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Orlando/Kissimmee

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Apr 2nd, 2011, 01:19 AM
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Orlando/Kissimmee

Recently returned from a week in Orlando. While Orlando isn't my favorite spot in Florida, it is a great place to take teenagers. We rented a three bedroom house with pool in Kissimmee from Alexander Homes. The house was located 20 minutes from everything, very central and in a very quiet neighborhood. Alexander Homes was a great company and when I realized I hadn't booked a house with wireless internet, they installed a modem for me. Although it was an extra $35, it was well worth it with teenagers.

Our first day consisted of check-in, grocery shopping (Walmart had about the best prices on food and liquor - loved the $3.47 bottles of Argentinian wines that cost about triple that at home) and a quick tour of Old Town. We ate dinner that evening at the Black Angus - moderately priced and not bad.

Day two was Universal for the new Harry Potter attraction. Take my advice and go directly there when entering the park or else you may not get in. When we left the attraction a few hours later, people were lining up and getting a ticket with a time stamp when they should return. Is it worth it? Yes, but it would have been nice to see it without so many people jammed inside. The castle ride was the best. Ride the "single" line for shorter waits - you sit in a "pod" with 3 other people you can't see so it really doesn't matter. The first time we only waited 20 minutes and the wait on the sign said 90 minutes. The other little roller coaster was ok, but not worth a long wait for about a 10 second ride. The dueling dragons was not for us so instead we opted to wait in line for about 25 minutes for a mug of "butterbeer". Not to my liking, but my Harry Potter mad daughter loved it. $11.50 for the mug or $3.50 for just a plastic glass.

We lucked out on the day we did Universal with the Mardi Gras parade and concert with One Republic. Universal does a great job managing the crowds and even though the place was packed for the concert, there was no problem moving around or getting out. We ate lunch at Margaritaville - excellent and dinner at an Irish pub in Universal - food not so great, but the fish was very fresh but a little too greasy for our liking.

Day three we headed to Cocoa Beach which is about an hour away. It reminded me more of the old Florida. A little rundown, the beach was great. Although Spring Break, security was keeping a close eye on the action. When we returned to Kissimmee we decided to try "Smokey Bones" restaurant. While the service was excellent, the food was terrible. Expensive meal we all didn't enjoy.

Day four we opted for Daytona Beach - much better in my mind. You can rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for $30 for the day. Daytona was a little under 1.5 hours away. The beach is spectacular, but hard to get used to being able to drive your vehicle on it. I would have stayed for a couple of days here. Larger surf than Cocoa Beach and not as bad of an undertow.

Day five - poured rain so what do you do with two 17 year old girls - shop! We did manage to get prom dresses at half the price we would have paid in Canada. Premium Outlets are ok, Florida Mall was packed with spring breakers so we opted to leave. That evening we decided to return to Old Town for a few hours. If you haven't been, not a bad spot. You can walked around the many shops, have a cold beer, and a few laughs. On Saturdays the old antique cars line the street - quite a site to see. We did a few of the amusement rides but if you are doing any more than a couple, buy a bracelet - it gets expensive.

Day six - Back to Universal. Yup, Harry Potter again, and again, and again. It poured rain around 5:00 and the park emptied. It was great, we managed to walk on most of the indoor rides and then the outdoor rides opened again once the rain stopped. I think we did 15 rides that day which is not possible with long lines.
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Apr 2nd, 2011, 06:23 AM
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Sounds like an enjoyable trip, Tanya, with good information for beach and theme-park lovers (and parents of theme-park lovers). Haven't been to Orlando area in decades (my grandfather lived in Winter Park and later Cocoa Beach in the 80s and 90s) so thanks for bringing back memories!
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Thanks Daniel. Cocoa Beach probably hasn't changed much! We had fun on the beach, the locals were friendly. I thought there would be more restaurants, etc., there so was surprised. Ron Jon Surf Shop was about the biggest attraction - and yes, we spent $$ there too!
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