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Orlando recommendations

Abbeygoo

Distinguished Member
Hi everyone

In the very early stages of planning a holiday of a lifetime to Florida, this summer.

Looking for some suggestions of family activites, 4 of us - kids aged 17 and 12.

Disney, SeaWorld, Universal etc all expected along with any stuff like Crocodile experiences, Everglades, Boat rides, Kennedy etc etc

Thanks and look forward to some good ideas and planning our 14 day trip!
 

Shyam

Active Member
We went back in 2009 and 2015 and stayed in a villa both times and hired a car. Gave us flexibility and was much cheaper then staying at the disney resorts..
 

rousetafarian

Moderator
Davenport is lovely and villas are plentiful but not cheap.
 

Woodywizz

Distinguished Member
Bonuses must be back!
 

True Romance

Distinguished Member
Pearsonly I'd avoid the summer. It's hot and busy. Could you do October half term? Much less busy with somewhat cooler weather. Don't plan to much as you'll be totally knackered being out each day. I'd plan a day off every few days to recharged your batteries.
 

rousetafarian

Moderator
Pearsonly I'd avoid the summer. It's hot and busy. Could you do October half term? Much less busy with somewhat cooler weather. Don't plan to much as you'll be totally knackered being out each day. I'd plan a day off every few days to recharged your batteries.
Agreed, I know Florida well and never mind the heat, the mid-Summer humidity is unbearable unless you are used to it.
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
Yep, go later and for longer.....
(I had just over 5 weeks in Nov-Dec. Glorious but for two spells of <2 days when there was some rain).
plus
Expect that, having been on the one trip of a lifetime, you will need to go again, next year, the year after (and so on).
If in Orlando and "doing" attractions and shopping - in fact you don't need a car. I'm not denying the huge convenience, but aside from the rent and insurance - expect to be extorted for parking at all attractions as well. The point is - if money matters, it can be done without for a lot less. Your daily trips will take longer, so what you need to replace the money, is time and patience.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
I'd definitely go for the villa and car hire option. I've done this a few times now, although sadly not for a couple of years now, it works out far cheaper than a hotel etc.

You get the flexibility and comfort of having your own place to go back to at the end of the day when you are completely knackered!

The villas are dirt cheap, surprised at the comment that the Davenport villas were pricey, you can get some bargains. Try ownersdirect. You can get some fantastic places with your own pool (which is an essential). The Davenport/Kissimmee area is perfect for Disney.

14 days is the perfect length if you have never been before.

I'd agree with the other comments, the summer is not a pleasant time to be there. Have you thought of the two weeks at Easter? I did that two years ago and the first week was busy as the us schools were off, but the second week was like everyone had disappeared, it was very quiet and great for the parks.

Don't try and do all of the different parks as you won't get your money's worth. I'd pick Disney and do those. Disney often do the offers where you pay for 7 days and get the next 7 included free. You will not want to do a park every day, it's just too tiring. The full Disney ticket gives you all the parks including the water parks which for me were the best part. When you add in a air boat ride and the must see Kennedy Space centre, you won't have time to do the Universal and Seaworld parks. Save that for when you go back in a few years time and you will go back!

Just remember that the bulk of the holiday cost will be the flights. During school holiday times they ramp the price up, so if you are looking at coatings get the flight costs first, then add a villa, car and the Disney tickets. There are some great places to eat and dirt cheap too, so a villa is really a great option.
 

27neth

Well-known Member
Every time I have been I have stayed on International Drive. A lot of the hotels have shuttle buses to the theme parks.
We never really see the hotel room, out early morning and back 8-9 pm. Then get showered changed and out to one of the restaurants on international drive for a meal and a couple of drinks.
A couple of times we have been we have left out the Disney parks. Universal, Islands of Adventure, Sea world and Busche Gardens are a lot better than the Disney parks.
To try to fit all the Disney, Universal, water parks, shopping and everything else into 2 weeks will be hard work :D

John...
 

Abbeygoo

Distinguished Member
Lots of good advice cheers.

At the moment it will have to be summer because of other commitments. The first decision is whether we use the shuttle buses or get a car, I have no real preference and seems a mixed view so far.
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
Even some shuttles are costly. (And some are "free" i.e. included in room rates or resort fees). In any case, with a tiny specific set of exceptions, the schedules deny you any flexibility to plan your day - one or two trips each way is typical.

The really cheap way to travel is using the city bus system. Weekly pass $16 for unlimited use. Serves most (but not all) likely hotel strips etc., and all the main attractions. Frequencies mostly every 30 minutes or better; service hours early till very late, again depending on the where. (Last bus from Disney at midnight every day of the year, for example).

The reason for doing this would be primarily huge cost saving. If that's not a factor then rent a car or use taxis.

Choose where to stay with bus routes in mind, if you intend on this approach.
 

Abbeygoo

Distinguished Member
Cheers @LV426 - will have a look into that. Couple of questions, I can imagine the bus queue late at night when Disney fireworks etc have finished .. what are they like in reality?

Secondly, how much is to park at the main attractions?

