Is SeaWorld Orlando Appropriate for Teenagers?

November 25th, 2014

SeaWorld Orlando is a popular theme park, but many believe that it’s best suited for younger and older visitors. It’s a common misconception that this park, which is part teaching environment, part thrill ride environment, and part relaxing aquarium, is not a hit with teenagers. While it will of course depend on your particular teens, the truth is that there’s a lot for the teen crowd to love here.

Take in the thrilling roller coasters

You may not realize that there are actually several roller coasters at SeaWorld Orlando. While you may know it as the place where Shamu lives, there are actually three serious roller coasters.

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  1. Kraken. This mammoth roller coaster reaches the fastest speeds of any of the SeaWorld attractions.
  2. Manta. If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to fly, this is a great choice. It’s the world’s only flying roller coaster.
  3. Journey at Atlantis. Both a roller coaster and a water ride, this one will leave you feeling wet and wild.

If you want to take on these beasts, your best bet is to wait until the sun goes down. Not only will you get to ride through the beautiful dusk light, but you’ll also get to skip most of the lines.

Interact with the animals

SeaWorld Orlando isn’t just about looking at and admiring the sea creatures. It’s true that there are plenty of exhibits where the animals will be off limits, but you can also get up close and personal in a number of ways. Whether it’s signing up to watch the animals be fed, or adding an extra package to actually swim with the dolphins, there are many interactive exhibits.

Stop at SeaWorld’s Aquatica

If your teens are water lovers, don’t miss Aquatica, SeaWorld’s unique water park. There are numerous thrill rides within this park, including the all-new in 2014 Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, which features 105 feet of incredible water fun! There are also your typical water park rides and attractions, plus a few great choices for little ones. Essentially, Aquatica is a hit for guests of all ages – including teenagers.

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Don’t underestimate your teenagers

Remember that for many teenagers, being on vacation means all bets are off. Even teenagers who are going through a phase where nothing can impress them may surprise you. Give them all the options at SeaWorld Orlando and you may be surprised by how they embrace some rides or attractions that they’d otherwise find cheesy or “for kids.” And no matter what happens, remember you’re on vacation too! Take the time to experience what you want to experience too.

If you’re planning to head to SeaWorld Orlando on your next vacation, make sure you check out these useful planning tips and discount theme park tickets.

Incredible Tips for Group Travel Planning

November 24th, 2014

Whether you’ve planned a dozen group trips, or you’re just starting to plan your first, there’s no question that you have plenty of difficult decisions to make. We found a great blog post written by SuperShuttle that outlines Tips for Successful Group Trip Planning. You can check it out there or grab the highlights below.

Put a single person in charge

No matter the size of your group, whether it’s 10 or 1,000, the first step is to decide on a group leader. Even if that leader delegates tasks to others, there should be a single point person so everyone knows who to contact and what to do if there is an issue. This person will be the go-to person for everything from airfare, to hotels, to ground transportation. Again, they may parcel out the specific work, but if there is a problem you’d know to contact the group leader first so they could point you in the right direction.

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Gather information about your group

There may nothing as important when planning a group trip as doing the right research. The information you should gather will start with the main details, like the number of people traveling, the dates you’ll be traveling, where you’ll be staying in the Orlando area, and billing information. Once you have the basics, you’ll move on to gather information about the general needs of the group as well as specific needs.

For example, find out if anyone has food allergies, if anyone needs ADA accessible vehicles, or if there are any health issues that need to be addressed. This information will affect travel in the ways you imagine, but it could also have an impact in ways you wouldn’t think of. Having this information upfront makes the planning process much easier, and can prevent big problems down the road.

Don’t forget about ground transportation

orlandovacation_group-transportationYou won’t forget to handle your Orlando vacation home rental or resort hotel reservation, but one factor that many groups overlook is their ground transportation. You’ll have many options, including public transportation, airport shuttles, airport transfers, taxis, charters, and luxury sedan and SUV rentals.

Note that many of these options are simply not reasonable for larger groups. For example, a group of 50 is going to have a tough time finding enough cabs, and taking public transit is likely not a great option. You may decide to rent a passenger van so you’ll have plenty of room during the entirety of your trip.

