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Holidaying in Florida

  • 02-07-2009 12:41pm
    Registered Users Posts: 145 ✭✭

    Hi guys,

    My girlfriend and I are hoping to travel to Florida in the next year or two for a holiday. I want to find out some information now to know what we'll need to do to make it the holiday of a lifetime. I know that there are other threads on this but I want to find out information that will be directly relevant.

    The plan is to go for two weeks, most likely in September. We want to spend the first week going to Disneyworld as its the main reason that we're going, but is this too long? We're hoping to stay in the Animal Kingdom but are not sure if it is too expensive. We've been told to wait until we get there to buy tickets for Disneyworld and other places like Seaworld, is this true?

    For the second week we're thinking of hiring a car and travelling to a few places. What is the best car hire place? What places would you recommend? What are Florida, Daytona Beach, Palm Springs, Everglades, Miami and Tampa like? Which have the most to do and how long would you recommend staying in these?

    What allowances for food, drink, clothes and attractions would we want to make? Is it better to book it with someone like American Holidays or book flights and accomodation seperately?

    Any help on these would be greatly appreciated, any personnel experiences would be ideal. Thanks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,761 ✭✭✭✭Winters

    My girlfriend and I travelled to Florida last July and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We only had one week in Florida as it was at the end of a 3 week holiday in the US so we stayed on International drive for 3 nights and visited both parks at Universal.

    I booked the park tickets on the net beforehand via or the universal site itself, I cant remember. Getting the fast pass for the second day was a great idea.

    We rented a convertable in Orlando and drove to Key Largo on the Florida Keys (4 nights). This was a great base to go snorkeling and diving in the reef off pennecamp national park nearby and we also took a day trip to key west. Returned to fly out of Orlando.

    There is so much to do and see in Florida it is unreal. You just have to keep telling yourself that you will come back.

  • Registered Users Posts: 145 ✭✭Mossyman

    Cheers for that, will keep it in mind!

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,405 ✭✭✭✭El Guapo!

    I've been to florida 8 or 9 times and its the best holiday place on the planet IMO.
    If you stay in the disneyland resorts it will cost an arm and a leg. International drive is slap bang in the middle of everything and is the best place to stay. Its where all the action is and if you dont rent a car theres buses all day long to each of the parks. You could even take a taxi as the parks arent far away. All the best bars and resteraunts are along this strip too. Its also only a very short bus journey away from all the shopping malls, Outlets, Flea Markets. The Quality Inn Plaza is a good place to stay with 3 swimming pools, playground etc.
    I visited Discovery Cove last year and would highly reccommend it. Its a little bit pricey and you have to book it in advance before you go but its definately worth it. You swim with dolphins, stingrays and all sorts of tropical fish etc. Plus there's free breakfast, lunch, dinner, snorkle, suncream, sun loungers for the man made beach, snacks all day long all free of charge. And you can even have as much free Budweiser all day long too!!;)
    If you shop around on the internet before you go you can pick up great deals on the park tickets. IMO some of the best parks to visit are the Disney parks (Magic Kingdom etc),Universal, Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Sea World, MGM. Busch Gardens is excellent too but its approx a two hour drive away but well worth going.
    Its also worth noting that if your going in september its the rainy season (hurricanes!) but they still get their fair share of sun too!!
    All in all if you do end up going to Florida you wont regret it. Its absolutely unbelievable.
    Actually all this talk is making me want to go back...........right Florida here I come!!!!! :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 145 ✭✭Mossyman

    Thanks for that, very informative. Cheers!!:D

    Just one more do you usually book your flights and accomodation?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,817 ✭✭✭pebbles21

    hi been to Florida several times ,great spot heres my 2c

    Didnt think much of daytona,Tampa,Clearwater,St Petersburg

    I was impressed with the Florida Keys (esp Key West:D)Flew into Miami and and drove to Key West ,takes about 3 hours but worth every mile ,stayed for five days then drove back up the Keys to Key largo stayed for 2 days then up to orlando(4 hours) were we stayed for a week and flew home from there

    As said above plenty of hotels on international drive at great rates atm

    A great site for hotels is 3 and 4 * hotels for as little as $50 a night

    Flights try

    carhire found these the most professional)

    attraction tickets cheaper than even at the theme parks

    And as said above september can be a bit of a dicey time to go with hurricanes and storms (feb and march is much better)

    Spending money $2000 would be more than enough for two of you

    hope this helps


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  • Registered Users Posts: 145 ✭✭Mossyman

    Very usefull, again thanks very much!!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,661 ✭✭✭mickman

    was there for 2 weeks year before last in easter. the crowds were unreal but it was the busiest time of year. sea world in orlando is by far the best park , do NOT miss it. go to the killer whale show and dont forget the roller coaster, its crazy.

    go to kennedy space centre just outside orlando. 3 days in miami is plenty and spend the rest of your time in key west. dont stay in key largo, the key lime inn in key west is just parardise. each room is a little chalet, the pool is heated and so relaxing. i loved key west and will go back to be sure. as posters have already said there is so much to do in florida you will need more than one trip.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,852 ✭✭✭ncmc

    Hi Mossyman, wow, you're starting your planning early! But Florida can be a bit overwhelming so it's no harm to do plenty of planning. I think September is a lovely time to go, yes it can be very hot and you will get some rain most days, but the payoff is much lighter crowds at the themeparks and cheaper hotel rooms. When it does rain, it tends to be only for an hour or less in the afternoon, it rains very heavily but then 20mins later the ground is dry and the air feels lovely and clear. Orlando USUALLY doesn't get hit by hurricanes as it is inland, however there may be a risk if you move to the coast.

