Florida 2014 Trip Report

Posted on October 21, 2014

this was our 6th trip in 7 years, and we were'nt really planning on going as we are saving for a house, but after we got bought flights for O's 30th and cheap accommodation at our friends villa, after the year at work we've both had, we were in desperate need of some time away to relax. so for this trip the emphasis was on taking it easy! it definitely did the job 🙂

we had pre-loaded the fairfx card with around $1200, took around $60 in cash. we took $200 out at an ATM whilst there, but everything else went on the plastic. we topped up the fairfx a couple of times while we were out there. we came home with $1.26 left on it, so no need to change any money back!)

thurs 2nd - the flight!

up at 5am, picked up at 6:30, airport for ~7am, no queue at baggage checkin, ~10 min wait at security.

plane leaves bang on time, great flight. only issue was the "flight tracker" wasn't working on the tv

arrive at sanford. through immigration in 15 mins, but waited around 20 mins for bags to finally come out, straight to the counter at alamo, no hard sell, straight to the lot and into a mazda cx5 SUV.

straight down the toll road, stop off at publix for supplies. tried to pay on fairfx card. asked for pin. despite entering the correct pin, it would accept it. turns out i was selecting DEBIT (im sure thats what i did in the past when using it?!) so ended up spending it on my halifax clarity backup card

total ~$90

fri 3rd

up early and in the pool.

target - $21.32

dollar tree for random bits - $18.84

AYCE breakfast at sizzler on the 192. average food, not as much of a selection as i was expecting. $17.94 for two including drinks

walmart big shop - $239.94

liquor store for posh vodka (belvedere) and some flavoured smirnoff miniatures - $31.75


total $329.79

sat 4th

premium outlets (vineland) - get free VIP voucher book. realise the bose store is at the other outlets. disney outlet $21.32, claires $17.04

premium outlets (i-drive) - get VIP booklet. bose store. get refurb soundlink mini (as new with full warranty, $179 vs $199 for new) plus carry case with 10% off

other claires - $16.61

5 guys in the food court, great burger (as always) - $12.55 for bacon cheeseburger and regular fries

O had bourbon chicken, which was ok… (cost around $10 inc drink - paid cash)

trip to wholefoods (turns out we went to one at winter park (theres one much closer on sandlake rd).  winter park is a *beautiful* area. definitely up there with windermere as a place i would like to live!. bought sushi and some biscuits/cake - $23.54

cash machine at the bank at champions gate. get $200. cost $3 in atm fees plus $2 in fairfx fees ($205)

silver spurs arena, kissimee. $20pp entry. well worth the trip hotdogs/burger/nachos/beers were all around $4/5 each

total - approx $160 (not including cash withdrawal and the bose store!)
 rodeo-hotdogs rodeo2rodeo1

sun 5th

wake up with terrible heartburn, 6am trip to 24hr walgreens for antacid and bits $14.17

circle k for redbulls, coffee and breakfast (grim. sausage and egg croissant. AVOID! it was like a greasy tasteless egg mcmuffin. i should have paid a bit extra and gone over the road to mcdonalds!) $11.96

universal IOA. did all the wet rides as well as harry potter $17 parking

publix for bits $58.29

pool for a few hours then HHN at US at opening time, did the bulk of the houses early on before the queues got silly as well as transformers (good, but just a re-themed spiderman ride), the mummy, and rip-it-rock-it TWICE (although the music wasnt working for some reason)

stop off for a huge bottle of wine from walgreens on the way home $10.69

up drinking wine and floating in the pool till 4am


total - $112.11 (but included shopping and booze for a few days)


mon 6th

late one - didnt wake up till nearly noon

florida mall. second 5 guys of the trip, got a hotdog this time though (o had her first 5guys burger) - plus regular fries $16.80

walmart for steak and veg - $61.49

liquor store for posh vodka (grey goose citron) and some more smirnoff miniatures- $34.08

steak dinner and champagne in the villa

total - $112.37 (but included shopping and booze for a few days)

tue 7th

bubbalou's bodacious bar-b-que (kirkman rd branch) $41.17 including tip. two types of meat and a bunch of sides for around $16 each. lovely stuff!

top up with fuel $30 - takes it from almost empty to one bar off full.

