Archive for October, 2008

The Perfect Cruise

October 31st, 2008 by Alison | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

I just got back from a week on a Carnival Cruise. It was one of the best vacations I have ever had – yes almost as good as Disney World. Next time of course it will be a Disney cruise – they have just released some very tempting deals for 2010.

I have one of my most loyal guests to thank for helping me decide to take the plunge and go on a cruise. So Kim – I thank you. I have been lucky enough to welcome some lovely people to my Orlando villas over the years and Kim and her family are always very special guests. I knew that she was a cruise fan so asked her advice. She was really helpful and having someone I trusted to talk to really helped.

We had a wonderfully relaxing time. All the children loved the kids club. The fabulous food. The hours spent relaxing by the pool. I didn’t even pick up my email! This is unheard of for me – just ask my family, I even sneak a look on Christmas Day.  But who could resist sitting on the balcony with a view like this?

Watching the World go by.......

Watching the World go by.......

But one of my most memorable moments what something that I overheard when we got back. We had stayed at a hotel which was close to the port and had returned back there to pick up our car. There was a couple who had just got off the cruise, and another who were just about to get on.

I sat there with I will admit feelings of envy towards the people just about to start the cruise. Yes, I could just do it all over again I thought. It was perfect.

The couple, who were excited to be just about to embark on their cruise adventure, asked the others what they had thought of it. ‘Oh. It had a lot of problems’. I was intrigued. Had they been on the same cruise? The service levels were excellent, the cruise ship wonderful. How could someone else have had such a bad time? I was amazed when I heard the reply.

‘You couldn’t drink the water and the coffee was really bad’.

Had this really ruined their cruise experience?

I hope so much that it didn’t.

But you know what? Maybe it had. When I plan a vacation, or indeed just about anything, I research it. I research it so much that sometimes it drives me crazy and I just have to walk away from the computer! So when I decided to go on a cruise I read a lot of reviews. In the end I decided to stop. What I realised was that for some it was almost perfect but for others it was the worst vacation they had ever had. Whilst some were of course justified in giving a bad review, others would probably not have liked the coffee or drunk the water anywhere but home!

I talk to people all the time who are looking for the perfect Orlando vacation home. Of course I think mine are perfect! But what I also know is that the most important thing is that a guest chooses the right cruise, the right hotel, or the right rental villa for them. So if it isn’t right then I will be honest. And by the way, I think the water tastes just fine………

Orlando Villas To Rent

October 30th, 2008 by Alison | 1 Comment | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes

There are so many Orlando villas to rent – where is the best place to start? Well the first thing that you must do before you even start searching on the internet for your dream Disney rental home, is sit down with your family and work out what you really want from a home.

Do you want absolute luxury, or are you looking for a bargain? Do you want a south facing pool, a spa, games room, internet access? Or is location the absolute key for you – you just want to be close to Disney World? Write down a list of ‘must have’. Include the obvious things like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, bed sizes. But include the extras that really are going to make a difference to your family. Then write down a list of ‘nice to have but not essential’.  This might be things like Play Station 2, Tvs in every room.

Then as soon as you have a sensible wish list you can begin your search. People often ask me if some resorts are better than others in the Orlando area. Do you really get what you pay for? Well perhaps the best way to put it is that there are certain categories of resort. The most sought after homes that I have tend to be on the Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills resorts. You really can’t beat them with their fabulous faclities and great locations. You genuinely can’t get any closer to Disney without actually staying at a Disney propery. So you get the best of everything.

But there are other resorts which are equally as nice. Solana of course ( yes I am biased).  However there are also resorts which I would avoid. These are few and I am not going to name names but there are some resorts you just wouldn’t want to stay in. This was again brought home to me by a guest who ended up moving to my home on Solana this week.  They had arrived from Britain on what should have been a holiday of a lifetime and arrived at a villa on a resort that they just weren’t happy to stay at.  They just didn’t feel safe. So happily they were able to move to my Solana home.

There are a lot of bargain Orlando villas to rent at the moment. You would have to have been on a desert island for the past few months not to realise there is an economic downturn. Unfortunately some Orlando vacation home owners have been hit very hard by this.  Some react by offering low prices. The upside of this is that you can get a bargain. However, you do need to be careful.  There is a difference between an owner offering a good deal, and one offering a ridiculous deal because they are desperate and about to go under. So be very very careful, particularly when booking a long way ahead.  Unfortunately I can see that some home owners will not own those homes for very long if they can’t pay their expenses – and they certainly can’t if they are offering to rent out their homes for less than they are costing them. So do your research properly and talk to the owners themselves.

