An Orlando Packing List for an Autistic Child’s Trip to Disney

July 20th, 2014

Disney World works hard to make their theme parks as accessible to everyone as possible, and that includes the autistic population. However, there are still things that you, as the parent, must take into consideration. Autism at the Parks posted an excellent packing list that shows you what to bring to the parks when traveling with a person with autism. If you don’t want to read it in its entirety, check out our highlights below.

    • orlandovacation_hand-wipesCool cloths. If you’re traveling in warmer months, take a damp cloth and wrap it around a frozen ice pack. It can do wonders to keep your cool and comfortable on hot days.
    • Hand towels. You may get splashed on rides, or you may get rained on. Hand towels help everyone dry off and stay calm.
    • Wipes and sanitizer. The last thing you want is a bug going around the family while you’re at Disney. Wipe down your hands before you eat and keep the germs at bay.
    • Sunscreen. It’s not an accident that Florida is known as the Sunshine State. Even if it’s cloudy or cold, sunscreen is always a must.
    • Fidgets. Stress balls, squishy balls, or other objects that a child can fidget with are great diversions when over stimulation kicks in.
    • Toys and games. If your kid has a game or toy that calms them down, don’t be shy about bringing it into the parks.
    • Bottled water. Put bottles of water in your freeze before you leave for the parks and they’ll slowly melt and stay cool throughout the day.
    • Snacks. Granola bars, nuts, and other small snacks can be brought into the parks and ensure there’s something there your kids will eat.

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  • Earplugs. Some attractions can be loud and others can be REALLY loud. Earplugs can help keep the scary sounds out and keep your kids calm.
  • Flashcards. If your child is non-verbal, don’t forget to bring their flashcards or any media they need to communicate. Remember that it’s normal for your child to be overwhelmed by the many people, sounds, smells, and voices around them. It’s not uncommon for kids to take a step back and regress while they’re at the parks.

Disney World is definitely doable for special needs kids, and it can be an incredible experience for everyone involved. This simple packing list can go a long way toward keeping them comfortable while you’re in the parks.

We hope you found this article helpful. Please click here to read more articles for guest with autism.

Taking a Break from the Parts: The Top 5 Mini Golf Courses

July 19th, 2014

Most families head to Orlando to visit one or more of the many theme parks, but there are actually tons of other things to do in Orlando. Whether you want to keep expenses down and need a more affordable break from the parks, or you simply want a more low key afternoon, mini golf is a great choice – especially for teens. Consider these top 5 mini golf courses in Orlando.

orlandovacation_congo-river-golf1.         Congo River

There are actually a few Congo River courses in the area, including one on International Drive that’s near Wet ‘n’ Wild. These courses are unique in many ways, including the fact that you can actually feed live alligators! Some families choose this instead of Gatorland.

2.         Winter Summerland

Located near the Blizzard Beach Water Park in Disney World, Winter Summerland truly takes the concept of cute to another level. There is a winter course that ties in with the snow-covered storyline of Blizzard Beach, and a summer course with a more tropical theme.

3.         Pirate’s Cove

Though it is a chain based mini golf course with many similar courses throughout the country, Pirate’s Cove is a great choice for pirate-crazy teenagers. You can choose from an easier Captain’s Course or the Blackbeard’s course for a real challenge.

4.         Fantasia’s Gardens

This spot is located near Hollywood Studios and has 2 courses – though they are both very different from one another. First up is the Gardens course, which draws its inspiration from the movie Fantasia. The Fairways course is modeled after a legitimate 18-hole course and many claim it’s the most challenging mini golf course they’ve ever played.

5.         Hollywood Drive-In

The newest option in the area, the Hollywood Drive-In mini golf course is located near Universal’s City Walk and includes 2 courses. The first is themed after old horror films, while the other is themed after ‘50s SciFi films. They’re both full of gags, pop culture references, and a unique soundtrack.

orlandovacation_hollywood-drive-in-golf

We hope you found this article helpful. Please click here for more articles to help parents with teenagers plan the best Orlando Vacation.

Flying with the Grandkids: 10 Tips to Make your Trip a Success Story

July 18th, 2014

Whether it’s your grandchild’s first or fiftieth flight, flying to Disney World with the grandparents is sure to be an exciting time – as long as you’re prepared. Check out these simple tips to help you make the most of your flight.

