How to Vacation in Orlando With Multiple Generations

Sally Whittle, author of the U.K.'s top-ranked Who's the Mummy blog, shares four steps to building a multi-generation holiday the whole family will love.

By Sally Whittle

When you think of Orlando, it's often children that spring to mind. Between the rollercoasters, theme parks and Mickey Mouse ear hats, it's easy to perceive it as a destination that's designed for kids. This year though, we took a three-generation holiday to Orlando — and discovered it's an ideal destination for the entire family! Below are four steps to help you achieve the best multi-gen holiday in Orlando the whole family will treasure for years to come.

Step 1: Convince the Grandparents

Whittle’s Parents and Daughter at Universal Studios Florida
Whittle's Parents and Daughter at Universal Studios Florida

I loved the idea of traveling with my parents. For starters, it's an opportunity to spend some quality time with them. My parents are in their mid-70s, and I wanted to experience a family trip with them and my 12-year-old daughter, Flea. Added to that is the fact that as a single parent, having extra adults along for support and company is always welcome when we travel. Luckily, although it's been 25 years since my parents last visited Florida, they were swayed by the promise of warm sunshine and plenty of time to spend with Flea.

Step 2: Find the Right Accommodations

Example of a Vacation Rental Home Available in Orlando (image courtesy Feltrim Resorts)
Example of a Vacation Rental Home Available in Orlando (image courtesy Feltrim Resorts)

My advice for this sort of holiday is to book a villa, away from the noise and traffic. After a hectic day of sightseeing or walking around a theme park, my parents loved having a few hours of peace, sitting with a book by the pool. My mum will tell anyone who'll listen that her favourite part of the holiday was the sunshine!

Villa holidays are also a fab way to save money. We got a great deal on an inclusive package with villa, flights and car hire. Once we arrived, we stocked up on bottled water and snacks, as well as food at the supermarket so that we could cook breakfast at our home away from home. That was hugely important for my parents, as they're on a fixed income.

Step 3: Make Time to Build Memories That Last a Lifetime

Whittle and Family on Hollywood Studios’ Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Whittle and Family on Hollywood Studios' Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

A lovely part of any multi-gen family of trip is watching children make special memories with their grandparents. Flea's relationship with my parents has always been close. These days, though, life is so hectic that my parents are often just picking Flea up from school and shuttling her between activities.

That is why my favourite part of our Orlando holiday was watching my parents ride on Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Although they both swore "never again," judging by the pictures, I think my pensioner parents handled the thrill of the ride better than my daughter and me.

Step 4: Follow the 4 Tips for a Perfect Holiday

Whittle’s Dad and Daughter at Universal Studios Florida’s Springfield
Whittle's Dad and Daughter at Universal Studios Florida's Springfield

After a really packed week in Orlando, I've devised four tips for ensuring a successful, fun and memorable multi-generational trip for the holidays.

Tip 1: Leverage Emotion. Emotional blackmail is completely allowed if it means you can get your dad to go on Mission: Space at Epcot while you enjoy an ice cream in the sunshine. Although I do feel a bit bad about the time I made my mum go on Jurassic Park River Adventure at Universal's Islands of Adventure and she got soaked. Sorry, mum!

Tip 2: Do Your Homework. Do research activities outside of the theme parks. While my folks loved our days at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, they also loved exploring Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and we had a blast seeing La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil one evening. (Sadly, the latter is ending its run on Dec. 31.)

Tip 3: Find Something for Everyone. Don't expect your parents to enjoy every thrill ride or fast-paced attraction. We had the most fantastic time at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, but water slides are no place for my parents. On that day, we split up and my parents explored the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, which was great for them.

Tip 4: Talk Finances. Agree ahead of time how expenses will be split. We didn't make a big thing of finances, but splitting grocery shopping down the middle and agreeing to pay for alternate meals out meant my parents could budget. That's important when you're retired and on a fixed income. Having said that, Flea was thoroughly spoiled by her grandparents all week!

Orlando Has Something for All Ages

Whittle’s Family at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Whittle's Family at Disney's Magic Kingdom

Would I recommend a trip to Orlando with multiple generations? Absolutely! We've created some amazing family memories. In fact, a few days after we arrived, my mum said to me, "We never thought we'd take this sort of trip again." And I think that's my favourite thing about our Orlando holiday — giving our family the opportunity to enjoy an experience that was extra special because we all shared it together.

Sally Whittle spent 12 years working as a freelance technology journalist for newspapers and magazines in the United Kingdom and United States before founding the Tots100, followed by the MAD Blog Awards, HIBS100, Trips100 and Foodies100. She now writes her own parenting blog at Who's the Mummy, which was ranked the U.K.'s No. 1 "Mummy blog" in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Whittle has been named one of the U.K.'s top-10, most-influential bloggers. In December 2014, she was also nominated for inclusion in the Debrett's 500, which is a list of the 500 most-influential and innovative people in the United Kingdom.

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