Are Orlando Vacation Homes Worth the Hassle?

October 27th, 2014

orlandovacation_vacation-rental-homeThose who’ve never stayed in an Orlando vacation home may think there’s a lot of hassle to staying off property. Sure, you can save money and get a lot more convenience, but many think they’ll miss the amenities of Disney. Let’s take a look at the issues and how they add up.

Staying offsite means long commutes: FALSE

It’s a common misconception that staying offsite means spending an hour or more a day driving to and from the parks. The reality is that the vacation homes at are all within 15 minutes of the Disney theme parks. Most hotels on Disney property are equally far from the theme parks themselves.

Orlando vacation homes are expensive: FALSE

Just like any other type of accommodations, whether resorts or otherwise, vacation homes vary in price. They start at just $99 a night, which is a great deal compared to Disney’s properties that cost well over $100 per night – sometimes as much as $500 a night.

orlandovacation_rental-home-bedroomOrlando vacation homes have tons of amenities: TRUE

You’ll be incredibly impressed by the many amenities available to you when you stay at a rental home. From full kitchens to private pools to washers and dryers in every home, you’ll enjoy staying in the lap of luxury with much more privacy than you’ll find at area hotels.

Staying in a vacation home comes with tons of added fees: FALSE

One of the most prevalent rumors is that renting vacation homes may seem affordable on the surface, but once you arrive at your destination you’ll be responsible for all sorts of extra fees. The truth is that if you rent through a reputable company, all the fees will be included in your original rental agreement. In some cases you may pay for optional services, like heating your pool, but your price should be all-inclusive of the amenities advertised.

Essential Tips for Visiting Disney World as a Single Parent

October 26th, 2014

There’s no question that Disney World is a magical place, but it can also be a stressful place when you’re traveling along with the kids. Check out these excellent tips to travel with ease as a single parent in Disney World.

orlandovacation_rental-homeSet a schedule for each day

If you have a schedule planned out for each day, your kids will more easily stay focused and know exactly what to expect each day. Set a specific schedule for napping and bedtime, choose a resort hotel or Orlando vacation home that’s close to the park so you can return for nap times, and make reservations well in advance for any hard-to-get character meals you’d like to enjoy.

Take advantage of all the special help available to you

You’re going to feel at times like you could really use a helping hand. The good news is that there is one there for you! Take advantage of the Disney World amenities. For example, look into FastPass+ and schedule them in advance so you can skip the lines. Look into stroller rental, and check out in-room babysitting that allows you to take a break for a few hours.

Downtime is essential

There are so many things to do at Disney World that you’re going to be tempted to try and do it all. While it may seem like taking on every ride and attraction is the best way to get your money’s worth, the reality is that you’re going to get the most value for your money if you have the best time possible – and that means planning plenty of downtime. Remember – it’s about quality, not quantity!


Having a plan doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible

It is important for you to have a plan – but it’s equally important for you to be flexible. If nap time has to come a little late one day, or if you end up missing a must-do ride because the kids are ready to go, then you’ll need to just accept it. No ride is worth ruining an entire trip to Disney World.

Orlando for Beginners: What’s the Best Beach in Orlando?

October 25th, 2014

If you’ve never been to Orlando before, you may be one of the many soon-to-be tourists who don’t realize that there actually aren’t any beaches in Orlando itself. In fact, it’s located in the middle of the state. The good news is that the water-lovers have three different options.

orlandovacation_disney-world-water-parksVisit local water parks

There are numerous water parks within the Orlando area. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both located within the Walt Disney World Resort and have a wide range of unique attractions, water slides, wave pools, and more! Note that if you’re traveling during the cooler months of the year, only one of the two will be open.

Your other water park option is Wet ‘n’ Wild, which is an incredible water park that’s actually the oldest in the entire country. Any of these water parks can make a great choice for the family who wants to take in some sun and have fun in the water, but doesn’t want to make the trek to the coasts.

Beaches within 1 ½ hours

There are numerous beaches within an hour and a half of Disney World, including Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Canaveral National Seashore, and Melbourne Beach. You can take off for a day trip to any of these beaches, or book a room and stay overnight to add a unique stop on your Florida vacation.

Gulf Coast Beaches

If you want to head in the other direction, you can check out gulf coast beaches like Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Anna Maria Island. These options are around 2 hours, and you have the added benefit of visiting other parks in the Tampa area. Take a peek at Busch Gardens for a more laid back, thrill-ride experience.


4 Simple Disney World Tips for Parents of Young Children

October 24th, 2014

If you’re considering a trip to Disney World with your young children, you’re likely apprehensive. You know it’ll be a magical time for everyone, but you want to avoid some of the pitfalls that can lead to meltdowns and other issues. Take a look at these 4 tips that may seem simple but can have a big impact on everyone’s trip.

orlandovacation_disney-glow-toys1.         Bring something for the dark

Many of the rides at Disney World involve dark areas that can be scary for young kids. There are several things you can bring that can help make it more comfortable for kids who are scared of the dark. Consider something like a pen light or glow worm – essentially something that will add light but won’t disturb other guests – or buy one of the glowing items Disney sells that give off a constantly, gentle light.

