Advantages Lots of fun, loads of things to do, great weather, brings the family together
Disadvantages Expensive, parks can be busy, long days
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
(This review will focus mainly on the entertainment and things to do in Flordia, (ORLANDO). )
No way were we expecting this trip to be a cheap one- as well as the hotel/flights/cars etc, there was still everything to do when we got there. Since we would be staying in a Villa we would be self-catering meaning food would have to be bought when we were there. There was also the matter of the daily entertainment. We planned to go to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, and The Animal Kingdom theme parks, aswell as maybe one or two water parks. My grandma purchased the tickets for the theme parks before we went however I think the water park tickets and entry was bought when we arrived.There was an awful lot of preperation before going abroad, but luckily this wasn't down to me. One of the downsides of the holiday is that we would have to fly at 5am. This meant leaving the house at 1am, arriving at the airport at 2.30(ish) and checking in at around 3am.
The flight was a long one. I'm sure it was around 9 hours. We were provided with an inflight meal which made me feel quite positively sick .The food was luke warm and didn't taste very nice either. Luckily there were snacks available on board such as crisps, chocolate and sandwiches. I fell asleep for around 5 hours of the flight which passed some of the time.
Aswell as the sandwich bar we stopped up there are other smaller cafes, snack bars, ice cream parlours and some fast food outlets- there was plenty of choice thats for sure. Aswell as the eateries there was also various shops, however we bipassed these on our arrival in Florida. There were small shops such as newsagents and places to buy papers etc, but there was also more interesting shops selling soveniours etc. The airport was definitly a wonderful experience and really began getting us into the holiday spirit.
Our villa was very clean and very polished. The various glass tables were sparkling clean with absolutley no finger prints on them (before we arrived anyway), the leather couches were spotless with no stains, the tiled and wooden flooring was also spotless and the counters didn't a have a scratch or score in sight. We were all very impressed with the villa and didn't really have one fault with it. Many of our friends have also been to Florida, and the reviews and comments on their villa's has also been very postive, most of them being almost identical to ours. Our villa was a large one, probably to big for a family of 2-6 however it was perfect for ten people.
RIDES- The rides suited everybody of all ages. There were the smaller ones for little children and there were more exciting ones such as splash mountain and space mountain for the older ones. I think my favourite ride was the Splash Mountain and I went on it five times. If I can complain about one thing here it was that the queues were very long and you could be queuing up to 45 minutes. Infact when we were waiting to meet Mickey and Minnie mouse for there autographs we had to stand for a total of one hour and 15 minutes. There were "holiday rep" type people making sure everybody was ok and giving us an update of how long we'd have to wait. They were also very helpful with the little children and made conversation asking how much of a good time we were all having.ENTERTAINMENT- Aswell as the rides there were also various different attractions and entertainment. At night time there was a huge fireworks display which was amazing and very beautiful, everything was just wonderful and felt extremely magical. Aswell as the fireworks display wthere was always a huge parade. The parade was espescially fantastic as it was dark, and the lights off the parade lit the place up splendidly.One of the main events of the day for us, espescially my youngest brother was meeting all the characters and getting their autographs. One of our favourite places in the park was "Ariels Grotto". This was a small waterpark outside with fountains and waterfalls which we could play in. There was a queue, going through a rock in order to meet Ariel. When we got in Ariel was sitting in a mermaid outfit, ready for photo's and autographs. She was really friendly and made everyone feel like she was real. Characters such as Timone and Pumba, Goofy and Donald Duck could be found scattered around the park, but characters like Minnie and Mickie were in there own little tent. The queue for all of the characters was huge.
OTHER ENTERTAINMENT- Not only was there fireworks, parades, rides etc, there was also some theatre-based entertainment. There were a couple of outdoor stages all providing entertainment for the whole family. One of the shows we saw was with Mickie and Minnie and mouse, not exactly sure what they were doing but everybody seemed to enjoy it. Aswell as this there were also various things such as dancing and acrobats, but they only seemed to be on for a short while of the day.EATING/DRINKING - As we arrived about 12oclock, by two oclock we were beginning to get a bit peckish. This was not a problem as there were plenty of different places to grab a bite to eat. These included; italian restaurants, posher restaurants, burger joints, hotdog stands, cafes, bars and lots more. Some of the eating places were home to disney characters who floated about and came and "talked" to the diners. The prices at the eating places were pretty expensive. A drink costing around $3 if I remember correctly. We were all really impressed with the eating places and we all found something to cater for our needs. I can't remember where we went for lunch, but I do remember we found a lovely restaurant in the park, which was home to Chip and Dale. All the eating places were very busy, however although there were sometimes queues they normally went down quite quickly.
