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Florida with Younger dc (9,6,3) - which parks to drop?

(34 Posts)
flatmum Tue 23-Apr-13 12:51:33

Am currently planning a trip to Orlando for later in the year. 2 weeks. My natural tendencey is to try and cram everything in and do everything but I don't want to overdo it and exhaust everyone. DC will be nearly 9, just 6 and just 3. They are quite theme-park hardened as we have merlin passed to disney/chessignton etc and often go to Thomas Land.

Which parks are a must (first visit?) and which could we drop for a day by the pool? (Epcot?)

They are not massive disney types but do like the harry potter, star wars type stuff. They love waterparks. Medium on the science front ie think would enjoy keneendy space centre but not at expense of a waterpark. I'd liek to temper the comercialism a bit with some wildlife-y type days as well. Thanks MN Florida veterans!

ContraryAndHairy Sat 14-Sep-13 18:53:55

Marking place as we are going in december

Groovee Tue 16-Jul-13 13:11:15

Glad you had a good time Biddy, we had a ball. Got back Saturday x

BiddyPop Tue 16-Jul-13 12:11:47

We are just back from 10 days in Fl with DD (6). We had a 7 day pass for Disney, and used 6 days. In that, we went to all 4 main parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom) at least once (AK once, the others 2/3 times each), and both water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). The water parks are both good - TL had a salt water pool to snorkel over lots of fish (including "friendly" sharks!!) which was good, while BB had a good "pre-teen" pool, both had good small child pools and plenty of seating around the parks.

We did a day at Kennedy Space Centre - the Atlantis is now open with a simulator as part of that exhibition. But we never got on the bus tour as we spent so long in the main part, so we will go back. But while DH and I were both interested, DD was less so here and we kinda felt that some of the Disney things were better than the Atlantis simulator.

We also did a morning canoeing, with Central Floorida Kayak Tours, down Rock Springs Creek. This was a lovely relaxed morning, gentle canoeing for a couple of hours and a picnic and swimming stop (including a Tarzan style rope swing into the river) at the end. DD was in a double with DH, and another boy was in a double with his Dad.

When you are in Disney, AK has a "Wilderness Explorer" badge book to fill in, Epcot has Kidcot to get stamps and flags from each country, and MK has a Pirate adventure map to follow (in Adventureland I think - the same section as the Pirates of the Carribbean ride). We didn't find anything in HS to follow, but we could have missed that. But DD found it fun to have something to look out for (and not having the long waits that there were for character photos/autographs).

We took breaks though, everyday, rather than spending all day in 1 park. We either changed park (taking our time for a rest as we moved), or went back to the hotel (apartment) for a swim before going back to the parks later. We did some shopping a couple of days too.

We stayed in the Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa, which was blocks of self-catering apartments but with a hotel reception and you could get a cleaning service (extra fee) during the stay if you wanted. There was a reasonable sized pool with a pirate ship (including a water slide) and a smaller pool in another block, along with convenience store (which had a small Pizza Hut) and an Irish pub, games room, spa etc. VERY handy to get to Disney, and ok to get into the rest of Orlando too. Included a kitchen so we could do our own breakfast (Lani's Luau bar at pool also had brekkie items) and the occasional dinner, and keep snacks for parks in fridge.

We didn't do the other parks as we figured we'd be back again in a few years, and DD was too small for a lot of Universal rides (just over 44", so could do most Disney but a good few Universal have 48" limits, whereas only 2 Disney - lots of Disney are 44", 40" or 36/38", so check sites like before you decide).

And bowling in Downtown Disney was good too, very well set up for smallies.

Groovee Sun 14-Jul-13 06:46:39

What tickets did you get?

I got free airboat tickets with our park tickets and would definitely recommend the Boggy Creek. It was something different.

flatmum Thu 11-Jul-13 18:00:03

just resurrecting this thread as I have finally booked tickets so need to make plans! We are going in October for 13 nights. any tips welcome!