CHVRCHES at HOB/DTD. parking was a nightmare. ended up at the opposite end of dtd. the place is a building site. the walk in between the two halves is a bit boring due to all the boards being up. after the gig, they were handing out free tickets for lykke li on thursday! spent around $20 on drinks


total - around $90

bubbalous2 bubbalous chvrches dtd

wed 8th

festival bay mall - trip through bass pro to find out the entrance into the mall is now completely closed, so back out and walk round to the end to cinemark to see Guardians of the Galaxy. $23.10 for two inc large drink and some chocolate

back into bass pro for a wander round then off to nagoya sushi at dr phillips. got a $25 voucher from some of the best sushi ive ever had (again) - the teriyaki beef roll is to die for! - $59.67 inc tip

back to the villa in time for the season premiere of american horror story:freakshow (twisty the clown is a new classic horror character, and i want a mask like that for halloween!)


total - $82.77
basspro basspro2 nagoya2 nagoya1

thurs 9th

golden corral nr universal AYCE breakfast - $18.51 for two. not great food though. decent selection, but a lot of it was dripping in grease. self-serve fruit juice, but the guy waiting our table was really nice so left a reasonable tip...

universal studios ($17 parking)

new harry potter section absolutely rammed. 75+ min wait for rides, so skipped them and did the rest of the park (15 mins for everything else apart from transformers)

was going to lykke li at HOB, but still felt really tired after a late night by the pool with a bit too much wine. other option was HHN. ended up nipping to publix for more steak (do we do a gig, a horror night, or just relax and drink wine/eat steak? ITS A TOUGH LIFE BEING ON HOLIDAY!)

trip to publix for amazing steak and some bits - $49.38

total - $84.89 
 potterworld gringotts kingscrossribeye

fri 10th

lie-in / pool day waiting for a fedex delivery (it stated on the tracker that a signature was required. first time this has happened!). the parcel arrived around 1pm, so made some quick plans based on the unallocated stuff to do on itinerary:

lakeridge winery tour in clermont. about 20 miles north of cagans crossing walmart on the US27. you cant really miss it, theres a huge sign for it on the opposite side of the road (although dont take the immediate left turn after the sign, thats the prison!

the tour is free and runs every hour most days of the week till around 5pm. we got there just after 3pm, and it was the last one of the day (they were closing early as they had a special event the next day)... watch a short video about it all, then do a short tour of the winery before heading to the bar for a wine tasting session. there were about 8 bottles we sampled, going from dry to sweet (you get a decent swig of them, so be careful not to drink them all if youre driving!) - its more about smelling and tasting them than actually drinking them, and a small sip goes a long way. we ended up finding two bottles i really liked, so bought one of each (they range from around $8 to around $20 a bottle with discounts for cases, so could be worth doing this early on in the trip and buying a case (or two) for your stay as you're limited in how much you can bring home.

$39.55 for two really nice bottles of wine, and a couple of posh winestoppers (one for fizzy bottles, one for normal)

topped up SUV with $35 fuel at a wa-wa on the way home, where it was $3.11/gallon!

back to the villa for an hour to cover ourselves in mosquito repellant before heading down to silvermoon drive-in ($5pp). due to the arrangement this time, we only stayed for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (it was being repeated at 9pm, and couldnt be bothered waiting till 11pm for the next film - last time they alternated so got to see both and still finished around 11pm) spent approx $17 on snacks


total - $101.55 (a third of which was fuel though)

sat 11th

universal - get to US early on, gringotts was closed, so get the hogwarts express over to IOA to do the wet rides again as well as a few others (including spiderman and suess landing for the first time this trip) - $15.79 for a chicken burger with fries, extra portion of fries and a brownie to share at cirkus mcgurkus

back to the villa around 2pm for a nap/swim and to get ready to go to HHN.

get to HHN, but when they scan our tickets, we find out the frequent fear tickets are only valid sunday to friday (ie not saturdays!) - console ourselves with a drink at citywalk instead before heading back to the villa via walgreens for more wine

