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People who know Florida well - I need some advice pls

(10 Posts)
juneau Wed 30-Mar-16 17:35:15

We took our two boys to Orlando for six days last Oct and had a fabulous time. They were almost-8 and 4.5-yrs-old at the time.

We went to the four Disney parks - Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot and all agreed it was one of our best holidays ever. The weather was great - not too hot or cold - and there was something for everyone.

We would like to go back to FL in Oct 2017 when they will be almost-10 and 6.5-yrs-old. However, we don't really want to focus on Disney parks next time, even though their ages are still perfect for them because:
1) We already did those parks last year; and
2) My parents want us to join them at Disneyland Paris in May 2017.

So if we were to go to FL for a week(ish) and not do Disney with DC the ages above what would you recommend? I'm thinking Gatorland, possibly Kennedy Space Center, some of the Orlando museums, but what about theme parks? Are there any others that you'd recommend for DC ages 10 & 6? Would you recommend Universal parks? The 10-year-old is the more timid of the two and doesn't like fast roller coasters.

HawkEyeTheNoo Wed 30-Mar-16 17:53:17

I've been every year for the last 26 years. Without a shadow of a doubt universal and islands of adventure are the best parks in Orlando. Ideally I'd have two days for each park as you can spend an entire day in the Harry Potter bits (one in each park) well I can I'm such a massive fan. And in universal there is fievels adventure area (up by e.t.) which is a water adventure area, again you can spend hours there!!
Gator land is ok, my mum hates it as if you've seen one you've seen them all, however my dad and I love it! That said, you are only there for a couple of hours really.
My other favourite is Busch gardens, mostly roller coasters, but there is a specific area for younger kids with water bits and pieces. Also there are a lot of rides you can go on with younger kids, the scorpion, tidal wave, the Congo river Rapids and loads I've forgotten as my DS is 12 now. You can drive to Busch gardens but my advice is to get the free bus from old town Kissimmee, it picks up at nine and then you leave the park at six. It just saves driving from Tampa after a busy day. There are also shows to go to at Busch usually lasting about half an hour, the Motown one is amazing!!

There is also Lego land (wasn't out cup of tea) which caters probably to 5-10 year olds and you HAVE to go to a water park! I like aquatica but disneys typhoon lagoon has the best lazy river!! Last year the other Disney water park was closed name totally escapes me so imagine it will be open in October and if its refurbished it will be great!!

Don't think we will make it this year sadmy dads had a heart attack and is waiting on a quadruple bypass and my mum has terminal lung cancer. I think last year might have been our last holiday together. Don't know if I'd be able to go back without them as we have never been without them and it might just be too hard!! Anyway! PM me if anything else, I'm sure I've forgotten loads!!

juneau Thu 31-Mar-16 09:24:31

Oh wow hawkeye thank you so much - that's great info! I really like the look of the Universal parks, but we simply didn't have time last year and I was advised (on MN) to just do Disney, which was good advice with so little time. I'd love to go for two weeks next year as there is so much to do and having thought I'd hate Orlando and that it would be really tacky, actually we all liked it and realised how little of it we'd seen.

Right well that gives me plenty to work with. I may PM you in future, but in the meantime pls have a piece of cake from me.

juneau Thu 31-Mar-16 09:25:35

PS I'm very sorry to hear of your parents' ill health. I hope your dad recovers well from his heart surgery (my uncle had a triple bypass and has been a new man every since). As for your mum flowers for you.

AssembleTheMinions Thu 31-Mar-16 09:28:43

Agree with doing Universal/Islands & Busch Gardens. Have a look at Kennedy Space Centre as well. I wasn't to fussed about it before I went but it turned out to be a brilliant day. Lovely drive out to the coast as well.

AlbusPercival Thu 31-Mar-16 09:32:53

Kennedy is amazing, most days there is also the opportunity to meet a real astronaut, mindblowing!

Busch gardens is good, but be aware Tampa is a bit of a schlep.

I would maybe take one day to do some of the more weird/ unusual attractions like the upside down house on I Drive, or the Crayola centre at one of the malls. Even if you are not a massive shopping fan I find the malls amazing.

newpup Thu 31-Mar-16 10:15:50

Hello. My Dds are 16 and 14 but we have taken them to Florida when they were aged 2 and 5, aged 4 and 7, aged 6 and 9, aged 8 and 10 and last year when they were 13 and 16! So we have covered all ages from toddler to teen!

Universal is great, my DDs and Dh prefer it to Disney! I am sure your boys would love it, Harry Potter land is AMAZING!

We also went to The Kennedy Space Centre last Summer for the first time and it was fantastic, definitely worth the day trip.
We love the Water parks, a must do in our books.
Also we have done a Boggy Creek Airboat ride, alligator spotting when they were the same age as your boys, great fun!
A hot air balloon trip was another great trip too.

My DH likes Busch gardens but I am not a huge roller coaster fan so not too bothered by it.

Also consider Cirque Du Soleil if possible, my DDs loved it when they were 9 and 6.

Have a wonderful trip!

juneau Thu 31-Mar-16 13:20:26

Thank you so much! Great suggestions. Pls keep them coming if anyone else has any good ideas.

queribus Tue 05-Apr-16 22:27:42

I'm here right now! Universal is amazing - way better than Disney IMHO. If you can possibly afford it stay for one night at an on-site hotel at Universal. You get unlimited express passes for both days and early entry to the Harry Potter part of both parks (neither of the big Hp rides accept express pass and queues can be crazy - often 90 minutes or more). We stayed at the hard rock hotel which was 5 mins walk to park entrance and we did everything at least twice. Longest we waited was about 20 mins for rockit roller Coaster. Plenty to do and see even if our don't like extreme rides.

The superheroes at Universal are great. The Spiderman is hilarious!

Water parks at Disney are well worth doing especially blizzard beach - great fun and relaxing at the same time.

You might want to consider going back to Disney as animal kingdom has a new evening sound and light show opening in summer 2016 and a new star wars area coming in 2017 in Hollywood studios. Disney springs is good too especially if it rains. If your kids like video games then Disney quest is brilliant - my dh had to be peeled away from galaxions in the retro game area.

Busch Gardens has some mega rides but definitely not for nervous kids!

Kennedy is amazing. The space shuttle exhibit makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! And a rocket launch is fab if you can get to one ( sadly not this time).

RockNRollNerd Sat 16-Apr-16 18:49:30

Islands of Adventure is probably better for younger kids - when we went when DS was 5 we did loads there and hardly any Universal. This time (DS now 11) we still did a lot at Islands but Universal was also good.

YY to Kennedy and the Space Shuttle - we only had 2 hours there unfortunately but if we go back again it's top of the list!

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