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Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

We watch Orlando Magic play a home game at the Amway Center in Florida

On our recent visit to Orlando, we were keen to check out a proper American sports event.

Our son is a basketball fan, so we secured tickets and are so glad we did – it’s a night we won’t forget and the atmosphere was amazing.

Here’s our guide, if you are interested in doing the same.

What is it?

Our tickets were to watch Orlando Magic, a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida which competes in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division.

It was their season opening game at home to Boston Celtics in front of a packed crowd of around 18,000 people.

Our children, aged 12 and 8, really enjoyed the experience which is totally different from a sporting event in the UK and extremely family-friendly.

Where is it?

Orlando Magic play their home games at the Amway Center. This big arena, which also hosts concerts, is in downtown Orlando about a 15 to 20-minute drive from Disney World or Universal Studios.

Children at the Amway Center, Orlando Magic, Florida

The Amway Center

What did we think

Our children loved this experience and are keen to go back to another NBA game in the USA.

It is very family-friendly with pre-match entertainment, food, activities on the big screen, gifts being thrown out into the crowd and more.

We didn’t hear any swearing or nasty chants like you may at a British football match. It felt really fun and safe.

Highlights

*Pre-match there were fun and games outside the Amway Center with a Fan Fest (this happens for the bigger matches at Magic). There was face panting, basketball hoops for children to shoot at, music from a DJ and merchandise stalls.

*Once inside, younger children could play at STUFF’s Magic Castle (named after the Orlando Magic mascot), a play area on the promenade level of the concourse.

*It isn’t hard to find children’s food at one of the dozens of stalls inside. There is pizza, hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream and more. We tucked into some pre-match pizza. A word of warning though – it gets quite overwhelmingly busy as it seemed almost everyone was having a meal before the match started.

*The atmosphere – we loved the countdown to tip-off, the last 10 or 15 minutes had light shows, music and more as the players were announced. Once the game starts there is so much to see, children won’t get bored.

*Apart from the action you get t-shirts fired into the crowd as prizes, games to play via the big-screen and chants to join.

*GIveaways – lots of matches have giveaways for fans with t-shirts or hats on every seat. Everyone at our match received a free t-shirt waiting on their seat for them – all adult extra-large but a great keepsake!

Our top tips

*Get there early. At a British sporting event, most people aren’t in their seats until the last few minutes. We got to the Magic game more than an hour before it started and it was packed!

Children at the Amway Center, Orlando Magic, Florida

Enjoying the match

*Bags aren’t allowed in, only very small handbags. Don’t bring your backpack from a day at the parks, you won’t get it inside.

*Food is similar priced to Orlando theme parks and portions are big so consider sharing to save some money. Drinks, including water, are very expensive in the USA and you can’t bring bottles in so this does add to the cost of the experience.

*Taxis are the best way to get to the Amway Center as there wasn’t much parking around.

*If you are worried about it being busy at the end, maybe leave a few minutes beforehand if it isn’t a close game to ensure children aren’t waiting around for a taxi, Uber or Lyft.

Our Lyft driver was able to pull up and collect us about 100 metres from the exit of the stadium.

Orlando Magic information

Food: There were all sorts of food options with a stall every 20 metres on different levels of the stadium. There was water and soft drinks available everywhere for children. You can eat food and have drinks either on the concourse or at your seat.

Opening hours: The stadium opens one hour before the match starts. Matches last between two and two and a half hours. So if a match is advertised to start at 7pm EST then arrive at 6pm and you will probably be there until 9.30pm.

Cost: Tickets depend on how close to the action you want to sit and who the opposition is. Tickets cost more for matches against more famous teams like Boston Celtics or LA Lakers. Tickets range from 15 dollars to 1,000 dollars.

Best for: Children aged six and above with the patience to watch the match, which lasts about two hours including breaks for half-time.

Time needed: Arrive one hour before the match starts. The game then last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Access and restrictions: Fully accessible with seats available for wheelchair users and companions. There are two accessible elevators on the west side of the building, which services the Event, Founders, Terrace, and Mezzanine Levels.

There are also four accessible elevators in the NE, NW, SE and SW corners of the Club Level that provide access from the Club Level down to the loge and club seating areas.

Address: Orlando Magic, Amway Center, 400 W Church St Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32801, United States.

For tickets: If you’re planning on attending a game, you can contact an Orlando Magic Ticket Representative by visiting orlandomagic.com/tickets using the ‘Live Chat’.

Where to stay: We stayed at Marriott Village Orlando which was also a great location for Universal and the very expensive but very wonderful Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

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*We received free tickets from Orlando Magic for the purposes of this review. All opinion are our own.

The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete in Florida

The best things for families to do in Clearwater and St Pete in Florida

Family-friendly fun in America’s St Pete and Clearwater

If you’re heading to Florida and want to stay by the coast then consider St Pete and Clearwater.

With 35 miles of award-winning white, sandy beaches, warm blue sea and a fabulous choice of hotels, it’s a great place for a family holiday.

It’s also ideal if you’re mixing your holiday up a bit, perhaps starting with the busy parks of attractions like Universal and Disney World and then heading to the sea for a change of scenery.

Here is our list of top things for families to do in St Pete and Clearwater.

Clearwater Beach

Aerial picture of Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach is regularly named the best beach in the US in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.

There are lots of activities to keep everyone entertained including swimming, boating, fishing, jet skiing, beach volleyball and biking along the Beach Walk promenade.

At sunset, Pier 60 hosts street performers, live music, craft stalls and food every evening, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the beachfront.

St Pete Beach

Enjoying the beach at RumFish Beach Resort, St Pete, Florida

Enjoying the beach at RumFish

St Pete Beach has also scooped America’s best beach honour – in 2021.

It boasts turquoise water and soft white sand. The sunset from the beach at our hotel Rumfish Beach Resort was stunning – here is our hotel review.

Little Toot Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin spotting with Little Toot Cruise

Dolphin spotting

Enjoy a Little Toot dolphin cruise from Clearwater beach with tours lasting 60 to 90 minutes.

