10 Tips for Traveling With Teens at Universal Orlando Resort

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Traveling with teens livens up any family vacation if you plan it right. And theme-park vacations are no different. Check out our top tips for traveling with teens at Universal Orlando Resort, including our best recommendations for what to see, where to eat, what to ride, where to stay and places where your teens can work out. Traveling with teens to Universal Orlando? Prioritize their interests, explore diverse dining, and consider easy-to-make travel snacks like DIY sandwiches and fruit kabobs to keep them fueled and happy, click here to check out more travel food recipes.

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Traveling With Teens at Universal Orlando Resort: What to See

We have been visiting Universal Orlando Resort annually since our boys were 7 and 9 years old. Thankfully, some entertainment never gets old, even when they enter the tween and teen years. Our favorite must-see shows?

Blue Man Group

Our boys have seen the Blue Man Group 5 years in a row and never get tired of it. I mean, what teenager wouldn't laugh during a song and interactive performance complete with dancing that lists nearly 70 different ways to say the word "buttocks"? The show not only has a great message by promoting creativity and connection, but it also keeps you entertained through comedy, multimedia routines, and audience interaction. Click here to learn more about Blue Man Group Information and Ticket Reservations.

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Horror Makeup Show

The first year we visited Universal Studios Florida, we went on a VIP Tour. Our guide recommended we see the Horror Makeup Show. We never would have selected such an outing on our own. But to this day, our family has inside jokes from that performance and we're so thankful we took our guide up on her recommendation. In short, this free show, located in Universal Studios Florida, describes how make-up and special-effects artists create Hollywood's scariest characters. It's both informational and humorous and especially fun for teenagers.

Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Nothing makes teenagers happier, especially teen boys, than a buffet with all the delicious food they could want and more. Then add to that fire dancers, the opportunity to go up on stage and learn the hula, and music from the South Pacific and score! The Wantilan Luau leaves everyone full and happy! Perfect combo for traveling with teens, right?

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Traveling With Teens at Universal Orlando Resort: Where to Eat

Churro Stands

Hands down, our boys' favorite place to eat at Universal Orlando Resort is at any one of the many churro stands in the theme parks. They love to eat churros so much that we've had to instill a 3-per-day-churro maximum rule. The first churro eating experience of the trip has become a family tradition we all enjoy. Nothing like getting your sugar on first thing in the morning!

Hard Rock Cafe Orlando

Did you know that every Hard Rock Cafe has its own unique burger—the Local Legendary burger? We learned that during our most recent visit to this restaurant while in Florida. When traveling with teens, it's awesome to find things that stick out—that make the trip different and that give them things to tell their friends about. For my son, it was the Local Legendary burger in Orlando. Why? Because any burger with macaroni and cheese on it is a winner for my teenager.

Click here to see Universal Orlando Resort's CityWalk Dining Options.

Traveling With Teens at Universal Orlando Resort: What to Ride

Traveling With Teens-Rip Ride Rockit CroppedMy sons have been very trepidatious about riding on upside down rollercoaster rides. We went on rides like The Mummy with them over and over and over again so they could get their thrill on. Then, when they wanted to take things up a notch, we braved Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit with them—where we selected our own music, were video taped while riding, and went up 17 stories and corkscrewed down and around at 65 MPH all without ever technically going upside down.

This year, something changed! They rode with their peers—other teenagers at the Family Forward Retreat. At first, they were terrified. They didn't want to not ride with their friends. But, they didn't want to go upside down. In the end, the positive peer pressure got to them and they haven't been the same since. They went on every major rollercoaster ride in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, including Dragon Challenge and The Incredible Hulk—and are dreaming of their next visit.

My biggest recommendation regarding kids and rides? Let them go at their own pace. And, get them together with their friends. Making their own decisions and pushing themselves out of their comfort zones a step at a time will help them have the most fun and positive memories.


Traveling With Teens at Universal Orlando Resort: Where to Stay

Staying on resort property is the best decision we ever made and here are six reasons why:

  1. Your stay at any Loews hotel on resort property comes complete with a Universal Express Pass. Nothing makes traveling with teens more enjoyable than being able to skip past the long lines and go right to the front.
  2. The hotels have awesome amenities. For example, what teen wouldn't love to check out the under water sound system after laying out on the white sand "beach" at the Hard Rock Hotel's pool?
  3. If your teens love water slides, the pools at Loews' Portofino Bay Hotel and Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Loews' value property at the resort) are perfect!
  4. All resorts have a variety of dining out options to satisfy the cravings food preferences of even the pickiest teenager.
  5. If your teen needs his own bed or a fridge, all hotels offer those for an additional fee.
  6. Bowling or arcade games anyone? Teens often need their own space to do their own thing. Allowing them to roam and play while you sip a pina colada poolside is a win-win.

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Traveling With Teens at Universal Orlando Resort: Where to Work Out

For those of you with athletic teens who don't consider walking 5 miles per day in the park enough exercise, no need to worry! Staying on property at Universal Orlando Resort offers tremendous opportunities to stay in shape. My top five recommendations:

  1. Check out the fitness center at your hotel. Every hotel has an amazing gym with machines, free weights, and other specialty items like yoga balls and more.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the paths around the resort. Your teen may love a morning run from Loews' Portofino Bay Hotel to the Royal Pacific Resort and back.
  3. Take advantage of the pools. Your hotel key gets you access into every hotel on resort property. Encourage your kids to visit a different hotel pool each day and to not just lay out, but get exercise while there.
  4. Walk to and from the theme parks every day instead of riding on the water taxis.
  5. Slap a FitBit or equivalent step-tracking device on your teen and set goals complete with rewards and incentives for hitting specific milestones each day.

As you can see, Universal Orlando Resort offers many ways to amp up the fun factor when traveling with teens. Now, all you need to do is plan your next family vacation, right?

What are your top tips for traveling with teens?


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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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