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Topic: First Timers Helpful (?) Info

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb First Timers Helpful (?) Info

    Over the last few months we've had a number of folk ask the same or similar questions so I thought I'd pull them together into one post. Is that a good idea? If anyone wants to add or modify let me know and I'll update it.

    Travel Options

    Charter flight, leave on set dates and usually for set durations and mainly as part of a fly-drive or complete package holiday. Flight seat only is also possible with some carriers. Players in this market are First Choice, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Travel City Direct etc.

    Scheduled flight, either direct to Orlando, or indirect via Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia etc. Scheduled flights allow flexible flight dates. Indirect flights can be cheaper than direct.

    Fly-drive – flight and car hire, book you own accommodation.
    Package – flight, car hire (or transfer), accommodation.
    DIY – each element you require is booked separately. NB doing it this way can be cheaper, but remember you do not have ATOL and/or ABTA bonding if things go wrong.

    Entry to the USA - Visa or Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

    One of the most frequent questions is about needing a visa or whether you can travel on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). You can travel on the VWP if you have the correct passport, hold a return or onward travel ticket, and have NOT been arrested or convicted. See this link for more information - http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_new/visa/niv/vwp.html

    The US Embassy also provides a Wizard to help travellers determine if they are eligible or not for the VWP - http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_new...sa_wizard.html

    If in doubt check with the US Embassy. And give yourself plenty of time, ideally before you book.

    The US Department of Homeland Security (Immigration) introduced in 2008 ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). The system is now mandatory for VWP travel and is also fee based. Information on ESTA can be found here - http://www.usembassy.org.uk/dhs/index.html#esta
    And the system accessed from here - http://www.usembassy.org.uk/

    Credit Card?

    Not everybody has or wants a credit card, but they are widely used in the USA, both VISA and MasterCard.

    Most of the car hire companies require a deposit to be left at the rental car desk by credit card, even if the car has been pre-paid and insured in the UK.

    Also if you hire a villa, especially through a tour operator, you will be expected to pay a security deposit to the management company with a credit card.

    And many hotels will ask for a credit card imprint when you check-in to cover incidentals, resort fees, etc.

    Traveller experience also shows that when using a credit card in retail outlets photo ID is generally requested.

    Cash/Traveller’s Cheques/Cash Card

    This question always gets asked – what should I take my spending money in? As with all things there are pros and cons.

    Cash – There is a good reason to take some dollar bills (and if possible coins) initially to pay for tolls, tips and small purchases on the first afternoon/evening. Cash is of course very flexible, but to take all your holiday in cash is a very risky option.
    Traveller’s Cheques – a much safer option, and in the US dollar TCs can be used just like cash in shops, attractions and theme parks. One downside often quoted for TCs is that the exchange rate is not as good as cash, but this is generally only around 1 or 2 cents in the pound.
    Cash Card – a recent option. You ‘load’ the card up before you go and then use the card to draw dollars from ATMs or pay for goods. Good examples are the FairFX and Post Office cards.
    Credit Card/Debit Card – widely used across the States, but users need to beware that the credit card provider charges for the withdrawing cash from ATMs, plus a user fee and you have no control over the exchange rate. Some card providers, for example Nationwide, do not charge for using the card in the US.

    The general view on the forum is to take money using a number of different ways, eg cash/TCs/credit card.

    Car or no car? – that is the question

    Another key question – do I need a car or not? The answer is – it depends. And there are two schools of thought. The Yes and No!

    A car gives you much more flexibility for getting around, the option to leave the parks and return later (assuming you have the correct ticket), gives wider choice of where to eat, makes it easier to go shopping etc.

    This link on driving http://www.kissimmee-us192.com/briti...ng.htm#freeway courtesy of member mortus.

    No car means using shuttles, public transport or taxis. For some this is the only option if they don’t drive, while for others it is their preferred choice. The Lynx bus system is wide ranging and cost effective and the I-Trolley serves International Drive. Within Walt Disney World the busses and boats work well.

    Driving in Orlando is not difficult, most drivers say it is easier than in the UK. Ultimately, it’s your choice, but where you stay may make the decision for you. If you are on a villa holiday you will require a car.

    If you do take a car remember three things. Say NO THANKS to any extras at the rental desk; check the car has no damage before you leave the garage (if it does report it and get it recorded - even small stuff - or with Alamo change the car); when you return the car at the end of the holiday check the receipt to make sure there are no added extras (if there are query them then).

    Oh and one more thing, remember to take the rental doc out of the car and bring it home.

    Where to Stay?

    Well firstly in the World or outside the World? Disney World that is. Disney has a great choice of hotels to meet most budgets. On-site guests have a number of benefits including Extra Magic Hours. All the hotels are connected by some form of transport, be it bus, boat or monorail.

    Another option is to stay at Universal Resort, where a guest benefit is the Front of the Line ticket option.

    Orlando has hundreds of hotels for tourists, mainly located along International Drive (about 13 miles top to bottom), in Kissimmee or Lake Buena Vista.

    The other option is to stay in a town house or villa. These are located in a number of communities at varying distance from the theme parks. Careful choice is recommended otherwise you can spend long periods driving from your holiday home to the parks.

    Reference Material

    There are numerous travel guides on the state of Florida and more particularly on Orlando and Walt Disney World/Universal Resort. However, most of the members on the forum would endorse ‘The Brits Guide to Orlando and Walt Disney World’ by Simon and Susan Veness, which is updated and published every November and available from all good bookshops.

