East Coast with kids
Next summer my family (wife and two kids 6 yrs old and 8 yrs old) will go on an 8-week camping/road trip from New York to Florida. We have a pop-up camper and tent with our mid-term goal being Disney World. We sure would appreciate any recommendations or suggestions on planning, sites to see, good books, or web sites. Thanks!
I-95 Book due in September
There is a brand new book launching in September (we will do a review when it is available) that will provide great detail for roadtrips between NYC and Miami.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the Family Tips page (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/tips/families.htm) and the car camping page. (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/tips/carcamping.htm)
I can't help much with the roadtrip part as I have only been on a few road trips. However, I have done Disney many many times so I do have a few tips.
First, get there early. Rides like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and even a few rides in 'Fantasy Land' like Dumbo and Small World get crowded very early.
If you don't mind backtracking a little, then make sure to use your Fastpass. A Fastpass is this new thing Disney and Universal have come out with. You slip you entry ticket into a machine and it spits out a time for you to come back. When you come back at the specified time you get to go straight to the front of the line.
At the hottest part of the day, do a ride like Pirates of the Carribean. The line may be long, but you wait actually inside the building. In fact, the Pirates ride is an unusually cool wait (probably because they decorated with stone). Other rides have their lines outside (Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and almost all the 'kiddie' rides in Fantasy Land).
If your kids start dragging and begin to tire, stop and see a show, or ride that is more of a movie than a show. Disney has numerous 'rides' that are more like movies with seats that shake. The wait for these 'rides' is usually shorter, and you get to sit for at least 20 minutes during the 'ride'.
If your kids don't really want thrill rides, you might want to try Universal studios as an alternative. Universal seems to be much more 'show' oriented, although it does have a few awesome rides.
Anyway, those are my big tips. Sorry if you only wanted roadtrip tips, but I LOVE Disney, so I couln't resist. Hope you have a fun trip.
Insider Tips are always appreciated!
Insider tips from those who love attractions and destinations are what drive this forum. Thank you for the ideas!
Creatures of Comfort
Camping in the South during the summer can be difficult for children. Aside from frequent nighttime heat and humidity, some children will be frightened by insect sounds and other noises/movement outside of the tent. If you are all seasoned campers and your kids are tougher than I was ten years ago (forget twenty years ago when I was about their age--I wasn't the outdoor type at all back then), more power to you and have a great trip.
You should definitely keep in mind that you are leaving yourselves a very nice stretch of time for this trip. You can explore the east coast very extensively, and you surely have the option of traveling west at different points along the way. And, for the upteenth million time, I will suggest Shenandoah National Park on this forum.
It's about two and a half hours west of D.C. and a very accessible and very beautiful preserve. The elevation of the park (generally around 3000 ft) gives you a little break from the heat. From there, you will have the option to head back for the coast, although the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a much better route/destination than coastal North and South Carolina. (The Smokies are on the southwestern border of North Carolina and northeastern border of Tennessee)
You will be little more than a day's drive from Disneyland at the end of that stretch.
You will have constant, gorgeous scenery the entire way, as opposed to flat farmland and TRUCKS!
You will have fresh mountain air the entire way, as opposed to the sweet smells of manure and TRUCK exhaust.
And the best part...I-81 runs parallel to the much slower Blue Ridge Parkway if you need to get somewhere fast.
Hope this was helpful to you. Good luck and safe driving/camping.
I have some tips for Disney too.
I used to live in Florida so I've been to Disney about four hundred million times, and I"m going back in my own road trip, and I'm really excited.
If you have the extra money to spend, try to stay at Ft. Wilderness. It's amazing and you could spend a whole week without ever leaving. It's for camping, RV's Tents, Campers, Etc. And, double check on this one, but I believe that now if you stay at a Disney Resort you can get into Tomorrow land a hour before the rest of the park opens. I'd take advantage of that. Do the big rides early in the morning, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain. This will also be good because it's cooler in the morning, and trust me, the lines in the afternoon get outrageous. I once waited three and a half hours to get on Splash Mountain. Don't skip it though because the themeing is what Disney does best. It's incredible. The lines at the rides are also shorter during lunchtime, dinner time, and parade time. The other disney tip giver also had a great tip....DO Pirates of the carribean during the hottest time of the day. The line is long, but like he says, it's indoors and suprisingly moist. It's all stone and you really feel like you're desending into some cavern. The shop outside Pirates is really cool too, one of my favorite in the park.
To get out of the sun and to sit down for a little bit, try the Hall of Presidents, while a bit hokey it IS air conditioned and a nice rest from the sun and fun. The Haunted Mansion is another nice ride who's que line, while outside, is also fun. To take a load off your feet during the day, trek over to Tomorrow land, and the Transit Authority is a great peek into some of the rides and almost NEVER has lines. I also really love the Carousel of Progress.
Anyways, Here's a list of my favorite rides to NOT MISS.
1. The Haunted Mansion. (There is -no- excuse not to miss this unless you have very very very young very very very easily frightened children. This is NOT a scary attraction, it's really cute and not meant to scare you in any way.)
2. Pirates of the Carribean.
3. Splash Mountain.
4. Buzz Lightyear (This is -so- MUCH FUN.)
5. The Transit Authority.
6. It's a small world. (Classic.)
7. Peter Pan (It's really cool, with a neat flying effect.)
8. Carousel of Progress. (Catchy tune.)
9. Space Mountain (Not on the verge of say, Cedar Point caliber coasters, but a firm disney staple.)
10. Thunder Mountain.
Be sure to try the Liberty Belle Riverboat, go across the river to Tom's Island, Alien Encounter. (VERY VERY SCARY. DO NOT TAKE YOUNG CHILDREN OR EVEN OLDER ONES WHO ARE EASILY FRIGHTENED. I WAS SIXTEEN AND IT SCARED THE S*** OUT OF ME.), The Swiss Family Treehouse, The Madd TEa Party (Classic Teacups.).
Okay so I'll end before I get out of line and take up a lot of MB's..lol
Let me know if you have any more questions!
My family and I are leaving for Disney this weekend and I found books at my local library were very informative. I'm even taking some with me (Disney for Dummies, Frommers).
As a former longtime resident of Orlando, I've had the pleasure of many visits to the area theme parks.
First off, you should be aware that summer in Central Florida means thunderstorms, just about every day in the late afternoon. You can almost set your watch by it. These storms (caused by the sea breeze as it moves inland) are often violent - especially the lightning. But they are also brief, usually less than thirty minutes' duration.
As mentioned in the other posts here, there are plenty of places at both the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT where you can duck inside when a storm approaches or when the heat starts to take its toll. Others (especially those with young children) will take an afternoon break and head back to the hotel or campground, to relax, go swimming or take a nap.
Once these daily storms move away, you'll find conditions are very pleasant, noticeably cooler and slightly less humid. That's an ideal time to return to the parks to finish off the evening.
I'll concur with the others and stress the importance of arriving at the theme parks as early as possible (before the gates open, in other words). On a busy summer day, you'll see almost as many rides and attractions in that first hour as you will the rest of the day.
I recommend purchasing both the official (Birnbaum) and the unofficial (Sehlinger) guides to Disney. Together, they represent a tremendous resource for planning and executing the Disney portion of your trip.
Also, you might consider taking the kids to the Arabian Nights Dinner Show. It's great entertainment, the music is surprisngly good, and the food is....ummm....finger-lickin' and functional.
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