Florida on a budget

sheriffwoody

Distinguished Member
it is mine and my gf's 30th birthday this year (sep/oct time) and we would like to go away and make it a bit special. i haven't been abroad since 2007 and she is similar.

trouble is, i am currently trying to plough the majority of my spare money into an ISA to put towards a deposit for a house next year.

what would be the cheapest way to book a holiday to florida (kissemme (spl?) region) and then get all the passes we need to visit the theme parks/seaworld etc.

book it all through one agent? book a villa and hire a car? do it all separately?

budget is tricky at the moment, but if we could get the flight/hotel/theme park tickets/car hire etc for under £1,000 each that would be awesome. is it doable?

currently thinking about going on the 1st september for 10 days or so, but giving thought to the last week of september/first week of october as well. will it still be warm then? will the theme parks still be open at that time of year?
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
It's practically impossible to get any meaningful discount on Park Admissions. If you are really looking to save then:

1: Parks are in two groups - call them Disney and not-Disney. Each group has separate composite admission deals. The "both" offer above is more or less simply an addition of the two. If you can decide to spend your time wholly in one group or the other then that will save close to 50% on your admission costs. Both groups offer longer period passes (eg two weeks) for pretty much the same rate as 5 or 7 days. Which to choose depends on your own likings and you can get a pretty good idea of who has what on the web.

2: Car hire and insurance and (esp) parking costs a minimum of about £300. If you can bear to spend a longer time travelling, then you can access all the attractions for $16 each per week (say £10) by bus. As long as you stay on a bus route. So - saving close to £300. You won't be going to the coast by this method, though, but you can get to the major shopping locations and places to eat, etc.

3: Look at separate flight costs and watch for sales. And look at hotel costs separately, Add together and compare to any package you might see. There isn't a hard and fast rule here - it all depends on who is offering what. But it's often the case that indirect flights (i.e. where you transfer at some big US city) work out cheaper than direct ones.

4: Don't be taken in by low headline prices for flights from eg Thomson or other charter/holiday firms. It's often the case that such flights carry many extra fees for e.g. a sensible luggage allowance, onboard drink, and some fly into a distant airport, Sanford, and that consequently costs more to get to the resort/attraction area - if by taxi, add about $120 round trip over the cost from the much closer Orlando International. (You can even ride the bus from the latter and save a bit more). Add up the true full cost including any such extras before booking. You may well find it totals out much closer than at first sight.

5: Kissimmee has probably the cheapest hotels, but is a dreadful trip by bus for Universal, Sea World etc. It's good enough for Disney, but stay on the more easterly secion of US192 if you need this. And only stay here if, of the two "groups" you pick Disney over the rest. Otherwise, head for International Drive. In hotel terms the "you get what you pay for" is largely true.

6: Breakfast. Assuming you do want this - by the time you have added a juice and hot drink to your cheap "all you can eat" buffet, you are in for upwards of $10 pp daily, so $200 on your 10-day trip. More if you want a-la-carte, even in Dennys (which IS good, by the way). Whereas, if you choose a hotel that has a "free" breakfast offering, whilst the choice may not be as great, it nevertheless works well enough and saves you that $200. Plus you can help yourself to drinks, too - often outside breakfast hours. For cheapness in this context, look at Holiday Inn Express (note: has to be "Express" - normal HIs don't have a free breakfast); Hampton Inn, Extended Stay Deluxe, all of which are reasonably priced and on International Drive. Extended Stay has a full kitchen in each room so, for even greater savings, shop at the supermarket and eat in occasionally.

7: To save around 5%* on your in-resort expenditure, get a fee-free credit card from one of these: Top credit cards for spending abroad - Money Saving Expert and use it utterly everywhere you can. Keep all but around $200 of your spending money safe in your bank at home, ready to pay off that card account in full two weeks after it lands. Don't be tempted to spend more than you can afford.

