17 April 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Florida!

Anyone who knows me, will know how much I am obsessed with Florida, Orlando to be exact and with Florida on the brain for the past month, I thought I'd do a blog covering everything you need to know on Orlando including the best parks, where to stay and when to go, so carry on reading if you wanna find out the 411...

Why Orlando?
If you're a theme park addict like myself, then Orlando is the perfect place for thrill seekers alike, it's home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios as well as Busch Gardens which is just outside of Tampa. Oh and SeaWorld, but we won't be mentioning that topic here... 

Not to mention, Florida is known as 'The Sunshine State' which means that it's basically hot all year round and your more than likely guaranteed good weather whenever you go. 

Is it for everyone? 
Even if you're not a big fan of rides, I'd still recommend giving it a go, if you're not a thrill seeker, there's still plenty of other stuff to stick your teeth into! 

The Parks 
Prepare for this section - it's looooong 

Walt Disney World 
Disney is every kids dream, from meeting your favourite princesses to seeing Cinderella's Castle up close and personal, Disney transports you into their universe and even if you're not a huge Disney fan, you can't help but feel the magic of these incredible parks. Walt Disney World is a huge resort, from a variety of hotels to ESPN and Downtown Disney, there's a selection of things to do for everyone. Here's a rough breakdown of the Disney parks and what to expect: 

Magic Kingdom - The most popular and probably most iconic of the parks, this is more for children and lacks thrill rides, however it's probably the most Disney-fied out of the lot as it's the home of Cinderella's Castle. Rides here include: Space Mountain, It's A Small World, The Haunted Mansion,  Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean. 
Tip: See the Wishes Fireworks display & visit the park in the evening 

Animal Kingdom - One of my favourite parks, Animal Kingdom has recently opened Pandora: The World of Avatar which features a brand new ride (can't wait to go on this one!), it's also home to Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids and Prime Evil Whirl. The thrill levels in this park vary so I do think you'll find something for everyone here. 
Tip: If you're looking to see some animals, go on the Kilimanjaro Safari where you can see real animals including lions, hippos and giraffes.

Hollywood Studios - Another one of my faves, Hollywood Studios is a behind the scenes of Disney and this includes a back lot tour of movie magic (double check if this one is still here), Hollywood Tower of Terror, Star Wars and of course, Rock n' Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith. Again, thrill levels at this park are varied and you'll find something for all ages, they are also opening a Toy Story Land in late June 2018. 
Tip: Wanna get out of the sun? Go and see one of Disney's amazing stunt shows!

EPCOT - Also stands for Every Person Comes Out Tired... kidding. EPCOT actually stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, which Walt Disney actually came up with himself, he wanted to build a park which was revolved around technology and new tomorrow's. EPCOT is a weird one, as it's split up into countries, which include a variety of different attractions and food, based on the country. Countries include: Mexico, United Kingdom, Norway and China. The attractions are pretty mediocre and this theme park is more of an experience as a whole, although I highly recommend going on Soarin' and Test Track. 
Tip: Adults - Bar crawl your way through EPCOT and try a beer in every country! (Remember, drinking age is 21)

Overwhelmed yet? It's okay, just hang in there... 

Disney also has two water parks named Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach - If you're going in the Winter, make sure you check their opening times. 

Now, let's more on to Universal Studios!

Universal Studios Resort 

Two parks, more amazing rides and the ultimate place for thrill seekers! The home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and this resort is without a doubt my favourite place to visit!

Universal Studios - The home of E.T, Harry Potter's Diagon Alley and the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, The Mummy Returns and Shrek 4-D, this park takes you through the streets of Hollywood and transports you into the world of movie's. The best place for a variety of thrill rides and experiences, including Despicable Me! Here you will also find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which includes the streets of London, Diagon Alley and the Knight Bus! 
Tip: Start of in this park first, get on the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station and head to the other park on an actual steam train!

Islands of Adventure - This park is, in my opinion, the best out of the two, as it plays homage to Jurassic Park, Toon Land including Pop Eye's River Barges and Hogwarts / Hogsmeade. It's the best out of the two for thrill rides and rollercoasters, including the Hulk! Also, I highly recommend going on Spider-Man as it's one of my favourites!
Tip: To skip the queues and avoid paying a ton of money for a FastPass, join the single riders queues, especially for all Harry Potter rides as they don't accept them on these attractions!

I'd also suggest buying a wand, as they are interactive around locations in the Harry Potter sections... 

When To Go: 

Think wisely here people, Florida is known as 'The Sunshine State' which is a clear indicator that it's hot whenever you go, however, if you go during the peak of summer, bare in mind that you're gonna be hot and sweaty whilst walking around theme parks = not enjoyable. Although everywhere is air-conditioned, you'll struggle to enjoy yourself in the humidity, plus, you'll likely encounter a thunderstorm everyday. 
Easter is a great time to go as it's not too hot but hot enough to feel like you're getting a tan and don't want to die of heat exhaustion, however October is probably the best time as it's cool but still hot enough to enjoy the sun and feel like you're on holiday! Plus, the crowds will have died down by this time of year (but I can't promise it won't be busy!) 

Where To Stay: 

Universal Studios Resort is home to some amazing hotels, food and entertainment, they have a selection of bars, clubs and even a cinema on site if you're getting sick and tired of the theme parks!

Disney has a hugeeee number of hotels for everyone's needs - The hotels are varied in price so I suggest checking them out on the Disney website to see what you're looking for. 

You can also stay in a villa, which is great as you probably save money on food and have access to a private pool, I'd suggest staying in a gated community as they're more safe and secure! Driving in America is crucial as everything is dotted about and isn't in walking distance, so if you can drive, then it'll deffo save you the hassle of getting buses / cabs everywhere! 

Here's some things to look out for while you're at Disney!

  • You can actually dine in Cinderella's Castle or the Be Our Guest restaurant where you can meet the Beast, just make sure you make a reservation waaaay in advance (fees apply). 
  • On Main street USA in Magic Kingdom, look above the Fire Station and see if you can find the lamp that never turns off, this was Walt Disney's secret apartment and the lamp remains constantly on as a reminder of his memory. 
  • The Haunted Mansion - Apparently if you see the board waiting time and it says 13 minute wait, then head right over, it means there is no queue! Same with the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.

And that's that! I hope I covered everything and I've convinced you to book that trip to Florida that you've always wanted to go on! If you have any questions, suggestions or stories about your trip, leave em in the comments! 



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