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When I travel with my family, I like to balance our vacations between big cities, outdoor adventures, and kid-friendly places. Hopping from museum to museum quickly leads us to travel burnout. Not to mention, Europe’s top museums can get so crowded. So, when planning a spring break trip to the Netherlands, we made a point to get out of the city on day trips from Amsterdam. Our day trips included seeing the tulip fields in the Netherlands, touring windmills, and visiting Efteling Park.

Day Trips from Amsterdam for Families Photo by: Melissa Moore

Our family enjoyed several day trips from Amsterdam. Just a short bus ride outside the city, we took a day to see the tulip fields in the Netherlands. In mid-April, the gardens at Keukenhof were in full bloom and the tulip fields in Lisse were colorful as well. From Lisse, we rented bikes to see the tulip fields in the Netherlands and even rode our bikes to the coast to play on the sandy beach by the North Sea. Further afield, we rented a car to visit the Netherlands windmills at Kinderdijk and the small town of Gouda. After appreciating the beauty of the tulips in the Netherlands and the history of the Netherlands windmills, we enjoyed a visit to Efteling Park.

Looking for itinerary for things to do in Amsterdam with kids? Check out Trekaroo’s One Day in Amsterdam: What to see, do, and eat with kids. 

1. Biking Through the Tulip Fields in the Netherlands Photo by: Melissa Moore

The tulip fields in the Netherlands only bloom in the spring, with the peak bloom typically occurring in mid-April. Families visiting the Netherlands for spring break during tulip season will certainly want to take a day trip to see them. If you happen to be visiting at another time of year, you won’t see tulips. However, your family can still enjoy the biking out to the coastal beaches on the North Sea.

There are two ways to see tulips in the Netherlands. Families can either enjoy the tulips at Keukenhof Gardens or tour the Dutch countryside to see the flower fields. The easiest to reach as a day trip from Amsterdam are the tulip fields around Lisse in North Holland. Another option are the tulip fields province of Flevoland which have their own tulip festival.

Biking in Lisse to See the Tulip Fields in the Netherlands

My children have enjoyed biking in Europe ever since we first visited when my son was seven years old. Typically, we take tours making sure to reserve child-sized bikes in advance. On our day trip from Amsterdam to Keukenhof Gardens and the tulip fields in Lisse, we did not take a tour, but I did reserve bikes in advance. Rather than reserving for just a few hours, I reserved our bikes for the entire day so that we had plenty of time to explore at our own pace.  To complete our day, we spent a couple of hours exploring the Keukenhof Gardens both before and after biking.

Photo by: Melissa Moore

After picking up our bikes from a seasonal location in the Keukenhof Gardens parking lot, we spent around 4 hours biking about 10 miles. We only returned when our legs were getting too tired to continue. We biked past the tulip fields to eat lunch on the shore of a small lake.

Then we continued onto a crushed-shell path through sand dunes to a beach. On the first warm day of spring, the beach was full of Dutch families enjoying the sun with their children. After playing in the sand and rewarding ourselves with ice cream, we continued back through the tulip fields to return our bikes.

Renting Bikes in the Netherlands 

Rental bikes are easy to come by in the Netherlands. We rented bikes from Rent-a-Bike Van Dam’s seasonal location at Keukenhof. They also have a permanent location in a nearby town. Bikes can be reserved ahead of time. Bikes come with a locking system so it is easy to park the bike by the beach and take time to relax there.

Helmets are available, but generally not worn by adults in The Netherlands. The Netherlands is ideal for biking because it is so flat. There were some hills by the North Sea Dunes, but they were easy enough for my kids who ride their bikes around our somewhat hilly neighborhood on a regular basis.

Photographing the Tulip Fields in The Netherlands  Photo by: Melissa Moore

The tulip fields in the Netherlands are used for growing bulbs that are then sold around the world. Before visiting, I had assumed that it was the flowering tulips that are grown and harvested. However, we saw farm machinery out in the fields cutting off the flowers so that the bulbs could be harvested at a later time. It was a bit sad to see the flowers being cut off and discarded at their prime.

Because of this harvesting process, it is important that tourists do not walk into the field area when visiting the bulb region. The only time we approached the bulb fields was when there was a farmer actively inviting the people biking past to park their bikes and come into the tulip fields for a photo op and to buy cut flowers.

2. Visit Keukenhof Gardens – Open Mid-March through May Photo by: Melissa Moore

While biking the Dutch countryside to see the tulips is a fun family activity that can certainly take all day, do make sure to leave time to see all the flowering tulips at Keukenhof Gardens. Keukenhof Gardens in Noord Holland is one of the most spectacular gardens in the world. There are lots of activities for families, including a large playground and hedge maze.

We visited as early in the day as we could. Then we left the gardens around 11AM when the they became more crowded. On a sunny mid-week day during peak tulip bloom, there were lots of crowds. However, the gardens are so large that only the most popular areas by the entrance really became overcrowded. We returned to the gardens after biking to reward ourselves with a fresh fruit smoothie. The gardens were still buzzing with crowds around 5PM, but we easily found a few secluded spots to sit and enjoy our snacks.

Could a Family Spend All Day Just at Keukenhof Gardens?  Photo by: Melissa Moore

Yes, a family could definitely spend all day visiting Keukenhof Gardens. There is an indoor pavilion, dozens of places to purchase meals and snacks, boat rides, a petting zoo, a store to buy tulip bulbs, a playground with a zip-line and more. My kids would have been happy playing at the playground and eating ice cream all day long.

Since Keukenhof is such a popular destination, it is best to plan your day in advance. Be sure to check the garden’s website for information on arriving at Keukenhof. There are several locations where families on day trips from Amsterdam can catch buses to the gardens.  

3. See the Netherlands Windmills at Kinderdijk Photo by: Melissa Moore

Many families traveling to Amsterdam plan to visit windmills in Holland. There are two main options for families visiting the Netherlands: Zaanse Schans and Kinderdijk. The Zaanse Schans windmills are located less than an hour away from Amsterdam and are the easiest to reach for most families.

At Zaanse Schans, the 17th and 18th centuries are brought to life with operational windmills. There are other fun cultural attractions like a warehouse where wooden clogs are made and a cheese factory. If you’re looking for a full day of Dutch experiences close to Amsterdam Zaanse Schans is a good choice.

Our family was interested in visiting windmills in The Netherlands as part of a longer trip outside the city of Amsterdam. We decided to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Kinderdijk where there are 19 windmills. Two of the windmills at Kinderdijk are currently open to visitors as part of an open-air museum. However, the remaining 17 windmills are still operational. In fact,  families live in them and manage them as they have for centuries.

Take an Audio Tour of the Kinderdijk Windmills  Photo by: Melissa Moore

Our family arrived at Kinderdijk within an hour of opening at 9AM and immediately took the first boat ride out to the end of the walking path. We saw many large tour groups walking, and there were also many families biking through the area.

While walking back towards the visitor center, we listened to a family audio tour that I had downloaded onto my phone prior to our visit. As we walked, the audio guide explained the role that windmills have played in water management in The Netherlands. At one of the museum windmills, we saw how the blades of the windmill were prepared to catch the wind and the turbines moved pumping the water uphill.

Kinderdijk is located about a half hour from Rotterdam or one hour from Amsterdam by car. There is parking available for those that arrive at the site early, and it is also possible to reach the site by public transportation. It is advisable to check the Kinderdijk website in advance to purchase tickets and find the best transportation option for your family to these windmills in The Netherlands.

Day Trips from Amsterdam to Dutch Cities and Small Towns in The Netherlands 

Amsterdam is well connected to many city centers across the region. Den Haag is about 50 minutes from Amsterdam by train, and Rotterdam is about one hour by train from Amsterdam Central Station. Brussels and Antwerp can also be reached in less than two hours.

4. Exploring the Town of Gouda Photo by: Melissa Moore 

The train is an efficient way to travel in The Netherlands, but when planning a trip, you must look at the best way for your family to travel. Instead of traveling by train, we opted for flexibility and rented a car from Sixt Rent a Car at the Amsterdam Central Station. (Sixt is the only option for renting a car at Amsterdam Central Station.)

We could have taken a train to Gouda; it is under an hour train ride from Amsterdam. However, it is also simple to reach by car. We easily found a parking garage about a 5-minute walk from the historic city centre. Gouda proved to be a great day trip destination.

A few hours in Gouda gave us plenty of time to tour the Kamphuisen Syrup Waffle Factory, walk around the gothic Sint-Janskerk church, and eat lunch in the charming town square. I wish that we had been able to time our visit to see the weekly Gouda cheese market. However, there are plenty of things to do in Gouda without even tasting a bite of cheese.

Kid-Friendly Syrup Waffle Factory Tour in Gouda Photo by: Melissa Moore

Syrup waffles are a wonderfully sweet and quintessentially Dutch treat. The Kamphuisen Syrup Waffle Factory offers a one hour tour. It is best to book in advance to secure tickets. Our tour was in Dutch, with some English translation. I think that if I had requested an English tour ahead of time, they might have been able offer more of the tour in English, especially if I had been flexible with our tour time. Even if the entire tour is in Dutch, English speaking children will find the tour fascinating. It is a very family-friendly tour.

The tour begins with a multimedia telling of the story of the Kamphuisen company. Then the tour group is brought into the factory. Inside the factory, guests taste-test six types of syrup to try to guess which is the original recipe. Finally, visitors can see how the cookies are made with a brief narrated tour of the factory.