* Approximate and average. Rates vary daily; if the £ rises between now and when you travel, this will be a greater saving. Conversely, if it plummets, it won't. As this is wholly unpredictable, it's a complete gamble whichever way to play it, so you can only judge it on averages.

HTH
 
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Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Your cheapest route is doing it all yourself. A package option will just save you time but will cost you in the end.

Villas are a good proposition. You can get a decent villa with your own pool for about £350+ per week. That's not per person, that is for everyone. Remember pool heating is extra which could be up to £25 per day.

Flights are tricky as they fluctuate so much. To get the best deal you need to avoid flying at weekends. I think 1st September may still be in the school holidays so delaying it a week or two would help.

The park tickets are probably where you will spend most of your money. There are discounts but you'd probably need to pick one set of parks such as Disney or Universal and stick to them. For example a Disney 7 day ultimate ticket is currently about £300. This is valid for any 7 days over a 14 day period.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
The best idea to minimise spending on food at the parks is to take a packed lunch. The cost of food and drink at these places is very high. You could easily spend £20 per person just on food and drink if you spent a day at a park and that doesn't include a big meal either.
 

Herbiefish

Well-known Member
Not sure if you are interested in staying in disney or not...

I know you said your budget was £2k but if you look to add approx. another £1k to that you could potentially get the full package with a luxury disney hotel with park tickets and all your meals included for that.

We have just come back from the disney yacht and beach club and two weeks for 2 adults and 2 kids cost us £5600 from memory. This included our disney park tickets for two weeks and all of our food as well as unlimited soft drinks in the hotel - the food was part of the disney dining plan, which was superb, as you could almost choose wherever you wanted to eat in the whole of the disney resort.

It is worth looking into as with the dining plan it makes things so easy, and you can pre-book restaurant etc. 6 month in advance.

It was superb value for money and the hotel was lovely (bathroom a bit small though) but the wife did spend a few weeks haggling with the broker to get that price, who started off with an original price of circa. £10k

We also hired a 7 seater (in laws popped along for a week) for two weeks and that was a dodge 'caravan' at a cost of approx £270 for two weeks from a Alamo - a smaller car would be a a lot cheaper but if you stay in disney and only want to go to SW and BG parks as an addition, then a car isn't really worth it if you are only doing the parks, well we didn't use it apart from a shopping trip and SW.
 

twoeyedbob

Active Member
we went to the supermarket and got a baguette on the way to the park's...as above food is extortinate (and not very good)..saved a fortune..
Disney is more a kids thing.. although the castles a must see..
Universal is more for adults .. imo
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Not sure if you are interested in staying in disney or not...

I know you said your budget was £2k but if you look to add approx. another £1k to that you could potentially get the full package with a luxury disney hotel with park tickets and all your meals included for that.
He's already said under £1000 each at a push, so that will probably be hard to find another £1k easily.

Disney is more a kids thing.. although the castles a must see..
Universal is more for adults .. imo
Agree, although Disney's Epcot is probably the most adult park of all the Disney ones.
 

Herbiefish

Well-known Member
Fair enough. I didn't see the bit that said £1000 at a push. Just read it as it would be good if he could get it under £1000 each

Disney is definitely more for the kids though. I loved Epcot for the for food, and Sorin was really good but could be sooo much better
 

sheriffwoody

Distinguished Member
thanks for all the replys guys.

what about something like this (hope it works)
Continental Plaza Hotel Kissimmee (Kissimmee, United States of America) | Expedia

if it doesn't work, then it is:

Continental Plaza Hotel, Kissimmee
10 nights - 22/09/14-02/10/14
flight, hotel, taxes and fees
standard room
breakfast not included
free parking

£595 each.

2 star hotel, gets an average of 3.2 out of 5 in the reviews. tbh, for that price i cant expect too much, but that does seem a decent price to me?
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
In terms of location vs. public bus services - it's two bus rides (one transfer) to Disney with latest services back not as late as elsewhere, and more complex and time consuming than most would care for to Universal.

