Orlando for Preschoolers & School-Aged Kids
Age range: 4-9
Good news: Your kids are ready for the adventure of a lifetime at pretty much all of Orlando’s theme parks! Still, some will be more fun for younger children than others. LEGOLAND Florida Resort is definitely calling your name. Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom is another stellar choice, but Disney’s Animal Kingdom — which gives guests the chance to see real exotic animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris, plus other kid-friendly shows and rides — will also entertain them.
On a similar note, SeaWorld Orlando is chock-full of magical animal encounters, such as at the recently upgraded Dolphin Nursery, that are sure to have your kids oohing and aahing in no time.
Over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, have your camera ready for photo opportunities with The Cat in the Hat before the family enjoys rides based on him and other beloved Dr. Seuss characters at Seuss Landing.
This is also a great age to introduce your children to Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, Universal’s Volcano Bay, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark and LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s on-site water park, all of which have special areas for younger guests.
For some indoor flights of fancy, head to WonderWorks at Pointe Orlando on International Drive. Here, science is fun thanks to a wealth of hands-on, interactive exhibits and other activities. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, also located on International Drive, is another source of unusual artifacts with proven appeal to kids, and don’t forget about the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium at ICON Orlando 360. For a colorful experience artistic children will love, visit Crayola Experience at The Florida Mall, just 20 minutes from ICON Orlando 360.
If your gang prefers outdoor thrills, you can find classic amusement park rides at Fun Spot America in Orlando and Kissimmee. The latter is adjacent to the Old Town entertainment, shopping and dining district.
Every winter, endangered Florida manatees flock to the warm waters at Blue Springs State Park, about 50 minutes north of downtown Orlando. Park rangers keep track of them so well, they can tell children who’s who among these majestic creatures. The park also has numerous hiking and picnicking opportunities.
About an hour north of downtown, DeLeon Springs State Park is home to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill & Griddle House, built in a replica of a historic building. Here, children can make their own pancakes and add chocolate chips, nuts and fruit as toppings. Afterward, outdoor fun includes a dip in the natural spring, a canoe ride or a nature walk through a floodplain forest.
Available exclusively at WonderWorks, the all-ages Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show offers a fun combination of magic, comedy … and perhaps most importantly for younger diners, unlimited pizza and soda! (Parents, make note that salad, beer and wine are also unlimited.) Or, your family can cheer on knights while feasting like kings at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Kissimmee, not far from Walt Disney World.
Kids this age would also love the chance to eat with some of their favorite characters. Look into the year-round character dining opportunities at our theme parks. For example, Walt Disney World offers a wide range of chances to eat with Disney princesses, classic and modern Disney animated characters, and other fun surprises.
At Universal Orlando, options include the Minions and Marvel Comics characters, plus the Grinch at Christmas. Despite a lack of characters at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, fantasy-minded children would also love to dine at The Leaky Cauldron or Three Broomsticks. And at SeaWorld Orlando, you can arrange for dinner with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer during Christmastime.
Assuming they’re potty-trained, kids as young as 3 can be kept busy and entertained in a secure environment staffed by Disney Cast Members at numerous Walt Disney World resorts. These include Simba’s Clubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Cub’s Den at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and Camp Dolphin at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Additionally, Disney’s resorts offer one-to-one babysitting in the comfort of your room for children as young as 6 months.
At Universal Orlando, select on-property resorts offer daycare services for children ages 4 to 12. These include Campo Portofino at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Camp Li’l Rock at Hard Rock Hotel and The Mariner’s Club at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
At the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Camp Hyatt is available for bathroom-independent children ages 3 to 12. Here, kids can swim, enjoy craft activities and participate in outdoor fun.
Orlando World Center Marriott offers two full-service recreation programs for kids ages 4 to 12: Kid’s World (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and Kid’s Night Out (6-10 p.m.). Additionally, the resort’s Gaming Recreational Interactive Destination (G.R.I.D.) invites kids to play on the latest versions of Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, iPads and other devices from 3-9 p.m. daily.
At The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, the Ritz Kids program offers daycare services for children ages 4–12 from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Services are complimentary for up to three children per room, per day. From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., the program is open to kids of all ages with their parents, and everyone can join in open play. At night, guests can take advantage of Kids Night Out, which includes dinner, arts and crafts, games and movies from 5-9 p.m. at a cost of $80 per child.
Various WA Kids Club programs are available for children ages 5 to 12 at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The resorts also host complimentary daily poolside family fun each day at 3 p.m.