There are two levels to the factory. The exit from the top level is a fast metal tube slide down into the store. Yes, there is even a mat at the bottom so adults don’t crash and hurt themselves! In the store, each member of the tour receives a sample syrup waffle cookie and has the opportunity to purchase more syrup waffles – which we happily did. 

More Things to Do in Gouda with Kids Photo by: Melissa Moore

After our factory tour, our family visited the Sint-Janskerk church. We purchased admission for the adults in our family and were given an audio guide for each person, including the children, who were admitted for free. While this is not the most spectacular church that I have visited in Europe, our family enjoyed..

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A French Polynesia vacation is the stuff of dreams. These remote, tropical islands are situated in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. Consisting of 118 islands, travelers will encounter fabulous untouched waters, pristine coral atolls, towering green mountains, loads of adventure, and relaxation in droves. 

Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia. Surely you’ve heard of Bora Bora; your friends went there for their honeymoon. But how about taking a Tahiti vacation with kids? 

In 2017, French Polynesia had under 200k visitors for the entire year while Hawaii had approximately 9.4 million visitors. The remote nature of the islands and the natural beauty of the landscape, water, and the sea life weave together to make for an unforgettable tropical family vacation.

Tahiti is now more accessible than ever for families. French Bee airline now flies from San Francisco to Tahiti for roughly half the cost of what it cost previously at a price just a smidgen more than flying to Hawaii.

Tahiti in a (Coco) Nutshell Paddleboarding Tahiti with kids | Photo by: Tahiti Tourisme

Excuse the pun, I’ve got fresh coconuts on my mind. A Tahiti vacation is not really an all-inclusive resort with kids club kind of vacation. It’s rather a relaxing experience with amazing sunsets and the opportunity to swim with otherworldly creatures that you previously thought were scary. The wifi may be scarce, but that’s what we’re after isn’t it? Tahiti has it — peace, natural beauty, a place for your family to connect to each other.

A Tropical Safari

While on the island of Tahiti, which is the largest and contains the capital city of Papeete, we head out for a 4×4 safari expedition into the interior with Mato-Nui Excursions. We traverse the length of  Papenoo Valley, leaving the turquoise shores and heading up through impenetrable rainforests hued with every shade of green.

Safari with Mato-Nui through Papenoo Valley | Photo by: Brennan Pang

Our guide, Herve, a friendly Polynesian who hails from the outer Marquesas islands, deftly pilots our Land Rover through miles of pothole ridden dirt roads. We stop periodically to take in the sights, a plethora of majestic waterfalls which sail over emerald cliffs and majestic fog-shrouded peaks.

Phone reception is nil, but my Garmin GPS watch manages to show coordinates once it locks onto a satellite. As I glance at the draining battery on my watch, Herve regales us with stories of how he paddled his outrigger canoe all the way to the Philippines and on to China by himself, navigating only by the stars as his ancestors did.

At one point we stop next to Herve’s farm and he grabs a long bamboo pole, running with it as if he’s about to pole vault. In lieu of pole vaulting, he skillfully plucks an enormous papaya from a tree for our lunch. Our guide frequently points out plants, and says, “You see this? This is my food, I eat that!” He then excitedly describes the plant and what it’s useful for.

Herve of Mato-Nui Excursions | Photo by: Brennan Pang

We arrive at our midpoint, a camp in the middle of the rainforest surrounded by lofty green peaks. Herve frequently helps run Tahitian culture and educational camps for kids here. A swimming hole with a cascading waterfall greets us and I decide to jump in despite not having brought my swimsuit. I ascertain that there may be no greater joy in life than to jump into a refreshingly cold pool of water in the tropics.

A Tropical Bounty

We are in a true tropical paradise surrounded by natural and cultivated gardens full of nature’s bounty – mouth-watering starfruit, papayas, guavas, pineapple, limes, mangos, passionfruit, bananas, coconut, taro, sweet potatoes, breadfruit, pomelo, and too many herbs to count.

Our lunch is prepared by Moana and Herve over an open coconut husk fire. Lunch is a reflection of the bounty of the islands, tropical fruits and yams doused with fresh coconut milk. Fresh tuna with lime, ginger, carrots, and coconut milk – a simple poisson cru, the national dish of Tahiti. This is the highlight of our expedition into the interior of Tahiti. I can’t stop eating all the things.

Moana cooking up a traditional Tahitian meal | Photo by: Brennan Pang

During lunch and throughout the day, Herve is an unstoppable ball of energy; his entire being seems to flow with Mana. Mana is the Tahitian life force and spirit that flows through all living things. Tahiti is a special place, a magical group of islands where life is celebrated to the fullest.

French Bee makes getting to Tahiti affordable | Photo by: French Bee Enough, enough. Get me on my French Polynesia Vacation!

French Polynesia is now more affordable and accessible than ever for families. Newly minted low-cost airline French Bee now flies direct routes from San Francisco International Airport to Papeete, Tahiti. It is only a scant 2 hours longer to get there than Hawaii, and nearly the same cost!

Recent checks on French Bee (flyfrenchbee.com) show ticket prices for $660 round trip. A round trip ticket to Tahiti could have previously run you twice the amount. Frenchbee operates on an a la carte model, where you can choose more space in Premium class, or save more in a standard economy class seat. You can choose to add a meal, additional bags, or upgrade to the Cosy Cabin, which offers a more secluded option located near the front of the plane.

Which French Polynesia island should I visit?

Each French Polynesian island is unique, so here are a few to consider:

Tahiti Photo by: Gregoire Le Bacon / Tahiti Tourisme

No matter where you’re headed, you’ll fly into Faa’a International Airport on the island of Tahiti. The capital city of Papeete is here, consisting of 26,000 people with small museums and nightlife. The whole island of Tahiti has just under 70% of the entire population of French Polynesia. Some of the highlights of Tahiti include the public market and the 4×4 safari with Mato-Nui to the heart of the island.

Rangiroa Photo by: Brennan Pang

Rangiroa is a giant atoll, one of the largest in the world. In Tuamotuan, it means ‘vast sky’. It is home to the blue lagoon, a lagoon within a lagoon and is one of the world’s premier scuba diving and snorkeling sites. Home to just 2,500 residents, it’s a sublime and tranquil spot. Read more about Rangiroa with kids, a water paradise.

Moorea Photo by: Gregoire Le Bacon / Tahiti Tourisme

Moorea’s towering peaks and spires of green are the center of an adventurer’s paradise. Located near Tahiti, it offers opportunities to scuba dive and snorkel with stingrays, sharks, turtles, and other marine life in addition to hiking, ATVing, and cycling. Read more about our family adventures on Moorea, Tahiti.

Tikehau Photo by: Tahiti Tourisme

Tikihau is a tiny atoll reachable from Tahiti via a short flight. Tikehau means “go find peace”. Home to just 500 Tahitians, small islets of sparkling white and pink sand encircle what Jacque Cousteau’s research group determined has the greatest variety of fish species in French Polynesia.

Bora Bora Photo by: Bigstock

Bora Bora is the honeymooners paradise, overwater bungalows and isolated beaches make for a romantic getaway. If you’re looking for all-inclusive resorts and kids clubs, Bora Bora is one of the islands in Tahiti where you’ll find them. Bora Bora also offers great snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as shopping and dining in the town of Viatape.

Top 5 Things to Do in Tahiti for Families 1) Swim with Sharks and Stingrays Photo by: Brennan Pang

Have kids that love the ocean and sealife? Tahiti is a natural aquarium full of marine life and a water lovers paradise. In addition to millions of fish, swim with elusive creatures such as sharks, stingrays, turtles, dolphins, and whales.

2) Sleep on the Water Overwater bungalows at Sofitel Ia Ora Resort in Moorea, Tahiti | Photo by: Brennan Pang

Tahiti is the birthplace of the overwater bungalow. You and the kids can sit in a chair and peek down through a glass window in your overwater bungalow at the marine life below. You can also opt for different lodging styles, a garden villa with a private pool, or a guesthouse where you can interact more with locals.

3) Save the Coral Reefs Planting coral to restore the reefs | Photo by: Brennan Pang

Be positive change in the world. Coral reefs are diminishing all over due to warming oceans, including in Tahiti. Be a coral gardener, learn about how to protect our reef system, plant some coral, and follow its growth online even after you’ve left the islands of Tahiti.

4) Picnic on a Deserted Island Don’t miss a Tahitian motu picnic | Photo by: Brennan Pang

Motu (islets) are everywhere in Tahiti. Take a trip to a motu to snorkel or picnic and you’re likely to be the only ones on the island. Create your own tale of the South Pacific alongside the hermit crabs and coconuts.

5) Unplug, for a device free vacation Photo by: Bigstock

Yes, I’m throwing this one in there. With the exception of the major islands and hotels, Wi-Fi and cell coverage can be spotty. Many kids and parents may be addicted to their devices, but really, would you rather play a video game on your phone or swim with incredible marine life? Really.

Disclosure: I was hosted, as a member of the media on assignment, by Tahiti Tourisme and French Bee. All opinions are my own.