    Another useful publication is Steve Munn’s map to the tourist areas of Orlando, available from his website - http://orlandomaps.co.uk/

    And finally the ATD Forum and the members on here are a really good source of information which is based on their personal experiences.
    Last edited by Tiggers Friend; 25-11-2010 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Additional info
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  2. #2
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    If it's ok with you, TF, and with our members, I'll Sticky this at the top and it can be added to as needed. Sound alright? (Actually, I'm doing it now, so if not, speak up and I'll unsticky it )











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you Im not messing around, use the gifts you were given.

  3. #3
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    TF that's a very good idea as I am a first timer and feel stuff i want to ask would sound ridiculous so tend to read other threads and gain info from that.

  4. #4
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    cheekylou, most questions you may feel are 'silly' are questions others have, too. Ask away! You'll always get a respectful answer and others will probably breathe a sigh of relief to know the answer too.

    Think of it this way:

    When Disney Cast Members are asked what seem like the most ridiculous question possible (specifically, "What time is the 3 O'clock parade?") their answer is, "It depends on where you are standing. It will be at 3 o'clock over by Splash Mountain, 3:05pm in Liberty Square, 3:10pm in the Hub......" and so on. So it's not such a silly question after all!

    Besides, we were all first-timers once, and we all had the same questions you have.











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you Im not messing around, use the gifts you were given.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Susan your probably right!
    Can't wait til we've been and can answer others questions and offer answers too! It's a great community spirit on here and shows through the text how people are genuinly pleased for others when they go to Orlando if that makes sense!?
    :o

  6. #6
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    That's great stuff, TF, and right on the money

    One other frequent (VERY frequent!) question we hear is: How do I choose my tickets?

    This obviously varies from person to person, but, as a general rule, here's what suits most 1st timers -

    Disney's 7-Day Premium Ticket - this is usually plenty for a 2-week visit, UNLESS you are staying onsite and plan on doing mostly Disney, in which case the 14-Day Ultimate Ticket would be best. In some cases (at queter times of the year, for example), you might only need a 5-Day Premium, as this would give you a day at each theme park plus one extra for your favourite park. Plus you also get 4 'extra' visits for the water parks and/or DisneyQuest.

    Orlando FlexTicket - if you want to do Universal's 2 parks and Wet n Wild, plus SeaWorld and Aquatica water park, this is easily the best-value ticket as it provides 2 full weeks to all 5 parks. If you want Busch Gardens as well (and not all 1st-timers do, as it involves a much longer drive), then go for the Orlando FlexTicket Plus, which provides all 6 parks.

    Seaworld 2 and 3-Park tickets - if you are not keen on the Universal parks for any reason, these are great value tickets for SW and Aq; SW and BG; or SW, BG and Aq; providing 7 full days to the 2 or 3 of your choice.

    Discovery Cove Ultimate Ticket - many Brits want to do the Discover Cove swim-with-dolphins experience, even though it is the most expensive park of them all. However, the optional Ultimate upgrade ticket with DC adds SW, BG and Aq for a full 2 weeks, providing particularly good value.

    Any combination of the above is MORE than enough for 2 weeks for any 1st-timer, and we often see people coming over with WAY too many tickets (like a 14-Day Ultimate, FlexTicket Plus, Discovery Cove, and others, which they will never get full value from in a fortnight). However, if you are looking for a one-day additional experience, these would probably be the most popular (and are all available from ATD):

    Kennedy Space Center - either as a 1-day visit or the special Space Pass which provides a 2nd day free (within 7 days of the first) and the Dine with an Astronaut programme (a real must if you are really into the space programme). There is also a special excursion ticket which combines KSC with an airboat ride.

    Gatorland - a taste of the real Florida PD (Pre-Disney) and a nature adventure that appeals to most first-timers. Again, ATD offer Gatorland with an airboat ride.

    Fantasy of Flight - one of my favourites and not just for aviation enthusiasts, this offers an eye-opening journey into the history of flight and military aviation, with various hands-on activities. ATD also sell it with an optional biplane ride, which is a wonderful experience.

    Cypress Gardens - one of the best-kept secrets in Florida, this traditional old-style park has been dramatically enhanced in recent years and is now thoroughly family-friendly (especially with their all-inclusive water park), and every 1-day ticket includes a 2nd Day Free offer (via their guest relations office) if you return within 6 days. Superb value and a nice change of pace from the other parks (Rarely with any big crowds), just 40minutes south-west of Orlando.

    There are numerous other options, but 1st timers would be well-advised to try to limit their horizons to this group - or risk being pulled in too many directions at once!!

    Feel free to add any further thoughts to this list.............

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    If it's ok with you, TF, and with our members, I'll Sticky this at the top and it can be added to as needed. Sound alright? (Actually, I'm doing it now, so if not, speak up and I'll unsticky it )
    Thanks Susan. And thanks Simon for the update on tickets.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  8. #8

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    The only thing you might add , on credit card use is the fact most retailers will ask for photo id with credit cards. Other than that nice one

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveDreaD View Post
    The only thing you might add , on credit card use is the fact most retailers will ask for photo id with credit cards. Other than that nice one
    Added, thanks.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

  10. #10

    Default Code words?

    Hi there,
    I am really enjoying the forum, Is the a list of the code words the are used by all you Dinsey buffs. Things like ADR DDP DTD DH etc? It a whole new language
    Thanks

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