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Thinking about Florida, never been on a longhaul flight. How to do it as cheap as we can?

(35 Posts)
HarryPottersMagicWand Fri 17-Mar-17 22:52:17

We have a bit of money, I don't want to spend it all but I've always wanted to go to Florida and the DCs are desperate to go abroad and have mentioned Disney Land although we have always said we could never afford it.

I have been looking and a villa seems like a great price. I don't want to do Disney the whole time, Universal, Legoland and the Space Centre would all be on our list as well as Disney, Plus Sea World, but I also want chill out time, pool, beach etc as I have a chronic illness and will need to pace myself and a friend said having a day to chill in between parks is the best thing to do.

We would need to hire a car, which scares the crap out of us tbh, but it would be a necessity. The flights we saw were £550 but didn't go to the main airport, is this an issue?

Basically I feel very overwhelmed, to the point it seems too much and think forget it, but I've ALWAYS wanted to go and don't know if we could afford to again.

I would only fly direct, I know having a stop off is much cheaper but DH doesn't want to change, the DCs would get very very fed up and it would knacker me out even more.

What's the best time of year? DH hates the heat so it can't be too hot but I want a nice sunny holiday (without too much rain). I was thinking Easter next year although I've read it is one of the busiest times but having school ago DC, we can't help that and the summer holidays would be too hot.

mummymeister Sat 18-Mar-17 12:23:02

Buy the books WDW with kids and Beyond WDW with kids. a brilliant investment. once you have read them cover to cover you wont feel confused at all. these were total lifesavers in terms of the planning when we first went and my battered old copies have been lent out so many times and taken on trips its not true. also have a look at the DIBB forum. Florida WDW can be hot, it can be expensive but it is imo absolutely worth it.

MsGameandWatch Sat 18-Mar-17 12:28:25

Look for flights with Norwegian. They're very cheap as long as you book well in advance. I've flown with them three times and there was nothing to choose between them and other more expensive airlines and in fact I would say that their cabin crew is better than any other flight I have been on.

MsGameandWatch Sat 18-Mar-17 12:29:05

Easter holidays or February half term weather wise.

Chocolatecake12 Sat 18-Mar-17 12:35:55

We went last year Easter holidays. I have school age children so it was a necessity! Magic kingdom was by far the busiest but the other parks were manageable. In fact on some days we thought they were a bit quiet!
We flew indirect to keep costs down. It took longer overall but going through immigration at Atlanta meant we didn't have to do this in Florida so could just grab our luggage and get to car hire.
I was terrified of driving but it was actually ok! I survived!
How long are you planning on going for? We went for 2 weeks and managed to fit loads in but then don't have a chronic illness so it sounds like you will need to choose what you really must do and what you are prepared to give a miss.
It really was a holiday of a lifetime for us.

HarryPottersMagicWand Sat 18-Mar-17 15:05:26


Have been on the Dibb forum. So much amazing information there but also knowing where to start. I like that we can book a Villa through there. Will have a look for that book, thanks for the recommendation. Someone said 3 weeks would be better, would mean we could spread stuff out more and have some more chill out time as well. Will have to weigh up extra cost.

Is the weather warm enough at Easter? I know DH doesn't like the heat but I would hate to go somewhere like that, where I've aways wanted to go, and it not warm. I would love to wear son actual summer clothes on a holiday grin.

Will need to keep a list of various flight prices. Thomson seemed very cheap too. Did a rough cost with Norwegian last night and early Feb came out at just over £1800 for the 4 of us but obviously that's not quite the right time of year.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 18-Mar-17 16:56:10

I would look at other carriers as well and do a cost comparison.

Norwegian's baggage allowance is not as generous when compared to other carriers; in Premium, flex and premium flex they will allow 2 checked bags weighing a max of 20 kgs. Low fare plus is 1 x 20kg bag. That is not all that generous for long haul.

Other carriers like Virgin and BA allow 23kg as checked baggage and that can make a difference as well.

Fly direct and into Orlando itself if you can; Sanford is about an hour further west of Orlando itself necessitating a longer transfer time.

Orlando is a profitable route for the airlines that go there due to overall demand for flights. The other time of year I would consider is December around Christmas time. I have found Easter to be warm during the later part of the day although the earlier morning hours ( before 10.00am) can feel a little cool.