The post French Polynesian Vacation: Tahiti and Beyond appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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Where can you find natural water slides, prison ruins, and unspoiled caves? All in the vast and varied state of Arizona! Arizona State Parks often get overshadowed by their national park counterparts (I’m looking at you, Grand Canyon). But while they may not be in the spotlight, they pulse with history and beauty that can only be found in Arizona. Each of the 31 state parks offers breathtaking trails, unique plants and wildlife, or glimpses of American history. You should definitely visit them all, but for now, start with the 10 Best State Parks in Arizona.

Arizona State Parks each offer a Junior Ranger program, complete with an Arizona Junior Ranger badge. So be sure to stop by the visitor center to pick up a workbook when traveling with little ones!

10. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Photo by WikiMediaCommons/John Menard

Discover the vast array of plants that span the Sonoran Desert in this 323-acre botanical garden. Boyce Thompson Arboretum attempts to instill an appreciation of plants in its visitors. While here, explore 3-miles of trails through gardens showcasing native Arizona flora as well as collections from Asia, the Mediterranean, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, as well as North and South America. Families especially enjoy the Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden and Children’s Garden. Be sure to check current tour and workshop offerings when you visit.

Where to Stay:

The neighboring town of Superior hosts Copper Mountain Motel, only 5 minutes from Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Expect friendly service in a quaint small-town setting.

Ideal camping lies seven miles east of the park. Oak Flats Campground in the Tonto National Forest’s only amenity is vault toilets, but the stunning views of the Gila-Pinal Scenic Route make up for any lack of creature comforts.   

9. Catalina State Park Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

The desert never felt as alive as it did during our visit to Catalina State Park. Seasonal wildflowers, towering Saguaros, and desert wildlife all reside in the shadow of the Santa Catalina Mountains, making it one of the best state parks in Arizona.

Start with a family-friendly hike on the Canyon Loop Trail where you’ll enjoy picturesque mountain views and  seasonal stream crossings. From here you can continue on to one of the other seven trails or find a ranger program to experience. To make exploring extra fun for the family, hunt for some of the many geocaches hidden in this park. If you choose to camp here, don’t be surprised if you hear the coyotes call each other on their nightly hunt.

Where to Stay:

Catalina State Park offers 120 sites for tents and RVs with electricity and water. Each site also has a picnic table and BBQ pit. Campgrounds contain modern flush toilets and hot showers for campers wanting to feel clean.

For a more luxurious stay, try El Conquistador Tucson, a Hilton Resort located just 2.2 miles from the park entrance. The pools and water slide are heaven after a hot day exploring the park.

Spend a long weekend exploring nearby Tucson, Arizona with this Tucson Travel Guide-A Long Weekend in Tucson with Kids

8. Lake Havasu State Park Photo by Flickr/Ken Lund

This is the Arizona State Park for families who love water sports. Swim, fish, or boat in Lake Havasu beneath the famous London Bridge. Wet Monkey Powersport Rentals provides onsite motorized boat rentals for those who didn’t bring their own.

Although you’ll want to spend most of your time on the water, the Mohave Sunset Trail and Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden showcase more of the lowland desert beauty.

Where to Stay:

47 campsites for tents and RV’s are available at this park. Each site contains a fire pit, picnic table, 50 amp electrical hook-ups and access to potable water.  

Take a break from the lake at the amazing London Bridge Resort. This all-suite hotel includes a splash pad, water slide, and 9-hole golf course. Boats, canoes, and more are available to rent on-site.

7. Dead Horse Ranch State Park Photo by WikiMediaCommons/Benjamin Cody

Although a dead horse may not sound inviting, Dead Horse Ranch State Park definitely is. This recreational park offers fishing lagoons, multi-use trails, river access, and lots of space to play. Whether you choose to kayak down the Verde River or spot wildlife from the shore, families are sure to have a great adventure. And because no ranch visit is complete without getting on a horse, Trailhorse Adventures located inside the park offers led trail rides.

Where to stay:

A visit to Dead Horse Ranch State Park really requires a stay at one of the best state parks in Arizona. Over 100 sites are available to reserve for tents or RVs. Not into camping? 8-onsite cabins complete with beds and air conditioning provide a glamping experience your family will love.

If you prefer to stay at a hotel, check out these great options in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Less than 10 miles from Dead Horse Ranch, you’ll find the ghost town of Jerome, AZ. Learn more about Jerome and the 10 Best Ghost Towns in Arizona.

6. Yuma Territorial Prison State Park Photo by WikiMediaCommons/Scotwriter

Hear whispers from the past as you stand in the original strap irons cells of Yuma Territorial Prison State Park. This prison housed over 3,000 convicts during its 33-year lifetime. Through modern technology, visitors experience their words and stories as they stroll through the grounds.

In addition to the grounds, the interactive visitor center teaches about the prisoners who were held here and what life was like for them. Children enjoy dressing like prisoners for a mugshot photo. Arizona’s first prison also offers spectacular views of the once raging Colorado River and California, but only outside the high prison yard walls. Sad for those former inmates, but at least we get to enjoy it.

Where to Stay:

Stay on the Colorado River at the Hilton Garden Inn. In addition to the comfortable accommodations, this hotel sits within walking distance the Pivot Point Interpretive Plaza outdoor museum and Yuma Crossing Historic Park.

Coronado Motor Hotel also offers a  peek into Yuma history. The Yuma Landing, which serves free breakfast for hotel guest, is also a mini-museum and the site of the first airplane landing in Arizona. This hotel also has 2 pools and spacious guest rooms.

Keep the fun going by finding all the great Things to do in Yuma, Arizona.

5. Lost Dutchman State Park Photo by Flickr/ksblack99

In the shadow of the iconic Superstition Mountains lies Lost Dutchman State Park. Experience the Sonoran Desert by taking a trail into the Superstition Wilderness. Legend has it that there is a lost gold mine somewhere in these parts. Maybe your family will be the ones to uncover it!

For families with low to moderate hiking skills, try the 2.4 mile Treasure Loop trail. This Arizona State Parks’ trail offers just enough elevation gain to be fun and plenty of boulders to climb along the trail. Keep a lookout for unique cactus and desert wildlife.

Where to Stay:

Get a feel for desert living by staying in the campsites or cabins of Lost Dutchman State Park. 134 campsites make a great base camp with fire pits, picnic tables, and water and electric hookups available. For those summer visitors with heat aversions, opt to stay in one of 5 cabins-complete with air-conditioning and ceiling fans.

This park is located just 40 miles from Phoenix. Consider staying at The Arizona Grand to enjoy the water park after a hike in the desert.

Can’t get enough of this desert beauty? Use our guide, Best Hikes in Phoenix for Kids to find more great places to explore.

4. Red Rock State Park Photo by Flickr/Wendy

The iconic red rocks of Red Rock State Park are only part of the wonders this park offers. Red Rock State Park is a 286-acre nature preserve. 5-miles of interconnecting trails lead visitors on horseback, on foot, or on bikes through green meadows, lush riverbanks, and red hills.

Eagle’s Nest Loop gives a stunning view of the surrounding area. Or try the popular Apache Fire Loop and Coyote Ridge Trails for more desert beauty. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center for informational videos and exhibits about the area.

Where to Stay:

Stay close and in comfort at Courtyard by Marriott Sedona, less than 3 miles from Red Rock State Park.

The closest campground, Chavez Crossing Campground, is almost 12 miles away, but offers amazing views of Sedona’s famous red rock formations.  

Want more red rock adventures? Discover Things to do in Sedona with Kids on our blog.

3. Slide Rock State Park Photo by Flickr/Don Graham

Slip, slide, and swim in nature’s water park, otherwise known as Slide Rock State Park.  Oak Creek flows over an 80-foot long chute of sandstone and algae, creating the perfect water slide. Areas for wading or swimming sit above and below the slide as well. Additionally, this Arizona State Park is a historic, and still functioning commercial apple farm. A short hike down the Pendley Homestead Trail gives visitors a glimpse of the apple orchards and original packing shed, still in use today. 

Where to Stay:

Although camping is not available in the park, there are plenty of campgrounds in the surrounding Coconino National Forest. For tent camping, stay at Manzanita Campground, just 2 minutes from the park entrance. RV campers should head to Pine Flat Campground, just down the road. Both campgrounds fill up in the busy seasons so reserve your spot in advance.

Alternatively, combine a visit to Slide Rock with a stay in

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While the beaches in Texas will do just fine most summers, sometimes you may want to truck-it east on I-10 to reach the glorious, white sandy beaches of the Alabama Coast or the Florida Panhandle. If that time is now, you’re in luck because we’ve already scoped out all the best stops along the entire route from Texas to Florida! You’re looking at about 12-15 hours of drive time, so keep it fun and break it up with great stops along the way. The journey becomes the destination. Well, almost. Check out all of the great places to explore on your next Texas to Florida road trip.

Texas to Florida Road Trip Road Trip Stop 1: Houston, Texas Photo by: Tarlie Harris

Houston is three hours to the east of Austin. Your back won’t exactly be aching yet, but it would be a shame not to see a little something of Houston as you pass through. It really is more than interstate, we promise. Here is Trekaroo’s list of Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Houston. Pick your favorite for a fun afternoon, or take a few nights to fall in love with the city.

Road Trip Stop 2: Lafayette, Louisiana Photo by: Tarlie Harris

Lafayette is a funky little Cajun town with a lively food and music scene, about 3.5 hours east of Houston. For a quick stop, you’ll want to hit Girard Park. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood with wide open green space that includes creative play equipment for the kids, and a long jogging path. Agave is the perfect downtown joint for a Mexican fueled lunch. For a longer escapade, try a swamp tour with Cajun Country Swamp Tours or visit the Vermilionville living history park.

