3 week Orlando Vacation and Home Buyer Guide
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort – Universal needs no introduction. The Resort is comprised of 4 main locations.
These include Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, Citywalk, Volcano Bay
Citywalk is shopping, movies, restaurants and nightclubs. Citywalk is open daily until 2am. It is similar but smaller than Disney Springs. Citywalk is great to extend the night after the parks have closed.
Islands of Adventure
This park is a favorite of mine. Islands of Adventure is one of the most well balanced theme parks anywhere. It has roller coasters, 3d rides, water rides restaurants, shopping. Some of the best attractions are Spider-man, Jurassic Park River Adventure, King Kong, Harry Potter, DR Seuss one fish two fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Rip Saw Falls and Popeye.
Universal Studios. This is the oldest Universal Orlando Resort park. It has fun classic rides like Men In Black, The Mummy and ET the Extra Terrestrial. Newer 3D rides include Despicable Me, Transformers and Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts.
Volcano Bay. This is Universals Newest and its a Waterpark. I have not personally gone so I can not comment but the feedback I have received is people seem to enjoy it.
Hotels at Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort Hotels. The hotels are worth having a look. They are also excellent if you would like a more relaxed lunch or dinner outside a theme park. The hotels can be accessed from citywalk. One entrance is before the bridge by Islands of adventure and the other is by the entrance to Universal Studios. Just look for security guards and the metal detector walkthroughs. Boat ride access is also available at Citywalk.
Portofino Bay is on the Universal Studios Side. The Portofino Bay has many places to eat and overall is something to see. Especially if a quiet dinner is required. The Portofino has a nice outside section around the lake with many stores and restaurants. It’s a mini version of Disney’s Boardwalk.
Hard Rock Hotel
The Hard Rock Hotel is a great place to see guitars and cloths used by various musicians. Out back is a huge pool and place to eat. There is also a bar and cabanas.
Loews Royal Pacific
Loews Royal Pacific is a favorite to relax at. It is on the Islands of Adventure side. It has a scenic outside courtyard with a fantastic fountain. The fountain lighting is dim and relaxing. Great location for sitting outside at night talking and having snacks and drinks. I suggest stopping at other Hotels at Universal Orlando if time permits. There may be dinner options or atmosphere that suits your taste.
Icon Park – The name has changed several times over the few years it has been open. Formally the Coca Cola Orlando Eye and Icon 360. Icon Park is a great one day stop or evening place to go. It has a huge ferris wheel now called “the wheel” which allows riders to see all over Orlando. It has another ride called the Orlando Star Flyer. But it’s more than those rides. Icon Park has a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It also has a small Aquarium called the Sea Life Aquarium. A bone Museum Called Skeletons Museum of Osteology. Arcade City is just that a arcade and a 7D dark ride adventure inside.
Outside Icon Park is many bars, restaurants, shopping and more. Icon park also is on International Drive so visitors are in walking distance to all it offers.
International Drive also called “idrive”. International Drive is full of Restaurants, Bars, Clubs and Tourist Attractions. Idrive is busiest from Friday Evening to Sunday Evening. Idrive has many things to see and do. Pirates Cove Adventure Golf is one of the top mini golf locations to try. Ripley’s Orlando is a Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum there is one I have been to in Williamsburg Virginia as well. They are great for a few hours. Interesting stuff inside Ripley’s.
The convention center and many hotels that host conventions surround international Drive.
2 floors of outside Shopping, Dining, Comedy Club, Live Music and Regal Cinema. Pointe Orlando is on International Drive it is a short walk from Icon park. If the icon ferris wheel is at your back and you are facing idrive just walk left to Pointe Orlando.
Outlets and Shopping
Outlets. Shopping at outlets may not be everyone’s idea of vacation. Many times vacationers arrive and don’t pack the right clothes. Well the outlets have fantastic prices on clothes that are more useful than a overpriced sweatshirt at a theme park. The outlets have a North Face and Columbia clothing stores that have gear made for rain and cold. For those wanting to purchase authentic Disney souvenirs that are from the Parks there is a Disney Outlet in both the International Outlet and Vineland Outlet My preference is the Vineland Outlet its normally less crowded and I find the stores have better selection. The Vineland outlet is close to Disney World(east of Disney Springs) And West of Seaworld. Also the Orlando international Outlets close to Universal Orlando Resort.
