FAQ About Taking the Little Ones to Universal Orlando

May 19th, 2015

It’s always nerve-wracking to take the little ones to a new location for the first time. Will they have baby-changing stations? What happens if you need to nurse? What rides can infants ride on? What about bringing in outside food and drink? These are all normal questions with simple answers. We make it easy for you by providing all the guidance you need!

Are there baby changing stations in both men’s and women’s restrooms?

Universal Orlando is comprised of two theme parks, both of which have diaper changing stations in both the men and women’s bathrooms. Not all bathrooms are equipped with these stations, but the maps you get at the gate will clearly indicate which ones you can visit.

orlandovacation_stroller-informationWhat if someone gets a boo-boo?

There are first-aid locations at the front of both theme parks. Just take your tot there for band-aids and other simple first aid supplies.

What if I’m nursing while in the parks?

Both parks have nursing stations at the front of each theme park. These stations are designed to give you privacy and comfort. If you have trouble finding them, just ask a theme park employee for help.

Where can I get strollers?

You can rent either single or double strollers at the entrance of both parks. Note that you can also bring your own stroller. If you’re traveling via plane and don’t want to bring your own stroller, but you don’t want to pay the somewhat high prices of renting one in the parks, you can rent from a local company that will drop it off at your resort or vacation home. However, many people find it worth the convenience to pay the extra fee to rent in the parks and drop it off at the end of the day.

What is the ticket costs for toddlers?

The great news is that children under 3 years old get in free! This makes it an even smarter move to bring the little ones to Orlando.

Is there anything for little kids to do at Universal Orlando?

orlandovacation_woody-woodpeckers-kidzoneYes! The Universal parks are known as great options for roller-coaster-lovers, but there’s lots for the little ones to do too. There are numerous children’s play areas in both parks, including:

  • If I Ran the Zoo
  • Me Ship the Olive
  • Cam Jurassic
  • Fievel’s Playland
  • Curious George Goes to Town
  • Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone

Some of these features include water play and fountains, which are a great way to keep your kids cool on those hot summer days. Just be sure to bring a bathing suit or change of clothes so they can get dry!

Are there lockers to rent?

Bringing a baby can mean lugging around a lot of stuff. There are lockers available for rent at numerous locations and they’re a great way to bring that extra change of clothing without having to carry it all day.

Ready to Save on Orlando Vacation Homes?

May 18th, 2015

Why spend more on your Orlando vacation home than you need to? When you work with Orlandovacation.com you get tons of amenities, incredible homes, convenient locations – and great special offers. Check out the latest discount opportunities and contact us directly to learn about any other offers that may be available.

Book longer and save

If you book either an Orlando vacation townhome or condo for more than 5 nights you can save instantly with a $50 coupon. Remember that all homes require a minimum 3 night stay, or 5 days if you’re visiting during peak times of the year, so adding just a few extra nights to this minimum can save you significantly over your total trip. $50 is enough to buy a meal for an entire family of 4!

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Get guaranteed low prices on theme park tickets

When you’re a guest in our vacation homes you can take advantage of the lowest theme park ticket prices we have available. This includes not only Disney World tickets but tickets to the Universal parks as well as a variety of others like SeaWorld, LegoLand, Wet ‘n’ Wild, and more!

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Save yourself the time of picking up your own tickets

Not only do we offer the biggest discounts on theme park tickets to guests in our vacation homes, but we’ll deliver them right to your vacation home. Save yourself the time and hassle of driving and let us bring them straight to you!

Ask us about our convenient shuttle service

orlandovacation_amentities-kitchenDo you want to avoid the $15+ fee for parking at the theme parks every day? Do you want to skip the long wait getting in and out of the parking lots? Then take advantage of our shuttle service! Not only will you save the hassle, but the time you spend commuting can be spent with your family, sitting back and relaxing, instead of navigating Orlando traffic. Give us a call to learn more about this service.

Choose the home and amenities you want

Other companies may require you to pay before you’ve even chosen the home you’ll be staying in. We know that some homes work better for some families than others. That’s why we let you pick the home you’ll be staying in. This allows you to decide which amenities are right for you – and helps you avoid paying a higher price for amenities that aren’t important to you. Some of the amenities can even save you money! For example, if you choose a home with a large, fully stocked kitchen you can buy your own groceries and prepare your own meals. Even if you do this for a single meal, think of all the money you could save!

