Orlando is a maze of amusement parks, attractions and things to do but, not all of them are age--appropriate for your toddler. With a little research, you can choose destinations and activities that will entertain both you and your toddler. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Green Meadows Petting Farm
With a philosophy like “learning can be fun” and over 300 animals to see and touch, the Green Meadows Petting Farm is a perfect spot for toddlers and their families. The admission in 2010 was $21 for adults and kids over age 2. Any children under age 2 are free. The admission prices include fun activities such as train rides, hay rides, and of course a chance to see and pet the many animals. Toddlers will love the pigs, goats, sheep, ducks and buffalo as well as many other animals. You can even help your little one milk a cow! The farm has a picnic area for visitors to enjoy a lunch from home or you can purchase a lunch at the snack bar. In the fall, you can choose a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and all visitors receive a free souvenir during the spring and summer seasons. The Green Meadows Petting Farm offers you both a fun filled adventure full of exploration and learning.
Green Meadows Petting Farm 1368 South Poinciana Blvd. Kissimmee, FL 34746 407-846-0770 www.greenmeadowsfarm.com
Orlando Science Center
Dinosaur Digs, Kids Town, Science Park and Nature Works are all exhibits toddlers can enjoy at the Orlando Science Center. Interactive displays are a large part of the center. The exhibits may change from time to time, but you can be sure your toddler can enjoy them all. You can let your toddler ring up oranges or milk cartons on the working cash register in the Kids Town Store or touch frogs in Nature Works. Wooly Mammoths and dinosaurs are also a favorite at the Orlando Science Center. The admission in 2010 was $17 for adults and $12 for kids over age 2. If your toddler in less than two years old, they get in free. Strollers, a café and souvenir shop is also on hand for your visit. The Orlando Science Center is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday.
Orlando Science Center 777 East Princeton St. Orlando, FL 32803 407-514-2000 www.osc.org
Sea World Orlando
This theme park has something for everyone, including toddlers. Feeding sea lions, watching Shamu the whale, and petting a stingray are only a few of the activities Sea World of Orlando offers guests of all ages. Musicals and stage shows starring dolphins and sea lions include guests in the fun don’t forget to stroll through the aquarium filled with sharks and sea creatures from all over the world. Your toddler can get up close and personal with these colorful aquatic animals. Of course there are also games, souvenirs, music and plenty of snacks to taste. Ticket prices in 2010, were $82 for adults and $71 for kids over age three. Sea World of Orlando often has promotions such as purchasing one adult ticket at regular price and receiving a children’s ticket for $5.
Sea World Orlando 7007 Sea World Drive Orlando, FL 32821 888-800-5447 www.SeaWorldOrlando.com
What toddler wouldn't love an indoor inflatable playground? Monkey Joe's has jumping inflatables, slides, tunnels, climbing walls and games. There is even a separate play area for kids under age 2 called Mini Monkey Joe's with smaller play objects that are just right for little ones. Parents can observe their toddler playing under the watchful eyes of staff members at Monkey Joe's. The employees are trained to ensure the safety and well being of all their young guests. There is also a parent lounge with free wireless Internet and flat screen televisions and a concession area to enjoy. In 2010, admission for kids age two and under was $5.99 and adult admission is always free.
Monkey Joe's 5250 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819 407-352-8484 www.monkeyjoes.com
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Gatorland is a fun-filled and educational park for kids of all ages. Your toddler will love watching these prehistoric looking creatures swim, sun and eat throughout the park. A large 2,000-plus foot boardwalk winds over the crocodile and alligator habitat. Gatorland also has huge tortoises, snakes and other wildlife for your toddler to see. You can visit the nursery where alligator eggs are hatched and the young are cared for and then move on to see the alligator wrestling show. Your toddler will love the train ride that tours the park and alligator themed souvenirs from the gift shop. In 2010, adult admission was $23 and kids under three were free.
Gatorland 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail Kissimmee, FL 32837 800-393-5297 www.gatorland.com
McDonalds-Sand Lake Road
Yes, that's right, McDonalds. Not just any McDonalds though. This restaurant has the world's largest McDonald's playland and entertainment complex. Kids can enjoy the tree house themed playground full of tubes and tunnels and slides and then play over 100 different games in the arcade. Toddlers will be mesmerized by the waterfall and aquarium and can choose from the traditional McDonalds menu as well as the gourmet chef-prepared menu from the Bistro which includes pastas, paninis and desserts. Don't forget to introduce your toddler to Ronald McDonald, Grimace and the gang that make appearances and sing periodically throughout the day.
McDonalds-Sand Lake 6875 Sand Lake Road Orlando, FL 32811 407-351-2185 www.mcfun.com/restaurants/view/7
Central Florida Zoo
The Central Florida Zoo boasts over 400 animals and exhibits designed especially for youngsters. The Animal Adventures Children's Zoo gives little ones a chance to get up close and personal with sheep, turkeys, llamas and other animals. They can also enjoy a train ride through the zoo, a spin on the carousel, or even ride an elephant. Of course there are great jungle themed concessions and eateries as well as a gift shop for souvenirs of your visit. In 2010, kids under age two were admitted free of charge, tickets for kids ages 2 to 12 $8.95 and adult admission was $11.95.
Central Florida Zoo 3755 US Highway 17/92 Sanford, FL 32771 407-323-4450 www.centralfloridazoo.org
Loren Estes became a licensed wildlife rehabilitation professional for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1998. She cares for wildlife native to Kentucky. In her spare time, Estes also lectures and volunteers for various nonprofit organizations involved in animal care and adoption.