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Fun with Babies and Children in Florida Theme Parks

Of course the whole point of coming to Orlando is to have fun and, once you’re here it’s actually quite difficult not to! There is never a dull moment and the biggest problem people find is fitting everything in to one vacation. Especially with smaller children the key is good planning. It is important to really spend time working on an itinerary. This will allow your family to enjoy all aspects of the park at a pace that suits everyone. Nobody knows your child better than you and every child is different in terms of energy and stamina. It may sound obvious but remember to formulate your itineraries around your child’s abilities. Here we tell you all you need to know about how to have fun with your baby at Orlando’s theme parks.

Walt Disney World® with a baby or infant

All of the parks have something for children that are under two, but in our opinion, the best for a child that age is the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom has the most rides and attractions suitable for a baby to enjoy, and they will be sure to enjoy the parade. You will also find many of the characters your child is most familiar with at the Magic Kingdom.  On any given day, you might see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Aladdin, Goofy, and Winnie the Pooh, and look out for the Disney Princesses in the parade and dancing in the stage show outside Cinderella Castle.

Remember to make the most of the Cast Members.  Cast Members are members of staff at Walt Disney World and there are hundreds of them around the park.  All of them are there to make your visit more enjoyable and they are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable people on earth.  If you need anything at all, ask one of them.  They can be identified by their badges which show their first names and the town and state in which they were born.  It can be quite interesting to see how far people have come to work at Walt Disney World.

Costumed charactersTo meet your favourite character, ask a Cast Member in any one of the parks if your favourite is likely to be around that day.  There are clearly designated spots for meeting certain characters, or some might be making appearances at certain times.  The Cast Member will be able to help you.

This is one of the most magical moments in Florida, be prepared for some wonderful photo opportunities! While some children warm up immediately to Mickey Mouse and his friends, other children will need some time to adjust to the sight of a the characters. Let them look at the characters around the park from a distance before you approach one. The queues for pictures with the most popular characters can sometimes be long, so if you’re really keen on your children meeting their cartoon friends, try to fit a character meal into your itinerary.

If you think your child might be nervous around the characters, you could prepare them in advance by interacting with the character yourself first before you bring your child to meet him or her.  If your child sees that you are comfortable around the character, he will be too.

Height restrictions

A guest’s ability to participate in a Walt Disney World ride is completely based on height, not age or weight. The height requirements are also listed on all the maps at the parks and on signage in front of the various attractions but some rides allow children as small as 35″ to ride. Some of the rides that families can enjoy with young children include: Buzz Light-year Space Ranger Spin, Toy Story Mania, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Plus the handy Rider Switch option is available at select Disney Theme Park attractions.

Structuring your days if you have a mixed age-range of kidsThere’s something for everybody in the parks, including many attractions that families can enjoy together. Perhaps a good tip would be to alternate between family attractions with ones that a specific age group might find most appealing. It’s all a mater of family taste and dynamics. Remember that the parks are large so pick up a map or take a look online and devise an itinerary before you go.

There are no crèche or unsupervised childcare facilities at the parks, so your baby or toddler will be with you at all times.  Structure your day to give everyone a chance to enjoy their favourite activities.

Best rides for young kids at Walt Disney World®

Walt Disney World Resort itself comprises of four Florida theme parks and two water parks. You may want to visit them all or include just a few of them in your itinerary or all of them.

Magic KingdomMagic Kingdom captures the enchantment of cartoons and fairy tales with exciting entertainment, classic attractions, and beloved Disney Characters.  The park is designed like a wheel, with its hub being in front of Cinderella Castle.  The paths from the Castle spread through the park and take you to seven different ‘lands’.  These are Main Street, U.S.A®, Adventureland®, Frontierland®, Liberty Square, Fantasyland®, Mickey’s Toontown® Fair, Tomorrowland®.

