You might think that having kids will bring an end to the interesting, fun holidays that you’ve previously enjoyed with your spouse – surely you’ll be tied down to a week here and there spent in Mallorca or the Bahamas whenever they’re off school and you can wangle some time off work. Is this going to be it?
Not necessarily. If you’re prepared to spend a bit more then there are plenty of places you can take your family so that kids and adults alike are entertained and stimulated from start to finish. You’ll want to save as much money as you can, though, and while you can shop around accommodation options, you can also compare flights with Easyvoyage.
The two most magical words that you can say to any child (and a few adults) are “Disney World”. The Florida Project, as it was codenamed, was built as an improvement on the already-existing Disneyland in California and, since its opening in 1971, it has grown exponentially from Walt Disney’s original vision for it, attracting over fifty million visitors every year. It now encompasses four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), twenty-four themed resorts and various other entertainment and leisure properties located near Lake Buena Vista in Orlando. While its park attractions have been focused on classic animated and live-action films like Peter Pan and Indiana Jones, the company appears to be focusing on the creations of Pixar, which it owns, in future developments in order to ensure that the parks stay relevant for younger visitors.
Disney World and its resorts are perfect for kids, and the relentless American inbuilt desire to help will ensure that any problems you might have are sorted out quickly and efficiently. There are tons of guidebooks and helpful resources about which rides and attractions are suitable for which children and, crucially, about how best you can navigate the parks in a day or however long you’ve allotted to explore them for. You might have to deal with overtired children at the end of the day, especially if you stay for the Fantasmic! show, the electric lights parade or the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle in the evening but the memory of the smiles on their faces when they first see Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang will live longer in your memory than any tantrums they might have. For a truly magical holiday this summer, choose Disney World.
If you and your kids are avid David Attenborough fans (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?) then a safari in Africa could further their interest in wildlife and allow them to get up close to animals they might only have previously seen on television or behind bars in a zoo. While a safari in years gone by would have meant a big-game hunt, changing attitudes towards animal conservation have ensured that the only shooting occurring on a safari today will be the shooting of photographs.
Driving and walking safaris are both common in various African countries, with lodges and resorts located close to known animal gathering spots such as watering holes. Elephants, rhinos, wildebeest, gazelles, lions, leopards and giraffes are all native to the continent and thrive as well as they can while park rangers do their utmost to protect them from poachers.
Safaris these days are as much about teaching and learning as going out on a jeep and taking some photos, and there are a decent amount of kid-friendly activities on offer at an increasing number of lodges, such as hands-on classes involving smaller animals and activity clubs for fun and games. However, it’s worth considering the age of your children before you book – are they old enough to appreciate the wonders and dangers of safaris in equal measure, and will they be able to sit in a vehicle or hide for four hours at a time without getting bored? It might be worth taking a beach holiday in a country like Kenya and then devoting three or four days to a safari portion so children can tire themselves out having fun first.
If the idea of tearing around a theme park or a safari park makes you shudder and you’d much rather relax on a beach, you can make a bit of a step up from the usual package resorts that offer sun, sea and sand by ditching the Costa del Sol this year and heading across the Atlantic to Cancun in Mexico. Everything you want from a beach holiday – white sand, clear, blue water and baking sunshine – is present in Cancun (and a heavy American influence on it means that it’s a very Westernised town), but it’s the other activities available that make it stand out.
For wildlife enthusiasts, there are opportunities to swim with dolphins and sea lions at the nearby Wet n’ Wild water park as well as visit the Isla Mujeres turtle farm and El Garrafon, a large marine park. People interested in the history of Mexico can visit the nearby Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan city restored by archaeologists and preserved so that visitors can discover it, and retail therapists can head to La Isla, the area’s largest shopping mall. Ultimately, there’s a lot more to Cancun than drinking, eating and sunbathing, although there’s nothing wrong with just doing that! Kids and parents will have more than enough to keep them occupied regardless of the activities they choose.