5 great skiing deals for winter

Between December and May, skiing takes center stage in the mountainous areas of Europe and North America. Whether it’s a family skiing retreat or a wintry sports vacation, you’ll need somewhere warm and cozy to kick back after a long day on the slopes. These amazing vacation homes are all within easy reach of great skiing and snowboarding, and are a lot more affordable than you’d think…

Colorado

Skiers and snowboarders flock to Colorado each winter. The bright skies and snow-capped peaks make Colorado a winter wonderland for everyone. And it isn’t all about skiing – you can spend your days here ice skating, snowboarding, tubing or ice climbing.

Ski resorts like Aspen Mountain have vibrant shopping scenes, with boutique stores selling designer clothes and ski essentials. Live music venues and fine-dining restaurants are also easy to come by, and the après ski here is as good as you’ll find anywhere on the planet. Here are some of the best deals for this year.

Snowmass 7

Best skiing deals for winter 2017

This newly built vacation home offers direct access to the Snowmass Mountain via Two Creeks Run. Sleeping up to 11 guests, the 5-bedroom property provides an outdoor hot tub, a gourmet kitchen, a media room and oodles of cozy furnishings.

From $309 per person per night 

Book now

 

Snowmass 3

Skiing luxury vacation rentals in January

This spacious, timber-framed vacation rental sleeps up to 17 guests. Breathtaking mountain views flood into the house from all angles, and luxury begins at the doorstep. Experience the outdoor hot tub, media room and top-notch living facilities, all just a short distance away from the ski slopes via the Two Creeks Run.

From $92 per person per night 

Book now

 

Aspen 8

The best skiing vacation rentals for winter

For an ultra-luxurious ski vacation, check into this 6-bedroom mansion, which features every amenity you could possibly need for a week or two on the slopes. It’s home to an indoor pool, a home theater, a fully equipped gym and even 3 bars. Surrounded by the beautiful Aspen mountains, the location couldn’t be better for any skiing enthusiast.

From $3008 per person per night

Book now

 

Aspen 11

Villa rental deals for skiing in January

Amidst Aspen’s beautiful mountain scenery, this deluxe, open-plan home with 5 bedrooms provides comfort at every turn. With a fireplace and a hot tub, warming up couldn’t be easier after a day of winter sports. You’ll even have access to a private pond, which doubles up as a personal ice skating rink during ski season!

From $282 per person per night

Book now

 

Chamonix

In the shadow of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, the French resort of Chamonix is renowned for its great winter skiing. In summer it welcomes plenty of climbers and mountaineers, who come to tackle the soaring peaks. With plenty of hiking routes also on offer, including the 11-day Tour du Mont Blanc, the opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors are endless.

For a break away from trekking and skiing you can take the Montenvers train from central Chamonix to the Mer de Glace, the third-largest glacier in the Alps. Other attractions nearby include indoor climbing, golf, cycling, paragliding, swimming, plus festivals and markets, which are held throughout the year.

Chamonix 23

Skiing vacation deals in January

Set in the Chamonix valley, this ultra-contemporary ski chalet offers a sauna, games area and a private gym, and has space for up to 11 guests. The 360-degree views of the Mont Blanc range and the Chamonix valley will take your breath away. Experience a taste of French luxury on your ski vacation with this villa.

From $91 per person per night

Book now

 

For more information about ski hire or other extras, speak to our concierge team. To browse our full range of villas, click here

 

3D tours of our best vacation homes

The best way to get a feel for the sheer size of our amazing vacation homes is to pay a visit and take a look around in person. If that’s not possible, or if you’d rather take a virtual tour before making a booking, these 3D tours are a great place to start.

We’ve included 3D tours for 5 of our favourite homes in Reunion Resort, Orlando. To explore each home, just press the play button and use your mouse and/or cursor keys to move from room to room. If you have a Google Cardboard or another VR headset, you can tour the homes in full virtual reality.

Reunion Resort 3000

10 BEDROOMs – SLEEPS 24

This huge mansion comes with its own movie theater, game room, arcade and poker room, plus an indoor squash and basketball court. There’s also a private pool, a steam room and a sauna. See if you can find the bowling alley!

Book this villa

 

Reunion Resort 2000

12 bedroom – sleeps 24

Take a sneaky peek at this enormous vacation home – one of the largest and most luxurious villas in Orlando. There’s a movie theatre, a game room, a sports bar and a fully-equipped gym. There’s also a large swimming pool with a water slide and a bubbling hot tub. Can you count how many people can fit around the dining table?

