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Can I have some advice re Florida please?

(47 Posts)
chocoLit Sun 25-Oct-15 14:23:08

We're considering going to Florida next October. I know it's 12 months away but DH has weird holiday entitlement and for once he actually has time off during DCs school holiday.

Florida is tempting us but I'm finding it all rather overwhelming looking at all the options. Whilst I'm aware the disney thing is a must, I'd like to see the florida keys etc.

As a family of 5 we're open to villa/hotel any option really as lond as it makes good sense financially.

This will probably be a once in a lifetime due to pricing and would be extremely grateful for any advice anyone has! It is always left to me to sort out plans etc and DH just tags along. I'd be horrified if I mucked this one up!

00100001 Sun 25-Oct-15 14:33:50

Buy your Disney tickets in the UK, there are discount sites available. Ill look them up a bit later for you. They will post the tickets to you.

Hire a car, don't pay for gas at the car hire place. Driving there is really easy.

Stay somewhrre central ish, either an outside Disney hotel, or along International Drive, make use of shuttle buses, but not the I trolley or whatever it is called.

Don't be afraid to walk, the Americans will look at you like you've grown a second head, but we walked the mile or so to Universal, because the shuttles were at differential times to when we wanted to go/leave.

Parks;
Take refillable water bottles with you. Universal (and I'm sure Disney) give out free water at fountains.a dn if you ask the concessions. They'll give you ice too smile
Take snacks for round the park
Wear SENSIBLE shoes. Trainers basically. You'll be walking miles in Disney.

We went for 10 days and booked everything ourselves smile

FanSpamTastic Sun 25-Oct-15 14:37:06

We are a family of 5 too. I think if you have 2 weeks then you could easily do 1 week in Orlando and 1 week in the Keys.

I would look at flying in to Orlando and flying out of Miami. Take a villa with a pool in Orlando for a week - to keep accommodation costs down. Then drive down to the keys - spend a couple of nights in key largo at either hotel or efficiencies. Then a couple of nights in key west. It is 100 miles from key largo to key west - a beautiful drive but not fast. There is a fantastic dolphin place about half way down that is worth a visit. I think it is called the dolphin research centre. Then I'd come back up and stay the last couple of nights either in Miami or just up the coast before flying home.

In key largo you can go out on glass bottomed boats at john pennekamp state park to see the reef. You can even get off and go snorkelling there - not sure of the age requirements.

In Orlando if you only have 1 week then realistically you are not going to get your money's worth from park tickets. So I would pick either Disney or Universal depending on kids ages and preferences. If you are going down to the coast I would probably give Sea World a miss.

I'm sure lots of other people will be along with some much better advice! It's a great place!

00100001 Sun 25-Oct-15 14:40:11

As for prices for things;
For some reason fresh food is expensive in Florida, but if you self catering or halfboard it can save money.

If you get a multi day pass for Disney you can come and go as you please. We did this for Universal, got there at about 10 and came back at about 3-4. We then weren't exhausted, had time to do other things etc. And got to go in all the rides with out much hassle. Better than having a marathon day!

Make a rough itinerary for yourselves and shop around online for good prices for attractions smile

Ask about sharing meals. We went to a cage that did fat American sandwiches and fries for about $8 per person. We asked to share (two adults) and they gave us half a sandwich (two inch thick mind you!) And a portion of chips each. We then just had a refillable soda and water smile

atticusclaw2 Sun 25-Oct-15 14:40:59

We have done disney lots of times. If you are going in October half term I would recommend you stay onsite at disney since they are doing their free dining offer plus $100 spending money. As a result it will be cheaper (and much easier) than staying in a villa and hiring a car.

I will wave to you since we will also be there. Cost will be around £5500 depending on where you stay but you won't need to spend much/anything on top of that.

FanSpamTastic Sun 25-Oct-15 14:47:10

We have stayed in villas in two different places. Sunset lakes in kissimee and another place in Davenport. Kissimee is ideal for Disney and about 20 min drive to Universal or Sea World. Davenport was cheaper but seemed further away from everything - seemed to take 40 minutes to get anywhere.

Traffic can be busy but it is easy to get around. I would hire a car. You can also hire a U.S. Sat nav here in the UK. They post it out to you then you send it back via recorded delivery on your return. If you hire a car you can also opt in to service to have electronic tolls - it means you can go through the auto toll lane and don't need to have the correct change. It just gets charged to your credit card.

We bought our tickets in UK before we went. Used this company.

chocoLit Sun 25-Oct-15 15:41:23

These are super thanks!

Our half term a little different to you guys further south so hoping to cash in on that a little too.

00100001 Sun 25-Oct-15 15:53:15

How long are you going for?

00100001 Sun 25-Oct-15 16:06:06

Its definitely cheapest to organise the whole trip yourself. Can be done easily over internet if you're organised smile
Write down
Everything you need to pay for ( hotel, flights, insurance, ESTA, parking in UK etc)
everything you want to do.(Disney, NASA, water parks, keys etc)

Then look at travelling around Florida to see if you need the hire car. Sometimes its cheaper to hire than to have transfers, and definitely more convenient to get to places outside of the immediate area.

