Picking a flight that stops in one of these spots could keep the fun in family vacation
Review by: Heather Greenwood Davis
It’s the no-man’s land between home and holiday, and it can be the place where it all falls apart before you even begin. The Airport – with its rules, strict protocols and endless waiting (at customs, then security, then to board the plane) is enough to drive adults crazy. Now imagine if you’re two. All the lights and chaos and noise and your mother’s got you by the hand and constantly saying, “Don’t touch! Stand still!” Nightmare.
Luckily, there are a few airports out there that have realized that if they can make the kids happy, they make the parents happy (not to mention that mom and dad are more likely to buy another ticket if they aren’t cheesed off from the first trip). Enter the kid-friendly airport space, or as I like to call it, “salvation for that last nerve.” If I had to make a connection with kids, I’d pick one of these airports:
Chicago- O’Hare International (ORD ) – They had me from the moment I glimpsed the 72-foot long replica Brachiosaurus dinosaur that stands inside of Terminal 1. Younger kids will be amused for a full 30 minutes by that alone. Then march them over to the “Kids on the Fly” play space. Created and operated by the Chicago Children’s Museum, the aviation themed space offers just-their-size planes, helicopters and control towers to burn off steam before the flight.
Singapore – Changi International (SIN) – I’ve only been here once (so far) and the kids weren’t with me, but if (when) I go back with them I’m sure it’ll become one of our all-time favourites. At Changi, the airport is a destination not just a quick stop on the way somewhere else, and the goal is to keep you entertained while you’re there. Free options include a movie theatre (with popcorn!), wi-fi , a swimming pool, a video game laden entertainment deck and children’s playgrounds. Your biggest challenge will be getting the kids to leave. Prefer to get some fresh air? As long as your layover is at least five hours, you can take a free 2-hour sightseeing tour of Singapore – without immigration clearance – right from the terminal or walk the kids on a walk through one of the six themed gardens on site including a sunflower maze.
Calgary – Calgary International Airport (YYC): Forget air travel, the kids will be hooked on space travel after spending time in the airport’s cool 5,000 + square foot “Spaceport.” Older kids like the real exhibits (including a piece of moon rock borrowed from NASA), little ones like the scaled down version of the space shuttle. There’s also a playground for climbing (Concourse D) and small activity centres scattered among departure gates.
Orlando – Orlando International Airport (MCO) – You’re leaving the happiest place on earth but thanks to the new security rules you’ve got hours before you actually board the plane. From kid-friendly art installments ( the lifesize “Traveler” statue is a favourite) to a 3,000 gallon salt water aquarium filled with marine life, a game of eye-spy never looked so promising. (Steer clear of the shops though. Those “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” t-shirts are irresistible.)
Have you got a favourite airport? Any you avoid?