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10 things to know before You go to Orlando
10 Top Tips
Firstly, if You haven't already booked your holiday, here's a few tips to save You a fortune!
1. Don't book your holiday through a high street Travel Agents, You will be shocked at how much more expensive your holiday will cost, usually up to twice as much! There are 2 main Companies that I have used to travel there, the first was On The Beach, website http://www.Otbeach.com. With this company, You can book your flights and accommodation, or just one or the other, depending on what You want. Their flights to Orlando land in Sanford Airport, Orlando, which is the British tourists Airport, not the International one. You will find that this Airport is about 25 mins further away from the International Drive area than the International Airport. If You don't know, International Drive is a 14 mile road that goes through Orlando, off which most of the attractions are. On The Beach are a very professional company, with prices that are very affordable. All their prices include baggage allowance, taxes etc, so You won't get any nasty surprises once You have booked with more fees added on. This Company tends to use charter flights rather than scheduled, so flights with the likes of Thomas Cook, Thompson, Monarch etc. With this Company, You will put the dates You wish to fly, then it will give You a list of flights to choose from at different times, airports etc, then You will get a large choice of accommodation to choose from, with the price, description and usually a picture to look at.
The other company I have used is Ocean Florida, their website is http://www.oceanflorida.co.uk. These again are absolutely fantastic for prices and quality. They work out a package that best suits your needs, and discuss everything with You until You agree on the perfect holiday. They use scheduled flights, not charter, so You will be flying with companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways etc. Again, baggage allowance, taxes etc are all included, as are your inflight meals, so once the prices have been given, there will be nothing else to pay. Ocean Florida have a large selection of Villas to stay in around the Kissimmee area, anything from 3 bedroomed to 6 bedroomed, and they also have condos, apartments and hotels available, so there is a choice for everyone. If You wish to, You can also buy your theme park tickets through this Company, and have them added on to your holiday cost, I would advise You look elsewhere first though, and I will be adding a few places to look, in the article. You can also book your car hire with this company at a very reasonable cost.
If You book your flights separately, I would absolutely recommend Cypress Pointe Resort, about 10 mins drive from International Drive. They have fantastic apartments, and a great family resort, with things to do for the kids if You fancy a day in to rest. Their website is http://www.cypresspointe.net/
2. Don't buy your currency on the high street! You will lose a lot of money that way. My recommendations are to get a currency card from a company called FairFX, website http://www.fairfx.com/ The card will cost You nothing, and You get a much better exchange rate with them, not to mention it's much safer, as the card is just like a credit card, and if You lose it, they will supply another one within a couple of days. To buy Dollars or Travellers Cheques, the best place I have found is Cash Generator, their website http://www.cashgenerator.co.uk these will give You the best prices on currency exchange.
3. Attraction tickets : Buying these can be a stressful and expensive thing to do! Obviously You want to go and see all the parks whilst You are there, but You can get ripped off quite a lot, so be careful. There are many different tickets that You can buy, some including lots of various parks, some single. The first time we went, I bought the Disney Ultimate and the Flex Tickets, but found that we didn't go to all the parks, so now I buy Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure together, and Seaworld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica together, all have 14 days unlimited use, and buying them that way saves us £150!! BEWARE when You get there, You will most likely have sales people trying to give You free tickets in exchange for You going to a 45 minute presentation. This is not 45 minutes, in fact it can be up to 5 hours! They will give You the tickets, but after they have tried bullying You into buying a timeshare first. In my opinion, You are better to just buy the tickets. One of the best places to buy tickets is American Attractions, these have some of the best prices around, website http://www.americanattractions.co.uk They also provide You with proper tickets, not printed out pieces of paper, which some other places do.
4. Eating : I strongly recommend the all You can eat buffets situated all around International drive and some further out. Breakfast will cost You just $3.99, and You can have full english, pancakes, waffles, fruit, cakes, pastries, and much more, and if You fill up in the morning, You don't need to spend much on lunch once You are in the parks, because food inside the parks is EXPENSIVE! Same in the evening, all You can eat buffets are $9.99, and there is lots to choose from, steaks, fish, chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, mexican, cakes, fruit, jelly, again, and lots more! If You have children under the age of 11, I advise You buy a "Kids eat free" card. At all the buffets, show that card, and the only thing You pay for is their drink, which have unlimited refills. The card costs around £10, and can be purchased with park tickets, and it will save You a fortune.
5. Drinking : You will NEED to drink a lot whilst You are there, it's very hot, and very humid. Around the parks there are lots of water fountains that provide nice, cold water. What I have learnt to do is put a bottle of undiluted cordial in my bag, and have an empty one, then I can make my own drinks up at the fountains, and it doesn't cost me $20 a day, because that's how much You will spend for around 4 drinks a day in a park!
6. Sun cream, You will need a LOT of this. Buy as much as You can before You go, as it is quite expensive once You are there.
7. Theme Parks, especially if You are going during the school holidays, will be very busy. Once You get through the entrance, start walking round it from the exit side, that way You will miss a lot of the crowds, and get to the rides before all the queues start. Wear a bum bag with your money, tickets etc in it, it's not only safer than carrying a bag, it's a lot easier than carrying a bag on your shoulders in the heat, and You can keep it on You even on the rides, but get a waterproof one is possible.
8. Souvenirs : There are so many things to buy in the parks, You could spend £1000's, and they are all pretty expensive. Seaworld and Busch gardens are pretty good on prices, and they have lots of great gifts that You can't buy anywhere else. Disneys gift shops are SO expensive, but if You go up International drive, there are loads of gift shops on there that have Disney things at a fraction of the price.
9. Travel : The easiest thing to do is hire a car, these aren't too expensive, petrol is cheap in the States, but be aware that the parking for theme parks is around $12 per day, so add that into your allowance. If You don't want a car, You should definitely buy an I Ride ticket, these are really cheap, and they get You up and down the whole of International Drive as many times as You like for 14 days. Website is http://www.iridetrolley.com/
10. Feet : As I have said, it's VERY hot and humid in Orlando, and one of the first things that will suffer are your feet. The first time I went, my feet ended up being just one huge blister, and very, very painful. Before You go, buy some athletic tape, blister plasters and cream, and make sure You wear socks that don't rub your feet. If You start getting blisters, tape your feet up on the areas that are getting affected, making sure there are no creases that could rub, and use the blister plasters. Soak your feet every night in salt water. Remember, this is not a relaxing holiday, it is very likely that You will be walking around 6/7 miles each day, so treat your feet well.