FALSEdichotomy Mon 01-Jul-13 14:22:50

You'd need to check height ristrictions for Busch as from memory I think it's really a park for teens - happy to be corrected on that tho 😃

Kennedy is good - not an active space station any more but quite interesting - longish drive but also on a nature reserve.

Epcot is good. Universal has a good balance for your age range - happy potter is brilliant but you may need to parent share of a couple of those rides.

EliotNess Sun 16-Jun-13 18:40:20

agree with Ratty re walking - didnt bother me at all

EliotNess Sun 16-Jun-13 18:39:30

we LOVED gatorland - as an antidote to the slickness of the parks

EliotNess Sun 16-Jun-13 18:39:05

i thought the parade was dull

suebfg Sun 16-Jun-13 18:38:04

I would drop Universal. We went with DS who is 5 this year and it just lacks the Disney magic. The Disney parks are great - we liked the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios best as the Magic Kingdom is just so busy. Outside of Disney, we liked Gator Land.

MOSagain Sun 28-Apr-13 09:08:49

Not been to the Disney waterparks the past few years as we've been going to Aquatica (Seaworld's park) and the kids love it.

AnneEyhtMeyer Fri 26-Apr-13 19:51:24

If you are thinking of staying at Disney they have just released their offers for 2014 - free dining and $200 gift card.

We've just booked for next year and always stay on site.

Hulababy Thu 25-Apr-13 18:40:55

DD loves Typhoon Lagoon, far more than Blizzard Beach. She loves the waves - but they are massive! The key is to not stand where it is too shallow as the power can take your legs from under you. And never sit or lie at the edges when they are going - you will slip backwards with the waves and the floor is rough - to stop actual slips, and will graze and cut your skin.

You need to be upper thigh - waist deep really - this will be enough generally to stop you being knocked over and still give you some stability and control when the big waves hit.

Floralnomad Thu 25-Apr-13 15:21:22

Careful at Typhoon Lagoon ,my 2 love it but I nearly drowned after getting knocked over during the 'typhoon' , absolutely terrifying .

ExRatty Thu 25-Apr-13 13:56:58

I was surprised by how little walking there was compared to what everyone had told me.
My lot loved MK, AK HS adored the beauty and the beast show.
They really really really loved Seaworld which I didn't expect and we went there for two days. They have a great set up for smaller guests and there is a huge amount to do

impty Thu 25-Apr-13 09:37:26

oh and we're not early risers either but the jet lag works in your favour, as does the sunshine! Plus the culture is of up early, dinner fairly early so its fine.

impty Thu 25-Apr-13 09:23:39


Sunday mornings tend to be quiet. Head to the most important rides/ parks then.

Go early and head to the rides you want to do first either to get in queues or in Disney get your fast passes.

We liked all the parks really although epcot I would only go to in the evening to eat (book) and watch the fireworks.

The Disney water parks are better than wet and wild.

Plan your day in advance so you know which rides etc you want to aim for.

Before you go look at the websites for ride heights and explain to your dc's what they can't go on. I saw a girl in tears as she just missed the height restriction for the HP ride and Mum complaining that they'd flown from the UK for it.

Aim to leave the park at 3. You have time to rest, play in the pool, change etc before dinner.

Have an amazing holiday!

MOSagain Thu 25-Apr-13 09:09:30

I think all 4 disney is a bit much. My DC are 6 and 4 and we went last year and are going this year. MK is a MUST, perfect for DC of your ages. Animal Kingdom also lovely.
I've not bothered with Epcot for years as didn't think that much for younger ones but maybe things have changed. Might do Hollywood studios this year.

Universal great for younger ones, not so much IOA except for Seuss's (sp?) landing which mine loved.

This year we are going to try the new legoland. Ticket prices look really good. For about an extra £5 you can turn a 1 day ticket into a 14 day one and for an additional £5 you get access to both legoland and their waterpark. Sound really good value to me.

