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Topic: First Timers Helpful (?) Info

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    Huw Elaine's husbands's name (that drove me mad for a year!)
    Hee hee.... he thinks he's famous now!!!

  2. #22
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    Lightbulb First Time Helpful Hints

    Over the last few months we've had a number of folk ask the same or similar questions so I thought I'd pull them together into one post. Now updated to reflect some changes.

    Travel Options

    Charter flight, leave on set dates and usually for set durations and mainly as part of a fly-drive or complete package holiday. Flight seat only is also possible with some carriers. Players in this market are TUI, Thomas Cook, Ken Wood Travel, On The Beach etc. Virgin Holidays and Ocean Florida could be included in this group, although they tend to use scheduled flights within their packages.

    Scheduled flight, either direct to Orlando, or indirect via Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia etc. Scheduled flights allow flexible flight dates. Indirect flights can be cheaper than direct.

    Fly-drive – flight and car hire, book you own accommodation.
    Package – flight, car hire (or transfer), accommodation.
    DIY – each element you require is booked separately. NB doing it this way can be cheaper, but remember you do not have ATOL and/or ABTA bonding if things go wrong.

    Entry to the USA - Visa or Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

    One of the most frequent questions is about needing a visa or whether you can travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). You can travel on the VWP if you have the correct passport, hold a return or onward travel ticket, and have NOT been arrested or convicted. See this link for more information - https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-...615.1452191018 or this https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...r-program.html

    If in doubt check with the US Embassy. And give yourself plenty of time, ideally before you book.

    The US Department of Homeland Security (Immigration) introduced the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) some years ago. The system is mandatory for VWP travel and needs to be completed for each traveller at least 72 hours before travel. If the ESTA system does not approve the traveller, you may need to apply for a Visa. Information on ESTA can be found here - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
    And the system accessed from here - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

    Please note that there are a number of web links to sites that charge for assisting with ESTA. The link above is direct to the ESTA system - there is a charge of $14 per peson when applying.

    Credit Card?

    Not everybody has or wants a credit card, but they are widely used in the USA, both VISA and MasterCard.

    Most of the car hire companies require a deposit to be left at the rental car desk by credit card, even if the car has been pre-paid and insured in the UK.

    Also if you hire a villa, especially through a tour operator, you may be expected to pay a security deposit to the management company with a credit card.

    And many hotels will ask for a credit card imprint when you check-in to cover incidentals, resort fees, etc.

    Cash/Traveller’s Cheques/Cash Card

    This question always gets asked – what should I take my spending money in? As with all things there are pros and cons.

    Cash – There is a good reason to take some dollar bills (and if possible coins) initially to pay for tolls, tips and small purchases on the first afternoon/evening. Cash is of course very flexible, but to take all your holiday in cash is a very risky option (your insurance may not cover you).
    Prepaid or Cash Card – a recent option. You ‘load’ the car up before you go and then use the card to draw dollars from ATMs or pay for goods, examples are FairFX, Post Office and Caxton. Can be used just like a Credit Card, including cash withdrawals from ATMs (albeit there may be a charge).
    Credit Card/Debit Card – widely used across the States, but users need to beware that the credit card provider charges for the withdrawing cash from ATMs, plus a user fee and you have no control over the exchange rate. Some card providers, for example Nationwide, the Post Office, Caxton and Revoult, do not charge for using the card in the US.
    Traveller’s Cheques – used to be an almost standard was to take money, and while they can still be used, more and more places will not take them. Also it can be difficult to buy them. They have generally been replaced in use by prepaid Cash Cards and Credit cards.

    The general view on the forum is to take money using a number of different ways, e.g. cash/Prepaid Cash Cards/credit card.

    If at all possible travel with a credit card, even if only for emergencies.

    Car or no car – that is the question

    Another key question – do I need a car or not? The answer is – it depends. And there are two schools of thought. The Yes and No!

