Anyone been? What's good? Where to book? What else to see whilst there? Best time to go?
The middle of summer is very hot and very busy. Spring/Autumn and even winter are preferable IMO.
All the parks are pretty expensive, but you can get multipark deals.
Islands of Adventures and Universal Studios are both amazing IMO. I used to spend a couple of months in Florida each summer when i was younger, Disney gets a bit boring for adults, but I never tire of a good rollercoaster!
If you fancy a drive, head down to the Florida Keys, pretty lovely.
Went on a partner programme with a conference Mrs Rickmeister attended...
Hated it all with a vengence but I am not a Merkin fan tbf.
Probably not having a family and trundling round by myself didnt help. Being overtaken all the time by folk on mobility scooters that were too lazy and fat to get themselves to the next food outlet and ride queue, plus wanting to punch Mickey and Pluto dicking about my table at breakfast....
Loved the kennedy Space Centre and Seaworld though.
plus wanting to punch Mickey and Pluto dicking about my table at breakfast....
We went last summer, 2 days at universal and 5 at Disney, wish I had booked a couple of extra days at the end on a beach as by the end of the week we were all done, I think the little fella enjoyed universal and the water parks the most
A lot depends on who you are going with. On your own then the universal parks win if you like coasters, young family disney wins, teenagers then universal again but enough at disney to keep them entertained. Dont forget Kennedy space centre, good day out for all ages.
kennedy Space Centre
It's further than you think, but well worth visiting KSC and doing the tour, properly awesome day out.
Busch Gardens and Islands of Adventure if you like thrill rides. They're in a different league to the stuff we have. Get there at rope-drop and go round the parks anti-clockwise to beat all the queues.
Girls will be 5 & 9 at the time so will probably have to avoid thrill rides
Worth visiting at Christmas if you have kids or am s/o into M.Mouse & co.... We've done 4 trips and the Parks put 110% into it. If you go with Virgin you can sort everything out with them. Appts near both sets of Parks or stay "on site" if you're not bothered with driving as Disney do free shuttle busses around the parks/hotels all day.
Americans seem to go @ Christmas & Easter. Try the end of May if you like Star Wars as Disney's Studio site has a SW weekender. Brits also get 2 weeks tickets for the price of 1 for the parks usually.
There's a Brits Guide to Florida which is worth reading....
- you might find a copy in your local library maybe????
oh, and Harry Potter World makes Universal worth a visit - our family tended to like Disney more than Universal, but plenty of families with teenagers prefer it the other way. Seaworld can be good, and Cape Canaveral is worth a punt....
Went when I was a kid and loved it.
If you just want to concentrate on the theme parks, then a package deal will be best value (as has been said there are buses between the major parks). However, if you want a bit of freedom and you can find an affordable way to do it, hiring a car will give you a lot more options, including getting to the space center if you fancy it. You can hire villas with private pool for about US$700 per week within a short drive and then partly self-cater to keep costs down.
Having a week at a beach was mentioned. It is a bit of a drive (~100 miles+) to either the Atlantic or Gulf coasts. The Gulf is a bit warmer and south of Tampa has white sand with corals, the Atlantic is a bit less pretty IMO but closer. Both are very developed. I'm not sure I would bother with a 5 and 9 year old in tow, but that's just my opinion!
If you (i.e. the family) like shopping the outlet malls are huge.
Note that the summer is very hot and wet. Rain tends to come in very heavy afternoon thunderstorms from June to October. There is also a (small) chance of hurricanes during this season. The fall/winter/spring season should be both quieter and more bearable weather-wise. We always used to go in the October half-term when it was still very warm and rained in the afternoon but prices were lower.
I have to say while I did enjoy my holiday there, I thought Disney was utter sh*te. Although we only did Magic Kingdom or whatever it's called.
Orlando has awful traffic especially after a thunder storm, and is a typical dreary US city IMO. We all agreed that if we go to Florida again we won't stay in Orlando.
The bits I liked were all outside Orlando:
KSC and the Space Coast.
Also worth noting that it is expensive and I think better value holidays can be had elsewhere.
We went over new year three years ago, also did 2 days at universal and 5 and Disney plus a trip to Kennedy and a rest day which we went to Ripley's and a crazy golf course.
Book tickets before you go it worked out a fair bit cheaper we stayed on international drive and used Orlando for less, for tickets who were helpful and competitive.
Plan your days in the parks before hand as some rides get busy early on and some later in the day.
We're looking at going back in the next 12-18 months now are kids are a bit bigger so less height restrictions.
I'm a fan. With kids your age I'd say do Disney only, no Universal or Busch, they won't be big enough for the rides in these. Unless you're a premier league footballer, Disney hotels are massively expensive compared to the competition. I'm not a big hotel fan anyway, remind me too much of business travel, so we prefer a villa with pool. Somewhere south and west of Disney is best, near Rt192 and a few miles up or down Rt27. Easter ish is the sweet spot for the weather, before it gets too hot for all the miles you walk on one of these holidays.
We stayed just outside Disney. I quite liked the crazy golf courses and all you can eat breakfasts on International Drive.
