Maximizing the Fun on Orlando Vacations with Teenagers

May 28th, 2015

You love your teenager, and you’re excited to go head out on a magical trip to Orlando with them. However, there’s no question that sometimes their attitudes and moods can be unpredictable. We recently ran across a great article called Traveling With Teens – Less Angst, More Thanks, and it has some excellent tips. Check out our favorites below!

orlandovacation_teen-vacation-home-bedroomGive them their space and they’ll thank you for it

One of the simplest things you can do will have the biggest impact: give your teens some space! Rent an Orlando vacation home with several bedrooms and let them enjoy their privacy. This will prevent everyone from getting on each other’s nerves after days touring local Orlando attractions, will give parents a chance to spend time with one another, and will give teens the opportunity to recharge and reconnect when the time is right.

Make them a part of the planning process

Teenagers can become sulky when they believe they’re being forced to do something – even if it’s something they want to do! An easy way to avoid this problem is to get them involved in the planning process. Show them the various parks you could visit, check out the homes you could rent, and let them have a say. Once you’ve made the main plans, put them in charge of one aspect of your trip. It could be dining, it could be which parks to visit on which days – whatever it is, they’ll be more excited about the trip if they’re more involved.

Let your kids have some time alone in the world

Your teen will love the freedom of exploring Orlando on their own! Of course this doesn’t mean you just hand them the keys to the car and wish them well. You might give them an afternoon or evening to explore the World Showcase or Magic Kingdom on their own, or perhaps you can give them an allowance and drop them off at Downtown Disney for a few hours. You’ll obviously make sure you have your typical safety protocol in place, but giving them this chance to explore on their own can make a big difference in the quality of their trip – and their attitude!

orlandovacation_shopping-downtown-disney

Be willing to make concessions for sleeping in

Veterans of theme parks know that one of the key ways to avoid lines and the hottest times of day is to get to the parks when they open. While this will certainly save you time and hassle, keep in mind that it may come at a price with teens. They need their sleep – it’s not just a preference, it’s biology! If sleeping in for a few extra hours means happier teens all day long, then it may be well worth it.

Behave Yourself! 5 Essential Tips for Group Trips to Orlando

May 27th, 2015

Whether you’re taking your kid’s soccer team or a group of best friends from college, a group trip to Orlando is not without its challenges. While you’ll certainly do your best to research all the hotels, food options, and discount ticket choices, have you taken the time to consider how you can be on your best behavior? Many regular Disney World veterans have a long list of complaints about large groups traveling together. Follow these tips to stay off their naughty lists.

1.         Line-holding is frowned upon

Many groups assume that just one person needs to hold a space in line. As that person gets closer to the attraction, the rest of their group can simply skirt around those waiting in line to join their party, right? While some Cast Members may let you get away with it, you’ll be treated to lots of nasty stares from those who’ve been waiting patiently. Not only are you skipping ahead of them, but they’ll have to maneuver themselves in tight quarters to let you get by.

orlandovacation_family-group-travel

2.         Remember that other people can hear you

Orlando is exciting! Your group is going to be excited, and there’s nothing wrong with letting it show – to a point. Many people complain about loud chanting and singing by large groups. It’s great to see enthusiasm, but when that enthusiasm is so loud that it makes it impossible for others to carry on a simple conversation, it’s gone too far.

3.         Be considerate of your hotel neighbors

The reality is that the walls in hotels are not sound proof. If you’re traveling with a large group and there are 2, 3, or even 4 people staying in the same room, it’s not unusual that there will be some gabbing all night long. However, remember that others in adjoining rooms are trying to sleep. A simple solution to this issue is to rent an Orlando vacation home that allows you to get all the space you need without worrying about waking up the neighbors.

orlandovacation_group-travel-disney-world

4.         Don’t take more than you need

When you visit a counter service restaurant and see a napkin dispenser, you may think, “I should grab some from the group!” That’s awfully considerate of you – but remember that other people may have had the same thought. This can lead to dozens of wasted napkins for no good reason. It’s true of all sorts of things – don’t assume you’re the only one grabbing for your group and avoid the waste.

5.         Watch where you’re going

Large groups want to stay together, and they should – but not when it means taking up the entire sidewalk. Be especially aware of those pushing strollers or traveling in wheelchairs, as they can’t stop quickly just because they see a few dozen people headed directly for them.

Grandparents on the Run to Disney World: To Surprise or Not to Surprise?

May 26th, 2015

So you’ve decided to take the grandkids to Disney World. Everyone is in for a trip full of fun, wonder, and magic! Some grandparents wonder what could make at trip like this more magical and an answer quickly comes to them: make it a surprise! For some families this makes sense but for other it can cause unforeseen problems. Let’s take a peek at some of the pros and cons of surprising versus not surprising.

Consider the preferences of your grandchildren

You’ll obviously think about whether or not your grandchildren even like surprises. Some love them, while others prefer a more orderly world where they can prepare for even exciting surprises. Don’t get so caught up in the idea of how joyful you’ll feel to surprise them that you forget this trip is all about the kids.

orlandovacation_grandparents-disney-trip

Consider the schedules of your grandchildren

Even if your grandchildren are the types who’d love a surprise, remember that they have lots going on in their lives. Their parents may be able to find a time to visit Disney World that wouldn’t affect their ability to make it to soccer practices and other scheduling conflicts, but they may be making plans with their friends or looking forward to activities their parents aren’t taking into consideration. Sometimes planning dates and times with your grandchildren can be the best plan to assure they don’t have to choose between a trip to Disney World and other commitments.

Consider the schedules of your children

orlandovacation_disney-world-grandparent-tripOf course the grandkids aren’t the only ones you’ll speak to. There may be a specific week during which your kids would love some time to themselves, perhaps because their work schedules will be busy, or maybe they want an adventure all their own. Don’t make plans without first involving the parents. If the parents are interested in being involved in every single aspect of the trip, then surprising the grandkids may not be the best idea, as the many meetings you’ll need to have with their parents may get suspicious.

Consider how much your grandchildren like planning

This one can go either way. Are your grandkids the type who like to sit down with park maps and plot out the course for the day? Do they want a say in which resort or vacation home you rent? For some of us, planning is half the fun! You wouldn’t want to take that away from the grandkids. For others, we’re just ready to go – go – go. If your grandkids fall into the latter category, then they’d likely love to have you simply show up at their house someday with a pre-planned trip ready to go.

Happy Memorial Day 2015

May 25th, 2015

memorial-day

OrlandoVacation would like to thank the brave men and women of our Armed Forces both past and present. And wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day!

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!

orlandovacation_regal-palm-resort-condos

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!

discount-tickets

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!

orlandovacation_space-mountain-line

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.

orlandovacation_311-carryons

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.

orlandovacation_disney-world-breakfast

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!