As promised, here is my Trip Report! I warn you it is quite long but hopefully you will enjoy it!
Saturday 1st March
Travelling with my girlfriend, my 5th visit to Orlando but her first as a Holiday (been many times with work). We are both 24. Staying at Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, got a car booked for Friday – Monday. Purchased all attraction tickets at Home.
Good flight with Virgin Atlantic, on time and plenty of legroom for me (6’5 in extra legroom seats). In flight entertainment is great, lots of choice. Food was okay except the main hot meal, pretty vile but I don’t like plane food anyway. Passed Orlando immigration and collected luggage in about 40 minutes. Met the Virgin Holidays rep who put us on our shuttle to the hotel, the coach was operated by Mears but was in a Disney colourway and Disney furnished inside, a nice touch. Transfer took about 20 mins to Rosen Inn @ Pointe Orlando, checked in and were allocated room we had requested in block B facing the pool. Unspectacular hotel but clean and lots of amenities and we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room anyway. It was around 6:30pm by the time we had unpacked and got sorted. Quiet first night, got essentials from Walgreens and some food and a beer from the deli and got to sleep about 10pm.
Sunday 2nd March
Got up relatively early and had breakfast in the room (bought cereals from Walgreens). My girlfriend hadn’t felt too good the night before (presumed jetlag) and didn’t have much of an appetite. We got the lynx 8 to Aquatica for Rope Drop. Mild panic when we realised we didn’t have our ID’s and it said on our tickets we needed them on first use but they didn’t check at entry. Headed straight to the beach area and got good spots, chilled here for the majority of the day. Had occasional goes on the lazy river and other rides but was just taking it easy for the first day. Really impressed with Aquatica (my first visit) very clean park and nicely themed. Left Aquatica at about 3pm as we were going to the Orlando Magic game on the night. If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to leave, it was a beautiful sunny day with highs of 28! After taking advice from people on here WE booked a taxi via Mears to get us to the Amway Centre, it cost about $40, obviously quite pricy for a return but we got the tickets for $5 each so we weren’t too bothered. The whole experience at the Amyway Centre and the game was awesome, there was a real good atmosphere and you are constantly entertained, theres dancers and competitions at every time out and intervals. I’m a huge sports fan and enjoyed it and so did my girlfriend, the arena is a sight to behold itself! Had a bite at the game but ate at Millers Ale House on our return to I Drive.
Monday 3rd March
Booked complimentary shuttle via Rosen Inn for 8:10 which would get us to Universal IOA for rope drop. Ate in room for breakfast once again. Went straight on Hulk and Spiderman at IOA with no queues, before heading to Harry Potter, 50 minute wait at 10am, decided to wait and it was about 30 mins we queued, liked the Harry Potter castle ride but I suffered with terrible motion sickness on the ride (very unlike me), which meant I couldn’t really enjoy it. I’m not a massive HP fan and neither is my girlfriend so although the Harry Potter part of IOA is impressive, I couldn’t get my head round people queuing for 45 minutes for entrance to a Shop!? Perhaps its because we’ve got places where HP was filmed not far away from us at home. We got a pizza in the park before exploring Jurassic Park on the afternoon, unfortunately the ride was closed for maintenance. Went on Popeye (got soaked) and Dudley Do Rights (great fun). Enjoyed Duelling Dragons but bit tame compared to Hulk, we wandered through Dr Seuss land before checking out the shops and having a general wander before getting the 4:50 shuttle back to the Hotel, chilled round the pool on return as it was again a beautiful day with highs in the late 20s. We both thoroughly enjoyed IOA but I had cited it as my favourite park but I was not much had changed since my last visit 9 years ago (except HP). We got the trolley to Kobe on the nice and had a fantastic meal, I had been here before as had my girlfriend when she was here with work but the food was beautiful and it’s a good laugh having the chef at the table. Called in at Millers for a nightcap before another early morning!
