The Top 5 Reasons to Rent an Orlando Vacation Home

November 28th, 2014

So you’re planning a trip to Orlando. Congratulations! You have tons to plan and lots to look forward to. One of your first decisions is likely to be where you’ll stay. Generally you have two options: hotel resorts or vacation homes. There are actually several reasons that vacation homes may be the best choice for you, no matter who’s going or what your budget is.

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1.         It may be the most affordable option

You can rent an Orlando vacation home with anywhere from 3 bedrooms all the way up to 8 bedrooms. If you’re a smaller party, the prices will start at just $99 per night – that can be up to an 80% discount over some of Disney’s on-site resorts. Larger groups can save a significant amount when compared to the necessity of renting numerous hotel rooms to accommodate everyone.

2.         You can all stay together

If you’re a larger group, you’ll likely have to split up when you stay in hotel rooms. Most rooms can only legally allow 4 or 5 guests a time. On the other hand, if you have an 8-bedroom vacation home you could hold many, many more guests. This gives your family or friends a chance to spend some quality time together.

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3.         You have a lot more control

When you rent your vacation home you’ll get to make a lot of decisions: how many rooms, what amenities it will have, how far from the parks it will be, and more. You pick the home, you pick the things that are most important to you – and you reap the rewards! Also note that each home has a full kitchen, which frees up tons of options for your food budget.

4.         Privacy is your friend

You get tons of privacy in your private vacation rental. Not only do you get a private pool, but you have separate living and sleeping quarters. This is great if you’ll be sharing the home with people who go to bed earlier or later than you. Instead of all cramming into a hotel room and having to remain silent while others sleep, you can relax in the living room and have a great time.

5.         Skip the hustle and bustle

Not only will you have tons of privacy, but you won’t be stuck in the crazy traffic and hustle and bustle of the Disney-area hotels. Yet, you won’t be far away, either! In fact, every vacation home we rent is 15 minutes or less from the theme parks. It’s the perfect compromise that gives you the flexibility and proximity you want, but without the hassle of staying in the lap of Disney.

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Click here to rent a vacation home in Orlando.

Black (& White) Friday

November 28th, 2014

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Frequently Asked Questions About Doing Disney With Disabilities

November 27th, 2014

There are many reasons to love visiting Disney World, and among them is the fact that Disney does an exceptional job of making their parks accessible for everyone. However, as you plan your trip, there are a few questions you’re likely to have. Let’s cover the most frequently asked questions about heading to Disney World when you have special needs.

orlandovacation_disability-access-passWhat do we do if we can’t handle long lines?

There are many special needs that may require unique accommodations, and many of them involve not being able to comfortably wait in line for long periods of time. The good news is that Disney offers a solution: the Disability Access Service Card.

This card allows the person with the card, as well as a certain number of people from their party, to go to a specific attraction and schedule a return time that’s roughly the same as the wait time when they arrive at that attraction. They can then go sit and wait comfortably until the time is up and skip the line. The Disability Access Service Card is available at all of the Guest Services booths, which are located at all 4 theme parks.

guest-with-disability-services-00-sqCan wheelchairs and ECVs be rented at Disney World?

Yes, you can rent both wheelchairs and electronic conveyance vehicles (ECVs) within the theme parks. If you’re visiting a Disney water park, you can rent a wheelchair free of charge by simply showing your valid ID at Guest Relations. You will of course need to return it when you leave the park.

If you plan to use a wheelchair or ECV for numerous days in a row, you may find the best bargain by renting from a third party. Generally these companies will deliver the ECV or wheelchair to your resort hotel or Orlando vacation home and pick it up on the last day of your rental.

What are the options for guests with cognitive issues?

orlandovacation_rider-switchIf you’re planning a trip with someone who has a cognitive disability, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are numerous accommodations available. Some of them include the Disability Access Service described above, and other options include Rider Switch, plus numerous quiet break areas throughout the park for guests who have become overstimulated.

Where can we get more information?

These are just a few of the questions people often have as they look for the best ways to tour Disney World with disabilities. You can also check out our complete planning guide for those with special needs, which includes not just Disney but the other theme parks in Orlando: SeaWorld and Universal Studios. A little planning can go a long way toward ensuring a successful, magical vacation.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2014

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Is SeaWorld Orlando Appropriate for Teenagers?

