Please help me book a holiday to Orlando

(62 Posts)
SoupDreggon Sun 24-Mar-13 11:03:02

Currently looking at the Comfort Suites Maingate East with Virgin.
Me and three children (14, 12, 7).
I will not be driving as I find the thought of doing it all myself very stressful.

Travelling mid August for 14 mights. Am I mad??

mummymeister Sun 24-Mar-13 11:16:35

no but you will need to plan in advance otherwise it can be v expensive and lots of queues in august. also your older 2 will get more out of universal than disney so plan to be this side of disney rather than the other. why not driving Op? first thing buy the book wdw with kids and beyond disney and this will save you bags of time. whats your budget? would you be better off s/c than in a hotel.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sun 24-Mar-13 11:18:00

Are you doing the 'Disney' thing? If so, and you don't want to drive, I'd consider staying at a Disney hotel if I were you. The all day free bus service is just the ticket if you don't want to drive. Non Disney hotels do tend to have free shuttles but they are more restrictive on times. The cost of taxis out with the shuttle times can be very expensive.

SoupDreggon Sun 24-Mar-13 11:25:10

I said why I wasn't driving in my OP - I find the whole idea of doing it all myself very stressful. I've been to the US many times before so I'm not basing it on nothing! This rules out self catering villas.

The hotel I'm looking at offers shuttles to all the main parks which may be restrictive timewise but this will be fine.

I don't really want to be confined to Disney so have ruled out Disney hotels.

Practically speaking, money is no object!

mummytime Sun 24-Mar-13 11:46:27

I would really strongly advise a Disney Hotel if you are not driving. You could then use t axis to go offDisney if you want. Or maybe have a second base at Universal or on international drive.

SoupDreggon Sun 24-Mar-13 13:00:40

Thanks but I don't want to be tied to Disney. I don't want to have to use a taxi every time I want to eat somewhere else etc.

ChippyMinton Sun 24-Mar-13 13:11:53

I've been looking for August 2014, and the advice seems to be go the second half of August when the US schools have gone back.

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sun 24-Mar-13 13:12:47

Soup you don't have to be tied to Disney but if you don't want to drive and are relying on shuttles you are not thinking about how the heat will affect what you do and when you do it. That's fine when driving as you can come and go as you please but the shuttles are very restrictive time wise and you will end up paying a small fortune on taxis. In August the temp will be pretty high. That can wipe out an afternoon and you'll need to get taxis to get back to hotel. There will be days you'll need a later start as you'll be knackered from the day before, and you'll not get a shuttle to start mid day etc. you can start early, get back to hotel to lounge in pool then head back out for a late night if you are able to use the free bus service for Disney. You can easily spend the day at one of their water parks and then head to a late opening park etc. if money is no object then booking one of the mid to high price Disney hotels would make more sense. If you aren't wanting to do the whole Disney thing then fair enough but if you aren't driving then as long as you have enough to pay for cabs everywhere then, again, you'll be fine but it is very expensive if you don't drive but don't have access to the Disney bus service.

MTSgroupie Sun 24-Mar-13 13:18:58

If you don't want to take taxis, just to go somewhere to eat then a hotel on International Drive would be a better location.

SoupDreggon Sun 24-Mar-13 13:40:35

you are not thinking about how the heat will affect what you do

Thanks - I've been before so I do know how hot it is and how heat affects us smile (7 visits to Antigua in July/August show that it affects the kids not at all and I'm fine with a hat and a bottle of water!)

I was thinking of International Drive but dithering (which is what I do best). It's not that I want to be able to step outside and go sightseeing/mall shopping, just have breakfast/dinner out rather than the same place every time etc. I have fond memories of breakfast at Dennys and cinnamon rolls at an all you can eat buffet breakfast for example... <<puts on 5 lbs just thinking>>

Due to Scout Camp, is is the second half of August I'm looking at, which is lucky smile

bunchamunchycrunchycarrots Sun 24-Mar-13 13:46:27

Ok it seems you don't actually need any advice then smile

AnnoyingOrange Sun 24-Mar-13 13:51:07

What about two hotels in two different locations ?

I would look at hotels on International Drive (specifically the ones located south of Sandlake Road) as these are more centrally located to both Disney and Universal than where you are planning to stay in Kissimmee.

