A spring break vacation in Orlando sounds daunting. Yet one of the most popular spring break vacation destinations for families with school-age children is Orlando, Florida. Makes sense, when you think about it; the theme park capital of the world has a seemingly infinite amount of child-friendly activities, ranging from a pre-schooler’s delight at seeing princesses at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom theme park, to the thrilling rides for teens at Universal Studios Orlando. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been a blow-out success for this latter theme park, in fact, and is responsible for drawing teens to a destination city that has in the past had more appeal for younger kids.
A family that is planning a spring break vacation in Orlando should brace themselves for theme parks with incredibly long lines, backed-up traffic, and crowds, crowds, crowds. Some people have a higher tolerance for long lines and congestion than others, of course. But theme parks attract families, and since families almost always use school vacations as their travel dates, those spring break vacation lines could try the patience of a monk.
I do recommend at least one theme park vacation for families while their kids are still young, along with at least one at a US National Park, one road trip through small towns, and other valid travel experiences that teach our children about the diversity of our country. If travel is only feasible during school breaks, travel wisely.
- It’s very pricey, but if you can afford a splurge, the VIP Pass at Universal Studios Orlando gives you back-door access with no lines at all, to any of the theme park rides. Also consider hiring a personal VIP guide at Disney; this option is also not cheap, as the service starts at $175/hour, but you’ll also bypass ride lines.
- FASTPASS service at Disney World theme parks is free, and once you get the hang of FASTPASSES, easy to time right. Universal Studios Orlando has a similar set-up with Express Pass Plus tickets, but they aren’t free unless you’re staying at one of Universal Studio’s hotels.
- Save money and time both, and pack snacks ahead of time — those concessions stands are expensive!
- Hit more than one Disney theme park in one day, by purchasing Magic Your Way tickets with the Park Hopper add-on. There’s also a Water Parks option; Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon might be less than packed if the weather is so-so (no lines). Save time by purchasing all of your tickets before your trip.
- You can save time that might be spent wandering around gawping, by doing plenty of research before you travel to an Orlando theme park. Walt Disney guide books are available for purchase and much of the information is available online for itinerary-planning purposes as well; start with the official Disney World site, but also check out some insiders’ guides like Mouse Savers or DW Insider. Universal Studios Orlando is smaller — only two parks — hence less pre-planning is needed.
There are other, more manageable theme parks in Orlando, of course (Gatorland comes to mind). If saving time takes precedence over experiencing the Big Two — i.e. Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando — then concentrating on the less popular theme parks will also go a long way toward the avoidance of long lines and the crushing frustration therein during a family spring break vacation in Orlando.
Most children love theme parks, especially Disney world and Universal Studio Orlando. If this is the year you’re planning to take a family spring break vacation in Orlando, these basic tips to save time and reduce annoyance will help ensure a better travel experience for you, too.