RIDES- Again as with most parks there are various rides and rollercoasters for all ages. This doesn't seem to be the main point of this park though. Among the rides were FAST TRACK - where each family is putting into a car and you have to drive it round bends etc. I do remember being quite thrilled by this ride. There are also some smaller rides for children and toddlers, including a finding nemo one, which when my little cousin went earlier this month, thoroughly enjoyed and apparantly kept on "AGAIN, AGAIN, MUMMY, AGAIN". Aswell as rides, there are also various other attractions such as "HONEY I SHRUNK THE AUDIENCE". This was an inside "theatre" where you were given a pair of 3D glasses and when the "film" was on everything looked as though it was coming toward you. This was an amazing experience but very scary at the same time. There are also some other shows on which included a Lion King one. Everybody in the family really really enjyoed this one and was definitly a highlight of the day.ENTERTAINMENT- Aswell as the rides, there were also various other attractions. These included live entertainers including music performances, specialist dancing and artistic performances. These really provided a cultural feel to the day, and perhaps made us want to venture further than Orlando, Florida. As with Magic Kingdom, Epcot also holds a fantastic fireworks display every night, almost as wonderful as the Magic Kingdoms show.
OTHER ENTERTAINMENT- As with Magic Kingdom and other parks, you can meet characters and get autographs and photographs. Many of the same characters are at Epcot however most people get a second photograph taken with them.EATING/DRINKING- The variety of food at Epcot is absolutley amazing with hundreds of different foods and drinks from around the world. There was a fabulous restaurant under water where you could admire the wonderful sealife creatures while dining and having a glass of wine. There are various other nationalities of food and diners including; italian, french, american, japenese, chinese, thai, grills and various other all-type restuarants. Again in some of the resturants and cafe's the characters dotted around making the experience all the more special and seeing everybody was having as good a time as possible. Again, there were ice cream parlours and drinks stands all round the park.
ENTERTAINMENT- MGM/Hollywood studio's provides lots of entertainment for all ages from young 'uns to the older generation. The park sports various rides as with most other parks. Two of the most famous rides are The Rockin' Rollercoaster, and the Tower Of Terror. I went on both and found them really scary, not sure if that's because i'm a wimp! There are various other rides too and definitly something for everyone!ATTRACTIONS- Aswell as rides, there are also many attractions and events which provide lots of entertainment and fun for the whole family. For example, there was a Beauty and the Beast- Live on stage performance. If I remember correctly this was outside though the seating area was covered in a huge plastic canvas in the unfortionate case of rain. Aswell as Beauty and the Beast, there were other live shows and performances including the usual dancing, music and acting acts.
OTHER EVENTS- The Hollywood Studio's were jam packed full of fun! There were the usual disney characters floating about, making contact with familys and entertaining the young children (and adults too!). There were other attractions such as 3D shows, theatre/television orientated things and tours around studios and television sets.EATING/DRINKING- As with all other Orlando parks, eating and drinking are not a problem and we found it easy to find a place suitable for everyone. The restaurants/cafes/snackbars etc were all fairly busy and there were queues for most things, however we didn't have too wait all that long. Among the various eating places were, a Toy Story Pizza Place, various burger joints and hot dog carts. All the food here was of a high quality and the pizza we enjoyed for lunch was amazing.
TOURS- One of the first things we did when we arrived was to take a tour around the park. The tour took us through "the dessert/jungle" etc and we saw some extremely interesting animals. We were all told what to do in case of an emergancy and before we arrived at the cheeta's we were told what to do if they decided to charge at us. (Luckily they never). One the tour we saw, girraffe, zebra, elephant and cheeta among various other beautiful animals.ENTERTAINMENT- The Animal Kingdom was home to lots of fun and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. One form in which this came in was stage shows. We went to see two, one with Pochahontas and the other, another Lion King show. They were all very entertaining and most of the time seemed really proffesional. When we went to see the Pochahontas and friends show, there was a slight technical hitch before the show began, but I was assured this was a one off, so don't let it put you off! Again as with all other parks, there were disney characters walking about greeting everyone and getting photographs and signing autographs.