SoupDreggon Sun 24-Mar-13 14:06:20

Not sure what your problem is, bunchamunchycrunchycarrots confused

I'd thought about two hotels but if I can avoid the hassle of transferring between two, that would be preferable. With the packing up and transferring, I wonder if it's too much hassle for a one-adult-non-driving group. [dither]

South of Sandlake road... <<scurries off to look>> I think I need an old fashioned paper brochure!

SoupDreggon Sun 24-Mar-13 14:13:30

These hotels are crap at catering for families aren't they? WRT beds - all are two queens so 2 children have to share a bed. Or am I missing something?!

ChippyMinton Sun 24-Mar-13 15:13:32

This all-suites hotel was suggested by my travel agent. I thought the rooms looked good for a large family group. The only downside will be how good the hotel's own shuttles are. It's meant to be a good location for I-Drive and Disney.

Like you, we are not keen to be driving everywhere, although we probably will have a car for convenience, and take buses when we can.

NinaNannar Sun 24-Mar-13 15:15:04

there is a LOT of travelling to be done in Florida - even in winter we found it hard work. plus teh q ing that seems to happen in the summer

Being on a beach in antigua is no comparison

NinaNannar Sun 24-Mar-13 15:15:52

why not just get a villa and a car?

far easier - eat out all the time but you can have days at home then.

mummytime Sun 24-Mar-13 15:35:52

Having been to St Lucia in August and Orlando, I would say Orlando was more draining. Although whether that was because of a) lack of a sea breeze, or b) the much larger travelling distance (Antigua is 442.6 square kilometres, greater Orlando is 10,400 square kilometres).

bamboostalks Sun 24-Mar-13 15:39:41

I don't see the point of asking for advice and then blowing that advice out the water? Strange op IMO.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 24-Mar-13 15:42:53

Have a look at floridays to solve the beds problem but yes they expect dc to sleep together. It is normal in the US. We did split stay Disney/Universal and had free dining, express passes at universal, magical express to and from the airport. Easy.

ChippyMinton Sun 24-Mar-13 15:44:44

Have you stayed at floridays, Smoulderv(great name btw)?

SoupDreggon Mon 25-Mar-13 07:50:35

NinaNannar Why don't I hire a villa and car? Because I am not going to drive! I've said that twice. And I am well aware of the heat because I've been there before.

bamboostalks If I've said "I am not going to drive and do not want to stay in Disney" and then saying "why don't you drive or stay in Disney" isn't really advice is it?

It's perfectly possible to do Orlando without a car. My brother has done it. It was not a problem. I thought MN may be able to offer a wider suggestion of where to stay/go about it as his requirements were slightly different to mine.

Thanks to everyone who managed to offer suggestions that actually related to what I said.

However, I kind of wish I'd never asked.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 25-Mar-13 08:12:16

We properly investigated the whole thing without a car as we dont drive and looked at lots of suites and even villas that you can cab from but when I number crunched it was worth it to be on site, especially with the dining. The hard rock hotel was especially worth it with the express passes and walking to citywalk for dinner and drinks.

Chippy, we didnt stay there in the end but it is very popular on the Dibb. Just thought it was a bit expensive in the end for what it was and we were worried about the shuttles.

SoupDreggon Mon 25-Mar-13 08:13:41

At the moment it's looking like Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld, ditching private sleeping for location/transport.

I'd looked at Floridays and discounted it for some reason - but having looked at it again I can't remember why confused It offers transfers to all the parks so I really can't imagine why. I'll have another look. It may be that I saw it on the exchange page for my timeshare company but decided not to use them. However,it's offered by BA so I'll look at it again. Thanks

SoupDreggon Mon 25-Mar-13 08:18:15

If there were two adults in my party, split centres would work. As it's just going to be me handling everything I'd rather find one place and stay put.

If I had my choice, we'd just go back to Antigua again - it's easy. However, the children desperately want me to take them somewhere different and I do want to take DD to Disney as she's never been and I don't want her father to have that joy. So much of this will be about the children that I need to make some compromises to make it a holiday for me too.

NinaNannar Mon 25-Mar-13 08:21:28

We found universal far more attractive for our boys. They thought magic kingdom was dull/ Girky do you might find only d likes it there.
The animal kingdom was good though and the movie one.

