Orlando: Reimagined

Are you ready to finally take that trip you’ve been putting off because of the pandemic? Orlando is the perfect destination for those of you experiencing itchy feet, and is one of our favorite cities that we return to every year! We have visited twice during the pandemic and have felt incredibly safe on both occasions.

Orlando is ready to welcome you with open arms (figuratively speaking – air high fives at 6 feet away for now)! The off season is our favorite time to visit (less crowds and less heat) – so consider visiting in the late winter or early fall.

We have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite!  If you have any questions about Orlando or our trip please shoot us an email!

Accomodations

We stayed at the jaw dropping Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, Bonnet Creek. Set on 62 acres of lush grounds, you will find five pools, a mini-golf course, two lazy rivers, and more! This resort is the definition of Grand – the staff is kind and helpful, the decor is beautiful with photo ops around every corner, the foliage made me feel like I was on a tropical island, I could go on and on!

We stayed in the family bunk room with one king bed, and a set of bunk beds. The bunk beds are tucked away in their own nook with a separate TV, so it felt like another room. There is a full bath, which is great for littles. There was an amazing view of the lake and pools, which was our favorite spot to sit when resting in the room. The room has a refrigerator (hard to find now, and much appreciated) and Keurig for your convenience.

Time to venture out of the room and onto the grounds, did I mention the beautiful plants everywhere (okay, okay last time)?! The Wyndham Grand is taking great care to ensure safety first during the pandemic. Masks are required inside the resort and there are several hand washing stations placed on the grounds. The hotel is operating at a lower capacity as well, so you can have peace of mind while sitting poolside in that beautiful Florida sun.

Location, location, location. Wyndham Grand is a Walt Disney World Gateway Hotel! I could see the Disney Skyliner from my window – does it get much better than that?! The resort also offers a free shuttle to the Disney parks, bonus!

Adventures

Discovery Cove – You guys, this was a bucket list experience for me (it was my dream to be a marine biologist), and it did not disappoint! Discovery Cove is a hidden gem, an all-inclusive day resort where you can interact up close with marine life – yes, I said ALL-INCLUSIVE (beer & wine also!).

Start your day early (you will be thanking me later) and arrive around 7:15. They allow guests in at 7:30, but there will be a line to get in. Pick up your free stroller at guest services if you have a younger kiddo with you, they have huge sand wheels that make it easy to get around. Enjoy a delicious all you can eat breakfast at your leisure at Laguna Grill. Around 9:30 everyday the flamingos take their morning walk and hang out just over the blue bridge, but they only stay for a short time so don’t miss it!

We got to our cabana (additional fee) and got situated with the kiddos. The cabana offered a private getaway with a fan and heater (Orlando weather, am I right?!), a refrigerator, snacks, and a concierge to assist you throughout the day. Next, pick up your wetsuit and get changed! My sister joined us at Discovery Cove which was very helpful considering some of the activities have age limits. Dan and I went on the SeaVenture excursion (must be 10+ to participate) and it was unlike anything I have ever experienced! I would highly recommend this underwater walking tour with a dive helmet – your guide will “talk” to you with a writing board, and you feel like you are walking on the moon (that is a good thing, it was really cool). They also feed the fish right in front of you, which then leads to a frenzy of beautiful fish swarming in front of you – AMAZING!

Go around the Wind-Away River which takes about 20-25 minutes to get through, and this was the biggest hit with my kids. They close the waterways at 4:30, so make sure you take a full lap around before then. Keep the all-inclusive meals coming with lunch and drinks at Laguna Grill. I want to note that Discovery Cove can accommodate for any dietary restrictions, this was very important for our family and were pleased with how the staff went above and beyond.

Swimming with the dolphins (ages 6+) was an amazing way to interact and learn about these playful creatures. We were able to get up close and swim with them, fully understanding their strength. The water here was the coldest, so I would recommend the full wet suit. The most popular part of Discovery Cove might be The Grand Reef – where you can swim and snorkel with tropical fish and sting rays. The water here is very salty to prepare your kiddos before going in. Take your time and explore, the fish are very curious about you as well and they get close! The aviary was memorable for all of us as well. Timing does not matter, we went at 4 in the afternoon and all the birds were still VERY hungry.

Wyndham Grand – Yes, this is on my list of adventures because for the first time, we spent the whole day at a resort! Our family played all day, and were able to just “be” with our kids without distraction. The lazy rivers were the biggest hits, and we went around more times than I could count. We played mini golf, corn hole, ping pong, fed koi fish, swam, splashed, lounged, ate, drank, and swam some more. It was relaxing and fun, just what our family needed while on vacation!

Apetite

Laguna Grill – This is where you will eat breakfast and lunch at Discovery Cove! Enjoy a delicious all you can eat breakfast with biscuits, fruit, French toast sticks, eggs, sausage, pastries, coffee, juice, milk, tea, and more. Lunch has a great variety of meals and deserts for children and adults. I had the salmon (fantastic), my husband had the pulled pork sandwich (delicious), and my girls split a cheeseburger and chicken tenders. The food is top notch here, and as I mentioned above, they do accommodate for people with food allergies or specifications which is so great (look at the photo below of my sister’s “meal” – they wanted her to have options and snacks for later, SO kind!). I should also mention there are snack and beverage stations where you can pick up adult beverages or slushies for the kids and a variety of snacks.

Bar 1521 – This chic restaurant and bar is located at the Wyndham Grand. It has a relaxed, yet sophisticated atmosphere, and the staff makes you feel like part of their family. Start your culinary experience with a specialty beverage and fresh sushi. They have a kids menu also, which comes with a scoop of ice cream (insert giddy children!). I had the filet mignon and my husband had the local Florida catch, both were DELICIOUS! Tables were spaced apart for covid safety, and we had a memorable evening of playing cards, chatting with staff, and relaxed dining with amazing food!

The Barista – The Barista is where we enjoyed breakfast every morning in the lobby of Wyndham Grand. The breakfast sandwiches are delicious, and they have Starbuck’s coffees and teas – can you think of a better way to start your day?! Get there early to avoid a line, this is a popular spot for people to grab a meal before heading off to the parks!

Back Bay Bar & Grill – Lunch with a view! Located next to the main pool at Wyndham Grand, Back Bay is a great spot to sit back and enjoy the 10-acre lake on site, while enjoying casual food with a flare. We really enjoyed dining outside, and had some really great food and drinks (try the guacamole and spicy Buffalo chicken wrap).

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