We all know that Orlando, Florida is home to plenty of theme parks, rides and thrills. There’s so much to do in the world renowned city that families have made it their top vacation destination for generations.
But, if you’re planning a vacation with small children (aged 5 and under) what are some of the top Orlando attractions? Are the theme parks worth the money with toddlers? What hotels are ideal for young families whose needs tend to be different? So many questions…
We recently explored Orlando with our 3-year-old and 5-year old with the sole purpose of exploring attractions designed for younger kids. Here is a round up of what’s ideal for small children, budget-friendly ideas and where to stay!
(1) Don’t shy away from the major theme parks!
Theme Parks have (new) family-friendly attractions that are created specifically for families with little ones. Simply do your research ahead of time so you don’t spend too much time wandering around in search of these hidden gems. Here are some of our favourites places for little ones and the latest and greatest Orlando has to offer:
Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando: This is a new attraction that is absolutely wonderful for tots, schools-aged kids and anyone with fond memories of Sesame Street.
The 6-acre area in SeaWorld Orlando truly brings the television show to life as you roam down streets that feel like a TV set. Our kids met their favourite Sesame Street characters and neighbours, rode on kid-friendly rides and enjoyed the splash pad.
Since it’s in it’s own little area of the park, you don’t feel as though your running/roaming/excited kids are in the way of other park patrons. Most people in this area are parents with young children.
There is a daily parade (the first at SeaWorld) starring all of the popular characters.
LEGO Movie World at LEGOLAND Florida is another new, exciting area that’s great for young kids.
This new section of the popular theme park is just passed Duplo Land (another perfect place for small kids — including a nursing area, small playgrounds, rides for toddlers and more) and offers three family-friendly marquee attractions inspired by the characters and themes of THE LEGO MOVIE and THE LEGO MOVIE 2: The Second Part.
We started our day in this area and cooled off on the Battle water ride. The excitement set the tone for the rest of our fun-filled day.
Another fun option for the little ones is Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort.
There are themed areas at the base of the gigantic volcano that are reserved just for toddlers and babies (with height maximums which we thought was great) called Tot Tiki Reef and Runamukka Reef.
Sandy areas in the water park are another great feature for little kids who simply want to make castles all day and bury their feet. Since there are no beaches near the theme parks, this is a great place for kids to enjoy both rides, attractions and a sandy beach-like area.
If you’re traveling with kids of different ages, there’s something at Volcano Bay for everyone: teens, toddlers and parents alike. I’d say this park is geared more toward an older crowd though (pre-teens and up).
Universal Orlando Seuss Landing is another super DEE-Dooper attraction for little kids. There’s a small water park area, tot-sized rides, fun-Seuss-themed foods for little kids, character meet-and-greets and a lot more.
Disney’s Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studio’s is a perfect option for tots too. If your children are fond of the Toy Story movie series, they will love this magical land: Toys come to life, rides are exciting (and great for the little ones) and there are a lot of interactive family shows here too.
Accommodation for families with young children:
Choosing a family-friendly hotel often tops parents’ list of concerns when booking vacations. When you’re traveling with young children, the right hotel can make or break the entire vacation. Is there enough space for everyone? Is there in-suite laundry? A kitchen and dining area? Quiet space for the little ones to nap? Is the hotel/resort stroller friendly? As kids get older, it gets easier to stay in standard rooms, but when traveling with young kids, the right space is a must.
The Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort is designed for families and offers a plethora of activities for tots right there on the property. Everything you need is on-site: a splash pad, lazy rivers (x 2), small water slides, mini-golf, kids activities/crafts (like making your own ice cream sundae) and best of all…the resort suites are built for families.
You can choose from one-, two-, three-, and even four-bedroom suites that comfortably sleep large families (anywhere from four to 12 people). All of the suites feature private, spacious balconies, separate living areas and full-size kitchens.
Since the Wyndham Bonnet Creek resort is adjacent to Walt Disney World (you drive through the big main Disney arch to access the road to the resort) you feel as though you’re apart of all the action and yet far enough away for a bit of extra relaxation at the end of the day. We even caught the Walt Disney World Fireworks from the resort, at night.
The Wyndham Bonnet Creek resort offers free shuttles to Disney too, which is another great bonus and staff in the lobby help you plan your attraction itinerary.
For more information on this family-focused resort, check out: ClubWyndham.com. Use promo code VACAY19 for 15% off of your stay. VisitOrlando.ca also offers great deals Made for Canadians.
Budget-friendly tot-centric ideas:
First off, keep in mind that for many Orlando, FL attractions, kids aged three and under are FREE! That’s major savings if you’re traveling with multiple young kiddos.
One of our favourite activities for young children is the Crayola Experience at the Florida Mall. We’ve posted about this place before, but every time we visit here, it all feels new and different…and there’s often something new being offered. There are 26 hands-on activities in this one-story, open-concept space. The newest one is called “Meltdown.”
At this station, guests paint with melted crayon wax. Crayola Experience is an ideal option for creative minds and since it’s entirely indoors, we always recommend having this in mind for rainy or hot days. Guests under three are FREE, kids are $15.99 and adult tickets are $24.99.
There’s a toddler play ground, virtual reality areas, a photo booth and you can even name, label and wrap your own personalized crayon (included in the price of admission).
Nearly every main attraction in Orlando, Florida has something for small kids to be totally honest. We downloaded the Visit Orlando app and we regularly check in on the website to keep on top of deals and news since we go there so often. It’s also a great deal for planning your vacation too because the website offers Canadians a lot of great suggestions.
And now that Swoop Airlines flies direct from Hamilton International Airport (close to our home) to Orlando, we’ve cut down on travel-day time and costs.
Also, if you’re thinking about planning a fall vacation, now is the perfect time to book. Fall in Florida means lighter crowds and great deals since it’s off-peak time.
For more information on Orlando, Florida for families, check out VisitOrlando.ca