Orlando Itinerary Family Vacation including Disney, Universal, Waterparks, Beaches, Shopping
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Vacationing in Orlando is always a blast, with its thrilling theme parks and numerous attractions. But with every holiday comes a ton of planning, along with questions like “where to go?”, “how to get there?”, “how to fit everything in?” Putting together a carefully thought-out itinerary is essential to answering all of these questions and getting things on track, especially when traveling with the family.
Make the best of your trip with an easy Orlando itinerary that will meet all your expectations and leave everyone happy. With this list of 10 things to do during your 10-day stay, you’re guaranteed to experience most of what this city has to offer and come back feeling you’ve seen plenty!
Getting Around On Your Orlando Itinerary Family Vacation
Orlando’s a big city, which means walking is simply not an option. Visitors usually look for several options to get around and travel from one destination to the next. And if you’re traveling to Orlando without a car, then these tips are really important for a seamless experience. Some of the options that you can consider for transportation are:
- Uber or Lyft – They’re available with a single tap and go to any destination of your choice. Fares might be a little high if you’re traveling from Kissimmee or Port Canaveral to the theme parks, but they’re comfortable when with family.
- Mears Taxis – Exclusive and efficient, these taxis are operated solely in Orlando and your hotel can book them for you as well.
- I-RIDE on I-Drive – These trolleys are the best if you’re staying at the International Drive Area. They’re easy on the wallet and transport you to multiple places including Universal Boulevard.
- Shuttles – Many hotels provide complimentary shuttle services to the theme parks which guests are free to avail of.
- Local buses – Local buses provide services from neighboring areas and within the city. Super affordable and fast, they also have multiple routes that you can pick from.
Tips to remember before you start:
- One thing about theme parks that always rings true is the feeling that there’s so much to do and never enough time. Avoid feeling this way by arriving early or visiting on a weekday to beat the busiest crowds! Most theme parks open between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and the middle of the week typically sees the least footfall.
- It’s always best to assign amusement parks at least one whole day or even two. Hotels usually provide transportation to these attractions, so you won’t have difficulty navigating the way.
- You can make the most of your time if you book entry tickets in advance. Each destination below is planned in a way that allows you to spend your time in a leisurely way without worrying about things like meals.
- If you are hitting the parks early and don’t want to break the bank just yet, we suggest packing your own breakfast. That being said, there are plenty of eateries within the parks that offer some amazing meal options. We’ve listed them below with each day of your itinerary.
- When visiting an amusement park, we recommend taking a mid-day break to ensure that you and your kids aren’t tuckered out before the sun sets. You can swing by one of their many eateries to rest your legs or even head back to the hotel for a quick nap.
- Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes on days that you are heading to the water park or the beach. Remember to also carry with you some sunscreen, water bottles to beat the heat, insect repellant, and umbrellas or raincoats (if you are visiting during the monsoon months).
From thrilling rides to quiet days with the family exploring Orlando, your itinerary is planned in such a way that the whole holiday is packed with activity yet spaced out to give you enough time to enjoy it all.
Day 1 Orlando Itinerary Family Vacation – Arrival and Visit to Disney Springs
You’ve arrived in Orlando, it’s mid-morning and after some well-deserved rest, you’re planning out the rest of your day. Start by taking a walk around your hotel, grabbing some lunch, or simply gathering the family and heading to the pool to ease yourselves into the vacay mood.
After some lounging around, kickstart your Orlando itinerary with a quick visit to Disney Springs. It’s an easy-access lively area that’s got restaurants, entertainment, and shopping options as well as a laid-back vibe if you’re looking to remain a little low-key. Admission is free for all days, but visiting on a weekday is always better because of fewer crowds.
When planning a trip to Orlando Florida, we suggest skipping theme parks on the very first day of your arrival. Flights may get delayed -causing rescheduling issues and stress.