Chewbecca Sat 18-Mar-17 17:02:15

Use sky scanner to find the best price for the flight

I wouldn't worry too much if the airport you fly to is not the absolute closest, driving there is terribly easy. Just check the driving time from airport to destination on google

Florida is either warm or hot all year round. Mid - late 20s currently, you'd definitely be in summer gear.

Flutterby11 Sun 19-Mar-17 10:27:52

Rather than a villa and car hire, have you looked into staying in one of the suites? These are hotel style places but instead of just a room you get a small apartment with kitchen/dining area, living room, bedroom plus bathroom. They serve breakfast and most have onsite pools/gym/concierge etc, all that you expect from hotel just that you get more than a room.

They also do free shuttle buses to the parks. We went on excursions to space center, crocodile sanctuary etc by coach tour with Grayline so, again we didn'tneed a car/have to pay for parking/work out where we going, what time to get there etc.

This was overall far cheaper and convenient for us than hiring villa/car etc.

Traffic in Orlando gets quite busy as with any city and we were spared the hassle of driving ourselves and parking up each day. Also, from what we saw, the car parks seemed to be miles away from the actual park entrances so a long walk even before your day has started plus we saw signs stating parking as being $17 a day (this was a couple of years ago so don't know what it is currently). I presume you can probably bulk buy for x days and save money but I dont know.

We also took 'break days' inbetween park days and if we wanted to pop to a restaurant for dinner or to the designer outlet centres we would walk or get taxis but that was just one or two days.

Dont want to confuse you more with all this and lots of people have a great time staying in villas but we found the suites option so much better/cost effective for us esp the lack of hassle in working out where we were going etc. The downsides to using a hotel shuttle is that the times are usually set and you have to work around those and if like at ours they service a couple of hotels in the area you have to sometimes drive around those unless yours is the last pickup/first dropoff.

HTH, dont be put off by the organisation aspect you will have the time of your life no matter where you/how you get there x

Flutterby11 Sun 19-Mar-17 13:58:24

Where you stay*/how you get there

HarryPottersMagicWand Sun 19-Mar-17 15:06:59

Thanks. I've registered on Dibb as well so getting lots of info on how we can make this work. A condo and using Uber has been suggested to keep costs down and the condos will be closer. Will look at suite options as well, although are they not quite expensive? I only looked at the difference in the Disney hotels but the jump in price seemed big or is that because it was Disney? Also had a look on Airbnb. So many choices!

Lalalandfill Sun 19-Mar-17 16:41:55

I'm not sure using Uber would work out cheaper than car hire. You have to drive EVERYWHERE in Florida i.e. to restaurants, shops, theme parks obviously. Suites and Disney Hotels offer shuttle buses to the parks, not sure about condos

It will be very warm at Easter you don't have to worry on that front smile

If you can three weeks would be ideal to do it all without the rush

Have a lovely time

Flutterby11 Sun 19-Mar-17 16:51:55

Just to add, a lot of suites are quite central, near i-drive. We had numerous restaurant complexes within walking distance and were provided with takeaway menus by hotel so we ordered in several times and they delivered to our room.

budgiegirl Sun 19-Mar-17 23:30:33

I agree with Flutterby regarding suites. We have been four times, twice we stayed in villas, and twice we stayed in a suite hotel (Embassy Suites). I much preferred the hotel option. It was a little more expensive than a villa, but it included a fab breakfast (which meant that we didn't bother with lunch, we just had fruit and an ice-cream) so that saved money. They also did free drinks - beer, wine, cocktails, slushies for the kids - and snacks in the early evening, after which we would have a cheap meal somewhere, or order in a pizza.

The pool was lovely, and the rooms were very spacious, with a small kitchenette and a fridge, and separate living and bedroom. It worked out to be very cost effective, and I didn't have to make the beds!

