A trip to Florida benefits from planning well in advance and you can see how I did it from my previous blog.
We chose not to tell our grandchildren, James aged 10 and Jessie aged 7, where we were going until we got to Gatwick. Surprisingly they hadn’t even asked, so when we met them at check in, I gave them both letters with detailed itineraries to read while we waited. The surprise, excitement and joy on their faces was a real treat.
British Airways provided efficient flights, if very busy, and children these days are not such a problem as they are all plugged into some device or other.
We stayed for our first 3 nights on Treasure Island in Tampa Bay. I chose this due to being just 30 minutes drive from the airport and alongside a huge stretch of sandy beach. Time to relax and unwind after the excitement of the flight. Unfortunately the weather was variable, not unlike an English summer but thankfully 30 degrees warmer. We did a bit of shopping during the rain, grabbed some beach time when we could and looked forward to our Orlando adventure.
We had a week staying in a private villa recommended by friends. It was ideally located just 20 minutes from most theme parks and close to the main highway I4.
It was spotlessly clean, had every amenity including a heated private swimming pool, BBQ and indoor pool table (a great hit with James). WiFi was good; there were large TV’s in all the rooms and lots of ‘boys toys’ such as X Box and a selection of DVD’s. We couldn’t have asked for more – a real home from home.
Using our invaluable ‘Guide to Orlando & Disney’ by Simon & Susan Veness, we planned each day, and used our Fast Pass for preferred rides, and noting others we would try for.
Day 1 – Disney’s Magic Kingdom
As with everything in Orlando, it pays to arrive early and then remember where you park the car. A mobile phone comes in handy to photograph your parking spot. First stop was It’s a Small World as it’s the only ride I remembered from our previous visit 30 years ago, and a gentle start for my young granddaughter who was a bit apprehensive about everything. From then on it was fun all the way as we worked our way around the park. We chose not to take the Disney dining plan, it is only good value if you intend to eat more than one meal in the park. We existed on snacks and plenty of drinks. The old magic is still there and I defy anyone not to have fun.
Day 2- Universal Orlando
You can read my separate feature for all the information on this amazing park.
Day 3 – The Space Coast
We were overawed by NASA and the Space Centre. Jaw dropping exhibits and experiences, which everyone enjoyed. Try and take the tour bus early on in the day, before it gets too crowded and you get a good overview of this vast complex.
Day 4 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Lots of rides – Highlights were the Kilimanjaro Safari and the amazing Festival of the Lion King.
Day 5 – Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
A break from the theme parks and a chance to relax and cool down. I didn’t expect to enjoy this so much as crowds and heat are not my thing, but we paid a supplement of US$ 58 and secured loungers in a reserved shady area. This was money well spent as the free loungers are mostly in full sun and very packed in. OK if you spend most of the time in the water but I prefer to watch rather than participate. I did float along the lazy river and had to admit it was very relaxing! The huge wave pool had everyone swept off their feet and my grandson loved the Shark Encounter.
Day 6 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
All things Frozen was top of the bill for my granddaughter and a Frozen sing-along her favourite experience of the entire week! James was more interested in the Star Wars activities and we understand that plans are afoot to create a Star Wars Park in 2016.
Day 7 – Sanibel Island
We left the magic of Orlando to head for quieter times by the sea on Sanibel Island. I visit Sanibel whenever I can and you can read all about it here.
(But don’t tell too many people, Sanibel is one of America’s best kept secrets).
Finally back home with some amazing memories, which I hope last forever.
Flights and car hire arranged by friendly and helpful staff at www.americansky.co.uk.
Request a copy of our Guide for all the Generations – Great British Days Out and Holidays Worldwide.