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We have been coming to Florida for over 25 years now and would like to share some of our local knowledge to help you make the very best of your holiday and, hopefully, make it more relaxing and enjoyable.
1. If you have spent the day at any of the Disney Parks then try driving to International Drive (I-Drive), especially south of Sand Lake Rd, for dinner. Most of the better restaurants are South of Sand Lake Rd. You will also find you are travelling against the traffic and by the time you have enjoyed your dinner the drive back will be a lot quieter.
2. Shopping is a Floridian pastime and there are numerous places to indulge. The best are International Premium Outlets at the north end of I-Drive (just follow I-Drive north until you run into it). There are hundreds of brand name shops, and non brand but very good, with budget prices. Reebok, Adidas and Nike heaven!
3. The best designer outlet is Premium Outlets on SR417 at Lake Buena Vista. Just off I-4 by Bahama Breeze. It’s also right next to the North entrance to Disney. Here you will find Armani, Boss, Polo, Calvin Klein and many, many more all at discounted prices.
4. Credit and debit cards are taken virtually everywhere and by everyone. A vendor will clearly state if they don’t take cards. Most shops will ask for ID if you pay with a card. If you pay by card in a restaurant you will be asked to sign the receipt and very rarely enter a PIN number.
5. Petrol is not as cheap as it was but is still good value. However prices vary massively from Gas station to Gas station. There can be as much as $0.50 per gallon difference between stations that are only yards apart. Petrol is also sold in gallons NOT litres and you will need to pay for your fuel before you pump it. If you pay too much you will just get a refund.
6. Shop for food at the main supermarkets such as Publix, Target and Wal-Mart. They are everywhere and only a few minutes’ drive from all the resorts. Beware the resort Supermarkets as they are priced for tourists.
7. Alcohol is generally very expensive in restaurants unless it is local, which means American. Go for draft beers and house wine as there is a good selection and is usually very good.
8. The legal age to drink alcohol in Florida is 21. Bars take ID very, very seriously. DO NOT attempt to buy alcohol for anyone under the age of 21 as if you do, and get caught, you WILL be arrested and fined. So will the bar manager. Anyone under the age of 21 is not even allowed to carry an alcoholic drink in a bar and the barman will usually refuse to serve you more drinks than people they can see with valid ID. If you are sitting outside and go to the bar for 2 alcoholic drinks then you won’t get served. Just ask a server to get the drinks for you.
9. Don’t be offended if you get asked for ID when buying alcohol or using a credit card. Its Florida Law to have valid, picture ID on you at all times so it’s a good tip to carry your drivers’ licence with you at all times.
10. Get to the Parks as they open. Go directly to the rear of the Park and get a Fast Pass on the way for one of the best rides. The rides at the front of the Parks fill up quickly but those at the back take time to get busy. You can do two or three of the best rides before the queues start to grow.
11. Have an evening out at Universal Studios City Walk and go after 6 when the parking is free. Don’t do this after a day at the parks unless you are very fit and have the stamina of a race horse.
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