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Our FL trip: the good, bad, and the ugly

March 9th, 2010 at 02:50 pm

Well, we're back from two weeks in Orlando and overall we had a great time.

The Good
~ A side-trip to the Everglades... awesome! You can read more about the Everglades on my travel blog if you're interested in the flora and fauna of this immense area. I took some great pictures of gators and birds.

~ Disney World... we visited the four parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) and Magic Kingdom twice. I bought our tickets from a discounter at Denny's at a good savings, paying $418 (including tax) for two adults for 5 days, single park per day option. I researched the best days to attend and we never had to wait more than 5 minutes for any of the rides.

~ Floridays Resort - For Week 1, we had a lovely two-bedroom apartment with all the amenities including free Internet, W/D, and a full kitchen. We got a good deal through Expedia and our accommodations came to ~$105 a night including the surcharge added upon checkout. It was located close to everything, but it was way more space than we needed. Two people do not need a two-bedroom apartment with three TVs but this was the smallest unit available. We probably could have saved a little more by shopping around (maybe ~$85 a day) but it was a last-minute trip. This is a great unit for 4-6 people and the resort is beautiful.

~ St. Augustine - This was an easy day-trip from Orlando. What a great, historic city with so much to see. In retrospect, we should have planned to stay several days. We used dh's senior pass, good at any national park, to get in free to the Castillo de San Marcos. Here I am at the city gates.


~ Our rental car from Alamo was a good deal... the pick up and delivery was easy, and we saved ~25% though Costco plus got a free day. This was a good investment because it gave us flexibility to go to the attractions or anywhere else without having to follow shuttle bus schedules. We were able to go to Tampa Bay, Daytona Beach, Miami, St. Augustine, the Everglades, and more.

~ Arabian Nights... this was a good dinner and an amazing performance featuring beautiful horses. We paid only $13 for the two of us to get in and had great seats. I'll explain more later.

The Bad
~ We went over budget on meals by ~ $9 a day... so not too bad. We just couldn't resist those snacks at Disney World, and they are not cheap. For example, a Haagen Daz bar was $3.75. I also had not budgeted $14 a day for parking at the Disney resorts, but it was well worth it to have the flexibility. But as much as I love to save and always have a budget, our travel account is padded so we can absorb going over budget without causing any distress.

~ The weather was COLD... even colder than back home in Silicon Valley, but we dealt with it by layering and it didn't dampen our spirits. It did mean no swimming or sunning, though.

~ I got sick... a serious sinus infection sidelined me for a day and required going to urgent care, but I was soon on the mend. The visit and 2 prescriptions were only $40, thanks to our good health insurance.

~ Westgate Lakes... Week 2 was at this resort and it was a timeshare exchange that cost only $139 for the week. That being said, I won't get too nit-picky, but let's just say we won't be staying there again if we can help it. Mostly, it has to do with the management and not the facilities which are older. We were given wrong information about basic things such as the location of the laundry facilities, the "free" breakfast, the housekeeping service, etc. At check-in, before giving your room key, they pressure guests into considering a timeshare sales pitch, which leads me to...

The Ugly
~ We decided to sit through their 90-minute timeshare sales pitch in order to get our almost-free tickets to Arabian Nights (normally ~$64 per person). We did not want to buy another timeshare and once they figured that out, they were rude and ugly. But they did "dismiss" us before the 90 minutes was up and we still got our tickets.

~ My dh actually went on two "scary" rides with me. After riding DINOSAUR at Animal Kingdom, I took a photo of the photo they try to sell you when you get off. We are the two on the right in the very back. Yeah... we are a pretty ugly sight, for sure. He also went on Thunder Mountain, so I'm proud of him, but I had to go on Space Mountain by myself.

9 Responses to “Our FL trip: the good, bad, and the ugly”

  1. monkeymama Says:

    Sounds like a great trip!

    We have gone to a few timeshare talks. We usually don't let them get to us. Or maybe lucked out with nice enough salesmen. But the last guy was really PISSED. Like, "why are you here wasting our time???" Oh please. Like you didn't BEG us to attend your timeshare presentation. I'd do it again, but it isn't exactly "fun!" We are always the first ones out of there! Wink

  2. Single Guy Says:

    The discounter at Denny's - is this someone you had planned to meet, or just someone going around asking if people wanted to buy tickets, or ?????? Just curious, as I may be going to FL next fall. Thanks.

  3. wowitsawonderfullife Says:

    Sounds like a fantastic vacation and going over budget a bit on food isn't worth worrying about. We also stayed at Westgate because it was free with our time share and we also found the sales pitch to be horrific. The only time we signed up again for a timeshare sales pitch was when our "award" for attending was a rental car for five days free of charge. FYI, these people negotiate their give aways!

  4. Analise Says:

    Single Guy - The Denny's on International Drive has a counter at the entrance that is run by www.orlando.savers.com. Their phone # is 1-800-472-4915. We saved about $65 over the gate price for Disney World. They sell tickets to other attractions as well.

  5. Thrifty Ray Says:

    what a great trip!! and kudos for staying so close to budget by being flexible and creative. Good ideas!

  6. Ima saver Says:

    I love St. Augustine's. It is my favorite city in florida. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

  7. Homebody Says:

    Sounds like overall a great trip. We have one of those pictures going down splash mountain at Disneyland. It is one of my favorites of our family. My mother was with us and went on the rides too. She was 65 or so at the time.

  8. dmontngrey Says:

    Thank you for the everglade pics. Loved them!! Smile

  9. Jerry Says:

    Oh, I can't STAND the hard-selling timeshare pitches! That is such a pain, and I'm sorry that you had to waste 90 minutes like that. Still, at least you had the insurance of getting to go to the Arabian Nights out of it. Sounds really cool, and like a great trip overall...
    Jerry

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