Book this villa

 

Reunion Resort 6000

9 bedrooms – sleeps 24

This stunning home is packed with so much luxury it’s more like a film set than a self-catering villa. There’s a 24-seater movie theater, a state-of-the-art gym and a vast pool area with cabanas, a huge hot tub, an outside dining area with a large TV, and your very own golf putting green!

Book this villa

 

Reunion Resort 1000

12 bedroom – sleeps 24

Check out this spectacular vacation home featuring 2 swimming pools, 2 movie theaters, a private gym and multiple living and dining areas. Best of all it’s located just a stone’s throw from Disney World!

Book this villa

 

Reunion Resort 875

5 bedrooms – sleeps 10

This contemporary vacation home is jam-packed with quirky features including themed kids’ bedrooms and a game room with a pool table, ping pong and an arcade machine. It also boasts an alfresco dining area and a private swimming pool with a sunken hot tub. Which themed bedroom is your favorite?

Book this villa

 

Want to see more?

Click the images below and you’ll be directed to some of our other villas with 3D tours.

3d-01 3d-02 3d-03 3d-04 untitled-6-06 3d-05

If you’re booking an Orlando vacation home and you need help and advice then contact the Top Villas travel team today. Additionally, the Top Villas concierge service can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.

Things for couples to do in Orlando

There is no shortage of family entertainment in the theme park capital, but it may come as a surprise to hear about the growing list of things for couples to do in Orlando.

Whether it’s couples’ cooking classes, a hot air balloon ride for 2, or dining on a hotel rooftop with views of Disney’s nightly fireworks, you’ll find a whole host of activities to tick off the couple’s bucket list. From action-packed adventures, to romantic date-night ideas, read on for our round-up of things for couples to do in Orlando…

Try a date-night cooking class

Truffles and Trifles Date Night

You can put a unique spin on your next date-night dinner with Orlando’s endless offering of cooking classes.

Couples things to do in Orlando

A couple cooking together

Whether you want to learn new skills, pick up some fresh ideas or just have a fun night out together, you’re bound to find something to get you sizzling.

Probably the most sought after date-night class is held at the Truffles and Trifles cooking school, where it’s more than just the food getting hot. In fact over the years, more than 20 couples have tied the knot after meeting at the monthly Date Night class, usually held on the second Saturday of the month.

The class is open to singles and couples alike.

Ride in a hot air balloon

Orlando Balloon Rides

It’s on the bucket list of every traveller, and it’s a great way to share the experience of a lifetime: a hot air balloon ride will see your relationship  soaring to dizzying new heights.

Whether you want to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or just experience an adventure together, a hot air balloon ride gives you and your loved one a glimpse of Florida as you’ve never seen it before.

Things to do in Florida

Take a hot air balloon ride

You can book a sunrise flight through Orlando Balloon Rides on any day of the week. Once you’re airborne the pilot will point out Orlando’s most interesting sights, from its famous theme parks to its orange groves, forests and swamps.

After landing, a traditional champagne toast  is held to celebrate your special experience.

Watch the sun set over the city

 The Orlando Eye

You can take your relationship to a whole new level on the 400 ft Orlando Eye observation wheel. Located at the i-Drive 360 complex on International Drive, the wheel offers breathtaking views over Central Florida from a bird’s eye perspective.

Things to do in Orlando

The Orlando Eye

There are a variety of tickets and packages available for families, groups and couples. One of the most popular being the Champagne Experience; a sunset flight with champagne served by a personal host.

The gentle journey round the wheel takes you and your significant other high above the hubbub below, delivering spectacular views in every direction.

Dine on a hotel rooftop

Eleven at the Grande Hotel

For those in search of romantic experiences in Orlando, the ‘View at Eleven’ dinner package definitely delivers.

Couples can take in the sunset and Disney’s nightly fireworks while enjoying dinner and cocktails on an open-air verandah at the very top of the Reunion Grande hotel.

The rooftop patio at the Reunion Grande

The rooftop patio at the Reunion Grande

Located 11 floors up, the Eleven restaurant serves signature entrees and great steaks along with an impressive wine list and cocktail menu. The ‘View at Eleven’ menu features a selection of delicious soups, salads and tapas dishes, with patio seating available on a first come first serve basis.

