Friday Feeling – Mall of Millenia

The Mall of Millenia in Orlando is an absolutely beautiful place to visit.  It is actually a beautiful building and the domed roof means it is also very light.  There is a light and airy feeling and always lots of space both to park and to browse.

With loads of parking, you will never struggle to park and if you are feeling really fancy you can even valet park.

When I have taken guests to the Mall they have described it as a leisurely experience with no overcrowding.  A great selection of Retail – from the best designers, jewellers and department stores.  There is also a fabulous selection of restaurants and bars.

Even the restrooms are nice – spotlessly clean, plenty of them and spacious.

If you are visiting during a holiday season e.g. Easter, Christmas it is always worth checking their website to see if there are any events on.  One year we were there to see Father Christmas arrive – it was amazing!  Even if you are not there for the actual events it is still worth visiting as the decorations are fantastic.

My favourite stores include Bloomingdales, Sephora, Tiffany’s, Kate Spade and Macys.  Other familiar names include Pandora, MAC, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and GAP.  If you go to the website you can download a voucher for a savings booklet which you need to present at Guest Services (Millenia Concierge) on Level One at the Main Entrance.

To eat there are fast food offerings in the Orangerie including subs, wraps, vegetarian, chinese and chicken.  There is also a good selection of restaurants including The Capital Grille and The Cheesecake Factory.  My personal favourite is PF Chang’s China Bistro which often has a good happy hour and offers both lighter plates and lunch menus.

Located on Conroy Road just off Exit 78 of the I4.  To find out more please visit

Throwback Thursday -Lake Louisa State Park

Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks and driving into Lake Louisa State Park, it is like stepping back in time.  A time before all modern day technology.

Lake Louisa State Park is located on the US Highway 27, 7 miles south of State Road 50 in Clermont.  Admission is still only $5 per vehicle – with a max number of 8 people per vehicle – if there is only 1 of you then you only pay $4!  If you want to enter by foot or bicycle then it is a mere $2.

Lake Louisa is the largest of a chain of 13 lakes and you are able to swim in this lake – during peak season there is a lifeguard on duty.  A white sandy beach provides a lovely area for relaxation and picnics.  Please remember it is against Florida law to sunbathe topless.

Fishing, canoeing and kayaking are all available on Lake Louisa and also on Hammond Lake and Dixie Lake.  We have been fishing here and while doing so spotted Armadillos and Gopher tortoises ambling along.

Other wildlife that you may encounter include white-tail deer, bald eagles, osprey, raccoons, fox squirrels and even bobcats.

With 7 miles of paved roads and over 20 miles of unpaved multi-use trails, Lake Louisa is a great place for hiking and bicycling.  Rental bikes for all ages are available at the Ranger Station for use on the paved roads only. Rental rates are currently $8.00 + tax per hour per bike or $5.00 + tax per hour per bike if more than one bike is rented.  306406_10150401119654085_1161597489_nFlorida law requires helmets for cyclists age 16 and under

For the under 12s there is a playground right next door to the Lake Louisa day use area. The playground includes a discovery cave,  multi-level climbing decks, activity panels, swings and slides.

Opening hours are from 8.00am until sundown 365 days a year




Disney’s Magic Kingdom – for Adults

We love Magic Kingdom and we don’t have children – although we have visited many times with children of a variety of ages.  As a couple (in their 40’s) we still feel the magic of visiting and here are some of the things we like to do.

First stop for my husband is always the Barbers (Harmony Barber Shop) – tucked to the left hand side of the start to the Main Street – he loves to go and get a trim while we are over.  He has sometimes had a bit of sparkle added, mostly he just gets a very good cut and enjoys the experience.

We are quite happy to walk although a turn around the park on the Steam Train (Walt Disney World Railroad) is always a good break from the sun and the queues when needed – it is a slow ride and creates a gentle breeze with a bit of Disney narrative – all good fun.

To get away from the crowds you can also take a raft across to Tom Sawyer Island, find a rocker and sit for a while or take a turn on the Liberty Square Riverboat.

Another staple for my husband is a quick stop at the Main Street Bakery as this is now run by Starbucks – he likes to get an espresso to fuel him up.

Timing of our visit is also crucial – we like to arrive no earlier than 4pm.  We find that many families are starting to leave once the 3pm parade has gone through.  Traffic and parking are generally easier and the heat is starting to reduce.  You can then enjoy the sunsets over the park and pleasanter evening temperatures.

Must do rides for us are (in no particular order) the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (love to ride this in the dark, even better as the fireworks are on), Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Haunted Mansion.

I love a trip to the Aloha Isle in Adventureland for a Dole Whip soft serve ice-cream and fresh pineapple.

The Wishes nighttime spectacular fireworks and Main Street Electrical Parade are a lovely end to a lovely evening.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Awakens…

New at Hollywood Studios there is a 15 mins show at the Center Stage (where the Sorcerer’s Hat used to be).  The show is called Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away – when we went to the Park it was showing everyday except Tuesday’s in the afternoon from 12.30 – 6.30pm.  It’s a live stage show celebrating iconic moments from the Star Wars saga featuring popular Star Wars characters like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, R2D2 and C-3PO.

Also new was Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple – this is a 25 mins show near Star Tours – it is interactive and great fun for any young Star Wars fans.  If you have children aged 4-12 years that want to participate they will need to visit the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost (located near no. 19 on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Guidemap) early in the day to reserve a spot in the training – no fast pass available and space is limited.

Star Wars: Path of the Jedi is a new saga film experience, including footage from Star Wars The Force awakens.  Lasting 10 mins – it can be a nice break from the Floridian sun!

Star Wars Launch Bay has opened and here you can enjoy character greeting with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca.  Also at the Launch Bay you can view movie props, play games and screen videos.

Not new but also on the Star Wars theme is the Star Tours – The Adventure Continues ride – this is a 3d motion stimulated space flight.  FP+ available.

The highlight for me were the Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular firework display.  Although we can actually see these fireworks from our villa, there is nothing like experiencing them at the park with the full show, music, theatre – absolutely fantastic.  We viewed the fireworks from just outside Oscar’s Super Service near the entrance, we had a great view of the fireworks and were then able to make a quick retreat before the main exodus.

If you just want to view the fireworks and don’t want to pay to go into the park – you can see them from near the Boardwalk – if you take the pathway that walks round towards Hollywood Studios you will gain a good view.

Orlando International Airport – avoid Fridays!

So we have just returned from our latest trip across the pond.  It was a fabulous trip, great weather.  The only downside was travelling on a Friday both in and out of Orlando International Airport (MCO).

We arrived on Friday 15th April and after a 8+ hour flight across the Atlantic the last thing that you want to hear is a message from the captain that Immigration is full and then we are being held on the aircraft for it to clear.  We were held for 40 minutes before we could disembark and then as you can imagine the immigration hall was not empty!  3 jumbo jets had landed just before us and it was so busy.  The automatic machines were working, however, we had to queue for quite a while in the usual queue before we could get to them and then we were corralled to another holding bay to see a normal immigration officer who took all our finger prints again – very bizarre.

Travelling home on Friday 29th April was unfortunately no better – this time the queues for security checks were the longest I have ever seen, even with the additional desks that they had opened.  Once past the immigration officer, you were then corralled into a theme park style snaking queue (line) which literally took us from one side of the terminal to the other before snaking round to a scanner check.  It was a nightmare and as you can imagine temperatures were rising both because it was 31 degrees outside and because some passengers simply hadn’t allowed 1 hour to get through security.

My advice is to avoid travelling through MCO on a Friday wherever possible.