Are you thinking about heading to Florida on the next vacation with your family? Here are some of the key points that you should consider to guarantee that you have an unforgettable and exciting trip.
Disney is by far one of the best reasons to visit Florida. Particularly, if you are keen to take a trip to Orlando specifically. Disney World is made up of four different theme parks as well as two water parks. We’ll get to the waterparks a little further down but that’s not all. There’s also Disney Springs, a sprawling shopping complex packed full of deluxe brands as well as exclusive stores and fantastic places to dine. You can also explore the different hotels and the sites around the parks including the lakes while you are there.
Over the last couple of years, Disney has changed significantly. This is partly due to the new leadership in control of the company and partly because of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, Disney World changed dramatically and many of these changes are still in place. For instance, you now need to book which park you want to visit on each day of your vacation. This means that you have far less flexibility when booking your ticket. However, you can still visit a second park later in the day so parking hopping has returned. Another major difference is the dining plan. While Disney claimed this would return, the dining plan – which allowed guests to easily cover all their meals in the park and hotel – is still missing from Disney booking options. Analysts believe this will return by 2023 or 2024 or the latest. But there’s no official word from the company just yet.
The other thing to be aware of is Genie Plus. Unlike the original fast past plus service, this comes at a premium and you can only book it on the day that you are visiting the park. This might feel limiting at best and infuriating at worst. You can book the service when the clock strikes midnight on the day off your visit to one of the parks. We recommend doing this, despite some people claiming that you can wait until about 7:00am. Particularly, if you either have a limited amount of time in Disney or you have set rides that you’re desperate to get on that day.
There’s so much to do in Disney World that if you have kids, you can book two weeks there alone and never get bored. Particularly, if you’re booking one of the hotels. More on that later.
Universal Studios Orlando comprises two main parks and one water park. A third park is in development and is scheduled to open in Summer 2025. However, even without this new addition, there’s still a lot to love about Universal. Similar to Disney, it can feel like you’re escaping into exciting worlds from the Marvel Universe to Harry Potter or Jurassic World. That’s just one of the parks. The second is home to The Mummy, Men in Black, Shrek and the second half of Harry Potter World.
Universal also has its own fast pass plan. You can choose to ride on each of the rides once or get a pass that provides you with multiple rides. One is significantly more expensive than the other and you can book this in advance. Unlike Genie Plus, these do not sell out.
The best way to do Universal is by heading through Island of Adventure and then working your way around before taking the Hogwarts Express to Universal Studios. Again, since it’s smaller if you plan your day, then you can cover everything in Universal in about three days. However, it also has a lot of extra attractions that could be worth your time if you are interested in staying a little longer.
Universal is in need of some updates in key areas. However, it’s still a lot of fun and often introduces innovative, exciting experiences including the latest Jurassic rollercoaster.
The Water Parks
As promised, we’re going to jump back to the water parks. Disney has two: Typhoon Lagoon and Summit Plummet. Universal has one and there are also options like Discovery Cove or Aquatica near SeaWorld. Typhoon Lagoon hasn’t received an update in a while but it does have a huge wave pool with massive waves that will throw you back even as you try to swim away as well as some great tube rides.
Summit Plummet has a great water adventure area for kids as well as rides that race down the titular mountain. This used to be home to one of the tallest freefall water rides in the world. However, that’s changed since.
Universal’s Volcano Bay has got a mixture of everything you’d expect including super tall drop rides. If you’re brave enough, step into the tube and wait for the trap door to open as you go racing down a vertical drop. This is a great choice for the thrill seekers in the family.
Then there’s Discovery Cove and Aquatica. Both effortlessly blend a water park with the chance to see wonderful examples of sea life including dolphins and sharks. Discovery Cove is a great place to relax and it even has a snorkeling area where you can see some wonderful fish swimming below you. You’ll feel like you’ve been dropped in the Caribbean.
Other Points Of Interest
There are of course other places to visit if you’re taking a trip to Florida. For instance, you can explore the beaches or even the marshes. If you’re hiring a car, then it could be well worth taking a trip to the Keys. There are places here where it will feel like you’re completely alone in the world. This could also be a great spot if you love photography and want to fly your drone over the incredible landscapes. Websites such as DrDrone are a great place to check out reviews if you’re thinking about taking your drone to a location like this. Do note that you are not legally allowed to fly a drone anywhere in the parks mentioned above. Disney World in particular has no fly zone regulations which is similar to that of the White House.
You might also want to take a trip to a place like Gatorland. The wildlife park is perfect for those who want to see these reptiles in a safe environment.
Are you staying in a hotel while visiting Florida? If so, then there are countless possibilities to consider. For instance, you might want to think about staying in one of the Disney Hotels. Disney has hotels for every budget and type of holiday. If you are planning a deluxe vacation, the Animal Kingdom lodge is a great choice. Alternatively, the Art of Animation resort is fun and family-friendly. Do note however, that prices for this budget resort can rival luxury resort choices at certain times due to soaring levels of demand.
Universal also has some great hotels too and there are even a few fantastic options scattered between the theme parks. Do be aware that staying in a Disney hotel will provide vast benefits including extra magic hours.
We hope this helps you plan the perfect trip to Florida with your family. While Florida vacations can be expensive, they are often well worth it. Particularly, if you explore all the options that are available to you and know the best ways to get the most value from popular experiences.