PETS—For daytime dog and cat boarding, Universal charges $15 per pet at its first-come, first-served kennel (407/224-9509) in the parking structure; there, owners must feed and walk their own dogs, but water is provided. You don’t have to stay at a resort property to use Universal’s service.

Off-property, there’s VIPet Resort (407/355-3594; www.vipet.net; $55–$65 dogs, $32 cats overnight, $30 daytime), near where Sand Lake Road meets Florida’s Turnpike. For all these services, you must have written proof of current vaccinations.

Universal's resorts (minus Cabana Bay, Aventura, and Endless Summer) allow pets for a $100 fee, and the hotels also provide welcome amenities. Even hotels that are pet-friendly usually charge a daily fee. To find more pet-friendly hotels, two solid resources are www.petswelcome.com and www.dogfriendly.com.
 
HEALTH AND SAFETY—Your biggest concern is the sun, which can burn you even through gray skies on cloudy days. You will be spending a lot more time outdoors than you might suspect—rides take 3 minutes, but some lines will have you waiting outside for an hour. Hats are your friends.

As for mosquitos, the resorts’ spraying regimens keep them in check, but if you’re worried, any Disney cast member can tell you where to obtain free repellant.

Sunscreen and sunburn cream will help to ward off and/or soothe an Orlando sunburn; Pepto-Bismol and antacids will lessen an array of stomach ailments that often pop up when traveling; eye drops will relieve tired and dry eyes (whether from the plane ride or all the plant life lurking at the parks); and a supply of bandages will help to protect the inevitable blisters, minor scrapes, and scratches. If your body tends to chafe, bring whatever you need to mitigate that, because you'll be walking for miles in the humidity.

You should, of course, pack any prescription medications that you require while vacationing -- and keep the phone numbers of your family's various physicians handy in case you need a prescription refilled or called into a local pharmacy. Pharmacies are plentiful throughout the Orlando area (many of them are open 24 hr. and offer drive-through service). Most are stand-alone stores, but pharmacies can often be found inside the area's larger grocers as well. Note that while pharmacies and several grocers are well stocked with over-the-counter medications, many hotels often stock a very small supply of trial-size over-the-counter medicines in their gift shops, though prices are generally astronomical.

Common Ailments: Sun/Elements/Extreme Weather Exposure — Limit your exposure to Florida's strong sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and, thereafter, during the hours from 11am to 2pm, when the sun is at its strongest. Use a sunscreen with the highest sun protection factor (SPF) available (especially for children), and apply it liberally. If you have children under a year old, check with your pediatrician before applying sunscreen—some ingredients may not be appropriate for infants.

The hot Orlando sun (coupled with high humidity in the summer months) can easily cause you to overheat—even to the point of dehydration. Drink plenty of liquids (water is preferable to sugary or alcoholic drinks) throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty, to prevent any ill effects. Dehydration can sneak up on you very quickly.

Seek protection indoors or in a safe location during the city's not-infrequent summer electrical storms. Central Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S., and while the storms are often stunning to watch, you do not want firsthand experience with a lightning strike.

Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld all have at least one first-aid station (usually staffed with medical personnel who can provide basic medical care) at each of the parks. If you feel ill or get injured while at your hotel, call tel. 911 if the situation is life-threatening; otherwise the hotel concierge will be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate medical personnel and/or services. Select hotels, including the Grande Lakes Orlando resort, have their own on-site doctors.

What to Do if You Get Sick Away from Home—Always carry a list of phone numbers that includes your hometown physician, your hometown pharmacy, and your insurance provider, as all will likely be necessary if you find yourself in need of medical attention while away from home. If you suffer from a chronic illness (or even if you're just under the weather prior to your departure), consult your doctor before leaving home. Always pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage (so they are readily available even if your checked luggage isn't), and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels, otherwise they may not make it through airport security.

Hospitals: Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital (9400 Turkey Lake Rd., Orlando; 407/351-8500) is a short drive north up Palm Parkway from Lake Buena Vista. To get to the 24-hr. AdventHealth Celebration (400 Celebration Place, Celebration; 407/303-4000) from I-4, take the U.S. 192 exit, then at the first traffic light, turn right onto Celebration Avenue, and at the first stop sign, make another right.

Clinics: Nearest Universal: AdventHealth Centra Care Dr. Phillips (northwest of Universal at 8014 Conroy-Windermere Rd., Suite 104; 407/291-8975; daily 8am–8pm). There's also Central Florida AdventHealth Centra Care Lake Buena Vista (12500 Apopka-Vineland Rd., 407/934-2273; www.centracare.org; Mon–Fri 8am–midnight, Sat–Sun 8am–8pm); and AdventHealth Centra Care Orange Lake (near the vacation homes south of Disney at 8201 W. U.S. 192, Kissimmee; 407/465-0846; daily 8am–8pm). In addition, each theme park has its own infirmary capable of handling a range of medical emergencies.

Safety

Orlando has a crime rate that's comparable to that of other large U.S. cities—which isn't good. Stay alert and remain aware of your surroundings. It's best to keep your valuables in a safe. Most hotels today are equipped with in-room safes or offer the use of a safety-deposit box at the front desk. Keep a close eye on your valuables when you're in public places, including restaurants, theaters, and even airport terminals. Renting a locker at the theme parks is always preferable to leaving your valuables in the trunk of your car. Be cautious, even when in the parks, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash in a backpack or fanny pack, which could easily be accessed while you're standing in line for a ride or show. And don't leave valuables unattended under a stroller—that's pretty much asking for them to be stolen.

If you're renting a car while in Orlando, read the safety instructions provided by the rental company. Never stop for any reason in a suspicious, poorly lit, or unpopulated area, and remember that children should never ride in the front seat of a car equipped with air bags.

Somewhere along the way, you might spot wide roaches about an inch and a half long. Their appearance is not necessarily due to uncleanliness at your hotel—those are waterbugs, which thrive in the damp Florida environment and are always hunting for food. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.