I thought Epcot was good (the Lands bit with extreme fruit and veg was an eye opener - 9lb lemons) and the Magic Kingdom is well worth a visit with little uns. Downtown Disney is worth a trip for dinner (or just spend most of it playing in the lego shop like we did).
The waterparks are very good - we went to the Sea World one - i'd recommend it.
Some people say it's too touristy, but i think all kids should experience Disney once.
ps we went in late October
My missus' sister lives in Florida so I've been a fair few times over the years.
We don't always go to parks etc. when we're there but the best time I've been was over Christmas/new year, still nice and warm but Universal and Islands of Adventure was pretty empty. We went round on the hulk ride 5 or 6 times in a row with no queueing. They don't let you just stay on the ride though unfortunately, you have to get off and walk back round
Haven't been to Disney for a few years as there's nothing there for us and it's expensive.
I did find the 'Express Pass' ticket system they use in Universal/IOA pretty infuriating. You have to pay extra to use a seperate priority queue for the rides. I just object to the principle of it.
Disney have a 'Fast Pass' system which is much fairer IMO. Everyone has the same ticket, but you can 'reserve' a place on rides at a given time slot and come back later.
Kennedy Space Centre is definitely worth a visit, it's quite pricey but they have spent a good chunk of money on the place in recent years, judging from my last visit in September. You have to plan out your day carefully though if you want fit everything in as the various IMAX shows etc only run at certain set times and it closes relatively early.
Seaworld I enjoy the roller coasters but I don't like zoos/captive animals in general unless it's for genuine conservation reasons. They also have an infuriating lockers policy where you have to pay for a locker to put your stuff in when you go on rides. A dollar (or maybe 2.. can't remember) PER TIME. No free short term period like Universal etc. Piss take IMO.
Pick up the local paper (Orlando Sentinel iirc) at the airport as it's always full of useful coupons/vouchers for restaurants/smaller attractions. My missus goes crazy for these, coupons are like crack for her.
Wear Dri-fit/clima-lite type sports T-shirts for the parks.
Mostly agree with the above. KSC is well worth a visit, I was a massive moon landing sceptic before going - The final Shuttle launch was a couple of weeks away and we saw it on the pad - from 4 miles away !
We stayed at the Universal Orlando, it was opposite Wet n Wild, so there was no need to use the hotel pool after the parks, just go across the road with our unlimited access tickets.
We travelled the 1st week of May, the weather was great, driving was easy and eating out a doddle. We didn't bother with the all inclusive breakfast much, just got to the parks early, grabbed a coffee & cake / donut and discussed the plan for the day.
2. Busch Gardens
3. Universal Studios
4. Waterparks (Wet n Wild & Aquatica)
Slight hijack, how does the American Disneyland compare to the Paris one...?
USA is better.
Once you have done the States, Paris is poor. Lack of queue control (apparently like the ski lift system operated by the French) and unenthusiastic staff.
That's my opinion.
Done Florida 4 times, Paris 3 and LA once.
We are going back in August for the 9th time in 15 years, it's fair to say myself, wife, 6 year old and 10 year old love it.
Disney is fantastic, the fireworks at magic kingdom and Epcot, as well as the fantasmic performances at Hollywood studios. You will be surprised how many rides the kids can go on. Check out the website at Disney for height restrictions
One of our favourite times to go is may or October, still plenty warm enough and quite quiet.
We have stayed in Disney for the last two Tims we have been due to the free dining plan they offer. The hotel was around $2000 for two weeks but includes lunch, evening meal in a Disney restaurant, snacks through the day and drinks on site.
Disney transport is very good and never waited long to get a bus if we wanted to, also hired a car to explore further afield.
I also did the NASCAR experience a few years ago and last year I booked my wife a few laps driving a 911 round the NASCAR circuit.
How does the one in California compare to Florida?
LA was the first, and I think they became landlocked? and the park is not as big as the Florida one, but still an excellent Disney experience.
Notts Berry Farm Park is top theme park alternative, (not too far away if you have rented a car) it is like Busch Gardens on steroids! Six Flags theme park gets a bit gang territorial at weekends apparently, but it is 7 years since I last went.
As a young ish couple (28 me and 33 her) we fancy going in 2015. I've been before when I was 15 and 17 with Mum, Aunty, Uncle and younger cousins and loved it.We went April time and the weather was fantastic, still warm.
Now is it still worth going if you don't drive as I don't have a car licence and missus doesn't fancy driving.
We are off to Orlando with our will be 6 year old boy, in Easter 2015 for a couple of weeks. It'll be 3 years of no expensive family summer hols and our sharesave savings maturing. Cannot wait! None of us been before.
Plan is to do fly drive. 1 week in Orlando, buy the 2 for 1 disney multi pass and goto Disney + Universal etc. Next week drive down to Keys and motel it. Might get a flight back from Miami to make it easier on return.
I've been in October the last three year and we are going back again in October
I was a total Disney sceptic until I went. Its a great holiday as the kids are entertained and being a geek I get to marvel at how they do things and make it all work so smoothly.