Road Trip tip: Outlet malls make for a perfect pit stop. They usually offer a variety of food choices that are healthier than fast food, and they often have shaded walkways, a playground, and clean bathrooms.

Road Trip Stop 3: New Orleans, Louisiana Photo by: Tarlie Harris

If you’re willing to deviate from the route just a smidge (i.e. you aren’t pressed for time, or gasp, a “Type A” road-tripper ), then head down to New Orleans! C’mon, it’s the Big Easy, the home of Louis Armstrong and Cafe du Monde. Those beignets melt in your mouth and you need a little street trumpet boogie to keep up morale. It only adds about half an hour to your total drive time. Obviously, it’s one of a kind, and contrary to reputation, very kid friendly. Here is Trekaroo’s list of Top 10 Things to Do in New Orleans with Kids.

Road Trip Stop 4: The Infinity Science Center Photo by: Wiki Commons

The Infinity Science Center is just another 45 minutes east, right over the Mississippi border from Louisiana. It is a large, state of the art facility and well worth a visit. It’s the official NASA visitor center for the Stennis Space Center so the content is heavily geared toward space and earth science. Don’t miss the carnivorous plant gallery or the butterfly garden. There is a cafe, movie theater, and gift shop on site as well.

Road Trip Stop 5: Ocean Springs, Mississippi Photo by: Tarlie Harris

This is my favorite little town in all of Mississippi! It’s another hour east, right on the Biloxi Bay. The small downtown has streets lined with art galleries, restaurants, and huge oak trees. You can stop in just long enough to ooh and aah at the gorgeous Southern homes that overlook the bay. Or grab a donut at Tato-Nut.

If you have a little longer, let the kids run around on the waterfront splash pad and playground. If you haven’t soaked up enough southern charm in an afternoon, hang your hat at Front Beach Cottages. One word: adorable.

Learn more about visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Texas to Florida Road Trip Stop 6: Mobile, Alabama Photo by: Bigstock

The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is another hour east in Mobile, Alabama. This is a huge attraction where you can tour two battleships, and get up close and personal with multiple retired aircraft and tanks. It’s the ultimate stop for every little boy obsessed with things that go vroom.

Road Trip Stop 7: Gulf Shores and the Alabama Gulf Coast Photo by: Stephen Savage

If massive battleships aren’t your thing, the small town of Fairhope, Alabama is just around the bend on the other side of Mobile Bay. This is one of the most charming towns in the whole state. If you skipped New Orleans and Ocean Springs, spend a couple of hours in Fairhope. It’s kinda like the small town baby of the two. Relaxed southern life on the bay, with a French Quarter to boot. Massive oaks, hidden courtyards, hot beignets, quirky bookstore…you get the idea.

The Park at OWA, in nearby Foley, Alabama is a new amusement park with rides for kids of every age. With plenty of space to run around and multiple restaurants, it’s the perfect stop for an afternoon of fun.

Itching to see the ocean yet? The beaches around Gulf Shores present the first opportunity on this route to set your toes in soft, white sand. In Alabama, you will notice the water color has shifted from the brown tones of Texas and Mississippi to blue-green tones. Take it all in from anywhere along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Play for a few hours on the beaches of Gulf State Park, or stay for a few nights at The Beach Club by Spectrum Resorts

Destin, Florida and 30A Beaches Photo by: Amy Beim

Your Texas to Florida road trip is in the books! Two hours east of Fairhope, it’s time to roll down the windows and breathe a slow, deep inhale. That’s the salty fresh air of some of the best beaches in the country.

The 60 mile stretch of powdery white, sandy beach known as the Emerald Coast is book-ended by two big tourist hubs. Destin on the west, and Panama City Beach on the east. Those hubs are where you will find big resorts, cheesy souvenir shops, water parks, go-karts, and unique mini-golf courses.

If you don’t fancy yourself the hardcore beach bum, you may want to stay closer to a hub for lots of entertainment options. There is no shortage of fun things to do in Destin (see our guide to Destin, Florida with Kids), but really the shining sea star is the beach. 

Conversely, if you want to truly get away from it all, walk or ride your bike everywhere, and perhaps forego shoes for a week – you’ll want to be on “30A” (somewhere between Grayton Beach and Rosemary Beach). All of these little towns are connected by a bike path and run together so that you can’t necessarily tell where one ends and the next begins. Each town has it’s own personality. Rugged dunes in Grayton, food trucks around a family green in Seaside, and fancy restaurants in Rosemary Beach (the most upscale of the bunch). 

Check out the best places to eat with kids in our guide to the Best Restaurants on 30A. In prime season, there is always a wait. Don’t worry though, you’ll adopt the slow Southern groove of the locals in no time.

 Lead image by Bigstock/CherylCasey

The post Texas to Florida Road Trip with Kids appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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Planning a trip to Europe with your kids? If you’re taking a transatlantic flight from the United States to Western Europe, it is likely that you’ll consider a flight through Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The best thing about flying through there is that the train ride from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station in the historic city center only takes 15 minutes.

It’s easy for families to spend just one day in Amsterdam seeing the sights as part of a long layover or on their way to another European destination. Here is an itinerary for things to do in Amsterdam with kids if you only have 24 hours or even less.

Trekaroo Travel Tip: For years, I have heard good things about flying KLM Airlines. After a quick spring break trip to Amsterdam and the Netherlands, I certainly agree. KLM’s inflight entertainment system had a great variety of movies and was very easy to use. Everything about our flight from Washington DC to Amsterdam Schiphol went smoothly.

One Day in Amsterdam with Kids Photo by: Melissa Moore Start Your Day at the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum

The Rijksmuseum is home to an extensive collection of Dutch art and historical objects. The museum highlights Rembrandt, but also has a recognizable self portrait of Vincent van Gogh. An extensive collection of ship models is also impressive, especially for children. It’s a good choice for any traveler that only has one day in Amsterdam. 

Photo by: Melissa Moore

The highlight of our family’s visit to the Rijksmuseum was the digital family game that we rented at the multimedia desk inside the museum. It cost our family of 4 just 10 Euros total. Each person in the family had their own device. The tour took us to see eight pieces in the museum’s collection. About half the pieces were paintings by Dutch masters, including Rembrandt.

The other clues on the game led us to historical objects. The humorous host on our touch screen device led us around the museum in English. It was virtually impossible to get lost. The kids, though exhausted from our transatlantic flight, loved it. 

Why should the Rijksmuseum be first on your list of things to do in Amsterdam? Photo by: Melissa Moore

While it is possible to reserve tickets in advance for the Rijksmuseum and save a little bit of time, it is not necessary. Many of Amsterdam’s top museums and attractions, like the Anne Frank House and the van Gogh Museum do require (or at least recommend) timed tickets. If you’re spending 24 hours in Amsterdam, it is certainly more convenient to make your first stop a place where timed entry is not necessary. You never know how long it will take to get through customs and deposit your luggage at a convenient location.  

It is possible to reach the Rijksmuseum quite easily via public transportation. Also, parents will be happy to know that there is a play area adjacent to the Rijksmuseum perfect for kids of all ages.

Eat Pancakes for Lunch on your Trip to Amsterdam Photo by: Flickr/Pinuxette

There are many places to eat pancakes in Amsterdam. In fact, we ate pancakes nearly everyday that we were in the Netherlands! Dutch pancakes are similar to crepes, but are served flat. They often have ham, cheese, or apple cooked inside the pancake itself. Kids will love the desert pancakes with chocolate syrup!

We at the Pancakes Amsterdam chain because it was conveniently located between the Rijksmuseum and our hotel. If you are attempting to make the most of your 24 hours in Amsterdam with kids, after lunch would be an excellent time to take a rest at your hotel if that is an option for your family. 

In the Afternoon Tour the Anne Frank House  Photo by: Melissa Moore

A visit to the Anne Frank House is a meaningful way to spend 60-90 minutes on your one day in Amsterdam. Anne Frank was a young Jewish teenager who was in hiding with her family for more than two years during World War II; ultimately, her family was discovered by the Nazis, and she died in a concentration camp.

Today her diary is read by school children around the world in  70 different languages. The warehouse where Anne and her family hid is now a museum; visitors are guided through the museum by audio guide. After visiting the museum, visitors do climb the stairs up to Anne’s Secret Annex and pass silently through the rooms of the Secret Annex. 

Visiting the Anne Frank House with Children

Having visited many World War II sites across Europe including Auschwitz, I can say that a visit to the Anne Frank House is not nearly as draining and emotional or heavy as many Holocaust memorial sites. Personally, I would not bring my 3rd and 4th grade age children to any of the concentration camp sites that I have visited. But, I do feel that a visit to the Anne Frank House was appropriate for both of them.

Before visiting, both of my children read an age appropriate book about Anne Frank and explored the interactive features of the Anne Frank House website. During our time at the museum, we discussed Anne’s passion for writing, the segregation of the schools, and the daily life Anne would have had in the Secret Annex more so than the horrors of Nazi Germany. 

There were a couple of seconds of graphic video clips along the tour route that my children thankfully didn’t really seem to see. I would not recommend a visit for children who are too young to read a simple version of Anne Frank’s story on their own. 

Tickets to the Anne Frank House must be reserved in advance. Most of the tickets are released exactly two months ahead of time; however, some tickets are available same day at 9AM. Check the website for more details on obtaining tickets. 