Fantasyland is probably the area with the most attractions suitable for small children and babies and the rides are close together making it easy to get around. The best rides for under fives are:

  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventure (this can be a little bit scary for very young or nervous children)
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • It’s a Small World
  • Cinderella’s Golden Carousel
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Many of these rides are slow-moving indoor rides with colourful animatronics, cheerful music and recreations of some of your child’s favourite stories.  Babies will just love the sounds, colour and music.  It’s a Small World is a water based ride where you float through the different countries and cultures of the world surrounded by singing and dancing dolls in national dress, to the ‘It’s a Small World’ song.  You’ll be singing it for days! Dumbo is an outdoor ride where you can fly through the air with your toddler on a flying elephant.  Hold on tight!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all about nature, conservation and, of course, animals.  There are 250 species of animals in this park and a fantastic Kilimanjaro safari ride which will take you to see them.  A good tip is to try to ride the Kilimanjaro Safari as early in the day as possible, when it is cooler and you are more likely to see more of the animals as they are not sleeping in the shade.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom has more shade than some of the other parks, but it can get a bit humid due to the heat generated by the animals and the lush vegetation.  At the centre of the park, you will find the enormous (and extremely realistic) Tree of Life.  It’s quite an amazing sight.  Turn a corner, and you’ll come face to face with Mount Everest.  That is, Mount Everest with a roller coaster running through it.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is divided into 7 areas. These are Oasis, Discovery Island®, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch® Asia, Dinoland, U.S.A® Area.

There are loads of excellent shows for kids – especially the Finding Nemo show. The ‘It’s Tough To Be A Bug’ show is situated actually within the Tree of Life and is a 4-D which includes 3-D glasses and ‘sensations’ in the chair. This may be a bit intense for some smaller kids as there is a moment when CO2 gas is emitted into the auditorium; and parents holding babies, beware as, at one point, you will get poked in the back.

Since Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also a zoo, there are several animal treks that offer fantastic views of wild animals which babies and toddlers will love. One trek near the safari ride has a gorilla exhibit, with great close-ups of these amazing animals. Another must-see is the animal trek near the Kali River Rapids ride. Kids can get excellent views of tigers, huge fruit bats and more. The park is full of strange noises, beautiful flowers and plants, and amazing sights.  It’s a great day out for the little ones.

Epcot

Epcot is twice the size of the Magic Kingdom and covers 300 acres.  The park is divided into two areas; Future World and World Showcase.  Epcot makes a wonderful choice for families who have children of mixed ages.  It is entertaining for everyone, but also educational and inspiring for tweens and teens.

Future World

The Epcot theme park icon, Spaceship Earth, which looks like a giant golf ball rising high above the horizon, welcomes you as you walk through the Park’s main entrance.  Future World is full of sensational attractions as well as inspiring entertainment and shows, all of which focus on technological advancements, innovation and wonder:

World Showcase

Beyond Future World, if entering from the main gate at Epcot theme park, is the World Showcase area. World Showcase is a collective of Pavilions that wrap around the World Showcase Lagoon. Inside the Pavilions, find shops, attractions and restaurants that represent the culture and cuisine of these 11 countries; Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, Canada

Live performers entertain you as you walk between the Pavilions.  Babies and children of all ages will love watching these and interacting with them.  There are Disney Character meet and greet locations too, and Kidcot fun stops where children can create unique souvenirs.

There are some excellent rides in Epcot for kids. Here are some that are suitable for young children or which you can walk through with a baby:

  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros
  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience (Be warned, there is one loud scene (just following the attack of the mice) which may frighten more nervous or young kids.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Circle of Life

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park is dedicated to film and offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Hollywood-style action with live shows, thrilling attractions, backstage tours and special events.  The different streets of the park come together like a large, busy movie set and you’re surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Heydays.

Again, this is a great park if you have children of mixed ages.  Some of the rides are fast and frightening, like the famous Tower of Terror, but there are Rider Switch programmes available so you can still enjoy these even if you do have a baby or youngster with you.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park, one of two water parks in Walt Disney World Resort, features one of the world’s tallest and fastest free-falling waterslides, as well as slides and rides for the whole family—like a kid-sized, snow-castle fountain play area with scaled-down versions of the more thrilling attractions.

Blizzard Beach has a specially dedicated area for pre-schoolers called Tike’s Peak.  This play area offers kid-sized slides and is well monitored to ensure that older children do not come in and run riot.  It’s a safe and pleasant place for your toddler to play and enjoy the water.

