Each year thousands of Canadians flock to Orlando in search of the Holy Grail for children – DisneyWorld. What most travellers don’t realize is that Orlando is bursting with other forms of family entertainment. From theme parks to shopping to luxe accommodations, Orlando has something to entice everyone.
The great thing about Orlando is that it was designed for families. Aside from Disney, the city is home to several other theme parks. Universal Studios, Sea World and Legoland are all must-adds to your itinerary. For your inner wizard, we mean your kids’ inner wizards, pay a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
There is lots for parents too – starting with the shopping. Orlando was recently named the top bargain destination by Forbes Magazine with 12 malls and outlet centres including The Florida Mall, Mall at Millenia and Orlando Premium Outlets, all within a 32-kilometre radius of one another.
Grande Lakes Orlando has something for everyone. A unique 500-acre resort, Grande Lakes is home to both the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels. Guests at either hotel can enjoy all of the facilities and services at both, giving you the luxury to choose the accommodations that suit your family’s needs.
Starting with the Ritz Kids Program, Grande Lakes has paid attention to what some parents may secretly want on their vacation – a bit of time away from the kids. This supervised children’s program is designed for younger guests ages five through 12. Each counsellor is certified in infant, child and adult CPR, basic first aid and water safety.
With the kids looked after, the 18-hole championship golf course awaits. If golf’s not your thing, sneak off to the spa for a much needed massage or pedicure. If you do nothing else while in Orlando try the Ritz-Carlton spa’s East Indian Lime Scalp Massage – it’s 80 minutes of pure bliss!
Once rejuvenated, spend some time together by floating along the lazy river, going on a nature hike or enjoying a day by the pool. For dinner, visit one of Grande Lake’s seven restaurants. Whether you’re going for fine dining at Norman’s or Primo, or heading for a delicious poolside meal at Quench, you will definitely find a dining experience that will leave your taste buds wanting more.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2012.