Lastly Bass Pro Shop. Bass Pro Shop location on International Drive by Universal Orlando and the International Outlets is a great stop for useful clothes. Inside is a Arcade shooting gallery that takes quarters, and shoot targets that move the targeted display objects. Also large fish tanks are on display.
Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort Complete Locations Drive Tour Vacation from Winter Garden
Walt Disney World Resort – This is the most time consuming. Walt Disney World by itself can take weeks to see and still not do everything or have dinner everywhere. So I will break it down. BUSY TIMES Friday evening to night time, all day Saturday, and Sunday until evening 7pm are the busiest times to visit.
The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom is the oldest in Bay Lake. To save time the Magic Kingdom is best on a late weeknight night such as 10pm or later closing. Entering in the evenings typically has less people as small children are tired from all day and leave. This is one park that has many favorites and I probably enjoy half of what is in it. So my essentials are as follows. Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain (you will get wet), Sonic Rays, The Little Mermaid, It’s a Small World, The Hall Of Presidents, The Carousel of Progress, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Winnie The Pooh, Fireworks shows.
Epcot is a favorite at night on weekday Mon-Thurs because of how it looks lit up and the fireworks. Although for crowds afternoons and morning are best. Epcot attracts dinner crowds and Disney sells a annual pass just for that. As for rides Spaceship Earth (the big golf ball), Living with the Land, Nemo (it’s also a aquarium), Mexico (the inside and ride), Japan(food and shopping), America (for the Concerts), Norway, Germany.
Hollywood studios has changed alot over the years. I find it best at night for less crowds. Its not a place many go to for dinner. My favorite attractions are as follows. Muppets Vision 3d, Star Wars, Toy Storey Mania. Fantasmic. Fireworks at night.
Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom If I was park hopping with 2 day ticket, it would be my morning choice. Animal Kingdom on hot days is like a steamy jungle. So I enjoy leaving by early afternoon during hot months. My favorites include Dinosaur, It’s tough to be a Bug (bugs life) , Expedition Everest, Avatar. With more free time the Zoo type animal exhibits are good to see.
Disney Springs. Disney Springs is huge. The location is full of Restaurants with special themes, shopping, entertainment and live music, bowling, NBA, House of Blues, Christmas store, Hot Air Balloon Ride,AMC dine in and Dolby Cinema Movie theater. Disney Springs connects to Saratoga Springs Resort. At Disney Springs I would suggest seeing it all just walk it and peek in the shops. Definitely watch the Rainforest Cafe volcano shoot fire and see the inside. Its every 30 minutes roughly. The T-Rex restaurant is a sight to see. Inside T-Rex like the Rainforest Cafe Dinosaurs are moving around. The Hangar is Indiana Jones Styled. Disney Springs is most empty weekday afternoons.
Disney World Resort Hotels
Disney Hotel Resorts. For years regrettably I never stepped foot in a Disney Hotel. A ride on the monorail from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary changed that. The hotels are fantastic. There are many places to eat in each one. Some have a fast food cafe style in addition to several fine dining restaurants. Most hotels average 2+ locations to eat at some have 4. I encourage everyone to try and see each Hotel if possible. Enter through the main lobby and out the rear of the lobby if possible. That typically gives the fastest idea of what the hotel is like. After walking out the rear most hotels have a pool, dining and places to eat and other activities. See what appeals to you. Here are my favorite Disney Resort Hotels to see.
The Boardwalk Resort
The Boardwalk Resort has many places to eat around the lake. It has entertainment outside and connects to Epcot through England/France. The Boardwalk also has the Swan, Dolphin, Beach Club and Yacht Club. The food in the Yacht club is always raved about. The Boardwalk should be on everyone’s list to see.
The Wilderness Lodge.