Moreover, it’s best to ensure some downtime on Day 1 so that you and your family feel energized to take on all the theme parks from Day 2.
Things to do at Disney Springs:
At Disney Springs, you’ll find a little something for everyone. Walk around the bustling area and watch all the live entertainment that takes place here, from music to magic shows and more.
Visit the House of Blues towards the West Side. With genres like rock, country, and R&B, it’s a nice music hangout for parents and older kids. Your little ones will love the Marketplace Carousel and Train Express which is open to all ages.
The West Side has a brilliant ticketed experience called Aerophile. It’s the world’s largest hand-painted helium balloon custom-built for Disney.
You can climb aboard with the family and go for an 8-minute tethered ride to catch a beautiful view of the skyline. Keep in mind that children under the age of 12 will need to be accompanied by their parents.
Alternatively, the Amphicar tour is a novel way to explore the area on land and water, in a boat retro themed to look like a 1950s car
Meals at Disney Springs:
Disney Springs has around 50 places where you can grab a bite to eat. Some crowd favorites include celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy, The Daily Poutine, and Amorette’s Patisserie. For adults, there’s also the master-sommelier-led Wine Bar George where you can indulge in an excellent collection of wine.
There can be a bit of a line to get into each restaurant, so we recommend getting reservations to save yourself the wait.
Day 2 – Magic Kingdom
The many rides, captivating shows, and enchanting air all around make Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom the perfect place to begin Day 2 of your Orlando with kids’ itinerary. It’s one of the most popular theme parks and the attractions here are perfect for crafting beloved memories with children of all ages.
Things to do at Magic Kingdom:
Magic Kingdom has a whole host of rides that your child will love, from the thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. While kids aged less than 4-5 will need to sit with their parents for most of the rides, it’s all good fun when you’re with family.
Explore behind-the-scenes attractions like the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Space Mountain aboard the Tomorrowland PeopleMover.
Get a glimpse into the world of Winnie the Pooh as you embark on the Hundred-Acre Wood in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. You can also take your kids to interact with Captain Jack Sparrow at Adventureland’s Treasures of the Seven Seas. Don’t forget the pirate scavenger hunt!
Drop into the Monsters Inc Laughter Factory for some family entertainment which is guaranteed to have you laughing- it also offers a chance to sit down inside!
Enjoy classic rides like Dumbo, Aladdin, A Small World, The carousel and of course all the shows and cavalcades and meet and greets of characters too. We recommend using the Disney World App to get familiar with your particular interests first.
Your Orlando holiday itinerary will need more than a couple of pit stops along the way for snacks and meals, and at Magic Kingdom, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
If you’re looking for a classic breakfast, then you must try Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. The shop’s Mickey waffle is famed the world over, and we’re certain that your tots will love the cute Mickey shape it comes in. Gaston’s Tavern and Cinderella’s Royal Table are other breakfast options worth exploring.
For quick service meals, you can pre-order on the Disney App, to make the most of your time so they are ready for you to collect immediately.
If you are park hopping and end up at Epcot, The Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and the Turf Club Bar and Grill at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort are excellent places to eat lunch and dinner.
Akershus is an in-park table service restaurant that offers kids the chance to join Disney princesses for some “Storybook Dining” in a medieval castle. It’s a good idea to reserve a table in advance because the park can get busy and it might be hard to find a place.
Day 3 – Hollywood Studios
A new day means another cool new destination, and what better than a film and television-inspired theme park? Hollywood Studios is a Disney treat that is best reserved for the third day of your Orlando travel plan. We daresay the parents will have just as much fun as the kids here, especially if your visit falls on a weekday.
Things to do at Hollywood Studios:
Begin your visit by getting on some of Hollywood Studios’ many famous rides. From Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Rail to Smugglers Run and the Lightning McQueen’s Racing Army, there’s plenty to check out.
Plan on arriving early; perhaps even a little before opening time around 8:30-9 a.m. This will ensure you spend less time waiting in queues and more time getting on as many themed rides as possible.