RIDES- Althought there were rides at the Animal Kingdom, they weren't the main part of the park. These were all animal related, taking us back in time, gazing at dinosaurs and roaming the jungles with exotic animals. The rides were all very thrilling, but had a different feel to them, not as scary more interesting and fun.EATING/DRINKING- Animal Kingdom is home to some delicious restaurants and cafes. They are spread out all through the park so you are never caught short or made to trail for miles to find something suitable. Most of the restaurants serve lunch and dinners aswell as snacks however we did find a few of them shut at 6pm. We're not sure if this was a regular day to day thing or only happened one day a week. Among the various restaurants, were, a barbequeue grill restaurant serving burgers, spicey sausages etc, a pizza parlour, sandwich cafes/bars, and an indian restaurant. There were also hot dog carts and ice cream parlours dotted throughout the park serving a wide variety of drinks and ices.
SWIMMING POOL- The swimming pool is set around the "beachy/sunlougy" area. The water starts off shallow, but progresses into deeper water. The water was fairly warm, and a nice and pleasent temperature. We began at the shallow end of the pool, but even here the waves were quite strong. Progressing in further the waves began to knock us off our feet and we were soon fighting to stay above the water. The wave pool was extremely fun and we spent quite a while jumping the waves and floating about! It is recommended that children are accompinied by an adult at all times.SLIDES- As with all water parks, there are various water slides. Nothing to scary or thrilling but they provide alot of entertainment and pass some of the time. At the particular times we went up to go on them, the queues weren't too long, about a 5 minute wait however throughout the day the queues grow and occaisonally people were told to come back later when the queues had gone down.
SHARK REEF- Typhoon Lagoon provides facilities to go swimming with sharks. I, personally turned this down as I wasn't too keen on the idea however my aunties, uncles and mum enjoyed it and would thoroughly recommend it!RAFT RIDE- All of our family took advantage of the raft ride. Everyone was sat in a rubber ring type thing and were told to hold on tightly. The "rubber ring" was then burled around the water, quite a thrilling but relaxing experience.
CHILDREN- There was also a childrens area at Typhoon Lagoon. This included sandpits, slides, and fountains. It was particuarly popular with little toddlers and looked like they were all having great fun. I can't comment personally on this as we never used these facilities however everyone doing so seemed to be enjoying themselves!FLOWING RIVER- One of the most popular attractions at Typhoon Lagoon is the flowing river. Everyone is given there own rubber ring and you can either lie on it or TRY and sit on it. You then float through the river, through tunnels and caves. The water was surprisngly very clean, though there were a few leaves and twigs floating around.
Aswell as all these, there were other things water-related including white water rafting.EATING/DRINKING- Eating at Typhoon Lagoon is not as easy as at the other parks. There a couple of cafe's and snack bars however these are usually extremely busy. Thankfully we did manage to get something substancial to eat and the food was very tastey. There were plenty of stands selling ice creams and juices so this was not a problem. If you don't like waiting, or queues, i'd recommend taking a picnic, or at least some snacks to keep you going!
ANIMALS- Busch Gardens is home to some wonderful creatures and beautiful animals. Tropical birds are kept in the bird gardens, visitors can go into the bird garden and watch them in their everyday life. There are also rhino pens, parrots, and horses, among various other amazing creatures.OTHER ATTRACTIONS- Kids are well catered for at Busch Gardens. Play parks and adventure grounds are all dotted around the park allowing the kids to have a great time too! There were also cable car type things which soar above the park allowing you to view everything from a whole new level!
ENTERTAINMENT- Most parks in Florida sport some fantastic entertainment and this one is no exception. Shows include dancing and singing shows, talent shows, and animal performances. Everybody in our family really enjoyed these and the applause at the end of all shows are out of this world. Definitly recommended!!DINING OUT- Eating and drinking at Busch Gardens is extremely easy. Ranging from light lunches to three course slap up meals, its nothing short of five stars! Among the various eating places are ice cream parlours, sweet stalls, pizza restaurants and cafes, sandwich bars, burger joints and many more. Most of the places were full but not overly busy, due to the fact there was plenty of choice which meant everyone was spread out through the park.
Busch Gardens has lots more to do but would take too long to write about. If you want to find out more, i'm pretty sure there's a site on the web which can provide you with all the information you'll need!