If you must stay in Kissimmee and you do propose to make that saving by using buses, I suggest you look for another property that's further east - east of World Drive (look at an online map), and buy Disney admissions only. Then it's one frewquent bus ride with later services.

Otherwise, as I said previously, head up International Drive instead. Or plan to rent a car with the attendant costs.
 
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Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
looking into it more closely, that flight isn't direct and includes a stopover at Washington
That's one thing to be careful of with these ultra cheap deals. You want a direct flight on a trip of this length otherwise you basically waste two days travelling. That offer you linked to is amazingly cheap though. The flights alone per person are about £400.
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
Sorry to disagree - the indirect flight is unlikely to add more than 2 or 3 hours to the overall duration. And may well be much less. Exactly how much will of course depend on the layover itself. Part of the time involved in the layover is, on the outbound journey, taken up with immigration and customs - time that is saved at the final destination (because at your final destination you are "internal" you walk straight out).

In reality, you "waste" a day travelling in each direction however you do it so saving money on an indirect flight is a good way to do so - IMO.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Sorry to disagree - the indirect flight is unlikely to add more than 2 or 3 hours to the overall duration. And may well be much less. Exactly how much will of course depend on the layover itself. Part of the time involved in the layover is, on the outbound journey, taken up with immigration and customs - time that is saved at the final destination (because at your final destination you are "internal" you walk straight out).

In reality, you "waste" a day travelling in each direction however you do it so saving money on an indirect flight is a good way to do so - IMO.
No need to apologise! :)

The link posted above showed the total journey time of 12 hours. Add to that getting to and from the airport and that's a day at each end wasted. I agree with your point and I know from past trips that going you waste a day getting there so what's a couple of extra hours in that case, but coming back I've always gone for an evening flight which means you get most of your last day to do stuff and then just get to the airport in the evening. Of course it means the next day at home you are completely knackered as I can never sleep on a plane.

My issue would be the hassle, but if the savings are tangible then wasting a few hours may be worth it.
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
Noticed Thomson have been doing some good late deals on flights. They had Sandford flights for less than £400 for 2. Always a risk leaving it late
 

billyokco

Active Member
Try cosmos we got a villa, car hire, Disney tickets and universal tickets with sea world Bushgardens etc for 4 ppl worked out at £1100 each, thts wi car upgraded to a 4x4 with gold insurance and best park tickets so if stick wi basic car and park tickets reckon be under a grand
 

wack

Well-known Member
If your budget is £2000 for everything, flight,hotel,car,fuel,parking,food,tickets you haven't got a hope in hell unless you're planning on stowing away on the plane

America is expensive, it's a country built on taking money off people and they're very good at it
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
If your budget is £2000 for everything, flight,hotel,car,fuel,parking,food,tickets you haven't got a hope in hell unless you're planning on stowing away on the plane

America is expensive, it's a country built on taking money off people and they're very good at it
Well as you can see from a few posts above it is quite feasible. Fuel is dirt cheap in the US as is food. Sounds like you aren't a fan of the USA to me!
 

deantown

Distinguished Member
we went to the supermarket and got a baguette on the way to the park's...as above food is extortinate (and not very good)..saved a fortune..
Disney is more a kids thing.. although the castles a must see..
Universal is more for adults .. imo
I just arrived back from Florida this morning after 3 fantastic weeks and I can confirm that food is NOT extortionate in the parks. In fact we were all commenting on the fact that it is not a rip-off unlike the UK. If you are on a budget go to Sizzlers or Ponderosa and have a buffet all you can eat breakfast to set you up for the day. Most brits do! Don't forget the 10% off voucher too that pays for the Tea.
 

deantown

Distinguished Member
The best idea to minimise spending on food at the parks is to take a packed lunch. The cost of food and drink at these places is very high. You could easily spend £20 per person just on food and drink if you spent a day at a park and that doesn't include a big meal either.
Burger,grilled chicken or hotdog and fries are about $9 on average.
 

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