Tuesday 4th March
Again, got the 8:10 shuttle which had us at Universal Studios for rope drop. Went straight on the Despicable Me ride as the queue was already 20 minutes when we arrived. I enjoyed the ride, good fun even for adults! We went to go on Hollywood Rip Ride, but it was closed temporarily but it turned out to be closed for the whole day which was disappointing but we would return. We went on Transformers (no queue) and were impressed but very similar to Spider Man. Enjoyed Shrek 3D. First show we did was the Horror Make Up one, this was great fun and very enjoyable. Went on E.T, this is still fanatastic after all these years. Did pretty much all the rides in Universal, Mummy is great, Twister is underwhelming. Everything was a max 10 minute queue except The Simpsons ride which we waited 60 minutes for, don’t get me wrong we enjoyed it but I think Universal have gone OTT making everything motion or 3D. Really impressed with Simpsons Land however especially as a fan. We ate at Krusty Burger and shared a double burger which was decent. Left at about 5 and got a taxi back to the Hotel which cost about $10 as the shuttle didn’t arrive till 6ish. It was cloudy to start with and then got really hot and sunny before clouding over again. We had a rain shower at night so we just walked over to the Pointe and ate at a Cuban Restaurant which was nice, albeit a little quiet.
Wednesday 5th March
We were initially going to visit Animal Kingdom today via Lynx but I looked at the bus timetables and realised it was going to be hassle so therefore decided to visit Seaworld today instead and leave the Disney Parks until Friday as I was picking up a car for the weekend. We went to the IHOP on I Drive via Lynx for belated Shrove Tuesday pancakes. Great breakfast in here, I had the French toast combo and my gf had the pancakes which were huge. We then hopped back on the Lynx to Seaworld, bit cooler than it had been this morning but still shorts and T-Shirts for me (GF put a hoodie on). We got to Seaworld for about 10:30 and had a general walk about before seeing the Blue Horizons show, this was fantastic and had changed a lot from the last time I saw it! I enjoyed the divers and the bird element to the show, we then went on Manta as this was new. Very impressed with Manta but I was quite shocked in comparison to Universal how little people seemed to be loading people onto the coaster and operating it, it didn’t seem too organised and this was the same for Kraken too which was a free for all. Walked on Atlantis which is still good fun. The Sea Lion show was good but hadn’t changed much since the last time I saw it. Grabbed a Turkey Leg for Lunch, $10!! My parents told me they were $1 when they first visited 20 years ago, anyways the turkey leg was good. Fed the dolphins and paid $7 for the fish, didn’t mind however as its good to get up close to the Dolphins. We had a walk over to Shamu Up Close, having seen the Shamu Show many times before I rather enjoyed this up close encounter as it’s a bit more personal and you see them much closer than you would have in the Shamu Stadium. We went on Antarctica to see the penguins, the ride itself is a bit tame but I suppose its Seaworld, it’s a shame you can’t bypass the ride just to see the penguins as the penguins exhibit is awesome. I definitely saw a difference in Seaworld to the last time I visited, it was one of my favourite parks but I think the park been taken over and the whole Blackfish controversy seemed to have changed it for the worst, it just didn’t seem to be well staffed and the staff didn’t seem to be happy, it was just missing that buzz. Visited I Drive Premium Outlets and got a few bargains, Michael Kors’ watches from Watch Station worked out at about £106 for two where they start at about £150 each here. Got some Nike trainers for $50 when I looked at the exact same pair for £130 in the UK. Ate at Five Guys, THIS PLACE IS GENIUS, One of the best burgers I’ve ever had except Stripburger in Las Vegas. Pretty full on day and we were tired so got a good nights rest before Magic Kingdom on Thursday!
Thursday 6th March 2014
We had decided to visit Magic Kingdom on this day as this was one of the only times we could get a reservation at the Be Our Guest Restaurant which my girlfriend had her heart set on. Anyway we had booked the 10:45am shuttle through the Rosen Inn to return at 11:30pm, We woke up to see it was absolutely pouring down! I was slightly gutted but thought it would blow over, it got nearer the shuttle time and it was still pouring and it was slightly cold. I checked my phone to see if any Be Our Guest reservations were available for Friday and RESULT, there was one at 6:15pm, I suggested we change our day at MK to the Friday, my GF took some persuading but warm sunshine was forecast for the Friday so she agreed, anyways after all our dilly dallying I went to book to the table and it had gone! I didn’t know how to tell my GF but luckily I hadn’t cancelled our existing reservation so we simply got the later shuttle at 12 noon which eventually worked out better as it was only raining for our first hour in the park! It was absolutely pouring when we arrived at MK though so had to buy ponchos, went on Jungle Cruise first which was still fantastic and the rain made it seem more authentic. We tried to book Fastpass+ at the kiosk at jungle cruise but were informed the system was down, when we came out it was book however and we booked Fastpass for Space Mountain, Peter Pans Flight and Belles Enchanced Tales. Had some lunch in Adventureland before going on Runaway Mine Train, bit gutted Splash Mountain was closed for maintenance though. We headed on Space Mountain, I must be a bit big for this coaster as my shoulders and knees got battered. We watched the afternoon mini party parade which was good, it had brightened up and was warmer by then so ditched the ponchos. Ate at Be Our Guest which I honestly thought was amazing, the meal was good although not fine dining and the setting is fantastic, my girlfriend loved this and you get your picture taken with the beast after. We spent the rest of the evening on other rides and watched the parade and fireworks which were amazing. We agreed we would return to MK on better day weather wise to get photos in front of the castle etc. Got the 11:30 shuttle back to the hotel and arrived back very tired and with burning feet. All in all a brilliant day and the weather didn’t make it any less magical!