    1. orlandovacation_toddler-airplaneCarry-on vs checked bags. Spring for the extra cash and check an extra bag. Not only will you be suitcase free as you go through security and the airport, but you’ll be able to bring a stroller on the plane.
    2. Spring for the extra plane ticket. Kids younger than 2 don’t technically need their own seat, but the last thing you want is your grandchild restless on your lap for hours. Paying the extra money makes everyone more comfortable.
    3. Consider their outfits. Slip on shoes make security a breeze, and layers – even when it’s hot – allows you to keep them comfortable whether the plane is hot or cold.
    4. Prepare for ear issues. Bottles and pacifiers are great for helping with the clogged ears, as are gum and large lollipops for older children.
    5. Food is essential. Is there a better way to distract an upset kid than with food? Bring along trail mix, grapes, baby carrots, colorful crackers, and other plane-friendly foods.
    6. Don’t forget the potty. If your grandkids are potty trained, then be sure to take them to the bathroom right before you take off and right before you land.
    7. orlandovacation_airplane-movie

    8. Get creative with books. Books are a must have, but consider bringing along a photo album that lets them stay in touch with their family back home.
    9. DVDs can save you. Flying with young kids is easier than ever before, thanks to portable DVD players and headsets.
    10. Great creative! Did you know you can make a tent on a plane? Just put your tray table down and drape a blanket over it. Glow in the dark toys are great for night flights. Think about your grandkids and come up with some creative flight ideas.
    11. Surprise them. If your grandkids get really fussy, have a surprise waiting for them. It could be a new toy, a special snack, or an autograph book their favorite Disney characters can sign.
    12. One extra- If you are staying in a vacation home near Disney World. We can have your strollers delivered to you house so you do not have to bring to them Orlando

    Even the most challenging flight is well worth it when you step out of the gates and into the wonder that are the Orlando theme parks.

    We hope you found this article helpful- please click here to read other articles to help grandparents plan the best Orlando Vacation!

Action, it’s Friday!

July 18th, 2014

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A Professional Disney Dad’s Guide to Disney World: 3 New Things to Explore

July 17th, 2014

So you’ve taken your kids to Disney World before. OK, you’ve taken them to Disney World before . . . many times. Most people would be envious to make regular trips, but you know that the challenge can be getting out of the rut of simply doing all the same things you’ve done every time before. Let’s check out 3 unique things you can do at Disney World to make the experience new again.

orlandovacation_toy-story-hollywood-studios1.         Visit a meet and greet you haven’t prioritized in the past

For many dads, taking the kids to meet and greets is one of the first things they plan. While there are tons of characters spread throughout the parks, many parents get stuck in the rut of taking their kids to see the same few time and time again. Try a new one and have a totally new experience. Do your daughters usually beg for the princesses? Try out Buzz Lightyear at Hollywood Studios. Do your sons wait all year to meet Woody? Head over to Epcot to meet Alice in Wonderland. The sky’s the limit!

2.         Play an interactive game

Several parks have interactive games you can try out, and in fact the Magic Kingdom has two: Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and the Pirates League. Many who travel to the parks just once every few years won’t prioritize these types of games because they can take up quite a bit of time in the parks. But for you? You visit plenty! Take a leisurely afternoon in Epcot tracking down Agent P, or check out the two options mentioned above in the Magic Kingdom.

3.         Try a new restaurant every time

There are literally hundreds of places to eat a meal or a snack within the parks, and yet families can easily get stuck in a rut. You may love the ribs at Cosmic Rays, but have you tried them at Flame Tree BBQ? You may walk right by Sleep Hollow Refreshments and not realize they have some incredible waffle sandwiches to try. Branch out at every trip so you can always have a new experience.

orlandovacation_flame-tree-barbecue

These are just 3 options, but there are tons of ways to try something new. No matter how much of a Disney pro you feel like, there’s always a new taste, attraction, or show you can take in.

We hope you liked this article, please click here if you would like to read more Dad’s Guide to Disney World articles.

5 Facts About Disney Weddings That Will Surprise You

July 16th, 2014

Is there a more magical place to get married than Disney World? If there is, we haven’t found it yet! We recently ran across an article in the Huffington Post by Anne Chertoff that revealed 10+ little known facts about Disney weddings. You can read the full blog, or stick around and we’ll recap what we found to be the 5 most interesting facts.

1.         Getting Inspiration Just Got Easier

Disney has recently revamped their Disney Weddings website to include interactive features. You can view photos from real Disney weddings, learn about rules at various venues, and even create Pinterest-style boards of your favorite pictures.

2.         Disney’s Wedding Pavilion Strikes the Perfect Disney Balance

You do want fairytale wedding, but you don’t want it overwhelmed with Mickey. Disney’s Wedding Pavilion is non-denominational, can seat up to 300 people, and offers a clean white palette that will let you decorate it anyway you’d like. It also includes numerous subtle touches of hidden Mickeys that give you a gentle reminder of where you are without ruining the elegance.

disney world wedding pavilion

3.         Mickey Mouse Can’t Marry You

Many guests are surprised to learn that Disney doesn’t allow characters to appear at wedding ceremonies. However, you can book up to 2 characters for 30 minutes at a time during wedding receptions and other wedding-related parties.