Disney World for Beginners: Don’t Forget to Pack!

May 16th, 2015

As you get ready for your first trip to Disney World you’ve got a lot of things to keep track of. You have to find the right resort hotel or vacation home, you have to get your discount tickets in hand, and you have to plan your time accordingly. In the hustle and bustle of getting all of these elements lined up, it’s easy to forget to pack your essentials. Take a look at these commonly forgotten items you won’t want to leave behind.

orlandovacation_hat-sunny-daySun protection

No matter what time of year you’re traveling to Orlando, you need sun protection! Even in the cooler months, even on days where the sun never peeks out between the clouds, you need sun protection. Bring hats, sunscreen, and whatever else you need to stay shaded from the sun.

Weather protection

You never know what the Orlando weather is going to throw at you. No matter how many times you check the 10-day forecast leading up to your trip, you could still be in for a surprise. That’s why you should bring appropriate weather protection, which includes lightweight jackets for cool nights, ponchos from the dollar store that can be thrown away after a rain storm, and open toed shoes that dry easily after a downpour.

Medical information

If you’re in charge of packing for your family, it’s likely you’re also the one in the family who knows everyone’s medical needs, medications, and more. But what if something happens to you? What if you’re away from your family when an accident occurs? Write down all the pertinent details and let someone else know where you’re carrying it at all times. In the event the worst happens, getting medical care will be faster, easier, and of higher quality if this information is easily accessible.

orlandovacation_mickey-mouse-autographSwimming supplies

Many Disney World guests get so excited planning for rides that they forget to think about the rest of their trip. Your resort hotel or private vacation home likely has a pool, and taking a dunk in the middle of the day is a great way to recharge and to cool off. Remember not only your bathing suit but pool supplies too, like noodles, toes, inflatables, and anything else you need to make swimming fun and playful.

Postcards, Disney t-shirts, and autograph books

It’s true that you’re likely going to want to buy souvenirs while you’re at Disney World, but an easy way to save money and hassle is to bring a few down with you. Buy t-shirts, postcards, and autograph books online to save money for unique souvenirs and keepsakes you’ll only find in the Disney parks.

Parenting at Disney: A Dad’s Guide to Proper Manners

May 15th, 2015

There’s no doubt you work hard to instill proper manners in your kids at home, but what about on vacation? Do you let some of the rules slide? While there’s nothing wrong with giving kids a little more leeway in certain aspects while you’re on vacation, it’s also true that there are some hard and fast rules you should be sure they abide – some of which are specific to the Disney parks.

Line cutting is frowned upon

If you frequent the Disney boards you’ll quickly learn that one of the most hotly contested issues is whether or not it’s acceptable for one family member to get in line and for the rest to join them once they get closer to the front. While some argue that it’s fine, the consensus is that it’s not acceptable. One thing’s for sure – you’ll get lots of nasty looks if your try it!

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Of course there are special circumstances. For example, if your family gets in line together and a little one needs to use the restroom, it’s fine to get out of line, take care of business, and join the rest of your party when you’re done. In some cases some members of the family have physical limitations that prevent them from waiting in line. If this is the case for your family, stop by Guest Services to see if you’re eligible for a pass that allows you to get a return time at each ride and then skip the line once your time comes up.

Joy is great – screaming is not

Your kids are going to be excited – and they should be – it’s Disney World! While the laughter of children is certainly expected and appreciated in the parks, don’t let your kids scream at the top of their lungs for the entirety of your stay. Remember that there are other people there, many of whom are tired and dealing with their own challenges.

orlandovacation_main-street-disney-strollersWatch out for strollers

If your kids are old enough not to need strollers then you may not give strollers a second though. You should though. Why? Because there are still plenty of parents there trying to get through the crowds with their strollers. While some without strollers will get miffed at getting hit in the shins or stroller-clad moms and dads cutting them off, a much larger problem is people stepping in front of strollers without considering that they’re not the easiest things in the world to stop or turn on a dime.

They don’t have the run of the place

Keeping your kids in eyeshot is always a good rule of thumb, but remember that just because you can see them doesn’t mean they can run around bothering other guests. This is especially true in restaurants. If they need to work off a little steam, take them outside, find an out of the way walkway, and let them run to their heart’s content – without bothering anyone.

