When your family of five moves from New York to Florida, you imagine yourselves frequently exploring your new sun-soaked state. But when the move coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, those family getaways get delayed.

Such was the case for AAA Member and employee Michael Campo, who, like most of us, has spent much of 2020 at home. So when the opportunity arose to drive from Tampa to Orlando to spend two days at the Aquatica and Discovery Cove theme parks, the entire family was onboard.

“Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we pretty much stuck to ourselves,” Campo says of himself, his wife and their three children, ages 8, 7 and 6. “When the kids realized that the trip would be to a water park, and there would also be dolphins, they were super-psyched.”

The two-day family vacation proved to be the perfect blend of excitement and new experiences, and all the while, the Campos felt safe in their surroundings. Here is what they saw and how AAA can help you experience a similar trip.

Day 1: Aquatica Orlando

Family-friendly water slides. Exhilarating wave pools. Tranquil beaches. Whichever your family desires, this water park delivers. For the Campos, their family vacation began together—on a family-friendly raft slide.

“It was one of our favorite rides from the whole day,” Campo says. From there, they didn’t need much convincing to take as many rides as possible. If his daughters could pass the height requirement, they were on the ride.

Aquatica offers plenty of slides, lazy rivers, sandy beaches and play areas. While the family spent much of their time together, not every ride was for the kids. Campo enjoyed solo rides on a free fall slide, which was also one of his favorites.

Throughout the day, Campo could tell the theme park was taking safety seriously. Aquatica requires employees and guests to undergo temperature screenings and to wear face coverings in certain areas. He watched as staff paid extra attention to cleaning areas such as the bathrooms.

And knowing that their hotel was only a few minutes from the water park, the Campo family stayed at Aquatica until just before closing. “It was a great day,” Campo says.

Did you know? AAA Members get special discounts at Aquatica and other top family-vacation attractions across the country. You can even plan for 2021 when you purchase tickets online.

The Night: Unwinding in a Three Diamond Hotel

There weren’t hotels at the theme parks, but the Campos still had plenty of options. They chose AAA Three Diamond TownePlace Suites by Marriott Orlando at SeaWorld, which was a short drive from both theme parks and offered a special rate for AAA Members.

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They found the hotel to be clean and safe—the perfect place for a restful night before heading off early the next morning. They are new to AAA Membership and are still learning about its perks, such as the AAA Diamond Program. Diamond hotels and resorts meet AAA’s high standards—each has been visited by an inspector from AAA.

Did you know? Wherever you’re looking to stay on your family vacation, AAA can help you find the right hotel for the night. AAA works with preferred hotel partners to bring you exclusive savings and to help ensure you can book your stay with confidence. AAA Members save up to 20% at hotels across the country. Preferred hotel partners include Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and MGM Resorts.

Day 2: Discovery Cove in Orlando

If you can’t get to the Caribbean, Discovery Cove offers an intimate, resort-like experience that is closer to home. For the Campos, breakfast was the first sign that this wasn’t an ordinary park—breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages are included with admission.

The full day brought many up-close experiences. The Campo kids interacted with flamingos that paraded through the park. They swam with fish and stingrays. They touched dolphins and took photos with them. The day was full of firsts.

“Seeing it all through the kids’ eyes was really something special,” Campo says. “The kids just loved it. Their eyes were filled with wonder the whole time they were there.”

While Aquatica provided a go-with-the-flow kind of day, Discovery Cove was a more planned experience. And, as with Aquatica, Campo says he could tell that employees at Discovery Cove were paying extra attention to safety procedures, such as when the family was getting their meals.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful, amazing place,” Campo says.

Did you know? You can buy Discovery Cove tickets online and save with AAA—there are many featured offers to choose from. Hotel and ticket packages are also available through AAA Travel.

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