The beach was glorious and luckily we managed to go on a day when the weather was around 30 degrees. The sand was beautiful lightly golden and the ocean water was warm and refreshing. We spent all day here, sunbathing, swimming and having some family fun. The beach was very clean with no litter in sight, and the sand was totally free of broken glass and other dangerous items.There were shops around a ten minute walk away, if I remember correctly, which sold buckets, spades and various foods and drinks. On the beach there were many places to buy some snacks and ice creams and the queues were never to long. The beach on the day we went wasn't overly busy though it certainly wasn't desserted, it was easy enough to find a spot to lay your deckchairs down.
It was easy to pass a day at the beach though I wouldn't recommend taking young children for the whole day as there is only so much to do!
Tickets for the parks don't come cheap! Tickets can be bought for different periods of time depending on when you'd like to go to them.
Tickets can cost up to £200 depending on which park/which time of year etc. I can't comment on exact prices as they change all the time , however if you take a good browse around the web, phone up the parks and check with travel agents, your definitly sure to find the best deal for you.
At the beginning of the park there is also a lost and found point. If you lose something it will likely have been brought to here. The staff here are always really friendly and are more than happy to help you find the thing you have lost. Aswell as losing items there is also a liklihood of losing a member of your party. If this happens there are meeting points all over the park and if i'm right in thinking there set into different colours. There are also staff around who are happy to help.Wheelchairs can also be purchased before entering the parks. These can usually be rented for between $10-$40 for the whole day. If you require your wheelchair for more than one day, you will usually be asked to pay upfront at the time for each day you require it for.
Smoking is not something which can be done freely throughout the parks. Most of the restaurants and cafes are none smoking, and smoking around the park is not permitted. There are smoking areas allocated and these are the only places it is allowed. If you are caught smoking throughout the park, action will be taken.Passes for the parks should be bought before arriving. They can be bought singly however family passes/packs can also be purchased, usually at a better price. If you leave the park throughout the day, but wish to return, you must hold onto your ticket as this is the only way you will be admitted again. If you lose/throw away your ticket, you will not be permitted to return back into the park.
SHOPPING- International Drive is home to some serious shopping. Thousands of people float about the shops each day, purchasing designer items and memorabilia. In the resort there are a total of 585 shops. Shops range from pound stores to designer shops selling things costing thousands of dollars. There are hundreds of clothes shops including Adidas and Gap, book shops including Books-a-million, souveneir shops aswell as many more. There are small cafes and restuarants in the complexes too.COMPLEX- International Drive also provides some wonderful complexes and fun things to do. These include ice skating, cinemas, bowling and golf. The prices are normally quite fair, not overly cheap but then again not too expensive either. You could spend a whole day here having fun with the family combining various things such as a cinema trip, followed by lunch and then a visit to the ice rinks or skate parks. There is always something suitable for everyone in the family here so it wont go wrong!
EATING/DRINKING- Internation Drive is one of the best places to come for something to eat, whether its a quick light lunch, or a posh and fancy dinner. There are hundreds of eating places ranging from McDonalds to the restaurants which will blow most of your holidays budget in just one meal. Internation drive is home to the worlds largest McDonalds, which has a gigantic play area. We went here during our holiday and the boys spent over an hour running around with other children. Within i-drive, every type of cuisine possible can be found, including chinese, thai, japenese, carabbean, italian and very many more. There is something for everyone which proved to be fantastic! We enjoyed many a lunch here, and one that particuarly thrilled us all was when we dined at Denny's diner, we were all served humungous sandwiches served with scrumptious french fries and salad. Most of the chineses were buffets and we dined at two different ones, we also dined at an italian restaurant which was spectacular!AFTER DARK- International Drive not only provides entertainment all through the day, it goes on till the early hours, all through the night. There are plenty of clubs and bars for all ages, for the young singles, the groups of youths, but there are all plenty of places for families too! We went too two "clubs" when we were there, and they were both very family friendly, even inviting young children up onto the stage to sing karaoke and take part in break dancing competitions.
Overall our trip to Florida was fantastic. An extremely expensive trip, don't get me wrong, but an extremely enjoyable trip too. It was the perfect trip for the whole family to enjoy and is perfect for all ages. I would DEFINITLY recommend it, and i'd give yourself at least 2 weeks away as there is so much to do!**
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Pages: 216, Hardcover, University Press of Florida
amazon marketplace books
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 business days