To dine at Eleven guests must be staying on-site at Reunion Resort. There are a fantastic selection of Reunion Resort vacation homes available in a range of styles and sizes, although couples may prefer the smaller and more intimate condos at the Reunion Grande.

See our Reunion Grande condos

 

Picnic by a swan-filled lake

Lake Eola Park

A popular spot for picnics, feeding the swans and renting swan-shaped paddle boats, is Orlando’s lovely Lake Eola Park.

Located in Downtown Orlando, the main feature of the park is the swan-filled lake, famous for its majestic fountain which changes colours at night like a light show. Also at the park is the Walt Disney Amphitheatre, which hosts many exciting events and performances all year round.

Orlando lake

Lake Eola, Orlando

Couples can eat a picnic next to the lake, rent a paddle boat for 2, or wander around the park while soaking up the warm Florida sun. There’s also a farmer’s market held at the park every Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

Tee off on a top golf course

Reunion Resort Golf

For couples wanting to golf together, there is a never ending line-up of golf courses in Orlando – and if you opt to stay at one of the villas or condos at Reunion Resort, you’ll have access to 3 of the best.

The resort is the only destination in the world to boast 3 signature golf courses designed by legends, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. All are award-winning courses famed for their unique and challenging layouts.

Reunion Resort golf

Golf at Reunion Resort

You can choose from a range of golf packages, or you can brush up on your golf skills together at the on-site golf and putting academies.

Golf at Reunion Resort

Relax and recharge together

The Spa at Reunion

After an afternoon of golf or other activities, couples staying at Reunion Resort can make the most its exclusive Boutique Spa.

The luxurious 5-room sanctuary is located in a private spot close to the Reunion Grande, and offers a range of soothing massages, signature facials and body treatments for individuals and couples alike.

Couples activities in Orlando

A couple’s massage

Particular favourites include the Just for Couples massage, his and her’s facials and  exfoliating hand and foot treatments.

The spa at Reunion Resort

 

Zip line over alligators

Screamin Gator Zip Line

Clip in and zip off on a journey together over alligator-infested swamplands – if you dare!

The new Screaming’ Gator Zip Line at Gatorland will take you along 1,200 feet of high-flying adventure from some of the tallest zip line towers in the world. You’ll launch from heights of up to 65 ft and soar over hundreds of giant alligators and crocodiles at speeds of over 30 miles per hour.

Gatorland Orlando

Zip line over alligators

It may sound scary but it’s an incredibly entertaining and educating experience, made all the better by sharing it with that someone special in your life.

Kayak under a full moon

The Full Moon Kayak

There are an array of kayak tours in Orlando, but none are so suited to couples as the monthly Full Moon Kayak.

Available through Adventures in Florida, this tour takes you on a nightime kayaking trip on the beautiful Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Get your romance A-game on as you paddle side-by-side under the light of the full moon.

Kayaking in Orlando

Kayak under a full moon

An experienced guide heads the tour, regaling you and your fellow paddlers with ghost stories as you raise a toast to the stars. All kayaking equipment is provided, as well as snacks and refreshments.

Go wine tasting

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards

For the perfect wine lover’s day out, head to the Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, a stunning country estate in Clermont, just west of Orlando.

You can take a complimentary wine tour whilst soaking up the views of the rolling Florida countryside, which stretches for miles in every direction. After the tour you can head to the wine tasting counter and sample a selection of award-winning wines ranging from dry to sweet, with red white and sparkling options.

Wine tasting in Orlando

Wine tasting

Afterwards you can browse the large retail area. Couples may want to stock up on the picnic sets, food items and wines before heading off for a romantic picnic in a peaceful spot nearby.

Get flirty on a cocktail tour

Downtown Orlando Tours

The Crafty Cocktail Tour is a great evening out for couples who enjoy a tipple together.

Run by Downtown Orlando Tours, the evening takes you to some of Downtown’s finest cocktail bars, allowing you to sample a variety of tasty hand-crafted drinks while learning about the history and culture of Downtown Orlando.

Things to do in Orlando for couples

Get flirty on a cocktail tour

The tour takes place every Saturday from 6.30 – 8.30pm and features an array of stops at Downtown’s best cocktail bars.

See a burlesque show

Couples on the prowl for romance with a side of playful will find it in spades at the Peek a Boo burlesque show.

Voted ‘Best Burlesque’ by Orlando Weekly readers, the show, held at the Las Vegas-themed Stardust Lounge, is a titillating blend of comedy, daring and extravagance.

