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Fall is the best time to hit Orlando theme parks with preschoolers

 

Lucky you!  So what if you are toting strollers and sippy cups.  Fall is the best time possible to hit Orlando's theme parks when the crowds are gone, the temperature is cooler and you’re guaranteed to get a hotel deal. 

For example, you can save as much as 30 percent at Disney hotels or getting a free night at Universal Orlando Resort.  If you’re in the military, you can get four day park-hopper passes at Disney World for less than half price. 

There’s also something new at every park. At  the Magic Kingdom’s expanding Fantasyland young kids will love the new Barnstormer Coaster and the Splash ‘N’ Soak play area at Storybook Circus while SeaWorld touts the one-of-a-kind Turtle Trek. (Here’s what I said about Turtle Trek. ) 

LEGOLAND Florida  has a new water park and Universal Orlando has a new 3-D ride Despicable Me Minion Mayhem  Look for my Kid’s Guide to Orlando to be published later this fall.

But it’s not only about the rides. Even Orlando spas welcome preschoolers. The Ritz-Carlton Spa at Grande Lakes Orlando welcomes young spa goers as young as two with the Princess Fizzing Manicure and the Princess Fizzing Pedicure, complete with aromatherapy fizzing balls to tickle the fingers and toes.

And there are terrific interactive play areas at all of the parks different from even the best playground at home. 

Here are 6  play areas we especially like:

Shamu’s Happy Harbor at SeaWorld includes a four-story play area of climbing nets, tunnels, water slides and a water maze. Great on a hot day!  

Camp Jurassic at Universal Island’s of Adventure is a gigantic shaded play area where kids can explore secret caves and wander through a mysterious amber mine). Dino lovers will love the Jurassic Park Discovery Center where you can see an animatronic raptor being hatched.

Fievel’s Playland at Universal Studios is a big hit with the preschool crowd with ordinary things reproduced on a giant scale so kids see the world as Fievel the mouse does. (Think walking through a giant boot and seesawing on huge spoons. )   Nearby, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone and Curious George Goes to Town comes complete with Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.

At DUPLO Village at LEGOLAND ORLANDO even toddlers can fly a plane, drive a car or explore a whole town – all designed with their height in mind. At the DUPLO Farm, they can slide, climb and crawl around a whole host of friendly farm animals mad. The new adjacent water park will also have DUPLO Splash Safari with shorter slides and interactive, larger-than-life DUPLO creatures.

Bruce’s Shark World  at The Living Seas at  EPCOT based on Bruce, from the feature "Finding Nemo is an interactive play area for kids with buttons to press, knobs to turn, and computers while they get some first lessons about conservation. Your kid will also love the chance to literally Turtle Talk With Crush. 

The Boneyard at Dinoland U.S.A. at Animal Kingdom lets your little paleontologists dig for “fossils” in a gigantic sandbox, play on a xylophone that looks like dino ribs and head down prehistoric slides. Take a walk down the trails at Camp Minnie-Mickey and meet the characters at the end.

Eileen Ogintz is a nationally syndicated columnist and creator of TakingtheKids.com. Her new  Kids Guide to LA is available online and from major booksellers, along with the Kids Guides to NYC, Washington, DC, Orlando and coming in December, Chicago.