The boats are built to provide maximum viewing areas for passengers with open netting.

Address: 25 Causeway Blvd, Slip 16, Clearwater Beach.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Looking after turtles at Clearwater Aquarium, Florida

Clearwater Aquarium

Clearwater Aquarium is famous as it was once home to Winter the Dolphin who was given a prosthetic tail and whose story was turned into a film, Dolphin Tale and its sequel.

It is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured marine animals.

Visitors can see dolphins, sea turtles and otters. There are educational games, moving dinosaur models and a cafe.

Address: 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL 33767, USA.

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise, Clearwater, Florida

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

This child-friendly cruise on a pirate ship from Clearwater Beach includes entertainment like treasure hunts and water gun fights for the children and free beer and wine for adults.

Salvador Dalí Museum

Salvador Dali Museum in St Pete, Florida

Salvador Dali Museum

This art museum on the waterfront in St Petersburg is dedicated to the work of Salvador Dali.

It holds the largest collection of his work in the US.

Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St Petersburg, FL 33701.

Urban murals

A St Pete Mural, Sewing Seeds by Taj Tenfold

A St Pete Mural, Sewing Seeds by Taj Tenfold

St Pete is brought to life by more than 600 murals which adorn its walls.

You can take a guided tour of the colourful street art in the Downtown area.

There’s even an annual mural festival each October called Shine.

Morean Arts Centre

The Morean Arts Centre in St Petersburg displays works by local, national and international artists.

Its roots date back to 1917 when it was the Art Club of St Petersburg.

Address: 720 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

The Great Exploration’s Children’s Museum

This interactive museum is aimed at young children up to the age of around seven and is designed to make learning fun and active.

It is located next to the Sunken Gardens.

Address: 1925 4th St N, St Petersburg, FL 33704.

Sunken Gardens

Next to the children’s museum is this site – four acres of botanical gardens in St Petersburg, which have been around for over a century.

The gardens boast hundreds of plant species, cascading waterfalls and even a flock of flamingos.

Address: 1825 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33704.

Watch a baseball game

Baseball at Tropicana Field

Baseball at Tropicana Field

To experience the excitement of an American baseball game, watch the Tampa Bay Rays at their home – the Tropicana Field stadium in downtown St Petersburg.

A great opportunity for baseball fans, The Rays play Major League Baseball games.

Address: One Tropicana Dr, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

Kayak through Fort De Soto Park

A great way to explore this beautiful park is by renting a canoe or kayak.

Newbies and experienced paddlers are welcome at the Topwater Kayak Outpost and you might get to see local wildlife including manatees, egrets and dolphins.

Address: 3500 Pinellas Bayway St. Petersburg, FL 33715

St Pete Pier

Home to a range of restaurants and a state-of-the-art playground, the pier is a huge draw for travellers of all ages.

We dined at Doc Fords Rum Bar and Grille, which is in a fantastic position at the end of the pier overlooking the water.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Pete restaurant, Florida

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Petersburg

Fairgrounds St Pete

Fairgrounds St Pete is an art and technology museum.

Made by 60 artists, it is described as an immersive world of playful art and technology exhibits based on original Florida stories.

Address: 800 28th St. South, St. Pete, Florida 33712

Getting to St Pete/Clearwater:

St Pete/Clearwater is easily accessible with British Airways offering daily flights between London and Tampa (30 minutes to Clearwater) and Virgin Atlantic operating daily flights from the capital. Or you can fly to Orlando Airport (90 minutes to Clearwater) from London and Manchester.

Where to stay

We stayed at Winter The Dolphin’s Beach Club in Clearwater, where rooms are around £165 a night, read our review.

We also stayed on the heart of St. Pete Beach at RumFish Beach Resort, where rooms are around £230, here’s our review.

More information

For more information visit the area’s official travel website – www.visitstpeteclearwater.com

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*Photo credit: Thanks to VisitStPeteClearwater.com for some of the images used.

 

RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

RumFish Beach Resort on one of America’s best beaches – St Pete in Florida

All you need to know about RumFish Beach Resort

Our full review and guide to the hotel where our room leads on to one of America’s best beaches, we fly through the air on a zip wire and enjoy free s’mores every night.

Name

RumFish Beach Resort

Where is it?

Located directly on St Pete beach, one of America’s best beaches, around a 20-minute drive from the city of St Petersburg in Florida.

What is it?

A three-star resort hotel with more than 300 recently renovated rooms, restaurants, beach access and children’s activities.

Is it family friendly?

Absolutely – there is lots to do for children with a packed calendar of activities daily.

The swimming pool at RumFish Beach Resort

The swimming pool

They can swim in the sea or the family pool, use water slides, zip wires, take pedalo rides, watch magic and entertainment shows or play tennis or mini-golf.

Water slides at RumFish Beach Resort

The water slides

The rooms

They aren’t the prettiest from the outside, especially arriving via the car park but the rooms make up for that with their size.

The bedroom at RumFish Beach Resort

Ours had two queen beds, a spacious bathroom with bath and shower, as well as lots of storage space in the wardrobe which also had a safe.

The real bonus though is the separate kitchen, lounge and dining area. The kitchen has a large fridge-freezer, sink, hob, plates and cutlery.

The kitchen/lounge/diner in our room at RumFish Beach Resort

The kitchen/lounge/diner in our room

Next to that is a four-seat dining table and sofa with TV.

And the icing on the cake? Our ground floor room opened directly onto the beach through a sliding patio door. Higher level floors benefited from a small balcony.

The view from our room at RumFish Beach Resort

The view from our room

The decor was slightly dated but was bright and pleasant with a white and blue sea theme.

Food and drink

With the kitchenette in your room, you can easily self-cater here but if you do fancy eating out there are lots of choices.

The main resort restaurant in the evenings is the RumFish Grill, complete with large fish tank, which featured on US TV. You can go and see the fish in the tank all day and even take tours of it with staff. There is a separate large bar area next to the restaurant.