Led by Orlando’s resident burlesque queen Blue Star, the Peek a Boo ladies stage their cheeky performances once a month, with a hefty helping of dancing, sequins, feathers and garters.

The Peek a Boo Ladies image courtesy of Dixie Lee Photography

The Peek a Boo Ladies (image courtesy of Dixie Lee Photography)

The show is a great date-night idea, and is best enjoyed after a few cocktails from the lounge bar.

A romantic horse ride

Why not surprise someone special with a romantic horse ride at dawn or dusk?

Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides offers horseback riding at the exquisitely beautiful Rock Springs Run Reserve near Orlando. Dedicated riding trails take you through the reserve’s rich woodlands and along the shoreline of the Wekiva River.

Things to do in Orlando

Horseback riding

The surroundings are loaded with local wildlife including bears, birds, reptiles and fish that you can spot from a safe distance.

If you’re booking an Orlando vacation and you need advice on the best places to stay then contact the Top Villas travel team today.

Additionally, the Top Villas concierge service can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.

 

Spending a weekend in Orlando

Whether you’re drawn to theme park thrills, or the array of other attractions, Orlando is a top spot for a weekend break.

While it is ideal family territory, the ‘City Beautiful’ is attracting more weekend visitors than ever before, drawn to the shops, restaurants and other highlights. If you’re thinking of spending a weekend in Orlando, check out this handy guide to making the most of your trip…

The Millenia Mall

The Millenia Mall

Where to stay

If you’re spending a weekend in Orlando and you’re not sure where to stay, it makes sense to cut down on travelling time by opting for accommodation that’s close to the main highlights.

You’ll find some fantastic vacation homes at the Encore Club in Kissimmee, located in a private and peaceful resort just a stone’s throw from Disney World.

Available for stays of 3 nights or more, Encore Club vacation homes work out better value for money than hotel rooms for multiple guests. They also offer more space and privacy, as well as luxury features like swimming pools, game rooms and home theatres.

Encore Club villas

A living room in an Encore Club vacation home

There are an array of resort amenities to enjoy during your stay, including a water park, restaurants, bars, a fitness center and a clubhouse.

Guests can utilise shuttle bus services to the theme parks from just outside the resort, or make the most of great value car hire available via the Top Villas concierge team.

If you want to venture out of the resort, the surrounding area of Kissimmee offers plenty of highlights like the many and varied bars and restaurants along the Bronson Memorial Highway. There are also some pretty parks and lakes in Kissimmee, as well as an array of great golf courses.

The Encore Club

The Encore Club water park

See our Encore Club villas

Theme parks and attractions

A weekend in Orlando wouldn’t be complete without at least one trip to its world-class amusement parks.

Disney World, with its multiple theme parks, offers the most variety, with everything from the African plains of the Animal Kingdom, to Cinderella’s soaring castle in the Magic Kingdom.

If theatre is your thing prepare to be blown away by the park’s live entertainment. You can watch Finding Nemo – The Musical, Beauty and the Beast and many more state-of-the-art musicals. There’s also the La Nouba show by Cirque du Soleil, probably the most spectacular acrobat show you’ll ever see.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Universal Orlando is also worth at least a one-day visit if you’re spending a weekend in Orlando. There are two sensational theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, as well as the Volcano Bay water park, set to open in Summer 2017.

If you don’t fancy visiting theme parks on your weekend break, there are a number of other recent additions to Orlando’s attractions portfolio.

The i-Drive 360 complex has become a major tourist draw, boasting a 400 ft giant ferris wheel, as well as a Madame Tussaud’s, a Sealife Aquarium and an array of restaurants and entertainment venues.

Things to do in Orlando

La Nouba at Cirque du Soleil

Slightly more unusual things to do in Orlando are becoming increasingly popular too.

The iFly Orlando experience for example, offers people of all ages the opportunity to take a dive in an indoor skydiving simulator.

Where to head for shopping

If you want to combine a weekend in Orlando with some serious retail therapy, then be prepared to shop ’til you drop.

Orlando is almost as famous for its shopping malls as it is for its theme parks, with discount designer shops and high-end boutiques wherever you roam. There’s the Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia, both offering high-fashion stores as well as restaurants, bars and kids play areas.

Shopping in Orlando

Shopping in Orlando

Outlet shopping is also a huge draw, this can be found in abundance at Orlando’s two Premium Outlets – both offering heavily discounted goods from the likes of Armani, Calvin Klein, Guess and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Great golf courses

Orlando may be home to some the best theme parks and shopping malls on the planet – it’s also every golf lover’s dream.

