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Florida - theme parks? Disney?


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#1 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 07:27 AM

We've finally decided to spend Christmas in the US, but it'll be our third visit to Boston, so we want to venture further afield.

I think we've settled on Florida for a side trip, and will do the Kennedy Space Centre. But it seems silly not to do at least one theme park while we're in the area.

Is Disneyworld the best? With a 12yo and almost 17yo are the film world and epcot the best ones to focus on?

Or is there another park we should look to? Universal? (noting that only DSwhowillbejust12atthetime is only one big into rides).

We'll then drive from Orlando to New Orleans before flying back to Boston.

#2 Kiwi Bicycle

Posted 15 October 2019 - 08:37 AM

Mum and dad did Universal. If you have any Harry Potter fans this is the place to go. Also a paddleboat cruise up a river is great as well.

Edited to add, mum and dad are in their 70s, so weren't interested in rollarcoasters etc but really enjoyed Universal and did try some rides like The Fast and the Furious etc. They also went to the waterpark attached and enjoyed the lazy Tube float etc as well.

Edited by Kiwi Bicycle, 15 October 2019 - 08:40 AM.


#3 eilca

Posted 15 October 2019 - 09:45 AM

We were there in December and we all loved universal and thought Disney world came off a poor second. We had 3 days universal and 4 Disney but all agreed it was the wrong way round. Our daughters were 17 and 15.

We stayed in a universal hotel and let the kids free range a bit, meaning we would have meet up times but they also had their time to run wild.
ETA we were at universal for NYE and it was spectacular!

Edited by eilca, 15 October 2019 - 09:46 AM.


#4 seayork2002

Posted 15 October 2019 - 09:49 AM

Not been but everyone I know who has rates the Space center and Disney world as the main best bits

#5 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 10:01 AM

Thanks everyone. Happy to hear more.

If we go, the plan is to stay in Daytona Beach rather than Orlando, so we'll be driving across each day. I'll look into Universal a bit further too, and it will need to be a trade-off of time and features.

Space Centre is a must, and I'm sure there will be other bits and pieces on the road trip.

#6 2bundles

Posted 15 October 2019 - 10:26 AM

Agree Universal is appealing to teens.
Have you thought about a Bahamas cruise?  Some cheap 4 day options that are great.

#7 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 10:29 AM

View Post2bundles, on 15 October 2019 - 10:26 AM, said:

Agree Universal is appealing to teens.
Have you thought about a Bahamas cruise?  Some cheap 4 day options that are great.

We haven't been cruising people, although the Bahamas could be interesting. Not actually looking to fill up the time - we could easily take longer on the trip to New Orleans - more how to best do a theme park.

ETA: I'm watching HGTV far too often these days, including "Bahamas Life"

Edited by dadwasathome, 15 October 2019 - 10:30 AM.


#8 eilca

Posted 15 October 2019 - 10:38 AM

View Postdadwasathome, on 15 October 2019 - 10:01 AM, said:

Thanks everyone. Happy to hear more.

If we go, the plan is to stay in Daytona Beach rather than Orlando, so we'll be driving across each day. I'll look into Universal a bit further too, and it will need to be a trade-off of time and features.

Space Centre is a must, and I'm sure there will be other bits and pieces on the road trip.

My husband would be super jealous. He sacrificed Daytona Beach for universal due to time demands.

#9 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 10:45 AM

View Posteilca, on 15 October 2019 - 10:38 AM, said:

My husband would be super jealous. He sacrificed Daytona Beach for universal due to time demands.

No motor racing while we're there :(

#10 eilca

Posted 15 October 2019 - 11:58 AM

View Postdadwasathome, on 15 October 2019 - 10:45 AM, said:



No motor racing while we're there :(

That's a pity. A bit like arriving in Rome and the Vatican is closed!

#11 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 12:55 PM

View Posteilca, on 15 October 2019 - 11:58 AM, said:

That's a pity. A bit like arriving in Rome and the Vatican is closed!

There is a Scouts camp at the circuit just after new years, which includes some racing related activity. Maybe we could sneak the boys in :)

#12 HamsterPower

Posted 15 October 2019 - 01:59 PM

Universal is great for teens for sure. Mind you we loved Disneyworld too, would be worth checking out Epcot and Magic Kingdom . I could take or leave Hollywood Studios( universal beats it by some margin). I enjoyed Animal Kingdom but with teens could miss the mark.

#13 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 02:38 PM

View PostHamsterPower, on 15 October 2019 - 01:59 PM, said:

Universal is great for teens for sure. Mind you we loved Disneyworld too, would be worth checking out Epcot and Magic Kingdom . I could take or leave Hollywood Studios( universal beats it by some margin). I enjoyed Animal Kingdom but with teens could miss the mark.

Yeah, Animal Kingdom certainly wasn't on my radar, but I think the Star Wars would be a must if we did do Disney.

DS16 is more a museum sort of kid - "I'd love to go back to the Met" was uttered when we were what-iffing Florida or heading back to NYC.

Edited by dadwasathome, 15 October 2019 - 02:38 PM.


#14 eilca

Posted 15 October 2019 - 02:58 PM

Funnily enough the four of us enjoyed animal kingdom the best. I think the thrills and spills were favoured in universal and animal kingdom provided chilled, relaxed fun.