Thanks a lot
 

Woodywizz

Distinguished Member
Get a car....and from what I can remember the parking was free at all the theme parks, and I did every one.
 

LV426

Administrator
Staff member
Parking at Disney is most certainly NOT free - except for WDW resort guests. Last time I looked it was $20 per day. For that fee (which you can't readily avoid) you can move your car between WDW attractions, within the day. (Admissions that allow you to enter >1 attraction are a separate thing). Similar daily fees apply at Universal, Sea World, etc.

I have never seen any report of a bus from WDW leaving people behind, nor have I experienced it on the (admittedly rare) occasion I have been out so late. I can't speak for how busy they get, but they do run these massive articulated ("bendy") buses on the WDW route, they do carry standees when necessary, and they run every 30 minutes right up until midnight - again, depending on where you stay.

City buses don't extend to anything Everglades-like, to either of Florida's coastlines, nor to KSC. You'd need to book on a combined bus/attraction trip for these. You can get to Gatorland by city bus, as well as numerous shopping opportunities.

The optimum place to stay for as easy as possible bus access to as much as possible is by Sea World. Look at an online map for Sea Harbor Drive, look at what accommodations there are nearby. Sea Harbor Drive is the intersection of several "useful" bus routes - airport, Disney, shopping, Universal (with a short walk) etc.

If you want a specific recommendation - Staybridge Suites - book a 2-bedroom suite; can self-cater; free breakfast daily; free evening booze and snacks 3 days a week. Suites have one room with two big beds and one room with one huge bed, each ensuite, with a combined lounge/kitchen (with utensils etc) in between.
 

27neth

Well-known Member
We used the I-ride to get close to universal then walk the rest.
Use the shuttle on the morning to get to Disney, then if we wanted to leave a different time get a bus or taxi back.
Seaworld is also on the I-ride route.
The shopping malls we just jumped on the bus.

John..
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
LV426 is spot on their about the parking. It is definitely not free. It is flexible though in that it allows you to leave and come back that day. So, say you go early to a park, then leave for food or to do something else, you can then go back at night to watch the light shows and not have to pay again to park.

I suppose you are having to weigh up the flexibility of having your own villa and car to do what you want when you want, against a hotel and bus which would may be a lot more restrictive but perhaps offer cost savings.

International Drive is great to visit for places to eat and mini golf, but for me it is far too busy as somewhere to stay. After spending a day at a park with thousands of other people, it's one of the best things to drive back to your quiet villa and maybe have a quick dip in the pool and relax.

When you do go to the parks, a packed lunch is essential. The food is crap really compared to the rest of Disney, it's basic fast food but at a ridiculously high price. A family of four could easily spend £50 a day on food and drink in the parks. Take a water bottle as there are many stations where you can top it up for free.
 

rustybin

Distinguished Member
Lots of good advice cheers.

At the moment it will have to be summer because of other commitments. The first decision is whether we use the shuttle buses or get a car, I have no real preference and seems a mixed view so far.
I'll see you out there!

Unless you're staying at Disney you'll definitely want a car..look at Auto Europe, they were by far the cheapest and use Dollar Rentals. You can cope without but it'll be a far more limited experience.

It is hot and humid, but it really isn't that bad...my wife was 7 months pregnant out there in August 2015 and she coped. You just need to be clever with staying hydrated and using shops' air con.
 
Last edited:

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Car all the way for me. Standing in the heat waiting for a bus after a long day out its not something I'd recommend. Jump in the car AC on and straight back to your digs or somewhere to eat. But each to their own.
That's a damn good point actually. I can't imagine anything worse than having to wait in a long queue in the sweltering heat after enjoying a day at Disney when you will be knackered anyway. As you say jumping straight into your air conditioned car and going back to your villa or somewhere to eat is much better.
 

TheBlueBrazil

Well-known Member
That's a damn good point actually. I can't imagine anything worse than having to wait in a long queue in the sweltering heat after enjoying a day at Disney when you will be knackered anyway. As you say jumping straight into your air conditioned car and going back to your villa or somewhere to eat is much better.
I despise going to Magic Kingdom and staying until the end for the fireworks and then having to stand in a queue for the monorail or boat back to the transportation centre. At that time you can be waiting for ages and it's still hot and you are tired. At least the monorail is fantastically air conditioned.
 

27neth

Well-known Member
How much is hiring a car with the insurance, petrol, parking etc compared to getting a occasional taxi.

John.
 

rustybin

Distinguished Member
How much is hiring a car with the insurance, petrol, parking etc compared to getting a occasional taxi.

John.
More to get the car, but not by much. It depends on the distances you're looking at really and the car. Petrol is basically free. Fully insured cars can be well under £200 a week.
 

27neth

Well-known Member
So still well over £500 for the fortnight if you add the price for the parking in the parks.
I must admit I also enjoy a couple of drinks when I go out for a meal so that counts a car out for me :D:D

John..
 

rustybin

Distinguished Member
So still well over £500 for the fortnight if you add the price for the parking in the parks.
I must admit I also enjoy a couple of drinks when I go out for a meal so that counts a car out for me :D:D

John..
I find booze so expensive out there getting a car actually saves me money.
 

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