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Heading to Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando is not just a good time for the kids, it’s a blast for adults, too. With so many things to do in nearby Lake Buena Vista and Orlando, as well as the time you will spend at Disney, there is no shortage of things to do. In fact, there is so much going on that a good rule of thumb is to pick a few that top your list, especially if you’re only staying for a few days. Getting the most out of your Florida vacation is simple, provided you become a little familiar with the parks and layout. Continue reading for some ideas on planning your family getaway to Disney.

Disney World Overview

When it comes to things to do, they are separated into two categories: those within the Disney area and those within the greater Orlando area. The Nighttime Spectacular, for instance, takes place at the Magic Kingdom quite often. This incredible fireworks show is a hit with people of all ages. Additionally, taking a stroll down Disney’s BoardWalk Orlando as the sun sets is the perfect spot to take pictures, get a bite to eat, or get a little shopping in. You may also want to catch one of the many Disney-related shows going on within the theme parks. With favorites such as Finding Nemo: The Musical, kids and adults are both sure to enjoy themselves.

Disney Tips & Tricks

If you have a not-too-distant memory of attending Disney World as a child or young adult, your memories are likely wonderful, but also include things like waiting in long lines for rides, lots of heat, having to wait for snacks, and never being able to find a seat at one of the many restaurants. Well, things have definitely changed, and it’s a good idea to research this a little before you touch down in Florida. You can now make reservations at all Disney restaurants up to 180 days before you arrive, so if you know well ahead of time that you want to eat out with the family on a Friday night you’re in town, you can make your reservation months ahead of time.

Plan For a Few Days

Those who have never been to Disney may consider trying to hit both Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center in one day. This isn’t advisable, just because there is simply so much to see. While they may be close to each other as far as distance is concerned, each park really needs one full day (or even more) so you can see and do all that is available. There are also several other Disney theme parks worth visiting, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

Not sure when to plan your trip? Check out this seasonal guide to Disney and decide on what time of year is best for you and the family.

Take Advantage of Add-Ons

While you’re in the park, the FastPass+ allows you to “skip” the line, so you can immediately get on rides such as Splash Mountain. The one thing to note is that, just like with the restaurants, it’s best to make these reservations in advance. In fact, you can choose what rides you’d like to go on up to 60 days before your arrival, but don’t worry, you can also do it the day before.

Lastly, become familiar with the MagicBand. This band that an adult wears around their wrist can be used as a credit card to pay for shopping, food items, and entertainment within the park. Load it up before your arrival, then tap it like you’re using Android or Apple Pay.

Other Things to Do in Orlando

While Disney is of course the focal point of your Disney vacation, don’t forget the other many things to do in the Orlando area. In fact, your kids and partner may even thank you if you reserve a day out of the trip that’s simply not for theme parks. The nearby Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve is a good day trip. With many different hiking trails, you might run into everything from a bobcat to a bald eagle. There are also many lakes in the Orlando area, including Lake Baldwin and Lake Eola. Each lake has public parks, allowing you to enjoy activities such as biking or boating.

Looking for some other information about planning a trip to Orlando? Read through this Orlando trip planning guide for more information on the city and the best times of the year to visit.

This city also offers tons of options for the couple that is in need of some alone time. Looking for a romantic getaway? Check out these fun ideas for planning your romantic couple’s trip to Orlando.

Where to Stay

You’ve likely heard of the many different vacation packages that Disney offers, not only through the company itself but through many travel agents. While those accommodations are likely top-notch, it’s also wise to consider other options as well. For example, looking for a vacation rental near the theme parks may be a more economical venture, as well as being more comfortable for you and the kids. Imagine having your own private space, filled with all of the comforts of home, while still being close enough to the theme parks to make your Magic Kingdom trip a huge success. There are many ways to commute into Walt Disney World, and you don’t have to stay in the park to be part of the fun. In fact, staying off-site gives you a little break from everything Disney, and allows you to see what Orlando and other nearby Floridian towns have to offer.

Nearby Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods

Enjoy some of the other offerings available to you and the family by staying outside the park. Below, we’ll take a deeper dive into 3 of the top areas for families in Orlando. Keep reading to learn more.

Park Lake/Highland

Great restaurants and coffee shops are abundant in the area. Find a lovely single-family home. Play at Lake Highland Park, check out Gatorland with the kids or meander through Harry P Leu Gardens for a break from all the action. Do some shopping around here at Mills 50. IF you’re traveling with younger children, take them to the Crayola Experience.

Favorite kid-friendly restaurants: Catch the ball game and enjoy some ribs and wings with the family at Gator’s Dockside. Looking for a lighter option? Try out the bowls and salads at Too Much Sauce. The kids really like Buddy’s Kowboy Bowl. 

Thornton Park

Look for a classic brownstone house in the area. You can also find beautiful bungalows and condos for smaller families. Lake Eola Park is just around the corner from your rental. Take the kids out for some fun in the sun. you’ll have plenty of shopping to do in this neighborhood at all the cool hipster boutiques. There’s also a ton of restaurants to choose from. You’ll be within walking distance to more than a couple of coffee shops, too. 

Favorite kid-friendly restaurants: Tijuana Flats is a huge hit with the kids. Tex-Mex and burritos galore, not to mention they’ve got plenty of margaritas for the parents. And if the kids want pizza, check out Anthony’s. Don’t worry, they’re serving up a glass of your favorite wine, too. And what kid doesn’t like a burger? Try out Graffiti Junktion for one of the juiciest burgers you’ve ever tasted!

Downtown

Tons of high-rise condos and apartments in this area, making it a better option for smaller families. This neighborhood is loaded with art and museums. There are also a ton of theaters for kids in the area. Be sure to look into what shows might be playing when you’re in town with the family. 

Favorite kid-friendly restaurants: Tin & Taco is serving up delicious tacos and tasty craft beer and sodas for the little ones. They’ve got several locations around the area, but the one downtown is our favorite. Looking for something fresh and zippy? Check out the tastiest Hawaiian in the city at Jimmy Hula’s. Try the Santa Barbara burger with avocado, cheese, onions, and Voodoo sauce.

Still not sure on what part of town is right for you and the family? Take a closer look at these tips and tricks for choosing the perfect Orlando rental for your trip.

Disney World Awaits!

There’s plenty to do at Disney World, but you will also have even more adventure in Orlando itself. Consider staying outside of the parks to save a little money and enjoy the rest of the city. Ready to start planning your family getaway to Disney World today? Head over to VacationRenter and pick out the perfect accommodation for you and the family!