The wading pool at Tike’s Peak is very shallow, with a snow-castle fountain and pop-up water jets for tots to splash and play near. Children must be less than 48 inches tall to play at Tike’s Peak.

Tike’s Peak is located on the ground level away from Mount Gushmore on the other side of Cross Country Creek.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, features attractions for the whole family—from fast waterslides to a children’s area with pint-sized raft rides. You can ride 6-foot waves in the Surf Pool and snorkel with real sharks in Shark Reef.

Typhoon Lagoon is perhaps the park least suited to very young children. There are areas for splashing around in miniature rafts and toddlers can enjoy the shallows, however most of the water park is geared to other rides that aren’t suitable for the little ones.

Attraction lines in Orlando and how to beat them

The lines for most of the attractions at  Walt Disney World are in air conditioned buildings, and what a relief that is! But even air conditioned lines can get long when little ones are involved, so make good use of the Disney Fast Pass system. FastPass is a virtual queuing system, that lets you use the time you would wait for one attraction to enjoy another. Just take a FastPass from one attraction, which has a printed return time on. Use the time before then to enjoy other attractions and when your time comes up, return to the original attraction for virtually queue-free access (usually about 5 – 10 mins).

And if you don’t want to wait in any of the lines at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando, their Quick Queue pass allows guests to purchase a no-wait pass and skip the lines at all of the major rides and attractions.

Universal Orlando® also offers the Universal Express™ pass which is available at participating rides and attractions.  This priority pass system is a great add-on to any park visit and is available to guests of the on-site hotels as a free benefit for their stay.  For full details, visit universalorlando.com.

Leaving the park and coming back

Most multi-park or multi-day tickets will allow you to leave a park and then return on the same day. Ensure that on leaving you get a hand stamp as, without one, you will not be allowed back in. If you’ve got small children it may be wise to go back to your home on Windsor Palms for an afternoon nap, for a swim at the resort pool or just some down time in your villa or condo, perhaps with a view to returning for some evening entertainment. Alternatively, if you just need some time to chill out, you can take your baby to one of the Baby Care Centers at the four Disney theme parks or at SeaWorld.

The Rider Switch System

Some rides at Disney have height requirements, and babies won’t be permitted to ride on them. If both you and your partner want to ride a non-baby friendly attraction, like Space Mountain, or one of the water rides like Kali River Rapids, you can use the baby swap system. This is also referred to as the child swap system, parent swap system and the Rider Switch Pass.

The Rider Switch Pass is important for anyone travelling with children who will not be big enough – or brave enough (!) – to ride certain attractions. The Rider Switch pass allows adults travelling with small children or babies to efficiently trade places on any attraction with a height or age restriction. That way, both parents of a child can have a go on the ride without having to worry about the baby or queuing twice. You can always get a Rider Switch Pass when your child is too small for a height restricted attraction but some parents don’t realize that you can also use this service for timid riders – the child who is physically tall enough for a particular attraction but doesn’t want to ride. Here’s how it works:

Standby Lines: Both parents take the toddler or younger child to the standby entrance and ask the Cast Member how Rider Switch works for this particular attraction. In most cases, you will all have to go through the line together and, somewhere shortly before boarding the attraction, you will receive a pass that will let one parent exit with the non-rider while the rest of the party rides now. In most cases, the waiting adult will be issued a Rider Switch Pass that allows him or her to ride the attraction at any point in the day using the FASTPASS entrance. The Rider Switch Pass may have the number of eligible riders printed right on it. If not, ask the Cast Member how many riders can ride using the Rider Switch Pass. Disney knows that most people don’t like to ride alone so at least two people can ride using one Rider Switch Pass. Other attractions will let up to three or four people ride using one Rider Swap Pass.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando also offer a “Baby Swap” procedure at all major rides, where adults can take turns riding the thrilling roller coasters and water rides.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure® and Universal Studios® provide child swap on all rides with height restrictions. Ask a ride attendant for details.

Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay with a baby or infant

Busch Gardens is a fantastic park in Tampa Bay, less than an hour’s drive from Orlando.  It makes a great day out in the middle of your holiday, providing a decidedly different atmosphere from Orlando with less hustle and bustle.  The park combines high octane roller coaster rides with fabulous animal experiences.  Even if you don’t ride the coasters (you can use the Baby Swap System if you can’t resist them), you can simply spend your day enjoying the adventure park and the ‘safari’ elements of the park – there’s plenty for your baby to see here, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells from a stroller.  Experience up-close encounters with amazing animals, take an unforgettable safari across the Serengeti Plain, and take in colourful live entertainment all year round. When you enter the park, you’re immersed in culture as you ‘travel’ through beautifully themed areas representing Africa, Australia and other adventures around the world.

Busch Gardens presents a wonderful environment for children and parents with lush landscaping and horticulture, colourful shows, a variety of animals, and memorable sights and sounds. Children two and younger are admitted free to Busch Gardens, and this world-class park has much to offer young children and their parents. Busch Gardens is the ultimate family adventure with a unique blend of thrilling rides, one of the country’s premier zoos, live shows, restaurants, shops and games. Here are some helpful suggestions to enjoy your day with some ideas and hints about different parts of the park:

With nearly 3,000 animals, Busch Gardens really is the ultimate adventure park for families and new for 2010 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is Sesame Street Safari of Fun®. This unique play land, featuring Elmo, Big Bird and all their friends, is filled with rides, shows and adventures celebrating the spirit of Africa.

Kids can try out Air Grover; a new junior coaster, Elmo’s Safari Go-Round; a tribal carousel, Oscar’s Swamp Stomp and Bert & Ernie’s Water Hole; wet adventures filled with bubblers, geysers, jets and dumping buckets, Zoe-Patra & the Hippos of the Nile; a splashy flume ride through the Nile river and Lights, Camera, Imagination! a 4D Sesame Street show.

‘Big Bird’s 123-Smile with Me’ photography studio gives kids the chance to share a hug and a smile with Sesame Street friends, and musical performances bring safari tales to life.

For a rainforest adventure, the 4-acre attraction Jungala invites guests to discover exotic creatures, explore a village hidden deep in the jungle and connect with the inhabitants of the lush landscape through up-close animal interactions, multi-storey family play areas, rides and live entertainment. The 3-storey family climbing area allows visitors to ascend through the tree canopy on rope bridges to explore the different layers of jungle life, and a children’s water-play area allows even the youngest explorers to interact with the environment. Next door at Timbuktu, guests will find rides specifically suited for smaller children.

Guests with younger children can now discover unique animals indigenous to the Land Down Under at Walkabout Way, an immersive new animal attraction that opened in 2010. Whilst the older kids (ages 5 and older) can hand feed kangaroos and free-roaming wallabies, little ones can laugh along with a kookaburra and meet other Australian animals.

There’s also an excellent train system which means you can get to the other side of the park whilst taking in some breathtaking aerial views at the same time. This is great especially when there are some tired legs in the camp (not necessarily just the kids’!) One good strategy is to take the Serengeti Express to the other side of the park and work your way back.

Best rides for young kids at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Look out for the ‘KIDsiderate’ signs dotted around Busch Gardens and on maps, these provide an ‘at-a-glance’ look run down of kid-friendly rides. Bear in mind, however, that the signs signify rides that are suitable for under nines, so this doesn’t necessarily mean they are suitable for babies and very small children. As mentioned, the Serengeti Express train is a great attraction for small children, because it is gentle but exhilarating. Here are some other great places to explore with the little ones:

Jungala

Have you ever been close enough to a Bengal tiger to feel the hair on the back of your neck rise? Or ridden a zip-line through a rainforest? Or looked an orangutan in the eye from a jungle outpost? Set in the lush Congo area, Jungala is four acres of fun filled with up-close animal interactions, a three-storey maze of rope bridges and nets for older kids to climb, two signature rides and live entertainment.

Edge of Africa

Embark on a walking safari through Edge of Africa and encounter exotic African animals in naturalistic habitats, including hippos, lions, hyenas, lemurs, meerkats, crocodiles and lappet-faced vultures.

Set your own pace as you explore this attraction themed around an abandoned African fishing village.

Myombe Reserve

Enter a lush forest habitat where gorillas and chimpanzees can be found enjoying life to the fullest as they live and play in a natural environment.  Peer through the mists and fog of Myombe’s Great Ape Domain for a close-up look into the world of fascinating and majestic animals that most people see only in books and documentaries, and feel your world get at once larger and smaller.