4.         You Can Get Married in the Parks

Believe it or not, you can actually plan your wedding in one of the parks. Some parks, like Epcot, allow you to get married while the park is open but your wedding party may be limited to just 4 people. All parks allow weddings before or after park hours.

disney world wedding

5.         You Can Invite the Uninvited

Disney really thinks of everything, including entertainment for your guests in the form of invited uninvited guests. Otherwise known as “Tacky Tourists” these uninvited guests are available to entertain your wedding guests with cheesy jokes and little-known Disney facts.

Click here for more articles on planning a Disney Wedding.

Can Parents Enjoy a Night Out While at Disney World?

July 15th, 2014

Taking young children to Disney World is a truly magical experience, but it can also be a bit overwhelming for the parents. It’s your vacation too, and the good news is that there are a number of ways you can sneak away for a few hours to have a romantic dinner with your spouse.

Childcare right in your room

Many parents choose to work with Kid’s Nite Out, which is an in-room childcare service. Qualified, heavily vetted, certified and insured child care workers come directly to your hotel room or vacation home and babysit at your convenience.

orlando hotel room babysitting

Each worker brings a bag full of toys and games so you don’t have to pack the entire toy chest when you come down. Some parents choose to put the kids to bed, have the sitter come over, and grab a relaxing dinner with their partner. Others hire a sitter for the entire day. It’s up to you! You can even get a helper who will come along to the parks with you and take off some of the pressure.

The most recently published rules and rates are:

    neverland club polynesian resort orlando

  • $16.00 per hour for 1 child, $2.50 an hour for every additional child
  • If you have more than 4 children, all children must be at least 2 years old
  • Additional fees occur if you need services that start after 8:59 pm or before 6:30 am
  • Babysitting available for children 6 weeks to 12 years old
  • A transportation fee of $10 is added to the bill
  • There is a 4-hour minimum
  • Cancellations require 24 hour notice
  • Advance reservations are required
  • There may be special rates for holidays and special events

Children’s activity centers

There are also several children’s activity centers throughout the resorts at Disney hotels. You don’t have to be a guest at the resorts to take part in these activity centers, which means you can take advantage of the significant savings you’ll get by staying offsite, yet you can take the kids to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian Resort, or several other locations, and let them play with a group of kids, all supervised by well-trained Disney cast members, while you go off and enjoy the parks with your spouse.

Disney World may be known as a kid’s destination, but most parents who’ve been there realize that there’s a ton to do for adults, too.

Visiting Orlando During the Busy Season: Make the Most of Your Trip

July 14th, 2014

It’s likely no surprise that Disney World and other Orlando theme parks see their busiest time of the year during the summer months. Many people make a hotel reservation, buy their discount theme park tickets, and simply head to the parks and hope for the best.

However, there are some strategies that can help you avoid the worst of the crowds – and the hottest of those muggy days. We really liked this blog written by Nicole Mancini. Head over to read for yourself, or take in the highlights below.

Choose Your Top 3 Priorities

There’s so much to do in Orlando that there’s no way you can get it all done in one trip – unless you’re planning to stay for an entire month! Nicole recommends picking 3 priorities for every trip. Anything else you can get done is just an added bonus.

Plan Your Days and Include a Break

The best way to avoid the hottest time of the day, which is generally between noon and 4 PM, is to plan your day around it. Go back to your vacation home and swim in the pool, schedule several indoor attractions, or make an advanced dining reservation for a cool, comfortable indoor lunch.

kennedy space center

Sunscreen and Light Clothes are Must-Haves

You don’t want to spend the day bogged down by hot and heavy clothes, no matter how cute they make you look! Choose lightweight, light colored clothes. Sunscreen should be applied liberally before you leave the resort in the morning – even if it’s cloudy! – and you should bring a small bottle to the parks with you for reapplication as needed.

Investing in Cooling Devices

You can buy many products in the parks to cool you off, but they’ll come with a steep price tag. To save a few bucks, buy them ahead of time. You can look for fans with misters, or cooling towels, which only need to be wet to be activated and can provide hours of coolness.

disney world misting fans

These tips will help you make the most of your summertime Disney vacation. While the days will be hot and there will be lots of people there enjoying the magic with you, there are upsides too – like the extended hours you’ll find during these busy months.

Summer 2014: Exciting Events at Disney World

July 13th, 2014

There’s always something exciting happening at Walt Disney World, and summer of 2014 won’t be an exception. From Star Wars Weekends, to the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, discover what the happiest place on earth has in store for you this summer.

