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Florida. Do I really need a hire car?

(22 Posts)
madmother1 Sun 24-May-15 08:25:40

I'm thinking of taking my 15 and 19 year olds to Florida for a once in a lifetime trip next June. I'm not keen on driving. Can anyone recommend a hotel which is central to Disney world, Harry Potter land? What other theme parks are there? I've travelled quite a few times abroad with them on my own, but this will be our first big trip without their Dad. Plus how much should the whole holiday roughly cost.

QOD Sun 24-May-15 08:37:32

You can't walk anywhere. There's no pathways along a lot of places. Central to the parks is still miles.
You thinking of taxis? No idea how cost effective and convenient that would be

QOD Sun 24-May-15 08:38:25

Universal and Busch Gardens are not to be missed

KittyBennett Sun 24-May-15 08:39:32

You do need a car ideally. Driving over there is easy. You can't really walk anywhere.

Costacoffeeplease Sun 24-May-15 08:40:45

Yes you absolutely need a car unless you're going to stay on site and only go to either Disney or universal, and never go shopping or eat out, and then you'd be missing so much

madmother1 Sun 24-May-15 08:46:22

Ooh, I might have to bite the bullet and drive! I drove many years ago there and it was easy. It's a whole new kettle of fish now I'm newly divorced and 50. My son said he'd drive but he's too young to hire a car. Perhaps I can collect the car fyom my hotel. I shall have a think about it. Thanks x

BooChunky Sun 24-May-15 08:53:19

I've been a few times and personally wouldn't do without a car, but my MIL just came back, stayed onsite at Disney and used all their shuttles to Downtown Disney and the parks, and got a cab to universal and Seaworld, and doesn't feel she missed out at all. So it can be done if you really don't want to drive.

SoupDragon Sun 24-May-15 08:56:08

My brother and his family did Orlando with no car and it wasn't a problem at all. They weren't staying at any of the theme parks either.

SomewhereIBelong Sun 24-May-15 09:00:58

have been 3 times - had a car each time... Nice to be able to nip off to the Kennedy Space center, the coast and for airboat rides as well as getting to the parks and somewhere to eat of an evening. Don't add DS to the drivers list - at 19 it will cost a fortune in additional insurance, if they allow it at all...

However... if you are staying at a Disney property or a Universal property, then using their own transport to their own parks and booking a cab to others is very workable.

SomewhereIBelong Sun 24-May-15 09:02:31

(Also - if you stay on a Disney property, the buses are great and safe - you can send the kids off on their own if you want a quieter day - at 19 and 15 I'd never be able to keep up! - or let them stay later and they get their own way back)

AssembleTheMinions Sun 24-May-15 09:03:28

I've done both. It's far more convenient to drive out there but you can do it without if you choose the right hotel. Most offer transfers to the some of the parks and several do transfers to all of them. Staying on International Drive is the easiest option. The Doubletree at Seaworld is right at Seaworld and Aquatica and does Disney and Universal transfers. The International Palms does as well but the most recent reviews seem to suggest it's going downhill a bit. It was fine when I stayed there a few years ago though.

I would hire a car if I were you. It's easier than waiting around for shuttle buses. Pointe Orlando on I drive is about halfway between Disney and Universal. We've stayed in the Rosen Plaza and found the location to be brilliant.

TwiggyHeart Sun 24-May-15 09:16:34

I think a car is a must but if your not too keen on driving try to stay at a hotel within walking distance of Downtown Disney. The main benefit is that you can at least eliminate driving in the evening as there are plenty of places to eat/get a drink and a bit of 'life' in a central location. I think there is a Radisson, Hilton and the like on this stretch (Hotel Boulevard). Have fun!

AlpacaMyBags Sun 24-May-15 10:18:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 24-May-15 11:29:45

I would look at staying on International Drive (specifically south of Sandlake Road and no further south than where SeaWorld is located) if you do not want to hire a car for the duration. It may be easier to hire a car overall and many hotels do have hire car desks. I Drive has transport and pavements but there is very little in the way of pavements outside of that particular area.

Your children would I think prefer Universal to Disney anyway; Universal is aimed primarily at teens and young adults.

(BTW your 19 year old will not be served alcohol in FL as the legal drinking age is 21).