Lory Landing

This interactive, free-flight habitat is home to some of the most brilliantly coloured birds you’ll meet. Step inside with a cup of fruit fresh nectar from our stand and you’ll have an instant arm-load of some newfound feathered friends.   Your toddler will be delighted. Lorikeets are the first to greet you, while hornbills, pheasants and other members of the avian community roam through Lory Landing’s free-flight and observational environments, warmly welcoming you into their delightful world.

Serengeti Plain

Observe hundreds of exotic animals from a variety of perspectives. Enjoy a passing scene from the Serengeti Express Railway. Take a truck tour of the plains on a Serengeti Safari.  Or go exploring along scenic walkways that feature rolling landscapes, high-ground vistas and lush vegetation all reflecting the natural beauty of the wide open African wilderness. This attraction is only available for ages 5 and older.

SeaWorld with a baby or infant

Sea World is a must see theme park in Orlando, dedicated, as the name suggests, to the sea.  There are plenty of attractions suitable for babies and toddlers here and, as any parent knows, small children find underwater creatures absolutely fascinating. It is also at Sea World that you can watch the dolphin and killer whale shows, and get up close and personal with fish and sea creatures.  A toddler’s paradise.

Best rides for young kids at Sea World

Sea World is home to Shamu’s Happy Harbor, a dedicated land for little ones.  Toddlers can enjoy ‘my first coaster’ Shamu Express (0.97m. minimum height), which thrills children and parents alike while travelling down more than 850 feet of track at 26 mph.  Jazzy Jellies (1.07 m. minimum) lifts and spins families in oversized seats, while Swishy Fishies (0.91 m. minimum) takes adventurous youngsters on a spin around a giant waterspout.  Shamu’s Happy Harbour also features the Sea Carousel (no minimum height), the Flying Fiddler (1.07 m. minimum), a giant fiddler crab that descends vertically in a quick series of short drops and Ocean Commotion (1.07m. minimum), a fanta-sea themed tug boat that swings passengers side to side.

Sea World’s littlest guests can explore four storeys of colourful climbing nets and tunnels, nine slippery slides and a splashy water maze. There are also lots of shady spots for parents to sit and keep an eye on the fun.

Shamu & Crew costume characters can be found early every morning near the front gate, waiting to meet their little fans and even sign autographs.  While older kids are riding the new flying roller coaster, Manta, younger ones can experience the incredible underwater world of tropical fish and rays in the floor-to-ceiling aquariums at the attraction’s viewing area. With over 3,000 fish and rays in 10 aquariums, there’s even a mini ‘pop up’ viewing bubble that puts them into an aquarium for an amazing 360° view, creating a perfect photo-opp for parents as they are surrounded by colourful fish.

Experiences at Sea World

The dolphin nursery is a great chance to get up close and personal with dolphins and their babies. You can’t feed or touch them but it’s a great educational experience. The dolphins are used to people and swim right to the edge of the pool.

For dolphin feeding, head to Dolphin Cove. Here you can purchase fish for around $5 (£3.30) and hand feed the dolphins.

You can do the same thing with rays at Stingray Lagoon. You can buy shrimp for around $4 (£2.70) and feed the rays.

There is also an unmarked tide pool exhibit that allows kids to handle some sea creatures and learn more about a tide pool’s ecology.

Shows at Sea World
Little ones can also enjoy SeaWorld’s popular shows including Believe, featuring an entire family of majestic killer whales performing awe-inspiring choreography and Blue Horizons, a theatrical spectacular that showcases graceful dolphins and false killer whales, a rainbow of exotic birds and an entire cast of world-class divers and aerialists draped in elaborate costumes.

Young families can enjoy up-close animal encounters and incredible shows throughout the park, from the hilarious theatrics of sea lions, otters and a walrus in Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island to the comic talents of a menagerie of dogs, cats, birds, rats, skunks, pot-belly pigs and other animals in Pets Ahoy. Check the park map for family friendly show times.

