Lifestyle · Travel

A FORTNIGHT IN THE SUNSHINE STATE

July of this year saw me having an incredible two weeks in Orlando, Florida with Ian. This trip had been a long time coming. I had been to Orlando twice previously, once in 2003 and once in 2007, and for our (almost) six-year relationship, I had been bugging Ian about going together. When we booked, our countdown was 439 days. It was the quickest 439 days ever.

This post, admittedly, is going to be an overview and very rambly. I probably will break my time in Orlando down and do a few blog posts in more detail, I just don’t know when they’ll appear.

We flew direct from Glasgow (GLA) to Orlando International (MCO) with Thomas Cook and I can’t fault them. Before the trip, I heard a lot of comments/reviews from people saying they wouldn’t recommend using TC for a long haul flight and that Virgin were far superior. However, we had absolutely no issues and saved well over £200 each flying with TC. We had paid for a private transfer to take us from MCO to our accommodation which was fine, but when we were in America, we realised it would have been cheaper to just use Uber. 

We chose to stay in a hotel and it was beautiful. We stayed at Rosen Shingle Creek on Universal Boulevard and it was one of the most stunning hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The decor is quite traditional so probably not for you if you like a more modern feel. Our room was huge, we had two big double beds, an area with a chair and little coffee table, a desk (or y’know, dressing table), fridge, big TV, coffee maker, and a bathroom. The hotel has a whole host of amenities: several pools, sushi restaurant, burger restaurant, bar, Mexican restaurant, a Starbucks, shops… The list goes on. The hotel is a Universal partner hotel so they have free shuttles throughout the day to and from Universal. We’d purchased tickets before flying out but it also seemed super simple to get your hands on them within the hotel.

There seems to be a lot of places to buy attraction tickets from. Had we shopped around, we probably could have got a slightly better price but we were able to add them on to our TC package and this just seemed very simple and hassle free so we opted for this. We had tickets for all 6 Disney parks, including the water parks, and all 3 Universal parks, again including the water park. Neither of us are huge water park fans so we decided to just do one out of the three. As much as I love all things Disney, I actually preferred Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal just seemed a lot less manic. We only managed to fit in one day at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, and a day and a half at Epcot. We did, however, have a few days at Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure. Our tickets for Disney included the Memory Maker so we got all the ride photos and other photo opportunities digitally on the app which was great! I chose to do this at Universal and paid for their equivalent of the Memory Maker and it was so worth it. I love theme park photos so had I not had these photo passes, I’d have spent a lot of $$$ on buying each photo. Beyond the parks mentioned, we spent a few days shopping (a bit hit and miss but I’d love Hot Topic, Box Lunch, Bath and Body Works, and Barnes and Noble to come to the UK) and mornings or afternoons here and there just enjoying some chill time at the hotel. 

The food. It has to be mentioned, doesn’t it? We tried a lot of restaurants while we were in the states. One of our favourites that we returned to was Cici’s pizza, a really simple and cheap pizza and pasta buffet. Our bill those evenings came to about $25 and the pizza was so good. I wish we had Cici’s pizza in the UK. Another of my ultimate favourites was the Olive Garden but Ian didn’t agree (I think he just ordered wrong… *eye roll*). Writing this I just asked Ian about his favourite restaurant/meal from the trip and we got to talking and realised we went to so many great restaurants that we want to go back to… Bahama Breeze, Miller’s Ale House, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Longhorn Steakhouse, IHOP, and I would do just about anything for more donuts from Voodoo Donuts.

 

We didn’t hire a car and just used Uber to get about which was really easy to do. I’ve been meaning to total up how much we spent on Uber and compare it to the cost of car hire, insurance, and fuel to see if one comes out on top. Regardless, it was great that neither of us had to drive and we could both have a few drinks with dinner if we fancied. 

I think my ramble is over for now. We had an amazing two weeks and I’d love to go back to Orlando one day. I think it’s the kind of place that has something for everyone and while I do love the rides, Orlando is so much more than that so if you’re thinking of going… Go for it! 

Until next time, 

Shona x

(This was written prior to TC going into administration.)

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