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Orlando Family Holidays

Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort.@worlddisneyworld
The Cat in the Hat at Universal Orlando Resort.The Cat in the Hat at Universal Orlando Resort.@universalorlandoresort
Diagonal Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.Diagonal Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.@universalorlandoresort
An Amphiboat at the Boathouse, Walt Disney World Resort.An Amphiboat at the Boathouse, Walt Disney World Resort.@worlddisneyworld
Fireworks at Walt Disney World Resort.Fireworks at Walt Disney World Resort.@worlddisneyworld
Flying Time 9.25hrs
Carbon Footprint 7.87 CO2
Timezone GMT -5
Currency US Dollar

Today

Overview

With sunny days almost guaranteed for most of the year plus some of the world's most famous family attractions to work your way around, Orlando merits a place on many families’ bucket list. The only problem comes in knowing where to start. The trick is to read up and decide which themeparks best suit your kids' ages and interests, and then buy your tickets accordingly (there’s a wide array of different money-saving multi-park tickets to choose from).

Things to do with kids in Orlando

Take younger kids to Walt Disney World Resort – with four themeparks and two waterparks, this is the obvious starting point for those visiting Florida with pre-schoolers. Its Magic Kingdom is a guaranteed hit with tots, offering dozens of rides, carnivals and daily parades and the chance to see Mickey up close. Disney's Hollywood Studios is all about the magic of the movies, with High School Musical and Toy Story attractions as well as the famous Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Teenagers and adults enjoy the futuristic rides on offer at Epcot, while Disney’s Animal Kingdom gives you the chance to take the kids on safari even in Florida. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon complete the Disney parks in Orlando, with plenty of waterpark fun.

Go behind the scenes of your favourite movies, books and comics at Universal Orlando Resort – more compact than Disney but packed with heart-thumping action. The Simpsons Ride and Shrek 4-D are the top Studio attractions, while Universal’s Islands of Adventure brings The Cat in the Hat and Spiderman to life, as well as being home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which gives fans the chance to visit Hogwarts, stroll through the streets of Hogsmead, sneak a peek behind the door of Professor Dumbledore’s office, and thrill to the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride in Diagonal Alley. Like Disney, Universal can also be topped off with a waterpark, Volcano Bay, opening early summer 2017 (replacing the long-standing Wet ’n Wild).

Ride Orlando’s fastest, longest and tallest rollercoaster, Mako, at SeaWorld Orlando, another popular themepark choice that also houses a variety of marine exhibits.

Make for the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex to ride the Orlando Eye observation wheel (for great views over central Florida) and visit Madame Tussauds Orlando and Sea Life Orlando, as well as take advantage of its array of shops and restaurants. Other things worth checking out are Escapology Orlando, a team-building escape game, and the hands-on Crayola Experience at the Florida Mall.

Head to Winter Haven 45 minutes south of Orlando, to treat kids aged 2–12 to a day or two at Legoland Florida Resort, combining a themepark, waterpark and hotel.

Combine Orlando with a stop elsewhere in the gorgeous state of Florida, perhaps Miami or the Florida Keys, or with a break in New York City or in the Caribbean.

Eat

Orlando has a good choice of restaurants of all kinds, many of them offering buffets that are good for choosy children, plus the expected gamut of fast-food restaurants. Various themed dinner attractions let you combine dinner with some form of entertainment. The Boathouse at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort is a waterfront restaurant with a marine from which you can take trips in floating retro ‘dream boats’ and ‘Amphicars’.

When to go to Orlando

With its sub-tropical climate and consistently sunny days, Orlando is a year-round destination. Those with younger children should come outside school holidays (British and American) for the best prices and smallest queues.

Cost

Flights from London to Orlando average around £500pp, and villas for four start at about £600/week. Packages can be a good way of keeping a lid on your budget – or fly-drive deals if you’re planning to venture beyond Orlando itself.

By Rhonda Carrier

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