We went to Central Florida… without doing Disney.


My kindergartener started going to a balance calendar school (previous referred to as “year round school”). He starts a few weeks earlier and ends a few weeks later than the traditional calendar, but there are more scheduled breaks throughout the year. One of those was 2 weeks in October. This seemed like the perfect time to visit Florida for a week of fun in the sun.

We used a Hilton promotion to stay in Orlando for 4 days and 3 nights before heading off to a Cocoa Beach VRBO condo for the remainder of the week. Weather was great, most of the snowbirds hadn’t arrived and it was an off time of year for families with school aged kids to be traveling.

With each person I mentioned our trip to, they would then say “Oh, you are headed to Disney”. To which each time I had to explain that we weren’t and further explain the reasonings to the confused faces I received in response. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with Disney. My Grandparents took me to Disney more times that I can count. But the vacation vibes we shoot for don’t seem to align with a big theme park trip at this time of our life. To us, having a vacation with a full day timeline doesn’t always come out the way you plan with a 4 and 6 year old. 

Here are some of the things we did in Orlando instead.

1. Hilton Grand Vacations Club Resort at SeaWorld– Give my kids a pool, a hot tub and a playground and we are literally set for the day. We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Seaworld. This fit all of needs and the accommodations were a 1 bedroom condo with a full kitchen instead of hotel room. I love being able to make our own food and have our own space when needed. Much of the day was take it as it came and when the weather turned rainy, we could retreat back to our condo for a break. 

2. WonderWorks Orlando– This came up on my search of non-Disney things to do in Orlando and the shape of the building alone peeked my interest. Think science/learning museum with hands on exploration exhibits. Then factor in laser tag, an indoor ropes course and a 4D theater. It was an unique experience that I think families of all ages would enjoy. I would go back again at another visit, as I can imagine finding new things at each return visit.

3. Aquatica– Sea world’s water park. While I am not certain we are theme park people, I would say we are waterpark people. The park had all the staples: slides for all ages, wave pool, a huge water playground for the kids, and a family raft ride. We rented a reasonably priced (by my park standards) that allowed us to lock away our gear and provided a shaded area with chairs for when we needed a break. This was by far the kids favorite part of the trip. We took the free shuttle to and from our resort.

4. Cocoa Beach– Just an hour from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is by far a family favorite of ours. It has everything a family could wanted from a beach town, and a large part of it in walking distance. Having rented a condo on the beach, we spent the days rotating between the beach, the pool and resting in the condo. The beaches were nearly empty.


This vacation had our perfect mix of relaxation and activities. I actually came back refreshed. I have no regrets about not doing Disney at this time. Will we in the future? At this point I can’t say for certain, but my husband is shaking his head yes.

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