This is the second post in a three-part series on Orlando vacation tips from Cool Mom Picks.
Traveling with kids under five comes with its own set of challenges. The first challenge being: Should I even do this at all? We unequivocally say, yes! As frequent travelers ourselves, we know that the earlier you travel with kids, the sooner they become good travelers–which means new experiences, broader horizons, and meals after which you don’t have to do the dishes. (Heh.)
So how do you get the most out of an Orlando vacation with the littlest kids? We’ve got some ideas for you.
Best advice ev-ah: It’s not all about the rides.
Adults tend to think of the Orlando theme parks in terms of the fantastic rides, but to smaller kids, everything is new and exciting. Not just the things you wait in line for. From the sculpted trees at Disney, to a fountain in a town square, to a restaurant chair shaped like something funny.
So when you’re planning your trip, make sure you allot for spontaneous time, in which kids can just discover and enjoy whatever it is that grabs their attention.
Stick to attractions that are age-appropriate
Pretty much everything in the Magic Kingdom‘s Fantasyland is perfect for little kids, and besides, you can’t miss the requisite First Dumbo Ride. Universal Orlando Resort has a fantastic Seuss Lagoon area and even the littlest kids can ride the rides if you’re with them. SeaWorld has a whole children’s play area called Shamu’s Happy Harbor, and of course the animal shows always appeal to kids.
Speaking of which…don’t count on character photo ops
Don’t be surprised if a guy in a giant Pooh suit is terrifying to your kid who loves the “on TV” version of the very same Pooh. We ourselves have had to pass up some awesome photo ops (darn it) because we knew it freaked our toddlers out completely. There’s always next trip, right?
Rent a stroller, don’t bring one
If you’ve got 3-4 year olds who aren’t quite out of a stroller yet but are pretty good on their own, leave the stroller at home and just rent one at the park. It’s a huge load off, and you don’t have to worry about someone swiping it.
Kids like stuff besides theme parks, too.
Having been to Orlando quite a bit, there are a few other attractions we can recommend for younger kids. We really like the Orlando Science Center which has that “touch everything” kind of experience during the day, with lots of hands-on creative play. Plus, hello Science!
If you like animals, the Brevard Zoo is of course great for toddlers and preschoolers, who love riding the train and getting to feed giraffes and lorikeets. Seriously cool. There’s also the Green Meadows Petting Farm (we haven’t been there ourselves but we hear it’s nice) and don’t forget Gatorland–they do have a splash park and a petting zoo area.
Snacks are your best friend
A bagful of crackers, or a squeeze tube of applesauce or peanut butter is a lifesaver when the crankies set in and you’re still 15 minutes from getting on that ride.
Schedule in down time
Little kids can’t go go go all day without melting down. Let alone their parents. If you’re planning a longer trip to Orlando, spend some time at the hotel pool or take an hour drive to Cocoa Beach or the Canaveral National Seashore.
Get a sitter!
We know that wrangling little kids can take a lot out of you. Don’t be afraid to get a reputable sitter for the night and sneak a little grownup time in. You can arrange it through the hotel, or check services like Sitter City and Care.com.
And if you need a date-night destination? Liz swears by Emeril’s Restaurant on Universal Citywalk. Definitely worth the cost of the sitter. And the cost of the Banana Cream Pie. Yum.
Agree with our tips? Disagree? Have any of your own suggestions for little Orlando travelers for our readers? We’d love to hear them!
Cool Mom Picks is delighted to be partnering with our sponsor, the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau for this 3-part series. Find more about Orlando or plan your Orlando vacation at VisitOrlando.com