Then itemise it all on a spreadsheet (i luffs me a spreadsheet). Shop around. Keep notes about company name, website, price etc

Then start booking!
Get email confirmations for everything. Make a folder in your email to put it all.
Scan every document (passports etc) email them to yourself. Put it in the folder!

I then go OTT and create an intinerary one for us on holiday, one for family at home

Ours includes all booking refs, flight nos, times, hotel addresses etc in date order. And a rough plan of the days (this is fairly fluid, but helps me to have an idea of what is supposed to be happening and when)
I print ours out, have it in a folder with all other documents (in the order needed blush) and that stays with me. noone else can be trusted and they'll mess the system up

Second basic itinerary is for family at home, so they have dates, flight info and hotel contact info. So they know how to get hold of us "just in case". Plus my FIL loves to track our flights, so he always gets the flight number!

Too organised?? grin

00100001 Sun 25-Oct-15 16:08:12

My itineraries are a thing of beauty and family scoff. But they always refer to them during the holiday!

chocoLit Sun 25-Oct-15 19:21:03

OMG 001 it sounds amazing and would love to do it that way.

I was looking at both 2 and 3 week breaks but 3wks seems a tad indulgent & not sure I can be away from the business that long.

Dowser Sun 25-Oct-15 22:58:01

Www.orlandovillas.com
Are great. Site owners check that each villa is owned by an individual owner and not a management company that way you get a more personal service.

I got a holiday for my daughter, husband and three children flights, car and a condo for £3.5 k last October

They stayed at caribe cove. It's off the 192 and very handy for Disney. Lots of eateries like sweet tomatoes, panera bread nearby.

On your first trip I would stay your two weeks in the Orlando area. There will be all sorts happening with Halloween and I think you might feel you missed out. A week is not enough to cover all that Disney/ universal has to offer or legoland and bush gardens which are a short drive away.

You can always go to boggy creek and do an airboat ride toget a bit of a feel for the keys or drive to Clearwater beach ad do the big yellow speedboat where if you don't see a dolphin they let you ride for free next trip...least they did when I was going regularly.

You will be very jet lagged when you get there and it takes a day or two to right yourself.

Orlando villas sell tickets. You never get much discount on Disney tix but www.universalorlando.com are very good.

Then there's all the shopping. Florida mall. Premium outlets. Prime outlets. Lake buena vista and the precinct onthe Osceola parkway withrhe big kohls whose name escapes me for the moment.

I obviously need another visit...yes please!

Then you will want to drive round Celebration to see all the beautiful houses all decorated to the hilt for Halloween.

I would not stay on Disney if you paid me. Somuch nicer to get back to your villa/ condo and kick back. You will have had enough of the crowds during the day and you will appreciate some down time.

I owned over there for 10 years and had about 40 trips.if there's anything else I can help with just ask.

My grandkids had Tobe torn away from Harry Potter!

Dowser Sun 25-Oct-15 22:59:27

Just posted and remembered its called the Loop. There's a great panera bread there. Cinema, Ross dress for less...like a t kmaxx but cheaper.

One of my favourite shopping places.

Dowser Sun 25-Oct-15 23:00:32

Three weeks is a must ;-)

Iusedtogofor a month!

Dowser Sun 25-Oct-15 23:01:54

That was because I used to say there was always a job!

Well someone had tobuy replacement towels ;-)

chocoLit Mon 26-Oct-15 16:10:20

Are there any carriers better than others? Thomsons/Virgin etc going to have a look at flights tonight and start pricing things up.

00100001 Mon 26-Oct-15 16:12:51

We went Virgin, who are excellent - but watch out, they're paired with Delta (which aren't as good!)

tbh, you'll be spending so much money - get the cheapest option!

chocoLit Mon 26-Oct-15 16:23:51

So far same dates/same duration am saving £5k just by going from Manchester!!!!

LeaveMyWingsBehindMe Mon 26-Oct-15 16:29:58

Two weeks is doable to do Orlando and the Keys but I wouldn't attempt it in less than that. Somewhere between two and three weeks would be better.

The Keys are fabulous. the whole thing is fabulous. October will be a lovely time to go weather wise, warm but not too humid and not too crowded. Perfect.

How old are your children?

LeaveMyWingsBehindMe Mon 26-Oct-15 16:34:51

Also there is a brilliant and invaluable book called something like The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World which has absolutely exhaustive information, tips, itineraries and day plans for all the theme parks and attractions in Orlando, including the non-Disney ones. It's worth its weight in gold and although you'll feel like you've taken a Master's degree in WDW by the time you get there, if you read and utilise the book properly it will absolutely make your holiday and save you untold time and grief - I can't stress that enough.

chocoLit Mon 26-Oct-15 17:19:36

They'll be 8, 10 & 13 when we go IF we go!

00100001 Mon 26-Oct-15 17:26:09

I'm excited for your possible holiday already grin

00100001 Mon 26-Oct-15 17:30:21

Aslo we move the furniture round a bit - because the sofa and a bookcase is covering up our rads. We move it all around, but even moving the furniture forward will help smile

00100001 Mon 26-Oct-15 17:32:53

oh whoops - wrong thread!!

chocoLit Mon 26-Oct-15 18:01:06

Lol

Have priced flights/car hire. £4200

Now looking at a villa near eagle pointe which is 1400 For two weeks.

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