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Tampa in December with a 2 year old

(6 Posts)
havinganightin Tue 16-Aug-11 20:32:20


After some advice please. My dh and I have the chance of a trip for the first 2 weeks of December flying into Tampa (dates and place non negotiable). I have only been to the SW States before and have no idea what a holiday in the SE would be like.

Can anyone tell me - would you do the trip with an almost 3 year old (he's very 'spirited' but I have flown with him - albeit to Europe and know what that is like). Both dh and I really need a holiday ... any advice where to stay and what to do? If we went to Disneyland / World (whatever it is) we would probably do 1 or 2 days at most (not really Disney fans although obviously ds would probably enjoy it - athough perhaps a bit young still?)

Thanks for any advice.

Figgygirl Tue 16-Aug-11 22:39:43

Hi there,
Tampa is on the West side of Florida, and has a very nice theme park called Busch Gardens. Apart from rides for all ages, and rollercoasters, there are lots of animals to see, including white tigers, which are gorgeous. There are usually some shows to see as well.

We have been quite a few times, and our boys really enjoyed it. It is quite hard trying to do everything in one day though. There is a skyway ride like a cable car that goes from one end of the park to the other, passing over African plains with animals like antelope, zebra, giraffes etc.
We like to eat lunch in the Crown Colony restaurant/ cafe, where you can sit outside with a fabulous view of the Serengeti Plains and animals. Our boys said they felt like they were in Africa, not America.
It is a very nice park to walk round. Our boys also like the gorillas, elephants and giant tortoises, and watching hippos swimming underwater. There is a lot to see in one day.

It takes about an hour to drive from Tampa to Walt Disney World and other theme parks and attractions near Orlando. There are 4 Disney Parks - Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Disney also have two themed water parks called Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. You really need one day in each park.
SeaWorld is a lovely park to visit, with lots of different shows during the day, lots of birds and marine mammals/ fish and our boys loved watching the polar bears swimming from the underwater viewing gallery. There is a waterpark nearby called Aquatica, and also Discovery Cove where you can spend a day swimming, relaxing, snorkelling and pay extra for a dolphin experience.( expensive ).
The other parks in Orlando are Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures, which are next door to each other, and have lots of good rides and attractions for all ages.

Sorry I can't help with Tampa more, but we have only been there as a trip from Disneyworld to Busch Gardens. People on the Trip Advisor Tampa forum can give you lots of advice though, as they know this area very well. There are also TA forums for WDW and Orlando.

Weather in December can vary - it can be pleasantly warm during the day, so ok for shorts and T shirts, but a bit chilly in the evenings/ night. It could also be quite cold and wet, so pack for both weathers. Last December they had very disappointing weather in Orlando, with quite a lot of rain, and not very warm on some days.
Other years can be much better.

Figgygirl Tue 16-Aug-11 22:49:35

It would be worth driving to Walt Disney World for a day in the Magic Kingdom park, as this is the park with the castle, and rides for little ones in Fantasyland.
EPCOT is a nice park to walk round, with different ' countries' around the large lake.
Also a day in Seaworld in Orlando, as you will all enjoy that.
Otherwise, there is probably plenty for you to do on the West coast of Florida nearer Tampa, with Busch Gardens, and save the other theme parks until your child is older, rather than driving backwards and forwards an hour each way.

havinganightin Wed 17-Aug-11 15:07:16

Thanks Figgygirl. I agree that there is enough to do without spending too long in the parks. I am not sure how much he would enjoy it all at this age - and it would be good to take him to some of these places when he remembers them (4+?)

Interesting to hear about the weather. That's what I was afraid of. I don't want caribbean hot but would be very upset if it was wet.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the reseponse smile

Tina2003 Fri 19-Aug-11 15:30:03

I have lived in South Florida for 4 years, and been to Tampa. I would say driving to Walt Disney, Orlando would be a good option. Animal Kingdom and Seaworld would be enjoyable for sure. Pack extra jumpers as the weather tend to be a bit chilly there in December, believe it or not. Orlando can drop to 2-4 degrees cels at night easily.Tampa itself is more of an industrial town, so don't expect too much.

Figgygirl Sat 20-Aug-11 02:17:25

Must agree that Animal Kingdom is a lovely park, and the one that we usually start with on or first day. It has the excellent Lion King Show, which is very enjoyable for kids and adults, and also Tough to be a bug ' 3D show inside the Tree Of Life.
More animals to see, and a jeep safari ride. It is a very nice park to walk around as more green trees/ foliage than the other parks.
You can read about the different Disney parks and other Orlando ones online, see park maps, opening times, and read about the rides and attractions to see what is suitable for your child.
We have bought our Disney and other theme park tickets from Attraction Tickets Direct, who post you actual tickets, not vouchers. Saves queueing up when you arrive, and is usually cheaper.
If it is warm enough, the water parks are very nice with pools,slides and waterplay for small kids.

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