You should be aware by now that the Drop Your Drink team collectively travel a lot. Yetu and DJ landed up in two cities in December, Orlando and Miami both in Florida, USA. Yetu is going to give you a guide on how to survive Orlando and what to expect when going there. You can also check out the insane time that they both had at an Adventure Club gig and look out for the Miami guide.

When I was told that we’d be heading to Orlando for a week I died a bit inside. I associate Orlando with kid stuff. You know it’s the home of Disney World, Universal Studios and a whole host of things geared toward an eight year old version of me. I survived and I’m going to tell you how.

The Public Transport Doesn’t Work
I’m not joking. Orlando has one of the worst public transport systems in Florida. Their buses are rarely on time and they take forever. DJ and I contemplated using the bus to go downtown for the Adventure Club gig, and according to Google Maps the journey was going to take 2 and a half hours against a 45 minute car drive. Your safest bet is car rental, if you can, or cabs. Mind you the cabs are expensive because everything is so spaced out in Orlando. When I tell you that our journey cost $90 one-way then you should also cry inside like we did.

Best Time To Go
I would say that going in the Easter and September holidays would be best because of the tourist factor, however December is also a decent time too because the weather isn’t stifling. I should warn you that going during peak holidays times (December and June/July) guarantees that you run the risk of sitting in random 10pm traffic on the highway for hours.


Accept that you will have to do some touristy stuff
The first mode of survival is accepting that you will engage in some touristy stuff. For you that might mean paying a visit to Disney World but for me it meant fulfilling a dream I’d had been carrying around for five years; that dream was to go to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. I highly recommend that you do this. There is something called The Jerusalem Syndrom; people become psychotic when they are in highly religious places like Jerusalem or the Vatican. I think that I might have experienced a similar feeling when I walked through the Harry Potter World entrance.

Harry Potter World is composed of miniature versions of Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. They’ve built the ‘town’ around the rides that they feature in that area. I suggest that you go on everything. I was the biggest fan of the 4D experience ride in Hogwarts because I felt like I was part of the movie. Laugh at me because I might have cried but you will be overwhelmed with the same feeling.

Just a warning, the Butter Beer was not the greatest. You could literally drown in the 4cm bubbly foam layer that covered it. I don’t think J.K. Rowling intended for it to taste that way. If you still want to try it for the experience then get the frozen one because it’s better than the non-frozen version of it. The Butter Beer made me reluctant to try the pumpkin juice so that will be another adventure (for my kitchen).

Now here is a big tip if you plan on visiting these theme parks, go early. I think most of them open at 9am. Be there at 9am because 9am is the time to run past kids and their families like you’re on the Amazing Race, hop onto rides and not wait in a queue at all. The queues during their peak seasons (June/July and December holidays) are horrendous even with those ‘skip the line’ fast access cards. If you feel like sleeping in and heading there at 12pm then by all means enjoy your 1 hour queues.

I also suggest that you check out Cirque du Soleil at Disney World. It’s not the wishy washy watered down version that they show here. I mean that in the sense that at Disney World they have a venue built for their performances and it doesn’t matter where you sit but you can see everything. I think a venue like that completes the entire experience.

Shopping
I’m trying to think of things outside of Orlando’s touristy stuff and I’m struggling. There are some pleasant malls, one Urban Outfitters at Mall of Milenia and plenty of thrift shops. I saw the thrift shops but I was always worried about venturing into them because the outside looked really, really dodgy.

Partying
There is an underground electro scene in Orlando and it’s incredibly difficult to find information about it but your best bet is a start at Roxy Nightclub in downtown Orlando. They have major nights organised by Smile For Camera. Smile For Camera organises a weekly electro event called takeovr at Roxy and they have pretty big names flying in to party with them. You can definitely consider it Orlando’s biggest electro night and it was started on the 22nd of September in 2009 by Jason Richard. Your Tuesday nights will belong to takeovr. We partied to Adventure Club at Roxy but that was an event organised by HTG Events, click here to see my review of that night.

I was told by Jason that if you want to party during the week then you should check out parties at these venues:

– Wednesday nights at The Attic
– Thursday and Friday nights at SkySixty
– Thursday nights at Dub Scenario
– Friday nights at Vain
In my opinion, I think Orlando is great for a first time experience but otherwise find somewhere else to go because it doesn’t have much else going on besides the touristy stuff element. If you happen to be stuck in Orlando for some reason, visit Harry Potter World and party at a takeovr event then I think you’ll have a decent holiday.