November 25th, 2014

SeaWorld Orlando is a popular theme park, but many believe that it’s best suited for younger and older visitors. It’s a common misconception that this park, which is part teaching environment, part thrill ride environment, and part relaxing aquarium, is not a hit with teenagers. While it will of course depend on your particular teens, the truth is that there’s a lot for the teen crowd to love here.

Take in the thrilling roller coasters

You may not realize that there are actually several roller coasters at SeaWorld Orlando. While you may know it as the place where Shamu lives, there are actually three serious roller coasters.

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  1. Kraken. This mammoth roller coaster reaches the fastest speeds of any of the SeaWorld attractions.
  2. Manta. If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to fly, this is a great choice. It’s the world’s only flying roller coaster.
  3. Journey at Atlantis. Both a roller coaster and a water ride, this one will leave you feeling wet and wild.

If you want to take on these beasts, your best bet is to wait until the sun goes down. Not only will you get to ride through the beautiful dusk light, but you’ll also get to skip most of the lines.

Interact with the animals

SeaWorld Orlando isn’t just about looking at and admiring the sea creatures. It’s true that there are plenty of exhibits where the animals will be off limits, but you can also get up close and personal in a number of ways. Whether it’s signing up to watch the animals be fed, or adding an extra package to actually swim with the dolphins, there are many interactive exhibits.

Stop at SeaWorld’s Aquatica

If your teens are water lovers, don’t miss Aquatica, SeaWorld’s unique water park. There are numerous thrill rides within this park, including the all-new in 2014 Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, which features 105 feet of incredible water fun! There are also your typical water park rides and attractions, plus a few great choices for little ones. Essentially, Aquatica is a hit for guests of all ages – including teenagers.

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Don’t underestimate your teenagers

Remember that for many teenagers, being on vacation means all bets are off. Even teenagers who are going through a phase where nothing can impress them may surprise you. Give them all the options at SeaWorld Orlando and you may be surprised by how they embrace some rides or attractions that they’d otherwise find cheesy or “for kids.” And no matter what happens, remember you’re on vacation too! Take the time to experience what you want to experience too.

If you’re planning to head to SeaWorld Orlando on your next vacation, make sure you check out these useful planning tips and discount theme park tickets.

Incredible Tips for Group Travel Planning

November 24th, 2014

Whether you’ve planned a dozen group trips, or you’re just starting to plan your first, there’s no question that you have plenty of difficult decisions to make. We found a great blog post written by SuperShuttle that outlines Tips for Successful Group Trip Planning. You can check it out there or grab the highlights below.

Put a single person in charge

No matter the size of your group, whether it’s 10 or 1,000, the first step is to decide on a group leader. Even if that leader delegates tasks to others, there should be a single point person so everyone knows who to contact and what to do if there is an issue. This person will be the go-to person for everything from airfare, to hotels, to ground transportation. Again, they may parcel out the specific work, but if there is a problem you’d know to contact the group leader first so they could point you in the right direction.

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Gather information about your group

There may nothing as important when planning a group trip as doing the right research. The information you should gather will start with the main details, like the number of people traveling, the dates you’ll be traveling, where you’ll be staying in the Orlando area, and billing information. Once you have the basics, you’ll move on to gather information about the general needs of the group as well as specific needs.

For example, find out if anyone has food allergies, if anyone needs ADA accessible vehicles, or if there are any health issues that need to be addressed. This information will affect travel in the ways you imagine, but it could also have an impact in ways you wouldn’t think of. Having this information upfront makes the planning process much easier, and can prevent big problems down the road.

Don’t forget about ground transportation

orlandovacation_group-transportationYou won’t forget to handle your Orlando vacation home rental or resort hotel reservation, but one factor that many groups overlook is their ground transportation. You’ll have many options, including public transportation, airport shuttles, airport transfers, taxis, charters, and luxury sedan and SUV rentals.

Note that many of these options are simply not reasonable for larger groups. For example, a group of 50 is going to have a tough time finding enough cabs, and taking public transit is likely not a great option. You may decide to rent a passenger van so you’ll have plenty of room during the entirety of your trip.

Keep your group in the loop

It’s not enough for the group leader to know the details of your trip – those traveling in your group should also know what to expect. Send out weekly emails when you have information to share so that people aren’t bogged down with too much information, but they do have the pertinent information.

