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Florida Blog

New Definitive Guide to Florida

We have been visiting Florida since 1997 and have travelled across most of the state since then, experiencing all that is great about the sunshine state of Florida.

All Attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Close

This morning it was announced that all attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are slated to close. The announcement was made at a press conference, held by Disney spokesman Buzz Abrams. “Guests have been complaining about the construction walls and closed attractions,” Abrams said to a group of about 100 reporters. “In the interest of maintaining our reputation for great guest experiences, we have decided to just shut down and demolish everything at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.” He then asked those in attendance if there were any questions.

Heading to Disney World for the First Time ? Here’s What No One Tells You

As you’ve likely just learned, it takes a ton of time and hundreds of Google searches to plan a family’s first trip to Walt Disney World. With four parks, two waterparks, a massive downtown district and 31 different lodging options, it’s not unexpected to feel like you need a Disney vacation from simply planning one!

Major Upgrades To Fastpass+ At Walt Disney World

WDW News Today is reporting major Fastpass+ changes are coming effecting April 10. There are a lot of changes and they are all good. The first change is guests will no longer need to use a kiosk to make additional Fastpass+ reservations.  Guests will now be able to book an additional and even further FP+ reservations through the MyDisneyExperience app.

Frozen at Epcot expansion to be more than just a new ride...

A new building permit filing made public on the South Florida Water Management District web site reveals Walt Disney World’s plans for bringing “Frozen” to Epcot are much bigger than previously expected and announced.

New bike trail could boost tourism in Kissimmee

A new trail in Kissimmee could tap into a new tourist group and bring more money in Central Florida. The trail would start at Shingle Creek Regional Park, located off West Vine Street, and could eventually lead all the way up to Wekiva Springs. It could mean a big boost in tourism for Osceola County.

5 Future I-Drive Attractions Coming Soon

It seems that every time you head down I-Drive these days, things look different. From the mammoth Orlando Eye, to rad restaurants and pristine landscaping, new stuff is all over the place. And guess what, Orlando - we're just getting started. We've sifted through the venues, experiences, bars and attractions that are in the works on a street that began back in the 1960's. Now, more than ever before, it does for tourists what the Las Vegas strip does in Nevada – International Drive serves as the core of Orlando’s tourism area.

Orlando International Airport installs 20 more APC's

Good news for travelers arriving at MCO on international flights eagerly wanting to get to their luxury villa rental in Orlando, MCO has now installed an additional 20 Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks to expedite the processing of arriving passengers. U.S. and Canadian citizens can self-process in 30 seconds, and citizens from the U.S. visa-waiver countries in under two minutes.

Machine gun attraction opens in Orlando

Orlando's newest attraction close to all the popular villa rental resorts, and perhaps its most controversial, is set to open this weekend. It's called Machine Gun America in Kissimmee and it's already become a target for gun-control advocates.

Construction permits posted for new Universal Orlando water park

Theme park fan forums have been buzzing with rumors for months, but now our friends at Parkscope have found definitive proof: a brand-new Universal Orlando water park is on its way.

World's tallest roller coaster coming to Orlando in 2017

Skyscraper, the world's tallest roller coaster, will tumble, twist, loop and dive from more than 500 feet above International Drive when it opens in 2017, according to the track design unveiled Monday. A 4-minute computer animation of the attraction was released by Orlando-based US Thrill Rides. The video shows the takeoff from inside the Skyplex entertainment complex and climbing upward. The vehicles hold eight passengers as two rows of four people. The footage includes on-b...oard perspective and day versus night experience at times.

Orlando Eye set to open in Spring 2015

Artist impression of the Orlando EyeThe newest entertainment complex to be added to Orlando's roster of exciting attractions along International Drive has officially unveiled the details of what's to come in spring 2015.

Making memories at Walt Disney World

Memories that are made at the magical Walt Disney World should never fade away. With so many amazing experiences crammed into one vacation we know it can be easy to forget just how amazing everything was. You can now be sure to capture all the magic with Memory Maker - Disney's new photo initiative that is being rolled out across all parks.

Magic Kingdom's new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho it's off to Magic Kingdom we go! The final gem in the Fantasyland expansion has now been officially unveiled. Get ready for some mining madness with the new Seven Dwarfs ride, located at the site of the old Runaway Mine Train. The coaster is now shorter in length and somewhat tamer to cater for younger guests. We're sure The Mine Train will be pulling in the crowds this summer with its innovative design and irresistible fun factor - who doesn't love Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs?

Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts

The dragon being hoisted on top of Gringotts Bank last week - Picture Credits @ Amusement BuzzUniversal's exciting new installment to the Harry Potter expansion comes in the form of one of the most innovative and ground-breaking theme park rides of all time. Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts, will be unveiled to the world's media from June 17th-20th. The official public opening is still under wraps but a very reliable source has confirmed that the Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts ride is almost complete - and there's even a dragon on top! Universal have really exceeded themselves on a grand scale with  the new Diagon Alley section of the Harry Potter experience. The Harry Potter phenomenon is far from over and both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are sure to enjoy colossal success off the back of their latest project.

Orlando: The world's favourite holiday destination

Orlando, Florida is constantly proving itself to be the world's favourite holiday destination. It's easy to understand the allure of the sunshine state with it's beautiful climate, gorgeous beaches, action-packed adventure parks and more activities than you could ever fit into just one holiday.

Up and coming attractions In Orlando

If you are eagerly awaiting a villa rental holiday in Orlando this summer you are in for an all-improved holiday of a lifetime! 2014 is set to be an truly amazing year for Florida's theme parks and a villa rental holiday is the perfect way to enjoy all of the weird and wonderful adventures that await you!

New Passport Kiosks at Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport has become the first airport in the USA to use automated passport control kiosks.

Discover Miami: A Modern Metropolis

Picture Perfect BeachesMiami is a cosmopolitan hub of everything that is quintessentially Floridian; beautiful beaches, endless sunshine and happiness on tap.The commercial capital of Florida is the perfect second leg to a twin-centre Orlando villa rental holiday.The combination of Orlando's themed adventures and Southern Florida's exquisite coastline is sure to tick every box for even the most discerning of holiday makers.

The Wonder of Disney

"It all started with a mouse..." It is hard to travel to the Sunshine State and not fall in love with the captivating world of Walt Disney. From the moment you touch down at Orlando International, the happiness is infectious. Orlando, Florida is synonymous with fun - magical, mystical, sparkling bucket loads of it! A vacation in Orlando, really is a holiday unlike any other. Endless sunshine, beautiful beaches, action-packed adventure parks and your very own exclusive villa rental for you and your family to enjoy - it doesn't get much better than this!

50 years ago, Walt Disney saw Orlando as the perfect site for New Kingdom

Fifty years ago tomorrow, Orlando woke up to a fine fall day like the kind advertised in the tourist brochures in northern travel offices. Sapphire skies stretched over citrus groves, green scrub palmetto and countless pockets of blue lakes, where white egrets filled the tops of cypress trees not yet brown.

Why Choose Kissimmee For Your Florida Vacation ?

Windsor Hills ResortKissimmee is the gateway to Central Florida and to the wonderful, magical world of Disney itself. Our Windsor Hills resort is located within the beautiful city of Kissimmee, where you can enjoy a fantastic family vacation filled with breath-taking adventures and blissful relaxation - right on Disney's doorstep! Windsor Hills is as close as you can get to all of the Disney parks, without actually staying on the Disney resort itself.

Disney to debut new Disability Access Service Cards, replacing Guest Assistance Cards

In order to help make attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland more accessible to all guests including those with disabilities, Disney will be replacing the current Guest Assistance Card on 9th October 2013 with the new Disability Access Service Card.

Guess what ! ...Today is the 2nd Anniversary of Dolphin Tale !

There's no better way to celebrate than with "Winter, the Dolphin that Can !" Go back to where it all started with the NEW Documentary, "Winter, the Dolphin that Can," the inspiring real-life story behind the #1 box office hit Dolphin Tale, including never-before-seen footage !

Authorised Orlando Theme Park Ticket Reseller

Be sure to have the time of your life.....by using Kissimmee Guest Services for all your theme park ticket requirements.  We can highly recommend them for all your ticket needs - in all the years we have been visiting Florida (over 15 years now) and staying in our own villa, we have not found anyone offering better value for money with added great service that they always provide.

Evening Activities in Orlando

Manny's Chophouse - The Best Steaks Around!When the sun goes down in The Sunshine State the fun just keeps on coming! With a range of activities for all ages, you will never be short of things to do on your Orlando Florida family holiday.

