Lynn Liu, 43, travelled to Orlando with her husband and three kids aged 13, 11 and 8 during their recent Christmas break. This was their third time to Orlando, which they love because of the many child-friendly attractions, the expansive golf courses, and endless shopping opportunities.
For families with young children looking for an unforgettable vacation, sunny Orlando in Florida, USA can give you a run for your money. Boasting resorts with large pools, and amusement parks for the children, with outlet shopping and golf courses for the parents, Orlando has plenty to offer.
Here are the top activities we recommend.
For Thrill Seekers and Theme Park Lovers
Walt Disney World
Enjoy a magical time with iconic characters at Disney’s Magical Kingdom. Photo from @yoohoohboy via Instagram.
Walt Disney World, with its four theme parks, two water parks, three 18-hole golf courses and a smaller 9-hole walking course, is not to be missed.
The four theme parks are the Magic Kingdom (great for first timers and lovers of Disney characters), Disney’s Animal Kingdom (great for animal lovers and young children), Epcot (great for people who love culture and geography) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (great for fans of Star Wars and other Disney movies).
There are also two water parks here; Typhoon Lagoon (better for elementary school aged kids and strong swimmers) and Blizzard Beach (better for thrill seekers).
No matter which theme parks and water parks you choose, your family can have a great time at Walt Disney World.
Universal Orlando Resort
Experience a different type of magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Photo from @universallyspeaking1 via Instagram.
Universal Orlando offers two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure), a water park (Volcano Bay) and a night-time entertainment complex (Universal CityWalk Orlando).
Universal Studios Florida is known for its high-tech indoor simulator rides and environments from movies and TV Shows, while Universal’s Islands of Adventure has the famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Marvel Super Hero Island.
Be thrilled in the colourful world of LEGOLAND Florida. Photo from @cesarkoji via Instagram.
Targeting children aged 2-12, LEGOLAND® Florida offers a theme park with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, a world-famous botanical garden, plus a water park with slides, a gentle wave pool and water play areas for children and toddlers.
Kids can earn a driver’s license at the Ford Driving School and drive their very own LEGO®-inspired car through real-life streets. Miniland USA features LEGO®-scale models depicting monuments from the Empire State Building to the Kennedy Space Center, as well as locations from the Star Wars universe.
Orlando International Premium Outlets, Orlando Outlet Marketplace
When in Orlando, choose from three large premium outlets to shop till you drop. Photo from Premium Outlets.
The largest outlet mall in Florida, the Orlando International Premium Outlets is a stone’s throw from both Universal and Disney.
Enjoy up to 65% discounts off luxury fashion and sports brands across more than 180 outlet stores here and at the sister property Orlando Outlet Marketplace down the road. Examples of brands here include Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Lacoste, Nike, Hugo Boss, The North Face, Under Armour, and Michael Kors. There are also plenty of children’s wear brands to choose from, so older kids get to join in the bargain hunting too.
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
Regarded as one of the country's most upscale outlet centers and the only luxury outlet in the Orlando market, the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets has more than 160 outlet stores. You’ll find the designer outlets of Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Prada, Armani, Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger here.
There are also sports brands like Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Asics and New Balance, and midmarket names like Gap, Converse, and Superdry. A must for families is Disney’s Character Warehouse where you will find plenty of fun, unique, and highly discounted Disney merchandise. Discounts range from 25-65%.
Shop for the latest season’s offerings at the sprawling Florida Mall. Photo from @shopfloridamall via Instagram.
Located minutes from the Orlando International Airport and the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida Mall is Central Florida’s largest shopping center. Perfect for both bargain hunters and shopaholics, the mall has more than 250 retail, dining and entertainment options.
Kids will love their time at Crayola Experience where they can craft, solve puzzles, and run wild at the indoor playground. You can also bring your kids to let loose at The Play Park, a multi-sensory play area for children, or to the outdoor play area.
For Dining and Entertainment
Try some of the cute Disney-inspired desserts available all over Disney Springs. Photo from @disneysprings via Instagram.
A renowned dining and entertainment hub, you’ll be spoilt for choice on what to eat and do at Disney Springs, with 60 restaurants and eateries, 25 shows and over 100 shops. Highlights include the Coca-Cola store which offers 100 different beverage choices via the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines; Characters in Flight, a tethered hot air balloon which gives you breathtaking views of the area; and the LEGO® store with its amazing sculptures of iconic Disney characters, and where bricks are free to build and play with.
Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows
Be transported into a world of wacky and fun characters at Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Show. Photo from @sleuthsorlando via Instagram.
Plan an entertaining and unforgettable evening where you play games as a family over dinner. Play detective and solve a murder mystery game, and expect a lot of light-hearted moments facilitated by the humorous actors. With lots of audience participation, even children can participate and enjoy the show.
The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show
Watch main performer Tony Brent combine impressions, magic tricks, improvisational comedy, in this highly rated magic comedy dinner show. Photo from Tony Brent.
