Tuesday, 24 June 2008
First off, congratulations to Sunshine on offering one of the best affiliate prizes I've ever heard of. Hats off to the team.
I've got a brand new passport just waiting to be used! Having never been abroad with my fiancée, I see this competition as a good attempt to!
The destination I've chosen is Orlando in Florida to supplement the content on Orlando Florida Holiday, a site I've created in around 2 weeks from scratch purposefully for this competition. Here's my itinerary:
Depart from Manchester to Orlando International via Virgin Atlantic. There's a 10:25 flight so if we caught that, we would land in sunny Orlando at 14:20 local time leaving enough time to transfer, check-in and explore the delights of hotel number 1: Doubletree Universal (4 stars)
This hotel claims to offer floor to ceiling windows with superb views over Orlando. Furthermore, there's a Starbucks on-site (reason enough?!) and a 32 inch flat screen TV (we don't have this luxury at home ;-) ) in the rooms. A room on a high level would be a great photo opportunity.
A complete day at Universal Studios. The Doubletree resort is at the entrance to Universal so we'll be first in line! The Simpson's ride looks good as does a few others. I imagine that it'll be very busy but we can stay to late safe in the knowledge that the hotel's next door :-)
Transfer to hotel number 2: Holiday Inn International Drive (3 stars). Aim to leave as late as possible from Doubletree and check in as early as possible to Holiday Inn. Don't really want to be dragging the bags around the place!
Spend the rest of the day exploring the delights of Holiday Inn and the local area.
I chose this resort because it's just across the road from Wet 'n Wild, one of Orlando's water theme parks. It also looks clean and tidy from the pictures I've seen. I'm surprised Holiday Inn only has 3 stars so I think an official verdict is required! It's also one of the rare places in coffee drinking Orlando that supplies tea making facilities - woo hoo! This one is similar to Doubletree in the fact that the hotel is more like a skyscraper so another high up room would be ideal for getting some snaps for the website.
You can't stay next door to Wet' n' Wild and not visit! I'm not sure whether we'll get a full day out of this but in the 30 degrees Celsius heat, a water park suits me to a T. I'm just a big kid at heart!
Transfer to hotel number 3: Floridays Resort Orlando International Drive (5 stars). We aim to leave as late as possible from Holiday Inn and check in as early as possible to Floridays. Again, we don't really want to be dragging the bags around the place!
Spend the rest of the day exploring the delights of Floridays as well as the local area. We've got to try the various swimming pools and take some photos from the balcony!
The reason I've chosen Floridays (what, apart from the 5 stars?!) is because of the luxurious surroundings not only in the suites but around the resort. It's located south of the main Orlando attractions so it would be ideal for exploring the 'lower down' attractions as well as the quieter areas Orlando has to offer. Plus, there's promise of a Jacuzzi bath in the suite. That alone is enough to tempt us!
The resort offers 2 or 3 bed suites and a suite features it's own fully equipped kitchen (a dishwasher and washing machine/dryer are standard!), living room and separate bedrooms. I also have a sneaking suspicion a suite offers more floorspace than our home!
Travel back up a bit on the free transport offered by the resort to SeaWorld. Failing that, the I-Drive trolley bus runs a short walk away. We'll probably get a unlimited pass for the I-Ride which operates daily up and down International Drive. Without a pass, it's just $1 anywhere one way. In fact, the local bus service is only $1.75 anywhere one way. Some we may be broke after all the attractions but at least we can ride the buses!
Aquatica is SeaWorld's water theme park so we may visit this as well, depending upon our experiences at Wet 'n Wild.
Orlando Premium Outlets is a short distance away so Friday becomes a day to buy the souvenirs and send the postcards (if not done already!). We promise to send Chris a postcard if we won!
Travel back to the UK. Boo hoo! The 18:15 flight is the earliest which means there's going to be a lot of waiting around, especially if we check out at 12. We'd arrive at 7.25am in Manchester with severe (but well worth it) jet lag :-)
Justification / Attractions / Costs
When Chris announced the competition, I had a look through the site and at the destinations available. I double checked that 'anywhere' really did mean 'anywhere'. I'm not that excited about European destinations. Whenever we have gone on holiday, we've travelled the UK. The furthest off-shore we have been is the Isle of Wight!
America appeals to me for some unknown reason. You'd find it extremely tough getting me to London but I'd happily visit New York for instance! Orlando has interested me because of the sun, the attractions (mainly Universal) and the atmosphere (from what I've read). Hotels here seem to be world's apart from the one's we've stayed in around the UK.
Orlando is a tourist region and so we expect to pay tourist prices. 3 of the theme parks listed above would cost just over £100 per person (eek!) so it makes sense to get a couple of FlexTicket's which gives access to more parks for the same amount of money.
Disney is on my 'must do before I die' list but I need kids first! If we did have kids and we were travelling to Orlando, 2 weeks would be required as the Brit's Guide to Orlando website suggests it takes a week just to 'whizz' through Disney World!
We wouldn't be looking at hiring a car as it's just a wasted expense if we're staying on International Drive. With the local transport on offer and the high car parking fees levied by attractions, a hire car doesn't make any sense. It does mean that we may not be able to visit M&M's World!
PS) Not sure whether it's relevant but my birthday falls in these dates so if I won, it would be a great birthday present!
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