2.         Practice before your trip

Your kids will have many new experiences to take advantage of during your vacation, but some of them can be overwhelming. Try to practice as many elements as you can before your trip. For example, take them to a place with a larger crowd to see how they’ll react, let them practice saying hello to new people, and, if they’re walking, practice walking longer distances with them.

3.         Know what to expect

Before you head down to Orlando, take some time to look at park maps and learn which rides are appropriate for your little ones. Remember that just because they don’t have a height requirement and are allowed to ride doesn’t mean that your kids will be comfortable on them. If in doubt, check out YouTube videos of full rids and decide if your kids will feel safe.

4.         Bring plenty of toys

Many parents assume that because there’s so much to do in Disney World, they don’t need to bring their own toys along. The truth is that not only will you not know what your kids will be interested in once they get to Disney, but they’ll also be looking for familiar toys to keep them comfortable.


Budgeting for Disney World – How Much Will You Spend?

October 22nd, 2014

Figuring out how much to budget for a trip to Disney World can be a challenge. With so many variables, and a desire to spend as little as possible while still taking in the full experience, it’s important to get a good idea of your options before you take off. We found a great resource for setting your budget. Take a look or see below for the best tips.

Keep an eye on when you’re visiting

One of the biggest factors in the cost of your trip will be when you visit. The busiest months will typically offer the fewest discounts and highest rack rates. These months include the summer plus holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and 3-day weekends. If you have flexibility, you’ll appreciate both the lower cost and the lower crowds during less busy months.


Understand the importance of age

Many parents are surprised to discover that, for the purposes of ticket prices and dining plans, children 10 and older are considered adults. Those under 3 are essentially free to get into the parks and more. Those between 3 and 10 can get significant discounts on tickets. The key is to be prepared for the costs of your 10+ year-old kids to be considered adults.

Accommodations matter most

If you’re like most families, you’ll spend more on accommodations than anything else. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to. There are many ways to save big on lodging, compared to what you’d pay to stay on property at a Disney resort. Check out nearby resort hotels, or considering renting an Orlando vacation home. These homes start at just $99 a night and offer tons of amenities that make them well worth staying a few miles from the parks.


5 Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary at Universal Orlando

October 19th, 2014

When you think of romantic theme parks in the Orlando area, you likely think of Disney World. However, as you plan your exciting anniversary getaway, don’t forget about the special touches you can experience at Universal Orlando. The Orlando Informer Blog posted the top 5 ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Universal, and we feel these are great options for an anniversary too.

1.         Take a walk to the water’s edge

Universal CityWalk is well known as a place with lots of restaurants and nightlife, but you can also grab your honey and sneak away to a less populated area that surrounds the lack. Start at Jimmy Buffett’s Lone Palm Airport bar for a drink and find the least populated benches nearby.


2.         The parks themselves are as romantic as you make them

Just being in Universal after sunset can be an incredibly romantic experience. Take your sweetie on a thrill ride like Camp Jurassic and hold them close as the ride twists and turns.

3.         Grab dinner and a movie

Right outside of the theme parks you’ll find a unique experience at Meal & Movie at the AMC Universal Cineplex 20. There you can take in a movie and eat a delicious meal together. This is actually a great bargain and is a good choice for the couple who wants to keep expenses down.

4.         Stay at a romantic resort or rent a vacation home

Of course part of your adventure is where you lay your heads at night. Consider the many beautiful resorts in the Orlando area, or rent an entire vacation home to yourselves. They can actually be very affordable and give you access to a private pool, Jacuzzi, and full kitchen.


5.         Pick up some romantic lingerie

Stop by the Betty Boop Store at Islands of Adventure and check out some unique, flirty lingerie. This is a great way to pick up a gift for your loved one that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.

4 tips for Packing for your Disney World Trip with the Grandkids

October 18th, 2014

orlandovacation_packing-grandkidsIs there a better way to spend your vacation time than taking the grandkids to Disney World? Whether they’re toddlers or teenagers, whether it’s their first trip or their thirteenth, there’s always plenty of fun to be had at Disney World. However, planning the trip can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at 4 tips you probably haven’t thought of as you pack for your Disney World trip.

1.         Don’t put all the pressure on the parents

Don’t assume that the parents will know everything to pack. Even if they’ve taken the kids to Disney World in the past, there are events you may have planned, or you may plan to tour in a different way, which would require different items. Do a thorough inventory and share it with the parents.

2.         Don’t take all the responsibility on yourself

This may seem in direct conflict with the first point, but the goal is to find a happy balance. The key to a successful packing adventure is to have open communication. Ask the parents what they know the kids will need and make your own decision if they’re the right items.

orlandovacation_grandkids-suitcase3.         Don’t leave the basics behind

It’s easy to get so caught up in the little things you may not have considered that you skip right over the basic things that you should have considered. For example, bring a first aid kit, extra pajamas and clothes, and a list of your grandkids medications and / or health history.

