as you walk into the park), just outside of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Although, this isn’t as much of a ride as it is a multi-sensory attraction experience.

Think of it more like a cinema experience with a few added extras, rather than a ride since you don’t actually move anywhere like you would on other rides inside the park.

The theatre in which the attraction is hosted features a 180-degree screen and 360-degree surround sound as well as special effects, such as water, wind, and scent which make the experience feel even more realistic.

During the short film showing you’ll be transported to the world of Kung Fu Panda, where you’ll follow Po and his friends as they battle villains to protect their home.

The action will feel up close and personal, and the special effects will make you feel like you’re right in the middle of it all.

3. World-Famous Studio Tour

📏 Height Requirements: None
😬 Fear Factor: 3

The World-Famous Studio Tour (often referred to as The Backlot Tour) takes you on a one-hour tram ride behind the scenes of a real film studio which has been the home to a number of movie sets and TV shows including;

  • Desperate Housewives
  • The Good Place
  • Bel-Air
  • The Truman Show
  • Apollo 13

The tour is hosted by Jimmy Fallon although you do have a driver and an in-person guide that provides real-time information.

This ride has no height requirements and as such, we went on with our 14-month-old during our most recent visit.

That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that children (and adults) will be asked to remain seated throughout the ride for health and safety reasons. There are also no bathroom breaks, or getting off the tram at any point.

While a Studio Tour doesn’t necessarily sound scary, there are some elements of this experience that may unnerve younger guests these include;

  • Plane Crash Wreckage: Featured in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.

  • Flash Flood Simulator: Complete with water and fire.

  • King Kong 360 3-D: A 4-D simulator ride that sees you encounter King Kong himself.

  • Fast & The Furious Supercharged: Another 4-D simulator ride that sees you race alongside Dom and the gang.

  • Bates Motel: Watch as Norman Bates removes a body from the famous hotel, as a witness he’ll try and ‘take care’ of you too.

While all of these experiences last less than three minutes, none of them are optional and the simulator rides in particular feature loud noises and some sudden movements which may be scary for young children.

Personally, our 15-month-old didn’t bat an eyelid, however, I can imagine as toddlers become more aware (between that 2 – 4-year-old range) the response could be different.

Thankfully, plenty of people have filmed this tour and made it into a Youtube video, so if you’re unsure as to whether or not it’ll be too scary for your little one then it may be good to watch one of these videos in advance – of course, sadly, there will be spoilers.

4. Raptor Encounter

📏 Height Requirements: None
😬 Fear Factor: 3

Situated in the Jurassic Park area of Universal Studios Hollywood down in the Lower Lot is the Raptor Encounter.

This performance takes place multiple times a day and see’s you come face-to-face with a dinosaur.

This experience doesn’t have any height requirements, but the realism and interaction with the dinosaurs may prove scary for younger guests.

Thankfully, you can see the performance from various areas of the Lower Lot without getting too close or interacting with the dinosaur which makes it ideal for parents who maybe just want to see how their child might react in advance.

While guests looking for the Raptor Encounter experience will be required to queue in line directly to the left of the escalators down to the Lower Lot, we recommend that those looking to watch the performance from a distance wrap around to just behind the escalators near the stairs for the best view.

Those travelling with dinosaur enthusiasts may also want to check out the DinoPlay area which is located just past the entrance to Jurassic World – The Ride.

This interactive play area has just undergone an extensive refurbishment and gives kids the chance to excavate giant dinosaur fossils, explore a full-size T. rex skull, dinosaur eggs and more.

5. Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge

📏 Height Requirements: 40” – Children under this height can ride with a supervising companion
😬 Fear Factor: 0

Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge is the newest ride to open at Universal Studios Hollywood and is situated in the recently opened Super Nintendo World area of the park.

As this ride is so new it often has wait times as high as three hours – a wait that may not be ideal for those travelling with younger kids.

Sadly right now it’s not possible to use an Express Pass to skip the line for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. Instead, it seems (albeit not confirmed) that VIP Experience guests will be the only guests who are able to skip the line.

However, a VIP Experience is in our opinion so much more than just Super Nintendo World. Therefore we wouldn’t recommend going on this guided tour with the sole purpose of skipping the line on Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.

This is one of many rides inside Universal Studios Hollywood that offers child switch. The exact process varies between rides, as such we recommend speaking to a member of staff at the ride entrance who will be able to assist you.

This ride mirrors that inside the Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan and uses AR technology constructed through a Mario hat and visor.

This ride allows you to play Mario Kart in real life, and compete with other riders both during your ride and afterwards (provided you connect your Power-Up Band to the steering wheel when boarding).

The technology and incredible virtual reality used in this ride are what make it the best ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. Better still it’s not fast, or scary like some of the other rides on this list which means it’s suitable for the entire family.

6. Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash

📏 Height Requirements: 34″ – Children under 48″ will require a supervising companion
😬 Fear Factor: 0

One of the latest additions to the Universal Studios Hollywood park is the Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash ride.