5 Tips for Orlando Business Travelers to Minimize Travel Time

May 14th, 2015

When you’re traveling a lot for business saving just a few minutes on each trip can add up over time. If you don’t have a plan for saving time when you travel, then you’re wasting precious time. Check out these helpful pointers to get to your destination more quickly and easily.

Avoid checking a bag at all costs

If there’s no getting around checking a bag, then obviously you’ll have to do it. But if it’s at all possible for you not to – skip it. Not only do you have to deal with the hassle and wasted time of waiting for it to show up on the carousel, but what if it gets lost? You’ll spend more time, and possibly money, getting all you need for business trip. Consider compression sacs that let you pack a lot more into a smaller bag.

Follow the 3-1-1 rule

The TSA has very specific requirements for bringing liquids in your carryon. Familiarize yourself with their 3-1-1 rule, which stats that all toiletries must have less than 3.4 ounces of liquid and they must all be in a 1 quart, clear, zip-top bag. Can you get through security if you don’t follow these rules to the letter? It’s likely that you will, but it’ll require the TSA agent to hand check your bag and put you through additional screening – which is a serious time waster.

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Leave the laces at home

If possible, wear shoes that don’t have laces. This allows you to quickly and easily remove them and get them back on in a hurry. Of course this isn’t always an option for business travelers trying to keep all their belongings in a carry on, as they’ll then need to pack their dress shoes, but remember that there are many slip-on dress shoe options that may work for you.

orlandovacation_tsa-precheckApply for expedited traveler status

If you travel frequently there is no reason you shouldn’t apply for expedited traveler status through any number of programs, including TSA Pre✓ for domestic travel or Nexus, Sentri or Global Entry for international travel. These fast lanes can save you as much as an hour every time you’re at the airport.

Don’t forget to download essential apps

You may not have access to WiFi on the plane – even if your flight states that WiFi is available. As a result, make sure you have the apps and data stored that you need. For example, most airlines will allow you to visit their own website and use their apps even if you don’t purchase WiFi. However, you may not be able to download it without said WiFi. The easy, quick – and affordable – way around this is to download it ahead of time.

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Disney World Trip

May 13th, 2015

Everyone wants to go to Disney World – but not everyone can afford it. Some of us have to save for years and finding little ways to save a lot can pay off big. Family Vacation Critic posted an interesting article on 9 Secrets to Saving Big at Disney World. We liked many of their tips and have included 5 of them below.

orlandovacation_hotel-near-disney-world1.         Stay close to the parks

Most people know if they’re going to save money they’re better off not staying at one of the Disney resorts. These hotels can cost up to $700 a night and even the “value” options aren’t a good deal for what you get. While it does pay to stay in a non-Disney hotel, you should avoid the temptation to stay as far away as possible. After all, the further away you get, the lower the prices are. The reality though is that if you have to spend an hour just getting to the parks every morning, that $20 you save won’t likely be worth it. Stick with affordable off-site resorts within 15 minutes of the park.

2.         Travel with another family

Do you have a family you’re close to that would also love to visit Disney World? If you can travel together you could save significantly! Drive and split the gas prices, rent an Orlando vacation home starting at just $99 per night that affords plenty of privacy, and take turns watching the kids so you can enjoy an adult’s only night out!

3.         Split meals

One of the biggest costs of your vacation will be meals. If you rent a vacation home you can prepare many of your meals, but you’re likely to have to buy food in the parks at some point. Consider sharing larger meals. For example, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom both have counter service restaurants with platters for just over $11 that include half a chicken, half a rack of ribs, and 2 sides. That’s plenty to share, even for several hungry vacation-goers!

4.         Stick to breakfast and lunch

If they’re going to eat just one meal in the parks, many families make the mistake of choosing dinner. There are several reasons this likely won’t pay off. First, it’s generally more expensive than breakfast and lunch, second you’ll be wasting valuable park time when lines are short, and third it will be more crowded at the restaurants you want to visit. Breakfast tends to be the most affordable, but a mid-afternoon lunch break around either 11 AM or 3 PM will allow you to get lower prices while still beating the crowds.

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5.         Set a budget and stick to it!

