Universal Pictures is more than one hundred years old, and its theme park, Universal Studios Florida, does a great job appealing to everyone in all age groups up to the century mark. The same holds true next door at sister park Islands of Adventure. Parents and grandparents vicariously enjoy some of the more thrilling offerings through their children and grandchildren, but many of the rides and shows are geared to be enjoyed by guests of all ages making Universal Studios for seniors a great vacation.
Choosing the Best Universal Studios Accommodations
Senior citizens traveling in a family group can start the enjoyment by choosing the best type of accommodations. Rather than splitting everyone up in hotel rooms, consider renting a vacation home or condo. This allows the whole family to stay in one place and spend some quality time together while also having privacy overnight. A condo in a nice resort gives you access to amenities like a pool, clubhouse, playground, and possibly even a golf course. Vacation homes have their own swimming pools and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms so everyone gets their own space, as well as full kitchens and dining areas for enjoying meals together. It’s like having your very own home for the duration of your vacation, with all the homey comforts.
If you have mobility issues, be aware that the parking area for Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure is quite a distance from the two theme parks. Both utilize the same parking garages and, although they have ample handicap parking spaces, you still need to walk through the CityWalk dining and entertainment district to get to the parks. You can rent wheelchairs in the central hub area of the garages, and wheelchairs and Electric Convenient Vehicles (ECVs) are available in both theme parks. Renting a wheelchair on the way in saves you much of that long walk to the front gates.
Assistance is a must if you have severe mobility or stamina problems, but consider renting a wheelchair or ECV even if your problems are more mild. A relatively mild condition can flare up badly by the end of a long day walking around a theme park, especially in the Florida heat. If you get a wheelchair or ECV up front, you’ll conserve your strength and enjoy yourself much more. This is especially true at Universal Orlando Resort because it has two theme parks, and many guests try to see both in one day. That means covering a lot of territory, which is much easier to do on wheels.
If you prefer a wheelchair or ECV that you can use throughout your trip, consider getting a rental from one of the many companies in the Orlando area. They’ll deliver it right to your accommodations and pick it up when you’re ready to leave. You don’t have to wait in rental lines or worry about availability if you go that route. It’s an especially good idea if you’re planning to visit other parks and attractions in addition to Universal, as you won’t have to worry about doing another rental at every place you go.
When deciding between a wheelchair or ECV, remember that the former requires someone to push it. If you don’t want your family members to have that responsibility, opt for the ECV. It takes a bit of practice if you’re driving one for the first time, but you’ll soon get the hang of it and won’t have to worry about inconveniencing your party.
Most of the queue lines at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are handicap accessible. Check the guide map and ask the Team Members at the entrances for any special directions.
You may not want the bother of maneuvering a wheelchair or ECV through the crowds, especially if you’re visiting Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure at a busy time of year, like summer or the holiday season. If you opt to go without mobility assistance, take breaks as needed to conserve your energy. There are plenty of benches throughout both parks for impromptu rests, and you can also stop and see a show. Some of the show opportunities include:
Universal Studios Florida
Animal Actors on Location
A cute show featuring live critters posing as famous animal actors like Lassie and Mr. Ed. It’s a family oriented show that delights everyone from kids to Grandma and Grandpa.
Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show
This show takes place in an air-conditioned theater, making it an especially attractive place to recharge on hot days. While it’s a bit on the scary side, it has plenty of humor and audience interaction, so the grandchildren shouldn’t get too frightened.
Terminator 2 3-D
This 3-D movie experience is a bit intense, and there’s a little motion, but for the most part you’re sitting in a theater so it’s a suitable attraction when your feet need a rest. You’ll marvel at the seamless integration of live actors and movie scenes in an adventure with the actors right from the Termination movies, including Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Like Terminator, this Shrek attraction combines a 3-D movie with some motion in the theater, but it’s all mild and offers a cute show based around the time immediately following Shrek and Fiona’s marriage. Rest your feet while watching the ghost of Farquaad try to get its revenge.
Islands of Adventure
The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, This stunt show offers a chance to relax while watching talented actors pull off some elaborate battle scenes.
There are also many quiet places to take a rest break throughout both parks. For example, in Universal Studios, the Central Park path leading to the Simpsons area is typically shady, calm, and uncrowded, and it offers a lovely view of the lagoon. Find and relax in those out-of-the-way spots while waiting for other family members who are riding the thrill rides.
While many of the rides and attractions at Universal Orlando Resort are indoors, there are plenty that are outside or that have outdoor waiting areas, and Universal Studios Florida also features a Superstar Parade that the grandkids will clamor to see, which means more time standing in the sun. Protect yourself with plenty of sunscreen, and consider bringing an umbrella for shade you can take with you if you’re especially sensitive. Both parks have plenty of water fountains, so bring bottles, drink from them frequently, and refill them whenever possible. That also gives you a ready source of water if you need to take medication.
If you want to be sure you can sit whenever needed, consider bringing a cane that converts into a chair. While benches are plentiful, there might not be one handy when you’re staking out a parade spot or waiting in line.
Rides for the Whole Family
Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are big on thrill rides, but both parks have some attractions that are suitable for the whole family. At Universal Studios Florida, 3-D shows like Shrek and Terminator offer mild thrills delivered in a relatively calm way. The Despicable Me ride has seats that don’t have any motion, allowing grandparents or those prone to motion sickness to still enjoy it with their families. In the Kid Zone, you can take flight with ET on a calm flying bicycle ride that’s suitable for everyone.
At Islands of Adventure, Seuss Island is the perfect spot for kids, parents, and grandparents to enjoy rides and attractions themed to favorite Dr. Seuss books and characters. Harry Potter fans can travel between the two theme parks on the Hogwarts Express, a train ride for the whole family that offers different scenery both ways. Both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade feature branches of Ollivanders Wand Shop, and you might get to see your grandchildren’s eyes light up with delight if they’re picked to have a special wand choose them.
Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have counter service and full-service dining options if you want to take some time out with your family for a meal. There’s plenty of air-conditioned indoor seating at most of the counter service locations in both parks, and Islands of Adventure has sit-down dining at Mythos, while Finnegan’s Irish Pub serves up hearty ethnic cuisine at Universal Studios Florida. If you’re ready to take a break from the crowds and hectic ambiance of the parks, head out to CityWalk and have your meal there, then return to the theme parks after a nice little break.