Planning your Trip
- Ok so first I pick a time of the year so that there will be a festival or special event on. They do up the parks especially for these events and they dedicate special firework shows and light displays eg Halloween, Xmas or Disney anniversary. I like to go late September early October. The kids are back in school, it's still hot in Florida without being too hot and if you are there long enough the parks start to dress up for Halloween.
- I generally go for 3 weeks. Depending on your budget and availability from work. I find this gives me enough time to see everything (as there is lots to see around International Drive) with some time to rest in between visits to the parks.
- So depending on where you are flying from its best to fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO). This is only a half hour drive from International drive which is central to all the action. Sanford airport which is where some airlines fly into is over an hour away on the other side of the City.
- I never borrow a car as I feel if you stay on International Drive it is very easy to get around. If you have a car and drive to the theme parks you have to worry about parking at $15 a day let alone car hire and petrol prices. This is one of the deciding factors in which hotel I choose.
- Disney World has no public transport to speak of for people staying off campus. I always stay off campus as it is cheaper and you have more options. It takes two buses to get to Disney World from International Drive as this is to discourage people from clogging public transport which they want to keep for staff. The buses are irregular and should be used as a last resort especially late at night oh and then taxis which are very expensive.
- The other 3 factors in my decision for picking a hotel is price, location and shuttle transport. So I generally look for the cheapest hotel near Wet n Wild which provides free shuttle to Disney World. The reason I choose this location is that it is at the top of the International drive so if you want to visit the attractions you just have to walk down the street. The other is that from Wet n Wild it is only a 20 minute walk to Universal Studios so you don't need to a designated bus. It is also a 20 minute walk from Prime Outlets and Festival Bay Mall. The free shuttle to Disney World is very important as I never rent a car and it's a nightmare using public transport to get to Disney World so this has a big impact on the hotel. After this it is then down to what hotel price suits your budget.
- Another reason for choosing both the hotel at Wet n Wild and the 14 day flex ticket is that the flex ticket allows you free access into Universals City Walk. This is located in front of the Theme Parks and is like a village full of store's, restaurant's, bars and clubs. This is my favourite area for night entertainment as there is not many places on the I Drive. There is also a 20 screen Multiplex to catch the latest movies and an Imax screen. Again if your staying close to Wet N Wild it's only a 20 minute walk away.
- So when the dates are picked and flights and hotel booked a timetable is very handy to have so every morning you know what you are doing instead of waking up and asking what do we do today? I normally assign the first 5 days of a trip to Disney and block off the last 14 days as the flex ticket. The Disney visits are a must as there is 4 park's and five days however during the flex ticket days you can fit in other activities as unless your like me you wont go to each park twice. I research the opening hours and fill in the parks that are opened the longest for definite and then the others are moveable. Also a lot of parks put on night time shows and fireworks so make sure you account for them. I'll make a mock timetable for both 2 and 3 weeks so you can see what I mean. Please note that personally even though there are water parks on the ticket I never visit them as I find them boring but if you have kids it can be a good cheap day out.