Who: Jelle Collignon and Heidi Willekens
When: April 2013
Destinations: Orlando, Tampa, Naples, Key West, Miami
Sights: Universal Resort Orlando, Walt Disney World, Bush Gardens Tampa, Naples, Everglades, The Florida Keys, Miami Art Deco District
Day 1: On our way to Florida
After a flight of 8 hours we still weren’t on American soil. We are flying with Air Canada and had a layover in Montréal, Canada. We had 4,5 hours before our next flight, more than enough we thought… Until we saw the line at the US Customs Preclearance. There were only 2 officers, due to the government shutdown that took effect today.. This could take some time.. People that were close to missing their connecting flight were prioritized, but after just 1 hour we could go to our gate.
Three hours later we could board our plane to Orlando. About 3,5 hours later we could see a lot of light on the ground below us. There was a wildfire below us! When we disembarked we immediately felt the difference in temperature with our trip in 2010. The temperature was very comfortable now.
After retreiving our luggage we picked up the car with Alamo. Around 11pm we arrived at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando. This is a very nice hotel near the Universal Orlando Resort. We bought some bottles of water in the nearby supermarket and went to bed. It will be a long day tomorrow.
Day 2: Universal’s Island of Adventure
We spent our first day in Orlando in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. We chose this park of the Universal Resort because it had the most spectacular attractions.
There were very long lines for every attraction, even early in the morning. Luckily there is a single rider line for most attractions. We made use of this single rider line a lot. Many times Heidi and I could even sit together. Waiting times were a lot less, about 10 to 20 minutes. At Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey we waited for about 5 minutes, while the normal lines would have taken us 2 hours!
Just outside the park there are many more things to do, like the Hard Rock Café, an NBA café and a Bubba Gump restaurant. We ended the first day with a cold Belgian beer.
Day 3: Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
On the second day in Orlando we visited the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. We were in the park very early, but we have never seen so many people in a themepark! Waitingtimes were as high as 3 hours. It is clearly visible that it’s Spring Break.. We have already done a lot of the attractions in 2010, so we skipped the ones with the longest lines and focussed on the rides we skipped in 2010.
The Fastpass system Disney uses in its parks were very useful on a day like this. In the afternoon we left the park and went to downtown Disney. It was much less busy here. We enjoyed the shops and had dinner in the Rainforest Café.
Day 4: Shop till you drop!
On the last day in Orlando we went shopping. We went to Florida Mall. After picking up a geocache on the parking lot we enjoyed all the shops and the food court. In the afternoon we left Orlando and drove to Tampa. After checking in at La Quinta Inn & Suites USF (Near Busch Gardens) we rested a bit before going to the Hard Rock Casino, one of the largest casino’s in Florida. We ate something in the food court of the casino and tried our luck on the roulette. One person in the casino was lucky. He could enter a glass bowl in the center of the casino. Money was being thrown in the bowl and the person had 1 minute to grab as many bills as possible from the air.