Zoey Goto hits the sunshine state to explore its toddler focused attractions...
Think of the theme park capital of the world and images of teens on hair-raising roller coasters may spring to mind. But the unveiling of a new Peppa Pig Theme Park, star attractions for pre-schoolers at Legoland, creative fun at the Crayola Experience and a wealth of family-friendly accommodation in nearby Kissimmee, means that Orlando is also fast becoming a hotspot for families with younger children.
Kissimmee makes family travel a breeze
A home-from-home rental is often the easiest option when travelling with babies and toddlers, with a kitchen on hand for rustling up meals around the clock, clothes washing facilities and space for little legs to roam. At Kissimmee, situated just 25 minutes from Orlando airport, you’ll find a staggering 50,000 rental homes to choose from.
If a multi-gen holiday or group trip is on the cards, book into one of the spacious mansions complete with gated gardens and private pools. There’s also plenty of smaller villas, apartments and townhouses on offer in Kissimmee, many of which have fantastically themed rooms including treehouse beds and Disney character interiors, sure to delight younger kids. The Magic Village Yards complex takes the stress out of travelling with children, with an outdoor heated pool, an onsite restaurant and BBQ patios, plus plenty of neighbouring families for youngsters to play with.
Take a stroll through Kissimmee’s downtown area, lined with murals and boutique shops and be sure to schedule in a stop at the theatrical Abracadabra Ice Cream Factory, which boasts toddler-friendly bouncy castles in the back yard.
The New Peppa Pig Theme Park is Oink-tastic Fun for Toddlers
Peppa fans are in for a treat with the opening of the world’s first standalone Peppa Pig Theme Park! Aimed at pre-schoolers, this dinky, colourful park brings the hit show to life with six rides, including the thrills and spills of Daddy Pig’s rollercoaster and setting sail to pirate island on Grandad Dog’s boat ride. Little piggies can also catch up on favourite episodes of Peppa on the big screen at the onsite cinema or watch a live show at Mr. Potato’s stage.
Alongside rides, there’s also themed play zones, including a splash zone with sprinkling fountains and a changing area, so be sure to pack towels and swimwear. Everything is compact and there’s no lengthy walks between attractions, making it ideal for families with toddlers. The onsite restaurant serves pizza, sandwiches and salads in a picture-perfect retro style diner. Just be sure to save room for the legendary muddy puddle milkshake!
Everything is awesome at Legoland Resort Florida
Just steps from the Peppa Pig Theme Park (although ticketed separately), you’ll find the Legoland Resort Florida. It’s an ideal theme park entry point, with plenty of rides specifically aimed at younger children.
Head straight to the Duplo area, where little ones can board a train to explore the brick-tacular landscape. The Duplo tot spot is a hands-on play area for under 2s, while the fairy tale brook ride offers a tranquil boat ride through a whimsical, fairy tale land of Lego. After a day of non-stop fun, youngsters can tuck into an indulgent portion of granny’s apple fries – slices of granny smith dusted with cinnamon and sugar and topped off with whipped cream.
Get creative at the Crayola Experience
Toddlers will adore a visit to this artistic hub at the Florida Mall, with 27 hands on attractions including a play area and a behind the scenes peek at how the iconic Crayola crayons are made.
Be sure to stop off at the onsite photobooth which allows families to become the star of their own colouring book, and grab a snap with the giant Crayola characters during their meet and greets. And there are, of course, armfuls of vibrant Crayola goodies and one-of-a-kind souvenirs for sale at the museum’s vast store.
Schedule in around three hours for your visit, as this surprisingly large museum is actually bigger than an NFL football field!
When to visit Orlando
With 300 days of glorious sunshine, Florida is a safe bet for year-round warm weather. If you’re not yet constrained by school term dates, take advantage of cheaper flights and a more peaceful atmosphere by avoiding the peak season, which runs from May to August.
British Airways fly directly from London to Orlando, with a flight time of around nine hours. It’s worth noting that if you travel with an infant on your lap on BA, you can choose seating for your group without an additional charge, plus book a carrycot for free to allow babies and toddlers to nap. The cabin crew also often wear Mickey Mouse ears, adding to the fun!
Orlando made easy: how to do it
Return direct flights from London Gatwick to Orlando International Airport with British Airways (including luggage) for 7 Nights in a 3-bedroom deluxe villa at Magic Village Yards in Kissimmee, self-catering, full size car hire for duration including all insurances: from £5,149 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children aged 11 or under).
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