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beamer
12th Apr 2006, 09:04
Interesting article in the travel section of the Telegraph last weekend relating to the end of the British love affair with Florida and in particular Orlando. Whilst Miami and the Keys are holding up well, the Brits are getting bored with Orlando's charms and are becoming particuarly unimpressed with security and immigration procedures.

Any thoughts or stories about the latter ?

Saintsman
12th Apr 2006, 10:02
The trouble with Orlando is that it is mainly an activity holiday. Hard work and expensive.

What would you rather do. Laze by the pool with a cocktail in your hand or spend all day queuing at Disney with a coke for comfort?

Parapunter
12th Apr 2006, 10:05
Neither. Personally, I'd rather a 40 minute plane ride to Frannce & spend two weeks gliding over beautiful mountains, stuffing my face with pasta, pizza & beer at night. Sod the States for a game of soldiers.

Curious Pax
12th Apr 2006, 10:17
The trouble with Orlando is that it is mainly an activity holiday. Hard work and expensive.
What would you rather do. Laze by the pool with a cocktail in your hand or spend all day queuing at Disney with a coke for comfort?

The former, with a small dose of the latter, however Mrs CP and CP jr tell me otherwise! Coincidentally I was looking at the cost of going over at the end of Feb next year, and there are certainly cheap flights to be had - AMS-MCO via Dulles for under 300 quid each, incl tax.

BlooMoo
12th Apr 2006, 10:44
Just got back from a Disney trip with the kids and have to admit wife and I have decided it won't be happening again.

1) Way too expensive - 5 star prices for 3 star service
2) Constant queuing - even trying to go to a restaurant rather than the ubiquitous junk outlet and you have to line up before being told how long you have to wait
3) rides and facilities for kids ok (not as good as they think though) but when 9/10ths of all the time there is spent in queues then who cares
4) Airport OK I thought - although on way in there were HORRENDOUS queues for the monorail for departing passengers - too tired and wit kids in tow so kept eyes down - felt for them though.

All in all a pretty hellish trip - for same cost could have taken the kids to Mauritius or the like - more fun would have been had by all. Theres something depressing too about wandering about in crowds half of the people in which seem obese.

BM:(

jayteeto
12th Apr 2006, 12:13
I'm off in 3 weeks time for my fifth dose of Florida entertainment and I absolutely love it!! I have been peak and off peak and have the magic secret to avoid queues........ Planning!!
I can honestly say that I have never waited for a ride more than 30 mins, even in august. Arrive before opening time and go home by lunch time when the crowds build. Get on the star ride first and use fastpasses afterwards to miss the queues. Waterstones sell a Brit Guide to Orlando which tells you which are least busy days for each park and also goes into such detail as to which fork in a line to use to get the best seats etc etc. In the afternoon, have lunch in a quiet restaurant away from disney, go shopping/sunbathe and then go back to the park late on when the screaming brats have all gone home. I may just be lucky, but what a holiday!!

BenThere
12th Apr 2006, 12:49
Try staying in Melbourne/Cocoa Beach. It's less than an hour from Orlando, and you can stay on the ocean with a superb beach for the same cost as Orlando. You also have Nasa right there. Daytona Beach is similar. Rental cars and gas are cheap. Or check VRBO.com for well organized rentals by owners everywhere.

White Hart
12th Apr 2006, 13:03
Clearwater is a firm family favourite, and we've visited it on quite a few occasions. Done the Disney/Orlando thing when the kids were younger - wouldn't bother now.

Trouble with Florida now is the recent frequency of the hurricanes means that we're never sure if there's going to be anything left to go back to! :ugh:

Wycombe
12th Apr 2006, 13:28
I was in the MCO area in Feb with wife and 2 excited 7 year-old's - the secret for us was to plan, and plan not to overdo it - overall we had a great time, but I'd advise the following tips:

- Don't go to the Parks every day. there are *a lot* of other things to do, but you will need to have a car (not having one in this area seriously restricts your mobility)
- Don't stay in the Disney Hotels, they are expensive and don't offer the opportunity to get away from the 24*7 disney razzamataz & merchandising (unless you like it of course :rolleyes: )
- Don't stay in Maingate East or West, or International Drive. Go slightly further afield and avoid all the queues for what are really fast-food restaurants. You can still reach the main parks in under half and hour.
- Don't go when there is a public holiday in the US.
- Don't go in high Summer - it is too hot/humid/thundery/crowded. In mid Feb, it was 70's/80's most days, with no humidity and pleasant sunshine (rained twice in a fortnight)
- Do be prepared for a farcical and lengthy immigration/customs/security process at MCO (it may be better at Sanford, but only the charters go there).
Never before have I had a security check after leaving the aircraft, but that's the TSA for you!
- If you have any interest in aviation history, do go to "Fantasy of Flight" (Kermit Week's Musuem at Polk City, between Orlando and Tampa)
- If you any interest in spaceflight, do go to Kennedy Space Centre (about 1hr driving in a straight line from MCO itself)

Of course, this is never going to be a relaxing holiday, but if that's what you want, surely you wouldn't go to this part of Florida.