Much of the cost can come from last minute expenses like kids insisting on getting Mickey ears. Talk to them before the trip, let them know exactly what their budget is, and stick to it!

Planning a Wedding in Orlando: 4 Unique Options for a Rehearsal Dinner

May 12th, 2015

Whether you’re having your wedding in the parks, or are simply getting married in Orlando, there’s a lot of Disney love to go around! You’ll have tons to plan for – including the location of your rehearsal dinner. Check out these unique options that will create a night everyone will remember for years to come.

1.         Dinner within the Disney theme parks

There are literally hundreds of restaurants within the Disney theme parks. You’ll have so many options here, from affordable counter service restaurants to sit-down dinners that will cost hundreds of dollars per person – and everything in between! If you are going to do a sit-down dinner, make sure you make your reservations as far in advance as possible and make Disney know of any allergy issues. You’ll also have to make sure that everyone has valid park admission on the day you’re dining, as it is required to get into the parks.

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2.         Dinner at a Walt Disney World Resort restaurant

If everyone in your party doesn’t plan to have park admission on the day of your rehearsal dinner, but you really want a very Disneyfied experience, you’re not out of luck! You can still choose to have dinner at one of the Disney World resorts. Once again, you have tons of options with different cuisines, price points, and popularity. A common misconception is that you have to be a guest at the resorts to eat there. This is simply not the case! You can save by renting Orlando vacation homes and then head to a resort for dinner.

3.         Sample tastes from around the world

There’s no question that Orlando is a foodie’s paradise! There are so many delicious cuisines to try. One popular place that manages to tow the line between casual and upscale is Café Tu Tu Tango. There you can sample dishes prepared with an international flavor in mind. What’s more, this restaurant is built to mimic an upscale artist’s loft. Browse the colorful, unique, local artwork – and then buy a favorite piece to take home with you!

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4.         Get trendy in Thornton Park

For younger wedding parties – or those that are just young at heart – Mucho Tequila is a great spot. Located in the trendy Thornton Park neighborhood, there you can not only eat some of the most delicious food in Orlando, but you can sample 130 different types of tequila! Be sure to check out the unique apparel they have for sale, too! Your rehearsal dinner will be more than just a dinner – it’ll be an opportunity to shop for unique goods from around the world.

4 Ways to Save HUGE by Renting a Vacation Home in Orlando

May 11th, 2015

Many people assume that visiting Orlando is not a particular affordable vacation to take. However, there are some great tips you can take advantage of to save BIG on your next trip to Orlando – and it all starts with renting a vacation home. Not only are these homes as affordable as just $99 a night, but there are tons of ways they can cut down your costs – if you use them the right way.

1.         Cut your food budget in half

There are three main expenses to any vacation: accommodations, travel expenses, and food. When you rent an Orlando vacation home you can literally cut down your food costs by half. How? By taking advantage of the full kitchen! Stop by a local grocery store when you first get to your home, stock up on stuff for breakfast and lunch, and see your food budget shrink. You can cook a full meal for breakfast – complete with eggs, toast, and bacon – or you can simply grab some yogurt to go. For lunch, bring in sandwiches, granola bars, fruit, or whatever will give your family the fuel it needs!

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2.         Just say “No!” to extra baggage fees

At $25 each way for most major airlines, baggage fees for your party can add up! Many Orlando vacation homes include washers and dryers, which allows you to pack a lot less, without wasting time at a local laundromat. Just throw a load in before you head to the parks in the morning, put it in the dryer when you get back to the home, and fold it up before going to bed. You’ll save both time and money when you have access to a washer and dryer in your home.

3.         Skip the waterparks

There’s a lot to love at the local water parks, and they can make a great low-key day – especially during the hotter, busier times of summer. However, access to these parks can add up. Most Orlando resorts will have a pool, but they’ll be packed during the busy times of day and your family may not get to enjoy it as much as they should. The answer? A private pool and Jacuzzi in your very own rental home.

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4.         Enjoy one or more days away from the parks

One of the easiest ways to save money is to stay away from the parks! Even an “off day” can result in some pretty big expenditures, as you drive by souvenir shops and stop for a quick bite that turns into a hundred dollar or more meal. When you have an entire house to yourself you can relax, watch some TV, take a walk around the neighborhood, or play board games with your family. And all while saving money!