    I have to disagree with previous posters about staying on International Drive. I love staying onsite at Disney, I haven't stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but have heard it is beautiful. The Disney hotels are more expensive, but they are beautifully themed and romantic and if you can afford it, they are worth the extra $$$ in my opinion. There are also perks like extra hours in the parks that only Disney guests get. Disney have some great offers at the moment, like free dining and they normally do offers like this every Sept as it is off season.

    I would highly recommend you buy your tickets before you go. I would buy from a US site as they work out cheaper. and usually are a couple of $ cheaper than the gate price. There's no such thing as really cheap tickets, if you see them really cheap then there is usually a catch like having to sit through a timeshare presentation. The above sites are authorised dealers. Never but tickets from Ebay or the like. A great site for all things Disney is it has a treasure trove of info about the parks, restaurants, hotels, tickets etc. There are 4 Disney parks, 2 Universal parks, Seaworld and 4+ water parks, so realistically you aren't going to get to see everything in one week. Decide which parks interest you before you go and buy the tickets accordingly. There's no point buying a 10 day Disney ticket if you only end up visiting for 3 days.

    As for Budget, only you can know how much money you will spend. My hubby and I normally bring about $3k for two weeks, but we always have money home with us. Meals out vary in price from $5-$500 so you can eat well whatever your budget. Clothes, shoes and cosmetics are substantially cheaper over there so my advice would be bring empty suitcases and buy all you need over there.

    We have just booked our car hire through and found them excellent value. We have got a Dodge Charger or similar for £250 for two weeks. They are just a broker, the car hire itself is with Dollar who are located in the airport. I personally find it much cheaper to book everything yourself seperatley. There are great hotel and flight offers out there at the moment and I think you really pay a premium for having a travel agent do the leg work for you.

    As for where to go during your second week, Florida isn't a huge state and is very easy to drive in. I enjoyed Fort Lauderdale, it is a lovely beach resort about 30mins from Miami, so you could kill 2 birds with one stone there. I have heard great things about Sarasota, so intend to visit there this year.

    Hope you have a great holiday, I love the planning stage, I nearly enjoy that as much as the holiday itself!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 467 ✭✭Tupins

    Hi, I'm just back from Florida and it was great. Orlando is a great destination. As others have said, stay on International Drive and you won't even need to rent a car. The I-Ride (bus) goes the length of it and it's really cheap. We paid $6 for unlimitted 3-day pass.

    A lot of the hotels have free shuttles to the theme parks too.

    Between now and Christmas is a great time to go as the theme parks aren't as packed. We never waited more than 10 minutes to go on a ride whereas I've heard that during the summer you can wait for anything up to 2 hours!!

    Also, while still very warm (it was around 33 degrees last week) it's not as stifling as during the summer, plus less humidity.
    Hotels and restaurants are really good value now also.

    By the way, we hated Miami. It looks cool but the people were very unfriendly and it's soooo expensive. It just feels like a total tourist trap. Perhaps I'm being very judgemental as we only stayed one night (we couldn't wait to leave!) but I just think there are so many better places to visit in Florida.

    Keys are lovely also. Great for relaxation during the day and some great seafood restaurants.

    I didn't go to the west coast but I've heard that this is the best for white sandy beaches (it is the gulf of mexico after all). We did go to the beach on the east coast alright and I thought the water was bliss - so warm!

    You'll have a great time!

  • Registered Users Posts: 1 Jennie44

    Hi ,
    we are heading to florida next year def dates but sometime between April - May .There are 4 of us ..2 adults ..2 kids 16& 9 ..wondering where is the best place to get tickets as cheap as poss ..we have tickets to all Disney Parks ..friends in the right places !!Also any recommendations for hotel ,car hire & flights ? Have spent far too many hours looking all these up head is fried with all the choice .Looking to keep cost down as much as poss much spending money would you need roughly ?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,204 ✭✭✭naughtysmurf

    Jennie44 wrote: »
    Hi ,
    we are heading to florida next year def dates but sometime between April - May .There are 4 of us ..2 adults ..2 kids 16& 9 ..wondering where is the best place to get tickets as cheap as poss ..we have tickets to all Disney Parks ..friends in the right places !!Also any recommendations for hotel ,car hire & flights ? Have spent far too many hours looking all these up head is fried with all the choice .Looking to keep cost down as much as poss much spending money would you need roughly ?

    Avoid Easter if you can, very crowded

    If you already have your Disney tickets, are very good for whatever else you need, you can reserve your required tickets for €15 per person, pay a bit off every month if you like, balance must be paid 4 weeks before travel, they are real tickets not vouchers / e-tickets for car hire, all insurance included, no hard sell at the car hire desk, excellent service

    Hotels, personally for four I'd choose a villa but look at the Downtown Disney Hotels, I-Drive wouldn't be for us, same family set up as you

    For Villas, used them twice, great

    US$3000 will be fine for food, drinks, petrol, getting through the day stuff assuming two weeks

    Just to add, a lot of hotels charge a nightly resort fee and or for car parking so just be aware & factor it in to your budget