As you may know, last year after much discussion, Tom and I set our hearts on travelling to the USA to visit Orlando, Florida for the trip of a lifetime. We are big kids at heart and this holiday filled with adventure is something the two of us know we will love and remember forever! We wanted a holiday that suited the both of us, combining the best of both worlds, incorporating luxury, comfort, fun and adventure into one, at a reasonable price. So how have we done it? Here is an overview of how we have planned and booked our dream trip to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) in Orlando, Florida…
So firstly, Tom and I sat down with a notepad and pen and listed our requirements for the holiday – our likes, dislikes, what we needed in order for it to be a ‘dream’ holiday, how much we wanted to spend, and when we would like to travel. After much discussion, we decided our main priorities when booking this holiday would be:
- Luxury hotel at an affordable price – I am a snob at times, and I wasn’t willing to book the cheapest hotel in order to make this holiday a reality. I wanted to enjoy the amenities of a hotel, rather than simply use it as a pit stop between parks. For some, this is all they want, and that is fantastic as there are plenty of basic, cheap and cheerful hotels which provide everything you need to visit Orlando on a budget.
- Wifi – This is a no brainer really! I wanted a hotel which provided free wifi in rooms so that I can update my blog and keep up to date with emails as well as my social media channels.
- Direct flights to and from Orlando – Because, let’s face it, no one likes a stop over…even if you save yourself £100!
- Location – This matters to us a lot as we are not interested in hiring a car. This may well change when we arrive, but as it stands, we would rather be in a great location for public transport, as well as in walking distance to local shops, restaurants and only a stone throw away from the parks. This is why we have chosen to base ourselves just off of International Drive.
- Best of both worlds – We want a holiday which will be filled with adventure, luxury, relaxation and sunshine. We want to be able to go out to a park for thrill seeking days out, yet come back to our hotel for cocktails by the pool, or long baths to soothe our tired feet! We basically want to combine the craziness that is Disney & Universal with a calm, home-like hotel. Call me fussy…I just know what I want!
After noting down all of our requirements, we started our search for who to book it with. I am very glad we didn’t book it with the first person we spoke to as our trip would have been twice the price yet in a basic hotel. So my tips for deciding on who to book your holiday with:
- Ask friends, family and all in between – This is invaluable. If you speak to family and friends, ask them who they travelled with, how much they paid, where they stayed and what advice they would give before booking. I spoke with everyone, and learnt a lot before going ahead with our booking (including who I booked my trip with in the end!).
- Research on the internet – Use Trip Advisor for hotel reviews and price comparison. Look at all the major holiday providers and compare the price tags.
- Put your requirements first – Do not let a travel agent make the decisions for you. You will only be disappointed! During our first meet with a main travel agent (I won’t name names), but they were so insistent on us booking at a particular hotel, even though this was the cheapest and most basic hotel. I couldn’t understand it at first, until I looked up the hotel prices elsewhere and realised they were probably selling this hotel to us more than most as it was priced up ridiculously in their package deals, therefore they were probably going to earn the most from us! Lesson learnt!
After a few months of research, I realised there was only one place that kept coming up with reasonable prices for luxury hotels, and proved to be providing excellent service, and that was Kenwood Travel. I hadn’t heard of them before, but a close friend of mine had revealed she had used them a couple of years ago for her trip to Florida, and said that she couldn’t fault them. I spoke with Kenwood a couple of times, experiencing a slight mix of customer service (one lady was fantastic and wanted to help me create my dream trip, whereas the other lady lacked enthusiasm and that personal touch), however, I was willing to look past this knowing that I was booking the trip that I wanted for a price I was happy with.
However, with a holiday such as this one, you really need to look at budgeting and planning before going ahead with your booking. Things we considered:
- Park prices – So of course our main reason for travelling to Orlando is so that we can visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios! There are plenty more theme parks to visit, however, we’re not interested in visiting Seaworld (after watching Blackfish of course) and the others, so we needed to budget for tickets for just the two main theme parks.
- Shopping – a little birdy told me shopping over there is pretty darn good, so we’ve of course had to consider a budget for spending money. I’m very excited for visiting the malls, I have a feeling we might have to leave quite a lot of room in our cases for the way back!
- Transport – As we are not hiring a car, we have had to do some research into transportation around Orlando. We have decided to book our airport transportation with Mears (although not yet booked) and our hotel does have park transportation included in the resort fee. Also, our hotel is just off of International Drive, which is where the I-Ride Trolley runs daily and is only $18 pp for two weeks worth of travel!
Dream Trip Booked…
After all the planning, organising and saving we’ve done, and all the coffees that we’ve had, we can finally say that we’re all booked!!! We are now on countdown to our dream holiday, and we are seriously excited!! So, here is what we decided on…
We have booked our holiday package with Kenwood Travel as their prices were unbeatable. If you fancy taking a look at their holidays, here is the website: www.kenwoodtravel.co.uk.
There was a huge discussion when it came to which hotel to choose, however with the fantastic location, the brilliant amenities, the Trip Advisor reviews and the fact that the hotel has just finished renovations, it had to be The Point Orlando Resort!!! This hotel looks beautiful and with being voted 17 out of 335 hotels in Orlando on Trip Advisor, it seemed silly to not give it ago. The price was reasonable and the service I’ve received already from them (over the internet, Twitter and Instagram etc) has not gone amiss! I can not wait to be greeted at The Point Orlando Resort this June, I will be sure to give you a thorough review and overview of the hotel once we’ve returned from our trip. *WARNING* lots of travel reviews coming up on the blog!!!
Our flights are booked with Virgin Atlantic and I tried to book the earliest flight going out and the latest coming home so we had as much time as possible out there. I’m very excited for the flight as Tom has never flown long haul before so it’ll be such a lovely experience to do together! All the films and the free wine…dreamy!
I am booking hotel transfers with Mears who have been recommended to me by the hotel, the trip to and from the airport is only $66 which is about £46. It’s a shared transportation but that’s no bother to us, it just seems the easiest and most efficient way to travel to and from the airport.
Countdown – 100 Days
I literally will be counting down the days to our holiday now, it’ll come around so soon I know, so I must get planning our itinerary. I will be doing blog posts on our itinerary, packing lists, travel essentials for long haul flights and plenty more (let me know if there’s anything you’d quite like to see on the blog relating to our WDW trip!).
Soon-to-be Princess Jessica Xx