AIBU to ask for your tips for a Florida holiday...(48 Posts)
OK ok I know it's not technically AIBU but there's more traffic here!
After a hideous year (my dad dying and me getting cancer diagnosis and undergoing major surgery) dh and I are thinking of biting the bullet and taking the kids to Disneyland Florida next year, dd12 and ds 9. It has to be in the summer holidays.
Sooooo.... Anyone been who can give top tips/recommendations. A friend has recommended Virgin Holidays (thinking of getting an apartment in Lake Buena Vista so kids can play with others on rest days!) but don't know best place for deals on park tickets, not queuing for rides etc.
All advice greatly appreciated, thank you! X
I'm sorry you've had such a tough time. I hope you love Orlando, we did
My best tip is start reading the trip advisor forum for Orlando. Loads of knowledgable people on there. heres a post for first timers
Best guide book is the Brit guide to Orlando IMO
I honestly would not buy park tickets until you get there. Yes you can buy in UK before you leave, but you are buying at an inflated rate due to what Disney perceive the exchange rate to be plus their mark up.
You get the best prices buying multi-park tickets at the parks in US dollars and you what pay the real rate for the tickets at the actual exchange rate.
We always stay in a villa as these are superb value with a private pool but it does mean that there aren't necessarily kids to play with. Never stayed in an apartment
Love Florida though.
The dibb is amazing! Be prepared for some spectacular storms at that time of year - we were there in the summer holiday this year. It was beautiful most of the time and sitting on the balcony watching clouds light up like fireworks in the distance with lightning is a sight I will never forget!
My tip is do discovery cove - it is wonderful and a lovely break from disney
Make the most of your fast passes
Get there early in the day!!
Yes we always stay in a villa too, last time at reunion resort who also have some fantastic apartments. If you like spa treatments their massage was also the best massage I've had in my entire life, they also have some amazing on site restaurants - one where you can watch the fireworks at the magic kingdom from too.
Do not stay in a Disney hotel. Food is vile apparently. Make sure you have a few rest days built in (we did 2 park days, one rest day etc.) or you'll wear yourself out!
We went at Easter a few years ago. Weather was lovely and not in hurricane season either.
We go to Florida in August every year. We don't go to the parks. We fly in to Tampa and then drive down to Sanibel. The most laid back and relaxing place!
There are storms in the afternoon pretty much every day in August - proper, loud spectacular ones but they are usually late afternoon. The mozzies and no seeums are abundant at this time of year too. We use jungle formula 25% Deet dry spray in the evenings. We used it this year for the first time and had absolutely no bites.
We LOVE going to Florida. It is definitely out happy place. It sounds like you've had a really rough time so hope it's just the tonic you are looking for. X
I wouldn't necessarily wait to buy tickets until you get there - BUT only if you can buy when they have a special offer. So last time we got 14 days unrestricted access to all parks for the price of 7 (you have to be British or Irish to get that deal).
I would strongly recommend the Trip Advisor Disney forum, and they often have links to other good newsletters. There is one called something like MouseSavers.
We stayed in a villa near Rolling Hills last time, and had a great time.
What time of year are you planning to go?
I disagree about discovery cove. You could get the same experience elsewhere. So unless you really really want a 30 second swim with a dolphin I wouldn't bother. It's just a 'nice' water park with a pool that has fish and Ray's in and the dolphin swim.
We've stayed in Disney and universal hotels, villas and the last three times stayed in hotels on international drive. I like staying on international drive. Felt central and easy to get to everything.
You can even get about without a car as most hotels have shuttle buses to all the parks except Disney. A few have shuttles to Disney but the taxi arranged at a fixed price by our concierge was good value and you have to pay for parking anyway.
The I trolley is really cheap for s 2/3 week pass and goes the length of international drive so takes in seaworld, universal and a few of the water parks. One of the hotels we stayed in had its own small water park and was fab for an early afternoon. The parks are exhausting and even after several visits I still feel like we haven't seen everything so you might find you don't use rest days as you'll want to cram things in. Even the mall shopping can easily take a whole day. Florida mall for normal shops and millennium mall for higher end stores.
Sorry to hear you've had such a difficult year.
Will you be hiring a car? A drive to Clear Water is well worth it, absolutely lovely place.
Hunt out a Menchies frozen yogurt place, seriously delicious!
Whatever parks you decide to go to,get there early! Universal and Islands of Adventure are my favourites overall, Epcot my favourite of the Disney Parks. But I was 11 when I first went (have been quite a few times since). Magic Kingdom is indeed magical for younger children. I feel differently about Sea World since watching Blackfish and couldn't ever go again.