5 Tips for Taking Your Grandkids to Universal Studios

November 23rd, 2014

If you’re one of the many older adults who feel that they can’t possibly keep up with the grandkids at a theme park like Universal Orlando, there’s good news for you! There are so many great things for people to do of all ages, and Universal does a great job making sure everything is accessible. Check out these 5 tips to increase your fun.

orlandovacation_ecv-rental1.         Rent an Electronic Convenience Vehicle

Electronic convenience vehicles, otherwise known as ECVs, are electronic wheelchairs that help those with mobility issues quickly and easily get where they need to be going. Remember that even if you have no trouble walking around your hometown, Universal requires a ton of walking and it’s easy to get overwhelmed before you realize it. When you get to the attractions, you’ll either park your ECV in a secured area and walk on the ride, or you can stick to the rides that allow you to drive it right on.

2.         Choose Your Parks Wisely

There are 2 parks within Universal: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. When you buy your discount theme park tickets you can choose a ticket that’s good for one or both parks. Note that Islands of Adventure has many more thrill rides, while Universal Studios has more shows and easy-going attractions.

3.         Pack Your Bag Wisely

You can bring a bag of any size into the parks, and you should be wise in what you put in it. Smart choices include:

  • Snacks
  • Sunblock
  • First aid supplies
  • A favorite toy for each grandkid
  • Emergency phone numbers

Though you do want to bring enough, make sure you’re not packing so much that your bag becomes burdensome to carry throughout the day.

orlandovacation_assisted-listening-device4.         Find Out What Your Options Are

If you have special needs, it’s important to find out what your options are before you head to the parks. For example, there are a few rides at Universal that allow oxygen tanks on the rides. Assistive listening devices are available at guest relations booths. These devices help amplify the sound on a variety of attractions, and there are also personal transmitters that can caption songs and information in queues and attractions. Some shows have sign language interpreters too! Do a little research before you head out so you’ll know how your unique needs will be met.

5.         Use All Your Resources!

Don’t assume that because you raised your own kids you know the best way to discipline and / or reward your grandchildren. With the gadgets kids have these days, plus the higher focus on safety and security, it’s simply not the world it used to be. Talk to their parents in-depth before you leave and be sure everyone’s on the same page.

We hope you liked this article, please click here for more articles concerning taking grand kids to Orlando.

4 Tips for Taking the Kiddos to Disney World

November 21st, 2014

Let’s face it: traveling to Disney World with young kids can be a challenge. While your goal is to ensure a magical experience for everyone, it can be less than perfect if you don’t make a point to follow a few tips. We recently enjoyed a blog that included 9 Tips for Preparing to Visit Disney World with Kids and have picked out our top 4 from that list. Check it out below.

orlandovacation_ride-height-requirement1.         Height may be more important than age

If you’re like many parents, you’ve likely spent quite a chunk of time researching what the right age is to take the kids for their first Disney World visit. You may have found some advice about choosing the right age, but for many families it’s actually more about height. There are no Disney rides that require a child to be a certain age, but many DO require them to be a certain height.

2.         Taking the kids out of school may be worth it

In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to make any sacrifices to have the perfect Disney trip. However, if your only option is to take the kids during school breaks, you’ll not only be dealing with larger crowds but you’ll be paying a premium. You can often get deep discounts if you go during the slower months, plus you can get much more done with the smaller crowds. Just be sure you check with your school district to make sure there aren’t any significant consequences for taking them out of school for a few days.

orlandovacation_backpack-for-snacks3.         Bring a backpack just for sweaters and sweatshirts

If you’re able to visit during the colder months, remember that it can be quite chilly in the morning and get warm in the afternoon. Don’t make the mistake of bundling everyone up without bringing a backup to stow the extra layers when you don’t need them, or you’ll end up weighed down with sweaters all day.

4.         Pay attention to your child’s needs

It’s easy to get so caught up in the advice of others that you don’t take your own kid’s unique needs into consideration. For example, some kids are fine to ride thrill rides at a younger age, but if you know your child doesn’t like being in dark places, doesn’t like being confined, or has a specific fear, listen to them when they tell you they’d rather not try a ride. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your kids to push through their fear, but don’t let it turn into a meltdown over something that simply isn’t worth it. Listen to your kids and let them call the shots – after all, it’s their first visit to Disney World!

