Disneyland Orlando and more - our personal experiences
Orlando vacation report
What a difference for a year ! Whereas 2007 gave us extremes of
heat and cold [ 88F on 2 days down to 30F early one morning, Xmas
2008 proved a lovely, consistent 68F - 80F. This time we based at
the top of I-Drive, next to Wet & Wild and Universal.
we did theme parks, only this time we deliberately avoided Disney.
We visited Busch Gardens in Tampa twice, and really enjoyed it,
but it's slightly less plus size friendly than Disney. We also visited
Seaworld's new water park,- Aquatica, which is similar to Wet &
Wild, but with a bigger area to sit down and chill out. Again, in
all parks, we found long queues immediately coming up to Xmas, and
into New Year, although queues were slightly smaller than '07. One
new tip - when you arrive in parks, travel anti-clockwise if you
are early - you will get shorter queues and more rides in as everyone
else usually travels clockwise.
one HUGE difference we saw this year was the attitude of service
staff. With the recession we know things are getting much harder,
but we as tourists could not help but notice how less friendly and
almost aggressive some waiters/waitresses, taxi-drivers, sales staff
etc. have become.
Back home we leave the tip on the table, and a good waiter gets
15% for good service - they have earned it !. Pre-tipping now seems
a norm in some places, with waiters chasing you looking for tips
BEFORE you have been served at all. As a tourist I don't like that
- I want to pay for what I get, not for what somebody might or might
not give me.
We also couldn't help but notice the number of "false" friends in
service and retail staff - who were sweetness itself - until you
decided that you didn't fancy the goods or other person they were
recommending that had something to sell you. They then became aggressive,
dismissive and blunt when you were not interested or didn't buy.
Orlando in general will need to watch out that this does not become
common place. We were thinking of returning next year, but the less
friendly attitude, and the "make the last buck from you"
stance of quite a few people who served us has put us off.
We will probably return in 2010, and see the Harry Potter park,
but if staff aren't more friendly it will be our last visit, which
would be a pity.
2007 Orlando vacation
Diane and I traveled with both our girls, aged 10 and 8. We spent
15 days in Orlando, mostly at the Disney parks, at the end of December
2007 and the first 6 days of January 08. All the parks were decorated
for Christmas and it was uplifting and festive. The wait times for
rides were not ridiculous in the first few days ( before Xmas )
but were very long between Xmas and New Year, and for the few days
in Jan. We went to all the Disney parks, to Universal Islands of
Adventure and Universal Studios, to Seaworld and to Wet & Wild.
We did not stay in a Disney hotel. For cheaper than a Disney value
resort, we stayed in a 4* hotel in the middle of International Drive.
We had a breakfast buffet every morning, ate one meal at the park
(we sometimes brought our own snacks to eat throughout the day)
and ate dinner either in International Drive or at the dinner buffet
back at the Hotel.
from a plus size viewpoint.
big downer we found was queues. Queues for everything, from admission,
to rides, to toilets, to dining. On really busy days we were lucky
to fit in 4 rides and a show. Credit to Disney, their fast-pass
system is as fair way as is possible of ensuring that you at least
get your favourite ride. Universal's Express-pass we thought of
as a complete rip-off. - pay $75 to get in, and then have to pay
$40 more or watch 'rich-kids' pass you out. We though that Express-pass
got totally disproportionate priority.
We found Disney expensive, especially for food. On crowded days,
even in Epcot where there are quite a lot of good restaurants, we
found it almost impossible to get into anything other than fast-food
after 5pm unless you pre-booked. Both Universal parks were much
better in this respect. Seaworld hasn't the same dining facilities
and usually shuts earlier.
Seaworld has just a few 'hills' but has many attractions with travelators
and wheelchair access. Universal's, Disney's and Seaworld's pathways
and roadways are wide, but on very crowded days progress was slow
for scooter users. The only exception to this was Disney's animal
kingdom, where roadways and paths are narrower.
didn't seem to have enough seats and benches to rest at.
other downer is that getting to Disney's parks, from anywhere other
than a resort hotel, takes so long. A taxi from mid International
Drive to Disney Central takes 40 minutes. The public bus takes well
over an hour. From Disney Central to the parks takes from 10 to
25 minutes more.
Plus Size Vacation
From a 'Plus
Size Friendly' point of view, we found Disney as a whole exceptional.
Staff were extremely helpful and friendly. Here Disney scored over
all other parks.
Transportation was also wonderful from a mobility viewpoint. Orlando
has kneeling buses with lifts for scooters and wheelchairs, decent
sized bus seats. Disney's parks had scooters for hire, and wide,
flat pathways. Most theaters had wheelchair accommodation.
The day time parades and the evening parades in Disney are amazing
- better than Universal's. Magic Kingdom's fireworks are brilliant,
Epcot's exceptional. We definitely feel the parks are for both adults
Another huge plus is that there are no mosquitos, however they've
managed to eliminate them.
Orlando is very plus size friendly - go there. If you can, avoid
weekends, public holidays and times when schoolkids are on holidays,
and your visit will be much more enjoyable, as you will be able
to do and see much more. If you are going to stay late at any Disney
Park, reserve your evening meal in advance. Also, PLAN AHEAD - if
you don't you will leave feeling that there was so much more you
could have done, but missed. If you are going to Disney get there
early - it may allow you get 2 or more fast pass tickets for popular
rides. Lastly, buy your park tickets on the net before you get there.
If you are staying for several days, buy a multi-day ticket to match
the length of your stay. You will save money by doing this.
We will too, God willing, before we go back there later this year.
PARADISE - A Size Friendly Vacation Club,
Riviera Maya - CANCUN, MEXICO
We have had positive feedback from viewers about this. Size- friendly
amenities include: Sturdy furniture, majority of (wide) armless
chairs and sun beds, few well marked stairs, just 2 story buildings
, standard rooms with sturdy comfortable beds (king or Dbl), walk-in
showers with grab bars, shower seat available upon request at reservation,
staff with a size-friendly attitude, activities for people of all
sizes and ages and a secluded white sand beach that is easy to walk
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