Jetsetting Kids in the theme park capital – Orlando!

We recently returned from a mammoth adventure in the USA. We had our sights set on conquering the themepark capital of the world – Orlando! For fun we threw in a 7 night Royal Caribbean cruise and a stopover to Santa Monica on our way home Brisbane, Australia.

Our itinerary went something like this:

–  Brisbane to Los Angeles with Virgin Australia. 14 hours of onboard time with our little loves, who by some miracle handled the flight beautifully.  For the record, we’ve seen adults act worse on a plane than our 5 & 3 year old jetsetting kids. We had a few hours stop over in LAX and then pushed through to Orlando for another 5 hour Delta flight before reaching our destination. This was done all without tears and just a few Hail Marys!

Waldorf Astoria Orlando –  5 nights.  This family friendly hotel didn’t IMG_0341disappoint. We enjoyed  DisneyWorld Magic Kingdom & Epcot fireworks from the comfort our hotel room. The facilities for kids and enchanted evenings program by the pool on weekends was a standout. The neighboring Hilton Bonnet Creek (5 mins walk) was also a bonus. The lazy river, slippery slides, poolside movies are a big plus for our little adventurers.  From the resort we would take the complimentary shuttle to the DisneyWorld parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom) and a trip to Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is a restaurant and entertainment precinct. Our favourite here was the Dino Cafe!   It’s worth mentioning here that everything in Orlando is really spread out. We didnt need a car for the first part of our stay (the shuttles were very good) but did hire a car to get us from the airport to the hotel – carseat hire included.  We also used the car to take us to the Four Seasons Orlando for Goofy & his Pals Character breakfast. This was well worth the trip! We got the full Disney experience – but without the Disney crowds. We fell in love with this hotel and would recommend it to families wanting a Disney stay that’s not over the top and also a bit of luxury.

NASA Kennedy Space Centre  – Still with our hire car, we checked out of the Waldorf early and headed in the direction of Port Canaveral where our ship Freedom of the Seas (Royal Caribbean) was waiting for us.  It is ideal to board at around lunchtime so we knew we had a little bit of time to do some sightseeing . What better way to spend the time than to check out NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre. We were also fortunate to see an actual rocket launch. What an experience! Unfortunately the mission wasn’t successful and the rocket exploded but that’s a story for another day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Royal Caribbean Cruise – 7 nights – I almost couldn’t believe it – this IMG_5118was our first cruise and we had finally discovered a truly relaxing holiday with kids! Our toughest decision each day was what to wear and where to eat.  The children loved the kids club program (for ages 6 months and up) and begged us to take them there 24/7. What’s a parent to do! With DreamWorks characters involved in the kids club program, its no wonder they didn’t want to hang out with their boring old parents!  The kids club is so good that if you wanted to leave the children onboard while you went on a day trip you could. We didn’t do this but it could interest families that want to take on more of the adventure activities that don’t suit small children.  Our cruiseship stopped in the Bahamas, St Thomas and St Martin these all offered family friendly options. Come disembarkment day, we really didn’t want to leave!  Here we hired a car once again to get us back to Orlando (approx 1 1/2 hour drive).

 

– Hilton Orlando – 3 nights –  Feeling refreshed after our 7 days of slothing, we decided to hit the parks once again! We had a lot of ground to cover – LEGOLAND (about 50 mins drive from central Orlando) and Universal Studios.  Our hotel was very close to Universal and we were happy to have experienced another hotel in the Hilton family.  Here we found basketball courts, tennis courts, a kids poolside program, slippery slides and of course…another lazy river. We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked to enjoy the facilities and so for IMG_5805anyone reading and thinking about a similar itinerary …we would recommend adding another few days to your stay.  If you have time to make it another week… DO IT…there is just so much to experience in Orlando that it’s safe to say that we barely scratched the surface!

 

 

We still had on the wishlist the new Crayola Experience, Seaworld’s waterpark Aquatica, the Orlando Eye Ferris Wheel, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Quest, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and a little mummy time at the Premium Shopping Outlets. With that much still to do, it looks like we’ll be back!

Orlando to Los Angeles with Delta – We had booked a morning flight to keep the boys in their day routine, and so they would sleep that night in LA.  The plan worked! A highlight of our flight was where the boys got to sit in the cockpit and IMG_6076meet the pilots.

We got our backstage pass by asking for our Simply For Flying travel log book to be signed. Thanks Bron!

 

 

 

 

 

Double Tree Hilton Santa Monica – 1 night, 2 days – Our plan to have a IMG_6138 stopover and to try and relax before the flight home to Australia was genius.  Double Tree was a nice midrange hotel and we were fortunate to be upgraded to 2 room suite which gave us lots of room to spreadout and relax.  We really took it easy in Santa Monica – one of the tricks to great kids on a plane is for them to be well rested instead of exhausted and overtired. Here we visited the pier including iconic Pacific Park rides, the beach and local playgrounds but made time to have a rest in our hotel room before flying home late that night.

– Los Angeles to Brisbane with Virgin Australia –  Feeling sorry for ourselves that the holiday was about to draw to a close, we spent some time in the airport kids play area LAX Beach, checking out the shops and relaxing in the Star Alliance Lounge. It was at this part of our holiday that we really needed the kids activities that we had packed in the Trunki backpacks from the StorksNest.  We didn’t want the boys to fall asleep until the flight, so we turned from ordinary parents to children’s entertainer extraordinaire.  In one hour we pulled more rabbits out of a hat than any magician could!  Persistence paid off. We boarded the plane, let the boys have one last snack before the boys fell asleep for 6 1/2 hours straight! Miracles happen!

The idea of going the distance to Orlando from Australia with small children is daunting but we’re hoping that our experience inspires your family to do it.  There is so much to see and do there and these are memories we won’t forget anytime soon.

We will be sharing more detailed tips on the above in the coming weeks, but if you have a question, please email us via hello@jetsettingkids.com  or send us a message on instagram @jetsettingkids – we’d love to help!

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