Friday 7th March 2014
Today was the day we picked the car up, woke up and it was sunny and seemed warm so headed out in a vest and swim shorts. Picked the car up from Hyatt Regency from Alamo/National and was very straight forward, requested a dodge but got a brand new 298bhp 3.5l Nissan Maxima which was an absolute machine! It was my first time driving in the USA but we brought a GPS from home, first call was back to the hotel to pick up hoodies as it was pretty chilly and windy! Went to Animal Kingdom and arrived at about 11:30, went straight in to the Rainforest Café as we were hungry which was nice, great food, setting and service. Got Fastpass+ for expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Primeval Whirl. Thoroughly enjoyed expedition Everest, first time on this attraction and thought it was one of the best. Primeval Whirl is a bit disappointing, more like a fairground type attraction. It stayed pretty chilly all day with temps hitting 17, it was cloudy but warm when the sun eventually came out which it did for the parade, it was pleasent! We had literally done everything in AK by about 4, I enjoyed this park but it seemed a lot smaller than the last time I had visited. Visited Vineland Premium Outlets on the way back to the hotel and picked up a few bargains! Ate at Red Lobster on I Drive at night, WOW beautiful meal, I got lobster, scallops, prawns and a side of snow crab legs, bill came to about $80 with tip for 2 courses and drinks. By now, you guys are probably thinking, when are these guys going to take a break? It may seem full on but me and my GF are both in good shape and alternate a chill holiday with an active one so we were more than happy to continue! I had taken to driving in the US like a duck to water and loved the Nissan!
Saturday 8th March 2014
Woke up at 7am to set off to Kennedy, got a bag of change to pay for the tolls. It was a beautiful morning and warm. Nice drive to KSC, had a little bit of trouble when we accidently came off the road that was taking us directly there as we got confused by a toll booth but nothing major. Some of you may find this funny, but I asked my GF to pass me a dollar note out of my wallet to which she responded there was no money in my wallet when there should have been about $160, panic took over and I managed to pull over in a residential area to check my bag in the boot. Luckily the money was there and we had a laugh about it after. Arrived at KSC for about 9:30 and did the Hubble Imax and Atlantis in the morning, WOW both are mind-blowing, especially Atlantis, I couldn’t get my head round the shuttle in front of me had been into space 33 times! I found the bus tour riveting, the driver was really knowledgeable and pointed our local wildlife as well as the launch pads! We saw snapping turtles, eagles and two crocs. The KSC was probably my highlight of the holiday, it was my first time and I was literally amazed by everything I saw and it made me very envious of the US and there space programme. We left at about 4:30, decided to call in at Universal Studios to ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket which was closed on first visit and to experience the Mardi Gras parade. Mild panic in the queues as there is a height restriction for this ride and I’m 6’5, luckily they didn’t make me walk under the measuring tool as I think I probably was too tall. Universal was packed for Mardi Gras, we enjoyed the floats but I reckon I would have enjoyed it more if I had a beer in my hand! Ate at Millers as it was about 9pm by the time we got back,I had a deserved 5 budweisers and a Mojito!
Sunday 9th March 2014
This was our planned chill day but with Aquatica only literally a 5 minute drive away we decided to go there to utilise our tickets and the beach area they had. Had Breakfast at Dennys before, peanut butter cup pancakes were outrageous! Chilled here until 4:30. We got changed and returned to I Drive Outlet as I was pretty tired first time round, didn’t buy much this time. Few bargains in Vans. We headed to Downtown Disney, and I really wish we hadn’t, waste of time IMO, not a lot Disney about it except the shops. 30 minute wait in Planet Hollywood and an hour in Rainforest Café so got a pizza in Wolfgang Puck which was quite cheap. There is construction all over the place as well.