In fact, there are more than 170 golf courses and over 20 golf academies in Orlando. Whats more, it is home to more pro golfers than any other city in the world – and it hosts some of the most prestigious golf tournaments.

If you’re spending a weekend in Orlando, you’ll find a multitude of stunning courses to tee off on. There are 2 championship 18-hole Greg Norman courses at the Championsgate Golf Club, located just a few miles from our Encore Club vacation homes. Other courses nearby are the Falcons’s Fire Golf Course in Kissimmee, and Disney’s 3 world-class courses.

Golf courses in Orlando

Golf courses in Orlando

If you fancy extending your weekend in Orlando to a stay of 5 nights or more, then we we offer a great range of vacation homes in many other top resorts in Orlando.

In particular, Reunion Resort is a favorite for golf vacations, being the only resort in the world with 3 signature-designed courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Tom Watson – but you have to stay there to use them.

See our Reunion Resort villas

 

You can contact the Top Villas concierge team to book tee times on your behalf, and to secure the very best green fees.

Where to eat and drink

If you want to spend your weekend sampling the city’s dining and nightlife, you’ll find an almost endless array of places to try.

One of the best places to head is the new Disney Springs complex, a great spot for all-round dining and entertainment.

Styled as a bustling waterside promenade, the complex is free to get in, and it’s packed with unique boutiques, one-of-a-kind eateries and top-notch entertainment.

Chief among the restaurants here are The Boathouse, a swish waterfront seafood and steakhouse with its own marina for a variety of boat rides. Also excellent is Morimoto Asia, a contemporary warehouse-style eatery with multiple dining spaces and a Pacific-fusion menu.

Dining in Orlando

Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs

The Universal Citywalk is another great venue, packed with excellent shops, restaurants and nightlife.

Not far from Universal is International Drive, where you’ll find an astonishing variety of restaurants in the ‘Restaurant Row’ district. There are more than 25 casual and upscale eateries to choose from, including popular places like Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar.

There are a number of fantastic dinner shows around International Drive too. A top choice is the Outta Control Magic Dinner Show at Wonderworks Orlando, which costs around $30 per adult, including unlimited pizza, salad, beer, wine, soda and dessert.

What to do Downtown

When you think of Orlando you may imagine Walt Disney World, but the Downtown district actually contains none of the theme parks.

The perfect place for a relaxing weekend, Downtown Orlando is a vibrant area, where you can wander around dozens of pretty parks, take in the city skyline and explore the many art galleries, museums and historic sites.

Lake Eola Orlando

Lake Eola in Orlando

Church Street is one of the oldest and prettiest neighbourhoods in the city, it is also home to some of the best bars and nightclubs. A great place for a sundowner is Latitudes, a rooftop bar high above Church Street, with spectacular views over the city.

The iconic Lake Eola is another don’t-miss attraction if you’re Downtown, located just a stone’s throw from the Church Street area. There’s a huge park with an open-air amphitheatre. There’s also a massive swan-filled lake where you can take boat rides on charming ‘swan boats’ while you soak up the iconic Orlando skyline.

There are a number of other parks and gardens to visit in Downtown Orlando, and some fascinating museums and art galleries like the Orlando Museum of Art.

If theatre if your thing, you can head to the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, famed for bringing Broadway-quality theatre, ballet and concerts to the Downtown district.

If you’re thinking of spending a weekend in Orlando, or you want to book a longer stay, then contact the Top Villas travel team for more advice and bookings. 

Additionally, the Top Villas concierge service can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.

 

 

Why you should spend Christmas in Orlando

With some of the most spectacular celebrations in the world, Christmas in Orlando is always extra special. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should visit during the holidays.

Macy's holiday parade at Universal Studios

You can swap winter chills for sunshine

Tired of spending Christmas in the cold? Head to Florida. The weeks before and after Christmas are wonderfully warm, allowing you to swap frosty winter mornings for family pool time. December tends to be around the 72F mark while early January is much cooler, with lows of 49F and reaching up to 70F. Either way, you’ll be able to leave your winter jacket at home. This super-detailed guide has more tips on the best time to visit Florida.