Aquatica with a baby or infant

For whippersnappers that like it wet, wet, wet, Aquatica is a one-of-a-kind waterpark which gives you the chance to get into the water, and play about in the sea. Aquatica also has some of the world’s most unique water rides and animal encounters, and plenty for babies and toddlers to enjoy.

Best attractions for young kids at Aquatica

Walkabout Waters is a splashy fun area for little ones with tipping buckets, squirting guns and mini slides, and toddlers will love playing on the sandy beaches under a shady umbrella, frolicking in the shallow end of the 84-degree twin wave pools or just watching the black and white Commerson’s dolphins.

Kata’s Kookaburra Cove is a water wonderland for children containing 79,000 gallons of water and features fountains, rides and slides. Highlights include Slippity Dippity, Slider Rider, Racer Chaser and Zippity Zappity. Tiny tots –- even those too young to walk –- can enjoy sliding with mum and dad in specially designed rafts.  Riders must be under 1.22m and life vests are required and available in all sizes so parents can relax if their toddlers can only toddle.

Tots and their parents can also take it easy on the Loggerhead Lane. This leisurely raft ride takes guests through an underwater world with tropical fish and Commerson’s dolphins.  Guests under 1.21m must wear a life vest. Or for a more fast-paced experience, Roa’s Rapids is an all-action river ride along 1,500 feet of rapids, roaring high seas, geysers and waterfalls – three to four times faster than your average waterpark river, guests under 1.27m are required to wear a life vest.

Although you can hire towels at Aquatica, bring your own to leave more time for splashing and relaxing and get there early to grab an umbrella and a lounger, so you have a shady base for the day.

Discovery Cove® with a baby or infant

Discovery Cove is a tropical oasis where little ones can meet exotic birds, watch dolphins play and enjoy the water with mum or dad at this all-inclusive luxury day out.  Whilst older kids (aged 6 years upwards) can enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime dolphin swim, the younger ones can enjoy splashing around in the crystal waters and playing in the immaculate white sands. Serenity Bay offers families tall shady umbrellas, lazy hammocks, sunning lounges, beach chairs and buckets and sand toys which are sprinkled along the beach for kids to enjoy. Life vests are complimentary and required.

Discovery Cove is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and a fantastically relaxing way to spend quality time with a young family.  However, there is a strict limit as to how many people can enter Discovery Cove each day, so, if you want to go, make sure you book well in advance especially if you want to experience the dolphin swim. You have to be six years or older to swim with the dolphins.

Experiences at Discovery Cove

Dolphin Swim Experience

This is a truly incredible, one-in-a-lifetime-experience and something that will stay with you forever. Parents need to be aware that kids will be in water, at least 3 feet deep with animals. Life jackets are worn however it isn’t recommended for very small children or babies.

If you do have slightly older children, this is ideal; accompanied by a trainer, small groups of guests wade into shallow water and become acquainted with their dolphin through hugs, kisses and rubdowns. Then, taking the adventure one step further, guests interact with their dolphin in deeper water for an exciting dorsal fin tow ride back to shore.

Explorer’s Aviary

Venture beyond the beaches and waterfalls of Discovery Cove and enter a hidden treasure, the Explorer’s Aviary. An inspiring natural habitat will greet you with a myriad of feathered friends that will eat from your hand. This is suitable for small children provided they are comfortable with birds flying within close vicinity

The Tropical Reef

Enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of enchanting grottos. Explore for as long as you wish. Even a brief visit will give you a new understanding of why so many people are so very passionate about preserving coral reefs throughout the world.

Wade with rays and experience the awe-inspiring presence of these majestic, graceful, gentle animals. Wade among them. Or reach out and touch their velvety wings as dozens come to welcome you to their secluded, tropical home. Visitors can follow colorful schools of tropical fish in this spectacular coral reef. Swimmers will snorkel with thousands of the world’s most colorful underwater species, and within inches of barracuda and sharks, fierce predators safely housed behind clear acrylic partitions.

Wind-Away River

Ride the soothing currents of a tropical river as it winds past sandy beaches, through a dense rain forest, beneath the rocky terrain of cascading waterfalls, and through an underwater cave. Glance down as you travel and take in the wonders that exist beneath the surface of the crystal-clear water.