PoptartPoptart Mon 20-Mar-17 22:03:49

We are going in the summer with my parents. They are both in their 70's and my mum has a chronic back problem which means she cannot walk too far and will need plenty of rest days. For this reason we've booked for three weeks, so we can pace ourselves and have rest days by the pool in between the parks.
Staying onsite at a Disney hotel is more expensive but the convienience of the free transportation to and from the parks is a big plus. If mum decides she's had enough then she and dad can just hop on the bus back to the hotel without us all having to leave the park early. It saves a fortune in car parking costs too.
If you time your booking right they offer amazing free dining plan options at certain times of the year, which can also save you a fortune.
Lots of options, you just have to weigh up the pros and cons and do what is right for you.

Iamastonished Tue 21-Mar-17 18:25:35

Other costs you need to factor in is taxes - they always add tax at the till so nothing costs what is states on the label; and tips - if you eat anywhere that isn't self service you will be expected to pay at least 20% of the bill in tips. TBH Florida is not a cheap holiday.

If you hire a car there are tolls on the freeways, but they aren't very much, and don't worry about driving past the toll booths as the car hire company will add it on when you return the car. Parking at each park is $20 a day.

Basically the cheapest way to eat would be to stock up at Walmart and eat in.

Oblomov17 Tue 21-Mar-17 18:42:17

I still can't decide on whether to go. My sil has booked to go at Easter. She's paying 5k, and that's before she's even eaten there or bought loads of clothes!!

Iamastonished Tue 21-Mar-17 18:44:09

How many people is that for?

HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 21-Mar-17 20:49:40

I've priced up (rough) flights, exact dates haven't been released yet, a 3 bedroom townhouse near International Drive and tickets for Disney, Universal, Sea World, Legoland and Kennedy Space Centre and it's coming in at between 5.5-6k for 4 of us for 3 weeks, which I'm pretty happy with. I know it's not cheap but it's doable if we can get the basics for that price. I said to DH there is a super Wal-Mart so we can cook sometimes and have breakfast stuff and make lunch or buy snacks etc. We just need to save spending money which will need to include food and transport, and yes I know about the taxes, DH had to go to America last year for work and he mentioned it, as the whole tipping everyone thing. This would all be taken into account.

oblomov, what exactly is that 5k for?

I don't mind if Uber isn't cheaper than driving. It's the convenience. DH really doesn't want to drive and I have a chronic illness so if I get tired I won't want to drive and parking at Disney is $20 a time which is extortionate, factor in gas and insurance, I think I prefer to let someone else drive us around.

I'm getting excited but can't tell the DCs until we have booked it and we can't book it for another 2 months I think as that's when Norweigian Airlines are likely to have the dates available. And they are so cheap!

MrsELM21 Tue 21-Mar-17 20:52:37

We used to live in Orlando and work at a huge hotel in Disney World, let me know if there's anything in particular I can help with xx

HarryPottersMagicWand Tue 21-Mar-17 22:09:24

Thanks MrsELM. Is the weather normally really nice in April? Where are the best places to stay that is near International Drive and the parks that is a good price? The 3 bed town house I was looking at is in the Kissimee area, is this a good area to stay?

LapdanceShoeshine Tue 21-Mar-17 22:19:34

Have a look at Thomas Cook for flights (& possibly accom etc too, can't comment on that)

We flew with them direct from Manchester to NYC - great prices & nice new planes smile

LapdanceShoeshine Tue 21-Mar-17 22:23:28

MrsELM21 Wed 22-Mar-17 01:59:28

Hello! Weather is usually getting really nice in April, not too hot but plenty warm enough so perfect for parks etc, Kissimmee would be a great area to stay, it's not super fancy but is very convenient and less expensive than the immediate Disney/Lake Buena Vista area, there is also a massive Walmart there if you are self catering and a shop called Target which is super cheap that I adored!! International Drive is very commercial and possibly even a bit tacky in places although loads of tourists stay here, if you go stay there I'd go for a more mainstream brand, definitely stay away from any 'motels!' xx

budgiegirl Wed 22-Mar-17 11:15:09

I don't mind if Uber isn't cheaper than driving. It's the convenience

It might work, but if you are wanting to go further afield, such as the Kennedy Space Centre, then driving would almost certainly be more convenient. Driving is easy, roads are big and wide, and cars are almost all automatic.

If you hire a villa, many are quite a distance from restaurants and supermarkets. I know it's a personal choice, but it would have driven me crazy having to get an Uber to go out each evening, or pop to the supermarket .

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