If you do like the rides, the "Rock'n'RollerCoaster" at Disney/MGM, the "Kraken" (9 loops :eek: ) at Seaworld and "Mission Space" at Epcot are musts from the ones we did. Fastpass where you can at the beginning of the day and avoid the queues (sorry "lines"!)

PS If it is falling out of fashion, the fact that VS can fill 3 744's every day of the year does not indicate it.

BALIX
12th Apr 2006, 13:57
Been twice, that's enought for the time being. Might go again if either of the junior Baleaux produce grandchildren many years from now. Enjoyed it both times. Stayed in rented villa with pool on both occasions - beats the shit out of hotels IMHO. You can come and go as you please, eat in if you want, eat out at the many cheap eateries if you prefer, laze by the pool of you can't face another day in the parks.
That being said, there are plenty more interesting places around the world to discover...

Ozzy
12th Apr 2006, 14:32
Try the other side. Took the Ozzy clan here (http://www.sanibel-resort.com/index2.asp)in February for a short break, very nice resort and ask for a room in the Grande Bay. For $15/day there's free continental breakfast, parking, afternoon tea, and beer and wine and appetizers in the evening.

Rent a car and drive up to Sanibel Island and then onto Captiva. In Captiva there is the Mucky Duck Pub (http://www.muckyduck.com/livebeachcam.htm), very popular and owned by an ex London bobby.

You can also drive over to Fort Myers Beach for some local, ahem, kulcha...(late night happy hours, music, bimbos, rednecks, lovely beach though)

Ozzy

HOGE
12th Apr 2006, 14:54
I have been to Florida many many times. First time in 1990 International Drive was ok. Last time I ventured that way a few years ago it was like Blackpool, but with sunshine. Very tacky.I figured the rot set in when I saw the first fish and chip shop appear on I-Drive.:yuk:

Much prefer the west side of Florida, especially Naples. If Florida is falling out of fashion, then we might get some cheaper flights:ok:

1972
12th Apr 2006, 14:59
Sorry to say it, but doesn't surprise me. The wife and I have never understood people's fascination with Florida. Sunny, wind-flattened, retirement state. :}

Curious Pax
12th Apr 2006, 16:31
Elaborating on what I and others have said earlier:

Pretty much endorse what Wycombe said, and would add:

routing via another US entry point and then arriving at MCO on a domestic flight can take away a lot of the stress. Have routed through Dulles a couple of times since 9/11 on bmi/UA and the security/immigration wasn't too bad.

If you have a family then a villa somewhere around Kissimmee is the route to go: private pool; no cleaners knocking on the door early in the morning; space to put the kid(s) to bed without forcing you to tiptoe round; you aren't forced to eat out if the kids are too tired/grumpy. I find the restaurants etc less crowded and more convivial than Intl Drive (in fact have only visited there once in a dozen trips and haven't bothered returning!). If I want an English pub and a chip shop I'll visit the real thing (apart from the one at Epcot, which is a great place to see the fireworks from if you book a table from 7pm onwards and ask for a view).

You sound like my Dad Balix - he would have sooner chewed his leg off until we went with extended family the first time we took CP jr (aged 2), whereupon he loved it. I think watching junior enjoying himself comprised 75% of it though.

As far as rides are concerned, Universal's Islands of Adventure is very good - you can tell that they learned a lot of lessons from their first park and from Disney's efforts. We were spoiled the first time we went as it was being previewed - most rides were operating normally, but there was hardly anyone there, and the entrance fee was reduced!

As far as guides are concerned, the annually updated Unofficial Guide to Disney is the one we swear by. By following their logic we have managed to keep queueing to 30 minutes or less even in August, which also meant that the heat wasn't too oppressive as we were in and out of air conditioned areas frequently.

Preferred time to visit is late March/Early April, but avoiding the week either side of Easter; or beginning of November. Unfortunately school holidays now constrain us.

(And as an aside it is worse here in The Netherlands than the UK as apart from 6 weeks in the summer and 2 weeks at Christmas they never seem to have more than a week off at a time, sprinkle random days off like confetti, and in May have 2 1-week holidays with 2 weeks back at school in between. Madness!)

