Orlando, Florida

Andrea Lovatt on 14 November 1997
Although it was some years ago I went to Florida, I still have very vivid memories of such a wonderful trip. I flew to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic which was a great way to start my holiday. The flight was excellent and we had our very own personal tv screens with loads of films and Nintendo games that kept us entertained during our flight. I stayed on International Drive which is the main road that runs for 14 miles straight through Orlando. This was the best place for us to stay as we did not hire a car so we needed to choose a hotel that had free shuttle buses to all of the attractions. Lots of hotels do offer this if, like us, you would rather not drive in America. We were right in the middle of everything and all of the attractions, the shops and factory outlets were within easy reach. Shopping is excellent in Orlando and if I went again I think I would take a spare suitcase to bring back all the cheap clothes I bought! The restaurants are excellent in Orlando. All along International Drive are steakhouses and 'all you can eat' buffet restaurants which were so cheap but by the end of our holiday, we were a bit fed up with the same type of food and the amounts of it!! On a few occasions, we were so tired after the long days in the park that we just ordered pizza to be delivered to our hotel room! I want to tell you about some of the parks we visited, although since I went, there are now lots more! After a nights sleep, we spent our first day at 'Blizzard Beach' which is one of Disney’s waterparks as we thought this would be a bit more of a relaxing day in the sun. It was brilliant. It is quite a bit newer than Disney’s other waterpark (Typhoon Lagoon). It is set up like a ski resort with snow (not real obviously!) and had ski lifts and toboggan runs as well as the scary 'Summit Plummet' waterslide that we did all have a go on. We spent our next few days at 'Magic Kingdom' which was great but probably better for kids, 'MGM Studios' which we loved as it had just opened its newest attraction … 'The Hollywood Tower of Terror' where you get dropped in a lift and 'Epcot' which I really loved as it was very different from the other Disney parks. When you first arrive you go into 'Future World' which is the big golf ball you have probably seen in lots of pictures, which is full of interactive and futuristic games and things. Then we went to the second part of the park ‘World Showcase’ which was my favourite! We walked through the different countries including Japan, China, England, America and Norway where each country had its own shops, restaurants and rides and lots of other little hidden gems. 'Epcot' also has one of the best firework displays I ever seen! The only Disney park that I haven’t been to is 'Animal Kingdom' as that opened about a year after I went to Orlando but I would love to go back and visit! During our two weeks in Orlando, we also spent a day at 'Universal Studios' which I loved, again because it was different to the Disney parks but thought it was a little dated. 'Jaws' and 'King Kong' were the best rides. I haven’t been to their new park (Islands of Adventure) as again this hadn’t been built but friends of mine have told me it is better, again, with bigger, better and more up-to-date rides. We did travel down to Tampa to 'Busch Gardens' which was really good and has lots of rides but lots of animals too. Although I had a great day there, now that the newer parks and 'Animal Kingdom' has opened, I don’t think there would be any need to go there again. Aswell as a few shopping days and second visits to some of the parks above, I have left my favourite until last … 'Seaworld'. This was brilliant and definitely my favourite park in Orlando. We watched the killer whale show during the day and then again at night as it is totally different and much more spectacular with all the underwater lighting. As well as seeing lots of other things here, we spent a lot of the day at the dolphin lagoon where we bought little trays of fish to feed to the dolphins. They kept throwing themselves up onto the ledges around the inside of the pool so you could lean in and have a cuddle! Once again, a new park ‘Discovery Cove’ has opened since my visit where you can actually swim with the dolphins. This will be a must if I ever return to Florida! I am hoping to go back to Orlando sometime in the next few years but if I do I might consider staying in a villa with a private pool instead of a hotel as I think this would be much more relaxing, although that would mean I would definitely have to hire a car as they are a little further out of Orlando!