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Florida - where's a good base?

12 replies

bee · 29/09/2002 19:09

Can someone who knows Florida help? We want to take a break there at Easter, with two children of 10 and 7. Want to do the obvious stuff like Disneyworld, but I have no idea what else we should be seeing, whether to stay in one place or do a two-centre holiday? Any ideas really welcome! Also a good online map of the state..

Also, does anyone know whether the American school holidays are the same as the UK?

Thanks a lot, you guys

OP posts:
threeangels · 29/09/2002 19:54

Hi bee - If you stay right at Disneyworld inside one of their own hotels (quite expensive though) you can be closer to all the parks. Parks including Epcot, MGM Studios, Disneys Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Theres also the water parks like Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon. You dont even have to go anywhere else. Everythings there about a weeks worth of vacationing. Thats even at one park a day.

If you want to visit a good number of these places I would consider calling about getting a "park hoppeer ticket" which gives you one cheaper price to go to any of the parks of your choice. It will be cheaper then buying for each individual park per person. I used to live in Orlando Fla and from what I remember you can ride the monerail through a number of the parks if you want to hop back and forth to them during the day.

My family might be going in March or April ourselves. Well probally stay in one of the more economical Disney hotels so we can be right near the parks. They have a good number of hotels and ticket packages. Some are more and some are more reasonable for families. Their website has a lot of detail. You will have to call about the hotel prices. They only have the hotel names and what they offer (no pricing).

bossykate · 29/09/2002 20:04

would also recommend the Kennedy Space Centre (easy drive from Orlando) - you might even get to see a launch!

i loved it - but then am a sad sci-fi fan!

MABS · 29/09/2002 20:05

bee- having been there loads - i'd definitely say two centre. IMO 1 week in Orlando is plenty. What type of things might you want to do , apart from Disney ? beaches, shopping , sightseeing, back to nature or all? let me know and i'll give some suggestions. Are we talking s/c villas or hotels?

threeangels · 29/09/2002 20:23

On the theme park line I also forgot to mention In Orlando there is also Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Wet and Wild I beleive is across from it. Sometimes I wish I still lived in Florida to enjoy the parks more often. But then it was never like a vacation when I went. I havent been there in several years and I know they have a lot of new things added to all the parks. Have a great time when you go.

Rhiannon · 29/09/2002 21:08

bee, a word of warning. The parks are incredibly busy especially at Easter, remember it's Easter all over the world and all the kids are off.

Why not go at Whitsun and take them out of school for the 2nd week. We did that last year and didn't suffer with the queues.

If you don't stay at a Disney Hotel I'd recommend you stay at Lake Buena Vista. Try and get a room with a kitchenette so at least you can make cereal and have drinks in the room. Kissimmee is very popular but whatever anyone says about it being next door to Disney it isn't. You will drive for at least 25 minutes to get there, the traffic is pretty bad and they have been resurfacing the 192 for 2 years.

If you stay in Lake Buena Vista (admittedly more expensive than Kissimmee) you'll be near Downtown Disney which is great fun and Premium Outlets (if you like shopping).

The parks can be pretty intense and exhausting if it's hot (which no doubt it will be). Do a park every other day and set off early.

After going through the gates at WDW it will take 30 minutes to get to the entrance. Remember this when you set off. You'll park the car, get on a train then on a monorail or a boat over to the park entrance.

If you plan on going back after this visit I'd suggest you go to Sea World, Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom and Universal Studios this time and leave the rest for another trip.

You must definitely book a Character Breakfast at the Contemporary Resort (Disney Hotel). Book it when you book your holiday for a day when you have a couple of hours free. It's a all you can eat breakfast buffet and all the characters visit your table for photos and autographs. You don't have to stay at the hotel to have the breakfast.

If you're going to a beach I'd recommend Treasure Island, St Petes or Clearwater all on the west coast.

You must be falling asleep, tell if you want more. R

bee · 30/09/2002 10:00

Brilliant stuff, thanks a lot. Rhiannon, I hadn't thought about Whitsun, that makes a lot of sense, also the children don't have SATS or anything this coming year.

We're going to try and find a house swap (we've done them before and it really works for us) so fingers crossed. Can I come back for more info later?

Any ideas on a decent online map of where all the main attractions are? This willl help us find a sensible location for the swap.

OP posts:
SoupDragon · 30/09/2002 10:16

I'd recommend a week in Orlando and a week at the beach to recover & relax. St Petes is a superb beach but there didn't seem to be much else there.

Rhiannon · 30/09/2002 18:53

bee, have you got the Virgin brochure? There's a map in the front of that with all the attractions in it. You could always stay in Orlando for a week, do 5 days at the beach and the last 2 back in Orlando for the flight home.

As Virgin get really booked up, it's a good idea to book your flights now if you want to go with them.

Which company do you houseswap with? we're with Homelink. R

Ailsa · 30/09/2002 18:59

bee, try this Orlando & Orange County Visitors Bureau , found it in dh favourites folder, will look some more.

helenmh · 01/10/2002 15:07

There is a brilliant website which has a section for British visitors. They are so helpful on the forum. We used it a lot when we planned our visit to Orlando 2 years ago. Also get hold of a book "Brits Guide to Orlando" by simon Venness. Excellent tips. Its worth heving a few days away from the parks for a rest. All the parks are great. We found we neede two weeks in orlando to see everything. We are going back to Florida at new year to do the gulf coast- sarasota/ sanibel. Any questions please ask

bee · 07/10/2002 14:17

Thanks everyone, I've asked Virgin for a brochure, and also got a quote for flights - not as much as I'd thought and feared. But the 7-day park hopper was a shock - £240 per adult (and my 10 yr old counts as an adult!!) and £190 for children. not sure if we can run to this - and it's only for Disney, so doesn't even cover Universal Studios.
Rhiannon, we're on Homelink too - fingers crossed!

OP posts:
Mel · 15/10/2002 20:24

DON'T miss Universal studios - more 'grown-up' than Disnay ( yes, the wholesomeness does get to you after a while!!), especially if either of your children like dinosaurs! If you get the Virgin brochure, don't stay at the holiday Inn Express on I-Drive - hideous, even as a place only to sleep! We went to Marco Island, on the Gulf Coast for our second week - a bit too perfect for me, even though the beaches were gorgeous. Visited Sanibel and Captiva Islands up the coast a bit, which were much nicer. Gator- land up the Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando is worth a visit - it used to be the only tourist attraction before Disney moved in. If you wait until you get to Orlando before buying your Universal tickets, go to the Belz mall and get them from the booth by the carousel - we got early entry - an hour before the park opened to everybody else. It made a HUGE difference - you could bomb round all the big rides without queing and then stroll round the rest.

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