Sit Back and Relax on a Narrated Canal Tour of Amsterdam Photo by: Melissa Moore

A canal tour is a one of the best things to do in Amsterdam on your first day in the city. I’m glad that we saved it for the afternoon when we were really too tired to appreciate anything else. It was nice to sit back and enjoy while our tour guides told us about the history of Amsterdam.

There are many options for canal tours. Several companies have long boats that carry dozens of people. We saw many of these by the Amsterdam Central Train Station and the Rijksmuseum. Some of these boats offer “hop-on-hop-off” options. We opted for a smaller boat carrying about 20 passengers.

Conveniently, Flagship Amsterdam tours are about one hour long and depart from the canal adjacent to the Anne Frank House. The spring canal cruises are open to the elements. However, there are blankets and pillows to ensure a comfortable ride. To me, much of Amsterdam’s canals look very similar so one hour on the canal was plenty. Our canal cruise was fun and relatively family friendly.

Finish Your 24 Hours in Amsterdam by Eating Indonesian Food for Dinner Photo by Wiki Commons/Takeaway

The Indonesian Rijsttafel, translated “rice table,” is a unique meal option found at many restaurants in Amsterdam. Indonesian food made its way to Amsterdam via Dutch colonialism of Indonesia in the 19th century. Now a “Rice Table” is a full spread of spiced curries and pickled vegetables shared family style.

We ate at Restaurant Jun. Despite offering child-sized portions, we stuffed ourselves and still had food left over. I would definitely recommend Restaurant Jun for families with children who are hearty, adventurous eaters. 

I have to admit that it would have been best to save our big rice table dinner for another day when we were not so tired. My 8-year old son actually fell asleep at dinner which necessitated us needing to take a taxi back to our hotel a bit earlier than we had planned. (On the other hand, my 10-year old daughter, typically the one to succumb to jet lag, heartily ate more than her fair share of our spectacular dinner spread.) 

Where to Stay in Amsterdam with Kids Photo by: Melissa Moore

We stayed for two nights in Amsterdam at Hotel Sebastians. It was the perfect choice for our family to spend one day in Amsterdam and another touring the tulip fields outside the city. The staff at the front desk easily answered all our questions each day in excellent English.

Our beautifully decorated family room had four twin beds pushed together in pairs. The bathroom was spacious with both a bathtub and a shower. The hotel offered breakfast for an additional fee which we gladly paid each morning for the meat, cheese, fruit, eggs, bacon, cappuccino, and fresh fruit juice.

Accommodations aren’t cheap in Amsterdam’s historic city center. Also, I found most options to be non-refundable in the popular spring season. If you’re looking for a longer stay in Amsterdam with kids, you might want to consider an apartment, or even a houseboat rental.

Layover Logistics 

The logistics of an extended layover in a European city are often difficult to figure out. However, spending one day in Amsterdam between flights or before catching a train is relatively simple. There are several options for storing your bags as you explore the city. 

Luggage Storage

If you’re not spending the night in Amsterdam, luggage storage is possible at Amsterdam Schiphol. While we did not store our luggage at Amsterdam Schiphol, I did see clear signage showing the directions to luggage storage for those with a long layover in Amsterdam.

There are also luggage lockers at Amsterdam Centraal Station. Various companies will store luggage a short walk from the train station. Storing luggage at Amsterdam Central Station would be convenient for those families spending a short time in Amsterdam before traveling on to Rotterdam, Brussels, or Paris using the high speed Thalys train. Families visiting Amsterdam also have the option of renting a car at Amsterdam Central Train Station or at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. 

Interested in beginning your Central European road trip adventure in Amsterdam? Check out Trekaroo’s Guide to Driving in Germany and Central Europe. 

The post 24 Hours in Amsterdam- What to See, Do, and Eat appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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The post Pin Trading at Disney appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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The most anticipated expansion in Disneyland history is almost here! After several years of anticipation, the opening date is set for the brand new Star Wars land at Disneyland. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge open on May 31, 2019!

Trekaroo has been invited to among the first to explore this incredible new Star Wars themed land, and we are excited to be offering the inside scoop on all there is to see, do, eat, and explore.

Return to this article frequently. It will be updated as we learn more.

 
Disney Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Land Model | Photo by: Disney Parks
 

If you and your family are Star Wars fans, then you’ll want to know all the details of what to expect for the grand opening, and how to secure your reservations. Disneyland visitors will only be allowed entry into the brand new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land with a reservation!

If it’s your first time to Disneyland, don’t panic! Check out our First Timer’s Guide to Disneyland.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens at Disney Hollywood Studios on August 29th. 

How to Get reservations Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. 

The only way to experience this new Star Wars land at Disneyland when it opens on May 31, 2019 through June 23, 2019 is to have an advanced reservation. Reservations for those not staying at a Disneyland Resort property were booked up within 25 minutes of their release! 

But don’t be dismayed! Reservations are guaranteed to those staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel during this time period. Book quickly because these rooms are sure to go fast. 

Each REGISTERED GUEST with a valid theme park admission ticket will receive a reservation to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. If the hotel reservation is canceled, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation will be canceled. 

Talk to our friends at Small World Vacations – An Authorized Disney Travel Agent to secure your hotel reservations, theme park tickets, reservations for Star Wars land, and dining. They’ll wait on the phone so you don’t need to.

What you Need to Bring With You for Entry

  1. You must have a valid Disneyland park admission ticket PLUS your Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation information
  2. The guest who made the reservation and anyone over 18 in your party must have with them a government-issued photo ID that matches the names on your reservation. Only guests listed on the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation with proper ID will be admitted.
  3. Guests under 18 do not need to produce ID and kids under the age of 3 do not need a Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation. 

After June 23, reservations will no longer be required to enter the land. Disneyland is planning use some sort of same day reservation system for guests to enter the land (we are guessing it will be similar to FastPass) but those details have yet to be released.

Know Before You Go Tips for Visiting Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Download the Disneyland and Play Disney Parks Apps When Visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge - YouTube

  1. There is no standby line to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge between May 31 and June 23
    Only guests with reservations will be able to access the land during this time.
  2. 14 and up, leave costumes at home.
    It is Disneyland policy to only allow guests 14 and younger to dress in costume so if you are an adult, leave your Yoda mask at home. Outfits inspired by your favorite Star Wars characters are still encouraged. The rules are more extensive, so be sure to check the Disneyland Resort costume policy for more details.
  3. Use the “Play” Disney Parks Mobile App To Engage with Planet Batuu

    Disney really wants a guest’s experience in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to be about more than just the rides. They have added quite a bit of technology to the visitor experience via their Play Disney Parks mobile app.

    The Disney mobile PLAY app will activate your galactic datapad as soon as you enter planet Batuu. Choose to be a Smuggler, member of the Resistance, and loyal to the First Order, and have a different experience on each visit. You’ll be guided into your Star Wars adventure. You can interact with droids, take on jobs, translate galactic languages, discover hidden cargo and digital goods throughout the land. You can even back into device and control panels in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land. Receive digital rewards like ship schematics, star maps, galactic credits as you complete different jobs.

    Tip: Bring backup phone batteries when visiting Disneyland Resort. Batteries tend to drain quickly while inside the parks and you don’t want to miss out on any of the fun!

    Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will interact with your smartphone if you download the Disneyland mobile app

     
What We Know About the New Star Wars Land at Disneyland

Star Wars fans have been dreaming about this massive 14-acre park expansion since it was announced. Visitors will get live their own Star Wars adventures on the remote planet of Batuu. Immerse yourself in the unique sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of planet Batuu. Take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.​​​​​​​

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Rides Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run | Photo by Disney Parks

There are two rides in Batuu, the distant planet this new land is themed after. Only one ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, will be open on May31. The other ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is scheduled to open later this year. Here is what we know so far:

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run Inside the Millennium Falcon | Photo by Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks

Yes, it’s true- you finally get a chance to help pilot the most famous ship in the galaxy! Each rider will be assigned 1 of 3 important roles onboard the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” and your decisions will have an impact on your ultimate ride experience.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Later in the year, Disneyland’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will open, but Disney has yet to set a date.

Disney calls this ride “the most ambitious, immersive, and advanced attraction ever imagined” and we can’t wait to experience it. This attraction will put you in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

We know that the experience is expected to be a long one. Rumors have put the ride time at around 15-20 minutes. We also know that this ride will take passengers inside a full-size starship and aboard a Star Destroyer.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Food and Beverage

Sure, we have all wondered what it is like to pilot the Millennium Falcon but have you ever thought about what it must be like to taste Blue Milk? Star Wars fans will now have a chance to sample this as well a diverse array of food while on Batuu.

Mobile Ordering will be allowed at select Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge restaurants. This will allow guests to avoid long lines by preordering and prepaying for their food. If you’re traveling with someone with has food allergies, we have tips on visiting Disneyland with Food Allergies.

Ronto Roasters Ronto Roasters Podracer Spit | Photo by: Disney Parks

This restaurant is rumored to have big entrances. Why? To get the massive Ronto inside, of course! A giant podracer engine serves as the spit that exotic meats from around the galaxy will be cooked up on by a smelter droid.

Their signature food item will be a Ronto Wrap. This handheld pita sandwich is filled with roasted pork, Portuguese sausage, and a cabbage slaw topped with spicy “clutch sauce”.

Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo Dock Bay 7 Restaurant | Photo by: Disney Parks

This restaurant is housed in a multi-purpose transport shuttle that is docked atop a large hangar. Inside Chef Strono “Cookie” Tuggs is serving up a wide variety of dishes using spices and techniques from across the galaxy.

Some of the food to be served here are Kaadu Ribs (pork ribs with a blueberry muffin and cabbage slaw), Felucian Garden Spread (a vegetarian “meatball” dish served with herb hummus and tomato-cucumber relish with pita bread), and Fried Endorian Tip-Yip (rectangular fried chicken).

If you are looking for a fun beverage don’t miss the Meiloorun Juice which is based on fruit from the popular Star Wars Rebels animated series.

Milk Stand Blue Milk and Green Milk | Photo by: Disney Parks

Blue Milk and Green Milk will be for sale at this food stand. Blue Milk was first seen in Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope and Green Milk made its debut in Star Wars: Episode III- The Last Jedi. Blue Milk is said to have a berry flavor while Green Milk is more tropical.

Kat Saka’ Kettle Popcorn at Kat Sakas Kettle | Photo by Disney Parks

We all love Disneyland popcorn but they had to dream up something extra special for Star Wars fans so they kicked things up a notch at this food stand. The resulting popcorn snack is sweet, salty, and savory.

Oga’s Cantina Oga’s Cantina at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge | Photo by:
Disney Parks

At long last, your dreams will be realized. You can enjoy a frosty beverage inside a Cantina like the one made famous in the original Star Wars film. There will be plenty of fun music courtesy of DJ R-3X, of former Star Tours fame (yep, he’s back!).

Non-alcoholic drinks will include the Tatooine Sunset which is a tea-based drink and Moof Juice which is a pink fruit juice. Blue milk will also be available at this location.

Alcoholic beverages have names like the Fuzzy Ttauntaun, the Outer Rim, the Bespin Fizz, and the Bloody Rancor which is garnished with an edible bone.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Shopping

We can buy shirts with Star Wars characters on them just about anywhere these days, so Disney made an effort to do something different with the merchandise for sale in Batuu. Instead of selling the same old gear, they are also selling things that you might expect to buy while visiting this distant planet in another galaxy which is pretty cool!

Droid Depot Custom Droids | Photo by Disney Parks

Build your own droid! Start with a base model (R-series or BB-series) and then choose parts from a conveyor belt to customize your droid. Additional programming chips and special accessories are also available. These special droids will be able to interact with elements in the land- we can barely contain our excitement!

Savi’s Workshop-Handbuilt Lightsabers Savi’s Workshop Custom Lightsabers | Photo by: Disney Parks

As the name suggests, this is the place to go to build and customize your own lightsabers.

Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities

A wide variety of rare and mysterious items are for sale in this shop. Highlights include holocrons as well as ancient Jedi and Sith artifacts. Keep your eyes out for Doth and the large Ithorian in charge of checking inventory.

Black Spire Outpost Market The Creature Stall | Photo by: David Roark/Disney Parks

There are a few different stalls at this market. The Creature Stall sells rare and fascinating creatures from across the galaxy. Toydarian Toymaker sells toys crafted by a Toydarian, an alien species first seen in Star Wars Episode I- The Phantom Menace. Black Spire Outfitters sells a variety of accessories.

Just outside of the market you will find First Order Cargo, selling pins, caps, gear,  and model ships which allow guest to pledge allegiance to the first order.

Hidden in the Resistance command center is Resistance Supply, filled with pins, caps, and gear that will help guests feeling like they are joining the cause.

The post The New Star Wars Land at Disneyland – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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When families start planning a trip to a Disney park the first image to pop in their mind is usually something iconic: The Magic Castle, Mickey Mouse, photographs with characters, and fun rides. What you may not know is that in addition to these classic experiences, Disney hosts many special events throughout the year. From sporting events to art displays, there’s a Disney special event worth checking out. 

Get Your Sweat On Photo By: flickr.com/angryjuliemonday

With over 200 events a year and 60 sports represented, the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex in Orlando rules the Disney sports world. Catch an Atlanta Braves Spring Training game. Shout “GGGOOOOAAALLLL!!” with the crowds at the Major League Soccer sanctioned The Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. If you’re partial to collegiate and high school sports, check out Disney’s spring training for baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, tennis, and rugby.

Watch the college teams shoot some hoops in the AdvoCare College Basketball Tournament. Check out USA Field Hockey teams as they are scouted by collegiate teams at the Disney Field Hockey Showcase. Several youth soccer tournaments and events run throughout the year.

In addition, the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex is home to collegiate track and field championships, middle school, high school, and college cross-country races. There are also cheerleading, dance, wrestling, and gymnastics competitions.

If your family prefers to get out of the bleachers and in on the action, Disney has options for you as well. Have a child who loves soccer? Check out the IdeaSport Soccer Academy, a fun way to hone skills for kids ages 13-18. Perhaps you have a rising high school triple jumper; the Disney Track & Field Showcase might be just the place to compete.

We’ve gathered all of the special events at Walt Disney World.

Disney World Special Events and Festivals Photo By: flickr.com/jared422_80

For families who love music, good food, movies, art, or nature, there is a Disney event for you as well.  Epcot is home to another popular Disney World event, the International Flower and Garden Festival. From early March through May, you can find Disney character topiaries, activities for kids, outdoor concerts, and gardens from around the world. In addition to Flower and Garden, International Festival of the Arts is all about the beauty of Disney artistry. From the food offerings to the live shows and displays, budding artists will enjoy every moment. 

Honor the Jedi within at Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars Weekends from mid-May to mid-June. Young Padawans can see their favorite characters, watch a fireworks display set to music from the movies, and participate in Jedi training. Walt Disney World’s Sounds like Summer concert series at Epcot is also sure to be a crowd pleaser (especially for those of us who grew up in the 80’s).  

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Photo by: Disney Parks

Foodies and wine connoisseurs who find themselves in Florida in the fall will enjoy Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. I often plan my trips to Walt Disney World around it.

Sure, it’s definitely geared toward adults, with international food and drink from countries around the world, but kids can have just as much fun. Pop-up playground areas add to the appeal and give families a chance to take a break from touring the park. 

Then, add in the free concerts at American Adventure Pavilion (most feature famous singers and bands from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s). I personally like to attend with my teen daughter and embarrass her by singing along at the top of my lungs. Yeah, I go there. 

Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Photo by: Sharlene Earnshaw

Don’t worry, Disneyland Resort has its own foodie festival. The Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival celebrates all the bounty of California’s thriving food scene. This 50+ day festival take place every spring and there are 14 different Festival Marketplaces serving creative dishes and regional beverages. Culinary demonstrations, Junior Chef experiences, and signature events round out this wonderful event.  

Read all about the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival.

Holiday Celebrations Photo By: David Roark for WDW News

Disney sure knows how to celebrate! While every day is a great day to celebrate when visiting a Disney park, there are definitely some standout dates that give us all a reason to keep on visiting. 

Lunar New Year Photo by: Sharlene Earnshaw

Lunar New Year celebrations at the Disneyland Resort have become a pretty big deal. This festival generally take places around the end of January/beginning of February and last a few weeks. It includes plenty of amazing food and entertainment options reflecting Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese culture.

Read more about Lunar New Year at Disneyland Resort

St. Patrick’s Day Photo by FrankHPhillips

As a gal that took years of Irish Step Dance classes, the St. Patrick’s day celebration at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World makes me kick up my heels, literally. Sure, you can dine at Raglan Road any day and catch live shows and dance performances, but it’s the month of March that makes everyone feel like Irish, if even for a few moments.

Both its indoor and outdoor stages rock with Irish tunes, but it’s the award-winning dancers that are the stars. The best part? You can join in on the fun! Raglan Road dancers LOVE to bring folks up from the crowd to try some hardshoe steps. 

Mother’s Day

Honor your mother with a special Mother’s Day Brunch. Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland offer special meal options and treats, so make sure to lock down dining reservations early. And don’t forget, a simple stroll through the parks with Mom can be all you need for a fun day.

Fourth of July Photo by: Disney Parks/David Roark

Enjoy a patriotic fireworks celebration for both the 3rd and 4th of July at Walt Disney World and on Independence Day in Disneyland. Yes, Disney amps up the patriotism with an extra-special fireworks show and music!

One of THE most popular days in the Disney parks, if you’re planning on visiting, make sure you arrive early. And, if you can swing it, consider staying at a Disney hotel. There is a cap to the amount of guests allowed into the park  and on-property guests receive priority. 

Halloween Photo By: Karyn Locke

Halloween is hands down my favorite time of the year in the Disney Parks. The Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort  get beautiful, autumn-themed makeovers, buts it’s the Halloween parties that are the hits!

At Disney World, the spooky fun begins in August with Mickey-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party dates and in mid-September at Disney California Adventure for Ooogie Boogie Bash. A hard ticket event, you’ll have to pay for these tickets in addition to regular theme park admission

One of my favorite parts of the Disney Halloween parties is that adults get to dress up in costume! It’s the one time of the year where we can channel our inner fave Disney character and guests go all out. Of course, there’s no need to feel obligated to do so, but it certainly is a good excuse. 