You can shop ’til you drop in Orlando’s malls

Orlando’s shopping scene is perfect for a bit of retail therapy, especially at Christmas time. Discover the best designer brands and hottest trends in The Mall at Millennia and The Florida Mall, which are home to some of Orlando’s top department stores. There’s no shortage of outlet centers, either, with Orlando’s Premium Outlets, International Drive, Vineland Avenue and the Lake Buena Vista Outlets all within easy reach of the main vacation communities. Read our full guide to shopping in Orlando for more tips.

The theme parks are at their best

Theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios bring festive fantasies to life at Christmas time. Whether you’re visiting in the run up to Christmas or on the special day itself, every theme park experience here is unforgettable. The fun doesn’t stop at the renowned rides. Christmas season brings a series of enchanting events, every member of the family will enjoy. From parade celebrations to food festivals, here’s what the top parks have on offer at Christmas:

Disney World

Disney World at Christmas

Every child’s dream is experiencing a Walt Disney World Christmas. ‘The happiest place on Earth’ has plenty of nostalgic cheer to go around, including snowy decorations, glistening lights and festive parades. Here are some of the main events taking place at Disney during Christmas.

Magic Kingdom

Every year, Mickey Mouse’s Christmas Party takes place at the Magic Kingdom. Featuring live entertainment, sensational fireworks and a jolly parade, the celebrations here are perfect for the entire family. During the Christmas season, the park lights up with Disney characters dressed in festive gear and attractions decorated especially for the occasion. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party usually runs from early November until Christmas itself (selected dates only).

While you’re at the park, check out Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, a triumphant new stage show that’s jam-packed with dancing, singing, laughter and snow – and some of the best-known Disney characters. Fans of Frozen won’t want to miss the enchanting show called A Frozen Holiday Wish, which turns Cinderella’s castle into a glistening icy palace. To top off all the excitement, every evening, their merry parades take center stage with the best Disney characters making an appearance – even Santa joins in the fun! Our concierge team can arrange tickets for you.

Epcot

Enter the gates of Epcot to experience music and fun-filled celebrations from all around the world! The ‘International Yuletide Extravaganza’ features the holiday traditions of 11 different nations. Live music productions and costumed performers bring the joyous spirit to life. To meet Mr and Mrs Claus, visit the ‘American Adventure Pavilion’ throughout the day between the end of November and Christmas Eve.

On selected dates in November and December, a candlelit procession takes place around Epcot’s central lagoon. You can hear the classic Christmas tale told by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a full choir. Lighting up the sky, Epcot’s firework spectacular, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth takes place every night over the winter season. Foodies will love exploring the marketplaces at Epcot, which put on a spread of different and tasty delicacies during the holiday season.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs Orlando

At Disney Springs the winter season kicks off with a wide range of entertainment. From early November to January, you can shop ’til you drop, dine on the best dishes, and enjoy a whole host of fun family activities. Expect tree lights, holiday dancers and carol singers at every turn. The live entertainment usually takes place from 6pm–9pm each evening during the festive period.

Disney Springs is the ultimate place to grab unusual Christmas gifts. Choose from over 100 brands, plus Disney-themed boutiques and specialty shops. Whether shopping for yourself or planning relatives’ Christmas presents, you’re sure to find plenty to buy. After your shopping spree, take a trip down to Santa’s Chalet, located across from Ghiradel Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop – it’s open from November through Christmas Eve, noon–10pm.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Packed with special effects, holiday music, fireworks and endless amounts of snow, the spectacular new show called Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! creates a joyous atmosphere for everyone. Held nightly from mid November until the end of December, the show includes famous scenes from Cinderella, the Nightmare before Christmas and more.

Universal Studios

Universal studios Orlando

Universal Studios takes the festive celebrations to another level, with daily events from the beginning of December until January.

Universal Studios Florida

Once the traditional ‘Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’ ends in New York it moves over to Universal Florida with a ‘Macy Holiday Parade’ on every evening between December and January. The holiday spectacular features marching bands, merry music and even Santa Claus himself! There’s also a sensational tree lighting ceremony, with dazzling lights and music taking center stage. Other holiday shows include A Barney Holiday and The Blues Brothers Holiday Show.

Islands of Adventure

When the festive season hits, the Seuss Landing area of Universal’s Islands of Adventure transforms into the crazy world of Grinchmas. Explore the winter wonderland with the Who-liday Spectacular, a live re-telling of the classic tale, The Grinch. Watch the whimsical film as it’s brought to life before your very eyes. The show takes place on selected dates and times over the Christmas period. Experience an hilarious moment meeting the quirky Grinch himself or even enjoy breakfast with him at ‘The Grinch & friends character breakfast’.