Groovee Thu 25-Apr-13 07:44:14

The getting out of disney is actually very very easy. This is our first visit off site as we've always stayed at Disney.

We're planning a boggy creek airboat too as we got the tickets free. What time of year are you going? It depends on season as to what times the parks are open.

theoriginalandbestrookie Wed 24-Apr-13 18:38:46

If you are late risers then I'd invest in a night at one of the Universal hotels, you will get fast passes for the day before and the day after which means even if you don't get there until later you should be able to do the whole park. I thought that there was a lot to do for younger children at Universal but you'd need to split up.

Unfortunately the fast pass doesn't work for the Harry Potter ride, but probably only your oldest will be tall enough to do it.

We did the Boggy Creek airboat ride as well as Gatorland and tbh I preferred the airboat ride. I have to say I preferred the airboat ride as it was nice to see the marshes and see the gators in the wild.

I don't know about Summer but at Easter the Disney parks were open until 1am ! We found they were busy between 11 - 5, so I'd recommend either getting there for opening - which isn't that hard when you have jet lag, or leaving it until much much later.

flatmum Wed 24-Apr-13 10:59:13

Thanks hula that's really helpful, Looks like all Disney and universal for us plus gator land, better go for 2 weeks! We will have a hire car so not sure any issue with staying at Disney. Are the parks and rides open really late then? That might be handy as were not early risers ..

Hulababy Tue 23-Apr-13 20:41:35

Not done Busch Gardens. There are a lot of BIG rides there, though has a zoo too.

There is also Legoland too now though we have never been.

DD loves the Universal Parks. There are two. The rides are often bigger but there are some gentler ones too in both parks so there is plenty for all ages. They both have water areas for children now too - the Curious George water play park is excellent! The Harry Potter section is stunning. DD is a huge fan so was very taken with this the last twice we went.

Hulababy Tue 23-Apr-13 20:38:42

DD has been at age 2, 4, 7 , 9 and 10y and has loved all he parks each time. But we are pretty much on the go all the time and we do parks every day - either Disney, Universal, Space Centre, Water parks and in the past SeaWorld. Sometimes we have a day at the beach.

We have stayed in villas mostly but once in a Disney hotel. Hotel was fine and it is very easy to drive in and out and go elsewhere. Not an issue at all, no more so than staying in a villa tbh.

The Disney parks:

Magic Kingdom - the one for the little ones especially and for the "magic". Plenty f rides, a few show, lots of parades, fireworks, light show. Can see lots of characters here too.

Animal Kingdom - a quieter, less rushed day but often more humid and hot due to the planting. Less rides here. Great Lion King show. You can see plenty of animals on the safari and also on the walk through animal places in Africa and Asia. And you can do the train to Rafiki's island place where you can see characters and there is a petting farm. Has a parade in middle of day.

Epcot - another quiet day but lots of walking. A few rides at the first part and some hands on exhibit, etc. The Nemo ride leads into the aquarium. There is a ride where you sit on a moving train type thing and meet dinosaurs. Then there is the World showcase with lots of countries represented. This is mainly walking round, a few cinema things where countries show short films, a couple of gentle rides. There is also a Phineus and Ferb spy type game children can join up and play. No parade. Light and firework show around the lake at night.

Hollywood Studios - based on films. A fair few rides, amazing Beauty and the Beast show. Parade. Excellent car stunt show. Meet some characters. Some other shows like the Muppets.

KissMyGrits Tue 23-Apr-13 20:22:50

Epcot is great, but the kids would prefer Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom I would think. Try to have a day by the pool and head to Epcot late afternoon for dinner as there are amazing restaurants there and it's a lot of walking. Yes to Islands of Adventure and Gatorland as well. Personally if they're not massively into it I would avoid the space centre.

NotSoNervous Tue 23-Apr-13 18:43:19

I personally wouldn't stay at the Disney hotel. If you want to be out and about doing other things its going to be a nightmare getting out of Disney everyday

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