#15 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:14 PM

Part of our challenge is that DS11 is the main thrills and spills person in our family. SIL has promised to take him to a 6 flags at some stage, but has our two week old nephew and won't be travelling for a while.

But the more I hear and read, the harder the choice is. Maybe we should just ignore the theme parks.....

#16 HamsterPower

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:28 PM

If it is thrill rides then Universal is probably the pick as the theming and other non- thrill attractions are also great . We found it to be a great mix for the different ages and preferences in our family.
We also loved Animal Kingdom but my kids are very into animals really :-)
I loved Universal and I’m not a big thrill ride person . Also loved Epcot as the space exhibit etc was fascinating.

I don’t think you can make a bad decision really but I would add at least one day at a park myself, they are just done so well- the atmosphere is fabulous and so much fun!

Edited by HamsterPower, 15 October 2019 - 03:29 PM.


#17 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:36 PM

View PostHamsterPower, on 15 October 2019 - 03:28 PM, said:

I Also loved Epcot as the space exhibit etc was fascinating.

I grew up watching Disneyland, and I've been intrigued about what Epcot is for most of my life, as well as following the space program (old enough to have watch the moon landing). We did the air and space museums in Washington/Chantilly a few years ago, and will do Kennedy, so may be better skipping Epcot?

#18 Poughkeepsie

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:40 PM

Is there a reason you’re planning to stay in Daytona? It’s not that exciting (trust me, I lived there!) and the drive to Orlando although not hard, is still an hour or so.
I loved Epcot and Disneyworld, even as an adult. Universal was less exciting but has the big rides.
Kennedy Space Center is awesome and I took visitors there every time I had them, it’s pretty cool.
A little drive further north if you have time, takes you to St Augustine which is a pretty little coastal town with some interesting history.

Further north again is Savannah, Georgia which is one of my favourite ever places to visit on the east coast. Beautiful and full of southern charm.

#19 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:50 PM

View PostPoughkeepsie, on 15 October 2019 - 03:40 PM, said:

Is there a reason you’re planning to stay in Daytona? It’s not that exciting (trust me, I lived there!) and the drive to Orlando although not hard, is still an hour or so.

Something about a raceway :)

The idea of the coast sounded good, and flights from Boston to Orlando are reasonably plentiful and OK priced. And it didn't seem too far from Kennedy.

We'd be there on New Years, and I'm very open to any suggestions, even the Gulf coast if Kennedy were still doable.

#20 seayork2002

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:52 PM

Not sure this will help really. especially as our DS is not that into theme parks really but unless the adults are (we are not) we could not spend our entire time in theme parks, if it was us doing that trip (we were going to then worked out the Nasa space camp is not actually in Florida) it would be Disney-world and Space center and maybe an afternoon at one other!

We would spend the rest of the time exploring the area and a PP reminded me I have always wanted to go to Savannah.

DS tags along to some of our things we want to do and we tag along to what he wants

This is all irrelevant if you all only want to theme park though!

#21 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 03:58 PM

View Postseayork2002, on 15 October 2019 - 03:52 PM, said:

This is all irrelevant if you all only want to theme park though!

I've visited Australia's Wonderland and Legoland Malaysia in my lifetime. DP has visited pretty much the same in hers.

DS11 is desperate to do a 6 flags, but I'm sure we'll be pestered now he's discovered what would be nearby. If we were more time pressured, I'm sure we'd all be happy with Kennedy.

And the Crystal River manatees.

#22 Lees75

Posted 15 October 2019 - 05:24 PM

How many days are you thinking?

We spent a 7 days at Disneyworld, and did all the 4 parks, plus one of their waterparks, and it wasn't enough time. We did 3 days at Universal and it was just enough! They are both great.

If anyone of your family are Harry Potter or Simpsons fans, Universal would probably win. From a theme park point of view, I think Universal wins, but Disney does have a certain magic about it that is hard to quantify.

#23 dadwasathome

Posted 15 October 2019 - 05:32 PM

View Postdadwasathome, on 15 October 2019 - 03:58 PM, said:

I've visited Australia's Wonderland and Legoland Malaysia in my lifetime. DP has visited pretty much the same in hers.

Which was meant to say we're not theme park people. I forgot Jamberoo Recreation Park if that counts - it's where DS11 want to go for his birthday too.

#24 Coffeegirl

Posted 15 October 2019 - 06:07 PM

Having done both Kennedy and Epcot, I think there is enough of a difference to do both.    Kennedy is very ‘real’ while Epcot is more about the future and what it holds.   My kids were 16 & 13 when we went to Epcot last and they both enjoyed it.  One of their favourite rides out of all of Disney was there.   Test track?  Not sure if that was the one, but it was fast and made me feel sick :lol:

As a kids we spent many holidays in Daytona/Orlando as snowbirds.   Loved the thrill of being able to drive on the beach in Daytona as a kid.




#25 seayork2002

Posted 15 October 2019 - 06:10 PM

View Postdadwasathome, on 15 October 2019 - 05:32 PM, said:



Which was meant to say we're not theme park people. I forgot Jamberoo Recreation Park if that counts - it's where DS11 want to go for his birthday too.

Depends on if you controlled the action or not

I loved Australia's wonderland! But generally not for me really




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