As a professional matchmaker, I often get asked for recommendations about romantic vacation destinations for a couples weekend. . While I love Napa and Sonoma for a wine-filled weekend or the Greek Isles for a steamy summer getaway, I know that sometimes a couple wants to travel with kids while still hoping to find romance. As far as child-friendly vacations go, Orlando is an obvious choice with it’s exciting and innovative theme parks. The question, then, is whether or not a couple can find romance there. My answer is yes. Here are my travel tips for having fun with your family in Orlando and including some one-on-one time as well:
1. Book extra days at the Theme Parks so you don’t get burnt out and irritable. You will burn yourself out quickly and wind up in arguments every evening if commit to the parks every single day. My advice, if you are heading to Universal Studios is that you plan one day for Islands of Adventure, one day for Universal Studios, then a day off where you can relax at the pool and get your stamina back, and then use the last day to hit the rides you missed or want to do a second time. Don’t forget to use the Hogwarts Express to take you from one park to the other so that you can save your energy for the rides.
Pro tip: Buy a Park-to-Park Admission Ticket so you can go back and forth between the parks all the days you are there instead of being confined to one park each day.
2. Book a hotel room on the Theme park property. When you are traveling with kids but hoping for some love time for yourself, it is a no-brainer to book a room on park property. The convenience of getting to and from all the sights will save you time and stress. Select a suite that has a separate room for the kids or, at the very least, a pull-out sofa bed in another room. Make sure there is an actual door between the rooms so you and your sweetie can enjoy alone time in private while the kids are sleeping.
Pro tip: Use the water taxis and shuttle buses to get to and from the parks instead of driving. It’s more convenient and it’s also a little romantic especially at night. Do not be surprised when the temptation to have a quick smooch or two arises.
Pro tip: If you are staying on property and you purchase a souvenir at one of the parks, make sure to take advantage of the concierge service. They will deliver your goodies back to your room for you so you don’t have to lug them all over the park and risk losing them.
3. Book one of the high-end Universal Hotel so you get a free Express Pass for the parks. An Express Pass is key especially when you visiting Universal during holiday season. When you stay at one of the higher end Universal properties like Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, you automatically receive a free express pass for all your days at the park and you get to go in a separate line for almost all the rides in both parks. These hotels are a bit more expensive but ABSOLUTELY worth the cost given the convenience of the Express Pass. This gives you more time for kissing and high-fiving about how you didn’t have to wait with all those other people for hours for a 5 minute experience.
Pro tip: As an Universal hotel guest, take advantage of the one hour early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so you can do that very special ride before the hoards of park-goers cause the wait times to catapult over 100 minutes! However, if you play your cards right, sometimes you can do Harry Potter before 11am or after 8pm with a minimal wait. While you are there, don’t miss the Butter Beer even if it’s 9am. It takes like buttered popcorn but you can actually get buzzed from it!
4. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Go On A Scary Ride. Get out of your comfort zone and actually go on a ride in the park that scares the bejesus out of you. Fear makes adrenaline race through your body and pumps up those sex hormones. You might see your significant other in a totally different light after screaming your way through Revenge of the Mummy or The Incredible Hulk ride.
5. Organize your days with an app. Use a park planner app so you can watch the lines and be smart about your ride choices. You may want to wing it day by day, but a little bit of pre-planning and foresight will help you keep a level head during the trip. To keep the peace within the family, let everyone choose a certain number of rides per day so it does not feel like one person is dictating the trip.
Pro tip: Pay for the Versa Edge Wait times App and use it along with the official park app. It’s maybe $5 and it’s more useful because it provides you with routes to follow to visit the Park efficiently according to what you want to see and do and the age of your kids.
6. Do NOT buy the daily dining plan. Universal offers a daily dining plan. A lot of people think it’s easier, so they buy it. We found that the kids wanted little snacks all day long instead of the full meals that the plan offers so the plan wasn’t helpful for us. A lot of people also purchase the Coke freestyle cup plan which gives you unlimited drinks all day long. We were thirsty from running around all day so we found that this was a good value (as long as you don’t mind carrying the cups with you ).
7. Be silly. Family vacations can get really intense. It’s a lot of together time with a lot of different decision makers and different desires. The best way to break the tension is by letting loose, no holding back. Act like a kid, volunteer to participate in a show, scream until you are hoarse on a ride, sing at the top of your lungs to a song you hear in the park, pose with a character, skip down the street or eat something that’s not on your diet. And encourage your kids to do the same! The release of all that stress will bring the family together and encourage intimacy with your beau.
Pro tip: If you want to make sure all your fun memories are captured all over the park, you can purchase a Photo plan at the park. Then when you return home, you can go online and see all the photos that were captured of you all day long by park photographers.
7. Spend the second half of your vacation at a Resort in Orlando that is Theme Park free. Once you have exhausted yourselves at the parks, move onto a resort that is completely different where you can relax, soak up the sun and have some calmer together time. Check out a place like Reunion Resort which is a hotel as well as a condo and villa community. Here, you can make family memories that have nothing to do with cartoon characters.
Pro-tip: Try to reserve a Villa at Reunion, so you have separate space for the kids. This will give you more opportunity for your own private romance. Plus, these spaces include a kitchen, which means there is less pressure to eat out for every meal.
8. Try FootGolf. We really enjoyed FootGolf with the kids - This quirky sport will keep everyone engaged and active. It’s like golf but instead of hitting a golf ball into the hole, you kick a soccer ball into it. The course is 9 holes, you are given a golf cart and you run around kicking the ball for 3 hours. I thought it was wonderful.
9. Go Fondue-ing with the family. We took the kids to The Melting Pot one evening with another family. It was a lot of fun. Everyone shares, you cook your own food and the food is really delicious. The kids are occupied and then you and your honey can feed each other some chocolate covered strawberries as a prelude for some lovin’ later on that evening.
Pro tip: For food, choose the Land and Sea or the Pacific Rim so everyone can have a little bit of everything they offer. And then for dessert, don’t miss the Cookies and Cream Marshmallow Dream.
10. Get a His and Her Massage while the kids are at the pool. Choose a resort like Reunion that has a pool with volleyball or water slides so the kids can entertain themselves. Drop the kids off at the water park and then allow you and your significant other to have a romantic couples massage for just the two of you. The relaxation and intimacy will leave you both feeling refreshed for when evening rolls around.
11. Choose a romantic setting for dinner even though the kids are joining. If you eat in a romantic setting, you can still be romantic with your beau even if the kids are right there next to you. Kids love to see their parents kiss and hold hands! Try a restaurant like Eleven. It’s on the rooftop with a fabulous view, comfy chairs and very good food. And they have a kids menu if your kids need it. They even do caesar salad and some desserts table-side which is always enjoyable for the kids!
Pro tip: For food, choose the Roasted Joyce Farms Chicken and Filet Mignon Eggroll. And for dessert, don’t miss the Peanut Butter Macadamia Chocolate Torte.
Have you ever been to Orlando with your love, your kids or both? Tweet your best vacation photos to @MatchmakerSD and let me know what other vacation spots you think combine family and romance.
Samantha Daniels is a well-known Professional Matchmaker and Dating Expert as well as the founder of The Dating Lounge, the exclusive invitation-only iPhone dating app for upscale people looking for real relationships. The Dating Lounge app focuses on the initial attraction that two people have for each other on a date as well as a person’s deal-breakers and preferences when it comes to dating. This approach ensures that members will have a greater likelihood of long-lasting connections.