As there are only 3 weeks between my birthday and my best mate’s birthday, it was decided between our two families that we’d celebrate in style and travel to Florida for a joint birthday adventure! The other’s would drive down and meet me in Gatwick as I lived in Jersey at the time, and I would fly up to meet them there. We stayed overnight at the Copthorne hotel which was very nice, before jetting off on our morning flight to the United States.
Our flight had a stop-off in Atlanta where we had to switch planes before travelling onwards to Orlando International Airport. On the second plane we were lucky enough to have extra legroom seats, so the flight was comfortable (would have been even nicer if it had been on the longer flight to Atlanta beforehand!). We landed safely, collected our luggage and then collected our hire car, a lovely 7 seat Chrysler Voyager. We had fun getting lost for a while until we finally found the villa we were staying at!!! It was located in Champions Gate, a lovely area near Kissimee with good access for the Interstate 4 (their equivalent of our motorway). The villa was open plan and very spacious with 4 big bedrooms and its own private pool complete with the protective ‘cage’ to prevent all the insects etc interrupting your peace (a brilliant invention if ever I saw one!).
Due to jet-lag we got up really early the next morning, had a refreshing swim, especially as the water was still a tad chilly, then headed out. Over the next few days we covered all the Universal theme and water parks which were fantastic. Our favourite ride was the ‘Hulk’ and also the ‘Terminator’ 3D cinema, where the effects were superb. The evening street parades were very good too, and extremely enjoyable for us big kids as well as the little kids. Our favourite Universal park though was the ‘Wet n Wild’ water park, which was super as you could take a dip in the massive pools, go on the nerve-jangling rides, or just chill and listen to music while catching some rays – we went to ‘Wet n Wild’ about 3 or 4 times in total!
We went to Disney’s Magic Kingdom which was good even if it was just to say you’d been and experienced the magic of traditional Disney, although obviously it’s aimed at children more so than young adults. We did think the terror towers ride at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) was awesome though! Sea World was another place we visited and we all enjoyed it. Seeing the gigantic Shamu whale left you feeling very tiny indeed!!! And very wet! The ‘Kracken’ ride with its numerous loop-the-loops was one of the best rides of the whole trip also.
We had some nice meals out including visits to Bennigan’s and Outback which served up some pretty good food, although the real star of the show was the ‘Bahama Breeze’ near Belz on the I4, where kettle drums play on an attractive outside decked area and the cocktails and food inside are to die for – We went there twice and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone! One night we celebrated our birthdays with champagne around the villa pool – this really was the life to be living!
In my opinion, the only thing lacking in Orlando was a beach really – the nearest ones were 60km away, which we decided weren’t really worth the trip down there, no matter how good they are. This didn’t however detract very much from the overall holiday experience. We visited Kissimee Old Town and saw a car parade, and went on numerous shopping trips to Orlando’s extensive shopping malls – Belz in particular sticks in my mind as being good as there’s a Nike store there that was great for bargain trainers etc. In Florida mall, one of the surf shops even had a ‘Flowrider’ surf machine you could go on!
We all had a really good trip…
By Ben Charlton.