March 17, 2016

Orlando Vacation Recap.


     I'm so excited to finally be sharing a recap of my Spring Break vacation today! Some of you might know that it has been my tradition since sophomore year to travel with my dad for Spring Break. For the past two years, we visited the Dominican Republic. I didn't have as much time to travel this year due to some adulting obligations in Charlotte (such as apartment hunting!) during the end of the break, so we wanted to travel to a domestic location this year. I was thrilled when my dad and I decided upon Orlando, and even more excited when he said that I could bring a friend along! I invited my dear friend Caroline, who has been mentioned many times before on the blog. ;-) We became good friends at school last year, and this year we are suitemates!

      We were in Orlando for five days, which I think is the perfect amount of time for that destination. My dad flew in separately from New England, and Caroline and I actually had more time there. We had a morning flight in an airport outside of Charlotte, so our day began very early on the Thursday that we left! And we didn't end up arriving back in Charlotte on Monday (technically Tuesday) until 1:30 a.m., so we definitely made the most of the five days with our travel arrangements.


     Below I will be recapping how we traveled, where we stayed, and what all we did while in Orlando! If y'all like this blog post format, I will try and implement it in the future for upcoming travels and vacations. :-)



Travel: I really enjoy searching for cheap flights. I think that the whole process is a gamble, and I love the thrill of the chase! I definitely get this from my dad, as he is a master at booking affordable travel. Since Caroline and I were flying in separately from Charlotte, my dad let me take care of booking our flights. It was not a quick process, and we ended up with a very interesting flight itinerary, but the total cost for each ticket was $173!
     One thing that I have learned in my years of flying to and from Charlotte for school is that despite the fact that Charlotte is a huge hub, it is not a cheap airport to have as a final destination. I also have been aware in recent years of Allegiant Airlines, an up and coming budget airline that flies mainly to warm weather destinations from small airports. I wanted to try and get Caroline and I on Allegiant if I could, because they fly out of an airport in a Charlotte suburb!
     Unfortunately Allegiant's scheduling for the airport closest to us didn't line up with our trip dates, but I did find a $40 one-way Allegiant flight out of the Greensboro NC airport, which is an hour and a half from Charlotte. For a ticket at that price, it was worth it for us to find a ride to the Greensboro airport. (And Caroline's mom generously took us!) For our return trip, I booked us on a cheap Delta flight into Charlotte. It had a layover in Atlanta, which ended up being a disadvantage, but we still got back safely, and our delays were only a couple of hours!
     If you're searching for a cheap flight soon for upcoming travel, do not be afraid to look at airports that are outside of the vicinity of your main one! You could find an incredible deal, like we did in Greensboro with Allegiant. It's also good to price shop on multiple websites! I usually like to book all travel arrangements through Expedia since I get Ebates cash back, but for this trip it was the cheapest to book through each airline directly.
     As far as actual transportation while in Orlando, my dad ended up renting a car, so that is what we used for the actual vacation. But Caroline and I did take Ubers to and from the airport on both days of the trip! The cost from the Orlando Sanford Airport (Allegiant's hub), which is a little north of the city, was $31 to our hotel. I paid $18 for our Uber on Monday to take us to Orlando International Airport. Not bad rates at all when split between two people! I found Uber in Orlando to be extremely prompt, and we didn't have any issues.


Lodging: My dad decided to book our lodging in the Universal Resort area, instead of staying within Disney. Universal's resorts can be much more reasonably priced, and still offer wonderful amenities, and a close location to Disney and other Orlando attractions!
     We stayed at Cabana Bay , which is just under two years old. The hotel is 1950s themed, and you really do feel like you have jumped back in time as you walk through the property! Despite the fun retro theme, everything is still brand new. The rooms were my favorite part of the hotel- we were so pleased with our suite room! It was quiet, clean, and had the most fun and colorful decor! You can see a picture of our beautiful room on my Instagram (@miss_alk).
     Cabana Bay also has two pools, a 50s style bowling alley, and a round-the-clock free shuttle service for guests to other Universal hotels and Universal's CityWalk (more about CityWalk below!). The only part of staying at Cabana Bay that I didn't like as much was their dining options. Their main restaurant is cafeteria style, and I was looking forward to Spring Break so that I would get a chance to get a break from cafeteria style dining, haha! But other than that, we really enjoyed this hotel. I would love to check out the other Universal hotel properties if I should return to this area in the future!


Trip Agenda: We spent two days in Disney, and one day exploring Orlando. I think that this schedule was perfect, it allowed for just enough Disney time without anything getting overwhelming!

Thursday: Caroline and I arrived much earlier than my dad, so we spent the afternoon exploring the hotel, and lounging by one of the pools! Once my dad arrived, we got ready for dinner, and enjoyed eating at the Loews' Portofino Bay Hotel, another hotel in the Universal area.