Air-Geko
12th Apr 2006, 21:00
If I might be so bold, for those of you considering battling the mouse I suggest not the unofficial guidebook, but rather a website called tourguidemike.com The data is updated much more frequently (weekly at least) and the help there is much better. I've used this service a few times (yep, I survived a few rounds with the mouse) and it really makes it manageable.

tilewood
12th Apr 2006, 21:15
Can't think of anything worse than being cramped onto a a 7 hour
flight with loud and sweaty Brits in shells suits, all taking Wayne and
Tracy to Orlando.

Then having to wait in line with loud and sweaty Brits in shell suits at Orlando to go on some overpriced, and overhyped fairground ride.
No wonder Florida is losing it's charm.

But Disneyland , Orlando and Kissimmee are not Florida. Just go a few miles out, and you come to the true Florida State with courtesy and charm. America at it's best.

But then that's not how Florida markets itself to Britain.

Such a waste. I hope Tracy and Wayne have a good holiday, I just wonder
if they know where they have been!! :hmm:

Romeo Delta
12th Apr 2006, 22:59
You can also drive over to Fort Myers Beach for some local, ahem, kulcha...(late night happy hours, music, bimbos, rednecks, lovely beach though)
Ozzy

a-HEM!!! I am NOT a redneck! It's been YEARS since I cut off my mullet. :} :p :rolleyes: :cool:

Orlando is not at all indicative of the "REAL" Florida. But then, what is? We have several distinct parts of the state, none like the other. Orlando is all touristy. Miami is all Latin. Fort Myers is all retired. Tampa is all fun and games. The panhandle is pretty much redneck and military.

Come to the Gulf Coast. We're different here. Of course, we're afraid of all youse (we think you're all terrorists and scary people :rolleyes: or so says our school board). But we like ya nonetheless. :ok:

Keygrip
13th Apr 2006, 03:23
If you want to know ANYTHING about The Mouse House, you will find the answers at www.allearsnet.com (http://www.allearsnet.com)

Just found some amazing deals for UK residents on Mouse Tickets - have to be purchased in UK but brings park entry down to TEN POUNDS a day (including "park hopping" privileges).

Knowing some of the tricks can help you save a bundle. I took a party of 12 to a dinner show (US$40 each) and saved $100 on that visit alone (on a program that costs me just US$50 per year).

Bought night club (Pleasure Island) tickets, that usually cost $22 for one night - paid $16 for six nights entrance. That comes out to 1 pound 50 a night.

Local (off property) hotels can be had for US$35 a night - sleeps 4 (so $9 per person, including private bathroom, hotel swimming pool and high speed internet) and, often, free transport to the theme parks (Mouse, Universal or SeaWorld).

The HORRENDOUS queues for monorails fade very quickly when each "train" can carry 300 people (and the steam ferries carry 200). I've heard many times that NOBODY can move people like Disney can.

Two's in
13th Apr 2006, 03:38
Hang around MCO B side between 14:30 and 18:00 on any given day and then tell me less Brits are coming over. Since 9/11 the Brits and Brazilians (must be an alphabetical thing) have hardly budged in terms of tourist numbers to FL, despite a general fall off that is now just getting back to original numbers. One minute in Euro Disney is enough to make anyone a Florida zealot.

Idunno
13th Apr 2006, 05:14
Been going for years - and used to love it.
Now, its BOOOOOORING!
Not to mention CRAP weather!
Cold in Winter, Hurricanes in Summer.

I think my taste just matured eventually.
Florida is just so last week.

Idunno
13th Apr 2006, 05:15
Been going for years - and used to love it.
Now, its BOOOOOORING!
Not to mention CRAP weather!
Cold in Winter, Hurricanes in Summer.
I think my taste just matured eventually.
Florida is just so last week.

Romeo Delta
13th Apr 2006, 05:21
Cold in Winter,

Are you joking? What part of Florida have you been going to? You've got to get yourself south of Tallahassee! :rolleyes:

Our temps this winter were about 75-80 degrees. If that's too cold for you in winter, then you might as well go back home to Trinidad or whatever near-equatorial country you're from. :p :}

seacue
13th Apr 2006, 06:25
Mr R-D,

You see Florida as a resident. A week of cool weather is just a nuissance, but if that's all one's holiday it is a disaster. I've seen people huddled on the beach at Clearwater in 35-F weather in December - unusual, but true.

Cold weather http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sfc_con_temp.html
and cool sea http://www.wunderground.com/MAR/flm.html
come farther down the west coast of Florida than the east. But it can get pretty chilly for a few days at a time even at Ft Lauderdale. Beach weather isn't a sure thing from mid-December until about March, even in south Florida. There have been a few flakes of snow at Miami and my friend 60 miles north of Tampa had a 3-in snow a couple of winters ago. If you absolutely have to have beach weather during the winter, go at least partway down the chain of eastern Caribbean islands. Places like the Bahamas can be like Florida. I've had a chilly, rainy February week at Cancun if you're thinking Mexico.

