Florida is an amazing place with so much to do and see that I think it would actually take a few months to see and experience it all. Especially with my list of things to do haha.
When I took my trip to Florida, I went with my husband over Christmas and New Year. I knew it was going to be weird as I’ve never been away from my family over Christmas let alone the fact that I was going to be in a completely different country and it was going to be hot.
One thing that really did get me was that everything was still open on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. In the UK, everything except a few little shops would be closed but in Orlando, everything is open as normal. My husband and I went shopping for presents to take home, stopped at Burger King for lunch, went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and then went our for all-you-eat Italian for dinner. The only thing that was normal about our Christmas day was staying up to watch the Doctor Who special on one of the USA BBC channels we’d found.
During our stay we had loads of fun going around Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure, Wet ‘n’ Wild (before it closed), Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, shopping at the outlets, eating in lovely restaurants and had a 2 day trip to Miami where I got to swim with dolphins, we did more shopping and had a fan boat ride in the everglades.
We stayed at the Rosen Inn Universal which is the nearest Rosen Inn to Universal Studios. We loved our stay so much, it was brilliant and in such a fantastic location. I believe that it is also one of the hotels that Universal Studios use if they are full up.
It was perfectly located with a bus stop for the I-Ride right out the front and they had a free bus to Universal for guests.
The staff were all brilliant as well, everyone that we met all said hello to us, chatted or answered questions we had. Couldn’t fault any of them.
The bed was the biggest I’d ever slept on as well, my husband and I could both starfish it and only just be touching. It was that big!!
We didn’t go to Disney while we were there, to be honest, I’m not a massive fan of Disney and the prices for passes put me off a little so we stuck with Universal seeing as it had Harry Potter for me and Jurassic Park for my husband.
And it was amazing!! The queues were a pain in the bum but we loved the fact that there was so many rides that both myself and my husband could go on even though we are on the larger side. They have tester seats at the beginning of most of the rides so that you can see if you fit and won’t end up getting embarrassed when you have to turn back at the ride.
I would seriously suggest giving Universal Studios a good few days out of your holiday. We did 3 days and because of queues, it just wasn’t enough. It would have been better if we had got the early bird and fast track tickets as I think we would have managed to see and do everything if we had.
There is a lot of things that we didn’t get to do so I would love to go back but it is one of those places where you could easily go again and again and still not see everything.
Orlando is one the sort of place where you could get seriously stung money wise but once you work out a good trick or 2, you are laughing.
We had food discount cards, went to all-you-eat places, shopped in the supermarkets, I actually have quite a few tips in my Money Saving Trips For A Trip To Orlando if you want to check it out and get some ideas.
One of my favourite is to not buy things from the parks because you can get them a lot cheaper in the gifts shops or at Walmart. I took full advantage of this and got different Marvel and Walking Dead bits in Walmart and then loads of Harry Potter stuff in the gift shops.
Staying on International Drive was one of the best things that we did. We were near the top end so we were close to Universal Studios but it also meant that we were on the I-Ride bus route that took us everywhere we needed to go and there is so much to do that we didn’t really go off of International Drive except to go to Miami for an overnight trip or to go to Universal Studios.
You’ll soon learn that all the ticket booths claim to have the best tickets in town, you won’t find any better anywhere else. Don’t buy from the first ticket booth you find, shop around or even go online and book tickets so that you do actually get the best price.
We booked most of our tickets online and were surprised by how much more we would have spent if we had ended up getting them from a ticket booth. We got a great deal for a 2 weeks, 3 park pass for Universal Studios, Islands Of Adventure and Wet n’ Wild which was £157 each and believe me, we made very good use of those passes haha.
The price we were seeing on ticket booths worked out at about £60 just for the day to one park. That’s why it’s always good to shop around.
When this trip was still in the booking things stage, I said to my husband that I wanted to swim with dolphins while we were out there as it had been something that I had wanted to do since I was a kid. He then found us a great overnight trip to Miami where I would get to swim with dolphins and we would also get to have a fan boat ride through the everglades.
It was such a fun 2 days that I would gladly do it again. As much as I loved Orlando, it was nothing like Miami.
Orlando is all about tourists, everything is geared for tourists with attractions, restaurants, gift shops and mini golf.
Miami is geared for tourists but nowhere near as much as Orlando although their sales tax is more than Orlando so it is better to only buy things that you can’t get anywhere else. Miami is a bit more laid back and has more things to do. I wish we’d had more time to properly explore as it was brilliant being there.
One big thing that you need to remember to do is leave a tip. Any time you eat out or go to a bar, you need to tip, unless you had the worst experience ever and then obviously don’t but some restaurants and bars add the tip to your bill without asking you. We had it a few times where the tip was added but we didn’t think that the service we received was good enough for the tip so we spoke to the server person, explained why and they put on what we thought was the right amount to tip. You even have to tip taxi drivers so we always tried to keep hold of small notes for tipping.
Click on any of the tiles at the sides for more of my posts from my stay in Florida