Holidays in Orlando, Florida 2013/2014:
Virgin Holidays are the UK's leading tour operator to Florida and with 26 years experience you can rely on us to package up your perfect Orlando experience.
Our package holidays to Orlando are based in 5 broad areas - each with its own benefits. You can stay within the WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort area in one of the Disney hotels. The other areas are Kissimmee - which is great value and, since its beautification project, is easy to walk around. International Drive is the centre of the action, with lots of bars, restaurants and, of course, Wet 'n Wild Orlando. Universal Orlando Resort is perfect for making the most of the state-of-the-art theme parks and entertainment on site, while Lake Buena Vista is an attractive, green landscape very close to Disney, where we have a full selection of hotels and suites. We also have private houses in the Orlando area for a more independent experience. Wherever you decide to stay, the multiple attractions of an Orlando package holiday will bring constant amusement to the whole family, day and night. It’s an amazing place and you're going to have a great time! The only problem with Orlando holidays is finding enough time to visit every attraction. We guarantee you’ll leave wanting to see more. A bit of prior planning goes a long way, so get some kind of rough itinerary together (after all, the anticipation is all part of the excitement!).
When 17th century diarist, Samuel Pepys declared ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ Orlando didn’t exist. If it had, just imagine what he would have made of it! Bored is simply not an option in this incredible holiday playground, packed as it is with all manner of exhilarating attractions. Yes, there’s the theme parks, Universal Orlando® Resort, WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort, SeaWorld® Orlando and LEGOLAND® Florida and yes, they’re the best in the world but there’s so much more too. World-class shows abound, exciting eateries beckon and shops, stuffed to the gills with discounted designer goods, play havoc with your credit card!
The beaches too are amazing, only a couples of hours away with two coasts to choose from, the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast, both of them boasting long swathes of golden sand, lapped by warm, clear waters, ideal to swim in, surf on or dive below. There’s plenty new for 2013, including some groundbreaking rides that nudge the thrill-o-metre way beyond maximum. Whether you’re a family, a couple or planning on exchanging wedding vows here, Orlando is like nowhere else on earth – it’s fun, fun, fun all the way and then some!
Things to do/Attractions
Okay, we know it’s obvious, but we’re going to say it anyway – theme parks – that’s what to do! Theme parks are undeniably the centrepiece of Orlando, and a visit to the area isn’t complete without spending a day or 2 in 1 or more of them. Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot await you as does Universal Orlando® Resort which has 2 amazing them parks: Universal Studios® and Universal's Islands of Adventure®. There’s also SeaWorld® Orlando, Aquatica, Wet ‘n Wild® and Florida’s newest theme park LEGOLAND® Florida with over 50 rides and attractions. They’ve got a waterpark coming soon too with delights such as Build-A-River and Splash Out so book your combi-ticket and don’t miss out! To make your visit to the theme parks even more exciting, we’ve got a host of special offers for you. Book your Universal and/or Disney tickets with us whilst booking your holiday and you’ll enjoy a whole range of special benefits, including 14 days entry for the price of 7 and Early Park Admission – imagine, there’ll be hardly any queues for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! It can be expensive eating at the parks day in, day out, but we’ve got that covered too. Book a selected Disney Hotel and ticket package with us, for a minimum of 5 days, and the entire family will eat free at over 50 restaurants throughout Walt Disney World. And as if that’s not enough, we’ll include a free Disney Gift Card, loaded with $100, to spend at Disney too!
Love golf? You're in luck. There are over 170 courses in Orlando – little wonder it’s been voted ‘North America’s Golf Destination of the Year’! There are over 60 golf courses of varying degrees of difficulty are located in or around Florida. Morning tee times are best for summer, as the afternoon can get hot and humid, slowing down the greens.
Orlando has every type of eatery to suit every type of budget. If you want to really save on bucks, however, take advantage of our Dine Around offer, where you’ll receive 50% off a variety of restaurants, including favourites such as Pizza Hut, Houlihan’s and Village Inn. What’s more, when you book with us, kids eat free at over 100 restaurants – so tuck in and feast to your heart’s content! International Drive is Orlando’s main thoroughfare and home to Italian restaurants, Chinese, steak houses and, of course, Ben & Jerry’s for pint’s of ice-cream. Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co pays homage to Oscar-winning film, Forrest Gump – watch the film before going, because you’re sure to be quizzed about it! For country cookin’, head to Cracker Barrel or dine on favourites such as the ‘Grand Slam’ and ‘Moon Over My Hammy’ at Denny’s, a great place for breakfast. Joe’s Crab Shack serves snow crabs in a bucket whilst at Johnny Rocket’s, hamburgers, malt shakes and apple pie are all the rage. T.G.I Friday’s is America’s most iconic bar and grill whilst the uber-cool Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Studios® Orlando is the largest in the world!