Friday: Epcot day, and the biggest day of our trip! Epcot is my favorite Disney park. We arrived around 9:30 am, shortly after the park opened, so that we could take advantage of the whole day. We first enjoyed a character brunch with some Disney friends at Disney's Beach Club resort, which is in walking distance to Epcot. Such a fun way to start the day, and the food was delicious!



     After brunch, we spent the whole day taking in the sights and sounds of Epcot! We enjoyed meeting a few Disney characters, and then made our way to the rides and countries of the world. We had a chance to do quite a bit, but even a full day is never enough time to see all of a Disney park.




Bunny rabbit! Bunnies are my favorite animals. :-)


This is one of my favorite rides in all of Disney! It's in Epcot, and it's called Living with The Land. 


     In some of the pictures above that you can see above is the beautiful floral and greenery arrangements that were found all over the park. That is because we were in Epcot during their annual Flower and Garden Festival, which was extended this year to run from the beginning of March through the end of May! I am a lover of botanical gardens, so I have always hoped to be in Disney World during this time, and my wish finally came true!

      We ended our Epcot day with dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh in the country of Morocco. This is my own family's Disney tradition! On our three previous Disney trips, we have always had a meal in Morocco. It's probably a more strange Disney tradition to have, but I love it nonetheless, and the food and atmosphere of this restaurant are always wonderful! It's so fun to eat dinner and be entertained by live music and belly dancing!

      Lastly, a big highlight for me of Epcot was enjoying a delicious drink on the way out of the park. A coffee stand near the country of England sold chai lattes that were spiked with Bailey's, which is my favorite alcohol. So delicious!! Definitely a must have for 21+ visitors to Epcot.

     Caroline and I had thought about doing the Disney version of a bar crawl, which is drinking around the world at Epcot (getting a drink in each country represented in the park!). But once we started looking at prices of alcohol at Disney, and also realizing how many countries there were, we realized that this wasn't the trip to do this on. But if you are on a more traditional Spring Break trip, then drinking around the world might be a fun bonding experience for a group of friends! ;-)


     The fun wasn't over for us after we left Epcot though! Once we got back to our hotel, Caroline and I headed out to explore Universal's CityWalk area. CityWalk is a huge area filled with restaurants, bars, and some shopping and entertainment attractions. It's a ton of fun for the 21+ crowd after dark! We only stayed for a couple of hours, but we had a great time checking out some of the places. Our hotel also provided free shuttle service too and from CityWalk, so we didn't have to bother with Ubers.


Saturday: This was our more mellow day, as all of us were pretty tired from the previous day's adventures in Epcot! We didn't do any Disney parks this day, and instead wanted to explore something in Orlando.
      My dad arranged for the three of us to have a guided tour of the Leu Botanical Gardens in downtown Orlando. We had a wonderful time! The plants and flowers of Florida are so different than what I'm used to (being from New England), so we got to see so many amazing sights in all of the gardens. The associate director for the gardens, Keri, was our tour guide, and she was absolutely wonderful.
      We checked out Disney Springs (formally known as Downtown Disney) that evening, and enjoyed a delicious Asian dinner at Morimoto Restaurant. They served the best Thai Iced Tea that I think I've ever had in my life!


Sunday: Caroline's favorite day of the trip: Magic Kingdom Day! We arrived at Magic Kingdom a little later than we had at Epcot, but still enjoyed a full day in the park. We got to do a lot of different rides than I had done on my last visit to Disney in high school, but something that I really did enjoy was partaking in a few old favorites as well, especially the It's a Small World After All ride. ;-)

It's a Small World After All - an absolute must ride if you're in Magic Kingdom. :-)






     I am not personally a big fan of roller coasters or other thrill rides, because I am very prone to motion sickness. So stuck to the more mellow Magic Kingdom rides, but there was still more than enough to keep us busy for the day! In addition to Small World, my other favorite rides were the Jungle Cruise, Dumbo's ride, and the carousel by Cinderella's castle.

     We left Magic Kingdom briefly to eat dinner in the Grand Floridian Hotel. Let me tell y'all- if I ever get the chance to return to Disney World someday with a special guy in my life, I would love to stay at the Grand Floridian! Such a romantic and beautiful hotel! It definitely showcases the more "grown-up" side of Disney as well. After our meal, we hopped on the monorail and made it back to the park, just in time for what we had been waiting for all day, the Wishes Fireworks Spectacular!







      If there's one thing that Disney does well, it's fireworks! What an incredible show, and a perfect way to end the Disney portion of our trip.


