You’ll have more than your fair share of belly-laughs and barrel-rolls – and certainly some butterflies – in Orlando, America’s capital of fun. Theme-park thrills are thick on the ground here. So is a balmy climate that’ll have you wondering: “sun-bed or roller-coaster?” Those booking flights to Orlando can count on more than just fun and sun, too. There are plenty of grown-up japes, of the retail variety, available in Orlando’s malls. And, when in Florida, you mustn’t miss the snap and crack of its ‘gators, the adorable manatees or the glee of skimming over one of its lakes in an airboat.
Orlando is at its most fun in high summer. But it can also be at its stickiest and busiest. You won’t find too many cheap tickets to Orlando around December, either. That’s when every kid’s Christmas-time wish seemingly comes true. Instead, for those cheap tickets to Orlando plan to book Orlando flights in late winter or spring. That’s when the heat is at its kindest and the queues at their shortest. If you want the cheapest tickets to Orlando, try waiting until September to compare options. Prices often drop then, as the new school year starts.
As a big international destination, Orlando hooks up to airports across the UK. Most direct return flights to Orlando, though, start at London Gatwick, taking around 9 hours. Virgin, Iberia and Delta all offer flights from here, as does low-cost carrier Norwegian. Thomas Cook and Virgin also offer non-stop flights from Manchester to Orlando International (MCO). If you want to fly to Orlando from Edinburgh, Air Canada is an option, but you will have a stop-over. The same is true of the British Airways route from Birmingham.
Orlando International Airport is only 6 miles from the city centre, although it’s nearly 20 miles from the hotels around Disney World Resort. There’s an excellent bus service from the airport to the city, for less than $5, or you can catch the LYNX, the local metro system. Shuttle buses to the resort hotels at Disney are more expensive, costing as much as $30. Hailing a cab will get you there faster most of the time, but can be up to twice as expensive as the shuttle.
There’s no doubt that Disney World tops the attraction list, for the wow factor, wide-eyed wonder and princess swoons. And Orlando’s claim to be the ‘magic kingdom’ works in more ways than one. Universal Studios has both rip-roaring rides through the magic of the silver screen and the spell-binding antics of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Kids of all ages will be awed by the rocket science at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. And nature gets all touchy-feely at Discovery Cove, with breath-taking swims with dolphins. Capital of Fun? More like epicentre of entertainment.
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