Disney Springs has Sprung!

The new look Disney Springs


Disney Springs, Orlando

Previously known as Down town Disney, Orlando.

Over the last couple of years we have seen huge developments around one of our favourite places to hang out – Disney Springs, Orlando.

The Walt Disney World resort offers plenty to do with the family with a pinch of Disney fairy dust, just so you don’t forget where you are!  With over 180 waterside places to eat, shopping and entertainment you can easily fill a day here or spend just a few hours to get your retail fix on your days off away from the parks, not forgetting the all year long Christmas store in the Marketplace.

From fine dining to prehistoric entertainment in the T-Rex dinosaur-themed café, face painting for the kids (any age!) or a dockside margarita there is really is something for everyone!


T-Rex Cafe at Disney Springs

There is a huge amount of new parking facilities or simply catch one of the Walt Disney World complimentary buses or boats.

If you have a free day in your Orlando holiday, this really is a great place to visit if you are looking for an exciting and busy atmosphere. We’d highly recommend booking a table before hand if you are limited to time or be aware it can get busy and you may have to wait for something to eat – more so if you wanting to eat at a particular place but you can check in and be sent away with a time slot or buzzer when your table is ready. There are plenty of places to pick up snacks, coffees and ice cream as you go… Did i mention the margaritas ;0)

If not a great day with the weather or you fancy staying out into the night, you could watch a movie and have a bite to eat at the same time in the 24 dine-in theatres. A great way to entertain the teens in your group, along with the new NBA Experience that has just replaced the DisneyQuest with hands-on activities and interactive experiences.

Like most things in America, Disney Springs is on the large scale so don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve seen it all! There are pathways and bridges between the 3 areas and you can even catch a ferry across the lake from one end to the other.

  • The Marketplace is the main shopping area with stores like World of Disney and The LEGO Store.
  • What was previously known as Pleasure Island is now where restaurants and shops largely operate, and is located in the middle. Have you got space in your suitcases for all your shopping! www.disneysprings.com/shops
  • The West Side is on the far side of Disney Springs, and is where more of the third party entertainment, shopping, and dining options are at.

We have been here many times when our little boy was too young to appreciate the parks but we all felt like we had a fix of Disney!

So who is off to Disney Spring this year? Check it out… www.disneysprings.com



No escape from Disney!


Finding a cheap Orlando flight

Struggling to find a cheap Orlando flight that won’t break the bank?

cheap orlando flight

Up up and away!

People plan their holiday in different ways.  Some will find their villa first, some may look for certain dates, and some may simply try to find the best deal on flights and then search for everything else afterwards with fingers crossed!  Whatever your approach, a cheap Orlando flight for your family usually a big factor in booking your next big holiday, so we’ve put together some tips to help you find the best deal.  It’s something we’re often asked as villa owners, but it’s important to realise it’s not an exact science and may take patience.

Flights vary in price. A lot.


Flight prices depend on supply and demand

All airlines try to fill their planes for the maximum price and profit.  This leads to fluctuation in prices.  Typically, a last minute deal for a long-haul flight just doesn’t exist any more and you’ll find that booking a few months in advance is the best bet for getting a cheap Orlando flight.  For USA flights Skyscanner suggest about 18 weeks in advance.  A good article examining short-haul flight prices is here.

The time of year you are shopping makes a difference.  When tickets aren’t selling, typically just before Christmas, sales appear and prices can drop.  We bought our last tickets to Tampa just 3 days before Christmas.

Do some research a year beforehand if you can – know what price to “buy” at, as if you were trading stocks.  For example if the UK to Orlando is ever close to £400 to £450 per person (prices as of 2016) then we buy.

Be flexible with dates

If you don’t really care when you travel, which is rare, then be flexible.  Search for entire months of flights.  Use skyscanner.  Then check the airline sites directly.  Watch out for indirect flights because they just aren’t worth the hassle and you’ll run the danger of ruining your holiday.  Also try to book to fly out on a weekday and avoid weekends when you can.

Try fly-drive

For our last 5 holidays, 4 have been fly-drive and only one was cheaper to book flights and a car separately – and it was a cheap car as well.  We have never found a nice car and separate flight for cheaper than a fly-drive.

Watch out for hidden costs


Hidden costs can be a pain

One example is Virgin fly-drive.  Their basic insurance package doesn’t include collision damage waiver (CDW).  British Airways’ does.  We ended up forking out another £70 on CDW on one trip when we got to Orlando airport and realised.  A tip for this is to opt for the daily CDW ($20) then book your own CDW through a 3rd party site (we used www.icarhireinsurance.com) and cancel the airport CDW within 24 hours.

Check other things such as the baggage allowance, and optional extras that you might otherwise have to buy separately.

Change your destination!

No, we don’t mean fly to Scunthorpe, we mean fly to Tampa, Miami, or Orlando.  Have a road trip.  Our next holiday will fly into Tampa instead of Orlando and was £200 cheaper.  It’s about 20 minutes longer to drive to from our villa on Tuscan Ridge, but it’s a quicker airport to get through and quick to get a hire car too.

Free cash through cashback


Theres no such thing as a free gift

Cashback is always worth a shot.  For every trip we’ve booked, the flights were through quidco.  Here’s a link for £1 off your next quidco purchase!  You can do the same with insurance, car hire, and pretty much anything.


