By Heidi Hess
I was ready. I had on my red sparkly Mickey ears with lipstick to match. I had polished off my Mickey Vans. Like I said – I was ready… and this was just to make the reservations for Walt Disney World.
What can I say? We haven’t been there since December 2019 and that’s a long time for us. We all sat at the table discussing our plans and I was met with opposition. The teenage angst hung heavy in the air and their apathy towards what used to be one of their favorite places was palpable. Wait… what? You don’t want to go to the happiest place on earth?? Is the magic gone??
What do we do when our kids outgrow Magic Kingdom? We move on to Universal Orlando. The rollercoasters are faster, the cues are better and there’s more for adults to do there.
You get two theme parks for the price of one – Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. And the annual passes are cheaper compared to Disney.
They have things that will appeal to the younger crowd. Seuss Landing, a Dr.Seuss themed section of Islands of Adventure, is adorable. Do not miss the carousel, One Fish Two Fish and the Cat in The Hat ride. Their attention to detail here is really on point.
If your older kids aren’t quite sure about major rollercoasters like The Hulk (my personal favorite) or Velocicoaster there are good “starter coasters” – Hagrids Motorbike, The Mummy and Flight of the Hippogriff.
For our in-between-aged kids, Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and Hogsmead can not be missed. I could spend the day in just these two sections, perusing the stores, watching people trying to cast spells with their wands (yes, you too can get your OWN wand) all while drinking Butter Beer (there’s no alcohol in it so it’s safe for the kids and completely delicious).
I could go on and on about Universal but you should really experience it for yourself. It’s light years better than Disney.
Have I mentioned that even for counter service meals you are seated at a table by a host or hostess instead of battling strollers and cranky mums trying to feed their kids. AND you can order right at your table and the food is brought over to you. I’ve always been of the mindset that meals times should be relaxing and Universal double- downs on that.
So, can a family with older kids still do theme parks? Is the magic lost? Nope. You just have to find a new kind of magic.