Universal where it's at.

Hulababy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:21:51

We've been 4 times in August. It's fine. Yes it's hot. But most rides have air con, every shop and eatery have air con, even lots of the queues have either air con or water fans. I struggle with heat but in the US I find it easier as the place has air con everywhere.

Not stayed in a hotel - except a Disney one once - or without a car but many do. I would say that International Drive or the 192 would be best bet as so any places to eat.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 25-Mar-13 08:26:37

Its fair enough, i just couldnt face the shuttles on my own with the dc, especially if I knew that if I was onsite the 14 and 12 year old could go off on their own to Downtown Disney. They are changing the parks to over 14 access only without an adult which is a bummer.

We did 3 different hotels overall and it was fine. But then I am very picky about hotels and wanted them each for different reasons iyswim.

If I could have driven I would have done a week in orlando and them a week on the gulf coast.

Renaissance is a nice hotel but there are no restaurants within easy walking distance; you need to look at the hotels near the convention centre on I Drive (at that end there is Pointe Orlando) which has lots of shops and a surfeit of restaurant choices.

BTW there is a Dennys near the Omni Rosen.

Google maps too is a useful application for looking at what is actually in the general area around the hotel.

MOSagain Tue 26-Mar-13 14:30:43

In answer to your question. Yes.
I've been to Florida numerous times too and have tried motels, hotels, apartments and villas. I would never go to a hotel which would require sharing a room with 3 kids for 2 weeks. It will be a nightmare, a complete and utter nightmare.

If you are determined not to drive (it really isn't that bad) then perhaps somewhere like the Vistana Resort at Lake Buenevista. They have really nice 2 room apartments which would give you a lot more space and it is close enough to a lot of the attractions and worse case, you could walk to a few good restaurants in 15 minutes.

SoupDreggon Tue 26-Mar-13 14:53:10

If I could have driven I would have done a week in orlando and them a week on the gulf coast

Absolutely. This is what we've done in the past.

MOS, I'm not driving - it is that bad for me. Unfortunately. It's an added stress I don't need after a longhaul flight. IIRC, the Vistana resort said that car hire was highy recommended due to the location.

Atilla, I've been "driving" through the area with Google streetview to see what's around grin

It's looking more and more like we'll be staying at the Costa del Croydon because I can not make a decision. I hate having to make every decision and do everything myself.

SoupDreggon Tue 26-Mar-13 14:55:01

Hula - that's my memory about the heat but I was beginning to wonder if I'd imagined it. Going to Florida was he first time I'd ever not suffered from prickly heat on holiday and it was because of the amount of air conditioning.

MOSagain Tue 26-Mar-13 16:44:19

Well clearly the Vistana resort has moved since I was last there.

I have to wonder why you've bothered asking as you clearly don't get the replies you are getting hmm

AnnoyingOrange Tue 26-Mar-13 17:19:15

I've been to Orlando a few times and have been pondering your dilemma. Trouble is it is very car orientated and places to go are quite spread out. I've only ever driven on one trip and I found it quite stressful

I think I persianlly would prefer the flexibility of a villa with amenities such as pools and places to eat on site, so that I wouldn't have to go out all the time. The place we usually stay at is too far out without a car though

Which places would you ideally like to be closest to? The Vistana offers shuttles to

Getting Around

Third Party Shuttle
To make your travel to area attractions easier, we offer complimentary shuttle transportation service to Walt Disney Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios). This complimentary service applies only to Resort Rental Guests.

AnnoyingOrange Tue 26-Mar-13 17:22:17

It's quite local for Disney, but further from other places

Nearby Destinations
Orlando 24.1 km/15.0 miles

Walt Disney World® Resort 4.8 km/3.0 miles
DisneyQuest 4.8 km/3.0 miles
Magic Kingdom® Park 4.8 km/3.0 miles
Disney MGM Studios 9.6 km/6.0 miles
Epcot® 9.6 km/6.0 miles
SeaWorld® 16.1 km/10.0 miles
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure 24.1 km/15.0 miles
Citrus Bowl 24.1 km/15.0 miles
Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park 24.1 km/15.0 miles
Busch Gardens 104.5 km/65.0 miles

AnnoyingOrange Tue 26-Mar-13 17:24:00

Several dining options

Could be worth another look ?

