TechEd Tips for Families

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Today we have a special guest article from my wife, Amy!

She wrote the following helpful tips for families who will be accompanying their significant other to TechEd in Orlando:

Kids and Tech Ed Tips and Tricks

You’ll most likely be in a hotel on or near International Drive. There is a trolley that runs up and down the street. Buy the 7 day ticket pass at your hotel's concierge. The trolleys run about every 15 to 20 minutes at stops all along the drive. There are well marked signs for the trolleys and they are so much more comfortable than walking in the heat with kids.

There's tons to do on International Drive. Lots of different themed mini golf places, a water slide park, an upside down museum (Wonderworks), and a go-kart park.

There are not a lot of “kid” places to eat, just a Denny’s, Chuck E. Cheese's, and a *big* McDonald's. If you order in like pizza or something, remember that there are thousands of guests in town for the conference and it could, and probably will, take well over an hour to get the food delivered. The other restaurants get very busy in the evening so call ahead for reservations. No grocery stores are nearby.

Take advantage of the breakfasts at your hotel and grab a few extra pieces of fruit for the room and hungry kids for later. Have your husband bring back extras of all the snack handouts from the conference. You could practically feed off of these alone for the week. It’s all grab and go, prepackaged stuff from granola bars, to cookies, to Power Bars.

Remember it’s hot, so be realistic about how much you and your children can do. I find that mine are very happy to get the afternoon off to just play in the pool at the hotel. It also helps if your hotel offers an adult “happy hour.” :)

Most hotels offer shuttle service to Disney World and other parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Sea World, etc). Check at the front desk the day before as you might need to reserve a seat.

Theme parks are all fun but choose wisely based on your children’s ages. If they are over 10 then Animal Kingdom in Disney World would be OK, but might be bored with the rest of the “princess” thing. Universal is fun for older kids, but not for younger ones due to height requirements on most rides. Islands of Adventure is a good dual choice with things for older and younger kids and a nice “downtown” area with restaurants and shops just outside the park.

If you have a car, Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is not that far away. It’s only about 40 minutes, but remember that there are toll roads all over the state so have lots of change handy. The Kennedy Center is amazing and worth going to if you can make it. You can spend the whole day there. If no car, check with the concierge for a tour group. Allow a full day to enjoy it all. It will be in the mid 90’s and humid so hats, sun block and lots of water are a necessity.

Amy
TechEd veteran and mother of an 8 and 12 year old