Flying into Orlando and staying at Marriott Grande Vista in Orlando soon, any suggestions for on-site kids' activities? How long is drive to DW, MGM, Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdon and Epcot from here? Other fatherly wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
The resort is "awesome' according to the grandkids (ages 14 thru 9 yrs old). Drives to the different theme parks is not too bad. Depending on the kids ages (and Dad's wallet), I suggest setting an itinerary thus: day of arrival, check in and chill. Grocery store is very close by-good for breakfasts before the park and lunches by the pool and dinner in the villas. Then alternate-theme park day, pool day, theme park day, pool day. This gives all parties involved a breather. Less stress for Mom & Dad and more fun for all.
Grande Vista is less than 8 miles to Disney, MGM, Epcot, Universal. Depending on when you go however traffic could prolong your travel time (not so bad). Florida is hot, hot, hot(!) this time of the year (80's) so I suggest go in the morning, go home at noon, then come back in the afternoon. The newest attraction which is a hit for kids and adults is Universal's book come to life Harry Potter rides and castle, and of course the weird tasting jelly beans you will not find elsewhere. For food, should you decide not to cook, Grande Vista is right there on International Drive where restaurants are lined up. For on site activities, Grande Vista has a calendar schedule which details each HOUR what activities will take place for kids for free or a small fee.
The Grande Vista will have an activity list for kids/families daily. There's always crafts, games & movie nights. The Disney "theme" parks are approximately a 15-20 minute car ride from the hotel. You can drive & park directly at Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom but for the Magic Kingdom, you'll need to drive to the Disney Transportation Centre and take the monorail or ferry. You are less than 5 minutes from Seaworld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica. The Grande Vista is located on the south end of International Drive -- so to find the "restaurant strip" you'll need to drive N on International (passed the convention centre). But there are some restaurants near your hotel (just not a wide variety). You are within 5-10 min from the Premium Outlets at Vineland & a grocery store. You'll find a Publix grocery store on Vineland (across from the outlets) as well as one on Central Florida Parkway. For fun things to do apart from theme parks -- here are some ideas. The JW Marriott (Central Florida Parkway & John Young Parkway)...which is only a 10 min drive from the Grande Vista has an "ropes adventure" course on property which is great for the entire family. This attraction is not open to the general public but I believe they allow guests from other Marriott properties to use (we stayed at the JW when we used it). When we did this course (about 3 years ago), I think it was about $50 pp for a 3 hour session. Speak to the consierge at your hotel to see if this option is available and the operating hours -- if your kids are adventureous -- it will be a huge hit! There are (at least) 3 outdoor "FUN SPOTS" in Orlando (2 on International and 1 in Old Towne) that have go carts, ferris wheels, carnival games etc. Pirates Cove (mini) golf is also a GREAT night activity for families. There is one on International Dr. N but be prepared to wait -- it's a busy attraction. Last bit of advice...at this time of year -- it's the dry season and it's HOT in Orlando. If you're outside for any length of time, sunscreen, hats and light (breathable) clothes are best. Enjoy Orlando!
We stayed there 5 years ago and loved it. They have a kids room with games and activities, a good place to hang out for awhile and the kids had fun. The property was amazing! They loved the pool as it was huge! The drive to all area parks were not long at all. Plenty of stores nearby for food shopping. I would stay there again.