SoupDreggon Tue 26-Mar-13 17:25:12

What is your problem, MOS? Perhaps I don't like some answers because I'm fed up with reading "why don't you drive?" and being told it's "not that bad" when I've clearly stated I will not be driving. It's like saying "I want to go to Paris without flying and not stay in Montmartre" to be told repeatedly "you must fly and stay in Montmartre".

There are two Vistana resorts. I was remembering the one on International Drive which states "car hire is essential for this resort" SO sorry for confusing the two.

Thanks to everyone who's suggested stuff that fits what I asked for - it has helped immensely.

AnnoyingOrange Tue 26-Mar-13 17:44:45

This one has lots of facilities and is quite central. I've never been there so can't vouch for it

Orlando Area Points of Interest & Attractions

Walt Disney World® Resort – 6 miles
Universal Orlando® – 2 miles
SeaWorld® Orlando – 1.5 miles
Aquatica – 1.5 miles
Wet 'n' Wild® Water Park – 2.5 miles
Fun Spot Action Park – 4 miles
Gatorland – 9.5 miles
Festival Bay Mall – 5 miles
Florida Mall – 7 miles
The Mall at Millenia – 7 miles
Old Town – 10.5 miles
Orlando Premium Outlets – 5.5 miles
Pointe*Orlando – 4 miles

MOSagain Tue 26-Mar-13 18:12:42

OP I don't actually have a problem, I am going to Florida in August and as usual will be driving. Most posters are not telling you you MUST drive, they are simply pointing out from their experience no doubt, that it is very difficult to be there without a car if you are not staying in a Disney Resort.

You have been given numerous suggestions none of which seem to suit you. I have stayed at Vistana albeit a number of years ago and transport was provided. Perhaps it has changed.

Given that you don't want to stay at a Disney hotel, which I can totally understand, I believe your best option would be to stay on I Drive in a large hotel that does offer shuttles. There are many that do, its just a case of finding one. There is absolutely no need for some of your rude comments. People are taking the time to try to help you and you are being rude. Totally uncalled for.

AnnoyingOrange Tue 26-Mar-13 18:36:26
NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 18:39:31

I drive is pretty gopping though.

There's a brand of hotels that advertised a lot when we were there. A persons name. I'd never heard of. They had a hotel bang navy to universal

NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 18:39:47

Ooh. Was if Lowe ?

MOSagain Tue 26-Mar-13 18:43:22

Nina, I agree, I Drive is awful, however it is convenient for those without cars as all the hotels will have shuttle buses.

NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 18:43:22
NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 18:45:00

That has water taxis to the parks fgs. And priority access.

dingit Tue 26-Mar-13 18:49:25

There is no way I would drive in Florida! I know it's Disney, but we stayed at the Disney Swan, and you could go by boat to some of the parks. ( Much more relaxing) you can wander along the Disney Boardwalk for food and shopping, and its not crowded, even in August.

Could you possibly do a split centre with the Caribbean the second week? ( Mum and dd then happy). Pack one suitcase to unpack the second week!

BigRedBox Tue 26-Mar-13 19:30:49

I did Orlando a few years ago and decided not to drive. We stayed on I Drive. We planned to rely on shuttles and taxis. By day 3 we hired a car. Not just the issues around flexibility but even on staying on I Drive it is so tricky to walk anywhere. The pavements are non existent and the distances between restaurants etc are huge. That was in April too so not boiling hot walking around.
I would poss think about a week at Disney then a week near Universal? If you pack sensibly it wouldn't be too much hassle packing up to move.

NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 20:01:59

That has water taxis to the parks fgs. And priority access.

NinaNannar Tue 26-Mar-13 20:02:19


YouBrokeMySmoulder Tue 26-Mar-13 22:06:06

When we were investigating offsite, i was tempted by here as it is only a mile to disney, is good value, you get a kitchen and separate sleeping spaces.

BestIsWest Thu 28-Mar-13 20:43:49

Went last year for 10 days , stayed on I-Drive, didn't hire a car. Hotel had a shuttle to/from Disney/ Universal, it was fine.