Last but not least, don’t rush into anything – do some research, ask friends, or send us an email to get some cheap Orlando flight advice.  Good luck in finding flights for your next holiday to our villa.


Money saving tips and hints when travelling to Orlando on vacation

Saving money in orlando

The best way to approach money saving tips for your Florida holiday is to look at the biggest costs first of all, and work down.

– Overall cost. Use a cashback site such as www.Quidco.com to earn cashback for purchasing a product you were going to get anyway. We usually save 10 percent on our car hire this way.

– Flights. Fly out of season if you can. Check out the airline’s timetable but look before and after by a few days and see what flights are lowest. Skyscanner is another good site to see what airlines are lowest cost. Some airports can be a lot cheaper than others too, so if you are flexible use Skyscanner to search throughout the country for your Flight. Consider flying in and out of Miami. It could be cheaper and most hire car companies will allow you to drop the car off at a different airport for a small charge. Lastly, use a flight price checker site to monitor costs – they can go up and down on an hourly basis. Be careful though, last minute cheap flights don’t exist any more.

– Accommodation. Villa vs Hotel?  A cheap apartment with a single king sized bed will cost on average 20-30 percent less than a villa.  Therefore for any group of 4 or more a villa will work out cheaper per person per night. This is before you oven consider the fact that a villa is private, more relaxing, and offers more freedom and no fighting for sun loungers!

– Eating out. This can be a huge cost during a holiday.  Get a villa and avoid having to eat out in the evenings and mornings. Pop down to Publix and buy a few groceries and your food bill will be reduced by 50 percent straight away. A villa offers all the cooking utensils you need and there’s no arguing about who’s the designated driver! Having groceries stored in the fridge means it’s more like being at home – food when you want it, and not at an inflated price. Don’t buy UK food, always get the local produce. Dine around the pool and enjoy the Florida sun.  During the day, you are allowed snacks in theme parks so make sure you get plenty of snacks and drinks before you go into the parks.  I usually buy a 24/48 pack of water and leave it in the back of the hire car.

– Car hire / rental booking & pickup. Always make sure you have compared buying separate car hire with a combination flight + car package.  We have done both methods in the past to get the best deal.  When collecting your car don’t tick any hire car options before reading what they are!  This is a classic mistake when picking up a car at the airport where they hope you’ll not pay any attention because you just want to be on your way to the villa.  The only option I ever bother with is the 2nd driver and fuel package, but this is when booking, not when picking it up.

– Car hire / rental.  Calculate if you really need the toll pass. We don’t usually bother with toll roads at all. It’s a personal choice. Fill up the tank with cash because credit cards add a hefty percentage on at some gas / petrol stations. Watch out for the extras. Sat Nav – I’d not bother, just ask for a map. Child seat – most airlines allow you a luggage item when you pay for your child, so pack the seat as a luggage item instead. We bought a Britax 2nd hand seat for £20 from the UK before we went on our last vacation, and packed this. Extra insurance – it’s expensive for what it is, so make an educated decision. Do you need the full tank option? Check the rate they will charge if you forget to fill up at the end.  If you don’t get the full tank option make sure you fill it up as close to Orlando Airport as you can (there are gas stations just a few miles away).

– Theme Parks. Unfortunately Disney don’t tend to do big discounts, but a multi day pass will work out well, and always watch out for parking costs which can mount up. Seaworld do a great second visit for $10 at the moment, and bulk Seaworld / Busch Gardens park tickets can offer great value for 14 day unlimited entry. There are a lot of discount ticket providers around, my advice is to check out the official online site and then compare and buy before you go to avoid the hassle when you arrive. Try to take your own drink / snacks into the parks. They don’t frown upon it but generally do ban coolers for obvious reasons!  Do not take sandwiches or anything that looks like a main meal.

– Insurance. Shop around on price comparison sites and cashback sites. You’ll be amazed at what your credit card might cover as well, although medical insurance is vital in the USA.  I normally pay less than £10 per person on our travel and medical insurance.  For specialist medical insurance try Medici.

– Coupons / vouchers. These are the final way to save money on eating out and groceries. Every store and shop has a coupon booklet. Pick one up and see what bargains you can get!

– Cheap things to do in Florida.  Of course the biggest attractions in Orlando Florida are the theme parks, but remember there are plenty of things to do and places to see that are cheap.  State parks offer a great value way of spending a day out – Lake Louisa state park is very near Orlando.

– Free things to do in Florida.  It’s easy to forget about the places you can visit that are free in Orlando.  Plenty of them also have Disney attractions so you don’t have to spend a fortune every day to visit Mickey and his friends!  Celebration Town, Old Town, Downtown Disney, Historic Kissimmee.  Further afield there are the Florida Keys and Everglades.

I hope this gives you an idea for money saving tips when you next visit our villa.  Saving money in Orlando isn’t as difficult as it seems, and can be just as enjoyable!


Christmas in Florida

We’ve just returned from a fantastic house hunting holiday in Florida, and Donna and I are very excited to have come back to the UK with a signed contract on a 4 bed villa in Tuscan Ridge. We registered this site name as an easy to remember URL that hopefully won’t deter too many people.

During our stay we managed to sign up to one of the best management companies for the villa – Homes Of America. They helped us locate a sought after floorplan and a south facing pool with spa.

So now we are in the short term rental business, and hope that we can get lots of repeat business for families wanting to get away to Florida to enjoy the year-round sun!