For daytime dining, there is Gulfside Grill. Again, it’s not that attractive from the outside but don’t let that put you off.

Gulfside Grill cafe/restaurant at RumFish Beach Resort in Florida

Gulfside Grill

Inside and on the patio, friendly staff do American breakfast favourites and lunchtime meals. We had a lovely stack of pancakes here in the morning. The patio overlooks the family pool and pool bar serving drinks all day.

Staying at RumFish means you can also dine at any of the options at the nearby (TradeWinds) Island Grand Resort.

It’s about a 150-yard walk along the beach and has five places to eat including Salty’s Bar for light seafood meals with fresh shrimp a popular option, a Pizza Hut takeaway and ice cream parlour and several other more adult-focussed options.

Within a five-minute walk of RumFish, there are local restaurants and a 7-11 store or Dunkin Donuts to grab any supplies or quick snacks.

Nearby

This area is all about the beach so you won’t want or need to head too far but make sure to explore the sister Island Grand hotel for more activities.

This is bigger than RumFish and the family activities are divided between the two sites. At check-in, staff give you a pamphlet and map explaining what is available.

The Island Grand contains the pedalos, water slide and mini-golf options while Rumfish has the zip wire, surf simulator machine and fireside s’mores.

Make sure to take a walk along St Pete beach at sunrise or sunset to take in the stunning shoreline before it gets too hot.

A mum and children enjoy the sunset on St Pete's Beach, Florida

Enjoying the sunset

Aside from the beach, the area near the hotel doesn’t have lots of interest but take a 20-minute car or bus ride into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe.

The city is well worth a morning away from the beach – the pier has a children’s playground and is a lovely spot to eat, we went to the busy and family-friendly Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, St Pete restaurant, Florida

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille

We have written a full guide on what families can do in Clearwater and St Pete if you are looking for more ideas.

Our highlights

*The location – it really takes some beating. To be able to open your room door and walk straight on to the pure, white sand on a beach named America’s best by Trip Advisor in recent years is fabulous.

Especially at sunset the beach comes alive with people taking in the view either from a hotel cabana or while swimming in the warm, shallow sea.

Sunset on St Pete's Beach at RumFish Beach Resort

Sunset

*The cabanas – Your resort fee entitles you to a free cabana each day, the helpful attendants will set it up for you and also are the best place to ask about doing any activities. It is important to have a shady cabana on the beach when it gets hot.

*The activities – The range of children’s activities – and the ability to use both hotels – makes the resort stand out. Our children loved the water slide and the zip wire, while we took a pedalo out as a family. All of that was included in the resort fee.

The only extra costs would be to hire jet-skis or paddleboards.

*Dining freedom – Having a good range of options to either self-cater, grab a takeaway pizza, eat at a casual spot right on the beach or enjoy a more formal seafood meal means there is a suitable option for everyone depending on your mood that day.

Top tips

*Check activity timings – we nearly missed the zip wire as the staff were very strict on finishing it one evening despite a queue of excited children.

Some activities didn’t seem to be obviously available at the advertised time so be persistent and ask the staff.

*A few of the younger staff, who mainly ran the activities, were fairly laid back and casual about assisting you, in contrast to the cabana team and the restaurant staff who couldn’t do enough for you.

*Evening entertainment – if the timings work out try to catch the stunning sunsets on the beach and go to the children’s entertainment.

We saw a great magic show where our daughter was on stage as the assistant and also a fun pirate theme games night.

*The beach is best early and late. Sunrise and sunset are the most spectacular times to be on the sand or in the sea, particularly during the hotter months between April and November.

Enjoying St Pete Beach at RumFish Beach Resort

Enjoying the beach

*Explore both resorts on arrival – it is hard to navigate RumFish and it’s bigger, sister hotel the Grand Island Resort so have a good walk round and check out where all the activities are and restaurants are located.

*Don’t miss the s’mores – there is a fire pit lit every night at RumGish with s’mores to toast on an open fire. It was a lovely way to end the evening and a proper American treat.

Relaxing at RumFish Beach Resort

RumFish Beach Resort

RumFish Beach Resort information

Address: RumFish Beach Resort, 6000 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706, United States

How to book: For the best rates book direct at www.tradewindsresort.com/rumfish

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*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

Our 10-night Florida itinerary – Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels, three waterparks and four days by the coast

A trip to Florida can be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday so if you are lucky enough to be going, you need to plan wisely.

There is SO MUCH to see and do that when you first sit down to organise this adventure for your family, it can seem overwhelming.

We’ve just taken our children to Florida – it was their first time in America and very special.

Our trip included Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels (including one dream hotel – more of that later), three waterparks and four days by the coast staying on two of America’s best beaches.

I feel tired just writing all that! But it was manageable thanks to enthusiasm and some down time.

So here is our 10-day itinerary, we hope it inspires you.

 

Day 1

Travel and settle in at our first hotel

Hotel 1 – Springfield Suites at Marriott Village Orlando.

Springfield Suites, Marriott Village Orlando, Florida

Springfield Suites

This was a great location – a 20-minute taxi drive to Universal and a free shuttle to Disney World.

Read our full review here: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios

Day 2 and 3

Universal Resort Orlando (Universal Studios)

Olivander's Wand Shop, Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Olivander’s Wand Shop

The amazing attraction that is Universal Resort Orlando is made up of the theme parks Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure plus the Volcano Bay water park.

This had the edge over Disney World for us especially as three of us are Harry Potter fans. It’s where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is – Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. You can even catch the Hogwarts Express between the two.

Highlight: Our son being chosen by ‘Olivander’ to select a wand for him in the mini-show at Olivander’s Wand Shop.

We’ve got a full guide, pictures and video for you – Universal Orlando Resort – guide and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

Day 3 evening

Basketball match

We wanted to do something authentically American like a sports match and our son is a basketball fan.

We went to the Orlando Magic home stadium the Amway Center, to see them take on Boston Celtics.

Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics basketball match at the Amway Center

Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics at the Amway Center

Everyone arrives an hour early to soak up the atmosphere and gets to their seats early to enjoy the entertainment.

It was a fantastic experience, read about it here: Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Day 4

Hotel 2 – Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Relaxing at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Widely named the best hotel in Florida, this was a real treat. It is a very luxurious place to stay with such attentive staff, delicious food and sumptuous surroundings.

Best of all, there’s a little water park so it’s a great place to enjoy a more relaxing day amid all the busy parks.

It’s within Disney World grounds and has a free shuttle bus service there.

We had a fabulous day enjoying the five-star surroundings, trying out the water slides and the lazy river, before hitting Disney the next day.

Read all about this glorious place – Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Day 5

Disney World

In front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Disney World

Disney World is one of the reasons that Florida is so popular. There are four parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios plus water parks.

We did a long day here to maximise the value of the expensive tickets. We started at 8am and left Epcot at 8pm. Yes, it was tiring but we saw a lot in one day.

We bought a Park Hopper ticket and started at the iconic Magic Kingdom, leaving after the parade in the afternoon and heading for Epcot. This was a great decision as the Frozen Ever After boat ride there is amazing.

Day 6

Legoland Florida Resort

Now with a hire car, we drove 45 minutes to Legoland.

Legoland Resort Florida entrance start

Legoland Florida

Fantastic for younger ones and without the queues of Universal and Disney World (at least not when we went), this was a slower-paced couple of days in the park and at its water park.

We stayed on site at its Pirate Island Hotel and our favourite part was the Ninjago ride, which we went on four times.

Read all about it – Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide and top tips

Part 2 – the coast

After a fast-paced few days, we were ready to head to Florida’s Gulf Coast – to lovely Clearwater and St Pete.

Day 7

After spending the morning at Legoland we headed for hotel 4 – Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Clearwater.

The private beach at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The hotel’s private beach

This hotel has a swimming pool and is on a private beach so it was nice to chill out for the afternoon after we arrived.

Day 8

We went to Clearwater Aquarium where film star Winter the Dolphin from A Dolphin’s Tale was rescued and rehabilitated.

In the afternoon we took a boat trip on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise and in the evening, enjoyed the sunset, a market and a lovely meal.

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise, Clearwater, Florida

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

Day 9

We moved again to St Pete Beach and our final hotel – RumFish Beach Resort.

Enjoying the beach at RumFish Beach Resort, St Pete, Florida

Enjoying the beach at RumFish

Our room opened out on to the beach and we enjoyed water slides and zip wires and an evening’s magic show.

Day 10

We headed into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe and our final lunch overlooking the water before a last beautiful Florida sunset. For more ideas on what to do in Clearwater and St Pete, read our guide to the best attractions for families.

Sunset at St Beach beach, Florida

Sunset

Day 11

After pancakes for breakfast, we left for our flight home.

What do you like to do in Florida? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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*We received complimentary or reduced prices for some of the attractions and hotels, for review purposes, all views are our own.

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

We spend two sumptuous days with our children in one of America’s top luxury hotels fabulously located within Walt Disney World Resort

Name

Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Where is it?

It is within the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, US, a short ride from the Disney parks themselves.

What is it?

Four Seasons Resort is one of the top luxury hotels in America – widely considered the best in Orlando with a price tag to match.

Relaxing at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The AAA Five Diamond Award property has 443 rooms (68 are suites), fabulous restaurants and a small water park.

The lazy river at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The lazy river

Guests staying here are able to get into any of the Disney parks 30 minutes early. And travel there and back by free shuttle bus.

Is it family friendly?

Oh yes, yes, yes. Our children adored this hotel, thoroughly appreciated the luxury and special touches and were thrilled with the water park.

Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Water slides at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Staff were so good with them. When we checked in, they received a bag containing a scavenger hunt.

This was a great opportunity to explore the hotel and find our bearings while they searched for various points to have their booklets stamped.

And the prize at the end? Free ice cream in a fabulous café/ice cream parlour on site, prettily named Lickety Split.

There’s also a great, free kids’ club for children aged four to 12, with enthusiastic staff and brilliant facilities.

The rooms

Our room was spacious and luxurious. It was a park view room which meant we could watch the Disney fireworks and lights displays from our balcony.

Our spacious room at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Our spacious room

It had two queen-sized beds, the largest hotel television we’ve ever seen and an iPad for contacting reception, booking restaurants, ordering extra pillows etc.

The big bathroom had two sinks, a bath, separate shower and a large mirror with a television in the centre, a great novelty, plus Bose surround sound.

Bathroom mirror television at Four Seasons Orlando

Bathroom mirror television

There was a very useful changing and wardrobe area with space for luggage between the bedroom and bathroom.

Plus, there was seating, a mini fridge and a present waiting for our daughter on the bed.

Food and drink

There are six places where you can eat at the hotel. We dined at Ravello restaurant, a modern Italian, with exquisite food and helpful, knowledgeable staff who called us by name.

This is also where the delicious buffet breakfast is served and it was lovely to be eating such quality fare.

We also enjoyed a lovely lunch around the pool, a server collects your order and delivers it back to you where you are sitting.

Nearby

The Disney World Parks of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are just a 10-minute ride away.

Hotel guests can enter the parks 30 minutes early – a huge bonus to be able to start exploring and queuing for the most popular rides when it’s a bit quieter – and travel there and back by free shuttle bus.

Our highlights

*The staff: From the moment we pulled up in our hire car and multiple staff appeared to help with our luggage and park the vehicle, through to those on reception, the concierge service, the Disney desk, those around the pool and the restaurant staff, we have never experienced such diligence and care.

*The Explorer Island water park: you can swim or float on rings along a lovely lazy river which loops around the grounds, there is a small pool off it with a volleyball net and basketball hoops.

There is a big infinity pool, which from a distance, blends into a lake behind it. There are two water slides in a separate area plus a big splash zone.

The main pool at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The main pool

An adults-only pool in a separate area looked especially peaceful and inviting.

