Stay at Disney, within a shuttle bus ride to the parks or your own villa
On your nine-hour flight to Florida, get everyone in the mood with plenty of Disney-themed toys and games.
Where you stay in Florida is all focused on which theme parks are your family’s favourite. Choose your accommodation to be within the heart of one of the parks, with themed rooms and facilities to match, a few kilometres away or perhaps in a quiet residential area in a villa with lots of space. As well as the parks, there is plenty of exciting things to get up to in Florida for the best family holiday possible.
If Walt Disney World Resort has your heart, there are loads of themed hotels to choose from, such as Disney Animal Kingdom or the Art of Animation Resort, based around four family-favourite Disney films. The perks of staying in a Disney hotel include free buses to Disney parks – so you can keep it cheap, extra magic hours before and after the park closes, fast passes and Disney dining plans.
Other options include staying in Kissimmee, near shopping-central International Drive, which has lots of smaller scale attractions like I-Drive 360 entertainment park, Fun Spot Action Park with traditional theme park rides and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium. Or for more independent travelling with lots of space, choosing a villa means you’ll get your own private pool, plus villa complexes have lots of shared facilities as well.
Wherever you stay you’re likely to get your accommodation on a Room Only basis, or a Self Catering villa, but the choice of places to eat in Florida is diverse. And if you book your holiday as part of a package, car hire is often included so you can easily get around to all the big attractions.
Best family activities in Florida
It’s all about the parks in Florida, with Disney’s Magic Kingdom being what most people come for. Head for Cinderella’s Palace to catch the character parade, then stay on for the Night-time Spectacular fireworks at 8pm.
Other Disney choices are Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot, with Epcot alone covering 11 country zones. At Hollywood Studios catch a Frozen or Beauty and the Beast stage show or meet Kylo Ren and BB8 at Star Wars Launch Bay.
Universal Orlando® Resort is targeted more at older kids and grown-ups, with roller coasters and 3D rides covering Transformers to Despicable Me. The star of the show, though, is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is split across two zones, covering all of the most famous film sets and props.
Other family holiday destinations
Staying in America, another action-packed place to go with kids is Las Vegas, with just as many themed hotels as Florida, as well as top waterparks and play zones. Or for a classic Mediterranean beach holiday, winners are Spain and Greece.
If you want to head to Florida for the holiday of a lifetime, read up more in our travel guide and decide where to stay from our five excellent hotel choices below.
Divided into four themed courtyards based on Disney movies, the Art of Animation Resort will grab kids’ imaginations. Featuring Walt Disney World Resort’s largest pool, the huge Finding Nemo courtyard has a pool bar, plus there are two more pools in the Cars and Little Mermaid areas, as well as wet play areas. Other family attractions include the Lion King Boneyard playground, a Pixel Play Arcade video games room and movies under the stars nights. The food court serves American family favourites or you can get a pizza delivered to your hotel room, which has cable TV playing Disney programmes and a fridge.
Animal lovers get the chance to see gazelles, giraffes, and zebras right from their hotel room at the Disney Animal Kingdom hotel, set in a 43-acre savannah-style wildlife reserve. There’s safari-inspired decor throughout the hotel and rooms, which have either a pool or savannah view. The big pool features a slide and two whirlpools, plus there’s a water play area, playground and Simba’s Cubhouse for three to 12-year-olds. Dine on gourmet dishes at Jiko, African and American buffet in Boma and quick bites at Mara, and take part in African activities at the Jumbo House campfire and Sunrise safari, as well as catching movies under the stars.
This classy villa complex in a palm-lined gated community is just 12 kilometres from Walt Disney World Resort. It has lots of shared facilities around the central clubhouse, including a cinema and video games arcade, plus free Wi-Fi in all areas. Outside there’s a big pool with waterfalls and slides, a kids’ pool, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, plus a grill restaurants turned tiki bar. Each five or six-bedroom villa gets a private pool too, and five-bed townhouses have a small splash pool. Big American-style fridge-freezers and flatscreen TVs come as standard and some accommodation has a games room.