Discount Norwegian airline adding an Orlando route

Norwegian Air Dreamliner now flies to OrlandoThe budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA plans to start twice-a-week, nonstop flights between Orlando and Oslo, Norway, next year using brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

I-Drive Live Attractions to open New Year’s Eve 2014

The developer of International Drive’s newest attractions set a goal to start 2015 out with a bang — and an observation wheel, Central Florida News 13 reports. Unicorp National Developments Inc. principal Chuck Whittall told News 13 that he plans to open the $200 million I-Drive Live development’s main attraction, the 425-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel, on New Year’s Eve 2014. The foundations on the wheel were poured in June and the first pieces of steel are expected to go up in the fall, Whittall told me in a previous interview.

New & Improved 'I Want A Villa' Website

Here at I Want A Villa we have been making some exciting changes behind the scenes. We are proud to introduce our up and coming, soon-to-be-launched, all-new I Want A Villa Website that will now boast over 250 luxury holiday rentals in Orlando. The new website will be cutting edge with the latest website technology (HTML5 & jQuery Mobile) and has also been configured to provide the best viewing capabilities on PC, laptop, tablet and smartphone. Guests can now browse through a whole host of villas, townhouses and condos on each of our four rental developments: Highlands Reserve, Windsor Hills Resort, Emerald Island Resort and Watersong Resort.

A Journey To Top 6 Beaches In Florida

Florida is one of the leading tourist destinations in the United States of America; it has one of the longest coastlines extending to a distance of over 2000 kilometers. Many tourists prefer to visit Florida due to the ample atmosphere and a wide range of beaches. For foreigners one needs to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to aid in your traveling and accessing various beaches in Florida. One can apply for ESTA online prior to a visit. On a vacation to Florida staying in a vacation rental home, one will get to explore the following top six beach locations.

Luxury Villa Rental In Orlando

Luxury Villa Rentals on Highlands ReserveThere is so much to do in Florida while you are enjoying a villa rental holiday. Think Florida, think Disney World, right? We love Florida and of course, who doesn't love a day out with Mickey Mouse? There is so much more to Florida than the wonderful world of Disney. There is a whole other side of the Sunshine State to tap into, a side that is more gator watching and sunset gazing than mouse hunting and princess parades. Water parks, beautiful beaches, Gator Land, Discovery Cove, Sea World, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space centre; the list is as long as Pinocchio's nose!

Universal Orlando: Wizarding World expanding to Diagon Alley

After months of speculation, it's finally official: Universal Orlando Resort is expanding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter across both of its theme parks next year, adding a new area featuring Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank, and a Hogwarts Express train ride from new "London" area in Universal Studios to Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. Set to open sometime in 2014, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley is "an expansion of historic proportion," Universal said in a joint announcement Wednesday with Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Villa Rentals Near Disney

When you think of a privately owned villa rental near Disney World, Florida, you could be forgiven for picturing commercialised holiday homes with too many Mickey Mouse decorations! Our luxurious villa rentals with private pools are tastefully decorated and comfortably furnished to make you feel as though you are in a ‘home from home.’ Our villas are just minutes from the Disney World parks; yet far enough away from the hustle and bustle to provide you with the perfect place to relax on your well-deserved family holiday in Florida.

New Fun Spot America Expansion Adds 2 More Big Coasters To Orlando's Coaster Line-Up

New Fun Spot America LayoutFun Spot Action Park is undergoing a $40-million expansion to triple its size. Over the next two years they’ll be adding two new roller coasters, a water park, a sky coaster and much more. The first phase will open next spring when the park will be renamed and re-themed Fun Spot America.

Harry Potter fans to watch Quidditch World Cup in Kissimmee

Lacrosse players hold sticks, baseball players hold bats, and quidditch players hold brooms - between their legs ..... No seriously !! Never seen a quidditch match before? Now's your chance, as Kissimmee hosts the 2013 Quidditch World Cup this weekend, 13th & 14th April at Austin Tindall Park, Kissimmee. The sports festival is described as “a cross between a medieval festival and the Super Bowl.” It's summed up as two days of games, live entertainment, and food vendors. Oh yea, and if JK Rowling hadn't created Harry Potter, no such sport would exist.

