A serious subject in Orlando, needs it's own page !
When you arrive after your 12 hours or more of travel (if from UK), you'll be shattered. On your way to our villa we advise that you call into one of the local supermarkets you'll pass on the way down the 192. The Publix chain is equivalent to Tesco (UK), keeps a range of UK products & is easily spotted from the main road. Florida law prevents leaving any foodstuffs in vacant premises, so you will need basics like salt & pepper, tea, coffee, milk, sugar, doughnuts (the only real essential) & etc... There's a large fridge-freezer so you can keep anything chilled or frozen you wish. The villa is about a mile from the nearest supermarket (Winn-Dixie on Formosa Gardens Boulevard), about 2 miles from Publix (either direction on 192) & about 2.5 miles from Wal-Mart (I 27 north).
There's loads of eateries on the 192 catering for all tastes, all-you-can-eat breakfasts average $3.99. Collect any coupon books you see on your travels, most restaurants offer discounts (typically 10/15%) ! We can thoroughly recommend the Ponderosa (all you can eat), Black Angus (steakhouse) and Carrabbas (Italian) chains, others within a couple of miles include TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Shoney's, Denny's, Sizzler & McDonalds to name a few! Most places refill your drink free....
The shopping malls
in Orlando are really well worth a visit, but can be fairly specialized. The
Mercado has mainly discount factory fashion outlets (clothes/shoes). The Mall at
Millenia (close to the top of International Drive), is the newest outlet, opened
October 2002 with Bloomindales, Macy's & Neiman-Marcus stores attached,
very up-market, when we visited a guy
was playing a grand piano in the center! The range of fast foods available
in their eatery is supposed to be the largest in the area.... The Florida
Mall (off Sandlake Road) is again fashion oriented but has an Electronics
Boutique (Game) store & Toys'R'Us close.... Prime Factory Outlet
World - (formally Belz), (again top of I. Drive), has probably the largest range of
shops, factory outlets & the Character Warehouse (now 2 outlets) with the largest
selection of genuine Disney products outside Disney ( lower prices than Disney).
They again have a fast-food court.
Wal-Mart (on the 192) sells nearly everything & the Flea Market (192) has
stalls full of souvenirs (lots of cheap T's) in air conditioned
walkways. We've found Lake Buena vista Outlet Mall on Vineland Road
(SR535) has the best (cheapest) shoe & gift shops (2005) - but things
For the absolutely guaranteed largest range of genuine Disney merchandise in the known universe, (all at genuine Disney prices unfortunately), visit the Disney Store at Downtown Disney ! The Disney Christmas Shoppe at the same location's interesting !
You'll be seeing mice in your sleep for years............
Everyone we know
has come back with more clothes & shoes than they went with, if you've room,
pack an extra bag to bring it all back in ! (branded trainers are very
favorably priced in relation to UK) PLEASE BE AWARE
that VHS video's bought in the US may not work in UK players unless marked PAL
(Not NTSC). DVDs won't work unless your UK player is multi-region (USA=region 1
/ UK=region 2), PC & hand-held console games will usually be OK but most TV
-connected games console cartridges or CDs will
not ! ASK at time of purchase. Electrical goods use 110v in US, (Not 240v as UK).
Hand-held games consoles bought in US will work with UK sourced games
cartridges, but will usually need a different mains adaptor for UK use (can
still work out a lot cheaper!)
Bed linen & towels are also very good value in relation to UK. Beds come in varying sizes from 'twin' (our single), through full, queen & king sized. If you've a 'normal' double-bed, buy full-sized fitted sheets but queen-sized flat sheets as Americans don't seem to allow enough 'tuck in' !!
A quick note on money: Despite the US being the home of the credit card, we've occasionally had valid cards rejected in the US. We now take 2 cards with us, (MasterCard & Visa), this seems to work on an either / or basis. We no longer take Traveler's Cheques, but if you do, request them in fairly small denominations ($50 or smaller) as there have been lots of forgeries & shops don't like giving large amounts of change for them. Keep plenty of small $ bills with you to pay tips, tolls & the like.
New for 2005: We found that most garage fuel pumps will no-longer take UK credit cards (they ask for your zip code). You must now pre-pay using either cash or credit card.... Be aware that an empty tank will take about $35-40 maximum !!