    A car gives you much more flexibility for getting around, the option to leave the parks and return later (assuming you have the correct ticket), gives wider choice of where to eat, makes it easier to go shopping etc. It is recommended to book the car in the UK before travel as this is generally cheaper. Book direct with the Rental Companies, e.g. Alamo, Dollar, Budget, Thrifty etc. or via one of the rental agents such as https://www.alamo.co.uk/partners/members/brits/, http://www.discountfloridacarhire.co.uk/, http://www.usrentacar.co.uk/ or http://www.uscarhire.co.uk/

    No car means using shuttles, public transport or taxis (including Uber). For some this is the only option if they don’t drive, while for others it is their preferred choice. The Lynx bus system http://www.golynx.com/ is wide ranging and cost effective and the I-Trolley http://www.iridetrolley.com/ serves International Drive. Within Walt Disney World the buses and boats work well.

    Driving in Orlando is not difficult, most drivers say it is easier than in the UK. Ultimately, it’s your choice, but where you stay may make the decision for you. If you are on a villa holiday you will require a car.

    If you do take a car remember three things. Say NO THANKS to any extras at the rental desk; check the car has no damage before you leave the garage (if it does report it and get it recorded - even small stuff - or with Alamo change the car); when you return the car at the end of the holiday check the receipt, before you leave the garage, to make sure there are no added extras (if there are query them then).

    Oh and one more thing, remember to take the rental doc out of the car and take the receipt provided when you return the car and bring them home.

    Where to Stay?

    Well firstly in the World or outside the World? Disney World that is. Disney has a great choice of hotels to meet most budgets. On-site guests have a number of benefits including Extra Magic Hours, earlier access to book Fastpasses. All the hotels are connected by some form of transport, be it bus, boat or monorail.

    Another option is to stay at Universal Resort, where a guest benefit is the Front of the Line ticket option.

    Orlando has hundreds of hotels for tourists, mainly located along International Drive (about 13 miles top to bottom), in Kissimmee or Lake Buena Vista.

    The other option is to stay in a town house or villa. These are located in a number of communities at varying distance from the theme parks. Careful choice is recommended otherwise you can spend long periods driving from your holiday home to the parks.

    Reference Material

    There are numerous travel guides on the state of Florida and more particularly on Orlando and Walt Disney World/Universal Resort. However, most of the members on the forum would endorse ‘The Brits Guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World’ by Simon and Susan Veness, which is updated and published every November and available from all good bookshops or Amazon.

    Another useful publication is Steve Munn’s map to the tourist areas of Orlando, available from his website - http://orlandomaps.co.uk/

    And finally the ATD Forum and the members on here are a really good source of information which is based on their personal experiences.


    Simon has kindly provided a post on choosing park/attraction tickets and this can be found towards the start of the thread.
    Last edited by Tiggers Friend; 24-07-2019 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Updated to reflect recent changes and web links
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  3. #23
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    Excellent post (as always!) TF!

    Just adding, since this is something I hear a LOT from my clients, after the fact: If you have a problem at a hotel, villa, restaurant, car hire location, theme park...anywhere...address it with someone in a senior level position WHILE YOU ARE THERE. Don't wait until later that day, don't wait until you get home, don't wait until your next trip to Orlando. Address it immediately. If you wait until you get home and it's burned you up for a while, you're going to get a polite non-answer and will almost always come away from it with no resolution. If you wait until later in the day, you have 'no proof', and risk getting a less than satisfactory response.

    If your food is cold or incorrectly cooked, send it back. If your car hire bill has add-ons you didn't add on, don't leave the desk until they are removed. If an employee anywhere treats you rudely, ask the speak to a manager.

    Bottom line: speak up! But don't wait to do it.











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

  4. #24
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    For Information - I've updated this sticky so that the links are correct.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  5. #25
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    I've updated the sticky to reflect changes and repair the links.

    If anyone has any additions etc please let me know.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  6. #26
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    Prompted by Ret's Tips post I've updated this thread again. I can't believe it's nearly 11 years since I posted the first one!!!

    If anyone wants to suggest a change or addition let me know.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  7. #27
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    Eleven years, hey?! That might be a long time! But this all looks good to me

  8. #28
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    Great idea, TF! Thanks for your efforts!











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

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