4.         Beware of packing too much or too little

Many grandparents fall into one of two categories: those who want to pack everything they can think of, and those who pack way less than they need. Once again, the key here is to find a balance. You do want to bring the things they’ll need, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars in extra baggage fees. Remember that in a pinch you can stop by a grocery store, drug store, department store, etc., and that you can find most things you need within the parks themselves.

Please click here for other tips for Grandparents bringing their grandchildren to Disney World or Orlando.

The Top 3 Orlando Destinations for Group Travel

October 17th, 2014

Planning a group trip is not without its challenges. The good news is that there are locations throughout the country that are uniquely suited to group travel. Orlando happens to be a great place to take a large group, whether it’s for a family reunion or a corporate outing. In fact, Orlando is one of the most visited destinations in the entire world. Let’s take a look at 3 destinations in the Orlando area that would be a great choice for groups to visit.

1.         Disney World theme parks

Of course the first spot most people think of when they think of vacationing in central Florida is Disney World – and for good reason! There’s something to do here for people of all ages, interests, and abilities. Whether you’re seeking thrills or you want to relax with an adult beverage overlooking a beautiful lagoon, you’re covered at the Disney World parks. They also have tons of great accommodation options for larger groups and many group discounts available.


2.         Universal Orlando

Located just miles from Disney World, Universal Orlando has 2 theme parks and is home to the now famous Harry Potter lands. This is a great choice for those who love the beloved movies and / or books, and it’s a great choice for thrill seekers too, as they have some of the most exciting and hair-raising rides in the country. Once again, Universal is uniquely suited for group travel and they have plenty of discounts available for larger groups.


3.         SeaWorld Orlando

Many people may know how great Disney World and the Universal parks are for groups and families alike, but not everyone thinks of SeaWorld. The truth is that this park is generally much less crowded than the others, so it can offer a better chance for large groups to experience rides and attractions together. There are many dining options and it offers a slower pace, which is great for groups with older adults or others with mobility issues.


Please click her for other tips for group leaders desiring to visit Orlando.

FAQ for Universal Orlando Trips with Teenagers

October 16th, 2014

There are a lot of considerations when you’re taking your teens on any vacation, but it’s even truer when it comes to taking them to the parks in Orlando. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about taking your teenagers to Universal Orlando.

orlandovacation_dragon-challenge-coaster1.         Are there things for teenagers to do?

When many parents think of Orlando theme parks, they think exclusively of Disney World. While the Disney parks are perfect for people of any age, and there’s something to do for everyone, many parents are surprised to learn that the Universal parks actually offer more thrill rides, which are perfect for teens with a sense of adventure.

2.         How many days should we visit the parks?

There are many things to consider when deciding how long to stay in the parks. If you have just a few rides you want to hit at either park then you can do it in one long day. If you want to take in everything there is to see, then two or three days are recommended. Take a look at park maps and the websites for both sites to decide how many rides and attractions you’ll want to take part in.

3.         Are there places for parents to relax?

As with any theme park, there are plenty of benches, restaurants, and other places to take a break. You can also take in one of the dozen or so shows that offer a chance to relax while still taking part in everything Universal has to offer.


4.         Are kids safe on their own?

On a family vacation you likely want to spend as much time together as possible, but your kids may want to take off and explore on their own. It’s up to you to decide if you feel comfortable separating, just be sure if you do that you have a clear plan. For example, pick a time and place to meet up, check in with the kids every 30 minutes or so, and make sure everyone knows what to do if you get separated.

We hope you liked this article please click here for more articles for parents with teens.

Taking Your Special Needs Child to Disney World: The 3 Tips You Need to Know

October 15th, 2014

orlandovacation_guest-relationsThere are many steps you can take to make your trip to Disney World as successful as possible for your special needs kid, but your first step is to cover the main bases. These are the 3 crucial tips you absolutely need to know before you take off on your trip.

1.         Visit Guest Relations as soon as you enter the park

All 4 Disney theme parks, (the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) have one or more Guest Relations counters. These are generally located near the entrance. As soon as you arrive at a park on your first day, you should immediately visit Guest Relations. There you can explain your child’s special needs and find out if you qualify for the GAS, which gives you a return time at most rides so you can avoid waiting in lines for rides. Note that you will still have to wait, but you can leave the line and come back at the time assigned.

2.         Assisted listening devices are FREE!

If your child has auditory issues, it’s imperative that you get an assisted listening device, for several reasons. First, many parents make the mistake of assuming that the only time they’ll need them are in shows, which they may choose to avoid. However, many rides have elements of dialogue. Second, these devices are totally FREE so it doesn’t make sense not to take a few minutes to pick them up. Many believe they cost $25 to rent, but this is simply a deposit you’ll pay when you pick it up, and then get back when you return it.


3.         Spending the entire day at the park will benefit no one

This is a crucial, crucial tip that many people overlook. They feel they’ve spent thousands of dollars on their Disney trip and they want to get the most bang from their buck by spending as much time in the parks as possible. Note that it’s about quality not quantity. Would you rather spend 6 hours in the parks and avoid meltdowns entirely, or spend 14 hours in the parks while everyone whined and cried for 8 of those hours?

We hope you liked this article please click here for more special needs help.