Take your kids to Toy Story Mania, a ride that is pretty much the Pixar movie come to life! Your child will also be in awe of some of the shows at Hollywood Studios. The historic Indiana Jones stunt is one to watch out for.
Other must-visits here include live shows like the theatrical retelling of Beauty and the Beast and MuppetVision 3D. And that’s not all; you and your kid will also get to meet multiple movie characters, like Olaf, Darth Vader, and more!
Another must is Star Wars. Even if you are not a fan, the Batuu area theming is incredible! Ride the incredible RISE of the Resistance Ride and be a pilot or engineer of the Millenium Falcon on the Smugglers Run ride. Download Disney Park Play App so you can make the most of the activities on Batuu and solve missions!
Take a break from all the walking around and sightseeing by making a stop at the Trolley Car Cafe for a bite to eat. This cute coffee shop by Starbucks has a selection of beverages for adults and soft pretzels and snacks for the little ones.
Woody’s Lunch Box is another eatery worth checking out where you and your family can try the best Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwiches, tater tots, and tarts for a midday meal.
If you decide to hang back for dinner, then check out the delicacies at The Hollywood Brown Derby or Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. The Sci Fi Dinner is also a fun, unique restaurant to try. You sit in a car and watch movies whilst your food is brought to you. Movies are shorts of classic sci- fi mixed with cartoons.
Orlando Itinerary Family Vacation Day 4 – Epcot
Originally known as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, Epcot is a Disney World theme park that celebrates progress and culture, making it a must-see during your 10 days in Orlando. With its vast collection of internationally inspired pavilions, the theme park feels like a permanent world’s fair that deserves its own separate day to be thoroughly enjoyed.
Things to do at EPCOT:
Earlier known as Future World, Epcot’s front half is now divided into three distinct areas – World Nature, World Celebration, and World Discovery.
Beyond that, a collection of 11 pavilions representing nations from across the world, known as the World Showcase, is situated around a gorgeous lagoon. It’s a full-day experience with pavilions for Mexico, Germany, Italy, the U.S, Japan, Morocco, and more that are all waiting to be explored.
Each showcases famous buildings, delectable food and drinks, artwork, entertainment, merchandise, and more that you and your kids will love discovering.
Meet Alice in the United Kingdom, Belle in France, and Donald Duck in Mexico. Let your kids spend some time with them as you capture these precious moments.
While most of the rides here do have minimum height and age requirements, it’s not much of a bother as there’s plenty to do together. Plus, using Rider Switch is always an option to ride the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind attraction in a coaster that rotates a full 360 degrees!
Ratatouille is a great addition to Epcot, where you are ‘scaled down’ to the size of a rat as you escape capture or worse! This 4D ride is a fun family experience with all sorts of special effects!
The ever popular Frozen boat ride is fantastic for all ages too! Be sure to sing!
Epcot at night is even more spectacular. You and your family will get the chance to experience beautiful light and fireworks displays. Harmonious is the best-ever show to bring everyone together. Don’t miss out on Beacons of Magic either, which sees the entire park transform with dazzling lights and sounds.
You’ll find some of the best Disney World restaurants at Epcot. They offer everything from character meals to extraordinary immersive experiences and gourmet cuisines! If you haven’t packed a bite for breakfast, head to Sunshine Seasons or Connections Cafe for sandwiches, pastries, flatbreads, and more.
For heavier meals, visit the Reagle Eagle Smokehouse if you’re in search of diverse options. It even offers a bunch of vegetarian and plant-based meals that parents adore.
You can pop into the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for American or Norwegian food. The Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is an in-park table service restaurant that offers kids the chance to join Disney princesses for some “Storybook Dining” in a medieval castle. It’s a good idea to reserve a table in advance because the park can get busy and it might be hard to find a place.