$17 parking plus approx $25 on drinks at citywalk


total - approx $60

citywalkband citywalk

sun 12th

mall@millennia trip including the cheesecake factory (starter to share and two mains plus drinks) - $61.23 inc tip

makeup and stuff at macys - $113 - make sure you ask at the payment counter for your international discount (10% off. you may need to flash a passport/driving licence, but we didnt)

stop off at the bose outlet (i-drive premium outlets) with another VIP booklet and get 10% off the "refurbished" QC3 noise cancelling headphones (works out at around £130 which is less than half of uk prices!), then to the disney outlet for presents ($90). back to the villa for a quiet evening.


total $61.23 plus around $400 on presents/shiny things

mon 13th

columbus day. get up, skip breakfast and go to THE KNIFE for lunch. all you can eat argentinian meat buffet where you can get a slab of steak the size of your head as well as all the meat you can swallow for just over a tenner a head. The beef ribs are something like out of the flintstones! absolute bargain, and why its not very busy, i have no idea! (it was starting to pick up a bit by the time we left though - i guess we just got there early) they are on groupon regularly, but unless you plan on eating there on a friday/saturday evening, it doesnt really work out any cheaper than just turning up...

couple of hours letting the meat settle by floating in the pool before getting changed and off to MNSSHP

4pm arrive at MK, queues seems quite long, but then realise its because they havent kicked everyone else out of the park yet. mine train is a 2 hour wait, so go on space mountain instead. longest queue barring mine train is half an hour, so do all the rides apart from splash mountain, get around 3kg of halloween candy (to be taken to our respective workplaces when we get home), catch the early parade, which leaves us time after the fireworks to do a few more rides (including space mountain again), however its still 45+ mins for mine train, so decide to leave it till our next visit any excuse to come back!)

Theres a lot of building work in between main street and the castle, i believe they are building a new plaza area so people can view the fireworks a bit better. theres a pic i took over the top of the fencing in case you wanted to see progress!

$45.00 for two including tip at the knife

$17.00 parking at MK

drinks and some food at MK approx $30


total - approx $92

theknife3 theknife1 theknife4 theknife2
MNSSHP MNSSHP2 MKfireworks MKparade
MKlake MK-buildingworks

tue 14th

was hoping to go to the international independent showmens association museum in gibsonton (near tampa) followed by a beach day in sarasota, but the weather really wasnt up to it. the first real rain we've had all holiday. it was really cloudy during the day, and thunderstorms pretty much all afternoon and early evening. had a lazy day, did our packing, where we realised we were ~25kg underweight, so went to walmart to buy a 4th suitcase and *all* the goodies!

(will definitely be going next time though. hopefully by then you wont have to book a tour in advance)


total - around $300 but nearly all of that was stuff to bring home, so i'm going for $0!


wed 15th

last full day, again the weather wasnt great when we got up. went to ponderosa on the 192 (next to the dirty wizard) for a late breakfast. arrived just before a scottish party of around 12 people, so waited to pay for longer than usual as they were jiggling around their kids eat free cards and 10% off coupons to try and maximise their discount. was also being served by the same waitress, so we were definitely ignored in favour of the large group (waited an eternity to get my drink refilled, and had to ask instead of her asking us... despite topping up my gf's coffee and clearly eyeing up my empty glass she didnt ask if i wanted a refill!) - $19.01 for two AYCE buffets/drinks. was the best buffet by far, just a shame service was poor (this time), left a couple of dollars tip. one for each refill...

the original plan was to go to HS/epcot for the F&W festival, but decided to save our no-expiry tickets for the next trip. instead we were going to do universal/HHN as we missed out on a second night there due to our own incompetence... but as the weather was still fairly bad we sacked that off too, and went to shoot some guns at oak ridge gun range for a few hours. the staff there are lovely, and i shot my first proper rifle too - it blew the targets to smithereens!

cost $115.59 for two of us on one lane, using three relatively large guns (more expensive ammo)

before we went out, we bought tickets for orlando magic vs brazil flamengo basketball at the amway center on stubhub. tickets were as low as $5 each if you didnt mind being near the back, but we got some *great* seats for $20 each. just print them out ($0.45 at the UPS store at champions gate) and show them at the door. the tickets also included free 20oz bottles of pepsi products at walgreens, so stopped off to pick those up (cherry pepsi and raspberry smirnoff work well together!)

