It is only May, but now is a good time to start planning our trip to Orlando in October.
October is a great time to visit Orlando. For Flying Lad, there’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. For Flying Dad, there’s Halloween Horror Nights. For Flying Momma, there’s the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
You can read all about Flying Momma’s thoughts on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival on FiliVino. I will add, though, that if you’re going to the F&WF with a toddler, be sure to bring your stroller. We thought about heading back to the hotel for nap time, but we ended up powering through. Flying Lad found a water play area right around nap time, so after getting him dried off from that–oh, yeah, a tip–bring a change of clothes and/or a towel, he fell asleep in his stroller, as we walked around Japan. One of our favorites, perhaps because we are old, is “The Land” boat ride. It’s just fascinating to see all of the different plants and fruits they are growing and the science they use to grow them. Yes, educational thrills. So of course we were excited to bring Flying Lad on the ride, but I think his favorite, after the fountains, was the interactive play area after Journey Into Imagination with Figment. He’s also a Donald Duck fan, so he enjoyed the Three Caballeros ride in Mexico, as well, which is good since we also enjoy that ride. The way they have the inside of Mexico set up is quite relaxing and enjoyable. Also the tequila flights in La Cantina de San Angel can help if you’re so inclined. *pro parent tip – the Cantina has a deal for following them on twitter for free food or drink.
EPCOT sometimes has an issue with being able to entertain teenagers. Toddlers can always find something to do, adults can always find something to learn (or imbibe), but teenagers are generally looking for thrills and rides. Not a ton of that here. But going around from country to country, little ones always manage to find some of the simplest things to be rewarding. There are rides to be sure, and the “aquarium” but even small things like the model train set near Germany (and the AMAZING fresh Werther’s Caramel Popcorn) will hold their attention for long periods of time while you catch your breath or imbibe yourself.
A little bit less toddler oriented, as most of the rides are for bigger kids and adults, and toddlers don’t generally understand the allure of Harry Potter. However, Islands of Adventure does have Seuss land, and toddlers understand that! There are a couple of rides that your little one may not be big enough for, so be forewarned. Flying Lad really enjoyed meeting all of the characters, and even seemed to give The Grinch a real stinkeye. Luckily The Grinch was not on the Cruise when we went the next year.
And of course there is a nice Curious George themed water play area on the Universal Studios side of things for your kids to run around. This one is much more than just a few fountains as it has a couple of two story structures, water cannons, and TONS of water soaking toys. Again, bring a change of clothes, at least for the kids if not yourself as well.
Be sure to purchase the two-park park hopper pass so you can do both. The Hogwarts Express in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will take you between the two parks. Even this short “train ride” has a story component to it and it is quite exciting. And yes, it’s different each way to and from Diagon Alley. Speaking of – be sure to purchase a wand while you’re there. The process of having a wand choose you is fun, but there are tons of areas around that you can wave your wand at and your surroundings will interact in different ways. Really cool.
This year we made it on Thursday night, 10/29.
The night started off a bit inauspiciously with Flying Lad promptly going to sleep. So Mr. Smee and Captainess Hook were towing around Jake for an hour or so until he decided to join us. Once he did, though the night was great! We got entry to the park around 3 o’clock, so we could get in early and beat the rush of Halloweeners… Halloweiners? Anyways, there were still a lot of people getting early admission, and of course people leaving so it was still quite crowded, but doable. Throughout the
evening we managed to hit up all of the rides Flying Lad wanted to do with very short wait times. He even got to do several of them more than once. His first roller coaster? Check – Goofy’s Barnstormer, which even though it’s a kiddie coaster, it’s pretty intense. I was surprised. But not scared, really I wasn’t. His first time on The Haunted Mansion – check (and he LOVED it). And in case you’re curious there were a lot of people with kids even smaller than Flying Lad going on the Haunted Mansion ride (which is Flying Dad’s favorite by the way and cannot express how madly jealous he is of this). Flying Lad got to meet his favorite characters, which may have easily been the longest lines of the night. The picture with Donald and Daisy had quite fortuitous timing as the fireworks were going off overhead right when we got to picture time.
And candy. you want to know about candy. This is THE BEST trick or treating you’ll find outside of that neighbor who is away for the night and trusts children to take ONE full-sized candy bar from the basket in front of their house. Disney gives away TONS of candy, and not weird off-brand candy like sixlets and bit o’honey (which Flying Dad actually likes). And each station around the park doesn’t just give you A piece, they give you a handful. Well, they give your kid a handful, and you, and everyone in your family. Way too much candy. There will still be some left next year for us to give to trick or treaters…
Definitely not toddler friendly. In fact they won’t even let you bring your toddler in, I believe. However, Flying Dad has managed to go nearly every year that it has taken place. 2014 he missed it when we moved to California and seemed to have withdrawal symptoms from it. In short, if you can make it there, and have a sitter, or otherwise don’t have a young one with you, it is highly recommended. You’ll not find better production in Haunted Houses anywhere. however, it WILL be crowded, and we recommend paying the extra for the FastPass option. Even that doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait in line, but it will be much more bearable. Otherwise, you’ll be standing in lines sometimes hours long and never be able to do everything in the park, all wishing you had ponied up the extra cash for the FastPass. Pro Haunted Houser Tip – HHN usually goes until the first weekend in November. It’s much slower then, and also the first weekend which is now in September. Also, Halloween tends to be slow.
Have you made it to any of the Orlando theme parks with your family? What sort of tips and tricks do you have that we missed?