We stayed at Embassy Suites which was absolutely fine, nice big suites, good breakfast. We spent more time at Universal than Disney as DCs were older teenagers and taxis back from there to I-Drive were reasonable. Got buses to malls etc. We hired a driver too from the airport, he took us to the supermarket, he also took us to/from Kennedy and cost us far less than hiring a car.

Mirage Thu 28-Mar-13 21:00:55

My sister and I stayed at the Quality Inn on I Drive and managed fine without a car,got everywhere we needed too with no issues.It was over 20 years ago,but I think the hotel is still there and we are thinking of going again next year.

kaumana Sun 31-Mar-13 15:12:46

I've been to Orlando in excess of 10 times and have never driven. Have you looked at Down Town Disney Hotels, the Doubletree Guest Suites would be ideal for you. You also have the benefit of walking to Crossroads shopping area which has the usual fast food chains and Red Lobster etc. Also walking distance to Down Town Disney. Regular shuttles to Disney (free) and Mears shuttles to Universal etc (charge).

SofaKing Sun 31-Mar-13 15:43:27

Dh and I have been to Orlando three times pre dc and don't drive. It is fine if you stay on I drive, there is the train, buses to Disney and usually shuttles to Disney and universal.
Think the embassy suites, Howard Johnson and enclave suites all have two bed suites and are on or near i-drive.

The only thing is it will be really hot and busy that time of year, so the more planning you can do to avoid busy times and queues, the better.

Good luck, I really envy you, ds2 is only just two so it will be a while before he will be big enough to enjoy it there!

Budgiegirlbob Tue 02-Apr-13 23:44:13

I'd second Embassy Suites, we stayed in a one bedroom suite with 5 of us, but it still felt quite spacious even after 16 days. It had two queen beds, and a large sofa bed in the lounge, our two boys aged 12 and 11 shared it with no problems. Great breakfast, free evening drinks and snacks. We did hire a car, but lots of people don't, it had free shuttles to parks, and easy access to I-trolley along international drive

noisytoys Wed 03-Apr-13 00:00:20

I went to Orlando last year for 2 weeks with DH and 2 DD's. Stayed at Orlando Continental Plaza on i-drive and got the Lynx busses everywhere. Next time I will stay closer to Seaworld to avoid the transfer but its perfectly doable just using local busses which run all day and most of the night

Dustylaw Thu 04-Apr-13 00:20:15

We went to Orlando for a few days with the specific purpose of doing Harry Potter and other bits of Universal if we had the energy. Definitely didn't want to drive and wanted hassle free with minimum queues for the Harry Potter. Therefore stayed at the Hard Rock. Brilliant. The one hour headstart plus express passes were worth it. Remember not to take bags when you go to the park if at all possible (bumbags fine) or you have to go queue for lockers. If deciding to do Disney too I think it would be worth it to switch hotels midway.

Clueless2727 Fri 05-Apr-13 12:13:40

lake buena vista area is good as central, lots restaurants can walk to and downtown disney is literally 5min taxi away. We stayed at staybridge suites. Went last 2 weeks august and it was great as american kids back at school and no large crowds of schooltrips so queues for parks were all reasonable

Groovee Sun 07-Apr-13 12:35:59

There is a place at Lake Buena Vista which is close to Down Town Disney but isn't disney which is appartments where my friends stay. Think it's Vista Cay. They are very close to restaurants and love it there.

ChestysLonelyYoni Thu 11-Apr-13 23:37:33

We stayed at the Rosen inn on I Drive and took the lynx buses everywhere.
Lengthy but felt in the spirit of the holiday IYSWIM?
We bought Lynx weekly passes online before we travelled.

It's fabulous grin

cathers Mon 15-Apr-13 13:15:50

I think you have three options really,
1. Stay on I drive which can be really manic and grim in some areas and take lynx buses.
2. Stay in a / couple of themed hotels like Disney or hard rock which gives complementary transfers to their parks.
3. Stay in a residential area rental home which will give you the space and be away from the noise and put up with cab fares.

POI- as it is so humid at end August you may find getting up early and going straight to the park is better. You can get lots done before the 1-2 hour downpour @ 14.00. In which case, think again about using a Disney hotel as you will get early entry to parks.

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