When night falls, the pace picks up in Orlando. Universal Citywalk is a popular after-dark venue with nightclubs galore, restaurants, concert venues, cinemas and street performers. Grab a drink at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, a burger at the Hard Rock Cafe and then head to the theatre to witness the spectacle that is the Blue Man Group, boasting an incredible new score and an all-new stage. Downtown Disney is fabulous too, divided into three distinct areas, there’s Downtown Disney Westside, where more dazzling shows can be enjoyed, including Cirque du Soleil and La Nouba. There’s also an interactive theme park - great fun for all the family and the House of Blues. For shopping by moonlight, Downtown Disney Marketplace is ideal or head to Downtown Disney Pleasure Island, for outstanding shopping and dining at places such as the lively Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant. Also recommended for a night out is the recently opened Splitsville, one of the best bowling alleys in America or Pointe Orlando on International Drive with award-winning restaurants, live music at B.B. King’s Blues Club and a 20-screen movie theatre with IMAX.
Not to be missed
There’s plenty new for 2013 in Orlando, so even if you’ve been, you’ve plenty of excuse to come back! New rides at Universal include the rip-roaring 3-D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and the groundbreaking Transformers: The Ride-3D. At Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland doubles in size and includes 2 new themed lands, home to The Beast’s Castle, Prince Eric’s Castle and The Storybook Circus. At SeaWorld® Orlando, follow a young penguin’s adventure through an icy landscape on new ride Antartica or head to Fun Spot America on International Drive which now boasts a brand new White Lightening Roller Coaster, the world’s biggest Sky Coaster and a new suspended family coaster called Vekoma. Also new for 2013 is the Superstar Character Breakfast at Universal Studios®, including the minions from Despicable Me, SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. Chocoholics will be in heaven at the brand new World of Chocolate Museum and Cafe that has chocolate sculptures, tastings and workshops where you can mould your own delicious creation! Space buffs should head out east to NASA’s fascinating Kennedy Space Center to learn the history of the American space programme and hear what it takes to send astronauts and cargo into space, and return them safely to earth. See the amazing rocket garden, the mighty Saturn V rocket that propelled the Apollo missions to the moon in the 60s and 70s and, new for 2013, meet Space Shuttle Atlantis up close in its new home (scheduled opening July 2013). If you’ve always dreamed of becoming an astronaut you must try out the Shuttle Launch Experience – a realistic simulator that recreates the feeling of blasting into orbit onboard the shuttle. The Kennedy Space Center is a special day out for all the family and not to be missed at any cost – it’s out of this world!
Best for families
Most of our Orlando hotels are family-friendly offering great on-site facilities for children and teenagers. To get the most from Orlando’s myriad attractions, take advantage of our Do More, See More, Play More Card – exclusive to Virgin guests. Here’s how it works: choose from 1 premier attraction (Wet ‘n Wild®, Kennedy Space Center or Arabian Nights Dinner Show) and 3 other attractions, including Gator Land, Haunted Grimm House and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! You’ll enjoy unlimited access over a period of 30 days as well as unlimited use of the I-RIDE Trolley which stops outside many of our featured hotels. Further afield, there’s Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay, a 335-acre adventure park filled with wild animals and even wilder rides! If you buy a Busch Gardens® Inclusive Multi-Park ticket from us, we’ll provide free bus service to and from! Dinosaur World is also highly recommended if you’ve a fanatic in the family (Dad – you know who you are!) complete with fossil dig and Carnivore Boardwalk. We’ve mentioned the Kennedy Space Center above, but it’s so good, we’ll mention it again. With Virgin’s Admission Badge you can access all areas or upgrade to a ‘Space Pass’ which includes not only your Admission Badge but a guided tour led by a trained space expert and the opportunity to dine with a real astronaut!
