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Orlando for the first time

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1. Posted by Azoth (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y

Azoth has indicated that this thread is about USA

Hello all, new member here.

My girlfriend and I are planning our first trip together this coming October and we are going to Orlando. We have both wanted to go our entire lives and this being our first trip together, I want it to be very special.

So a plea to all you world travellers, I need both general and specific advice about Orlando, such as places to see, places to avoid, ways to get good deals on tickets, places to eat, etc.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

2. Posted by travelover (Respected Member 494 posts) 12y

I'm actually heading down to Orlando myself... today to be exact! I've been before, but that was when I was 8 years old (it's been a while!) so from previous experience, I would recommend Disney World. I enjoyed the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Centre, and MGM Studios back then, and I think I will this time around as well! I'll let you know about the nightlife & entertainment scene after I get back!

3. Posted by travelover (Respected Member 494 posts) 12y

I'm actually heading down to Orlando myself... today to be exact! I've been before, but that was when I was 8 years old (it's been a while!) so from previous experience, I would recommend Disney World. I enjoyed the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Centre, and MGM Studios back then, and I think I will this time around as well! I'll let you know about the nightlife & entertainment scene after I get back!

4. Posted by rebmamber (Respected Member 40 posts) 12y

As a native Floridian, I try to avoid Orlando as much as possible. Not because I don't like it (in fact, there is a lot to do there!), but it is definitely a tourist mecca. This can be great (there are a lot of options for restaurants, hotels, nightlife, activities) or bad (crowded, expensive, t-shirt shops on every corner) depending on how you look at it. Having said that, people from all over the world flock to Orlando and find it to be a wonderful experience, they definitely cater to you and make sure that you have the best possible time.

I'm sure on your agenda will be theme parks. There are three different companies.
1) Disney World (which includes: Disney, Epcot Center, MGM, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizard Beach, and Animal Kingdom) By far the most popular, as well as the most expensive. Discount tickets can be purchased onlince for less than you can buy at the gate (type is "discount Disney tickets" in Google). Discount tickets can usually be found once in Orlando at various retailers. If you are planning on doing a park for multiple days or multiple parks, they have combo passes which are considerably cheaper and I would highly recommend doing that. It also makes it easier for you to enjoy the parks and not feel as though you have to rush to see everything in one day (the lines can get quite long).

2) Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure: Universal is great for any movie fans, lots of things to do, a few cool rides(nothing scary). Islands of Adventure is more geared toward action, a couple really great roller coasters are there, as well as some tamer rides. Discount tickets can be bought online also, and combo/multi-day passes are available.

3) Sea World and Discovery Cove: Great intereactions with marine life, shows, a couple rides. In the evening, they offer cheaper rates into the park and you can attend a luau, meal included.

Nightlife - Associated with the parks are many nightlife options which are happening almost everyday of the week. Disney has Pleasure Island, an aoutside strip of bars and clubs, one flat rate gets you into all of them. Universal has City Walk, which is cheaper than Pleasure Island and I think much, much better. You can walk around City Walk for free, eat at the Restaurants and go into the shops(unlike Pleasure Island). You only pay for entrance to the clubs and you can also purchase a pass for all of them (about $12). They have a jazz club, piano bar, hip-hop club, techno/house, reggae, and I think a couple others. There are several places to eat here including Hard Rock and Emeril's. There's a Planet Hollywood somewhere, too.

The House of Blues (near Pleasure Island) gets great national acts, check there schedule to see if anything is of interest to you. There is a Medieval Times place somewhere (see "The Cable Guy") which is supposed to be pretty entertaining. Also, downtown Orlando, about 10 minutes from Disney, offers a host of bars, clubs & restaurants, and they are generally close together. These will be most active on the weekends, however.

Hotels: There are a ludicrous amount of hotels to choose from - cheap to extremely expensive. Most hotels near the parks have free shuttles. If you plan on doing several different parks, choose one that's in between...the parks aren't too far from one another. If you know you are going to stick to one, try to find a hotel close to it. Online will probably be your best bet for good rates (orbitz, expedia) - most list which park they are near.

If you find that "happiness" is overwhelming you after a couple of days (you'll know what I mean after you ride "It's a small world"), Orlando is surrounded by numerous lakes which offer activities, and the beach is only a 45-minute drive away. If you find you are spending too much on all the "tourist traps", there are definitely cheaper places once you get away from the parks.

I hope this helps, and have a great time!

5. Posted by Azoth (Budding Member 2 posts) 12y

Thanks for all the info, that was great. I had no idea there was a House of Blues in Orlando. The ticket advice is good as well, I'll definitely get them online ahead of time.

Do you know which areas of Orlando we should avoid, if any? I don't want to be a stupid tourist and wander into a gang neighbourhood or anything like that.

We also plan on getting a car and travelling to Cape Canaveral and Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens to be specific. Any advice on those places?

6. Posted by rebmamber (Respected Member 40 posts) 12y

I do not know of any specific places to avoid, just use common sense. There are so many tourists in Orlando that they keep danger pretty contained and concealed. Cape Canaveral is a really nice, of course the Kennedy Space Center is good to spend a day exploring. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any scheduled launches until next year. Tampa has some good things to do. Of course Busch Gardens is great (probably my favorite of the parks) and across the street is Adventure Island water park. There is the Florida Aquarium in Tampa which is really nice, and if you like nightlife, nearby Ybor City is good for that. In St. Petersburg, right across the bay from Tamps, the Salvador Dali Musuem is wonderful. Of course, you are then near some really great beaches (i.e. Clearwater), something else to think about.