Go on the dibb it has everything there is to know about the parks and holidaying in Florida
Buy tickets from Floridatix. Excellent service and much cheaper than buying through Virgin etc. Look at staying a bit outside the parks and driving in (ie don't stay in a Disney hotel unless you really really want the whole shebang). Windsor Hills, Emerald Isle or Orange Lakes are good apartment/villa complexes.
It will be hot. 30 C isn't unusual, and it's humid so it will feel hotter. Make sure you've got water bottles with you.
Disneyland is in California. Disney World is in Florida. If you buy tickets, guidebooks, etc in advance, make sure it's for the right one. They're not near each other.
If you drive in Florida, state law requires that you turn on the headlights if you're using the windshield wipers. If you have a child under 5, s/he will have to ride in a car seat.
There are also ethical issues about Discovery Cove and Sea World, I'd suggest you check your views first.
The Dibb can be a bit intimidating and scary and tbh they do make a bit of a meal of it. Anyway we went in august this year and we stayed in a villa. The year before we stayed here . I liked the villa better, tbh as it had a pool.
The weather was ok, some amazing storms and it rained every day but it didn't really hamper our plans. The humidity was fine too, we just took it easy. Just make best use of Fastpass + and plan your days using TouringPlans. It sounds anal but it just makes best use of your time
We stayed at Disney for 10 days then went to St Pete Beach which was lovely and probably my favourite bit of this years holiday.
It will be amazing, you sound like you've had a hard time of it recently so you'll prob really enjoy all the planning. Disney is brilliant.
Oh...prepare to spend a lot of time in Walmart, it is amazing. Can buy everything from food to makeup to toys to erm...guns.
NYPD Pizza (completely unconnected to New York as far as I can tell) is a nice pizza place.
Denny's does great (cheap) breakfasts.
IHOP must be visited at least once!
Gator Land is interesting but haven't been there since I was about 13 and there may well be ethical issues.
Cars are right hand drive and automatic transmission. Finding anything else to rent would take some doing. Speed limits are in miles per hour and distances are in miles. Petrol prices are per gallon (about 4 liters), and it's called gas or gasoline (some people may not know what petrol is).1
Woodley I'm surprised you think you can get the discovery cove experience elsewhere? I didn't swim with dolphins and I thought it was fantastic - being able to snorkel safely with dd1 who was 6 at the time was great and there were an immense amount of fish and rays to see. The otters, the river, sharks, dolphins, sand, trail mix - I loved it! We had a cabana too, not sure if that made any difference but we had a lady who came and checked us often and re-filled the mini bar with drinks and offered cocktails. It was a great mix of relaxing and adventure.
I strongly recommend you check the insurance situation before you book anything.
I had cancer almost 5 years ago. We looked at going to Florida 3 years ago and the insurance quote was in the £thousands .
We are going for one week next year and insurance was £250.
Indantherene depending on your previous illness though..... Would you not be able to take out insurance that doesn't cover pre existing medical conditions? Obv I don't know the ins and outs of your illness but my DM had breast cancer 5 years ago and now travels without cover for PEC's, as the cost is worth the risk as its not the kind of condition which is likely to suddenly make her so I'll she can't get home, kind of scenario.....
Just came back in June. We stayed in hotel on international drive and used the I-ride and lynx buses and its all changed now at the main disney transportation centre. Before you could get the disney bus to different parks now you have to go to magic kingdom by ferry or monorail and then catch a bus to the different parks. Disney transportation is free. Total nightmare and was taking 2.5 hours each way to disney parks. Taxis were $30/$35 per journey.
If you are doing the whole disney thing, my advice is either drive or stay in hotel with free shuttles to disney or stay in hotel as far up as you can to disney so the buses are nearer or taxis cheaper due to less distance. Unless you want and can afford to stay in a disney hotel then you just use disney transport.
The whole fast pass system has also changed. People can now fast pass their rides and shows like 30 days in advance. They have now split these into groups so before you could fast pass any 3 rides now you have to choose from groups e.g. you may want to book 2 rides but if they are in the same group you can't. You also can't fast pass another ride until your latest ride has been used.
Plan your days in advance doesn't mean you can't change it but it helps. Some parks do something late like Fantasmic which is great at night on thé lake or electric parade at magic kingdom, so if you have a late night, you might want a more relaxing day or later start the following day. So much to see and do. Loads of great shows Lion King,Nemo, Beauty and thé Beast, just loads.
I hope you and and your famille love it.
I stayed in this villa last time I went, very close to Disney. Villa was really nice and I loved having our own pool. Having your own kitchen, even if just for cereal for breakfast is much better than being stuck in hotels imo.
Florida is a big place. Check distances before planning any side trips. Tampa is about 95 miles away, Miami is 235 miles, and Key West is almost 400 miles.
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