Keep your group in the loop

It’s not enough for the group leader to know the details of your trip – those traveling in your group should also know what to expect. Send out weekly emails when you have information to share so that people aren’t bogged down with too much information, but they do have the pertinent information.

5 Tips for Taking Your Grandkids to Universal Studios

November 23rd, 2014

If you’re one of the many older adults who feel that they can’t possibly keep up with the grandkids at a theme park like Universal Orlando, there’s good news for you! There are so many great things for people to do of all ages, and Universal does a great job making sure everything is accessible. Check out these 5 tips to increase your fun.

orlandovacation_ecv-rental1.         Rent an Electronic Convenience Vehicle

Electronic convenience vehicles, otherwise known as ECVs, are electronic wheelchairs that help those with mobility issues quickly and easily get where they need to be going. Remember that even if you have no trouble walking around your hometown, Universal requires a ton of walking and it’s easy to get overwhelmed before you realize it. When you get to the attractions, you’ll either park your ECV in a secured area and walk on the ride, or you can stick to the rides that allow you to drive it right on.

2.         Choose Your Parks Wisely

There are 2 parks within Universal: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. When you buy your discount theme park tickets you can choose a ticket that’s good for one or both parks. Note that Islands of Adventure has many more thrill rides, while Universal Studios has more shows and easy-going attractions.

3.         Pack Your Bag Wisely

You can bring a bag of any size into the parks, and you should be wise in what you put in it. Smart choices include:

  • Snacks
  • Sunblock
  • First aid supplies
  • A favorite toy for each grandkid
  • Emergency phone numbers

Though you do want to bring enough, make sure you’re not packing so much that your bag becomes burdensome to carry throughout the day.

orlandovacation_assisted-listening-device4.         Find Out What Your Options Are

If you have special needs, it’s important to find out what your options are before you head to the parks. For example, there are a few rides at Universal that allow oxygen tanks on the rides. Assistive listening devices are available at guest relations booths. These devices help amplify the sound on a variety of attractions, and there are also personal transmitters that can caption songs and information in queues and attractions. Some shows have sign language interpreters too! Do a little research before you head out so you’ll know how your unique needs will be met.

5.         Use All Your Resources!

Don’t assume that because you raised your own kids you know the best way to discipline and / or reward your grandchildren. With the gadgets kids have these days, plus the higher focus on safety and security, it’s simply not the world it used to be. Talk to their parents in-depth before you leave and be sure everyone’s on the same page.

We hope you liked this article, please click here for more articles concerning taking grand kids to Orlando.

4 Tips for Taking the Kiddos to Disney World

November 21st, 2014

Let’s face it: traveling to Disney World with young kids can be a challenge. While your goal is to ensure a magical experience for everyone, it can be less than perfect if you don’t make a point to follow a few tips. We recently enjoyed a blog that included 9 Tips for Preparing to Visit Disney World with Kids and have picked out our top 4 from that list. Check it out below.

orlandovacation_ride-height-requirement1.         Height may be more important than age

If you’re like many parents, you’ve likely spent quite a chunk of time researching what the right age is to take the kids for their first Disney World visit. You may have found some advice about choosing the right age, but for many families it’s actually more about height. There are no Disney rides that require a child to be a certain age, but many DO require them to be a certain height.

2.         Taking the kids out of school may be worth it

In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to make any sacrifices to have the perfect Disney trip. However, if your only option is to take the kids during school breaks, you’ll not only be dealing with larger crowds but you’ll be paying a premium. You can often get deep discounts if you go during the slower months, plus you can get much more done with the smaller crowds. Just be sure you check with your school district to make sure there aren’t any significant consequences for taking them out of school for a few days.

orlandovacation_backpack-for-snacks3.         Bring a backpack just for sweaters and sweatshirts

If you’re able to visit during the colder months, remember that it can be quite chilly in the morning and get warm in the afternoon. Don’t make the mistake of bundling everyone up without bringing a backup to stow the extra layers when you don’t need them, or you’ll end up weighed down with sweaters all day.

4.         Pay attention to your child’s needs

It’s easy to get so caught up in the advice of others that you don’t take your own kid’s unique needs into consideration. For example, some kids are fine to ride thrill rides at a younger age, but if you know your child doesn’t like being in dark places, doesn’t like being confined, or has a specific fear, listen to them when they tell you they’d rather not try a ride. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your kids to push through their fear, but don’t let it turn into a meltdown over something that simply isn’t worth it. Listen to your kids and let them call the shots – after all, it’s their first visit to Disney World!