The Wilderness Lodge. The Wilderness Lodge is commonly confused with Fort Wilderness Resort and Campsite(where the hoop-dee-doo is). They are not the same. The Wilderness lodge is in the East of of the Polynesian Resort and transportation and ticket center and South of Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower Resort. The Wilderness lodge is amazing inside and out. Especially around the holidays. It has 4 restaurants and a scenic view. Great to relax and walk around and eat. The boat to Magic Kingdom is in Rear.
The All Star Movies Resort
The All Star Movies Resort. The all star Movies Resort has movie memorabilia around. If movies are your thing check out the All Star Movies Resort.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
The Animal Kingdom Lodge. Another one with a amazing inside. Animal kingdom lodge resort has 2 lobbies Kidani and Jambo house. Jambo the larger and more scenic. The outside has animals roaming around at times.
The Polynesian Village Resort
The Polynesian Village Resort. The Polynesian has Trader Sams Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar. The Trader Sams Tiki bar has moving seats and special effects. The Polynesian aside from having a unique feeling like you are elsewhere. The Polynesian Village Resort also has excellent view of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks. Its a nice place to stand to see not only the normal fireworks shows but also the special ones on New Years Eve, July 4th, Halloween, Christmas.
The Grand Floridian
The Grand Floridian. This resort has a fantastic band that plays daily. The resort is also one of the most dined at. Its very common to see people wearing suits eating at the Grand Floridian.
The Contemporary Resort
The Contemporary Resort. This resort has the most up close view of the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom’s Fireworks spectaculars. The fireworks can be seen from the outside rooftop and bridge that connects the Contemporary Resort to the Bay lake Tower. Each hotel also has several places to eat and shopping. The Monorail runs through it for easy transportation to the Magic Kingdom, Polynesian Village and Grand Floridian.
Westside Shoppes in Windermere
These newish shops are very close to northern Disney World. There is great eating and shopping here. If you want to pay normal outside of Disney prices to eat and need to restock supplies like bottle water. Stop at Westside Shoppes Area. Westside shoppes also has a Publix Supermarket to take food and water back with you.
Seaworld Orlando. Seaworld is a one day place to see. There are many large coasters. The top attractions I would see is the Wild Arctic (skipping the old movie intro) Turtle Trek ( to view the turtles in tanks) Empire of the Penguins, The Dolphins, Stingrays. Seals.
Aquatica. Aquatica is Seaworld’s waterpark. Its fun on a hot day. Aquatica is close to Seaworld so you could possible split the day between the two parks with a Annual Pass or multi day ticket.
Margaritaville Orlando Resort
Margaritaville Orlando Resort and Waterpark The Margaritaville Resort is located in Kissimmee. Very close to Disney World and other other mentioned attractions. The resort could be a one day, multi day event, or lived in year round with a Margaritaville cottage homes for sale. The Cottage Homes for sale have over 40 different floor plans to choose from. The resort has a Waterpark called Island H2O Live! Margaritaville Orlando offers Entertainment, Restaurants, Movies and Shopping all in walking distance.
Celebration. Celebration is the first Disney built town. Designers that worked on the parks contributed to some of the architecture. Celebrations village is great for its dinning, shopping and quaint town offerings with a Disney Style. Sometimes Disney Characters are around for events. Celebration would be great for a few hours spent away from Disney World but still getting a Disney Vacation type feel.
Downtown Orlando Lake Eola Park
Downtown Orlando Lake Eola Park. If seeing the big city is on your list then Lake Eola is a popular stop. Lake Eola is a popular place to walk around. Surrounding the Lake Eola is music and restaurants. It’s a nice place to stop in the evening.
Should I buy Theme Park and Attraction Tickets or Annual Passes?
If you are a Florida Resident the Annual Pass is the way to go for most attractions. Some Annual passes cost a little more or less than a 2 or 3 day single day ticket. The annual pass may also include parking at $25 each time to park that adds up fast. A 3 day ticket requires $75 additional for parking. Try pricing the lowest cost pass in comparison to the tickets you choose. The Disney Weekday Select and Universal Preferred pass both have free parking and discounts on food and merchandise. If you live out of state check the pricing on passes the attraction offers. Sometimes it is still worth it. Considering a 14 day vacation can have its share of use.
