I have lost count of how many times I have been to Orlando, Florida since my best friend moved there when we were 19 – visits on my own, visits with friends, visits with my husband, work trips & hopefully very soon a visit with my children…& this is where the excitement of a trip to Orlando really lies, through the eyes of a child…
…meeting Mickey Mouse up close & personal; safari style jeep journey at Busch Gardens to feed a giraffe; white knuckle theme park rides with more twists & turns than you care to count; a gentle dolphin encounter at Discovery Cove with photos to prove it when back at school…memories that really do last a lifetime!
But planning a holiday to Orlando takes military procedure as every parent wants to make the very most of this special holiday & lets all be honest, no matter which way you book & plan your trip, it is a huge expense that you may not be lucky enough to repeat. So here at Mojomums we have asked a few of our readers for their top Orlando Holiday tips…
Julie has visited Orlando a massive 12 times with her family! “Visit the Nike Factory Outlet on the 192 in Kissammee – its a must for bargains! Lots of repeat visitors to Orlando think the Beltz shopping area has closed when infact it has just changed names to Prime Outlet; top end designers at a fraction of the price
The Olive Garden restaurant on International Drive is a great family option with masive portions & I think its the best Olive Garden in the US! For accommodation, check out Embassy Suites at Lake Buena Vista; really comfy & not too expensive & free breakfasts too! It has a really family friendly pool area & between 7pm-8pm on certain nights they offer complimentary drinks in the bar
If you are holidaying with Virgin Holidays & don’t mind an early start, you can get entry into the Harry Potter area of Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park before the park opens to the general public. You get free parking for the day, breakfast in the 3 Bromsticks & get to explore the rides before everyone else! The Forbidden Journey ride often has a 2 hour queue during peak times so make the most of your early morning to avoid this!”
Kelly tells us about her favourite restaurant “You have to visit The Cheesecake Factory – it is a-ma-zing!!! The biggest portions of food I have ever seen, from chicken to shrimp to steak to burgers – all so tasty but make sure you save plenty of space for desert…more cheesecake combinations than you can possibly dream of! Hersheys Chocolate Bar, fresh Banana Cream, Key Lime, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, even Low Carb cheesecake! Its making me hungry just thinking about it…!!!”
Francesca gives us some great family tips after a recent visit to Orlando “If you have a child under 6 no matter how tempted you are to leave your buggy at home – DON’T!! Our 4yr old son used the buggy lots as the parks are just so big & if its hot they will need to rest their little legs! Don’t be tempted to hire one at the parks as they are $15 a day ($31 for a double!) which adds up to alot if you go to numerous parks – you can buy really cheap lightweight basic buggies in all the supermarkets or drugstores for about $20 so that could be a good idea as you can then just leave it when you come home. Also buggies are a useful way to hold lots of bags! When you park your buggy to go on a ride the park officials continually move them around to make space – this makes it really hard to find your own so we tied a brightly coloured scarf onto ours which made it stand out. Also, pack a separate (not huge) bag especially to take with you for queues. Pack a drink & some snacks so while you are queuing you can distract little people easily. We also packed an iPod touch for our son so he could play games while queuing.
Go to a supermarket on your first day & stock up on water and snacks. These can really get quite pricey in the parks so definitely take your own. We also took reusable water bottles as there are lots of water fountains around to fill up your bottles. We also bought sun screen in the supermarket -it was lots cheaper than in the UK.
One thing we found invaluable was a “Disney queuing app”. There are lots of versions & they all show waiting times for various rides which makes it so much easier to plan your day!
Many rides have height restrictions so make sure you have measured all your children before you even enter a park – this saves tantrums & tears when you get to a ride & find out your child is too small to go on!
If your hotel has a shuttle to the various parks use it! It costs approx $15 to park in the Parks & this really adds up quickly”
We have recently bought into the Disney Vacation club which is similar to timeshare but slightly different; instead of time you buy points so you can save, carry over or borrow points from year to year & have a more luxurious holiday one year or go for a shorter period another. Although we have bought into the Animal Kingdom resort we can stay in any Disney resort which is very exciting! In Sept we are staying a week in our original resort Animal Kingdom and then we have traded a week so we are staying in the Beach Club Resort. You can book meals in various different resorts during your stay and you can even include character dining to make the experience even more special. For more information on how the Disney Vacation club works visit: http://disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com/
Last year we had dinner at the Polynesian Resort (Amazing!), then after we walked down to the pool & the children watched a movie on their man made beach & we watched the fireworks happening at Magic Kingdom. It was one of my best evenings there as felt like a proper holiday, rather than the rushing round everywhere that people expect from a holiday at Disney!
This year we are booked onto the Pirates & Pals Voyage, where we meet Captain Hook & friends at the Contemporary Resort & then hop on a boat after to watch the fireworks. The characters read pirate stories on the way back to the hotel.
We are also booked in for Mickeys Backyard BBQ, which we also booked last year & was amazing! Mickey, Minnie, Goofy & the Chipmunks barn dance with the children – it’s a real party feel! We ate Southern American food & the kids had a fab time! This is held at Camp Fort Wilderness Resort, where they also have pony trekking & campfire songs on some nights.
They have a magical family tour that we are also doing this year, which is like a treasure hunt around the Magic Kingdom & Peter Pan helps along the way. My children are very excited about this!
You do not have to stay at the resorts to be part of any of these events but you must be booked 180 days before travelling otherwise you may not get booked in
Planning the trip is key too! www.touringplans.com is an amazing website that predicts crowd levels & you can see crowd levels from previous years. www.disboards.com is another great website too, its members share information about trips”
If you are off to Orlando this year or have any tips of your own, get in touch!
Don’t forget to check out our Holiday Review pages – if you have been on a holiday that you would like to review for us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org