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Universal, Sea World Florida.

(36 Posts)
Skribble Tue 08-Feb-05 11:56:11

Thinking of Florida in Oct for 4 of us. As you can see I don't have a clue .

Whats the best way to book, package at travel agent or individually over the net.

Any recomendations / warnings for hotels in International drive area.

Is it worth having a car?

Whats the best ticket combo for the Universal/ seaworld/ busch gardens etc.

Is it best to book attraction tickets before going?

Where can I get cheap flights? I can get a room for $21 a night.

How much do I budget for eating per day?

What should I not miss? Is Discovery Cove worth it?


MeerkatsUnite Tue 08-Feb-05 12:55:42


It may well save you money if you book over the net but direct flights to Orlando do tend to get fully booked quickly. If you do have a specific date in mind book the flight first.

If you are on I Drive you can get away without a car; staying elsewhere you would need one.

The Virgin holidays brochure for instance to name but one has many hotels listed in it and also provides a map of the I Drive and surrounding areas. This will also give you an idea of what hotel is situated where. The hotels at the southern end of I Drive (this is south of the Sandlake Road junction with I Drive) are situated in a generally quieter area than those in the northern part of I Drive (which has been variously described by some as somewhat tacky in that there are seemingly never ending strip malls etc).

Do you have a budget?. As for the $21 a night room rate this may well be a budget type motel room which is going to be basic at best not just in terms of room but facilities offered as well. It could well turn out to be a complete dive. Think carefully therefore about the accomodation you choose, cheap is not always cheerful. has lots of reviews of Orlando hotels; would suggest you read them.

Discovery Cove is okay BUT you need to book online well in advance. Another thing you will need to bring with you is picture ID for all of you on the day you arrive there.

If you read up thoroughly and do your researches beforehand you won't go wrong.

Hulababy Tue 08-Feb-05 18:19:33

Hi. We went to Florida/Dinsey thi summer and it was magical

Whats the best way to book, package at travel agent or individually over the net.

We booked a villa, flights, car hire and tockets through Travel City Direct and fond it very convenient and very good value for money.

Any recomendations / warnings for hotels in International drive area.

Sorry, we stayed in a villa at indsor Palms resort, so not sure about hotels.

Is it worth having a car?

Yes, definitely.

Whats the best ticket combo for the Universal/ seaworld/ busch gardens etc.

We got them separate through TCD. Cost us £33 per person (adult) for all our tickets. This included:
* 10 days World hopper to all Diney Parks, lus the two water parks
* 14 day pass to Universal (paid for a 3 day one and got 14 days for same price)
* 1 day Sea World - but we got a free second day pass on entry, which is very common to happen
* 1 day Spavce Centre

Is it best to book attraction tickets before going?

I would say yes, as just less hassle. TBH when you get there you children will probably just want to get in there! In saying that we did have to collect our park tickets from TCD's main office - but we did this at same time as getting our villa keys.

Where can I get cheap flights? I can get a room for $21 a night.

Not sure, sorry.

How much do I budget for eating per day?

Depends where you are eating. The parks are pretty comparable to eating in any theme park. If you don't mind fast food type stuff it isn't too bad. At night it is cheaper to eat outside of the park. The all you can eat buffets at the diners are great value.

What should I not miss? Is Discovery Cove worth it?

Not done Discovery Cove - very expensive!

Have a great time

tallulah Tue 08-Feb-05 19:02:54

We booked by phone with Virgin one year & BA for this year.

We have stayed at the Ramada, & the Howard Johnson (opposite Wet & Wild) both picked because they provided free buses to both Universal and Disney.

Didn't bother with a car.

We got the 5 park flex ticket when we got there, & 2 individual day tickets to Disney. (found Universal much more organised than Disney- & MGM a complete waste of money )

Don't know about cheap flights. It's a long way to go...

Eating was $2.99 breakfast (all you can eat Ponderosa/ Sizzlers) each. Dinner about $10 each (will vary madly depending where you go- we're veggie)

Discovery Cove was fab. Going back there in April

tallulah Tue 08-Feb-05 19:06:06

our favourite restaurant here

Skribble Wed 09-Feb-05 01:03:25

Hi all thanks for the info,

I think I will go next easter as 14 days seems to cost little more than 7 days. I can't locate a cheaper flight at all. The $21 hotel ( is one of the ones featured in quite a few brochures.

I went into travel agent today, agent had been 21 times so was able to give great advice.

Hullababy £33 pounds seems very cheap for all that. Most are offering a 5 park ticket for about £120. I must check that out.

Thomascook are doing free child places so works out better than individual flights for us.

Agent recommended hotels in middle section of drive as its central to restruants etc and means less distance after dinner with tired kids.

She didn't think a car was vital unless staying in a villa or if we were planning to go places other than main attractions. The added costs for car hire seem very high.

Looking forward to the all you can eat buffets, agent suggested filling up at breakfast so you just need a snack through the day in the parks then pig out for dinner. She agreed I would come back the size of a bus .

tallulah Wed 09-Feb-05 09:13:50

Skribble- we were on WeightWatchers the first year & had lost 3lbs each when we came back

MeerkatsUnite Wed 09-Feb-05 13:21:52

Hi Skribble,

Easter flights for 2006 will sell out fast; it is best to start looking towards the end of 2005/beginning of 2006 for flights. Flight schedules come on line around three months beforehand. Free child places are like the proverbial gold dust so you need to place a firm booking early. Where do they fly into, if its Sanford it will take you twice as long to get to I Drive than if you flew into Orlando International Airport.

Rather than use (have ahd a looksee) would try and book with the hotel direct. Can save you even more money as there is no middleman and hotel can offer types of rooms that some of these sites do not list.