Why not try Orlando’s top 10 family restaurants

As you’d expect, Orlando is much like the rest of the USA, and is not without an abundance of dining options. With over 5,000 restaurants to choose from however, it’s impossible to filter your way through to the best places to eat with a regular internet search.

Orlando has 7 of the best Theme Parks in the World

It's a reality, Orlando hosts seven of the world's top theme parks, all bundled up for you to enjoy! According to USA Today, here are the 10 Best Theme Parks in Orlando. Orlando, the "Theme Park Capital of the World," has enough to keep your family entertained for weeks if not months on end. 10 Best gives you the rundown on what each of these fantastic parks has to offer.

Airlines Give Furious Response to Budget

Airlines have reacted angrily to Chancellor George Osborne's refusal to use his latest Budget to cut Air Passenger Duty. In a joint statement, the chief executives of British Airways' parent IAG, easyJet, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic said the planned rise in APD "beggars belief". "We are very disappointed that the Government's tax on flying, already the highest in the world, will increase yet again this year and next," they said.

Disney Springs - Downtown Disney Is Getting A Makeover

Disney has unveiled plans for Disney Springs, the exciting, multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort. Walt Disney World Resort guests, local Florida residents and Disney vacation home renters have been enjoying Downtown Disney for more than 30 years, but Disney knew they had an opportunity to reimagine and reinvent this corner of the resort. They have spent a good deal of time thinking through just what they wanted this area to be, and how to bring it to life to make it a place unlike any other.

The ALL NEW Zipline Safari is a MUST VISIT !!

See the wilds of Forever Florida like never before - from high up in the treetops! The All NEW Zipline Safari, which opened recently (about 60 - 75 minutes from Orlando area), will take you on a two and a half hour adventure like none other, reaching heights of 68 feet and speeds up to 30 mph!

MyMagic+ shakes up Disney park experience for all

Walt Disney World is promising a revolution in the way its theme park operate with new technology that will allow its customers to pre-plan their visit. Walt Disney World guests will soon be introduced to the project called MyMagic+, combined with the My Disney Experience web site and mobile app as well as RFID-based wristbands called the MagicBand, Disney intends to offer new levels of trip planning and interactivity for its visitors through high-tech, but easy-to-use devices.

Gatorland's big jaws turn 50 this week

View of the iconic jaws at GatorlandAn iconic bit of Orlando architecture turns 50 years old this week. Gatorland's trademark entrance — an oversized, stylized set of alligator jaws — has welcomed guests to the Orange Blossom Trail business since Florida's roadside-attraction era.

Disney's New Fantasyland Opens December 6th

Walt Disney World celebrated the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history with a grand opening for portions of its "new" Fantasyland this morning (6th December 2012).

Transformers The Ride 3D comes to Universal Orlando

Transformers The Ride 3D comes to Orlando in 2013. Get ready – it’s time to prepare for battle. Universal Studios in Orlando has announced its next blockbuster attraction will be the hugely popular Transformers: The Ride – 3D. The ride, which is already a hit at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Singapore, will bring the intergalactic battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons to Florida.

Orlando: It's not just for kids !!

As the home of Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter, there's no doubt that Orlando is tops when it comes to family vacations.

ATOL Flight-Plus and how it affects your future travel

You may have heard the words “ATOL Flight-Plus” and “ATOL Certificate” lately, and if you haven’t, you soon will.

Disney's Magic Kingdom will serve beer and wine daily to guests

For the first time in its 41-year history, the Magic Kingdom will serve beer and wine daily to guests, a Disney executive said Thursday.

Mount Dora - Brilliant Boat ride on

Back in August we took a visit to Mount Dora, just over an hours drive from our villa on Highlands Reserve Jasmine 1 Villa on Highlands Reserve in Davenport.

Swim with Sea Turtles, Angelfish, Dolphins, Rays & Sharks at Disney Epcot in Orlando

EpcotWhen we visit Florida and stay in our Disney villa rental, we always spend a day at Epcot - it is easily my favourite Disney Park and has so much to offer for all the family.

UK authorities in talks over US fast-track border option

The chief executive of the US Travel Association says he hopes US and UK authorities are close to an agreement to give UK visitors the option to fast-track US border checks.

