The Magic of Orlando
When someone says “dream vacation”, it’s hard not to picture Disney World or Universal Studios. Considered two of the most popular destinations in the U.S., they are a must-visit for families. One of our Family Travel producers recently had the pleasure of visiting Orlando, Florida, with her family, and is ready to give you a first-hand look at the park’s hottest attractions and hotels and share some of their most magical tips. Even Walt Disney himself would be impressed!
If you’re looking for a place to stay during your Disney vacation, look no further than the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando – Disney Springs Area. Not only is it just a 16 minute walk from Disney Springs, the most visited of all Disney attractions, but it’s also the only all-suite hotel in the Walt Disney World resort area. These suites include (10) pure allergy-friendly rooms and each offer plenty of space for the whole family to spread out.
When you arrive at the DoubleTree, you’ll be greeted by their friendly staff along with a warm, delicious cookie! The kids will love the cookies and have their sweet-tooths satisfied.
In the morning, head to the Evergreen Cafe for breakfast. Craving that scrumptious cookie from your arrival? You can indulge in their signature pancakes with bits of their signature cookie mixed right into the batter or try the freshly made Mickey Mouse waffles. Whenever you’re ready to adventure out for some Disney magic, just hop aboard one of the hotel’s shuttles which offers continuous transportation service to and from Disney Parks and Disney Springs throughout the day.
If Universal Studios Florida is where you’re headed, enjoy a stay at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive Convention Center. With their new $20 million+ in renovations, this all-suite hotel is located within walking distance of many attractions, such as the Orlando Eye at I-Drive 360, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Sea Life Aquarium, miniature golf, go karts, shopping, restaurants, and the list is endless!
Like DoubleTree, Embassy Suites also offers allergy-friendly rooms, as well as delicious complimentary breakfast, complete with a make-your-own-omelette station. They even host an evening reception each night with complimentary drinks and snacks. Kids are also sure to love their indoor and outdoor pools and their unique glass elevators!
At Universal Studios Orlando, there’s never a shortage of fun! Check out their two parks; Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. From Dr. Seuss to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit to the Animal Actors’ Show, there’s something for everyone of all ages to enjoy!
Thrillseekers will love the Hulk Roller Coaster with its fast speeds and upside down loops. They’ll also get an adrenaline rush on Revenge of the Mummy, which does not go upside down, but is still equally thrilling.
Moms, who aren’t the biggest fans of roller coasters, will love the fun and nostalgia of the E.T. Ride. You’ll be immersed into the natural atmosphere of the movie and it will bring back childhood memories of when the movie first came to theatres! Don’t forget to pick up your picture in the gift shop after the ride or feel free to have a picture taken with E.T. in the closet or on the bicycle after the ride. It’s truly a classic!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the ideal spot for any child or adult who always waited, but never received, their Hogwarts letter. Here, you can purchase a wand and venture into Hogsmeade Village, where you’ll even be able to perform your own spells and practice magic. It is an unforgettable magical experience! Please remember, you will need to purchase a park-to-park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express and visit both lands. Before you leave, don’t forget to grab a non-alcoholic Butterbeer, served both regular and frozen, if you’re looking to cool off on a hot summer day.
Among other rides and attractions is Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, one of their most recent rides where visitors get to chase through New York to try to beat Jimmy Fallon to the finish. And if that frozen Butterbeer just didn’t cool you off enough, hop aboard Popeye and Bluto’s Bilage-Rat Barges where you’re guaranteed to get soaked. Don’t worry, there are plenty of family dryers located outside the ride.
The rides at each park even offer child swap, which allows one member of the party to watch a child while the others go on the ride, then switch. After all, as they say in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind!”
The parks at Universal Studios Florida are linked by the Universal Orlando CityWalk, which is also home to dozens of restaurants and shops. If your sweet tooth is calling you, be sure to head over to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. From their heavenly milkshakes to fabulous sundaes, this dessert-lovers paradise offers something for everyone. Adults will enjoy the Too Chocolate Stout, a fantastic crafted beer, while kids can indulge in their unique desserts and chicken wings made with the too chocolate stout. Keep in mind that many of these sweet treats come in huge portions that can easily be shared!
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium’s Sous Chef, Keith Esbin, and Restaurant Chef, Christopher Colon, work their magic to keep the food scrumptious, while the “creators” of the restaurant, Professor Doctor Penelope Toothsome and her robot companion, Jaques, walk around in full character, engaging with guests. With all these delights and more, it’s clear to see why The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium really is the cherry on top of a perfect Orlando vacation!