We hope you enjoyed this article, please click here for more articles about taking young children to Disney World.

Frequently Asked Questions about Holidays in Orlando

November 20th, 2014

So you’re planning your first visit to Orlando during the holidays. Congratulations! You have an incredible experience in front of you. The good news is that you’ll have tons of special events to attend and lots of holiday cheer – assuming you plan accordingly. Take a look at these frequently asked questions that will assure you’re on the right path toward enjoying your trip to the max.

What are crowd levels like during the holiday season?

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about traveling to Orlando during the holiday season is that the parks will be empty. The truth is that the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the busiest of the year for Disney World and Orlando. Why? Because plenty of families have this time off of school and they’re ready to escape colder climates to take advantage of a warmer holiday season in Orlando.

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What’s the best way to get discounts during Christmas and New Year’s?

Now that you know it’s the busiest time of the year, you likely aren’t surprised to know that there aren’t a ton of discounts available. After all, Disney and Universal typically only offer deep discounts when they’re trying to fill rooms. However, you can still get discounted park tickets and save big by staying in a local resort hotel, rather than staying on Disney or Universal property. Larger families can find the best discounts by renting an Orlando vacation home.

Do the parks do anything special for the holidays?

Yes! All the theme parks in Orlando go to great lengths to make your holiday trip a truly special and magical experience. From holiday-themed special events, special sweet treats, and tons and tons of decorations, you’ll find plenty of holiday cheer when you visit Orlando during the winter months.

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What’s the weather like in the winter?

Like many places, the temperature in Orlando can vary widely from day to day. Some Christmases see temperatures in the 80s while others see temperatures in the 50s. Your best bet is to plan for layers. Often it’ll be chilly in the morning, but once the sun comes out in full blast you’ll be ready for shorts and a t-shirt. If you’re renting a vacation home and are wondering if you should pay to have the pool heated, wait until a week before your trip, check the forecast, and make your decision then.

There’s no bad time to visit Orlando – no matter what time of year you visit us you’ll find tons of things to do, great weather, and lots of magic to be found. The above frequently asked questions will help you make the most of your time during the holiday season.

Keeping Mom Happy: A Dad’s Guide to the Perfect Couples Trip

November 19th, 2014

When you visit Disney World, you’re likely focusing on the kids – and for good reason! There’s no better place to unleash your child’s imagination than Walt Disney World. However, you may miss out on some great experiences if you skip over another fact: when you look at it the right way, there’s no place more romantic than Disney World. Check out these tips to assure it’s a trip that’s as great for Mom as it is for the kids.

Take Mom out for a night on the town

You may be hyperfocused on Disney World, but there are actually many ways you can make the most of the Orlando area. Check out CityWalk, near Universal, for lights of night life options, or rent a car and go into Orlando proper to sample some local flavor. There are theaters, bowling alleys, and nightclubs throughout the city, all of which would make a great night out.

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Get a babysitter for the night

Of course one of the challenges to having some mom-dad time is figuring out what to do with the kids. Many parents don’t realize that there are babysitting companies in the Orlando area that can give you the night off. These are not your typical neighborhood teenagers – they’re highly vetted, background checked, and bonded. You may pay a premium for a few hours of their time, but they’ll come right to you and give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your night out on the town.

Give her some time to herself

Sure, Mom would love some time alone with her spouse, but it’s also true that she may just want to take an afternoon off to explore on her own. Perhaps she’ll head to Main Street to have her nails done, or perhaps she’ll want to lounge by the pool with an adult drink. Whatever way she chooses to spend the time alone, it’s at least worth asking if she’d like you to take the kiddos so she can relax and rejuvenate.

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Build special family memories

It’s nice to give Mom some time away from the kids, whether with you or by herself, but don’t forget that there may be family memories she wants to build, too. For example, if you’re a dad without daughters you may never consider a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, but remember that Mom may find this a special experience – and there’s plenty there for boys to do, too! You can plan a special tea at the Grand Floridian, take a family portrait at Mom’s favorite ride, or find another unique family activity to do just for her.

We hope you liked this article, please click here for more article for dads taking the family to Disney World.