2 Centre Holidays in Florida

My wife, Donna and myself are passionate about travel and have been fortunate enough to travel extensively throughout Europe and North America. We have also enjoyed holidays to many other places in the world.

Miami Seaquarium - NEW Sea Trek Helmet Diving

The new Sea Trek Reef Encounter – unveiled at Miami Seaquarium in November 2011 feels like walking on the moon, only you are submerged in a surreal underwater paradise where colourful tropical fish, large groupers, cobia, stingrays, lobsters and moray eels abound.

Winters Tale - A Visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium

We went to see "Winters Tale" at the cinema in Venice FL and we were surprised to find that the film was set in Clearwater Florida, just 90 minutes drive from where we were watching the film - WOW - that just made the film even more interesting. The film is very captivating and really tugged at the heart strings - so inspirational and we all really enjoyed watching it.

A Trip to St Augustine - Florida's Oldest City

St Augustine from the airIf you feel like a change from Disney and would like to find out more about Florida’s history, then take a drive over to the East coast and visit St. Augustine. It is only about 107m from Orlando, so less than a two hour drive from your vacation rental home.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Celebrates its 1st Birthday at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter HogwartsThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter celebrated its first birthday this week, having established an enthusiastic theme park following in its first year. Visitors to Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park can pass through the towering Hogwarts castle gates and explore the familiar passageways, classrooms and corridors. The rides including Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a state-of-the-art attraction that brings the magic, characters, and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before imagined.

Exploring the Gulf Coast of Florida - Beyond the Theme Parks !!

Entrance to Watersong ResortWe have holidayed in Florida many times and have tended to take a two week trip to Orlando where we have rented villas with pools on Highlands Reserve, Windsor Hills and Emerald Island. This year we rented a vacation villa at a new development called Watersong which is a gated resort with all the resort amenities you would expect such as resort pool, gym, games room, clubhouse etc

Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique @ Disney Springs, Orlando, Florida

It has often been said that there is so much more to do in Florida than Disney but when it’s your first visit to the sunshine state and your young daughters are six and eight years old then, believe me, Disney is the very first and second and third thing on their minds!  What Disney do better than anyone is to make people feel good about themselves and, as their saying goes “Make Dreams Come True”.  With this is mind, we discovered Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique – Disney’s unique beauty salon where little girls are transformed from head to toe into little princesses.  What an experience for all of us it would become!

Diving the USNS General Hoyt S Vandenberg off Key West, Florida

Whilst in Key West in August 2010, I had the amazing opportunity to dive the Vandenberg with Lost Reef Adventure Divers – a really friendly and attentive dive operator only a short drive from the luxurious Ocean Key Resort & Spa where I was staying with my wife and daughter.  We were given a free upgrade to an awesome ocean view suite from a standard room, but that is another story, so watch this space.

A Villa Week at Disney followed by a Week Cruising the Caribbean.....don’t mind if I do !!

Carnival ValorAs the idea of Cruising became more intriguing I became quite concerned that I was hurtling towards middle age at break neck speed. Cruising had previously evoked images of the blue rinse brigade, sequins, ceremony and maybe the occasional Zimmer frame.  I could not have been more wrong and I am happy to report that my first cruise this year was a revelation

Top Tips for Healthy Eating Whilst in Orlando, Florida

Healthy tomato & buffalo mozzarella saladIt really does not have to be all burgers, hot dogs and fries during your holiday to Orlando, Florida.  There are so many great healthy eating options available whether you are cooking at your vacation villa in Orlando, eating at the parks, or dining out at one of the many restaurants in the Disney, Orlando area.

First Trip to Orlando, Florida – Hotel or Villa Rental Home ?

Jasmine 1 villa on Highlands ReserveWe first holidayed in Florida in 1997 and fell in love with the Sunshine State.  We have been returning every year since and have been fortunate enough to travel around much of the state and meet wonderful people and discover the many diverse faces of Florida.  We love visiting the theme parks in Orlando but it is everything beyond Disneyworld and Universal Studios that has kept us coming back year after year.  The sugar white sands of the gulf coast beaches, the tropical flora and fauna of the state parks, the dolphins, manatees, tropical fish, loggerhead turtles and much more.  Florida can be all action or total relaxation and we never get tired of exploring it.  We hope to share our experiences with you through our Florida blog and hopefully highlight some of the many hidden treasures that Florida has to offer.