Do your homework and be prepared to spend. October is a very good time to go as crowds are small and the weather is warm. Become a Disney liner and work out your daily plan of attack. We go to park opening where we wait for 30mins or so; but by a mixture of fast-pass's and clever routing that is almost always our only waiting for the day (we get home and hear complaints from people about waiting times but we don't experience it). By mid afternoon we are done and head back to the villa for the pool; or go for an arranged meal for chill out time to stay in the park for the show (Fantasmic at Disney Studios or the fireworks etc). Homework is key as the good restaurants like the Brown Derby etc have to be booked months in advance. Disney Animal Kingdom is the only Disney park I don't really like but it is worth seeing once.
Busch gardens is great, its a zoo and some of the interactive things like giraffe feeding are not to be missed. There is much more too it than just rollercoasters... having said that my 6 and 8 year olds were on many of them this year. Check your heights before you go to avoid disapointed kids. Both kids loved Cheater-run, and Kwazi is a mental old school wooden rollercoaster.
Aquatica is brilliant fun on a nice day - the "non" lazy river is fabulous.
Discovery cove and swimming with Dolphins is an amazing experience, and swimming/snorkeling with the fishes and rays is a big wow for kids (water is cool but not cold, some people will whinge about anything).
Seaworld is good but not a favourite.
Legoland the kids really enjoyed.
What we do now. Two weeks. Frst week and a half in a villa on universal drive near Kissemmee so we can be at any park within 30mins. Homework done and restaurants booked for the days we want to stay in the park all day. Keep a few days flexible for the waterparks to make sure we get the best days for them. Big breakfast and into the chosen park early for the day, if we have to grab some food in the park choose carefully to avaid the worst of the fast food. Once out of the park we tend to eat salads and stuff round the pool at the villa, or go out for dinner.
For the last 3 days of the holiday we book into one of the hotels at Universal. The Polynesian was great but the Hard-Rock is better and have kids suites (things I never thought I would hear myself say but it really is an amazing experience). By staying in the hotel you can walk or take a boat/pedal-cart to the parks and have a priority pass for the Universal parks so hardly wait for anything (surprisingly costs little more than the pass and villa although you will be paying extra for drinks by the pool and meals etc). Not a cheep way to do it but your on holiday so just pony up.
By booking all the above ahead of time and being organised this costs us less than two weeks in Spain. Okay so we spend a bit more when we are there but the cost of living in the USA is cheaper than here.
Be organised so that you can relax and go with the flow once you are there, the less decisions you actually have to make on any given day the better; so make all the decisions you can before you go. ENJOY!
I first went 20+ years ago and thereafter twice more but we never went again once Paris opened. Paris has all the Disney stuff younger kids would want, plus the movie park now and is much closer and a cheaper holiday. You can do Paris including a stay at the Disney Hotel right on the front gate with entrance to the park one hour early stay a few days then travel on for a week elsewhere or take another separate sunshine holiday for less money than florida.
As for Florida avoid July/Aug it's far too hot and humid, long days in the parks are a battle anyway without the heat. We did the holidays two ways, disney park hotels and holiday condo with pool. The former allows you to get the most from the parks and the disney experience, the second a bit more down time and is the only option generally for a 2 week holiday as the disney hotels are very pricey. Do all the main parks, Disney, Epcot, MGM, Universal (again as above depending on how old the kids are). Kennedy Space Centre is good.
Lastly take care of renting/driving a car after the flight, one year ours was delayed and we where very tired when we arrived, had a big crash in the rental car (we where a bit lost and some guy piled into us at high speed), could have been very nasty but fortunately everyone was OK.
If your kids are into Harry Potter staying at one of the Universal hotels gets you into the park an hour early so you can experience the Harry Potter area with less people and hence limited waiting... unless the big ride is having a little meltdown in which case there can still be a wait (there is no premium-pass in the Harry Potter area and waits are long so getting in an hour early is a real boost).
I've not done NASA as my kids were a bit young but this year we will. We are going to give Disney a miss this October and do more of the other stuff... do not do the Disney Halloween nights, they are very busy and it involves shuffling round looking for horrible candy. The parade was fun but not worth the hassle. On the subject of parades its worth doing your homework and staking out an are 30mins before the parade starts or the kids will not get the Disney Experience and high fives from the characters etc.
I'm really looking forward to doing a Horror Night at Universal Studios this year... adults only so we have had to get a babysitter sorted (nine months away and we are already doing our homework!).
I went a few times growing up and we've been to Paris three times as a couple.
We went last year with my family (Mum and husband, sister and BIL) and had a great time.
We've booked to go in August this year as our Honeymoon. We'll stay the first 3 nights in the Hyatt Grand Regency as it's reasonably luxurious, has balconies and is next to Downtown Disney for good food etc.
From there we're staying at Disney's All Star Music resort for 7 nights so we can take advantage of the benefits of staying on property (book dining 180 days in advance, free transportation etc).
Finally, for our last four nights we're going to the Hard Rock hotel which I'm really looking forward to.
I went as a kid, I'm 27 now and I go back tomorrow!
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