Date of stay: Oct 2011
Where you stayed: Windsor Hill Resort
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Florida is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world for young families so when I was invited to visit family out there I was a bit dubious. I am single and don’t have any children (I’m not really a fan of them!) so my first thought was ‘what exactly am I going to do out there apart from enjoy the fact that I’m not at work?’
The first leg of my trip saw me staying at my family’s home in Westchase, Tampa and after I’d gotten over the whole ‘stepford wives’ shock I was pleasantly surprised, everyone was so perfect, tanned, fit and healthy and the houses were immaculate; I’m sure there are parts of Tampa that are not like that but I didn’t get the opportunity to find out. The area was lovely and so clean, something you don’t see in many towns in the UK; not a piece of rubbish or any graffiti in sight! Even in October the air was warm, such a pleasant feeling and perfect for taking my Dad’s convertible for a drive (very slowly and carefully – the driving style out there is worth another blog post all on its own!). I really felt that I got to see what life in Florida is like, something I enjoy when I travel.
One of the best things was seeing America in action for Halloween – they really do go all out. I took a walk around the neighbourhood and it was lovely to see the houses decorated with pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls. I really wish we did that more in the UK – I might not have kids but I love celebrating the fun holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Bonfire Night!
Although Tampa is huge I only got to see a small part of it but the bit I saw I loved. People were friendly and there was the loveliest atmosphere and the ‘town centre’ was quaint and had a great choice of restaurants and a must have Starbucks. Now I know Westchase might not be tourist central but it’s actually a lovely and relaxing place to visit, great for golfers, shoppers, foodies and people who simply want to relax while their other half goes off to play 9 holes.
After over a week of R&R and a weight gain I am not prepared to disclose here it was off to Orlando for a couple of days.
You can’t go to Florida without visiting Orlando! I had always wanted to visit Disney World and even in my 20s I was so excited about going. I wasn’t disappointed.
We looked at hotels on the theme park site but, although they looked great, understandably they were designed for families and actually limited the choice of entertainment for people who don’t have young children. So we booked our accommodation through Windsor Hills Private Rentals.
Windsor Hills is a selection of properties for holiday rental and all located less than 2 miles from Disney World. They have a great choice of properties and the booking process was seamless, we simply selected the properties we were interested in and then the owners come back with individual quotations. You pick the offer you want to go with, confirm and then you are free to plan your stay! When we arrived the property was in great condition, clean and well kept, very comfortable. I never really knew stuff like that existed.
Having only really been to theme parks such as Alton Towers in the UK, which although impressive isn’t a patch on Disney World; even the drive into the park left me speechless! It was probably a Disney themed drive for 4 or 5 miles before we even got to the park.
"Orlando Top tip" – book your theme park tickets before you leave home – it will save you money!
Once we arrived getting into the park was so easy, the staff are all helpful and their process when dealing with so many people was flawless. We were lucky, because we stayed so close, to be able to visit the park over 2 days; you could easily spend a week here and the kids would never get bored. Favourite part was Epcot fireworks and seeing Disney celebrate Halloween (pumpkins and skeletons everywhere) and the parades, I think I was worse than the kids when I saw some of my favourite Disney characters...worst part was the It’s a Small World ride which, although a classic made my want to scream with boredom!
As well as Disney there are so many other attractions on offer from Universal Studios and Sea World to water parks, museums and a wide variety of entertaining shows, I didn’t get to them because of the time constraints of my visit which is a shame but it’s an excuse to go back!
Orlando really does have something for all the family and seems to follow Walt Disney in their quest to ‘make people happy’. I can understand why it’s so popular and not just with young families.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your hotel: Yes
Overall rating destination: 4.5 out of 5