A great summer holiday can live forever in the memories of you and your family. However having great family holiday means planning ahead of time to insure that as less time possible is spent dealing with situations that could have been avoided with proper planning. If you are planning on a family holiday in Orlando Florida and hitting the Disney theme parks, here are some essential tips to insure that you and your family have a great time to remember. All the photographs in this article are from our family holiday to Orlando back in April 2014.
Being organised and planning ahead are key to limiting the stress when travelling on holiday with young children. For example, imagine turning up at the airport and finding out one of your passports is out of date! Stressful to say the least. So check all your family passports well in advance to travelling so if any have run out, you have time to arrange new ones to be issued. Also it’s worth remembering to apply for an ESTA application (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) at least 72 hours before flying out to Orlando. Each member of your family must fill out an ESTA Form; even the underage children must have an approved travel authorisation.
Avoiding Jet Lag
Orlando in Florida is in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States and is 5 hours behind UK time. Jet lag is minimal, especially if you fly over night. Fill your families tummies at one of the hundreds of different breakfast options available on offer in and around Orlando. Then get to the park in time to nab the best parking spaces and be first on all the rides when they open at 9am. That’ll keep everyone busy all day long and you’ll be asleep when the sun goes down ready for the next day of adventure.
Use Your FastPass Wisely
Disney Parks offer FastPass which allow you to utilise a time window that you can bypass the line for an attraction. This means that you should plan ahead to make sure that your FastPass is most effective in expediting your way threw the popular rides in the park. It is best to get to the park early in the morning and visit the popular rides first reserving your time slot for the ride. This will help you to better navigate the park and have a chance to experience the rides you want without waiting hours in line.
Schedule Activities Away From the Park During The Day
During the day is the busiest time for the Magic Kingdom. It’s also the hottest time weather wise in summer months. By scheduling activities that are away from the park, or utilising the hotel pool for entertainment until the sun goes down you will be able to duck the heat and the long lines for rides as well. The park is open till 11 pm giving you plenty of time to enjoy the park in the cooler evening weather.
Pay Close Attention to Packing
Navigating the many huge theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World and Animal Kingdom is physically very tiring, even for the fittest of families. You want to dress in clothing that remains comfortable whilst on the move. Also the sun will be an issue depending on the time of year you travel. The months of February to April are lovely and warm, then from May to September are the hottest months. Be sure to pack the essentials that will protect the whole family from the sun like suncream, sun hats and sun glasses. You can of course buy these all in Orlando and are cheaper and keep your baggage weight down so worth buying when there. Towels and a change of clothes are a good idea also as water rides may soak your clothing making your clothing uncomfortable to ware – unless it’s in July and August when it’s so hot, they will dry in a few minutes.
However the heat is not the only weather condition that Florida is known for, Florida is also know for heavy rain showers as well, so packing rain jackets is also a good idea. Remember that it’s better to have a rain poncho packed and don’t need it than it is to not have a rain poncho packed and need it.
Avoid Bulky Baby Strollers
Traveling with small children on holiday always poses a challenge, and the Disney Magic Kingdom is no exception to the rule. Kids pushchairs are definitely a must but you do not want bulky pushchairs that are difficult to fold and troublesome to take on the trams in the park. So if you don’t have a foldable pushchair then you can rent pushchairs and fun carts which toddlers love from all of the theme parks – however they do tend to be expensive and the lines to return them can be lengthy.
Choose Your Theme Parks Carefully
Whilst you will be tempted to visit every theme park in Orlando, not all parks will be fun for all ages of children. Younger kinds will enjoy the Disney Magic Kingdom and SeaWorld. Both older and younger kids will find fun attractions at Universal’s Island of Adventure. Older kids will enjoy Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Centre. Older kids may also enjoy Downtown Disney in the evening which is full of shops including the biggest Disney Store in the world and a giant Lego store and many others, and great places to eat. Other attractions like water parks have activities for kids of all ages.
You may not want to visit one of the water parks during bad weather, so be sure to utilise weather reports when planning a day at Disney.
Don’t Forget to Eat Out
There are literally hundreds of awesome places to eat out in Orlando. In fact, you could probably stay there for 4 weeks and eat out every night and not eat at the same place twice. The prices are very reasonable and cater for all the family beautifully. Out of all the places we’ve been to in the World, Orlando is right up there with the best of them for the best dining experiences.
Shop, Shop, Shop
Kids will see lots of things that they want, trust me! Don’t feel pressured to buy items right then and there – especially from the theme parks. Toys and other items can be purchased all over town, so you don’t purchase a huge stuffed character and lug it with you all over the park. If you do however purchase a large item, or lots of items while at the park, if you are staying at a Disney hotel you can have the item delivered to your room. Nice touch hey.
Know Where the Baby Care Centre
You will find that Disney parks have an area located for parents to care for their children away from the public. The area has private rooms for breastfeeding, changing, warming bottles and food. The area also offers supplies if you should so happen to run short. Outside Disney parks, orlando is well geared for families – you want it, they will have it.