Legoland Orlando Guests With Disabilities: Get Ready for Your Trip

May 9th, 2015

With so many theme parks in the Orlando area it can be difficult for guests with special needs to remember which park has which restrictions and special access passes. The majority of attractions and rides at Florida’s Legoland are handicapped accessible, and Hero Passes can help you avoid waiting in lines. Let’s take a deeper look to get you the information you need before your trip.

orlandovacatin_the-dragon-legolandMuch of the information you need is found within the parks

When you arrive at Legoland your first step should be to grab a park map. On it you’ll find detailed information about which rides are ADA accessible for guests in wheelchairs or with other special needs. At the entrance of every ride you’ll see a board labeled “Let’s Have Fun And Be Safe,” which will give you information on what safety restrictions apply to each ride.

Waiting in line together

Almost all rides at Legoland those in wheelchairs can wait with their party. The exceptions are:

  • Safari Trek
  • Coastersaurus
  • The Dragon
  • Aquazone Wave Racers

Getting on and off of rides

The staff at Legoland, referred to as Model Citizens, are ready, willing, and able to help with specific access to special ride compartments, it’s against company policy to lift you direction into or out of a ride. However, your family members and helpers are likely much more informed about your unique needs and conditions and are therefore better suited to help anyway.

For that reason, Legoland prefers that those needing special assistance or help into or out of an attraction ride with someone who can help. In the event of an emergency or ride evacuation, the help you need will be right there with you.

orlandovacation_legoland-floridaSpecial help for hearing disabilities

If you have a hearing disability then you’ll be glad to learn that Legoland has you covered there too. You’ll find special accommodations available in the park. The best way to make sure you have access to these special accommodations is to contact Guest Services at least two weeks before your visit. They can be reached at: 877-350-LEGO.

Get detailed information on the Guests with Disabilities brochure

Legoland really goes the extra mile to make it as easy as possible for you to enjoy their parks. You’ll find their Guests with Disabilities brochure within the park. It details every ride and what’s required from riders. For example, for the Junior Fire Academy the brochure says: “A slow moving ride that travels in a circular direction. Guests must be able to sit upright and transfer from wheelchair to ride. A helper is recommended. Disability access is via the exit.” You can also view the brochure online.

Teenagers and Disney World: Unique Experiences for Your Almost-Grown-Up Kids

May 8th, 2015

The teenage years can be a tricky time to take the kids to Disney World. Of course they’ll love the magical experiences they loved as kids, but they’ll crave new things that make them feel like the almost-grown-ups they are. Take a peek at these unique ideas that give them a chance to try out their wings.

orlandovacation_teens-signature-diningTake them on their first signature dining experience

Disney World is well known for many things, including the huge number of incredible dining options. While you’ve likely taken the kids to some of the more whimsical options, like ‘50s Sci-Fi Dine-In, or some of the character meet and greets, have you considered taking them to a Signature Dining spot?

Some require fancy dress, though others only require “theme park casual”, which generally means no bathing suits or flip flops. If you want to get gussied up for the night, go for it! If you want to experience an adult dining experience without the hassle of bringing your fanciest duds, you can do that too! Generally speaking, the signature dining restaurants in the parks do not require fancy dress, while those at the resorts do.

Pamper them with spa services

There are many spas located throughout the Orlando area, including options at Disney resorts like the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Just head to the Magic Kingdom and take a leisurely boat ride to the spa. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be staying at the Grand Floridian to take advantage of these services. Use the hundreds you save by staying at an offsite Orlando hotel or vacation home to treat your teens to a massage, facial, and other services.

orlandovacation_teens-shopping-downtown-disneyLet them spend an afternoon at Downtown Disney

Sure, you likely let your kids hang out at the mall or go to the movies on their own, but imagine how exciting it will be for them to have an afternoon on their own in a new city. Of course, as the parent, you may be nervous about this idea. That’s why Downtown Disney is a great idea.

You can sit at a café and have a cup of coffee, knowing that you’re just moments away from them if they need you. Give your teen an allowance for the afternoon and let them explore! They may decide to treat themselves to lunch, visit Disney Quest, take a hot air balloon ride, or shop to their heart’s content. No matter what they choose to do, it’ll be a special experience for them and it’ll be a great way for you to earn some serious cool-parent-points they’ll talk about for years to come.