Based on the hit animated film of the same name, this gentle ride is perfect for all ages but does have a rather tall minimum height requirement given the film’s target audience so be sure to watch out for that.

As you wait for this ride you’ll do so inside the New York City apartments of the characters featured in the film which is sure to keep little kids entertained.

The ride itself sees you board a specially designed vehicle that looks like a pet carrier.

The ride itself is a trackless, motion-based attraction that takes you through various scenes and environments from the movies.

You’ll see all of your favourite characters, including Max, Duke, Snowball, and Gidget, as they help you in your journey to being adopted.

One of the best things about this ride is the special effects. As you move through the different scenes, you’ll experience a range of sensory effects, including water, wind, and even smells.

However, none of these experiences are scary or that intense, so it should be a very enjoyable ride for the entire family.

7. Flight of the Hippogriff

📏 Height Requirements: 39″ – Children under 48″ will require a supervising companion
😬 Fear Factor: 2

Flight of the Hippogriff is a fantastic introductory roller coaster ride for little kids.

Situated inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, just across from Hogwarts Castle this ride is inspired by the magical creature Hippogriff, a cross between a horse and an eagle.

As you approach the ride, you’ll be greeted by Hagrid, the lovable half-giant gamekeeper of Hogwarts.

If you’re travelling with Harry Potter fans, consider picking up an interactive wand to cast spells around this area of the park.

Then, after a short safety briefing, you’ll climb aboard a wicker Hippogriff and take a thrilling flight through the Forbidden Forest past the pumpkin patch and Hagrid’s hut.

Even if you’re kids aren’t huge Harry Potter fans they’ll still likely enjoy the thrills that this ride has to offer.

8. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

📏 Height Requirements: 40″ – Children under 48″ will require a supervising companion
😬 Fear Factor: 1

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is sure to be a hit with Minion lovin’ families. This ride sees join Gru on an adventure to become a Minion.

During this time you’ll take a trip through Gru’s laboratory, but of course, the journey doesn’t quite go to plan!

This ride is a great introductory ride to motion simulation projections for kids as for the most part it’s just a show, with a large projection on the screen at the front and a number of single rows of seats that move slightly through motion simulation.

It’s not a roller coaster, so you don’t go anywhere on a track, there are no heights and it’s not really that dark so the family-friendly factor is 10/10.

9. Transformers: The Ride 3-D

📏 Height Requirements: 40″ – Children under 48″ will require a supervising companion
😬 Fear Factor: 4

Transformers: The Ride 3-D is an immersive thrill ride located within Universal’s Lower Lot.

This ride uses a combination of 3D media and flight simulation technology to take you into the middle of a war zone as you fight alongside Optimus Prime and try to survive as you protect the Allspark from the Decepticons.

This ride isn’t scary in the sense of heights but can be scary how realistic the battle between Optimus Prime and the Decepticons feels at times, especially with the 3D technology used.

10. The Simpsons Ride

📏 Height Requirements: 40″ – Children under 48″ will require a supervising companion
😬 Fear Factor: 4

Located inside Springfield, in Universal Hollywood’s Upper Lot is The Simpsons Ride.

This motion simulation ride sees you head out on a journey with The Simpsons to Krusty’s the Clown’s newest theme park Krustyland.

However, unlike Universal, Krusty hasn’t invested the time or money into the park and as a result, you’ll be experiencing some incredible high-speed twists and turns.

This ride is in our opinion one of the worst for motion sickness, throwing you forwards, backwards and side to side quite dramatically.

As such if you have a negative experience with motion simulation we’d recommend skipping out on this ride or taking some motion sickness medication (with approval from your doctor).

Bonus Thing To Do: Character Meet & Greets!

Meeting characters at Universal Studios Hollywood isn’t a ride. However, it was one of the best things we did at Universal Studios Hollywood when visiting with our toddler. Therefore we figured it was worth highlighting for other parents and guardians.

Some of the characters we met during our most recent visit to the park included;

  • Scooby Doo & The Gang
  • Donkey – From Shrek
  • Guy Diamond – Trolls
  • King Julian – Madagascar

Meeting characters inside the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park is suitable for kids of all ages and typically most characters don’t have a long line so you won’t be waiting around for long.

You’re welcome to take photos on your own camera or phone, and most characters also have a staff member chaperone who is more than happy to take one for you if you’re looking to capture the whole family.

Universal Hollywood Travel Planning Guide

🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Hollywood?

If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Hollywood tickets.

Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Hollywood theme park tickets from AttractionTix.

I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.

🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?

If you’re travelling to Universal Hollywood for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.

However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.

🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?

You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Hollywood, as the theme park has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points.

However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Los Angeles.

🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Hollywood?

When visiting Universal Hollywood, I recommend staying at Loews Hollywood. From this hotel, you can take an Uber or Lyft to Universal Hollywood in under 15 minutes.

When it comes to booking any hotels in Los Angeles, I use either Booking.com or Hotels.com. However, for large families and groups, VRBO is my number one choice.

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