Universal Orlando® with a baby or infant

Both Universal Islands of Adventure® and Universal Studios® theme parks offer a variety of shows and attractions suitable for young children. Islands of Adventure offers many colourful sights and sounds, and kids will particularly enjoy the Seuss Landing™ area of the park where they can step inside the pages of the children’s tales of Dr Seuss. Universal Studios® offers Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone®, a special section for young children that features family-friendly rides, shows, and a delightful water play area.

Height restrictions are used to determine whether little ones can ride on each attraction. Rides and attractions which do not list a height requirement are available for all ages. Some attractions may offer stationary sitting or special ride vehicle accommodations. All water rides have height requirements, but there are water play areas for guests of all ages in both parks. Most of the live shows are suitable for all ages, although some are more appropriate for ages 13 and up. See your park map or visit guest services for more information.

If your child wants to meet a character, there is a variety of Character Meet and Greets scheduled throughout the day at both Universal Islands of Adventure® and Universal Studios®. The park maps list the times and locations.

More fun out and about in Orlando with your baby

Believe it or not, there is even more to see in and around Orlando and many of these activities and attractions are great for babies and toddlers.  From petting farms, to play areas and great child friendly restaurants, don’t forget to spend some time exploring Orlando beyond the theme parks.

Orlando for the 5′s and under

While little ones might know Orlando best for its animated characters and magical princesses, what they may not realise is that Orlando boasts numerous attractions inside and outside its theme parks to entertain under 5’s.  From zoos, petting farms and themed playgrounds to family friendly restaurants and dinner shows, there is guaranteed to be something for the youngest family members to get excited about in Orlando.

Attractions

Brevard Zoo – The zoo’s Wildlife Detective Training Academy makes for a precious photo opportunity as kids play veterinarian to a variety of ailing stuffed friends. Interaction with real animals such as turtles and lizards, and a sand play area with submerged ‘bones’ add an exciting hands-on element. Highlights to any visit include hand feeding the zoo’s family of friendly giraffes and kayaking around the zoo’s wetlands. Kids can enjoy a new play area with water features and forts premieres.  Visit  brevardzoo.org

Fun Spot Action Park – Little ones will love this indoor-outdoor attraction’s ‘Pre-school Spot,’ a special area featuring classic rides just for them. Also try its sister park Fun Spot USA or Magical Midway. Visit fun-spot.com

Gatorland – Young ones are fascinated by the park’s gator wranglers and snake handlers but there’s much more to this historic attraction than reptiles. The Gator Gully Splash Park cools kids off with a host of animal-themed interactive water toys and splash areas. They’ll also love Allie’s Barnyard, where they can pet goats, llamas and other friendly critters and the Very Merry Aviary, where they can hand feed colourful lorikeets. The Express Railroad train ride is another high point for little ones. Visit  gatorland.com

Green Meadows Petting Farm – A people-friendly animal farm where piglets, chicks, ponies and other creatures share their scenic, sprawling home with all who enter.  A guided tour includes fun in the pigpen, a chance to milk a cow, pony rides, hay rides and train rides, chick cuddling and more one-on-one interaction with farm animals.  In October, guests can also visit the pumpkin patch. Visit greenmeadowsfarm.com

Orlando Science Center – Fanciful changing exhibits mingle with educational staples to provide kids with countless hands-on learning opportunities. They’ll want to spend hours watching baby alligators, turtles and snakes at NatureWorks, unearthing dinosaur fossils and replicas at DinoDigs and farming faux oranges and fixing cars in KidsTown. Visit osc.org 888-672-4386/407-514-2000

Dining

Dinner Shows

Orlando is home to a wide variety of dinner shows that turn mealtime into an attraction of its own. You can sing, dance and cheer at some of the most exciting dining experiences in town. Along with the fun, most themed dinner attractions also feature an unlimited feast of food and drink.

Diners sing along with the kooky cast of characters at Disney’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, a country and western vaudeville-style show; and do the hula at Makahiki Luau at SeaWorld Orlando, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Disney’s Polynesian Resort or Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Guests cheer for their favourite jousting knight at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament or discover if a pirate’s life is for them at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Whilst visitors can see classic fables come to life through horsemanship at Arabian Nights.