Skribble Wed 09-Feb-05 14:35:52

Thanks meerkat

I will be booking soon so hope to take advantage of free child places as my hopes for cheap flights have not worked.

Any advice on where to get best prices for flights before I go for a package.

MeerkatsUnite Wed 09-Feb-05 15:51:42

Hi, is one such site otherwise would suggest you look at or Both of these fly into Orlando International airport.

Skribble Wed 09-Feb-05 16:04:33

Thanks Meerkat I will check those out berfore going back to the Florida expert travel agent.

KateandtheGirls Wed 09-Feb-05 16:33:20

Skribble, Busch Gardnes is in Tampa, which is an hour or so's drive from Disney World. If you wanted to go there you would definitely need a car! It's a lovely place, but given that you'll be going to all the parks in Orlando I don't think it would be necessary to make a special trip to see Busch Gardens.

iota Wed 09-Feb-05 16:45:24

We've been to Florida 3 times and always hire a car. It's so convenient for eating out, going to the supermarket if you're eating in, going shopping in the malls, going to Kennedy Space Center, going to the beach and all the other things that you can see and do apart from going to the theme parks.

Skribble Wed 09-Feb-05 17:03:54

How much extra di you have to pay in taxes and insurance etc for car.

I think for our first visit we will have plenty to do nearby. Is there not shuttle buses for Busch Gardens I didn't realise it was so far out.

The sat/ sun in the middle of our holiday we are planning to just chill out as the parks will be so busy. Is it warm enough for sun bathing/ swimming in early april?

Hulababy Wed 09-Feb-05 17:09:12

Ooops sorry - should read £330!!!

iota Wed 09-Feb-05 17:10:57

I was wonering about that Hula - I thought we'd been ripped off

iota Wed 09-Feb-05 17:11:19


KateandtheGirls Wed 09-Feb-05 17:14:18

Actually, there is a shuttle to Busch Gardens! And it would probably be easier than driving yourself (especially because you could then take advantage of the free beer samples!).

Hulababy Wed 09-Feb-05 17:15:34

LOL sorry. Yes, can you imagine if it was just £33 for all that. I think a day ticket is more isn't it?!

Skribble Wed 09-Feb-05 18:49:16

I thought I was going to get another bargain at £33 .

How many days to spend at busch gdn, sea world, universal, wet and wild, island of adventure etc. The 5 park ticket I was looking at gives 14 days access to the main 5 inc shuttle to busch and access to city walk. We thought 2 days for each park and time of in middle for good behaviour . Should we inc disney too or is the universal stuff enough for first visit.

Hulababy Wed 09-Feb-05 18:53:19

How old are your children?

We spent more time at the 4 Disney parks than at the others.

Skribble Wed 09-Feb-05 18:58:11

They are 5 and 8. I wasn't going to bother with disney this time as we've been to DL Paris 3 times and DH swears he will punch mickey .

But I think there is much more to disney here than at DLP. So ???

tallulah Thu 10-Feb-05 19:18:05

TBH I would say your kids were a bit young to get much out of Islands of Adventure. There is stuff there for littlies, but they have mainly the big high/fast/white knuckle rides. (we found it ideal for our teens).

Disney's Animal Kingdom was great, but we were bored stiff by MGM which is mainly shows- and the 2 biggest weren't on when we went.

We went back to Seaworld several times in small bursts, which seemed to be the best way to see it.

Hulababy Thu 10-Feb-05 21:09:31

We went with a 2 year old.

Magic Kingdom

We adored here; it is where the magic is - and this is what DLP is based on. But here is bigger. I'd imagine your two would love the Buzz Light year ride - and the eldest may get on the roller coaster. There is a children's coaster too. Not to be missed IMO


We really loved here. DD adored the Beauty and the Beast show. DH and my brother loved the Indiana Jones Show. All the adults enjoyed the Aerosmith coaster - very fast My mum and sister love Tower of Terror here. Not quite so busy here too.

Animal Kingdom

We were somewhat disappointed with here ,especially the safari. It was prety much a glorified zoo ont he whole, and the rides are very tame. Although I think they are having a new one here this year? However, the Lion King show is excellent and worth a viewing.


Fascinating to walk round the different worlds, although apparantly England is just like Bath or Chester There other half is good too. I can image your two would enjoy the Honey I Shrunk the Audience 4D show - watch out for the mice and, your eldest may be able to go ont he car testing ride. The fireworks are good here we found.

*Sea World*

Shamu show at night is excellent (the rock show). Sit in the soak zone!!! Oh, and the Sea Lion show is really good too - don't miss it. Feed the dolphins and the Stingray. We spent ages witht he dolphins. The coaster here is great too - fast

Universal and Islands of Adventure

These ave more of the bigger/adult rides. The Mummy Returns is scary (but fab)! The Dr Seuss land is good fun for youngsters - take swimmers and a towel. There are two or three children's roller coasters here too. TBH there is plenty for them to do here, but maybe not enough to hod their interests for the whole fortnight.

Oh, and don't forget the Disney tickets include the two water parks - Blizzard Beach and Thyphoon Lagoon Both are great, but get there early, as the seats/loungers with shade go fast. Send one person off ahead of the others to grab some

It is all magical and great food. DD went around with the biggest smile and wide eyes for the whole fortnight. We didn't actually have a day off at all. The calmest day was the Space Centre, but even that was busy! It just seemed a waste to stay int he area and not be in a park - and DD just didn't want to leave!

Skribble Fri 11-Feb-05 00:07:55

What are the height restrictions for Island of adventure rides DS8 is tall and loves big rides. DD5 is a speed freak and loves scary rides but often to small yet.

Wondering should I include disney too, don't want to spend to much on tickets. I suppose we could just prepurchase Universal etc and buy disney if we run out of things to do once there.

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