If you need any additional information about Orlando’s theme parks or to purchase attraction tickets, contact our concierge team.

You can let someone else do all the hard work

why to spend Christmas in orlando

Our concierge team is on hand to help make your Christmas celebrations run as smoothly as possible. Just check into your villa and they’ll take care of the rest, from decorating the Christmas tree to preparing a family feast.

Christmas dinners

Decided to travel to Orlando for the holidays and still want a traditional Christmas dinner? Why not hire a private chef to cook you and all your guests the best festive feast, whilst you kick back and relax in the Orlando sunshine. They can prepare starters, mains and even Christmas puddings.

Christmas trees

First Christmas away from home? We can arrange a Christmas tree for your vacation rental, which you can decorate with your favourite baubles.

Santa Claus

Spending Christmas in orlando

Would you love to meet Santa Claus? We can help you out! If you’d like the man himself to visit your vacation rental, we can arrange just that.

Everything is open on Christmas day

Despite what you may have heard, most of Orlando’s big attractions are still open on Christmas Day. Our simple guide shows the Christmas opening hours at some of the main sights.

Magic Kingdom: 9am–11pm
Epcot Future World: 9am–10.30pm
Epcot World Showcase: 11am–10.30pm
Disney Hollywood Studios: 8am–11pm
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9am–8pm
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park: closed from 25th December–11th March
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park: 10am–5pm
Disney Springs: 10am -12am
Universal’s Islands of Adventure: 8am–10pm
Universal Studios: 8am–10pm
Discovery Cove: 9am–5.30pm
SeaWorld: 9am–9pm
Busch Gardens: 9am–8pm
Aquatica: 10am–5pm

To purchase attraction tickets or for any additional information about the theme parks on Christmas day, speak to our concierge team. 

 

A bloggers’ guide to Christmas abroad

Fancy spending Christmas away from home? Not sure where to head? Then check out our bloggers’ guide to Christmas abroad.

We asked some of the world’s best-known bloggers and travel writers for the inside track on where to spend Christmas – and where they’ve had the most festive fun abroad. So if you’re thinking of swapping turkey bones and dirty plates for santa hats on the beach, here’s some top tips from the people who know best.

Christmas abroad

Fancy spending Christmas abroad?

Orlando

One Tiny Leap

Travel blogger Maria Belfort of One Tiny Leap said she’d love to spend Christmas soaking up the sun and sangria in Orlando…

Christmas in Orlando

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney World, Orlando

“Our Christmases are usually spent with family either in Portugal or England, but I dream of one day taking our family to spend Christmas somewhere sunny, where we could spend Christmas Day frolicking in the sea and singing carols over a piña colada.

“I’d happily combine that with a few days at Disney World in Orlando.

“I’m a self-confessed Disney nut and the thought of spending Christmas at the ‘House of Mouse’, with the parks, especially at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, would be simply magical.”

See our Orlando villas

 

Lapland

Flip Flop Travels

Victoria Philpott is the author behind global travel blog Flip Flop Travels. Her blog grew from her passion to help people travel better, by visiting places they might not have thought of before. For her, the perfect Christmas would be spent surrounded by snow in Swedish or Finnish Lapland…

Christmas in Lapland

A reindeer in Lapland, Finland

“If I was going to spend Christmas abroad I’d spend it in Lapland.

“There can’t be anywhere more Christmassy, right? I visited Swedish Lapland in the summer and really enjoyed the vast wilderness. I’d love to see it in winter with snow covering the ground.

“But then, seeing as the Finns are adamant that Santa lives in their Lapland, I’d like to stay there to test the theory. The opportunities to see the Northern Lights would make it worth it too!”

 

Jamaica

Mini Travellers

Travel enthusiast Karen Beddow loves jetting off across the globe with her husband and 3 young children. Her inspiring blog Mini Travellers is packed with advice for parents of all ages looking for vacation ideas. Karen shares her fond memories of spending Christmas in Jamaica…

Christmas in Jamaica

Jamaica is a great Christmas vacation destination

“If we weren’t spending Christmas at home, I would choose Jamaica.

“The first Christmas myself and my husband were together, we decided to fly off to somewhere hot and sunny and Jamaica ticked all the boxes.

“I have fond memories of sitting on the beach sipping a cocktail whilst Santa jet-skied past us. It was a fabulous trip and I’d love to experience it with the girls.”