the basketball was great fun. possibly my favourite US sport so far - really easy to work out what was going on compared to the others, and lots of action.

parking nearby cost $10 (lincoln plaza -,+Orlando,+FL+32801/@28.5384357,-81.3795128,19z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x88e77b01e51b221d:0xe2ae422b52d0a31e ) - there were plenty of other parking places nearby which were all also $10.

food/drinks were all around $5-10 each. speant around $30 in total

total - approx $215, half of which was at the gun range

thu 16th - last day. 

had to be out around 1pm to go to the airport, so the day was spent final packing, where we discovered we were very close (if not over) to our 60kg limit. took out the MNSSHP sweets and split them up into 3 bags so we could easily dump one or more of them at the airport - stuff we wanted, stuff we didnt care about that we could give to our cow-orkers, and stuff we didnt care about that you could get in the uk (milky way/twix/m&ms/etc)... rejigged the bags a bit, had a couple of hours floating in the pool, then tidy up, empty the fridge and make packup for the flight, tip the remainder of the vodka into the cherry pepsi bottles for when we get to the airport, then take the drive back to SFB.

topped up the car at the circle k at champions gate where fuel is around $3.08 a gallon... ask why it has dropped by over 20c since we got there, apparently the US have discovered a large amount of natural oil reserves recently, so prices are plummeting!

topped up with $15 which takes it to nearly full once more, then do a final topup just off the 419 a couple of miles outside of SFB. $10 takes it back up to completely full.

drop the car off, the receipt shows no charges are due (not counting the tolls) and check in the bags... whilst in the queue, there were two people on the desk who were obviously sticking right to the weight limits and making people dump stuff. we got lucky, and got another woman, who we immediately started chatting to about the fact the radio was playing taylor swift *again* - how could you listen to the same 5 songs every day over and over without going nuts?!

anyway, she didnt even weigh our carry-on! turns out the 60kg was *just* under (my carry-on bag was definitely over 5kg, but not by much).. check bags in, go outside for a smoke and to drink the leftover booze (no need to pay airport bar prices!)

through security straight away with no issues, then a quick trip to duty free, a smoke outside, and its time to board the plane.

didnt sleep much on the way home though, which was unusual for me... didnt help i was sat on the aisle in the middle section next a random guy who was of similar build to me... the main issue is shoulder space. one of us could put our arms down on the armrest, but the other had to sit pretty much arms folded. made things definitely quite uncomfortable (we kept switching over) - whoever decided that 3-3-3 was a good plan needs shooting! for 90% of holiday travellers, this configuration just doesnt work. 2-5-2 or 2-4-3 would be much better IMO

landed at 6:15am so the flight was just over 7 hours), got off the plane, and due to where we got on the bus (last of the three buses, on the last set of doors) we ended up literally the first people through security! baggage came out relatively quickly, and we were greeted by our prebooked taxi home (4 suitcases plus other bits on the skylink for 90 mins? no thanks!)

was home and in bed by 8am. jetlag-wise, friday and saturday were mostly a writeoff, sunday wasnt too bad, and i was back at work on monday morning with only a couple of pro plus to get me through it, so i would say the dreamliner's jetlag effects are *definitely* reduced compared to other planes, as in the past its knocked me sideways for up to 5 days in previous years.

we topped up the car with around $120 in fuel (return full as we didnt prepay for a tank using alamo brits) and did around 1100 miles. car computer said we got around 26mpg...


total spent (kinda) $1591.71 = $113.69 per day, although  some of that was on jewellery/makeup/stuff though so is probably closer to $100/day


there were some other shopping trips for food and booze, but these werent really essentials unless you like a drink! including all the presents and other things we brought back with us, theres around another $1000 which works out at ~$175 per day - i would say that $150 a day for a couple is a perfectly reasonable budget, although we probably would have spent more if we had spent more time in the parks. we saved a lot of money by eating in the villa a fair bit (we tended to have at least one main meal out per day) - why eat out all the time when you can eat MASSIVE great quality ribeye steaks for less than $10 each!?

we came back with far too much stuff, but enough goodies to last us till our next trip in a couple of years time. now we can concentrate on buying a house and moving sometime in the next few months!

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