Christmas Photo By: Karyn Locke

It’s so astounding how Disney can have autumn decorations in the parks one day and the very next day they’re swapped out for Christmas ones. While it may seem hard to believe, I’ve seen it at Magic Kingdom with my own eyes. And, keeping the ball rolling, at Disney World there’s only about a week in between Halloween and Christmas parties.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is another worthwhile, hard ticket event. Instead of trick-to-treating, guests queue up for hot cocoa and cookies or slushies and pretzels. And while you’re waiting for one Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, make sure to keep your yes to the sky: it “snows” on Main Street U.S.A.

At Disneyland, there’s no official Christmas party, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. Some attractions get a holiday makeover, holiday-themed fireworks are extra-special, and the holiday lights and decor are perfect for family Christmas card photos. Highlights include the Candlelight ProcessionalHaunted Mansion Holiday, “it’s a small world” Holiday, and the great Cars-themed Christmas decorations in Radiator Springs. Read all about Christmas at Disneyland

Thanksgiving

Give thanks with those you love while enjoying a Thanksgiving meal Disney-style. End the year with Tuba Christmas concert at Anaheim’s Downtown Disney.

runDisney Photo by: Flickr:/Rhinodad

Certainly, a special events Disney list would not be complete without a mention of runDisney events at Walt Disney World. Several times a year, avid fans gear up and run though the freeways and theme parks while getting high five and affirmations from onlookers. Sure, finishing the race is rewarded with themed medals, but it’s the comradery and fun during the event that keeps folks going back year after year. 

For many years, Disneyland has hosted the annual charity event CHOC’s (Children’s Hospital of Orange County) “Walk in the Park” to raise funds for the services provided by the hospital. Create a team and join in the fun while helping a good cause. Runners and walkers on both coasts swear by runDisney. In fact, families love runDisney races so much that we’ve dedicated an entire runDisney article to them.

Show Off your #DisneySide Photo By: Karyn Locke

True, die-hard Disney fans like to show off their Disney Side in as many ways as possible. At the Disneyland Resort, girls can celebrate their quinceañeras in true Disney princess style. Share how much you love each other with a wedding or vow renewal at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, or on a Disney cruise. 

Want to see the park while dressed in true sophistication? Head out to either Walt Disney World or Disneyland for Dapper Day, an independent social event where people dress up in sophisticated clothing for a day at the park. Dapper Day is the perfect excuse to pull your Sunday best out of the closet and doll up!

Last, but not least, join other Disney fans at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. The convention put on by the official Disney Fan Club is chock full of celebrities from Disney films, movie memorabilia, and sneak peaks.

The post These Disney Special Events Are Worth Planning Your Trip Around appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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There’s something special about the greater DC area that makes history feel as if it’s living and breathing. As my kids put it after our recent East Coast road trip: “This is where history is still happening!

As a mom, I thrilled at these words. When I planned our summer East Coast road trip itinerary through the Mid-Atlantic states, my goal was to help history come alive for my school-aged kids.

During the week we spent on our American History road trip, we made clay bricks in the Colonial fashion, saw George Washington’s death bed, looked out portholes of pilgrim ships, ate Revolutionary era foods, and stepped inside the White House. Then we saw fireworks burst behind the Washington Monument and laid eyes on the original Declaration of Independence.

Heading north from Gettysburg on your East Coast road trip? Explore American History in Philadelphia and Boston with Kids

American History Road Trip from Gettysburg to Washington DC to Williamsburg Photo by: Melissa Moore

History finally felt current and relevant for the kids because we were able to tour George Washington’s estate in the same weekend we visited the White House. Moreover, we saw Ford’s Theater just as we were learning about contemporary secret service details. Pretty cool!

The following short trips from DC can be done independently, or as one big East Coast road trip. Wondering when to go on an American history road trip? Families can always seek out historical lessons during any vacation, of course.

However, before planning a trip focused specifically on historical events from Gettysburg to Washington DC to Williamsburg, I recommend waiting until kids are school-aged. In fact, kids in 3rd grade and up are better able to spend significant time in museums and on tours. Luckily, the best historical destinations make learning fun for everyone on an American history road trip.

Looking to make the most of your stay in Washington DC? Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things to Do in Washington DC with Kids. 

 Civil War History in Gettysburg Photo by: Shutterstock

Located in Pennsylvania, it’s easy to forget Gettysburg is one of the best short trips from DC for families on an East Coast road trip. While interpreters may not be in costume in Gettysburg (except for during reenactments), it’s very much a living history location. The events of this fateful three-day Civil War battle still feel very much alive. It’s a sobering, significant, and almost hallowed location. Therefore, we will never forget our visit here.

Best for older kids, the Gettysburg National Military Park includes an amazing museum, guided battlefield tours, and on-site expert talks and programs. First, families will want to budget at least one full day at the Gettysburg Battlefield on an East Coast road trip. After that you’ll want to spend another full day walking the town of Gettysburg and learning about life for the civilians during the war at places like the Shriver House.

Recommendations for Touring Gettysburg

We highly recommending hiring a Licensed Battlefield Guide to take you on a three-hour tour. These guides are true experts. In fact, they will get in your car with you and drive you through the three-day battle on the field. Plus if you have a family of four or more, the cost is less than that of the group tours!

Because the events of the battle of Gettysburg were so gruesome, I recommend waiting to do this tour until kids are at least in the middle grades. Our 4th, 8th, and 10th graders got a lot out of the trip. In fact, my teen says it was the highlight of our American history road trip.

Where to stay: We stayed in the heart of town at the Quality Inn Gettysburg on our trip from Gettysburg to Washington DC. This hotel has many rooms with three double beds, perfect for bigger families on an East Coast road trip. It also features free breakfast and a refreshing outdoor pool.

Spending more time in Pennsylvania? Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things to Do in Pennsylvania with Kids

Educational resources for Gettysburg living history:

Check out our Pinterest Board on Learning about Civil War History Follow Trekaroo Family Travel’s board Road School: American History – Civil War on Pinterest.

Elementary grades:

Middle and High School Grades:

Live and Breathe U.S. Government History in Washington DC Photo by: Melissa Moore

By now, you will have experienced some American history in Gettysburg. However,  if your kids, like mine, are still not very interested in political history, that’s about to change after a few days in DC. While we toured Washington DC with history in mind, we were given ample lessons in current politics and government practices as well.

Plan at least four days in the city on your East Coast road trip, but make peace with the fact that you still won’t see it all. On the must-do list: a day or more to tour Smithsonian museums, such as the National Museum of American History and National Museum of African American History and Culture. Take a tour of the Capitol Building, and make sure to apply early to get a self-guided White House tour.

Kids who want to see the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution will want to visit the National Archives. It is best toured early before security lines lengthen. A tour of the monuments along the Mall is also a must-do. We toured them via bike to save our tired feet, and recommend Bike ’n Roll.

Looking for a full itinerary for your Washington DC family vacation? Check out this Washington DC Family Vacation Itinerary – 4 Days in DC.

Where to stay in Washington DC

We loved the Grand Hyatt Washington, located within walking distance of just about everything. Upgrade your room to gain access to the Grand Club, and have meals, snacks, and cold drinks always at your disposal. For more of Trekaroo’s favorite Washington DC hotels, check out Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Washington DC for Your Family

Educational Resources for DC travel:

Check out our Pinterest Board on Learning about US Government History
Follow Trekaroo Family Travel’s board Road School: US Government History on Pinterest.

Elementary School 

For all Middle School and Up

Explore our First President’s Estate in Mount Vernon, VA  Photo by: Melissa Moore

After learning about civics in Washington DC, we recommend making a stop in Virginia at Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate. During the summer months, it is best to  arrive early in day, as it gets crowded and hot. Start with a tour of Washington’s home, which is run on a timed ticket. Buy online to select your time beforehand, or you may be waiting upon arrival. After the house tour, opt for the self-guided tour of the outbuildings, slave quarters, and grave sites before the heat of the day. Then retreat to the modern indoor museum, located near the entrance. In addition, for families with younger kids, there’s a nice interactive art room in the museum just for kids under age 10. It’s staffed by museum historians and offers a different craft or project each day.

Looking for more day trips from Washington DC? Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Day Trips from Washington DC for Families.

Continue your East Coast Road Trip to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia Photo by: Melissa Moore

Located three hours from Washington DC, Williamsburg is perhaps the best place to see history come alive for kids . Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City is the most comprehensive living history center we’ve ever seen. The interpreters are in period costume and stay in character all day. As you walk the streets, your kids may be drawn into a heated conversation about taxation in the colonies or hear a hushed whisper about a runaway slave.

Every day, historic reenactments take place in Revolutionary City, and artisans show their trades. Above all, be sure to take kids to visit the brick maker, who just might need help in his clay yards, and to the Governor’s Palace, where a mob of angry colonial citizens could break out at any time.

Where to stay: In historic Colonial Williamsburg, we recommend staying within walking and shuttle distance to Revolutionary City. The Williamsburg Woodlands is located next door to the visitor’s center, and hosts evening children’s programs of its own. The included breakfast is the best we’ve experienced while traveling, and there’s a free mini golf course on site!

Want to plan a fun family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia? Check out Trekaroo’s Historic Williamsburg Family Vacation.

Become a Soldier in Jamestown  Photo by: Melissa Moore

A ten minute drive from Williamsburg, Jamestown offers both a second living history center with a re-created Jamestown fort, native American village, and harbor. The excavation of the national parks site in the original settlement continues today. The re-created fort and village has a separate entry than the national park site, but families will want to do both. First, start at the fort to see the living history section, which will give kids a visual of what was there. Then, head out to the village. Furthermore, Trekaroo families found Historic Jamestown to be more accessible for younger children who can easily be overwhelmed by Colonial Williamsburg.

