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Topic: Florida first timers

  1. #1
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    Default Florida first timers

    Hi all. I've been recommended this forum as I'm looking to plan my first Florida trip for our Honeymoon. I've got rough budget, but would like some pointers on the best way to use it...

    We'll be going away after Spring Break in April 2015 for 16 nights. We want 11 nights in Orlando for parks, then 5 nights on the beach. We're currently thinking I-Drive then Clearwater. Any other suggestions welcome. We definitely want to do Universal and Disney Parks.

    The budget isn't massive (as weddings are EXPENSIVE). It will be about 5.5k, for 2 people, but that is to include everything (including spending money while we're there).

    So my questions is what is the best area to save money?

    Would people go more budget on hotels (Hilton rather than Hyatt/Sandpearl at clearwater, and Rosen Inn International rather than Crowne Plaza, and Thomas Cook rather than Virgin for flights) in order to have more spending money.

    Or would people go more luxury on hotels, as we'll be that shattered after the parks, that we're not likely to be going out shopping etc.

    Also, do we need to hire a car for the first part of the holiday, or do most hotels provide shuttles to the parks?

    What would people have done differently on their first visit.

    Thanks you for your help.

  2. #2
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    First of all, Welcome to the ATD forums, and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials!

    I'm sure you'll get lots of different answers and some excellent suggestions. Here are my thoughts:

    We'll be going away after Spring Break in April 2015 for 16 nights. We want 11 nights in Orlando for parks, then 5 nights on the beach. We're currently thinking I-Drive then Clearwater. Any other suggestions welcome. We definitely want to do Universal and Disney Parks.
    All excellent choices. Clearwater is nice because there is so much more to do than just the beach. Dolphin Landings has a fabulous dolphin-spotting tour out into the intercostal waterway; Clearwater Marine Aquarium has Winter, the dolphin from the Dolphin Tales movie (plus a neat eco=tour into the waterways); you could do the Sea Screamer power boat tour; and it makes a good base for short trips to places like St. Pete's, Ybor City, and Homosassa Springs for some manatee viewing.

    The budget isn't massive (as weddings are EXPENSIVE). It will be about 5.5k, for 2 people, but that is to include everything (including spending money while we're there). So my questions is what is the best area to save money?
    It depends on your priorities. It's very easy to find nice accommodation that won't break the budget without staying in a Hyatt or a Hilton. Chances are you're going to be spending most of your time in a park or doing the minor attractions, so it may be worth staying in a less expensive hotel (most are still very nice!). It's also easy to cut back on food costs by either having breakfast in your room or going to a cheap-and-cheerful buffet and filling up for very little money, to keep you going until dinner. Dining in the parks adds up quickly, so if you can have breakfast and/or dinner outside the parks, you'll save significantly.


    Would people go more budget on hotels (Hilton rather than Hyatt/Sandpearl at clearwater, and Rosen Inn International rather than Crowne Plaza, and Thomas Cook rather than Virgin for flights) in order to have more spending money.
    As first-timers, I would definitely suggest a moderately priced hotel rather than a resort hotel. You aren't likely to spend a lot of time in your room.

    Or would people go more luxury on hotels, as we'll be that shattered after the parks, that we're not likely to be going out shopping etc.
    I would count this as another reason to stay in a moderate. While you're in your room, you'll be sleeping. No need for a lot of extra amenities. And just because you won't be shopping doesn't mean you won't want to do some free evening things like strolling around Downtown Disney or Disney's Boardwalk Resort, walking along I-Drive, going to Old Town, etc.

    Also, do we need to hire a car for the first part of the holiday, or do most hotels provide shuttles to the parks?
    Many hotels have a shuttle, but it's usually either only to Disney or only to Universal. A few have shuttles to both, but now you're looking at a more expensive hotel. I would always recommend a car, but you WILL save significant $$$ by using public transportation. This might be a good reason to stay on International Drive, as you can get the Lynx bus to all of the parks. What you'll save in money you'll pay for in time though, so it's worth weighing up how much time you want to spend on a bus and if you'd rather spend the money. Much will depend on where you end up staying, though. Obviously, you'll need one for the coast.

    What would people have done differently on their first visit.
    My first visit doesn't count (Magic Kingdom was the only park in town!), but on visits as an adult where I was the one planning, I would say "plan less rather than more", meaning, don't try to pack your holiday full. Don't try to do everything (you won't be able to anyway!), just pick a few parks (as you are already doing) and slow down. Enjoy the parks at a relaxed pace rather than rushing around like mad. You'll enjoy them more and remember them better. Besides, it's your Honeymoon! Leisurely is good.











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you Im not messing around, use the gifts you were given.

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    Hi and welcome from me... Susan seems to have covered your questions. Just to say it will be well worth buying her and Simons book "The Brits guide to Orlando" It can be purchased on Amazon and is worth every penny. We returned from our 15th trip in May and still buy a new edition as it is so informative.
    We have done the Dolphin Landings boat trip for 3 times and it is a lovely relaxing way to view them. We did Little Toot in Clearwater this holiday for a change and really enjoyed that too.
    I will also say don't try to do everything, there is just so much to do and see it isn't possible to fit it all in in one trip. Means you will have to return again as most of us on here do....

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    Hi and welcome to the forum.