We hope you enjoyed this article, please click here for more articles about taking young children to Disney World.

Frequently Asked Questions about Holidays in Orlando

November 20th, 2014

So you’re planning your first visit to Orlando during the holidays. Congratulations! You have an incredible experience in front of you. The good news is that you’ll have tons of special events to attend and lots of holiday cheer – assuming you plan accordingly. Take a look at these frequently asked questions that will assure you’re on the right path toward enjoying your trip to the max.

What are crowd levels like during the holiday season?

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about traveling to Orlando during the holiday season is that the parks will be empty. The truth is that the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the busiest of the year for Disney World and Orlando. Why? Because plenty of families have this time off of school and they’re ready to escape colder climates to take advantage of a warmer holiday season in Orlando.

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What’s the best way to get discounts during Christmas and New Year’s?

Now that you know it’s the busiest time of the year, you likely aren’t surprised to know that there aren’t a ton of discounts available. After all, Disney and Universal typically only offer deep discounts when they’re trying to fill rooms. However, you can still get discounted park tickets and save big by staying in a local resort hotel, rather than staying on Disney or Universal property. Larger families can find the best discounts by renting an Orlando vacation home.

Do the parks do anything special for the holidays?

Yes! All the theme parks in Orlando go to great lengths to make your holiday trip a truly special and magical experience. From holiday-themed special events, special sweet treats, and tons and tons of decorations, you’ll find plenty of holiday cheer when you visit Orlando during the winter months.

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What’s the weather like in the winter?

Like many places, the temperature in Orlando can vary widely from day to day. Some Christmases see temperatures in the 80s while others see temperatures in the 50s. Your best bet is to plan for layers. Often it’ll be chilly in the morning, but once the sun comes out in full blast you’ll be ready for shorts and a t-shirt. If you’re renting a vacation home and are wondering if you should pay to have the pool heated, wait until a week before your trip, check the forecast, and make your decision then.

There’s no bad time to visit Orlando – no matter what time of year you visit us you’ll find tons of things to do, great weather, and lots of magic to be found. The above frequently asked questions will help you make the most of your time during the holiday season.

Keeping Mom Happy: A Dad’s Guide to the Perfect Couples Trip

November 19th, 2014

When you visit Disney World, you’re likely focusing on the kids – and for good reason! There’s no better place to unleash your child’s imagination than Walt Disney World. However, you may miss out on some great experiences if you skip over another fact: when you look at it the right way, there’s no place more romantic than Disney World. Check out these tips to assure it’s a trip that’s as great for Mom as it is for the kids.

Take Mom out for a night on the town

You may be hyperfocused on Disney World, but there are actually many ways you can make the most of the Orlando area. Check out CityWalk, near Universal, for lights of night life options, or rent a car and go into Orlando proper to sample some local flavor. There are theaters, bowling alleys, and nightclubs throughout the city, all of which would make a great night out.

orlandovacation_citywalk-universal-studios

Get a babysitter for the night

Of course one of the challenges to having some mom-dad time is figuring out what to do with the kids. Many parents don’t realize that there are babysitting companies in the Orlando area that can give you the night off. These are not your typical neighborhood teenagers – they’re highly vetted, background checked, and bonded. You may pay a premium for a few hours of their time, but they’ll come right to you and give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your night out on the town.

Give her some time to herself

Sure, Mom would love some time alone with her spouse, but it’s also true that she may just want to take an afternoon off to explore on her own. Perhaps she’ll head to Main Street to have her nails done, or perhaps she’ll want to lounge by the pool with an adult drink. Whatever way she chooses to spend the time alone, it’s at least worth asking if she’d like you to take the kiddos so she can relax and rejuvenate.

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Build special family memories

It’s nice to give Mom some time away from the kids, whether with you or by herself, but don’t forget that there may be family memories she wants to build, too. For example, if you’re a dad without daughters you may never consider a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but remember that Mom may find this a special experience – and there’s plenty there for boys to do, too! You can plan a special tea at the Grand Floridian, take a family portrait at Mom’s favorite ride, or find another unique family activity to do just for her.

