Why Orlando Is The Perfect Holiday Destination For New Parents With Kids

four seasons orlando florida
Why Orlando Is Ideal For New ParentsDon Riddle

Like many engaged couples hoping to get hitched in 2020/21, my wedding and honeymoon visions ended up being very different to what I’d originally imagined. In hindsight, an intimate wedding with our nearest and dearest was perhaps a bonus, but the lack of honeymoon and trip of a lifetime never arrived as my husband and I were lucky enough to be joined by our little boy fairly soon after we got hitched.

Talks of road trips and spontaneous travel soon became a distant memory, replaced by discussions about nap schedules and baby-led weaning. Fast forward three years and our holiday aspirations had changed, with almost every element built around the needs of our two-year-old over our own. The idea of simply more parenting in a new, albeit nice, location, didn’t exactly appeal for our now very delayed ‘honeymoon’, so we decided to find that elusive sweet spot; an incredible experience for a toddler and, but more importantly, an amazing opportunity to relax, unwind and ‘adult’ for mum and dad. We settled on Orlando.


four seasons orlando florida spa
Don Riddle

Where to stay

Orlando is a mecca for holidaying families, with an abundance of theme parks, attractions, eateries, culture (ish..), accommodation, beaches and, of course, beautiful weather. The challenge is cutting through the noise and knowing where to stay and what to do. For us, staying at the Four Seasons, Orlando at Walt Disney World resort, made perfect sense. Situated in the Walt Disney Resort itself, the Four Seasons has one eye firmly on the theme park experience but is also expertly focused on offering luxury, relaxation and outstanding service. For the little ones, there’s a kids club (ages 4-12), the opportunity to have breakfast with Goofy and friends, splash about in a five-acre water park, play table tennis or pool or be entertained in a craft club and an indoor play centre. For the adults, the rooms themselves are spacious, luxuriously finished, well-serviced and I’d advise booking a balcony room with a park view.. At 13 stories up, it offers incredible vistas of the expansive Walt Disney Resort and stunning Floridian sunsets, the perfect spot to enjoy a glass or two of wine after a fun filled day.

Where to play

At two years old we thought our little one was too young to take to a theme park but after watching him run around after Goofy over our amazing breakfast at the resort, we decided that perhaps we had thought wrong. We opted for Disney's Animal Kingdom and, surprisingly, the queues weren’t actually that big. Especially for the tamer, toddler-friendly rides. You can also be smart and get ahead with the bigger thrill rides by purchasing Lightening Passes (a VIP pass that allows you to jump the queues) in advance. Animal Kingdom certainly offers something for the whole family. But, if you want the classic Disney experience, Magic Kingdom is the place to be. It’s worth noting that, if you stay at the Four Seasons Orlando, you get a 30-minute jump on the general public just before opening times and a free shuttle bus right to the park gate. That saves you $30 parking and gets you to the front of the line on the biggest attractions. If you’re not up for embracing the theme park culture, then there’s an array of aforementioned activities at the Four Season (our son spent hours in the kids play pool) and you can head to places like Icon Park, which houses an aquarium and science museum, or head out into nature and enjoy the wildlife Florida has to offer on an airboat ride.

Where to dine

The US is synonymous with service. So, to be the best, you’ve got to be great. This is where the Orlando Four Seasons really excels as its home to Spanish-inspired roof-top steak eatery, Capa. It’s good. Really good. Not only has it just won a Michelin star for the third year in a row, it gives diners an amazing view of the world-famous fireworks display at Magic Kingdom and Epcot from its balcony. The kids might not appreciate the Wagyu steak, but mum and dad will. And the cocktails. And the ambience. Stand out dishes for us were the Prime Bone-In Fillet and the Iberico Pluma. For something slightly less extravagant, there’s Ravello (a swarve, family-friendly Italian restaurant) and PB&G (a pool side salad and grill joint). Plancha offers Latin inspired food and there’s the lobby bar for drinks and Lickety Split for some of that good old American ice-cream and dessert when you’re in need of a break from the sun. If you want to venture out of the resort then I’d recommend heading into downtown Orlando where you can dine at Ava; a multi-sensory MediterrAegean restaurant that serves beautifully fresh dishes, inspired by Mediterranean and Aegean cultures. They serve stunning dishes that are well-considered and expertly executed. I’d highly recommend the Smoke & Mirrors cocktail and the salt crusted fish for your main, both table side spectaculars and they taste as good as they look.

Where to relax

When I originally thought of Orlando, I didn’t exactly think ‘relaxation’. I certainly didn’t think facials, massages, intramuscular vitamin drips, cryotherapy and manicures. The Orlando Four Seasons completely subverted my preconceptions with their onsite Spa and wellbeing offer. The Spa offers an array of experiences in a relaxing, perfectly zen setting. Away from the treatments, there are spa pools, steam rooms, rain showers and cosy sofas where you can read more than two pages of that book you’ve had on your bedside table for months. You don’t have to book a treatment to use the Spa facilities either. If your R&R looks a little more energetic, the Four Seasons also offers tennis courts (and a session with a resident pro), a gym and a golf course. If you can escape parenting duties for a few hours, I heartily recommend the wellness offering at the Four Seasons. It’s the perfect recharge and I found it got me physically and mentally ready to tackle the quintessential Orlando experience and family life.

I suspect, like us, many new parents have considered Orlando for a family holiday. It is, after all, unsurpassed in terms of its reputation as a family holiday destination. And, like us, I suspect many new parents are of the mind that Orlando is for families with six, 10, 14-year-olds. Certainly not for babies and toddlers, let alone honeymooners. But, rest assured, Orlando is the perfect destination for all the family.

The journey from the UK to Florida alone would put most off. But, we took a punt. And as I boarded the plane with a bag full of child-friendly snacks and dozens of individual entertaining titbits to avoid the dreaded meltdown I thought, have we been too optimistic? A couple of weeks later, relaxing on that return journey back to the UK, I thought, No, it was perfect. Few places in the world offer a balance of luxury, high-end cuisine, world-class service, unrivalled entertainment, climate, relaxation and excitement. Orlando really does have it all.

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