Booking to go to Orlando, Florida was so exciting, mainly because we were going to Disneyland and we wanted to meet Mickey Mouse (even though we were all grown adults in our late 20s !). We booked using a direct TV holiday Company and flew with Airtours. This way we were able to book the flights and hire the Car all in one go.
One thing to remember though is to have all your traveler’s details ready and to hand, especially those of your party that is going to be driving, as you need to give name and date of birth details when you book the hire car.
We flew with Airtours on a chartered flight, which was not the most spacious of airplanes, but it took off on time, and we got the usual airplane food, but I have no complaints about the food or service that we received at all. The flight from Gatwick to Sanford Orlando is around eight and a half hours.
A few tips for a more comfortable trip when you are on a long flight but sitting in economy, bring extra water in bottles to keep drinking water throughout the flight. This kept us hydrated and also meant we were regularly getting up to pay a visit to the toilet, which kept us moving around. Also, bring your head set to what the movie, otherwise you have to pay extra for these, but if you do pay for a game, remember to take them with you, so you have them for the return flight. A pair of earplugs come in very hand too, especially if you end up sitting quite close to (or next to) a family with babies or young children.
Arriving in Sanford – We left the airplane swiftly and made our way directly to the Hire Car queue, it is best to get in the queue as quickly as possible as there is usually some paperwork to complete. At this stage, we were offered Collision Damage Waiver insurance, which we took up.
Travelling from the Airport to your Accommodation – Getting out of the Airport was quite straightforward, but being our first trip to America, it did take a while to get used to their road signs which are not very clear to the novice driver in the States. My main advice on this is to plan your journey very carefully and seek advice from the Car Hire desk as much as possible. Our trip should have taken about an hour and a half, but in the end, it took about 3 and a half hours, and after a long flight, we were exhausted and hungry. Another tip would be to buy some spare food and drinks at the Airport before you set off, just in case. As it happened we did come across a fast food restaurant, so we got burgers and chips in a drive through.
We finally arrived in Spring Hill, where our accommodation was late in the evening U.S time, but the advice on avoiding jet lag is to get into the local time as quickly as possible, so we stayed up until it was time to go to bed their time.
We were using a relatives accommodation, and so we knew that it was going to be clean and tidy and have everything we needed. It was a two bedroom villa with pool, that slept six people comfortably (using a sofa bed in the lounge). I would recommend having a villa with its pool because when you are not visiting the theme parks, you will want to relax and chill out at the villa. We had no children, and so we did not have to think about the dangers of the pool, but even so, you do still have to give some thought to drinking alcohol and swimming! The excellent idea was that only plastic plates and cups could be used outside, so there was no risk of cutting your feet.
It’s a good idea to get along with your fellow travelers if you choose to go on holiday and stay in villa type accommodation. We were all friends from school and college, but one thing we did do was hire two cars so that we could choose to go our different ways if we felt like it. One day one couple in our party wanted to go shopping at the mall, and the rest of us went to one of the theme parks, so having two cars was great.
Tourist Attractions – Orlando has something to offer everyone, singles, couples and families alike. As twenty somethings, our holiday consisted of visiting theme parks, eating at restaurants, and chilling out relaxing at the villa.
The theme parks we visited were, Disneys Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and the Animal Kingdom. We also went to Universal Studios and Sea World.
All the parks are fantastic and so well organized. We were guided in by large road signs, and you can even tune into their radio station as you drive closer to the entrance of the park. Be prepared with your dollars to pay for parking, as you drive to the car park entrance; you need to pay around $7 for parking. Once parked, you are guided to small land trains that take you from the car park to the main entrance to the park. The Magic Kingdom is across a large lake, so you have to board an old paddle steamer type boat that takes you to the park. It is a great site from across the water.
The Magic Kingdom is where it all began; this park is the flag ship of Disney parks. There are a lot of children (and big kids) orientated features. Youll bump into well known Disney characters as you walk around, but you will have to queue up to meet Mickey Mouse, check out the times of Mickey’s availability early on in the day, we then made sure we were around that part of the park later on in the day. It was sweltering when we went to this park, and so one of those hand held fans that also sprays water came in handy. If you want to get a good view of the Disney parade, check out your park guide and the markings on the road as you walk around, as it will tell you which you route it will take and you can plan your day around this.
Eating at any of the parks mainly consists of hot dogs and chips, but there are decent restaurants you can stop and take a rest in and get salads and fresh food in.
The Animal Kingdom was brilliant too; the safari felt so real. The main thing with all the parks, Disney or otherwise, is to plan your day. Otherwise, you could end up wandering around, walking for a long time, and not getting on any rides. There are now fast track tickets you can get, where you take a ticket and come back in an hour, or two hours, etc. to go on the ride! And, another tip is that if you don’t mind going on rides on your own, you can ride as a single and often get on faster, that way you get to go on more trips in a day.