Stay in a Hotel? Rent a Home? AirBnB? Buy a Home? Condo? Townhome? Single Family?
These are all questions to ask yourself. Of course a hotel or Airbnb might work out for a one time visit. But if its multiple visits a year, it may be time to add up those hotel costs. Depending on the hotel costs a short rental may be a better option. The money being spent on hotels and rentals does not go anywhere. Sometimes for the same price or possibly a little more or less owning a vacation home is the right choice. The property is being paid off and can be sold in the future to recoup some of the money spent on it or possibly for a large financial gain. A common vacation home is a townhome. Mostly for its lower cost and maintained by the community Homeowners Association “HOA”. Although there are many communities now that also maintain the lawn on single family homes. The choice would be yours of which is right.
Disney World Vacation Homes
So you are looking for a vacation home? These are the most common questions for vacation home shoppers. Disney seems to command the most attention of potential home buyers. Home buyers want to live close to Disney. Disney also employed huge numbers in Orlando. Homeowners around Disney also get to see the fireworks from various parks nightly. It’s a great free bonus. The questions I am commonly asked is where can homes be purchased close to Disney World Resort. If you are on vacation these towns are worth seeing. You can take yourself or if you would like please contact Rich Noto Realtor for a guide around the towns and or homes for sale viewing.
Towns Close to Walt Disney World Resort
Winter Garden 34787
Winter Garden is a fantastic town. It has a great balance of luxury homes and shopping, convenience, cost effective living and being scenic. There is lots of Winter Garden New Homes For Sale and great almost new resale homes for sale. Winter Garden has many locations where views of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks can be seen. The town of Winter Garden 34787 has lots of places to go shopping. Stoneybrook West Plaza, Hamlin, Winter Garden Village, Downtown Winter Garden and More. Winter Garden is Minutes from Disney or right Next to it. For example communities like Toll Brothers Lakeshore, Meritage Watermark, Dr Horton Waterleigh, Ashton Woods Latham Park, Mattamy Homes Hawksmoor, Hamlin, Summerlake are all about 13 minutes or less of a drive.
Winter Garden has Golf Courses. Orange County National Golf and Stoneybrook West Golf. Winter Garden is also close to Disney Golf Courses.
Winter Garden Connects so well to Windermere it’s easy to confuse the two. They blend so well that you may think your in Windermere when driving but be in Winter Garden. Or you may think your driving in Winter Garden but be in Windermere. It takes time to know what is where. Some Communities like Summerport is mostly in Windermere but also connects to Winter Garden.
Windermere is arguably the most expensive zip code around Disney and in Orlando. Windermere has some of the most luxurious homes in central Florida. Homes for sale in Windermere consist of New Homes for Sale and resale home. Although windermere new homes for sale are much less than in Winter Garden. Windermere also connects to Walt Disney World Resort. On The Northern Disney World side is Disney University. Disney University is North of and close to the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary and bay Lake Tower resort, The Grand floridian and Polynesian Resort. Windermere also has its share of Golf Courses. It has is own Downtown and many places to shop like the Westside Shoppes. Windermere residents in places will see Walt Disney World Fireworks. Shopping in Windermere is also shared with Winter Garden Village, Hamlin and others. Windermere Spans to Orlando 32836.
Orlando 32636 is possibly the most expensive zip code with the Orlando name. Orlando 32836 is part of Walt Disney World. Such as with northern Disney Locations like Golden Oak Luxury Homes For Sale at the Four Seasons. Toll Brothers Royal Cypress Reserve is a Community in Orlando 32836 Minutes from Disney.
Kissimmee is to the south of Walt Disney World. It is a much older town as far as homes and shopping. Kissimmee is more sought after for lower cost homes and more short term rentals. Old Town Kissimmee is a popular place to walk around. Margaritaville Resort Orlando is in Kissimmee
Please see the above section for more Celebration tourist information. Celebration is a luxury community originally planned by Disney. I can not say from personal experience if Disney World fireworks can be seen from the homes there. But I can say Celebration is close and has very nice homes. The town is also something to see as stated above.