The Historic Triangle is a destination in itself! Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things to Do in Williamsburg, VA with Kids

Educational resources for colonial living history:

Check out our Pinterest Board on Learning about American Colonial History
Follow Trekaroo Family Travel’s board Road School: American History – Columbus and Colonial History on Pinterest.

Elementary grades:

Middle and upper grades:

Looking for more Road School Guides? Check out our landing page where we keep all our latest tips, tricks, and educationally approved guides.

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

The post Road School: American History Road Trip from Washington DC appeared first on Trekaroo Blog.

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When many people think of Disney World, the first park that comes to mind is the Magic Kingdom. It is often the most popular park with families because it has so many great rides and attractions. Plus, this is the park most similar to Walt Disney’s original theme park, Disneyland. Navigating the long lines and big crowds isn’t always easy but don’t worry, we have your back! Here are our best Magic Kingdom tips and tricks.

Take Advantage of FastPass+ Advance Reservations Photo by: Walt Disney World/Matt Stroshane

Unlike the other 3 theme parks, there are no FastPass+ tiers at Magic Kingdom. You can make 3 FastPass reservations per day 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, and 30 days in advance if you are staying offsite.

Be sure to read our Disney World Fastpass+ guide before you trip. Then, check out our guide to the best Magic Kingdom FastPass rides.

Arrive Before Rope Drop

 I know, it’s early.

But trust me when I say that your day at Magic Kingdom will be infinitely more enjoyable if you make an effort to be at the park at least 30 minutes before it opens. Consider the amount of time it will take you to get from your hotel to the Magic Kingdom.

Don’t forget that you must take a boat or monorail to the theme park once reach the Ticket and Transportation Center. Magic Kingdom generally opens up Main Street an hour before the lands open. Use this time to take photos near Cinderella Castle, shop and even grab a coffee on Main Street USA.

Note: Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness use boat transportation exclusively. Disney’s Grand Floridian and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are on the monorail route. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is on the monorail as well, but you can also walk directly to the Magic Kingdom from this hotel.

Enter the Magic Kingdom Before the Masses Photo by wohlford

Don’t fight the crowds to get that perfect picture in front of the castle!

Enter the Magic Kingdom before all the other guests and book the first breakfast seating of the day at Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table. If you can’t get the first seating, opt for the afternoon when Magic Kingdom crowds are at their peak.

Check out our full guide to Disney World Character Dining.

Avoid Extra Magic Hour Mornings if You Aren’t Staying at a Disney Resort Hotel  Photo by: Sharlene Earnshaw

Extra Magic Hours are a great perk if you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel. However, Extra Magic Hour mornings at Magic Kingdom get very busy very fast. If you don’t have access to Extra Magic Hours, move your Magic Kingdom visit to another day.

Even if you do have access to the Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom during the morning, you may end up wanting to cut your park day short. Those days typically end up being more crowded.

As a rule, it is much better to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours in the evening at Magic Kingdom if your kids are up for it. Most families with young kids leave and the ride lines die down quite a bit. 

Check the Disney World park calendar for Extra Magic dates and times. 

Don’t Miss the Welcome Show! Photo by: Karyn Locke

Right before the Magic Kingdom opens to the day, the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show happens in front of Cinderella Castle. There are trumpets, there is fanfare, and of course, there is Mickey Mouse. It lasts about 5 minutes and is a great way to start the day.

Grab a FREE Celebration Button Photo by: Karyn Locke

A Disney World vacation is expensive so why not take advantage of the free stuff?

Head to City Hall at the beginning of Main Street to pick up a free button. Buttons say all sorts of things such as 1st Visit, Just Married, Just Engaged, Family Reunion, Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, and I’m Celebrating.

If City Hall is swamped (as it often is in the morning), head into The Emporium on Main Street as ask one of the Cast Members at the counter for one. Cast members around Magic Kingdom are great about noticing Celebration Buttons and make the person wearing the button feel special all day long.

Ride the “Mountains” Early in the Day Photo by: Karyn Locke

Prioritize Magic Kingdom’s mountains- Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the most popular ride in Magic Kingdom right now, so if you didn’t get an advanced FastPass for this ride, head there first. Space Mountain should be your 2nd priority, followed by Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain (which is also really fun to ride after dark).

If You Have Young Kids, Do Fantasyland First Photo by: Karyn Locke

If your kids aren’t quite roller coaster age just yet (or simply don’t like them) head to Fantasyland at rope drop instead of the “mountains”. This land will get crowded quickly and remain crowded until late at night when your kids will be too tired to ride.

Priorities should be Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and It’s a Small World. Almost all the rides in Fantasyland are slow, with the exception of Barnstormer and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Most don’t have height requirements either.

Use a FastPass on Peter Pan’s Flight Photo by: Flickr/Harshlight

If your kids love the classic character rides in Fantasyland, definitely prioritize a FastPass for Peter Pan’s Flight above all others (except Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That is always priority 1). This ride loads very slow and is extremely popular, so wait times get long quickly. Jungle Cruise is another “all ages” ride which is worthy of a FastPass.

Use Mobile Ordering to Skip the Lines at Quick Service Restaurants

Want to spend less time in line?

Then take advantage of Mobile Ordering on the My Disney Experience App. You’ll spend far less time in line for food at quick service restaurants and can even choose what you’d like to eat while waiting in attraction queues! You can order, pay, and even customize menu items right on the app (ex: no pickles, add bacon). 

Once you get to the restaurant, select the “I’m here, prepare my order” button. Find a table and relax for a few minute while the kitchen prepares your meal. The app will send you a notification when it is time to pick up your food from the counter. It’s that easy.

Magic Kingdom restaurants currently participating in Mobile Ordering: Aloha Isle, Casey’s Corner, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, The Lunching Pad, Pecos Bill Tall Tales Inn & Cafe, Pinocchio Village Haus, and Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. 

Survive Character Meet and Greet Lines Photo by: Disney Parks/Ali Nasser

Lines for character meet and greets are longer in Magic Kingdom than in the other three parks and they move slow (I avoid them like the plague). If you or your child can’t survive without getting their picture taken with popular characters like Mickey Mouse or Cinderella, try to get a FastPass.

If you can’t get a FastPass, time your character visits during parades. Keep your eyes out for random cast member holding cameras. Ask them if they are waiting for a character to show up and then hang out for a minute so you can be the first in line!

Bonus tip: If your kids won’t do lines for characters, there are plenty that roam around the parks. It won’t be “meet-and-greet style”, but you can still ask for a quick photo!

Take Advantage of the Baby Care Center Photo by emerille

There is a Baby Care Center at the end of Main Street, next to First Aid, on the left hand side (if you are facing the castle). Inside there is a changing room with four cushioned changing tables with high walls and Velcro belts. They are extremely clean. There are shelves for holding all your stuff and even a toilet for cleaning soiled cloth diapers.

There is also a sink, two tiny toilets for potty trainers, a feeding area with high chairs, and a nursing area that is quiet (no dads or older kids allowed). Cast Members will warm bottles and baby food for you. Diapers, ointment, baby powder, Pull Ups, wipes, pacifiers, formula, baby food, and Children’s Tylenol are all available for purchase inside.

Don’t Fret if it Rains Photo by mjhagen

Newsflash- rain is a frequent occurrence at Disney World. 

Luckily, there are several indoor rides and attractions to keep your family entertained until the storm passes (and it usually does pretty quickly in Orlando). Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Country Bear Jamboree, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Hall of Presidents, Space Mountain, and the Walt Disney World Railroad (as long as it isn’t coming down sideways) are all good options in the rain.

Good to know: The Rainy Day Cavalcade Parade only takes place on rainy days and is a pretty rare occurrence, so take advantage of the short, but still super cute, parade. 

Get Great Pictures at Magic Kingdom’s Famed Walls Photo by: Karyn Locke

Looking for an Insta-worthy pic?

There are several walls at Magic Kingdom which has become quite popular for serving as the perfect photo backdrop. The #PurpleWall is on the Monsters Inc building between Tomorrowland Terrace and Tomorrowland. The #CandyStripeWall is inside the Main Street Confectionery. 

Other popular spots are the bright blue wall near the exit to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the floral wall of the Tangled restrooms (yes, restrooms!) between Fantasyland and Liberty Square. 

We found this tip inside Walt Disney World Hacks, a fun read filled with tips for your trip. 

Use Up All Those Disney Dining Plan Credits Photo by: Karyn Locke

If you are visiting Magic Kingdom on the last day of your trip and have any Disney Dining Plan meal credits left over, you can choose to purchase snacks instead. Remember, one quick service meal credit equals three snack credits. Purchase bagged snacks to enjoy on the plane or road trip home or hand them out as gifts to friends and family back home. 

Need more information about Disney Dining? Here is everything you need to know about the Disney Dining Plan

Lines for Rides are Shorter During Parades and Fireworks Photo by wdwSteve

Firework and parade time are great times to hop on some rides! Just be aware that many rides in Fantasyland do close during fireworks.

Be sure to pay attention to parade routes and don’t try to do one ride on one side of the parade and then attempt to cross over to do a ride on the other side. It will take forever.

Fireworks Can Be Seen All Over the Park But… Photo by
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