Or go for some delicious French fare at the Chefs de France. If a great American spread is what you crave, The Garden Grill Restaurant and Coral Reef Restaurant are some simple places that are a little on the higher end, but completely worth it.
Day 5 – Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach Water Park
Keep the Disney adventures going with a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park on Day 5 of your Orlando trip itinerary. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., it’s perfect for clubbing together with a visit to the Blizzard Beach Water Park that’s only 10 minutes away by bus or car.
The water park is functional year-round and has heated pools during the winter. Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during summer, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during winter, it’s the ideal place to go to cool off.
You can split your time between the two parks by starting off with a few rides and attractions at Animal Kingdom and then heading over to Blizzard Beach right after lunch.
After a bout of splashing around at Blizzard Beach, head back to Animal Kingdom for a couple more attractions and dinner. Keep in mind that to hop from one park to the next on the same day, you will need to add Disney’s Park Hopper Option to your theme park tickets.
Things to do at Animal Kingdom:
Discover animal trails and get the opportunity to witness African birds, elephants, hogs, and lions. Take your kids to the Conservation Station where they can learn about animal habitats across the globe through an immersive experience and fill out your free Wilderness Explorer book.
Watch your kids frolic around at The Boneyard, a play area designed to look like a dinosaur yard, and help them get busy by walking through tiny caves and going down twisting slides.
The park has over 30 thrilling rides, and Expedition Everest and DINOSAUR are some that you can hop on to with your partner. The kids will adore Kali River Rapids, a whitewater adventure that involves a lot of splashing around in. Do grab a change of clothes and towels, because it’s a ride that’s sure to have you soaking in the fun!
Don’t miss the magnificent Tree of Life which has over 300 animals carved into its trunk and is a towering mass that adds to the park’s natural beauty.
You must also attend the Festival of the Lion King, which is a nightly performance of Disney’s Lion King filled with songs, puppets, props, and more. Feathered Friends of Flight is also an incredible show.
After a quick mid-day break, hop over to Blizzard Beach, Disney’s very own water park. Take your kids to Tike’s Peak with a polar-themed play area, and slide down Mount Gushmore at their Summit Plummet. Parents are certain to love their Runoff Rapids and Toboggan Racers, which we highly recommend trying out.
If you want to get your morning boost of energy, stop by Creature Comforts, Animal Kingdom’s Starbucks. Sip on a latte here while your kids try the Mickey Colossal Cinnamon Roll paired with a warm hot chocolate.
For an unmissable treat, taste the pulled pork jelly doughnut sandwich at Eight Spoon Cafe. And be sure to drop by the legendary Tiffins Restaurant if you want to have a hearty sit-down lunch or dinner, with dishes from Africa and Asia. Since the demand is high, you will have to make reservations or come in early.
Several eateries at Animal Kingdom, such as Restaurantosaurus, Harambe Market, Satu’li Canteen, and Flame Tree Barbecue, encourage visitors to use mobile ordering through the My Disney Experience app. You can now even use the app to reserve a table up to 60 days in advance.
Day 6 – Volcano Bay
While you’re in Florida, your 10 days in Orlando itinerary must include a visit to Universal Orlando Resort and its three amazing theme parks. Volcano Bay is Universal’s crowd-favorite water park that is both huge and intimate with ample opportunities for privacy and fun.
Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summers and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winters, it offers visitors plenty of places to sit, roomy spaces, and multiple washrooms that are always a plus when traveling with kids.
Things to do at Volcano Bay:
Take your little ones to the Krakatau Aqua Coaster to glide through its multiple twists and turns in a four-person canoe together. Kids of all ages are permitted on this ride!
The Maku of the Maku Puihi Round Raft Ride is another fun adventure to check out, and the Runamukka Reef experience will allow your little munchkins to get creative among beautiful bamboo sea creatures and seaweed. Laze around in the Kopiko Wai Winding River, and have your own bout of fun at the Ohno of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides.
