Friday 24 May 2019

Travelling to Orlando with kids

Janine Pipe is back with another blog and this time she uses her experiences on travelling to Orlando with a child to advise, inform and general help everyone out!
For myself, the planning side of a Florida holiday is almost as exciting as the trip itself. The build of anticipation rises every time I make a dining reservation or book a Fast Pass: even buying sun-cream is a lot more exciting when you know you’ll be using it in Orlando! As with everything though, planning a trip overseas with a small child in tow, isn’t quite as easy and straightforward. Now I know that everyone parents differently. For some families, they won’t need to change much: they will still eat at California Grill because little Bobby will just doze happily in his stroller and they will still do full park days whilst little Suzie naps peacefully in her buggy. But whether you are a parent who fits around your child or who’s child fits around you, there are still some important things to think about before and during your Florida visit.

First, plan, plan, PLAN!!! Let’s presume we are talking about a pre-schooler or younger school aged child here especially. Think about their likes and dislikes. Consider their stamina. Which attractions will they enjoy, appreciate, be terrified of … for example – Tink is petrified of most insects but especially spiders so It’s Tough To Be a Bug! was immediately struck off the list.
It's Tough to be a Bug! Photo Credit WDW Website
Location – I am a huge advocate for staying on-site but the cost can be restrictive for some people. If you can not afford to stay in Disney or Universal itself, try to stay as close to the parks as possible. This will save you time in travelling and will make breaks from the parks a lot easier. Try to ensure your hotel has a fridge and maybe even a microwave. At 2 years old Tink was still incredibly fussy and prone to not eating in restaurants so we ended up buying the odd kiddie meal in Target and heating it up in the room for her. 
Character Meets - Fun For Kids (Minions at Universal Resort)
Flight – don’t be frightened of taking a baby/small child on a long-haul flight. Just be prepared that boredom will likely settle in once the initial excitement has worn off, so have plenty of tricks up your sleeve to keep them entertained. A small bag of treats that you bring out every couple of hours might help. Have their favourite toy and/or a pillow to snuggle up with and don’t under-estimate the power of an iPad/tablet. Walk around the plane with them and swap seats within your family. The little changes will keep things fresh for them. You might want to pack some snacks in your flight bag in case they don’t like the plane food too. And don’t stress, even if your child is fussy and has ‘a moment’, this is a family destination. If people expect everyone to be silent on a flight, don’t go to Florida!
Stroller – whilst I am not an advocate for numerous amounts of buggies in the parks and am glad that they have banned the enormous wagons, I do recommend a stroller for under 5’s. Even if your child hasn’t used a pushchair in the UK for ages, their little legs will be glad of the rest. The parks are HUGE and add in the heat, time difference and massive amount of stimulation, then a stroller will be a blessing in disguise. You can also store the ridiculous amount of paraphernalia that kids require in it too. 
Character Meets at Walt Disney World
Park bag – that huge amount of stuff changes dependent on the age and demands of your child, but a lot of parents end up carting around everything but the kitchen sink when they have kids. A change of clothes is a good idea for even under 8’s as they might get wet, sticky, covered in ice-cream. Wet wipes and tissues are essential as are snacks and drinks. Even if you are on a Dining Plan, I would advise having something like some raisins or trail mix to hand as you never know when Junior might suddenly announce they are starving and it’ll likely be when you’re in line for something and no where near a vendor. Drinks can add up and it is very important to stay hydrated. You can bring water in with you, fill up from the fountains or ask for iced-water for free from any Quick Service location. Another must have for you bag is sun cream – please keep your child and yourself topped up as that Florida sunshine is intense and no one likes sun-burn.
Take a break – this is something that I personally feel is a good idea for everyone not just children. Our first trip with Tink was when she was only 2 years old and she still needed a day time nap. Never being one to doze off in her stroller, especially when surrounded by Mickey, we took her back to the hotel after lunch each day. This not only recharged her batteries nicely, but allowed us to have a rest and relax too. Whether it was catching up on laundry (another fab idea with a kiddo in tow) or just chilling out for a bit before heading back to the hustle and bustle of the parks, it was a great way to escape the midday madness of crowds and heat.
Rider swap – you might think that if you have a baby or younger child with you, then the thrill rides are out of the question. However, fear not as the rider switch/child swap allows each parent to ride in turn whilst the other one waits in a special area/room with the child who cannot ride. This works well too if you have an older child as they can ride with each parent whilst the other waits. However, this is another one where you should consider to how your child might react even just in the line. Tink hated the queue for The Forbidden Journey as walking through Hogwarts was quite dark. She also found the line for Transformers quite intimidating. Sometimes it might just be best for one parent to head off to their favourite ride whilst the other endures yet another turn on It’s a Small World.
Budget – kids are like magpies, they like shiny new things and every shop in WDW and Universal is full of wonders for the small people. So to TRY to stop a melt down after every attraction by letting them know what they can or can’t have that day. A daily treat can work, as can limiting the amount they can spend. If they are a bit older, having their own money helps too. As Tink was 8 last trip, she saved her pocket money for over a year and ended up with around $25 each day to spend on anything she wanted. It doesn’t have to be that much – if they know they have a $5 maximum then it really does help with expectations. 
Most of all with children, try to go with the flow a bit more so that you can all have fun. There will be tears and they will test your patience. But overall you will create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Take photos and videos, keep a diary of what you get up to. It will be a holiday to remember and you will soon be saving up for the next one!!!

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