Best for couples
Is it a special occasion or do you just fancy indulging yourself? If so, check out our Platinum collection of hotels, chosen for their unique character, superior accommodation, delectable cuisine and excellent service. That’s without getting started on the facilities! Many of our hotels, Platinum or not, also feature award-winning spas, so treat yourself and your partner to a bit of pampering. Orlando can get very busy at certain times of the year so escape the crowds at Bok Tower Gardens, just 30 minutes from the centre. A National Historic Landmark, peace and serenity reigns, as you stroll arm-in-arm through 700 acres of citrus groves, woodland glades and nature trails. Winter Park is another oasis of calm or soar above the crowds in a sunrise balloon ride over WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort – champagne and breakfast included. A show by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is recommended too.
Orlando is one of the world’s most popular wedding and honeymoon destinations and rightly so! Virgin offer an amazing range of wedding ceremony options, including becoming a real live princess for the day in Walt Disney World or exchanging vows in a pristine garden setting. World-class hotels form the backdrop to your special occasion, including Cyprus Grove Lakeside Plantation & Cottage with its charming Colonial-style house overlooking stunning Lake Jessamine. Or say ‘I do’ at Winter Park Chapel, just north of Orlando and extremely quaint with a heavenly-scented rose garden for photos afterwards. Alternatively, rock and roll your way into married life at the Hard Rock Cafe – on the Woodstock Lawn or in the John Lennon Room & Terrace. Afterwards, dive into the outdoor pool and groove with guests to the underwater music!
If you’re in Orlando between February and April, you’re in luck! At Universal Studios Orlando its Mardi Gras time, with colourful street performers, exciting parades and mouth-watering Cajun dishes, bringing to life the spirit of ‘Nawlins’. Tuck into a big plate of spicy Jambalaya or Shrimp Gumbo and enjoy! The beaches on the Gulf Coast are superb and only a couple of hours drive away away, however, don’t forget Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast. It’s less crowded with great water sports for the enthusiast, fishing and sea as warm as bathwater. There are also surf shops galore and charming waterfront restaurants in which to kick back and relax. Orlando is hot all year-round, so what better place to cool down than in the ICEBAR, a frozen oasis in the middle of it all! Don’t worry if you haven’t brought your thermals, jackets and gloves are available for hire, so come as you are and enjoy cocktails prepared by some of Florida’s most talented mixologists.
Weather/Best time to go
As the theme park capital of the world, the busiest time in Orlando is when school’s out – late May through to early September, long holiday weekends, the winter holidays (mid-Dec to early Jan) and especially the spring break (late March-April). To compensate, however, the parks stay open late and there’s always plenty going on. Hot year-round, it can be humid also from May to September with the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms. Don’t fret though, it cools considerably after the rain and there’s plenty to do indoors at all theme parks whilst the sky cries it out! From September to November, the crowds thin considerably and, unless a hurricane blows through, November is the driest month. If a hurricane does threaten, the National Weather Service gives ample warning, so make sure you stay tuned in. Winter can sometimes be nippy, so bring some jumpers with you!
If theme park rides aren’t thrilling enough for you, check out the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line at Gatorland instead! 7 stories tall and 1,200 feet long, you’ll soar over Cuban and Nile Crocodiles as well as the Alligator Breeding Marsh before landing safely on terra firma. To experience freefalling without the need for an aeroplane and parachute, IFLY Orlando is amazing or head to the Orlando Grand Prix for some high-speed go-kart racing. The Central Florida Everglades offers another exciting pastime, zipping through waterways on an airboat, much to the amusement of the resident wildlife! There’s also surfing at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing and parasailing or explore on bicycle or horseback the main trails and paths at selected Disney resorts.
In Orlando, you can quite literally shop ‘til you drop! There are malls galore to choose from, all air-conditioned and featuring much-loved brands often at huge discount prices. Orlando Premium Outlets has now opened on Vineyard Avenue as well as International Drive, just 1 mile from Walt Disney World. Resembling a Mediterranean-inspired village and home to Banana Republic, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Diesel and Guess – you can often save between 25% and 65% on original price tags! Orlando’s largest shopping destination is The Florida Mall, where you’ll find Macy’s and Sears. The Mall at Millennia is award-winning and a runway of pure fashion. Tiffany’s & Co resides here along with Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret. For the softest cowboy boots, head to Shepler’s Western Wear in Festival Bay Mall or spend your dollars on discount Disney items at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. Downtown Disney Marketplace is sure to be a hit with the kids who will simply adore Once Upon a Toy and, of course, the LEGO Imagination Centre.
