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The Mouse & Beyond: An Orlando Vacation Primer
altBy Keri Stooksbury

With Spring Break, summer and a long winter holiday on the horizon, have you considered Orlando for vacation? Maybe you think your kids aren't old enough, the distance seems a bit too far, the crowds a bit overwhelming or the ticket costs make your heart skip a beat. For the second time in twelve months, I was faced with the fun, yet terrifying task of planning a trip to Orlando. Our first visit was pure leisure with seven days of Walt Disney World across the four parks. Our second visit was to support my husband running the
Walt Disney World Marathon, so I knew I would need to plan a bit differently. Would it be possible to tone down Disney, crank up a little bit more of what Orlando has to offer and still have just as much fun? We had an amazing five days at Magic Kingdom, LEGOLAND Florida, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Crayola Experience Orlando and Orlando Science Center and I'm sharing my tips for a magical vacation at a fraction of the cost.
 
altIn my tips for Walt Disney World, I provide hints on picking the best travel dates for low lines and crowds, how to get to Orlando, staying on or off-site and where to find the best deals for tickets and meals. I've also included an explanation of the FastPass+ system that helps reserve rides ahead of time, scheduling your days at Disney to reduce wait times and hit the most rides, maximizing Rider Switch and my favorite Disney freebie. I've also included book recommendations for research!
 
altFrom the chaos of Disney to calmer lines at LEGOLAND Florida, I talk a bit about our favorite rides, fun in line (that's a thing!) and our favorite activity - trading Minifigurines! We loved the unique coasters, interactive rides and amazing LEGO displays!
 
altAt Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament we feasted like kings and queens while cheering on knights (and drinking lots and lots of lemonade) all for around the same cost of a character meal at Disney. Disney character meals make me a bit frantic and by comparison, Medieval Times is well-paced and highly entertaining!
 
Faltor around the cost of one ticket at Disney, our entire family enjoyed an afternoon at Crayola Experience Orlando. We were able to get creative, a little messy and explore art and technology in completely new ways. We came home with bags full of our artistic endeavors as souvenirs, too!

altImagine a science museum almost entirely for kids and you have the Orlando Science Center. Again, for around the cost of one ticket at Disney our entire family freely explored special exhibits just for kids. We could have spent most of our visit at their amazing KidZone area, but were super impressed with the entire museum.
 
 
I was provided complimentary tickets to the listed attractions for these reviews, detailed further in each review. View our full FTC Disclosure Statement here.
 
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