Spring break, March break, reading week—call it what you wish, but for parents with young children, it’s prime family vacation time. From sun and surf to snowy slopes, here’s the inside scoop on three springtime getaways for parents and kids of all ages.
Some destinations require stamina—and I’m not talking about hoofing it to Mount Everest base camp. I’m talking about spots like Disneyland, Canada’s Wonderland or, my latest mother-son foray—Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I’d done my homework, so I knew about the inevitable queues at the resort’s 18 waterslides, the hefty prices at Dolphin Cay and the fight for beach chairs. Undeniably, this was a trip that required a strategy. Herewith:
- Lay claim to a beach chair by 9 a.m.
- The rides open at 10 a.m., but get to the crowd-pleasers like The Abyss and The Leap of Faith by 9:30, otherwise you could spend two hours in line.
- Be sure to take the fork to The Drop on The Power Tower for the biggest adrenaline jolt, or else count on queuing up again.
- If you want a break from your teens, check them into CRUSH, the teens-only dance club that serves mocktails under blinking strobes and brags of 24 gaming consoles, a live DJ and multipurpose video walls. Follow this cheat sheet and you’ll love how ridiculously fun this place can be.
Located near Vernon, B.C., Silver Star Mountain Resort is a family whoop-up renowned for its late-season powder, brightly painted slopeside homes, quick lifts and superb cross-country skiing. Besides its 115 downhill runs and a Jacuzzi on almost every deck at Snowbird Lodge, kids love the night-lit Adventure Park, which includes a four-lane tube course, mini-snowmobile track and skating pond. If you want to splurge on an adults-only dinner, choose a Thursday—that’s when the ski school runs a special evening for kids, allowing parents to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to the Wild Horseman’s Cabin for a candlelit meal. This year’s best deal at Silver Star is the new “my1pass,” which waives many of the additional fees (for the tube park, skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing) when you buy a regular day pass. Plus, kids under 12 ski for free from March 1 to April 7 if you book accommodation through Silver Star Holidays.
As if Walt Disney World didn’t already offer enough to entice families (the rides, the snacks, the kid-friendly staff), a new expansion has added one more layer of irresistibility to this spring break destination.
New Fantasyland, the largest expansion in the Magic Kingdom’s history, features a cobblestoned, princess-heavy world that warrants at least a couple of hours of wandering and riding. Arrive early (the park opens at 9 a.m.) for the Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction, and be sure to secure a FastPass for the newly expanded Dumbo, the Flying Elephant ride. (Free Fast Passes are available at booths located at many of the park’s most popular rides and ensure a shorter lineup.)
One more thing for another day: Epcot’s most popular ride, the Chevrolet-sponsored Test Track, has been updated with hyper-digital virtual tools to customize your ride. Beat the lineup with a FastPass, but try not to look smug as you bypass your less-savvy Disney cohorts.