Soon after Dad passed away, my partner and I had a trip planned to Orlando Florida to visit Disney World with our little girl. I remember thinking at the time, that I would rather go and lie on a beach and do nothing so that I could unwind after the events of the previous month, but in fact, it was just what the doctor ordered. We only went for a week, and my sons were with their father (I had a separate trip planned for me to take them on their own to visit Disney Land in Paris, for the following month, so that they would not need to waste time with Disney Princesses and rides intended for younger children).
We only had a week in Orlando, which quite honestly was not enough to do everything that I would liked to have done during our stay. I think it would be quite easy to spend 3 weeks in Orlando, and still not feel you had enough time. I have no idea how familes afford this however, since theme park tickets are astronomically priced!
We stayed in a modest hotel on International Drive called the Quality Inn, which was situated near the sling shot ride and a massive MacDonalds. It was okay, I wouldn’t go out of my way to stay there again, but it served it’s purpose, and lets face it, who goes to Orlando to stay in a 5* hotel? It’s not like you spend a lot of time in it unless you’re asleep!
On the day we arrived we went to The Florida Mall. We visited 4 Malls in Orlando, and this was by far the best, although the Designer Discount Outlets Mall at the Wet’n’Wild end was also worth a visit!
On day two, we spent our day wandering up and down International Drive and getting our bearings, and (visiting the Discount Designer outlets mall). We also spent some time in the hotel pool.
I am lucky enough to have a friend who works at Sea World, which is somewhere I have always wanted to visit since I was little and used to see the videos of their iconic Black and White Killer Whales performing. When she heard that I was there, she very kindly offered to give us some of her Staff tickets to allow us to visit the theme park for free! WOW! It saved us a huge amount (needless to say, she got a bouquet of flowers when I returned home).
Our 4 year old fell in love with ‘Shamu’ and who wouldn’t. It is literally awe-inspiring watching these amazing creatures perform and play for the audience. They clearly LOVE the attention. I was a bit gutted that we hadn’t been able to go just one week later, as that’s when they started re-allowing trainers back into the water with them after trainer was killed a few years ago.
I personally loved the dolphin show, but that’s because I personally have a real soft spot for them, and would love to swim with a dolphin. Apparently this is available at Discovery Cove, another Theme Park that Sea World own. I would definitely like to go back there, it’s meant to be an amazing ‘all inclusive’ place, with lots of hands on opportunities available. It comes with a hefty price tag, but it has notably been added to my Bucket List, along with the other major attractions that we didn’t get to visit.
EMMA’S FAMILY FUN RATING – 8.5/10 – This was a fantastic day out for families and older couples, though I imagine late teens-mid 20-somethings will find less appeal on the whole unless they are aquatic life fanatics. As a theme park there are only one or 2 notable rides.
- I would recommend taking a picnic, as the food here is a bit bland and over priced.
- Avoid eating at lunchtime, and snack throughout the day instead to take advantage of the shorter queues at lunch time
- Take a frozen bottle of water with you at the end of the day so that as it thaws you will still have a cold drink
- Take a swimming costume or trunks and possibly a towel for children as they have a splash zone which is a welcome cool off in hot weather
- Get the popular rides out of the way early in the day, to avoid the longest queues
- Take advantage of parent swap tickets for the grown up rides if your little ones are too small
- Arrive early for the shows (especially the Shamu Show) as you wont get seated otherwise. We were advised to arrive at least an hour early for the last Shamu show of the day.
- If you want to feed the dolphins, arrive early, as they only let a few people in at a time.
- Take plenty of sunscreen, if you get wet-you will need to re-apply!