SpecificOcean Sun 24-May-15 11:37:24

We stayed at a hotel a minutes walk from loads of restaurants on International drive.
It had shuttle buses going every hour to all the parks and same coming back until about 10pm. It was an absolute bargain and included breakfast and had a pool.
It was perfect as we didn't want the hassle of driving. We got a taxi to/from the airport.
2 adults, 2DC for 10 nights cost us about £5000 for everything - booked flights and accommodation separately.

madmother1 Sun 24-May-15 18:55:29

Specificocean. What was the name of the hotel? Sounds a possibility.

SpecificOcean Mon 25-May-15 12:40:07

www.hawthorn.com/hotels/florida/orlando/hawthorn-suites-by-wyndham-orlando-international-drive/hotel-overview
This one. The breakfast was really good hot food, cereals, toast, pastries and waffles. There was also a 7eleven 2 minutes walk were we used to get our picnic every morning.
We booked it with onthebeach but other travel companies have it. I think we paid about £300 for whole stay 2 ad and
2 dc (10 and 12) We thought it was really good value for money.

madmother1 Mon 25-May-15 16:21:26

Thank you all for your advice x

CountryLovingGirl Tue 02-Jun-15 15:11:40

I was wondering the same thing. We have been to the USA several times and done Disney/Universal in California but never Florida. We were thinking of Florida but DH doesn't want to go. I would take the kids on my own (as I want to do and so do they) but it is the driving that freaks me.
I have driven in the US before but I don't think I would be brave enough to pick up the car at the airport. I would prefer to get it where I am staying and have a test run.

EggOnTheFloor Tue 02-Jun-15 15:27:02

Definitely hire a car, even if you stay at one if the main resorts. You just can't do anything else otherwise. Check your holiday package some include car hire (usually a small car and the hire company will try to push an upgrade).

Also I'd advise getting a satnav. We had lots a couple of arguments when driving and got lost a couple of times.

lovingmatleave Sat 06-Jun-15 23:04:08

Of course you can do stuff without a car BUT the whole area is designed for cars so walking any distance is difficult.

Its years since I've last been but we once stayed in International Drive and its easy to walk up and down that for restaurants/shop etc we got shuttle bus to the waterpark and Universal and and walked a bit of a distance to Seaworld which is when we discovered there is a distinct lack of pavements. We could have got bus to but we actually like to use our legs, and the weather was nice. There are also taxis. WE didn't do Disney though as we weren't interested in that. It is definitely the norm to hire a car and the customs people couldn't believe we weren't hiring one, but still had a great time.

baaaabaaaaabaaaa Sat 06-Jun-15 23:17:57

You dont need a car. It is perfectly possible to do Disney/Orlando using hotel shuttle buses or I Trolley and then Disney Transport - which is free to anyone with Disney tickets.

We stayed in Lake Buena Vista and did actually walk to DownTown Disney twice and then used Disney transport. It was OK and we did it more by accident as we had walked from our Condo to restaurant and then realised how close we were to DTD so carried on. You wouldnt want to walk there daily as you walk so much around the parks, you just dont want to be doing a 15 minute walk/stroll on top of that.

We went for a month and ditched out hire car after a few days (which we had hired because everyone poo pooed the idea of not having a car). We had wonderful free shuttle bus first thing in the morning from our accommodation and most days got to the park for rope drop. The few times we had a lie in and missed the shuttle we got a taxi,which was still cheaper than what Disney charged for daily car parking from Lake Buena Vista). The Shuttle bus from our hotel worked well. We had to call them 1 hour before we wanted collection from any Disney or Universal Park and then they would come and get us. They would only do one dropoff and pick up a day. We used Disney Transport to get between the parks and found it very good and enjoyed seeing the different Disney areas.

The only thing we did with the car before we dumped it was a couple of shopping malls and a couple of trips to Walmart.

Someone on here a few weeks back was on about someone stayed in a hotel right next door ( as literally across the road) from DownTown Disney. It wasnt the cheapest but apparently offset car parking and car hire charges very well. They got up and walked into DTD and used Disney Transport every day too. No idea what the hotel was called but you could ask on the DIBB boards (The Dibb Website - ideal for planning Disney trips) or google hotels close to DTD and see what comes up.

Iternational Drive is a little further away from Disney but is the cheapest area to stay usually and you have the Itrolley (not ever used it but loads of people rely on it). Again google or ask on the dibb for costs and timings etc.

Do not be put off by people who say its impossible. It is completely doable.

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