*Games and sports: There’s a games room called The Hideout with pool table, games consoles, a tv and more. There are also pool and table tennis tables dotted around in other places along with a basketball court.

The hideout at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

The Hideout

*Seating: It is invitingly placed around the pools and is a mixture of sunbeds, cabanas and egg chairs. And there are towels available on tap.

Anything else to note?

We didn’t have time to use them but there’s also three tennis court, a golf course (Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club), a spa with 18 treatment rooms and a fitness centre.

Splash zone at Four Seasons Orlando

Splash zone

Top tips

*Be sure to check Disney park opening times and shuttle bus times the night before, the timetable comes out every evening. The buses usually run every hour. The Disney desk opposite reception can link your tickets to your resort booking so you can great straight into the theme park in the morning

*On set days, there are Disney character breakfasts at the hotel – The Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and Pals or you could even pay for a private breakfast or private meet and greet character experience with Mickey.

*Ask at reception for the times of Disney fireworks to watch, especially if you have a park-view room.

*This hotel isn’t cheap, rooms can cost up to $2,000 per night. That doesn’t include breakfast ($40 per adult and $20 per child). It is clearly aimed at the top end of the market but you are paying for an exclusive experience. There are no hidden costs here unlike other resorts with no resort fee and no costs for the kids’ club.

Sun lotion and water are freely available at Four Seasons Orlando

Sun lotion and water are freely available

The cheapest meals available on site were from the poolside restaurant with the most expensive at the top floor Capa steakhouse, which has two terraces with views across Disney World.

As it’s so expensive, it’s best to plan your days here when you can use the facilities and enjoy the tranquillity away from the crowds of places like Disney World.

The splash zone at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Video

More information

Address

Four Seasons Resort Orlando, 10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 32836, USA.

How to book

Four Seasons at Walt Disney World Resort

Children relaxing at Four Seasons Orlando

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We received a discounted stay for the purposes of this review, all views, as ever, are our own.

Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

Universal Orlando Resort – guide, video and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

A beyond magical experience for Harry Potter fans at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay in Florida

Name

Universal Orlando Resort

What is it?

Universal Orlando Resort is one of the most famous and popular attractions in the world, welcoming millions of visitors a year.

It includes two theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – plus Volcano Bay water park.

Based mainly on the themes of film and tv, there are loads of amazing rides, attractions and shows.

A huge draw these days – and certainly for us – is the Harry Potter areas known as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The American resort also includes a shopping area called CityWalk and eight hotels.

Where is it?

It is in Orlando, Florida, US.

What did we think?

We absolutely loved our time here and were especially blown away by the Harry Potter parts as three out of the four of us are fans.

Highlights

*We loved, loved, loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Diagon Alley (Universal Studios)

We explored Diagon Alley first, which is in the Universal Studios park. It can be found through a gap in the wall which would be easy to miss. There is so much to see and do there – a multitude of shops like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and places to eat such as the Leaky Cauldron.

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Universal

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

What first catches your eye though is the tremendous dragon above which sits astride Gringotts Bank or more specifically, the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. Every 10 minutes or so it breathes fire which can be quite a shock if you’re not expecting it. He emits a loud roar to warn you and it’s a great moment to capture on your phone. The Gringotts ride itself is spectacular, part roller coaster and part 3D experience, it’s perhaps too scary for young ones.

The dragon breathes fire over Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

The dragon breathes fire over Diagon Alley

At Ollivander’s Wand Shop, there is a small show where Ollivander selects someone from the group and everyone watches while the perfect wand is chosen for them. He tries three different wands, the first two with disastrous results while the third provides a satisfactory and magical reaction. Our son was the person taking part, which made our trip even more special.

There are mountains of wands to buy in the shop itself, but if you buy a more expensive interactive one, you can do spells in set places which you find on a map.

Wingardium Leviosa with an interactive wand at Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Orlando

Wingardium Leviosa with an interactive wand

There is so much to see and do here that you might miss fun elements like talking to an interactive goblin in the little Gringotts Money Exchange or tasting butterbeer.

The interactive goblin in the Gringotts Money Exchange, Universal Studios Universal

The interactive goblin in the Gringotts Money Exchange

We also caught a show from Molly Weasley’s favourite singer Celestina and the Banshees.

Celestina and the Banshees at Universal Studios Orlando

Celestina and the Banshees

The Hogwarts Express

To get to Hogsmeade in the other theme park – Islands of Adventure – you can board the Hogwarts Express. This is a memorable ride in itself.

You enter Kings Cross station, walk through a wall to platform nine and three quarters, thanks to mirror trickery. I don’t know how this works but make sure to send your children through while you video it for them to watch afterwards. Then you emerge on to the platform to see the train itself.

The Hogwarts Express between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Orlando

The Hogwarts Express

Once on board, the windows are screens which make you feel you are passing scenes and characters from Harry Potter while the corridor side of the carriage you are in, features shadows and voices of characters as if they walking past. There’s even a dementor on the way to Hogsmead. The return journey is different again.

Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure)

When you arrive at the other station, you are in the Islands of Adventure Theme Park. Here you will find a snow-covered Hogsmeade wizarding village with more shops like The Owl Post post office, Dervish and Banges and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.

There’s another Ollivander’s Wand Shop here as well along with the Three Broomsticks restaurant.

Hogsmeade is where the popular roller coaster ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is located, which takes riders into the Forbidden Forest. This has the longest queues of any ride at the park so if you are keen to do it, then get there early or wait until last thing in the evening.

Also here is the Flight of the Hippogriff Family Coaster which is a good first roller coaster for younger people for try – although can still feel very fast and dramatic!

And this park is where you get to see Hogwarts castle itself.

Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure, Universal Resort Orlando

Hogwarts Castle

You only enter to do the ride there – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

*Other rides

Other rides we enjoyed at Universal Resort were the classics like ET Adventure – it opened in 1990 and can seem quite dated to adults but it’s a relatively gentle ride and was one of our daughter’s favourites so we rode it twice.