2014 Star Wars Weekends

The true Star Wars fan is in for a treat this summer. This thrilling event has been going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since 1991, but in 2014 they’ve added an extra Star Wars weekend to ensure everyone has a chance to partake in the fun. The event takes place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from May 16th – June 15th. This year’s theme is “Join the Rebellion”, and they’ve brought back some of the favorite activities and added some new ones, too:

  • Celebrity Host James Arnold Taylor Returns. The popular host, who has long been a Star Wars Weekend fan favorite, has voiced literally hundreds of animated characters – including Obi-Wan Kenobi on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” and returns again as the official host of Star Wars Weekends.
  • Mark Hamill to Appear for the First Time Ever. The actor who starred as Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy will be at the 2014 festival from June 6 – 8. He’ll be in the “Legends of the Force” motorcade, and will also take part in a talk show.
  • The First Ever Star Wars-Themed Character Meals. For a truly immersive experience, fans can book a character meal at either Sci-Fi Dine In for breakfast, or dinner at Hollywood & Vine. There they can see a host of characters, from Mickey to Minnie, dressed up as their favorite Star Wars characters.OrlandoVacation_StarWarsWeekend2014

Fittipaldi Cup

On June 13th, 2014, head on out to the Walt Disney World Speedway for a unique event: the Fittipaldi Cup. This half-day adventure features the 2014 winner of the Rolex 24, Christian Fittipaldi, and lucky participants can drive karts, supercars, and even street cars, in numerous timed and scored events. The list of cars is extensive, and includes Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Audis.

Car Masters Weekend

Are you a super Cars fan? If so, then Cars Master Weekend is the special event for you! There are many different events within this special weekend, which happens June 14th and June 15th. Some of the fun you can expect includes:

  • Character Meet ‘N Greet: Say hello to some of your favorite Cars characters – and get your picture taken, too!
  • Downtown Disney Car Show: With more than 150 classic cars, you can cruise up and down Downtown Disney and check out your favorite classic cars, muscle cars, and exotic cars. Stick around for the awards show and see who takes top prize.
  • Meet Automotive Legends: Take the opportunity to get up close and personal at numerous special appearances by some of the most respected names in racing.
  • Shop for Unique Car Masters Merchandise: You’ll see unique Cars-themed items for sale, and souvenirs of this year’s event that you can’t buy anywhere else.

***Insider tip: When you visit Downtown Disney for this special event, don’t be dismayed if you’re caught in an afternoon rain shower. Just head over to the interactive Disney Quest and wait out the storm.

Sounds Like Summer Concert Series

Stop by the World Showcase in Epcot from June 8th to July 26th and rock along to cover bands of some of your favorite blasts from the past. With a new tribute each week, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy:

  • June 8th – June 14th – A salute to the Eagles
  • June 15th – June 21st – Journey tribute band
  • June 22nd – June 28th – A tribute to Billy Joel
  • June 29th – July 5th – Boston tribute band
  • July 6th – July 12th – Bee Gees tribute
  • July 13th – July 19th – Bon Jovi tribute band
  • July 20th – July 26th – U2 cover band

The shows take place every night at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00 pm, except on July 4th when the fun starts at 5:15, 6:30, 7:45, and 9:00 pm.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on at Disney World this summer! To get the best deal on discounted Disney World tickets, hotels, vacation homes, or complete vacation packages, let the experts at Orlandovacation.com show you the way!

Simplifying Group Travel: A Checklist for the Organizer

July 13th, 2014

Whether it’s a group of 10 or a group of 100, organizing a trip to Disney World is not without its challenges. While there will be many things to consider, and many of them will depend on what your particular group wants to do, this checklist is a great place to start as you consider all the things you’ll need to plan for.

  • Accommodations. You’ll have options that include resort hotels where you can request blocks of adjoining rooms, or spacious vacation homes that are often more affordable and include private pools and full kitchens.
    grand beach resort orlando
  • Meals and snacks. You may decide to eat every meal in the parks, you may decide to bring plenty of snacks from your resort or vacation home, or you may leave the parks during the day to dine at local Orlando restaurants. No matter what you choose, it’s smart to have a plan and make sure everyone’s on board. Remember that many restaurants in the parks require reservations and fill up well ahead of time.
  • Park tickets. You can buy tickets when you get to the parks, but you’ll have to wait in a potentially long line at Guest Relations, won’t be able to make advance FastPass+ selections, and will have to pay full price. Check into discount theme tickets before you leave.
    orlando vacation theme park tickets
  • Travel arrangements. Don’t assume that any particular mode of transportation is going to be the cheapest. For example, a large group may find a better rate hiring a bus to take them to Orlando compared to flying. You may find it easier to rent a car or van for the entirety of your stay, or you may find it easier to hire a driver to pick up your party on the days you need transportation.
  • Plans, plans, and more plans. The above items will be valid for almost any group that’s traveling to Disney World, but your group will have many other needs more specific to your group. Take a look at the long list of group travel planning resources to find information on the specific issues you’re worried about.

If you consider the most important issues well before your trip, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy yourself when you finally walk through the gates at The Magic Kingdom