Orlando is huge! 67sq miles in fact and as such you need to plan how you're going to get about town. Walt Disney World Resort alone is the size of Greater Manchester, but don't worry, it's easy to get around!
Driving really is the easiest way to get around Orlando and it's the perfect place to pick up driving stateside. We have a fantastic range of car hire available. If you choose not to drive, the majority of our hotels offer transportation to most, if not all of the theme parks - full details can be found under each individual hotel. If you choose to stay on International Drive you'll find the I-RIDE Trolley which operates a regular service around the area, stopping at the many attractions that International Drive has to offer. What's more, kids under 12 years are free when travelling with an adult.
Excursions and Virgin Holidays Concierge
As market leaders in Florida we know that sometimes you want to do something a little bit different.
Our Virgin Holidays Concierge Team are dedicated to helping you create the perfect holiday for you, your family and friends. They are able to offer many different attractions to keep you entertained on your holiday of a lifetime. Your concierge will contact you from Florida, before you travel, to assist with your custom-made holiday.
There is no need to wait for us to contact you – just call 0844 557 3890 between 3.00pm and 9.00pm GMT, 7 days a week at UK National rates or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are a few of the many excusions that are on offer:
- Miami and Everglades from Orlando tour
- Clearwater Beach and Lunch
- Champagne Balloon Flight
- Swim with the Manatees
- Horseback or coach safaris
- Dinner Shows
We understand that even in the land that invented automobile, not everyone likes to drive. So, for all those non-drivers out there, Virgin Holidays has various transfer options available, all of which can be pre-booked before you go.
Orlando hotels from Orlando International Airport - from £19 each way. Free with selected hotels. Please call for details.
St. Pete Beach from Orlando - from £49 wach way. Operates every Wed (Apr-Dec).
Clearwater from Orlando - from £49 each way. Operates every Thursday (Apr-Dec).
Miami from Orlando - from £59 each way. Operates every Tue.
Fort Lauderdale from Miami International Airport - from £35 each way. Operates daily (Apr-Nov).
For that something special on arrival in Orlando, why not book a private tansfer from £179 per car return or, if you're feeling extra special, why not book a Limo transfer from £300 per car return.
We recommend the custom packages that are available to plan your perfect holiday to Orlando. Combining hotel accommodation, airfare, car hire and other services when you plan your holiday, can often save you money, and will create an unforgettable Orlando holiday that will create a lifetime of memories.
So, if a holiday to Orlando sounds like a perfect family getaway, check out our fantastic Orlando, Florida hotels, package holidays, excursions and theme park ticket options.
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Video of Orlando
Check out our great video of Orlando below.
You fly direct non-stop to Orlando international airport from Gatwick, Manchester or Glasgow with award-winning Virgin Atlantic.
Approx 9 hours
GMT -5 hours
Approx 14 miles from Orlando International Airport.
Approx 20-min drive from airport.
- Home to world famous theme parks
- State-of-the-art shopping malls
- Golfers paradise
- Restaurants galore from casual to fine dining
- Many superb attractions
Our Top 5 hotels
It's nice to have a bit of space, and this hotel sits in 24 acres of it. The grounds include not only 3 pools and 2 kids' pools, but also an 18-hole mini-golf course. Who can resist having a go at that? Perhaps you'll enjoy a sundowner in Hurricane Sam's, overlooking the lake. You can eat there too, and there are also plenty of restaurants an easy drive away.
The Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa has fast become a firm favourite with guests, thanks to its supreme location and first-class amenities. Guests can enjoy condominium-style accommodation with all the comforts and conveniences of home. Your private patio or balcony is the perfect place to unwind with a pre-dinner drink, admiring the beautiful sunset in the distance.
As well as spacious and well-equipped suites, the Hawthorn Suites offers a whole load of fabulous extras, including complimentary shuttle service to Walt Disney World Resort, a daily hot American breakfast and a 2-hour social reception with complimentary wine, beer and snacks on Monday to Thursday, so you can make friends with your fellow guests!...
A fantastic family favourite, there is plenty to delight every member of the clan at this lively resort. The memorabilia, crazes and catchphrases that defined the 20th Century are everywhere you look - from jukeboxes, bowling pins and 8-track tapes to laptops, mobile phones and VCRs.
The villas we offer in Orlando are very comfortable, well-designed properties that make a fantastic base for your adventures. Each villa has American kitchens which are kitted out with all the gadgets. Best of all is the screened swimming pool, perfect for cooling off after a day at the theme parks.