Head of Interaction and Service Design at @DigitalDWP
My journey across the pond
OUR HOLIDAY IN FLORIDA
Jen and I booked our first holiday together and my first holiday in four years last year. We thought long and hard on where to go and what we wanted to do and ended up choosing a holiday in Florida. We had booked it 8 months in advance so we had a long wait and delayed excitement until the big day when we travelled down to Manchester.
We booked to stay in a time share apartment of my Dad’s in Kissimmee for our holiday in Florida. The photos of the place online looked very retro but I am never one to complain and thought it may have changed by the time we arrived there.
The flight to Orlando International from Manchester was to be the longest flight I had been on. We were flying with Virgin Atlantic and I had heard a lot of good things about Virgin in comparison to other airlines when it comes to long haul flights. Apparently there was more leg room and it was just a more all round better experience. I wasn’t so much impressed, granted they did treat you well however the leg room in economy flying was completely non-existent, I am only 5 foot 10 and anyone taller than me must have felt crippled after the 8 hours. I made a decision on the way back that I’d never fly economy on a long haul flight again.
THE ARRIVAL AND RENTAL CAR
The arrival in the U.S. for our holiday in Florida was my least anticipated part of the whole journey, the U.K. has obviously heightened its security procedures and I had thought the U.S. would have gone overboard where in-fact everything was fine. The added procedures did not slow us down, and we were to find out on the way back that things go even quicker even thought the queues are longer.
The rental car pick-up was my main downside to the whole trip. After forking out £130 in the U.K. for the rental, we were greeted with another £170 bill in the U.S. for various charges including being under 25 (I was ten days off my 25th Birthday), a full tank of petrol, an upgrade to a higher class vehicle (my choice) and other random charges which they had to include. We did however pick a white Pontiac G6 GT Coupe which was a fantastic car.
We stayed at the Celebrity Resorts II in Kissimmee, Orlando just off the I4 Highway and along the 192. The resort was excellent and the apartment was even better. 2 Bedrooms, Full Kitchen, 2 Bathroom, Living room and dining area made up for being further out the way of the inner part of Orlando. With a bar just across the road from the resort which served 75p draught lagers I certainly wasn’t complaining.
WHAT WE DID
We had bought tickets before entering the U.S. for Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure and the City Walks as an overall executive decision. I wasn’t really interested in going to Disney World as I had presumed that it was just not my thing. We went to Universal Studios on the first day which was O.K. I wasn’t totally impressed and we managed to get round the whole place in just under 6 hours, it certainly wasn’t as big as I thought it would be. There were new rides and other rides which were being built at the time of us being there.
The second day consisted of some shopping to break the days up at the Mall at Millenia. This place was primary on my list of things to do because of the Apple Shop being inside. It would be my first visit to an Apple Shop and I managed to make my way back there 3 times during the week. Malls in America are completely different to shopping centres in the U.K, they all seem more upmarket with more money being spent on them. The people working in them seem more friendly than people in the U.K.
Islands of Adventure followed with a City Walks walk-around in the same day. Islands of Adventure was predominantly the better place in the Universal selection, with better rides and more to do I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
For a few days we just simply explored and I managed to get a little bout of sickness thanks to some food I ate so I was out of action for half a day. On the last day however we bit the bullet and headed over to Sea World. This was and is the best attraction I have ever been to, with numerous photos taken on the day of all the shows we saw including the smaller parts of the park like the Stingray feeding pool, the dolphins and the baby sharks all in all this place was simply amazing.
WOULD I GO BACK?
Hell yes! I’d go back to Florida and I’d go back to the States. I would like to go elsewhere in the States so if anyone has any ideas of a good place to go then leave me a message as we’re planning to book up as early as possible. There are some things in the U.S. I just couldn’t either understand or believe;
Light switches go the wrong way
Toilets are full with water
There are advertisements for the contraceptive pill on TV
You can merge on to roads when the light is on red
Companies can openly mock their competition on TV
You can do a U-Turn in the middle of a road
75p draught beers!
Starbucks is half price in comparison to the U.K.
Universal Studios aint that great!
Cinemas have lazy boy leather chairs
The U.S. still sells Cheetos crisps
Pizza Hut doesn’t put sweet corn on pizza’s
The U.S. still sells Mountain Dew
Fuel is uber cheap
Those are just some of the crazy things I noticed in the U.S. and I still can’t wait to go back!