ET Adventure, Universal Studios, Universal Resort Orlando

ET Adventure

Next to the ET ride is one of the two areas of the park for younger children. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse rollercoaster is a nice gentle one to start with and there are opportunities there to have your picture taken with film characters.

In another part of the park is an area dedicated Dr Seuss with a series of smaller rides in a nice colourful area. We enjoyed the Trolley Train which gives a good view over the whole site. This is a good, slightly quieter spot to eat a picnic or rest for a few minutes.

Shows

One great way to rest your legs and escape from the heat is to go and watch a live show.

We loved Animal Actors on Location. Talented animal actors from films and tv including dogs, cats, parrots and more perform mischievous tricks.

There are other shows around both parks, including the Bourne Stuntacular which is very popular.

Top tips

*How long do you need

We had two days at Universal and that felt plenty for us. But if you are a group who love the biggest and most popular rides including roller coasters and screen-based simulators, then you may need longer. The second day felt amazing. We got there early and walked in confidently, knowing what we were doing and where we wanted to go.

*Park-to-Park ticket

If you are a Harry Potter fan then you are going to want to visit both theme parks and have a Park-to-Park ticket. Universal has cleverly split the Wizarding World of Harry Potter into two, with Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmead at Islands of Adventure, connected by the Hogwarts Express (which you can only ride with a Park-to-Park ticket).

*Express Pass

This is a way to skip the long queues and enter a much quicker line on around 14 listed rides in each park. There are two versions – regular which lets you miss the queue once per attraction and unlimited, which offers unlimited times you can use it per attraction. We had Express Passes and it made our visit so much more enjoyable, so I would really urge you to consider this if your budget allows and if the rides you are keen to try are included.

Express pass entrance, Universal Resort Orlando

*How to get there

If you are not staying in a Universal hotel on site – and we weren’t – the best way to arrive and depart, if you are within a few miles is by using Uber or Lyft taxis.

There is a specific drop-off and collection point and it works very efficiently.

This works out cheaper and easier than a hire car if you are staying quite near.

*Lockers

You aren’t allowed bags on some rides but there are lockers near to them. There are also big lockers near the entrance that you pay to use.

Lockers at Universal Resort Orlando

*When to get there

Make sure you get there before ‘rope drop’ – the actual opening time – as you can’t believe the amount of people pouring into the parks and to enter when it’s a bit quieter is bliss. You can then head to the Harry Potter parts first – we got there really early on our second morning and Diagon Alley is a completely different experience – it starts to get more unbearable mid-morning.

Flourish and Blotts, Diagon ALley, Universal Studios Orlando

A quiet Diagon Alley first thing in the morning

Volcano Bay

There’s a third park at Universal Orlando – a water park called Volcano Bay. It has a South Seas theme with a big volcano in the middle and feels like a tropical paradise.

Water slides at Volcano Bay, Universal Resort Orlando

Volcano Bay

Instead of queuing, you wear a TapuTapu on your wrist to book a ride time.

A Tapu Tapu watch instead of queues at Volcano Bay

A Tapu Tapu

There are lots of amazing rides but our favourites were the wave pool and the lazy river.

There is a slide section dedicated to younger children under a certain height, but we couldn’t find any of the next level up to build confidence – just much bigger slides. 

But it was brilliant for a change of pace and to cool down.

To get there you need to get a free bus from the City Walk transport hub at Universal.

Tip: Beware of extra costs. Take your own towels or pay $5 per towel. Locker rent is $20 so if one member of the party isn’t swimming, get them to watch the stuff from the sunbed.

For eating and drinking there are a couple of restaurants and a nice ice cream stall.

Video

Universal Orlando Resort information

Where to stay: We stopped at two nearby hotels – the reasonably priced Marriott Village Orlando and the very expensive, but absolutely fabulous Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

Food: There are loads and loads of places to eat, including the Leaky Cauldron (Universal Studios) and The Three Broomsticks (Islands of Adventure) from Harry Potter. Bring snacks with you if you want to try to save money.

Opening hours: Varies daily, check before you go as you want to arrive early: Universal Orlando hours

Cost: Prices start from $70 for Volcano Bay and $109 for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. A Park-to-Park ticket covering two parks starts from $159 for children. Look out for offers such as four days for the price of two – Universal Orlando tickets, packages and prices

Best for:  There’s something for everyone, even rides and activities for toddlers. Plus all the rides have a child swap (also known as kid swap or baby swap) option. This means even if a younger child can’t or doesn’t want to go on a ride, the rest of the family does not need to miss out. There are different ways this works depending on the ride so check first. We used it effectively on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Ride.

Time needed: Two days

Access and restrictions: Accessibility Information Universal Orlando Resort

Address: Parking address for the theme parks and Universal CityWalk: Universal Orlando Resort, 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819.

To book: Universal Orlando Resort

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*We received complimentary or reduced prices for review purposes, all views are our own.

Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

Clearwater hotel review: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Florida, USA

We visit the hotel named after film star Winter the dolphin and linked to the very aquarium which rescued her

Name

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club.

Where is it?

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club hotel is on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. It’s located on South Gulfview Boulevard a ten-minute walk to the main beach and Pier 60.

What is it?

A low-rise five-storey hotel in a beautiful position with its own private beach on to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The private beach at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The hotel’s private beach

It is named after Winter the Dolphin who was rescued by nearby Clearwater Aquarium – Winter’s story was turned into the film A Dolphin’s Tale.

The hotel is Dolphin-themed and linked with the aquarium – you can get a ticket discount at reception and aquarium staff visit to give talks to guests.

It specialises in being environmentally friendly with recycling bins on every floor and recyclable water bottles on arrival.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, children will love the dolphin themes and the pictures everywhere, even in the elevator. There was also a dinosaur model in reception when we visited – the other dinosaurs from the same group are at Clearwater Aquarium.

The small, warm pool has a shallow end for child’s swimming, but doesn’t have a lifeguard.

The pool at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The pool

Younger ones can also play on the pristine white sand on the hotel’s beach and paddle in the shallow sea.