Volcano Bay’s brilliant TapuTapu system will save you long wait times. These free bands are included in your admission and make it easy to hold your spot in virtual queues instead of standing in huge lines.
The restaurants at Volcano Bay feature a range of refreshing treats and fusion food that are perfect for your Orlando holiday itinerary.
While they don’t currently provide options for breakfast, you can check out the Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club for lunch or dinner. Munch on their mango BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, coconut-crusted fried chicken, and an assortment of pizzas and burgers.
Bambu Restaurant in the Rainforest Village is also worth exploring, especially for their awesome grab-n-go salads that are super handy when you’re on the go with a kid in tow.
Day 7 – Universal Studios
Be it a 1 week Orlando itinerary or 14 days in Orlando, no visit is complete without experiencing Universal Studios in Universal Orlando Resort.
The resort itself is one of the biggest theme parks in Orlando, and one day here simply doesn’t do justice. Usually open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,( but check the schedule) Universal Studios is best described as a festival of larger-than-life characters from all your favorite movies and storybooks. Experience it all with your loved ones – from Harry Potter-themed rides to Jurassic Park adventures, and so much more!
Ticket prices vary depending on the time you spend at the park. You have the option to either opt for a single pass or a park-to-park pass.
Things to do at Universal Studios:
When at Universal Studios, visiting the sets of your favorite movies will be the first thing you and your kids want to do. Don’t miss out on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which will take you through Gru’s laboratory, or E.T. adventure for an out-of-this-world experience. Grown-ups will need to accompany their child on rides that have height restrictions.
For parents, there’s no end to the themed rides they can get on. From Fast and Furious: Supercharged to Transformers: The Ride 3D, Universal Studios is filled with rides that are great for giving you an adrenaline rush and keeping you going.
There are also a couple of captivating shows that the whole family can watch together, like Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration, the Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.
Dining at Universal is complete bliss – and we mean it! The TODAY cafe, inspired by NBC’s morning show, is a great breakfast place to begin your day.
For lunch and dinner, Cletus’ Chicken Shack and Harry Potter’s Hopping Pot with beef pasties and chips will keep you and the kids oh-so-full and happy. Your kids will also go nuts over at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour where they can have their fill of sundaes and soft serves.
Want a taste of some good old-fashioned fast food? Then Moe’s Tavern is your next stop. Straight out of the Simpsons, this place is famous for its delicious burgers, tacos, and moe.
Day 8 – Islands Of Adventure
There’s so much to experience at Universal Orlando Resort that you’ll want to keep coming back for more. And we definitely recommend it so you can dedicate a whole day to the Islands of Adventure! Here, you will rediscover witchcraft, wizardry, and magical creatures in a whole new light. Park to Park tickets are best for the same day, so you can ride the Hogwarts Express from Universal to Islands of Adventure and vice versa. As the ride is different on both journeys, you will wither need a one day park to park or two day park to park to ensure you can explore the best of these parks.
Things to do at Islands of Adventure:
Your last day at the resort means there’s no time to waste! Start your day off by taking your kids to the Jurassic Park Discovery Center where they can interact with T Rex fossils, run cool DNA tests, and examine dinosaur eggs. Attend The Nighttime Lights At Hogwarts Castle and witness a changing light and music show.
Play Whack-a-Mole, Top Glow, and Hot Shot with the whole family at Toon Lagoon Games. Parents, don’t skip the thrill rides.
Ride the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall; you’ll be glad you did! If you have little ones in tow, you can use Child Swap to experience the rides without compromising on your child’s comfort and safety.
Start your day by sampling some treats from Croissant Moon Bakery’s sandwiches and cheesecakes and turn it into a hearty breakfast. You can also go to Cinnabon for some comforting cinnamon rolls and stix in the morning, or as a snack in between.
For a delicious lunch, try Confisco Grill’s burgers, soups, and fajitas, or head to Seuss Landing Dining’s Green Eggs and Ham cafe. This quirky eatery has great chicken fingers and cheeseburgers for the whole family to gorge on at lunch.
