A month in Florida - how best to spend it?


#1

We’ve been lucky enough to borrow a friend’s villa about 40 minutes from the Parks for a month next March. We’re huge Disneyland Paris fans but this is our first (and probably only) time out there with our three kids (10+). We’ve just signed up for the touringplans which looks great, but they seem more focused on if you just have a few days.
So I thought I’d ask here, how would you recommend we make use of 4 weeks near Orlando?
We’re from the UK so our initial plan is to get the 21 day disney pass (it’s barely any more than the 7 or 14 day) and we can also get a 14 day universal studio/seaworld group pass too. The extra days at disney just give us that bit of flexibility and space for some rest days too.
We’d love to do some other central florida things too, it’s not JUST about the parks.
All thoughts, advice and ideas welcome.
Thanks in advance.
Simon


#2

Depends on the kinds of things you like to do.

Heading over the Tampa area for the beach if you like beaches (the beaches are generally better on the Gulf side of Florida than the Atlantic side). You can also hit up Busch Gardens while you are there if you are so inclined.

On the other side of the state, you have the Kennedy Space Center. Some people like it, some don’t. Again, kind of up to what you want to do.

You can also do swamp boat tours.

Legoland’s another possibility (formerly Cypress Gardens).


#3

Oh great, Kennedy is a good addition, thank you. The tickets include Busch Gardens so that’s definitely on the agenda.
Good to know those are the best beaches, any recommendations? Tampa’s the nearest part of the coast to us.


#4

If you enjoy sports Spring Training baseball would be going on in March in Central FL.


#5

Well, truth is, I’m not much of a beach person. I know Clearwater Beach is popular. I’ve been to a couple beaches in that area personally, but I don’t remember which ones. One of the times I was in high school still and we were staying at a Condo right on the beach. As beaches go, it was beautiful (white sand, etc). Don’t know if it was St. Pete’s or Tampa. That area though.


#6

I would consider going down to the Florida Keys for a few days. Key West is lively and a nice place for a couple of days. Go and visit Hemmingway’s House and see (the descendants of) his 6-toed cats. And maybe 2-3 days on one of the smaller keys.

There’s also Miami, Fort Lauderdale (gawp at the houses on the canals) and the Treasure Coast. And the Everglades, which are near enough to Miami for a day trip.

Nearer Orlando definitely go to Kennedy Space Centre, Maybe up to Daytona Beach and the historic town of St Augustine’s, which claims to be the oldest town in the US - no idea if this is verified though.

And then there’s the West Coast, Naples and Tampa.

If I had 4 weeks, I would probably do a week in the south (Keys, Everglades), a week on the west coast for the beaches and 2 weeks in Orlando.


#7

If you do travel down Florida a bit and you think your kids might like that sort of thing, you might look into Butterfly World for a different sort of day.

Is a bit expensive, but the free guide books at the rest stops have some coupons to take the edge off.

We enjoyed it very much, besides just seeing the many types of butterflies, they do a great job of displaying educational info about them without making it feel school-like. Also, lots of crazy types of plants and flowers, plus a bird section where you can feed them, which our kids really loved.


#8

Amen! We love Clearwater!


#9

These are all really helpful, thank you everyone.
We’ve planned to do Miami and the Keys, as that’s where we’re flying in. So we thought we’d do an AirBnb or something and do Miami, the Keys and a day in the Everglades.
We hadn’t considered Daytona, interesting, and St Augustine’s looks great.


#10

Just a note about tickets. The way tickets are being purchased and for how long they are valid is changing on Oct 16th. Has there been any word about changes for the UK 21 day ticket? Either way, if you’re sure you’re doing this, I would be buying those tickets now. Don’t wait, because the ticket might not be available or at least not in it’s current form, in a few weeks.


#11

Like the resort parking fee, I don’t think they will be allowed to change the U.K. ticketing until the end of 2019 at the earliest, since they’re already on sale. EU laws prevent changes like that, so 7ntil we leave, we’re protected.

And there’s nothing on the U.K. Disney site either, suggesting they aren’t changing.

Even when they do, they may change the pricing structure, but I’m 99.999999% certain they will still offer 14 and 21 day tickets to us.


#12

Lots of good ideas here for Florida activities. As far as Disney Parks go, you almost don’t need a plan. If you have 3 days per park (12 days total) for visiting WDW (much less 21 days total), you can literally do anything you want, almost as much as you want.

Get FPP for Flight of Passage, Navi River Journey, 7DMT, Frozen and SDD for each time you want to do those, but you will be able to fill in around those FPP with all the other FPP for any attraction you want. Probably multiple times. Check out the evening shows at each park at least once… spend plenty of partial days in the parks interspersed with beaches, and pool time. You could easily Rope Drop at the MK on an 8:00 opening, spend three or 4 hours at MK, hop in the car, motor over to the beach (or Kennedy SPace Center), be there by 1 or 2, enjoy 4 or 5 hours of beachtime or something else, and be back in Orlando that evening.

Sounds like a great holiday.


#13

I’m new here too … but a WHOLE MONTH !!! WoW your gonna have the best time EVER !!! The only thing I would worry about is how any other holiday will ever stack up against this :joy:


#14

We are leaving for Captiva island next week! We love it there! The Ding Darling wildlife park is a mangrove forest on nearby Sanibel island and a great place to visit. There is also Sanibel Sea School there if kids are interested in going for a day. Another option is a dolphin cruise. You will see wild dolphins jumping and swimming next to the boat. The more you clap and whoop, the more they perform. It is so cool! I bet you can take dolphin cruises from other places along the gulf coast as well.

We are also planning to take a drive across Tamiami Trail (Rte 41) to Shark Valley tram tour and other stops along the way. We might go on Loop Rd? Our DD7’s wish is to see some alligators in the wild. Wish us luck! (Or maybe not!)

If you go to Clearwater make sure to stop in the aquarium and see Winter and Hope (the dolphins from the movies a dolphin’s tale based on a true story!) The aquarium is a rehab facility and their mission is helping return injured and orphaned wild life to their natural habitats and promote awareness. So a great facility to support!

Have a wonderful time in Florida!


#15

Thaks for that Ariadne, for the moment it seems our prices are unaffected - this is from one of the big resellers:
https://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk/walt-disney-world-resort/latest-news/will-i-be-affected-new-disney-ticket-pricing


#16

A month sounds lovely. I’d spend the first 3/4 mornings in theme parks, you’ll be up early. If you think of each week, how would you split it? 2 days at the villa, 1 day waterpark, 3 days at theme parks, 1 day venturing further away? I think the UK tickets for Universal and WDW will give you all the themepark fun you’ll need. I would add in Kennedy Space Centre, Seaworld and if you can afford it Discovery Cove.


#17

Yes, it is well documented that St. Augustine is the oldest, continuously occupied, town in the US. Actually, Pensacola (where I live) was the first permanently settled town in the US, however, due to a massive hurricane, it was abandoned for roughly 10 years before it was reestablished. Had it not been for that hurricane, Pensacola would have this honor…


#18

There are also many outdoor actities to do nearer to Orlando if you are wanting to go back to the place your friend is lending you nightly. The crystal river area is nearer to Tampa and you can swim with manatees in the wild. There are many natural springs to swim and canoe. Disney also has a conservation area and ringling brothers has a place where their elephants retired ( I haven’t seen that yet). There are is also a lot of shopping in Orlando (both malls and boutiques-winter park area)