We hope you liked this article, please click here for more article for dads taking the family to Disney World.

4 Tips for Saving Money at Disney World While Keeping Everyone Happy

November 18th, 2014

You do want your trip to Disney World to be a magical experience for everyone, but you also want to keep your budget under control. It can be difficult to say no to the kids when you want their trip to be perfect, but the good news is that there are a few tips that help you keep everyone happy – without spending more than you can afford.

orlandovacation_disney-souvenir1.         Be clear about expectations

One of the easiest ways to disappoint the kids is to not let them know what to expect. For example, if you’re not planning to spend money on souvenirs in the parks simply let them know before you get to Disney. If they know going in that they’re not going to be taking home any stuffed animals, key chains, and other knick knacks then they’ll be much less likely to be disappointed when they’re in the parks.

2.         Taking the kids out of school may be worth it

In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to make any sacrifices to have the perfect Disney trip. However, if your only option is to take the kids during school breaks, you’ll not only be dealing with larger crowds but you’ll be paying a premium. You can often get deep discounts if you go during the slower months, plus you can get much more done with the smaller crowds. Just be sure you check with your school district to make sure there aren’t any significant consequences for taking them out of school for a few days.

orlandovacation_disney-autograph-book3.         Bring souvenirs from home

You probably think of souvenirs as items you must buy in the parks or not buy them at all. The truth is that often the same merchandise can be bought elsewhere for a much lower price point. Head out to your local Disney store, or better yet hop online and shop online deals. Then bring autograph books, plush toys, or other souvenir-type items with your kids’ favorite characters on them. Give them to them on the last night of their trip and they’ll feel like they’re bringing home something special.

4.         Have a plan for splurging

If your budget allows for splurging at all, then you should consider picking one or two special events to splurge on. This can actually save you money in the long run! How? Simple: it’s easy to decide these extras are worth it once you’re at Disney and surrounded by the magic. If you set these limits on yourself you’ll be able to avoid splurging on other items. When you know a special experience is awaiting you, walking by the tempting options is much easier.

We hope you liked this article, please click here for more money saving tips.

4 Surprising Advantages of Renting an Orlando Vacation Home

November 17th, 2014

You know the main reasons it pays to rent an Orlando vacation home: tons of amenities, low prices, and lots of privacy. But do you know some of the more interesting reasons? Vacation home rentals allow you to be just minutes from the Disney theme parks, while affording you a level of luxury you won’t find at a hotel, but they do so much more!

orlandovacation_home-rental-game-room1.         Moving beyond your typical amenities

When people talk about how exceptional Orlando vacation homes are, they’ll often mention amenities like private pools, Jacuzzis, chef-quality kitchens, and washers and dryers in each unit. However, there are some really surprising amenities out there, too. For example, some of the homes we have for rent have pool tables, foosball tables, and backyard access to incredible golf courses. Just search through our inventory to see some of these truly special.

2.         Keep your money free

Not only can you save overall by renting a vacation home, you can also keep your money freed up for longer. Our homes require just a $50 deposit to hold them with the balance due 15 days before your trip. You can cancel anytime up to that 15 days point and still get most of your deposit back. This assures you have plenty of time to pay the balance – which allows you to buy your plane tickets, park tickets, and more.

orlandovacation_vacation-rental-living room3.         Staying out of the way

Some people think that leaving the “Disney bubble” is one of the disadvantages of staying in a vacation home. The opposite is actually true! You’ll be spending most days and nights in the park and will likely be surprised by how nice it is to return home to a quiet, adult-oriented home that allows you to simply kick back and relax. You won’t deal with crowds at the pool, you won’t deal with people waiting in line to buy a soda in a gift shop, you won’t deal with noise from excited kids. You’ll be able to simply enjoy your down time as it is.

4.         Save on parking fees

One of the advantages of staying at a Disney resort is that you can often get free parking in the theme parks. You may take this into consideration as you’re comparing your lodging options, but be sure you’re looking at the entire picture. After all, some resorts charge up to $25 a day just to park your car! This can be an incredible cost if you’re staying for more than a few days. As an added bonus, vacation homes not only have free parking but you’ll park right in front of your home, or even in a private garage. Say goodbye to the long trek back to your room you’ll find in other parking lots!

