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Getaway to Orlando

Five ways to entertain the kids in Florida without Disney – almost.

Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande LakesPhoto: JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

This sophisticated hotel – even the fountains that feed the toddler splash pool feature elaborately sculpted fish – tag-teams with the neighbouring JW Marriott property to offer the ultimate family resort compound. Ride the Lazy River Pool that wends its way past waterfalls, or stop by the front desk, which freely dispenses ice cream (along with the occasional stuffed zebra). The younger set won't want to leave Ritz Kids, where they can build a stuffed animal or hit a home run on the gaming system. Bonus: The hotel offers in-room camping, so kids can swap the rollaway to bunk in their own tent, complete with cuddly alligator and bedtime book.

4012 Central Florida Pkwy., 407-206-2400


iFly

After getting kitted out with a flight suit and a quick how-to, you and your child will be ready for your very own Superman moment. Step into iFly's glass chamber, and an instructor will help you hover above what is essentially a giant leaf blower. After the thrill of floating in mid-air, there's the fun of watching your instructor take a turn at the end of the session. Watch him turn sci-fi movie flips and do other don't-try-this-at-home stunts.

6805 Visitors Circle, 407-903-1150


Fun Spot America

Despite some scream-inducing rides (like the bungee-jump SkyCoaster), this amusement park has the soul of a small-town midway, with friendly staffers and almost non-existent lineups. Even preschoolers have their pick of minithrills, including pint-size spinning teacups, but they can also play wingman on everything from bumper boats – warning: you will get wet and you will enjoy it – to raised go-kart tracks.

5700 Fun Spot Way, 407-363-3867


Dragonfly

This sushi restaurant doesn't have a children's menu, but not to worry: there's meat on a stick. The robata grill serves up a mixed set of skewers, from chicken breast to corn on the cob, complete with choose-your-own dipping sauces. Chefs busy at work behind the wraparound bar help transfix the kids while you dip into the delicious littleneck clam miso soup or make your way through the maki menu.

7972 Via Dellagio Way, 407-370-3359


Orlando Science Center

Science gets a locavore spin at this interactive museum. Look for the live alligators and turtles in the atrium tank (a.k.a. Cypress Swamp) or head to the simulated orange grove factory, where junior farmhands can pick fruit, then pedal a tractor, which powers a conveyer belt, to load their harvest into crates. Don't miss the on-site shop, where you can pick up an old-school lightup Galaxy Spinner along with "Welcome to the Dork Side" T-shirts.

777 E. Princeton St., 407-514-2000

3 Ways to Keep the Magic in the Magic Kingdom

If meeting the mouse of the house is on your to-do list, don't miss Mickey's all-day photo ops at the Town Square Theater on Main Street, U.S.A. as you enter the park. Wait times are shorter in the morning, when everyone else races to the rides.

For a midday break, hop on a pontoon boat in Frontierland, head to the far side of Tom Sawyer Island and nab a rocking chair on the quiet deck overlooking the Rivers of America.

Don't forget the classics for the little kids. The musical boat ride through It's a Small World is still charming – at least on the first go-round.

1180 Seven Seas Dr., Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-2273,
disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom

 

Tags

FAMILY TRAVEL     FLORIDA     GETAWAY     ORLANDO    

Getting There

Air Canada and Air Canada rouge operate the most non-stop flights to Orlando from Canada, with service from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. Air Canada rouge service is year-round, while Air Canada seasonal service ends April 28.

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