Yes – it IS possible! Orlando, the hub of family fun, can be done without wanting a vacation from your vacation.
The warm weather, theme parks, and resorts are a natural draw for families, but many people overbook their days and have high expectations of their soon to be overstimulated children. In addition to Disney World, there’s Universal Studios, SeaWorld, LEGOLand and so much more to keep families visiting Orlando entertained for years – so do not try to pack it all into one trip! (I have been to Orlando more times than I can count, my sister lives there!)
Want to feel little stress and lots of joy and being connected as a family? Read our list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite (each with our stress free tips!). If you have any questions about Orlando or our trip please shoot us an email!
We have the privilege of staying at two incredibly awesome family friendly resorts in Orlando: Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Villas and Marriott’s Harbour Lake. Please read our in depth blog post on Sheraton Vistata Villages here. Every bit of these resorts were made with families in mind. They are both set up to be your home away from home (kitchen, dining area, TV room, bedrooms, etc…) with amenities you will never want to leave. Dare we say we enjoyed our stay so much we contemplated just spending our days relaxing there! Want to have a low stress stay? Pick a resort you actually want to stay at – so at the end of your fun-filled day you have a place you are excited to get back to.
DisneyWorld – Do I really need to say anything about Disney? I mean come on – it’s Disney! I will start with the stress free tip – expect your child to get overwhelmed! Imagine how excited YOU are to be at Disney World, your child is that times 20. They are in sensory overload – everything is magical and wonderful, and fingers crossed your whole day will stay that way! But, should there be a meltdown and/or tears – embrace it and know it happens to pretty much everyone. No parent there is going to judge – after all you are in the Happiest Place on Earth!
We only found out we were going to Disney two weeks prior (Disney gifted us tickets) so it was a whirlwind planning process, but the day was amazing in every way. Some tips for the park we learned:
- Want amazing photo ops? Get into the park early! Book a breakfast in the park to get access inside before rope drop.
- Are you nursing? Use their nursing areas – it is air conditioned and you get free water and goldfish. There is also toys for the littles to play with.
- Unless its an incredibly hard ride to get on (Peter Pan, Mine Train Roller Coaster) save your fast passes for peak times – around 12-4pm.
- Ask a cast member for actual wait times – we had fast passes to see Cinderella, but walked past and didn’t see a line. The outside wait time said 20 minutes, but it was only 5 – we were able to visit then and get a different fast pass.
- You can preschedule three fast passes. After you scan your third pass you can schedule another fast pass – a perfect thing to do on your short wait (and you can perpetually do this each time).
- Use rider switch! This allows an adult guest to wait with a child unable to ride an attraction and then board the attraction without waiting in line again.
- Cast Members love to take pictures with your camera (and they take A LOT – win)!
- A great time to meet Mickey and Minnie is during the afternoon parade (around 3pm) – I have no idea why but I tracked it for a week and this was the shortest wait time. We only had about 4 families in front of us – this was without a fast pass!
- Lines – and lots of them. Will your kids meltdown while waiting? Maybe! But will you be the first person thats happened to – certainly not. I brought some games in case they needed them, but surprisingly they had fun in lines – dancing and playing with each other!
Lake Eola – Located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, with a sidewalk that circles the lake, Lake Eola is a relaxing way to spend your day. With sun activities on weekends and a gorgeous view of downtown Orlando we highly recommend this area. This entire activity is stress free 🙂
Universal Studios – Any Harry Potter fans? Even if you are not – there is something for literally everyone at Universal. A fun time to visit is during their Mardi Gras celebration where they have a parade every night – see how many beads you can catch! We did not visit on this trip but have been several times. Same stress saver as Disney – take it in stride!
SeaWorld – The animal exhibits, live shows and seasonal events make SeaWorld an ideal destination. We love a day with animals – and SeaWorld has some of our favorites! The Seymour and Clyde show was our all time favorite but they recently changed the show – original was better – and the mime that performs before the show is a must see. Stress free tip for Seaworld – get to the shows early for a good seat and some down time for the kiddos to recharge with snacks and water.
Orlando Magic Basketball – Go see a basketball game if you happen to visit during NBA season. It is a fun highlight to your night – we had a great time!
Orlando Brewing – Organic microbrewery and taproom located in South Downtown Orlando – try the Girl Stout if they have it – delicious!
NYPD Pizza – If you want a taste of New York City in Orlando, this is your place!
4 Rivers Smokehouse – They have delicious barbecue, smoked meats, comfort food sides, and delicious dessert!
Margaritaville at Universal Citywalk – This is a super fun place to eat and hear Jimmy Buffet music. It is loud so be aware of that for the little ones!
903 Mills Market Deli – This is a neighborhood friendly deli that lures locals with gourmet sandwiches, salads & breakfasts, plus outdoor dining. There is a lake you can walk around with so many beautiful birds right across the street!
Stress-free dining tip – pack a lunch and lots of snack to take with you to the park. Instead of long lines and packed restaurants – grab a shaded spot and have a relaxing picnic lunch!
Until next time…