Orlando has that little bit of something for everyone. I think if this particular #Ninja was given the option of only visiting 1 place for the rest of my life this would be my choice. Yes, there are probably places that have individual aspects that are better but as for an overall holiday that has pretty much everything you would want to do, Orlando has it all.
Nowadays there are many different ways to get to Orlando to suit any sort of NI traveller. Direct from Belfast, Direct from Dublin, Belfast to London and on to Orlando, or various other 1 or 2 stop choices. I’ve managed to try out most of these. For me the best and most convenient (but not always the cheapest) option is to fly direct from Belfast. It is just less hassle. Dublin direct is great too given that it was cheaper and you cleared customs when you were in Dublin. We have also flown to Newark and on to Orlando but it took absolutely ages to clear customs in Newark and we nearly missed our connection. A good while back we flew to Gatwick and then on to Orlando but the return journey was horrendous. We had a 5 hour layover in Gatwick on the way home and this was not what you needed after a 9 hour night flight. We just wanted to get home. I would say weigh up your options before you fly – especially if kids are involved. There are plenty of possibilities.
Oh my. There are so many options here. Hotels, Motels, Suites, Condos, Villas of all shapes and sizes. We have tried a variety of these. Our first couple of times to the area we stayed in hotels off the 192 in Kissimmee. It was as cheap as chips – something like $20 per night per room. The hotels were safe and clean and close to the attractions providing a free shuttle if you wished. At that time we were on a budget and spent little time in the hotels so it worked out well. The next couple of times we rented Villa accommodation.
For me this is comfortably the best #Ninja option. It works out a little more expensive than the hotels we were used to staying in and the villas are situated a little further out, however having your own pool, kitchen, bedrooms and general space to relax was well worth it. Most villas are kitted out with Satellite TV and their own pool so there was plenty of time to just chill out after a long day at the parks. There are so many villas to choose from so make sure to bargain with the owners! The last time we went to Orlando we did a 2 stop holiday. We stayed on International Drive first for 5 nights at the Rosen Inn. It was a great base. So close to everything. Great to come back to at night and then be able to dander across the road to the many, many restaurants there for food and a drink. The only problem was that we were all (4 of us) crammed into the one hotel room and there was no time to relax at all. The last 9 nights we stayed in a villa in Davenport which was a little further out, maybe 20-30 minutes to/from the attractions. But it was hassle-free having so much space available to you.
A type of accommodation I haven’t stayed in is Theme Park on site Hotels. They can be quite expensive but then there is the benefit of being on site and have extra hours in the park that normal tickets do not provide. Maybe someday! If it was only a couple of you going I would maybe go for a hotel or a suite off the 192 or International Drive. If it was a family I would always opt for a villa.
I’ve been lucky enough to be in Orlando each month from May to November. June, July and August were absolutely roasting! And very humid. It was an uncomfortable heat for me. There are plenty of thundershowers but most of the time the sun is belting out. The time of year I always felt more comfortable going was in May or September. That wet heat is mostly gone and you get a more dry heat that you would be accustomed to in a hot Mediterranean summer. Our most recent visit was over Halloween in October/November. The mornings were colder but early afternoon the sun was out again and we had high 20s early 30s every day. Evenings were cooler but lovely. Its easy to see why it is called the “Sunshine State”. You are pretty much guaranteed it any month you go. If you are a sun bather it is perfect but then again there is so much stuff to do why would you spend all your time sitting by a pool!?
Things to do
How much time have I got? Well Theme Park wise you have 4 Disney Parks and 2 Water Parks, 2 Universal Resort Parks AND its BRAND NEW new water park Volcano Bay! There is also SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busche Gardens (50 mins down the road), Lego land and much more! The Theme Park tickets can be quite expensive especially if you want to hit them all. But then you can spend your whole holiday there so it is money well spent. There is also International Drive which has so many activities from Mini-Golf to Laser Tag, to Indoor Gaming, Go-Karts, The Orlando Eye and much, much more.
Other places around Orlando include Gator Land, Airboat rides, countless golf courses, some beautiful beaches (60 mins away) and Kennedy Space Centre is about an hour away too. And then there is the shopping. Pack light and fill your suitcase up in many of the Outlets and huge malls that Orlando has to offer. It is a shopper’s paradise! I cant do Orlando justice in the space of a paragraph but I have been nearly 10 times and still haven’t come close to covering it all. And with the Theme Parks expanding on a yearly rate there is always something new to see and do.
Food and Drink
Much like the Things to do there is something for everyone – steaks, fish, chicken etc you have it here from fast food to finer dining. Personally I have found great value and great tasting food in some of the many chain restaurants. The likes of Logans Road House, Bahama Breeze, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Millers Ale House, I-Hop, Joes Crab Shack and Cheesecake Factory will salivate all your #Ninja tastebuds. Most menus are very extensive and we found a lot of them cater well for children too. All the theme parks have loads of places to eat too and although I prefer to eat main meals out of the parks there were also plenty of places to pick up a quick bite to eat. This #Ninja is a big Burger fan and easily the nicest Burger I have ever had was at “Freddies Famous Steakburgers and Frozen Custard” near the Orlando Outlets. Incredible!
Who would I recommend Orlando to?
Most say it’s the number one family holiday destination but I will take it further and say …. Everyone!
It’s that simple.
#Ninja Tips & Tricks
Hire a car. Driving is easy with all road signs very clear. It gives you a freedom you wouldn’t have without it and gives you limitless possibilities of where you can go, whenever you want to go. And you will be surprised at how little it costs
Park Tickets can be expensive. Unless you have a massive budget you may have to limit yourself to Disney or Universal or the others. Have a look at ticket websites and see which one would suit you and your family the best before buying. Book before you go.
If you are not tied down to a specific time I would pick September to go. The parks are a lot less busy, the weather is more predictable and less humid and you can usually grab yourself a good bargain on a villa as there is less competition.