Orlando is my hometown. I moved there in the eighties before Universal, MGM, or Animal Kingdom was built. Oh those were the days in central Florida, when I-drive and Disney were smaller yet the main hubs. Things weren’t so crowded or complicated. Below are some of my favorite destinations/memories during those days…. Anyone from Orlando will know what they are. Sadly, these attractions are long gone. Orlando today is much more overwhelming… there’s more people, lights, sensory overload, and expense.
Flash forward to the present day and age. We opted for a long weekend trip to Orlando to see family over Easter and to take advantage of our companion pass on Southwest (which saved us $500 this trip). We stayed in two hotels, rented a car, ate out for all meals, and squeezed in a day at Islands of Adventure. In short, it was an expensive weekend despite the Southwest advantage and getting a good $10 a day deal with free gas on an Alamo full sized vehicle. Overall, it was a wonderful trip with plenty of sun and warm weather. That’s what counts as a New Yorker still surrounded by snow.
IOA UNIVERSAL TIPS:
1. In regards to rides, the Express pass is worth it. Or if you don’t mind being split up, try the single rider line. We had neither and only rode two rides. Each was a 60-70 min wait.
2. Eat lunch at Three Broomsticks. It was efficient and only took 20 minutes to receive our food. We opted for a chicken ribs plate (with roasted corn on cob) and fish and chips. My son had a butter beer and chicken strips. The corn was a little undercooked, but everything else was tasty!
3. You can buy your Harry Potter wand and items at the front store to avoid the crowds and mayhem in the small shops in the Harry Potter section. Our hotel actually sold many of the same items, and there wasn’t a 20 person line.
4. Have fun!
MY HOTEL SUGGESTION: Cabana Bay Beach Hotel
-Small rooms and no balcony
-No early check in or checkout givn to us
-Parking fee ($13 per day)
-Breakfast for a fee (8.95 in the diner or try the Starbucks. Hotel room only has a frig)
-Large and spread out (aka lots of walking)
+Newer hotel with a fun vibe (bathrooms stocked with VO5 and Zest!)
+Lazy river, slide, 2 pools plus outdoor games like baggo and lawn golf
+Free transport to Universal (5 min ride)
+Affordable price even for a holiday spring weekend: $199 per night
We will stay here again especially if my son has any say in it. He said it was the best vacation ever. 🙂