I admit that I hadn’t really thought too much about this problem before this week. I am lucky as I have a successful business, my homes are very well cared for and I am going to be in this business for a very long time.  So if you want Orlando villas to rent at great rates, well maintained, great locations and resorts then that is just another reason to contact me!

Orlando Vacation House Rental 5br With Pool and Spa

October 15th, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes

Imagine just stepping out of the back door of your vacation home and diving in to a private swimming pool. One of the best things about renting a vacation home near Orlando is that most of the houses have swimming pools and many even have the luxury of a spa too. When we stay at our vacation homes often my children would rather be in the pool that go to Disney!

Relax by the beautiful swimming pool and spa at one of the homes I offer at Windsor Hills

Relax by the beautiful swimming pool and spa at one of the homes I offer at Windsor Hills

Recently I have been thinking of ways that my vacation homes can be more friendly to the environment. I think we are all more aware that we have to play our part in reducing global warming and take whatever steps that we can to be more Green.

So I decided that my two 5br rental houses in Orlando should have solar heating to hear the swimming pool and spa. This will dramatically reduce the need to use the electric and gas pool heaters at the houses. The sun shines most days in Orlando so why not use the power of the sun to heat the swimming pools? Yes, it was a big investment but I see it as something which I really wanted to do.

Guests will find a great benefit as the pool will be heated all year round to a very comfortable temperature. Unfortunately I will still need to use the heaters at certain times of the year, but the solar panels will dramatically reduce the amount of power that is used. Most of the year my Solana and Windsor Palms 5br homes will have the pools heated by solar power.
I am often asked by guests when pool heat is really needed. Well the basic rule of thumb for those without solar heaters is early October until late April. Orlando has the benefit of year around great weather and sunshine, but some of the winter months can be pretty cool’ particularly at night. Now I don’t pretend to understand the finer details of how pool heaters work but I do know that for my Windsor Palms home as well as the solar heater, I have an electric pool heater. For my Solana home I have a gas pool heater.

The gas heater can heat the water to a much higher temperature than the electric one – so if you are visiting Orlando in one of the cooler times of year then you may want to think about my Solana home if you are a dedicated swimmer! On a few days of the year the electric heater is just not going to get the water warm enough for all but the most hardy amongst us!

Fortunately these cooler days are on the whole rare in Orlando so for most guests it will never be a problem. Most of my vacation home guests say that the swimming pool and spa is one of the highlights of their Disney vacation. So check in and chill out by the pool while the kids have fun!

Vacation Homes and Villas for Rent Near Disney World

October 6th, 2008 by Alison | 1 Comment | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes

Are you looking for a vacation home or villa for rent near to Disney World Orlando? Well as soon as you start looking on the internet you are going to realise that there are a lot to choose from! Where do you start?

There are many vacation home resorts which are located in the Disney World area.  I know that there is a lot of confusion out there about which homes are closest.  I talk to people every day who are searching for a vacation home – and there is very much a common theme.  They all want to be as close to Disney World as possible.
If you want to be the closest then look first at Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills.  They are without a doubt the closest resorts.  This makes them very popular so if you are thinking of booking a home then try and think ahead as much as possible.  At the moment I am getting many emails every day asking if I have a home on Windsor Palms or Windsor Hills available for Christmas.  Unfortunately I don’t know of anything available there and all my homes on these resorts are booked.  If there are any Windsor Palms or Windsor Hills owners out there with a house available for Christmas then please let me know!

But don’t discount those houses that are a little further out. I have a beautiful home on the resort of Solana which is within 15 minutes of Disney World.  Due to a late cancellation this is available to rent at Christmas and New Year.  So if you are looking then contact me about this highly upgraded resort home so that you can spend Christmas at Disney World!

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

October 2nd, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Disney World

Are you ready for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Every year at Magic Kingdom Mickey and his Disney friends celebrate Halloween in style. This wonderful Disney World Halloween party is held on select evenings at Magic Kingdom in September and October every year. You will find all your favorite Disney characters, a special Mickey’s Boo To You Parade, and the amazing Hallowishes fireworks. You can even dress up in your favorite Halloween costume and go trick or treating .

Would you like to trick or treat with Mickey Mouse at Disney\'s Magic Kingdom this Halloween?

Would you like to trick or treat with Mickey Mouse at Disney's Magic Kingdom this Halloween?

This is the only time that Disney allows guests over 9 years of age to dress up in Disney costume in the parks – so if you want to dress as a Disney Princess or even a Mouse then this is your big chance!

