It's the time of year Canadian families feel the itch to head on down that highway bound for Florida. When it comes to family travel, the Sunshine State does not disappoint, constantly introducing new kid-friendly attractions, maintaining its classics, and tossing in a few deals to keep Canadians coming in these tough economic times.
Be a kid again
Worlds of Discovery -- operators of a family of Florida attractions including Orlando's SeaWorld and Aquatica, plus Tampa's Busch Gardens -- has incentives for Canadian families visiting in 2010. Its new Be A Kid Again ticket offers adults single-day passes at kids' prices (approximately $10-savings per adult) for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. The discount also applies to multi-park tickets that include Busch Gardens and SeaWorld plus Aquatica in Orlando.
Worlds of Discovery operates a $10-round-trip bus shuttle between SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Be A Kid Again tickets can be pre-purchased online at seaworld.ca, buschgardens.ca or through most Canadian travel agencies.
Sesame Street fun
If you're planning to hit Florida in the spring, you can experience a new Sesame Street-themed playland at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Replacing Land of the Dragons, Sesame Street Safari of Fun will include a junior roller coaster for children and parents called Air Grover. Other kid-sized attractions: A flume ride called Zoe-Patra & the Hippos of the Nile, and Bert & Ernie's Water Hole, a water park with bubblers, geysers, jets and dumping buckets. See buschgardens.ca.
For a taste of old Florida, drop into Orlando's Gatorland, a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve open since 1949. With its mini train, petting zoo and nature walk, it's a nostalgic, super-family-friendly visit. But kids love best the thousands of alligators and crocodiles onsite, including the rare all-white alligators in the White Gator Swamp. For a good laugh, do not miss Gatorland's daily Gator Wrestlin' Show. See gatorland.com.
Central Florida Zoo
Also in Orlando, the Central Florida Zoo and botanical Gardens is waiving the cost of a child's ticket with the purchase of an adult pass. The zoo is home to cheetahs, elephants, leopards and baboons, plus its own train and 800 species of plants and flowers. See CentralFloridazoo.org.
It's easy being green
And while we're on the subject of Florida animals and botanicals, TradeWinds Island Resorts at St. Pete Beach have discounted their It's Easy Being Green Package. The eco-friendly program includes three-nights' accommodation at the Island Grand or Sandpiper Suites, two tickets to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a one-day beach trolley pass for two, plus dolphin watching, all starting at $561 US. The package also includes a sea turtle adoption from the Clearwater Aquarium, including adoption papers, a biography and photos of the adopted turtle. See JustLetGo.com.
New travel info
And finally, if you're driving to Florida this year, a new state-run website is posting up-to-the-minute speed and congestion information on highways and Interstates along the U.S. East Coast. The site covers 8,000 km of road, including the I-95 and the Georgia-through-Florida section of I-75. Type in your route and the site will estimate your driving time for you based on current speed of traffic and congestion. See i95travelinfo.net. For comprehensive and up to the minute travel information on Florida, see VisitFlorida.com.