In 2016, my husband (Sean) and I wanted to go on holiday to Orlando but because Sean worked at a school, we could only go on holiday when the kids were on school holidays. We went to Thomson Holidays (now Tui) for some inspiration and get some quotes but instead came away with a Christmas holiday to Orlando.
Neither of us had been away for Christmas before, we’d always spent it with either my family or Sean’s family so we knew it was going to be strange. We both like Christmas but we aren’t over the top or super excited, we just like getting to spend time with family and seeing the kids open their presents.
We flew out 6 days before Christmas day and came home on New Years day so we were technically away for the main week of Christmas.
Although there were decorations and festive music playing, it didn’t feel like Christmas. I honestly thought it was going to be over the top like you see in the movies but even people that lived and worked in Orlando didn’t seem too bothered by it being Christmas. I think that the fact that I’m used to Christmas being cold and being in Orlando where is was very hot made it feel even more strange. It didn’t help that all the shops, restaurants, theme parks and transport are still open and working as normal.
Christmas day we opened the presents that we had taken with us from family, we went down to breakfast and used Facebook messenger to make videos calls to our families while sat by the pool in the blistering heat. There was another family from the UK staying at the hotel and the parents were setting out piles of presents around the pool for the children to open when they came down. I wish I’d thought of it when we were opening ours in the room but I think it would have made it even more weird than it already was. Once we’d spoken to everyone, we got on the iTrolley and went shopping. We did a bit of souvenir shopping, had Burger King for our lunch, looked in more shops and then got the iTrolley back to the hotel. If that didn’t feel strange enough for Christmas Day, we got dresses up and went to an Italian all-you-can-eat restaurant for dinner. We both said it didn’t feel like Christmas day in any way. We should have been tucking into turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Instead we were tucking into pizza, pasta and chips. When we got back to the hotel, we stayed up to watch the Christmas Day Doctor Who special which was on BBC American, that was the only part that was normal to us lol.
Boxing Day was another day that didn’t feel like it normally would. We went to have lunch in an English themed pub called The Pub and then went to the water park Wet N Wild. It was our second visit to Wet N Wild on our holiday, they were closing on New Year and we had a 2 week unlimited visits pass so wanted to make the most of it. If we were in the UK we would be round Sean’s mum’s house listening to music and eating the lovely big buffet she’d prepared for us all.
Most of the shops took their Christmas decorations down on or the day after Boxing Day so any feeling of Christmas soon disappeared.
On New Years Eve, we went to Universal during the day and went round Islands Of Adventure. We were in the front of the queue for one of the rides and got talking to the lady running it. We said to her that we found it strange that everything is open all the time over here and that in England, nothing would have been open on Christmas day. She said she didn’t like having to work over Christmas and that they should all have the day off. I do agree, everyone should be allowed to be with their families at Christmas Day but Orlando’s biggest income comes from tourists which is why everything is open. If they aren’t open, they aren’t making money. I’m thinking that it’s not a secret to potental employees that they are open all year round so it should be expected.
We spent the rest of the day going on rides before going to Hard Rock Cafe for a few cocktails and then going back to the hotel.
New Years Eve night was brilliant, we hadn’t gone out for New Year in years. We normally stay at home, watch the fireworks at midnight and then go to bed or had some friends round to play video games on one of the consoles. This night, we headed over to the Wirly Dome that was opposite our hotel for a few drinks to get us started and then move on to somewhere else but ended up staying there the whole night. There wasn’t many people there so we got talking to the bar man who was called Sam and had a great time. We did get rather drunk which is why it’s a good thing we were only staying over the road.
We didn’t take part in a game of Whirly Ball but did watch a few as we were quite intrigued by it. For those who don’t know what Wirly Ball is, it’s a mash up of dodgems, le cross and basketball. Here’s a link.
I still don’t feel like we had a Christmas that year, it feels like we slept through it or it didn’t really happen. Orlando was amazing though and I can’t wait to go again, I’m going going to make sure it’s at a different time of the year.