Heading down to Universal Studios can be a fun family adventure. Unless you have an autistic child who is not thrilled with crowds, loud noises, and the unexpected. You know, all the things that can happen when you are visiting a theme park away from home! But when you visit Universal Studios, you have a little more control over what your autistic child experiences than you would if you were to visit the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, and go on the rides there. At least at Universal Studios, you have the virtual line pass, as well as a few autism-friendly rides. Today, I am going to share the best autism-friendly Universal rides with you. This will get you started thinking about the possibilities of visiting this theme park with your autistic family. Of course, we can always go more in-depth as I am planning your next autism-friendly family vacation at Universal Studios.
The Best Autism-Friendly Rides at Universal Studios
E.T. Adventure is one of the most autism-friendly rides at Universal Studios. Prior to boarding this ride, you will give an attendant your name and receive a card. Your family will then give another attendant your card, as you climb on board to sit on your own bike. There is a bench-type seat, so you won’t need to worry about an autistic child squirming off of a regular bike seat.
This is a motion-simulated ride. It will feel like your bikes are flying through the air, as you try to save E.T.’s home planet. This gentle ride will have your family dodging the bad guys and meeting otherworldly creatures before E.T. personally thanks all of you at the end.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
The fun begins at Despicable Me Minion Mayhem before the ride. Your autistic family will join a bunch of other people in a room for instructions about what you will be experiencing. It can be crowded in this space, so you may want to choose your spot carefully if your autistic child isn’t a fan of lots of people.
Once this video is over, you head into an auditorium-type setting to find seats. Your entire family will be turned into mischievous Minions for Gru’s latest scheme. It’s an incredible journey, as you travel through Gru’s laboratory.
Don’t worry, you are turned back to your normal selves at the end of the ride. Although, that doesn’t mean you should skip the dance party in the gift shop at the end.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
You will want to get the virtual line pass for this Harry Potter ride because the line is always long. This is a 3D and 4D experience, so you will also want to prepare your autistic child for that in advance.
The magic begins as you enter the gates of the castle and walk down the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This is an adventure in itself for all Harry Potter fans.
Getting on the ride can be slightly tricky the first time. You need to sit quickly while it is still slowly moving. However, before you know it, your family will be soaring high above the castle grounds. Or at least that is what it will feel like since this is a simulated ride.
Pro Tip: There is a non-moving transfer station available. You can talk to a team member if your autistic child would feel more comfortable using that.
During your journey, you will dodge Dementors, go through a giant spider’s lair, and see a fire-breathing dragon. You will be tilted every which way during the ride, which can cause motion sickness for a few people. Keep that in mind if your autistic child experiences motion sickness from other activities.
Transformers: The Ride 3D
Transformers is another 3D ride at Universal. You will want to tell your autistic child that the ride vehicle is named Evac and it will be Evac’s voice they hear throughout the ride. The battle sequences shown during this ride aren’t any scarier than the ones shown in the movie.
However, when you add those sequences to the motion simulation and 3D effects, it may be too much for some autistic children. There isn’t any high-speed movement though, so that will be helpful as your family helps fight off the Deceptions.
The Simpsons Ride
The line for the Simpsons ride can get really long quickly, despite having two entrance sides. This is why I recommend getting the virtual line pass for this Universal ride.
When it is your turn, you are taken into a small room to watch a little video that is interrupted by Krusty the Clown at the end. That is when you will enter the vehicle for a motion-simulated ride that will take you to Krustyland.
There will be times when you will feel like you are riding a roller coaster, flying through the air, or crashing into the front of a building. It is all a part of the fun to be a part of the Simpson family for a day!
Jurassic Park River Adventure
A virtual line pass will be needed to avoid the long lines at this Universal ride. This ride starts out slow with your family simply sitting in a raft as you float down the river. There are so many things to see on the shores of the river. You will love them all until the T-rex shows up and that is when it will be time to speed things up a little.
This is the part of the ride that will take you on an 85-foot drop over the falls to the river below. It is best to share the plunging part with your autistic child so they know what to expect at the end. You will also get slightly wet during the drop, so be prepared to either walk around wet or use one of the dryers afterward.
These are the best autism-friendly Universal rides, but you may find others your autistic child loves to go on. The rides you want to go on will all be dependent on your child. After all, all autistic children are unique, as is everyone else. Your autistic child may be fine on these rides, while others find them overwhelming or uncomfortable. Only you know the dislikes and likes of your autistic child.
It is always best to check with your medical professionals before tackling a visit to Universal Studios. And if you aren’t sure what to expect during a ride, you can always ask for more information at the Guest Services office. Of course, I can be a valuable resource if you decide to have me plan your autism-friendly vacation at Universal Studios. I can answer many of the questions you have and guide you every step of the way for your trip at this amazing theme park. Contact me to see how we can get started!