Another family dinner entertainment option at WonderWorks, The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show is a highly-rated dinner show providing up-close interactions in a combination of amazing magic, impersonations and high-energy improvisational comedy. The crowd becomes a major part of the show as volunteers are chosen throughout the acts to assist Tony Brent, the main performer. Reservations are required.
For the Avid Golfer
Orlando’s Top Golf Courses
Certified by Audubon International as a Cooperative Wildlife Sanctuary and rated 4 stars by Golf Digest, Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course represents a paradise for serious golfers, as well as a thrilling challenge for beginners. Photo from @disneysprings via Instagram.
Home to numerous PGA champions, many of Orlando’s golf courses have been designed by golf legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.
For the best golf courses, consider Walt Disney World’s four courses. For some quality family time, you can bring your kids along in your cart to spot wildlife around the courses, let them join you in golfing, and hit balls at the driving range.
Alternatively, the Bay Hill Club & Lodge is Arnold Palmer’s winter home and is ranked by Golf Magazine as the third best public course in Florida. Another popular option is Jack Nicklaus’ Grand Cypress Resort which has been designed like the Old Course at St Andrews.
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
Spread your love for golf to your family at Pirate Cove’s elaborate miniature golf course. Photo from @philippe_lussiez via Instagram.
Dubbed the best adventure golf in Florida according to Orlando Magazine, Pirate’s Cove has two eighteen-hole courses, Captain’s Course and Blackbeard’s challenge.
Both miniature golf courses have cleverly laid out holes, snaking through waterfalls, sunken ships, rope bridges, walkways and a dungeon. A great way for golf fans to share their love for golf with their families and have a fun time together.
For Sightseeing and Other Fun Experiences
Don’t miss taking a ride in the ICON Orlando ferris wheel for unrivalled views of the city. Photo from @gadgetnegron via Instagram.
A gigantic 400-ft tall ferris wheel, ICON Orlando is the highest observation wheel on the east coast. With 360-degree views of Florida’s skyline, each capsule is air-conditioned and roomy, giving your family a comfortable bonding experience.
Nearby is a bustling complex with attractions — such as the SEA Life Orlando aquarium, Madame Tussauds, and the Skeleton Museum — and plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to choose from.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
See NASA’s spaceships up close at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. It’s an experience you won’t forget. Photo from @travelling_countries via Instagram.
NASA’s main launch centre for human spaceflight since 1968, the Kennedy Space Center is an hour’s drive out of Orlando on the east coast. Visitors can get a realistic preview of life in space through high-tech interactive exhibits, which will keep the whole family engaged, even the kids! Highlights include the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit which hangs from the ceiling as though floating in space, and the Shuttle Launch Experience, where you can get a taste of a rocket launch.
Step into the curious world of WonderWorks for an unforgettable experience. It’s an experience you won’t forget. Photo from @nataly.ramos4 via Instagram.
This indoor amusement park museum is one interesting, upside down place where the ceiling is the floor and vice-versa. Offering guests both entertainment and education, kids of all ages can enjoy laser tag, ropes challenge, and a simulator ride. With interactive exhibits about space, weather, and light and sound, your whole family will be thoroughly impressed by WonderWorks.
RCI Properties in Orlando
On top of the fun activities that Orlando has to offer, you can also treat your family to a luxurious resort experience with any of the following properties on the RCI network.
Photo from RCI.
A magnificent resort with an excellent location, Hilton Grand Vacations Club (#3517) at SeaWorld International Center offers comfort and luxury in the heart of Orlando's attractions.
Enjoy the resort's superb recreational complex with three heated pools, five hot tubs, two children's pools and playground, outdoor whirlpool spas, a gym, shuffleboard courts, games room, poolside bar and grill, and a gift shop. A private 4.5-acre lake features a walking and jogging trail. There are also planned activities for children and adults.
Sheraton Vistana Resort #0450
Photo from RCI.
Luxury and style are hallmarks of Sheraton Vistana Resort (#0450), the ideal base for any Orlando holiday. A myriad of amenities and activities are at your fingertips with 13 tennis courts, seven swimming pools, seven hot tubs, a 16-hole miniature golf course, six recreation centres, two snack bars and one full-service restaurant. Guests can also enjoy a massage, and there is also basketball, volleyball and a children's playground to enjoy.
The Fountains #7605
Photo from RCI.
Surrounded Lake Eve, close to Orlando’s top theme parks, and right in the heart of the action along International Drive, The Fountains (#7605) has an indoor/outdoor pool that spans over 500 square metres, a whirlpool spa, children's pool, and a clubhouse. Rooms range from one-bedroom apartments for six people to three-bedroom apartments that will sleep ten guests — perfect for a family break.
Photo from RCI.
Inspired by the beauty and ambience of Tuscany, Hilton Grand Vacations Club At Tuscany Village (#6309) is within minutes of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, and is adjacent to the Orlando Premium Outlets.
Designed with a Mediterranean theme, the resort is reminiscent of an Italian village in Tuscany featuring lush landscaping and gardens with a lakefront promenade. Amenities include a fitness center, a sports court, and elaborate water features that include fountains, swimming pools, whirlpool spas, and an interactive children's pool.