All that said, I'm considering at least extended renting in Florida to escape winter. Here in Maryland we only have at most 4 months of beach weather each year.

I don't consider the tourist trap artificial entertainments near Orlando to be "Florida". They are in Florida because the weather allows 12-month operation and land was very cheap when they were established. Cheap help is also a reason.

ChrisVJ
13th Apr 2006, 08:38
Been going for years. (Oldest is thirty, youngest is thirteen.) Last time was last year. We started by using the unofficial guides but now we are more practised we just play it by ear. Last year we never queued more than ten minutes and mostly less than two or three, and that was in August. Use the fast passes. A couple of the rides, even the Mission Space and Test Track we rode round and round a couple of times without waiting.

Yes it gets hot in August but we toddle in around 8.30 or 9 am, play for three or four hours, then go off and play in the apartment pool, then if we still fancy it we go back around six or seven, do a couple of the less popular rides and get a table on the patio at the English pub (Epcot) to eat and watch the fireworks or take in a free show.

We had three weeks of timeshare to use up so we bought, I think, twelve day passes. Couple of days in each park, three or four days in water parks, a trip to NASA, a day at Fantasy of Flight. An air boat ride and some time at Florida Mall (Mrs VJ must get her fix, personally I am over that mall!) mixed in with four or five days where we just lazed by the resort pool, snacked lunch (how can kids spend so much time doing nothing worthwhile in a pool?) and ate take out to help balance the budget seemed just to eat up our 21 days.

Other holidays we have mixed it with a trip to the Keys, driven down from Atlanta (great trip,) stayed in Cocoa Beach, or St Pete or Clearwater, and one year we spent ten days in Naples. Sometimes we bought season tickets and went last week August and next year first week July. Then we might not go again for three or four years but for us it is attractive. The timeshare apartments are big, we are familiar enough with the area not to be stressed by culture shock and we know it well enough to eat reasonably and reasonably well.

All my life I disliked funfairs, circusses, midways, rodeos etc. I love Disney. We are currently Disneyed out but I know perfectly well when we have grandchildren we'll be off down there again and I'll still love it. I may be fashionable to knock plastic culture and it is an easy target but all it shows me is people take themselves far too seriously. My kids come home having learned awhole lot of interesting stuff everytime we go, including comparisons with a five week four country tour of Europe a couple of years ago.

With all the development going on houses and apartments are going to be better value than ever. If you are off Disney stay out of town and use it as a base for exploring the rest of Florida.

Oops, sorry, did not mean to rant. I love Florida, can you tell?

BIG MISTER
13th Apr 2006, 17:19
Its horses for courses. I've been a subscriber to the cheap and cheerful Big Boys week in the Spanish sun for years and loved it. But peoples choice of holidays has expanded and now that the Caribbean is some much cheaper than it was a few years back I can see why some are being tempted away.

But Florida still has a lot to offer and with some planning you can enjoy trouble free Disney or even head away from the normal 'follow the hurd' places and have a lot of fun.

I've been out here 6 times since 2000 when I ventured over to do my PPL.

Came back in 2001 for hours building and then every other time to get my hands on an aircraft for less than the cost of a monthly mortgage payment.

But this time (I'm still in the USA as I write) I decided that I'd follow the advise of a fellow ppruner and his late night NLP mutterings of 'mouse good , VOR bad' and hit the parks and do the 'holiday thing'.

WOW what have I been missing out on all these years !

Take today for example. I know that its the sunshine state but a quick look out the window and a chat with WXbrief would tell you that the day is 99%srubbed due to bad weather.

Rather than stay at the school moaning about the bloomin weather as I would have done in the past (us Brits are soooooo good at that) I'd jump in the car and head off to see the mouse or one of the 101 other attractions out here.

The chances are that most people are staying at home due to the clouds (but take it from me the rain is warmer here) and you will have a trouble free day at the parks or wherever else you head.

Or better still if the weathers good pack the kids off with mum to the parks and grab a bargin few hours overhead. You can fly a twin here for less than the cost of most C150's back home !

Yes I know that the Security is a pain at the airports (to and from) and I for one was really pissed off at the hoops you have to jump through to get a M1 Visa to do any 'training' out here. But the 2nd time around it was a lot less painful and in the years since 9/11 the US seems to have slowly got their act togeather and ironed out the early problems.

Its still a pain but its still worth the effort in the long run and as people have already said planning ahead is key ! :}