Monday: The final day of our trip! My dad had an earlier flight, and he headed to the airport shortly after breakfast. Caroline and I returned to Orlando's CityWalk for lunch, and ate at Margaritaville. (I was not super impressed with my food and found their prices to be very high for the quality of the food and the service- would not recommend!) Some of you might also remember from my Snapchat that after lunch we stopped by a restaurant called Cowfish. Cowfish is a sushi and burger restaurant that has a location in Charlotte, and I truly believe that they have the best milkshakes in the world! The CityWalk location was three stories, and of course I had to stop by to take my favorite milkshake to go!

      The last thing that Caroline and I did was meet up with some of my Florida blogging friends! I finally had the chance to meet Ashley and Michelle, two Orlando fashion bloggers, and it was so much fun. Caroline patiently listened as the three of us discussed fun blogging topics like social media analytics, rewardStyle, and blogging conferences- my suitemate truly is a saint, y'all!


     To sum up quickly, a few things that I would definitely recommend doing from our trip to Orlando:

  • Flying on Allegiant Airlines
  • Staying at a Universal Resort 
  • Dining at Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot's Morocco Pavilion
  • Visiting Universal's CityWalk for nightlife (21+)
  • Visiting Leu Botanical Gardens (and scheduling a guided tour if possible!)
  • Dining at Morimoto Restaurant in Disney Springs

      I hope that y'all enjoyed this Spring Break recap post! I know that this blog post was very detailed, so please let me know in the comments if you liked this format of a travel recap post or not!





     xoxo Miss ALK

18 comments:

  1. I haven't been to Orlando since I was about eight-years-old, and all of these photos made me want to go back so much! I've never been to Epcot, but it looks like so much fun! I also love all of the photos from nighttime. Disney is such a magical place. I need to go back ASAP!

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  2. It sounds like you had an amazing time! Your pictures are fabulous!

    XOXO
    mQs
    www.shorelifeofm.blogspot.com

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  3. So fun to read about your Spring break vacation. It sounds like you had the best time with your Dad and Caroline. I've been to Disneyland and Disneyworld but I don't recall ever visiting Epcot...and I would think I would remember so I must not have been. Once again I love your cute romper!

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  4. Looks like so much fun! The last time I went to Disney was in the sixth grade and I can't wait to go back!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

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  5. Long time reader, first time commentor lol...Disney is so fun and looks like you had a great trip! As a fellow Bailey's lover, may I suggest trying the salted caramel baileys...delicious over ice! -Andi

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  6. So fun! I'm hoping to make a trip to Orlando soon to see my sister so I will definitely keep your recommendations in mind. My sister keeps sending pictures from the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot and they are absolutely gorgeous. It must have been even better in person. xx Merisa | Monogrammed Magnolias

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  7. It sounds like you had such a fun trip! I visited Disney my senior year of high school and I think I would love to go back as a 23 year old...maybe I'll be able to talk my husband into going and staying at the Grand Floridian!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

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  8. Your pictures are so great. It looks like you had a lot of fun!

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  9. Sounds like you had a really great trip!! I dream of visiting Disney one day!

    La Belle Sirene

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  10. A great post! I am a Disney fanatic and want to visit Disney World soon! We always try and play around with our flights when going to Disneyland and have gotten some similar great deals. However, any time I've looked at Disney World, tickets aren't cheap...probably because it's across the country. I will have to try some of your tips and tricks. I've heard of Allegiant air, so maybe I will look further in to that! Great post, sweet girl! Glad you had fun!

    xo Ashley

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  11. Ah it looks like you had the BEST time. I absolutely love Disney. I just went for my birthday with my best friend, whose birthday is two days after mine! It rained a lot but we still had so much fun. It's such a magical place and your outfits are SO cute!
    xo
    lauren
    The Fashionista's Diary

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  12. I want to go back! I was just there is August last year. Best trip ever. It was a little hot and humid when I was there. I bet this time of year is a better temperature.

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  13. The happiest place! I haven't been there in years, but need to go back! The flight price is an awesome deal!

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  14. I've only been to Disney World once, but really want to go back! I go to school about fifteen minutes from Disneyland and it's so different! It's kind of insane how big Disney World is in comparison. It looks like you had such a great time!

    xo
    Sami
    www.theclassicbrunette.blogspot.com

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  15. I have been to Disney World in years. It looks you had such a wonderful time.

    xoxo, Danielle
    www.glamrme.com

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  16. So jealous of your time at Disney! So much fun!
    www.kayleighskloset.com

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  17. Ahhh isn't it just so magical! Thank you so much for sharing all of these little details. Definitely will be coming back to this one whenever I go there next.

    xo,
    Sara Kate Styling

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  18. In case you're traveling in Orlando soon and will have some an opportunity to save while you are down there, it may be justified regardless of your while to go on some timeshare visits.!
    Orlando parks tours

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