Disney World has special decorations at Halloween time, but if you want something extra special then you may want to think about getting a ticket for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

The MNSSHP event is a separately ticketed event. What does this mean? Well, even if you have a ticket and attended the Magic Kingdom on the same day, you need a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket to get you in to all the fun. The party starts at 7pm and goes on until midnight, but party guests are able to enter Magic Kingdom at 4pm.

You can always make your own Disney Halloween pumpkin carving!

You can always make your own Disney Halloween pumpkin carving!

Tickets are discounted if you buy in advance so it does pay to buy at least one day ahead of the event. Certain dates are priced as premium dates. October 31st is already sold out. It tends to sell out every year as soon as the tickets go on sale.

Premium Dates (in advance or on the day)
$49.95 + tax (Ages 3-9)
$55.95 + tax (Ages 10+)

Advance Purchase Price
$42.95 + tax (Ages 3 – 9)
$48.95 + tax (Ages 10+)

Day-of Event Price for Non Premium Dates
$49.95 + tax (Ages 3 – 9)
$55.95 + tax (Ages 10+)

Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members Discounts for Non Premium Dates Only

$39.95 + tax (Ages 3 – 9)
$45.95 + tax (Ages 10+)

You can buy tickets online, at the parks or call 407 W-DISNEY (934-7639).

A special Halloween parade for the MNSSHP

A special Halloween parade for the MNSSHP

So it Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party worth it? Well I am not a big fan of Halloween but I still really love this event. It has a great party atmosphere and the Disney Hallowishes fireworks are amongst my very favorite firework displays in any of the Disney parks. The parade is a lot of fun, and the different shows are worth seeing. But if you go there expecting that the lines will be much shorter then you may be dissapointed. The lines for the rides certainly can be a lot shorter, particularly if you go to one of the mid week MNSSHP events. But weekends do tend to be quite busy.

If you want even more information, lots of pictures and even videos showing you exactly what to expect from Mickey’s party then I have written a full guide at Halloween at Disney World.

A very special thank you to Photos B Wyscan on Flickr for allowing me to use his fabulous photos here!

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Closest Vacation Home to Disney World

October 1st, 2008 by Alison | Comments Off | Filed in Orlando Vacation Homes

Now how many websites have you seen with owners claiming to own the closest vacation home to Walt Disney World? A lot. So which one is actually telling the truth? I have seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of websites where everyone seems to be claiming to be 10 minutes, 15 minutes, the closest, the best, the cheapest, the biggest! So where do you start in your search for a great vacation home, and which ones really are the closest?

Want to take a ride on Spaceship Earth?

Want to take a ride on Spaceship Earth?

Well it is pretty easy to answer which the closest vacation home resorts are to Disney World. Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills. There was a reason that I bought a house on Windsor Palms right back when the resort was first breaking ground, and that was because I knew that I could say it had one of the closest homes you possibly could to Disney World without actually moving onto Disney World land ( and we all know that few people get that privilege)!

So how long does it take to get from Windsor Palms to Walt Disney World. Well the answer is it depends on which Disney park you are visiting! But you can step out of your door at my conservation view home on Windsor Palms, get in your car, and be in Disney’s Animal Kingdom parking lot in 8 minutes. I know because I have done the journey many times and timed it down to the last second! Now there are of course things that could get in your way. Like your 2 year old not wanting to get into his car seat, having to go back to collect your Disney tickets that you left on the kitchen counter, or having to wait a while longer while the Disney parking lot guy talks to the other guest holding up the line. Believe me these are all things that have happened to me, but broadly 8 minutes to Animal Kingdom. You can’t get any closer. Or can you?

Is Windsor Hills closer to Disney than Windsor Palms. Now I admit there is some friendly rivalry between the two resorts. Who can claim to be the closest? Well the answer is probably both. What do I mean by this? Well Windsor Palms is a relatively small resort compared to Windsor Hills. With some homes on Windsor Hills it will take you a little while to drive down the street to the exit of the resort. So the answer is – if we are timing this down to the last second, which believe me some people want to do, it really depends on which home within each resort.

But the bottom line is both Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills are so close to Disney that you can almost see it ( in fact from some homes you can see the fireworks).

What about driving time from either Windsor Palms or Windsor Hills to the other Disney parks and attractions. Magic Kingdom are around 20 minutes, Disney’s Hollywood Studios a little less at around 15 minutes. Downtown Disney is around 20 minutes – unless you get stuck at that traffic light just before the turn off which takes for ever – but that is another story!

So if you want to stay close to Mickey Mouse and Cinderella then click on the big envelope and find out more about the homes that I have to offer on Windsor Palms and Windsor Hills.

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