For dinner time, try Mythos Restaurant at the Island of Adventure and treat yourselves to some Mediterranean and Oriental dishes. A little heavy on the wallet, it’s a unique dining experience that’ll stay with you for a lifetime.
Day 9 – Beach day
After a whole lot of fun at the amusement parks, it’s time to let loose in the welcoming waters of a beach. While the city itself is surrounded by land, only a short 1-1.5 hour drive will bring you to the coasts. The beaches on the east coast are closer than the west coast, but they can be rockier than the fine sandy beaches of the west.
Make a complete day out of it by packing some delicious meals with you. Several beaches have restroom facilities, chairs, tables, and also options for a BBQ! You can find popular eateries lining the shores, but a beach outing is a perfect excuse to bring out your trusty old picnic basket!
You might want to avoid too many heavy-duty activities like surfing and waterboarding when with kids, but adults and older kids are always welcome to try them. Little ones can busy themselves by collecting seashells and making sandcastles, and a nature trail together is always on the cards.
Things to do:
From the surfing capital of the east coast, Cocoa Beach, to New Smyrna Beach on the west, some of the best beaches near Orlando are accessible to you.
Daytona Beach, which is just one hour away, prides itself on the famous Daytona 500 Nascar race, which you might just get to see if you’re there in February. And the long stretch of sandy beach promises a lot of glee as your kids hunt for seashells and colorful pebbles.
Want to club more activities together? Check out some of the parks nearby that feature fishing piers and other fun playground entertainment.
You can also head to Vero Beach. Its sparkling family-friendly shores are perfect for renting a kayak and spotting beautiful manatees. Caladesi Island State Park is another remote experience that’s got undisturbed barrier islands and three miles’ worth of nature trails. If you still have some time left to explore other beaches, head to Ormond Beach, Clearwater Beach, and St. Pete’s Beach, among others.
Grab a hearty breakfast at IHOP on Cocoa Beach or a delectable BBQ at Slow and Low Bar-B-Q. Riverside Cafe at Vero Beach and Crabby’s Oceanside at Daytona Beach are other great all-day options for the hungry traveler.
Drawing your Orlando itinerary to a close undoubtedly comes with a heavy heart, so why not end it with something intimate and family-oriented to lighten the mood?
The city has some magnificent natural wonders that deserve to be viewed and cherished. The Econlockhatchee river in Florida is a fantastic place to start. You can splash your way through its clear waters and enjoy the lush greenery around you.
Tours usually take about 5 hours, during which you and your kids can spend time spotting turtles, birds, and reptiles. Be sure to carry insect repellants and protect against the sun with ample sunscreen on. An Orlando kayaking tour is also on the cards when thinking of some of the coolest things to do in the city. And if you’re visiting during springtime, it’s the best season to indulge in this experience.
If your vacation looks to be veering towards a different time of year, then worry not. There are multiple things to do in Orlando besides theme parks and you’ll soon see all the place has to offer.
Go on an airboat ride and visit Boggy Creek. Interact with the environment, look out for pretty little stones and ancient fossils, and make it a thrilling yet educational experience unlike any other.
Alternatively, you could also go for a Monster Truck Tour in the Swamps, or take a day trip to Weeki Wachee Springs. But remember, clubbing too many things on your final day may create confusion. So plan a little something depending on your departure timings and proximity to the airport.
Orlando Itinerary Family Vacation: Back To The Airport
After crossing off the final few items from your Orlando travel plan, check out of your hotel and leave ample time to travel to the airport. It usually takes 20-40 minutes when you’re traveling from Downtown Orlando, but do account for traffic on the road.
In the end, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve taken in all that you could. Whether it be a 2 week Orlando itinerary or more, this itinerary will give you a little bit of everything and you’ll have experienced the best without breaking a sweat!
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