    I've not much to offer over what Susan has said except to consider a night in one of the Universal deluxe hotels as this will give you unlimited express passes for nearly every ride in their parks for two days. If you look around the web you can normally find deals so it is not huge money.

    I'd also recommend a car, it will give you so much more freedom than hotel shuttles or public transport.

    As for budget we have spent around what you have for three adults for 18 days including tickets, car, flights, accommodation and spending money for our trip Monday, so it can be done.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.




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    Susan has covered virtually everything and very well and i would certainly agree with the hotel advice. First time in Orlando you really won't be spending a lot of time in it other than sleeping so less rather than more would be my advice.

    Me and my wife paid for our sons honeymoon trip to Orlando 3 years ago (his first trip there) and they had 10 days on International drive and said they could not have had a better honeymoon. Maybe you could do what they did and get people to buy wedding presents based around the honeymoon (dollars, park tickets etc), that would increase your options. By the time they went they had loads of dollars and the park tickets bought and a couple of other people paid for a Discovery Cove visit.


    I don't want to really recomend too much but i would say stay close to or on International Drive, it's probably central to everything that goes on and is easy to get everywhere if you choose not to drive. Again i would agree with Susan, don't try to cram everything in to 11 days as you might just do it but you will be skipping through things. Universal has the 2 main parks and Disney has 4 main parks but you then also have Seaworld, Aquatica, the 2 Disney water parks, Wet 'n Wild, Discovery Cove and also all that International Drive has to offer as well. A car would help as it saves time but then have to factor in the cost of the hire, petrol, car parking charges etc. Doing just the 4 Disney parks and the 2 universal parks will cost around 850 for park tickets alone without all the others.

    Package V booking everything seperate. First year we went we went package but now we always book everything seperate as it does save money. A good start might be to work out each costing on the holiday. Pump in the dates to package sites like Virgin, Thomson, Thomas Cook etc and see what they come in at. Then have a look at flight only deals and the cost of a hotel on a hotel site like Trivago, Hotels.com, Booking.com or even Virgins hotel only section and see what the differance is. You don't need a car, you can get around very easily with the shuttles and the public transport, we did for 9 years before we hired a car for the first time last March. What a car does do is save you a massive amount of time and on a short stay in orlando that could be very good. Getting to the Universal parks from International Drive is very easy as it is about a 12 min walk from Wet 'n Wild which is on International Drive. Disney is one Lynx bus from Seaworld.

    Clearwater beach is lovely and i'm not really a beach person . We stayed one night on our trip last March but we're breaking our Orlando trip this November with 2 night there.
    Last edited by Superspur; 22-08-2014 at 05:15 PM.

  6. #6

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    Hi and welcome from me too.

    I think you're best off getting a car, it gives you so much more flexibility. Usually the mid and cheaper hotels only have 1 or 2 fixed times for the shuttles and public transport can waste a lot of your day. With only 2 of you you can go for the cheapest car. They don't have much luggage space but what doesn't fit in the trunk can go on the back seats.

  7. #7
    Rachwalsh is offline Used The "We Booked Again" Salve To Ease Pain Of Return From Orlando!
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    Hi Chris

    Glad you took on my recommendation everyone is lovely on here and so helpful. It really will help you plan the perfect honeymoon!

    Ask anything and you will get an answer and don't ever feel like your question might seem stupid or obvious.

    My tip is enjoy the planning and be prepared as it makes for a better trip.

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    Hi Chris, another welcome from me!

    All the advice given upto now is superb, but I'll add to the hotel thing. When we went in 2011 we stayed at the Four Points Studio City, an excellent hotel. Last time this hotel was way out of our price band, so it was a case of either economise or not go. Reluctantly I booked at the Rosen Inn as it was the best I could get in the price range. It was great. Clean, helpful staff, yes it was very basic, but what more do you need, you're in Orlando. Would not hesitate to stay there again. So my advice, stay cheap but good and save the extra cash for the best food you will ever eat!
    April 1991 International Gateway Inn
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  9. #9

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    Superb advise from everyone.

    I would also highly recommend Susan and Simon' guide to Orlando book, I purchased one way back in 1997 for our first visit and I read it from cover to cover prior to the holiday and planned our itinerary around it and it is advisable to work out an itinerary or you could waste a day here and there deciding what you want to do, so even though you might not stick to it rigidly it does give you some sort of structure.

    My son and his wife got married in Orlando 2012 and honeymooned there, it is a fabulous place to celebrate your marriage and you will experience many magical moments.

    Try not to cram too much in and have some "free days" because you will need them!

    Although you don't really want to spend time shopping like Susan said you really must find time to go to Downtown Disney the atmosphere is magical.

    Whatever you decide you will have an incredible honeymoon
    Last edited by Clemintina; 23-08-2014 at 11:06 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seth1970 View Post
    Reluctantly I booked at the Rosen Inn as it was the best I could get in the price range. It was great. Clean, helpful staff, yes it was very basic, but what more do you need, you're in Orlando. Would not hesitate to stay there again. So my advice, stay cheap but good and save the extra cash for the best food you will ever eat!

    Seth, we always stayed at the International Palms resort and we were pretty dissapointed we couldn't get in there last March so reluctantly we stayed at the Rosen next door. We enjoyed it so much we have booked to stay there this November and next July. It's a lovely hotel.

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