To rent a vacation home click here

Universal Orlando Attraction Assistance Pass 101

November 16th, 2014

If you’re planning a trip to Universal Orlando and you or someone in your party requires special needs assistance, then the Universal Orlando Attraction Assistance Pass, also known as AAP, is exactly what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at how to get it, use it, and benefit from it.

Where to get your pass

orlandovacation_attraction-assistance-passWhen you get to the park of your choosing, either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, head straight to Guest Services, which will be to the right after the turnstiles at both parks. Note that these AAP passes are not issued at the Guest Services windows outside the parks, or at CityWalk.

How to get your pass

You’ll simple walk to the window, let them know what you need, and answer any questions they ask you honestly. Some people recommend bringing a doctor’s note identifying what your medical situation is. Note that the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it very clear that not only are you not required to prove your special need – they are not allowed to ask for a specific diagnosis. You’ll find those at Guest Services to be highly trained in this process and there to help – not to hinder you.

Details on your AAP

The pass itself is a 4 inch by 9 inch card that has a barcode at the bottom and 25 lines for return times. If you’re an annual pass holder you can have it issued for up to 14 consecutive days, while those who buy daily tickets can have it issued for the entire length of their stay.

How to use your pass

A common misconception is that the AAP gives you instant access to the rides. This isn’t true! Instead, you go to the greeter at the attraction you want to visit and check the wait time. If it’s less than 30 minutes you’ll be directed to the alternative queue right away. In some cases it may be the Express Pass queue, in others it may be the attraction’s exit.

If the wait is in excess of 30 minutes, the greeter will write down your specific wait time on the back of your pass. When that time arrives, you just take your AAP back to the greeter and they’ll send you to the alternative-queue. After you’re done with the attraction you can go on to the next one.

You can only have one return time at a time, however – you can ride something else while you’re waiting. For example, if one ride has a 45 minute wait and you get a return time of 45 minutes later, you can visit any ride you’d like that has a shorter wait – you simply can’t use your AAP to avoid the line.

Please click here for more articles for special needs guest.

6 Ways to Get Teenagers to Embrace the Magic of Disney

November 15th, 2014

Teenagers can be a tough crowd to please! You’re looking forward to your Disney vacation, but they’re just thinking about what their friends are doing while they’re gone. The good news is that there are a few simple ways you can get them to embrace the magic available to them at Disney.

1.         Turn off the technology

orlandovacation_cell-phone-usageYou’ll probably get some pushback on this initially, but it’ll be worth it in the end. A great option is to say no cell phones in the parks. This forced them to take in the beauty and magic around them. Just be sure you come up with a plan to meet up if you get separated.

2.         Take them to their favorite childhood memories

What were your kid’s favorite movies when they were kids? From Finding Nemo to the Little Mermaid to Beauty and the Beast, there are many new rides and attractions that celebrate recent Disney classics.

3.         Find adult things for them to do

One of the complaints you may hear from your teenager is that Disney is for kids. Show them this isn’t the case! There are tons of things young adults can enjoy, like sophisticated dinners and unique educational experiences at Animal Kingdom. Show them the adult side and let them see the magic can continue for life.

4.         Head straight for the thrill rides

It’s true that there aren’t as many thrill rides at the Disney parks as there are at Universal Orlando, but there are a few in each park. Take them to these exciting, thrilling rides and watch their enthusiasm grow.

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5.         Give them an afternoon to themselves

One of the reasons the teen years can be so challenging is because as your kids are growing up, they want to feel self-sufficient. Give them an afternoon to explore the park on their own and they’ll find their own magic in corners they may have otherwise ignored.

6.         Take a trip to the beach

Remember that Disney is just one of the things you can do in the Orlando area. There are also numerous beaches within an hour or so. Rent a car for the day and take off for a beach adventure. Sometimes taking a break from the parks can lead them to appreciate the incredible details and experiences that await them in Disney.

No matter what you do, remember that this trip isn’t just for them – it’s for you too! Take the time to enjoy your surroundings and remember that you’re building lifelong memories with your kids – and they may not appreciate that for many years to come!

Click here for other information for parents with teenagers visiting Orlando.