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9 night Florida trip report

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erictheelf Tue 04-Mar-14 22:00:47

Just back from a half term 9 night whirlwind tour! Will trip report below and if anyone like Harrogate or Couch want to fire any questions then let me know!

Day 1 - flight with virgin from mach ester. Online check in, easy bag drop, flight left on time, food not great, service nice, entertainment - fantastic - 64 films to choose from with many new releases. Watched Hangover 3 and Grown ups 2 before ran out of time! Hubby managed to get 3 in! Arrived MCO, immigration wasn't too bad - if you've been in last 12 months they may move you through to the automated immigration point - looks like everyone will be going through these eventually. Got on the monorail over to mail terminal to collect hire car from Alamo. Easy, nice intermediate SUV. On the road within 1.5hrs. Forgot to get cash which made it a little fraught going through tolls! depending on which way you go you may have two tolls of approx $1.50 each. Man in booth told us it would get charged to Alamo and they would bill us (turns out they aren't going to fleece us - just the amount of the toll itself!) Condo with family from DC all the way down by exit 60 off I4 - much too far away for Universal and prob not great for Disney either.

Day 2 - hit the Florida mall but with a jet lagged, bad tummy 9 yr old dd and dh so cut it short, went home and had tea and early night! Florida Mall had a big choice of shops with more average high street rather than higher end.

Day 3 - left poorly dh at home and headed for Universal Studios. Got to parking by 08.40. Paid for preferred parking to be closer to entrance. Wasn't too busy but imagine the extra $6 worth it during peak season. Tip - if you are first in line at the gates (not onsite hotel peeps) then you get to open the park gates and i think you get free fast passes too! Family next to us were first in line. Queues weren't bad at all and even as park got busier in the afternoon the longest we waited was 30 mins for the bigger rides - can see how busy it does get with the size/length or the ride queue set up so imagine fast passes def needed in peak season. Lunch at Mel's diner - nice enough, park fodder. Home & pizza for tea as exhausted!

Day 4 - Up and out from highway 27 location by 0730 and got to universal car park by 0815. Paid normal parking and got almost as close as preferred parking. Were almost at front of line at 0820 and by 0845 all the queues were full behind us and to the sides. Gates opened and went straight for Harry Potter Land (as we finely referred to it as!). Lots of parents and kids jogging through the park to get a good spot on the Forbidden journey ride. We went straight to Ollivanders then onto Forbidden Journey. Note re ride time apps. We had the Universal App which said one ride was an 80min wait but when we got to it it was only stating 20min wait and i think we actually got through in 15mins so they are not necessarily accurate. Butter Beer is fab - watch out for brian freeze from the frozen one! Ate a very nice lunch in Mythos - decided to book and even though booked still had to wait 15mins for a midday table! Back home and tea from the healthy menu at Applebees at Berry Town Centre (which was also near a British Pub called Sundays) - food was nice, mojito was rubbish!

Day 5 - Cocoa Beach for a family visit. We shopped at Ron Jons and then ate at Grills - a really nice dock front restaurant with amazingly good fresh fish choice and fish tacos to die for! Weather over the 4 days was overcast which was a bit of a shame however when it did come out it was bloody boiling so can imagine it being a tad trying in August, in queues - i'd suggest buying one of those hand held fan/water stay gizmos to keep you cool in the queue!

Day 6 - drive down to Anna Maria Island was about 1.5hrs given how far south of orlando we were (one positive at least!) Very pretty island but as it was overcast wasn't in it's full glory. Tradewinds Bungalows were nice and had a great little pool with very important pool heating! Had a wander round, early tea at the Bridgetender Restaurant, which again was nice but nothing amazing and back for an early night as still jet lagged!

Day 7 - early morning walk on the beach shell collecting as the sun was out - yay! It was beautiful. However fog rolled in after an hour and stayed that way most of the day. We had a great dolphin spotting/eco trip with Captain Kim. We followed at a safe distance a mum & baby and then spotted some mating dolphins blush. Kim took us to some sandbanks where we got some great shells and got to net some hermit crabs, sea horses and other sea life - which of course was all returned back into the water once we'd had a good look. The empty shells we got to take home with us.

Day 8 - back to Orlando and the Renaissance at Sea World but via ihop for pancakes we had promised to dd. Great pool complex of kids water features and slides and a fab heated main pool. Hung out at hotel and then went shopping at the Mall at Millennia. On way there discovered Whole Foods supermarket - a dream for organic/natural and healthy foods/products - which also has a great selection of salad bars, hot and cold deli counters, pastry counters which you can pay for at til then eat at the bar or in their cafe area (which we did for our dinner!).

Day 9 - one last morning at Universal catching up on favourite rides, spending last of holiday money on souvenirs etc and then back to hotel for some long awaited sunshine and pool time (after lunch at Whole Foods!) Spent a while driving down to the tacky gift shops on 192 and ended up in the Wizard one - some great souvenirs and much more bang for your buck!

so that's it in a nutshell - short and sweet and lots of fun.

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