Christmas at DisneyWorld and Universal Studios Florida

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My husband and I have been in Orlando in the past as it is one of our favourite holiday destinations. The last time we went to Orlando was ten years ago so we were thinking about going back but this time during the Christmas season. I heard that Christmas time in Orlando is extremely busy with never ending queues in all the Disney and Universal parks but that didn’t put me off about the trip. I liked to plan everything in advance and did my own research about places to visit and things to do. If you are thinking about a Disney/Universal Christmas in 2016 I have some tips to share with you:

Tickets for Attractions: It is up to you buying tickets in advance on a web site or directly at the attractions. A lot depends on how long you are going for, as most UK websites sell 7 to 14 day tickets only. We compared prices on web sites against Disney Parks and Universal Parks but there is not much difference for shorter length trips – some sites do offer some savings compared to gate prices but you have to weigh that against the risks of the tickets not arriving, or not being accepted at the park.

Uber Taxi : It was our fist time using Uber and we are recommending it to all our friends. It is safe, reliable and the cost is less that the typical yellow taxis. All you have to do is add the Uber app in your phone. Uber drivers in Orlando are all friendly, polite and will let you know where about is the Uber location for pick ups at any Disney or Universal Park.

I-Ride Trolley: If you decided to stay in International Drive you will see a cute green bus passing by very often. That is the I-Ride Trolley, they have stops in the International Drive area and you can buy the tickets in selected hotels or just pay to the driver (exact cash). It generally costs a few dollars per day.

Where to Stay: We always prefer to stay in the International Drive area as we like exploring and visiting restaurants, but you could also stay in one of the many lovely Disney Hotels or Universal Hotels if you wish. It depends on your itinerary and how much time you would like to spend at the attractions.

Trip Advisor: Before booking on Expedia, Last Minute or any other web site I would advice to check reviews of your chosen hotel in Trip Advisor. We stayed in the Rosen Plaza at International Drive which has excellent reviews and has recently been refurbished, it is well located for shops and restaurants.

Shopping : Orlando has many shopping centres or malls to choose from, all of them big with many designer shops. I am always looking for bargains and my favourite one is Orlando Outlets at Vineland Avenue. The I -Ride Trolley is very handy as it has a stop in this outlet.

Do a Ride Priority List: Disney and Universal Parks have many rides and there could be long waiting queues, especially during school holidays or Christmas. At the moment the busy rides in Universal Studios are Transformers, Minions and the rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter ( Hogwarts trains also is constantly busy). If you love these movies and want to make it to the rides put them in your priority list as soon as you get into the park to avoid more than one hour wait. During Christmas the parks open at about 7.30 am but this isn’t mentioned in the park leaflets.

Express Tickets: You can skip the regular queues buying a Disney or Universal Express Ticket, the cost depends on which park you will visit. Just in case, Express Tickets aren’t valid at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and The Escape from Gringotts, and The Hogwarts Express. I know this doesn’t sound fair at all, but hopefully this will change in the future.

Using your Credit Card: There has been reports about credit card cloning in Orlando so be extra careful when using your credit card in the International Drive area, especially in restaurants. When paying your bill don’t let the restaurant staff go out of sight with your credit card.

Disney Parks and Universal Studios definitely get better and better with the years, so if like us, you have been to Orlando before, you will realize there are new rides and most of the old ones have been replaced or upgraded. Some people ask me if Orlando is expensive, well for sure you will have to ‘destroy’ your piggy bank. It all depends on how long you plan to stay and how many parks you plan to visit. A Christmas holiday in Orlando is something you must do at least once in your life as it is the most beautiful and magical experience ever. Your children will love it and as an adult you will feel like a child again.

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