UK theme parks from another point of view!

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Florida December 2017

Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:19 pm

Hello all

I have just booked a trip to Florida 2nd - 15th December this year. Its been around 12 years since I last visited so im excited to see how things have changed along with all the new rides which I have followed online.

The booking started being a trip for my partner and I staying in a cheap motel but more family members jumped in and now there are 10 of us staying a week in Orlando Villa before spending a week in Miami. We are looking to visit Universal, IOA, Volcano bay and Busch and I have a few various questions about the trip that I need help with.

I understand that the weather should be warm and the Qs low beginning of December. If anyone can add to that then thank you.

Last time I went I had no concern for children but there will be children on this trip (5 and 8). Am I right in saying that there are parent/child swap areas for every ride at Universal and Busch?

The best price for tickets I have seen so far is £337 for Universal parks plus Busch and Seaworld. Is there a secret place to get this cheaper?

Is there a good way to book Universal and Busch without booking for Seaworld as well (Orcas)

Is Busch good for the whole family including children? I have only visited the park through adult eyes.

Is there a way to save on theme park parking? we will have either two cars or one minibus.

Are there any recommended places in Miami besides the beaches and Everglades

Is there a must see place to visit the Everglades that will get us into really close contact with wildlife.

Is there a place to see manatees?

Sorry for the list of questions. Cant think of anything else right now but I may add to the list later

Many thanks for your input
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Re: Florida December 2017

Wed Mar 29, 2017 5:52 pm

Do not miss SeaWorld, give them a chance and some credit for moving away from theatrical Orca shows. I'll leave it at that and spare you from one of my long lectures on this issue :lol (although you're more than welcome if you'd like :P)

Mako is largely recognised as the best coaster in Orlando so that alone is enough of a reason to visit :D

There is a really good value ticket that includes Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and Aquatica for 2 weeks and includes free parking. (which at $20 a go can save quite a bit!) You'll be able to find this on Busch Gardens' or SeaWorld's website.

I'm very familiar with the SeaWorld family of parks so if you have any other questions don't hesitate!

(Just a side note, Christmas Celebration at SeaWorld is without doubt the best in Orlando, I'm so jealous of you visiting in December!)
SeaWorld has rescued over 35,000 animals in need![/i]
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Re: Florida December 2017

Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:54 pm

I went December so I can give some advice (also as someone who hadn't been in 10+ years)

December weather is potluck, When I went there was 1 day where it was too cold for t-shirts, 1 day where it was incredibly hot and the rest of the two weeks it was pleasant and warm. I have been when there were icicles hanging from everywhere in December (that is rare though).

My advice would be to pack for British summer but to pack in light jackets or things to put over your clothes to keep warm. Worse comes to worst you can always pop in a Walmart and get some bargain clothes (I would always advise going to a Walmart on the first evening to stock up on snacks, drinks and drink bottles anyway). Check the weather reports a couple of days before and when you get there. It's very unlikely you won't have any hot days for Volcano Bay.

Queues in Universal were very small, Gringotts had the biggest queues at 45mins+ (this was a couple hours after opening though, if you head straight there it should be small) but most big rides were around 20mins (we were used to avoiding the peak times for busy rides though) with a lot of rides being walk-on. Kong broke down a lot when I was there (including when I was on it), don't save it until late in case it's closed for the day.

Be warned, as I found out, December is Universal's "no one will care if we do maintenence right?" time. I was incredibly annoyed to find out the Harry Potter ride was closed the entire 2 week holiday. They give tiny notice for this so you have no hope of planning around them (unlike Disney who publicize long term closures a year in advance).

As you're in a villa, you've no access to shuttle busses to save on the Parking fees and there is no way of avoiding these fees at universal with your own cars. I'd try to see if you can all get in a minibus. You're looking at $20 a day per vehicle. To save a little bit more money on the tickets, you can try seeing if the site you're buying from offers cashback through quidco or topcashback. Even 3% over 10 tickets is a lot of money.

In terms of wildlife, I've done Gatorland (bit Tourist trap-ish but I had fun and it's fine for spending half a day). I've done airboat rides which were fun. Silver Springs do glass bottom boat tours which you may like. People who are arachnophobic need to be aware that some of these places can have very large spiders (hand sized) dotted around. Never done anything that lets you see Manatees up close though.

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