Planning your dream vacation can be daunting, you want to get everything right and will probably get lots of advice but may still worry that you have forgotten something. We hope these tips help you get a little closer to your holiday of a lifetime.
What do you need to book
The basics are:
- Transport to the Orlando area. If you plan to fly this will usually be to either Orlando International, Sanford or Tampa Airport.
- A rental car to get you round and about (and from the airport to your accommodation).
- Accommodation (of course Eeyores Escape is ideal!).
- Travel insurance with full medical cover for the USA (often called Worldwide cover)
- Attraction tickets.
- Some spending money.
Do I need a rental car?
It is possible to get by without a car if you stop at a Disney hotel as they do have buses that will take you round the parks, but if you are staying outside of Disney we would always recommend you look into renting a car. This also allows you visit both the Disney and other parks (Universal, Seaworld, Legoland etc).
Driving in Orlando is not difficult. You can then choose where you want to eat, shop etc. If you are worried about directions, look into adding a satellite navigation system to your hire car, most rental companies have these as options.
Driving in general
A few driving tips for Orlando..
- In the USA you drive on the right.
- Most rental cars are automatic so you don’t have to worry about working a gear shift being on the wrong side of the car.
- You can turn right at a red light if it is clear to do so and there are no signs telling you not to turn on red, but you must stop first.
- It is illegal to have open alcohol containers in the car so don’t let your passengers drink while you drive.
- There are very few roundabouts, instead there are ‘4 way stops’. At these, the first car to arrive goes first, everyone takes their turn.
We would always stay in a quality villa instead of a hotel.
For us, a villa gives you more freedom, and a villa on a resort location adds the facilities you would get at a hotel. At a villa you can get up, still in your pj’s and have breakfast round the pool in perfect privacy, your kids will be happy to leave the parks knowing they have a pool and games room at home, and you can save a fortune on dining in expensive hotel restaurants.
But, don’t just take our word for it, check out any forum for villa vs. hotels and you will see once you have stayed in a villa once you will not want to go back to a hotel!
Flights to Orlando are usually very easy to find, there are dozens of planes a day from the UK alone, Westjet now fly from Canada, and if you are lucky enough to be in the States already, Expedia should be able to get you a good price on a flight.
There are two major airports, Orlando International Airport which is about 30 minutes from most villas, and Sanford Airport which is about an hour away (you usually drive past the international airport on the way!). Most major carriers fly into the international airport, whereas charters usually go into Sanford.
Which is better? Well, each has its own pros and cons. The international airport is nearer, but it is also bigger, you have a little train to go on between getting off the plane and getting your bags and it takes longer to drive out of and into when you return. Sanford is much smaller, so you can usually get through the airport quickly, but its an extra 30 minutes away. Both airports make a good choice, they are both near Orlando which is where you want to be!
Hopefully you won’t need it, but you do need to have it. Medical expenses in the States can be expensive, so make sure you have a good worldwide travel insurance policy.
How much spending money?
If you have pre-paid for your attraction tickets, or allowed for them then simply look at what you would normally spend on holiday anywhere else.
The USA is generally cheaper than the UK, Spain or other European counties, and on a similar level with Canada, so its not a bad assumption to work on.
Apart from attraction tickets, your main costs are going to be food, and souvenirs. Eating your main meals out of the parks can save money that can be better used elsewhere, and if you have a villa, go shopping for food at Walmart or Target.
Shopping can be a lot of fun in itself as there are lots of different things available, but everything is still in English and you will save a lot of money you can use elsewhere.
If you like eating out, Orlando is cheap. There are lots and lots of restaurants all competing for your business and you can eat in a different one every night!
The chances are, if you are going to Orlando, you are going to go in at least one park!
If you are looking at just Disney, then weigh up the advantages of their hopper tickets carefully, sometimes they can only save you $5 a day, but you are forced to keep using their parks, where you might prefer to do 2 Disney parks, Seaworld and Universal instead.
If you are away for 2 weeks, there are usually some good deals on Seaworld / Busch Gardens combination tickets, and these are worth trying.
If you are planning to eat at any of the themed restaurants, like Medieval Times and especially Arabian Nights, these can be heavily discounted if you buy them before you go.
Finally, be careful when you are in Orlando as many restaurants have ‘ticket desks’ offering very cheap tickets. Usually these are very cheap for a reason, you have to attend a timeshare presentation. We recommend you stay clear and use your time on holiday to enjoy your holiday instead of trying to get a last minute deal on tickets.