Monday 10th March 2014
Returned car to Hyatt Regency, no problems and nothing to pay except the fuel which we prepaid, kind of wish we hadn’t though as there was about a third of the tank remaining. We then got the trolley to Seaworld to get the Shuttle to Busch Gardens, the coach stopped off at a few other locations to pick further people up which I wasn’t aware of and we arrived at Busch Gardens at about 11, really wish I kept the car for another day and just drove. Minimal queues at Busch all day, great weather although we got an absolute soaking on Congo Rapids (worse than Popeye at IOA). Cheetah Hunt is a great ride! Enjoyed all the bigger Rollercoasters here, I know you can’t compare them but Busch Gardens in terms of the animals is a lot better than AK. Bus set back off at 7:15, was supposed to be 7 but the driver waited for someone who wasn’t there even though they warned us to be on time! Got back to Seaworld at about 9 and jumped in a taxi, waited for trolley for 5 mins but couldn’t be bothered. Ate at Millers again (love that place), tried the Nachos and had to take them home in a doggy bag as they were absolutely huge!
Tuesday 11th March 2014
We got the shuttle from the Rosen Inn to Magic Kingdom before using Disney Transport to head to Hollywood Studios, arrived at about 11:30. We got Fastpass+ for Tower or Terror, Beauty and the Beast Show and the cars show as the times made sense as we wanting to head to Magic Kingdom later. Went single rider on Rock N Rollercoaster as the queue was 60 minutes, literally waited 5 mins in single rider and girlfriend was on the coaster just before me so worked out well. It was a glorious, hot day today and I was taking advantage of this to grab some last minute rays! Went on Tower or Terror and absolutely loved it! Watched the Beauty & Beast show and was pleasantly surprised, it was a really good show and my girlfriend thought it was brilliant. We then went on the Backlot tour which was good but could do with updating a little bit. Had a general wander round the park and grabbed some Lunch in the Sunshine. Thought the stunt show in the stadium was very impressive. (I’m running out of words for great/fantastic/awesome/brilliant/impressive here). We did everything we wanted to and headed to Magic Kingdom for about 5ish. My heart sank as we walked in as there was a massive crane up next to the Castle and we had came back for photos! Luckily, when we were about to get our photo taken it went down, phew! Got a load of photos and went on a few attractions we had missed out on the Thursday, spent a fortune in the shops as I promised my girlfriend anything we had left out of the food & drink money we would spend in there! Watched the parade and fireworks again and returned to the hotel at 11pm. Bit gutted to be leaving Disney but a great end to the Holiday!
Wednesday 12rd March 2014
Woke up at about 9am and got packed as we had to be out of room for 11am. It was raining slightly today. We got all packed up and put the luggage in storage. I then somehow managed to lose $50 cash out of my wallet (annoying). Headed over to (you guessed it) Millers, for some lunch and a drink. We were getting picked up by the shuttle at 15:50 to take us the airport, so had a look about Walgreens for some last minute gifts and had a wander in the Pointe. Got some last minute bargains, Tommy Hilfiger shirt for $22 dollars (£80 at home) got a shirt for my Dad for 10 dollars that had $89 on the tag, awesome! Chilled round the pool before waiting for the shuttle in the lobby. Now, I’m not going to say too much as its currently being investigated by Virgin BUT the Shuttle never arrived to take us to the airport and after speaking to the Virgin rep on the phone we found it went to the wrong hotel! She said she would send us a taxi from Mears, well 30 minutes later the taxi wasn’t here even though lots of Mears cabs were buzzing down I Drive. Eventually a Mears cab turned up but it wasn’t booked for us, he took us anyway and the driver sorted it on the phone so we didn’t have to pay as Virgin would be. I will divulge A LOT MORE when it is resolved on this as I was very very unhappy and there’s a lot more Virgin bashing to be done regarding the whole ridiculous situation. Checked in (we were on upper deck) on way home and security was straight forward. Duty Free was quite expensive but bought some Gin to take home. Great flight home, had no-one sat next to me so could stretch legs, was a lot quieter upstairs and really good service. Arrived home to a very cold Manchester and the 2 hour journey back to Teesside before four days off before returning to work!
I hope you enjoyed the review, I actually had great fun writing it, although it was time consuming! We had an unforgettable holiday in Orlando, Florida and cannot wait to our return (although I want 2 weeks on a beach somewhere next year!) Any questions, I am happy to respond!
Thanks for reading!