At Winter’s Eco-Ranger Clubhouse at the hotel there are child-friendly games, Dolphin Tale memorabilia, marine-themed books and an interactive tablet station with aquarium information on.

The rooms

The good-sized rooms have been recently renovated and updated.

Our room at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

Our room

Ours felt fresh and clean with two comfortable queen beds, a fridge, microwave, safe, large flat screen TV and bottled water on arrival.

The bathroom was modern, if a little cramped, with a separate sink and mirror area.

Our room at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The air conditioning unit was welcome but was a little noisy at night.

It is worth getting a beach front room if you can as having a balcony with a view over the Gulf of Mexico is amazing, especially at sunset.

The view from our balcony at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The view from our balcony

Food and drink

No breakfast is included in the stay. There is a restaurant and bar attached to the hotel called Cabanas Bar and Grill.

It is run separately from the hotel and serves breakfast, lunch and dinners.

We ate outside at the back of the hotel next to beach on our first night here and had a great meal in a fabulous setting.

The portions are huge with a fish-led menu and children’s options. The food was served in paper boxes, so you can take it elsewhere or staff will bring food and drinks to you by the pool and on the beach as well.

There is a small supermarket opposite the hotel and another convenience store a short walk away.

We had an excellent pizza from Gondolier restaurant almost opposite the entrance and some tasty breakfast pancakes from nearby Speggtacular.

There are lots of places to eat and drink within walking distance as Clearwater is a busy tourist resort.

Nearby

The main Clearwater beach with its stretch of white sand is a 10-minute walk away. You can explore Pier 60, which is great at sunset with a small market, buskers and fairground style rides.

A market at sunset in Clearwater

A market at sunset

It is a two-mile drive to Clearwater Aquarium to see their rescued dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays and more.

There are lots of boat cruises you can take. We did a child-friendly cruise called Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise, where the children can do treasure hunts and have water gun fights while the adults get free beer and wine.

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise, Clearwater, Florida

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

We have written a full guide on what families can do in Clearwater and St Pete if you are looking for more ideas.

Our highlights

*Location – the view is amazing and the small, quiet beach is a lovely safe spot to play and relax. You can walk to Clearwater’s busier attractions easily too.

Looking after turtles at Clearwater Aquarium, Florida

Clearwater Aquarium

*Staff – they were all lovely, from the friendly lady on reception to the maintenance people who combed and prepared the beach every morning. As a small hotel it feels like you get a personal service.

*Pool – the warm pool is small but a nice temperature and has a shallow entry. It does get deeper quickly so keep an eye on younger swimmers. There were noodles and rings to use by the pool.

Top tips

*Parking is next door at the Hampton Inn, an attendant arranges parking on entry and gives you a pass which you pay for at reception at the end of your stay.

*If you want to use the sun beds on the beach then you have to pay. It was $20 per day when we visited.

*You can catch the Jolley Trolley bus service from almost outside the hotel to get to Clearwater beach. It stops by every half an hour and is a fun way to travel. Children eight and under ride for free.

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club information

Address: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club, 655 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767.

How to book: Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club

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*We received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.

Big plans for Orlando for 2020 – new rides, resorts, restaurants and more

Big plans for Orlando for 2020 – new rides, resorts, restaurants and more

What is new for the Theme Park Capital of the World this year at attractions including Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld

Orlando in Florida is welcoming 30 new additions for 2020.

There will be a theme park expansion, the world’s tallest slingshot ride, an ‘acoustically perfect’ theatre, a new celebrity chef restaurant and one of the largest booms for hotel growth in decades.

Theme Parks

Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World Resort)

*The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, ‘Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway,’ will open.

*Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’ has opened and is the second attraction for the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land.

Epcot (Walt Disney World Resort)

Epcot is undergoing one of the biggest transformations of any Disney park in history, bringing a host of new attractions and experiences in 2020, including:

*Three new films from January 17: Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 and Awesome Planet.

*Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens in summer 2020, shrinking guests to the size of Chef Remy and racing them through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.

*Epcot’s new nighttime spectacular HarmonioUS, the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.

*La Crêperie de Paris, a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot, debuting in summer 2020, offering both table and quick-service crepe options.

Universal Orlando Resort

*The Bourne Stuntacular, a cutting-edge live-action stunt show based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne films, will debut in spring 2020 at Universal Studios Florida.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

*Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando, opening spring 2020, takes riders on the steepest vertical drop in Florida.

*Riptide Race at Aquatica Orlando will be Florida’s first-ever dueling water slide, featuring side-by-side racing lanes through nearly 650 feet of slide.

New Entertainment Beyond the Parks

Outside the famous theme parks, Orlando is reaching new heights this year, from some of the world’s tallest thrills rides to one of the most acoustically perfect spaces on earth.

*Steinmetz Hall at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opening September 2020, will achieve an N1 sound rating – the lowest level at which humans can detect sound.

Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

*ICON Park, located on International Drive and home to The Wheel and Starflyer attractions, will welcome more record-breaking attractions in 2020, including two major thrill rides:

The Orlando Slingshot will catapult guests 450 feet into the air and is set to the be the World’s Tallest Slingshot ride.

The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower will reach 400 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower. Riders freefall at up to 75 miles per hour.

*The Orlando Science Center’s ‘Pompeii: The Immortal City,’ runs June 6 to September 7, 2020 and is one of only four US sites for the interactive exhibit.

Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center

*’Drawn to Life,’ a new Cirque du Soleil show, transports guests into the world of Disney’s animation in Cirque’s signature style, opening at Disney Springs in March 2020.

*Wild Florida’s 75-acre drive-through safari park brings visitors nose-to-snout with giraffes, wild boars and other animals. The safari area will include a zipline over a grazing area.

*Two Orlando malls are set to undergo enhancements in 2020 – Pointe Orlando and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets.

New Resorts and Hotels

Orlando has the second highest number of hotel rooms of anywhere in the US and is undergoing a huge hotel expansion.

*JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opens February 2020 with 516 rooms, a Spa and a rooftop terrace with nightly views of theme park fireworks.

JW Marriott Orlando kids room

JW Marriott Orlando

*Universal Orlando Resort’s 2,050-room Dockside Inn and Suites opens March 2020. It is a coastal-themed budget hotel with rates starting at $76 per night.

New Restaurants

There are a host of new eateries adding to Orlando’s diverse food scene.

*Knife & Spoon at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is a concept from chef John Tesar, opening spring 2020.

*Ole Red, a new restaurant by country superstar Blake Shelton, will open at ICON Park in 2020 and merge southern hospitality, good food and live country music. Also coming to ICON Park in 2020 is Ox Grill, offering contemporary fare with steaks, pasta and a selection of international dishes.

*Camelo Pizzaria opens on International Drive in early 2020. The Brazilian thin-crust pizza place is the first location outside Brazil.

*Sixty Vines, a restaurant with Napa Valley-inspired seasonal cuisine, will open in spring 2020 in Winter Park and offer guests 60 varieties of wine on tap.

*Norman’s will be moving to Restaurant Row. Created by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken, the concept will open in the Dellagio Plaza spring 2020.

*Kavas Tacos + Tequila at Pointe Orlando opens September 2020. The locally owned restaurant will feature Mexican comfort food, tequila flights and entertainment. Also opening at Pointe Orlando is The Hampton Social, themed after the New York coastal resort region.

*AG’s Market, a lakefront food hall opening late 2020, combines retail, beverage and food options with a second-floor seating area showcasing the theme park fireworks.

For all the updates and tips for planning a trip go to VisitOrlando.com

Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States.

Best family holiday destinations for warm weather and sunshine in March

Best family holiday destinations for warm weather and sunshine in March

Where to travel in March for the best family holidays with your children abroad in the sun or here in the UK

In March, the promise of warmth is coming and you won’t have to go quite as far to seek out the sunshine.

Here are our top picks for family trips in the third month of the year.

Morocco

Travel time from the UK: 3.5 hours

Temperature: 17-25C

Aerial view of Agadir, Morocco

Agadir, Morocco

Morocco is nicely warm in March.

You can choose the explosion of sights and smells in Marrakech or Casablanca.

But there are also more straightforward bucket-and-spade holiday options in a ready-made tourist resort like Agadir with sweeping beaches and large all-inclusive hotels.

Los Angeles, USA

Travel time from the UK: 10 hours

Temperature: 20C

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

LA in California is hot and humid in the summer but ideal in early spring.

There’s a Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios of course but also the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the beaches of Santa Monica and museums with everything from dinosaurs to space shuttles.

Florida, USA

Travel time from the UK: 10 hours

Temperature: 20-26C

Hogwarts at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida

Florida is at its best when it isn’t too hot to hit Disney World.

In spring it isn’t too hot to queue for rides but is warm enough to be on the beach.

There are so many activities for children and make sure you consider alternatives to Orlando and its theme parks, like the Tampa Bay area, the Gulf Coast from Naples or south to the Florida Keys.

Madrid

Travel time from the UK: 2 hours

Temperature: 16C

Madrid

Madrid

The Spanish capital is warming up in March for a city break with a difference.

You can explore the parks and squares as well as sample some tapas.

Madrid also has an excellent zoo and aquarium, a cable car and on the outskirts there is the Warner Bros theme park.

Windermere, Lake District, UK

Temperature: 8C

Windermere in the Lake District

Windermere

March means daffodils across the beautiful Lake District in the northwest of England.

Yes, it’s still cold but there is so much colour.

We visited Windermere in March where you can balance spring walks with indoor attractions like the World of Beatrix Potter and the Aquarium of the Lakes. Read our article here: Five family-friendly activities around Windermere in the Lake District

Where do you like to holiday in March? We would love to know!

New Harry Potter, Lego and Star Wars rides opening in Orlando plus lots more for children

New Harry Potter, Lego and Star Wars rides opening in Orlando plus lots more for children

America’s Orlando is opening a host of new rides and areas for visitors to enjoy this summer.

Orlando in Florida is already one of the world’s most visited family destinations.

It is home to seven theme parks and 450 hotels and welcomed 75 million visitors last year.

And a host of new rides and areas are opening for children to enjoy this year, it has been revealed.

Harry Potter

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a ride which takes visitors into the Forbidden Forest made famous in JK Rowling’s books.

Harry Potter fans can board flying motorbikes and with Hagrid as guide, travel through the forest seeing fantastic beasts.

It opens on June 13 (2019) at Universal Orlando Resort, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Star Wars

Disney World Resort has a new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area with two new rides and character meet-and-greets.

It is set on the planet Batuu and also has shops and a restaurant. It will be up and running on August 29 (2019).

Cars

A new live show based around the Cars film series is opening at Hollywood Studios, Disney World, called Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. It features characters including Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.

Lego Movie

Legoland Florida Resort has launched Lego Movie World.

The new addition features three new attractions based on worlds within the film.

Animals

Animal lovers can enjoy a new 75-acre safari park at Wild Florida with more than 100 Floridian animals to spot.

The new safari park makes the park six times bigger. Guests can drive their own vehicles or ride on a guided buggy tour. There will also be a zip-line/zip wire so visitors can fly over the park.

Sesame Street

Other new additions to the city include a Sesame Street section at Sea World celebrating the TV programme’s 50th anniversary and popular characters taking part in the daily parade.

NBA

The NBA Experience opens at Disney Springs on August 12, with 13 hands-on games and activities for basketball fans

Expansions

The theme park expansions mean that 2019 could be one of the busiest summers for Orlando tourist bosses.

Visit Orlando President George Aguel said: ”Orlando is always innovating, with immersive new experiences and unbeatable hospitality that keeps visitors returning year after year.”

“It’s this memorable combination that keeps Orlando the most-visited destination in the country, with a record 75 million visitors in 2018.”

Have you been to Orlando? What did your children like best? Tell us below.