See our Jamaica villas

 

Thailand

My Travel Monkey

Ting Dalton, author of award-winning travel blog My Travel Monkey spent her very first Christmas abroad in Thailand. Here she explains why she loved it so much…

My Travel Monkey

“Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones, wrapping up warm and going for long wintry walks before tucking into a huge dinner with all the trimmings. However, as much as I look forward to this annual tradition I do remember with fondness my first Christmas away from home spent on the island of Koh Pha Ngan in Thailand.

“After a simple breakfast, we spent the morning lazing on the beach (in santa hats of course!) and then having a Christmas dinner in a restaurant where celebrations went on all night. The locals tried to make it as festive as possible for us – and even though I was far away from home, it was just wonderful.

“So with this in mind, if you fancy a change from the norm, head to a tropical paradise for some winter sun. I know that we’re planning to in the near future!”

See our Thailand villas

 

Barbados

Travel Loving Family

Travel writer Lisa Jane has ventured to more than 80 countries in the past 5 years. She shares her experiences on her popular website Travel Loving Family. Lisa recommends spending Christmas in the Caribbean, particularly Barbados.

Barbados beach

Christmas on a Barbados beach – photo courtesy of Travel Loving Family

“I would love to spend Christmas in the Caribbean again! 

“I spent three Christmases out there while working aboard cruise ships. To be honest, the first year I was due to spend Christmas in the Caribbean I worried that celebrating in the sunshine wouldn’t feel Christmassy. Of course the reality was [that] I loved spending Christmas day snorkelling in the turquoise blue Caribbean sea and sunbathing on the white sandy Barbados beaches.

“I would swap a cold, wet Christmas in England for celebrating with a rum punch on a stunning Caribbean beach in a heartbeat this year!”

See our Caribbean villas

 

Switzerland

Pod Travels

In her spare time, multi-award nominated blogger Charly Dove travels the world with her family. She prefers a ‘winter wonderland’ style Christmas in the magical Swiss Alps…

Switzerland vacation

View to the Matterhorn sunset reflected in the lake Stellisee

“Nestled in the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn is Zermatt, a quintessentially Swiss mountain resort renowned for its skiing, climbing and hiking. Situated at 1,600m, this beautiful snow-covered and largely car-free town, is reminiscent of a winter wonderland.

“We’ve visited twice during the festive period, the atmospheric après-ski scene making it especially memorable. Bahnhofstrasse has shops, restaurants, bars and cafés aplenty – or [you can] grab yourself an enormous Bratwurst wrapped in crusty bread. 

“With 360km of pistes, skiers and snowboarders of all levels are well catered for. The more experienced can take the Theodul Pass to the Italian region of Aosta Valley. Relaxation can come from one of the many mountain restaurants, which boast magnificent views. Tobogganing, sledding and an array of other winter sports are available although the Gornergrat mountain train, with views of the Matterhorn, is a must for all the family.

Christmas in Switzerland

Famous sightseeing train in Switzerland, the Glacier Express in winter

“The centre of town has an ice rink with skating, curling and hockey on offer. Further afield there’s Zermatlantis (the Matterhorn Museum), forest park, Vernissage cinema, swimming pools and the Matterhorn Brewery to visit. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do if you don’t fancy the slopes. Top tip: Make sure you try the moreish caramel vodka!”

 

Bali

Where’s Sharon?

Author of popular travel blog Where’s Sharon?, Sharon Gourlay loves family vacations in Bali so much that she’s just returned for the fourth time…

Villas in Bali

Sharon and her family enjoying Christmas in Bali

“We loved spending Christmas in Bali.

“It’s fun to spend Christmas in the sun and Bali has enough tourists that there’s still enough elements of Christmas to make it fun! Many places have Christmas decorations, it’s easy to have a traditional meal (with carols!), and all the locals were wishing us a merry Christmas.

“It’s also affordable enough that you have options like pool villas without having to have a huge budget.”

See our Bali villas

 

Cuba

Global Grasshopper

International travel blog Global Grasshopper is run by self-confessed ‘travel snob’ Becky Padmore. Along with their team of fellow travel enthusiasts, she’s on a mission to discover the world’s most underrated and beautiful places – Cuba being one of them…

Becky from the Global Grasshopper travel blog

“If you’d prefer to escape the cold (and the commercialisation) I’d recommend spending Christmas in Cuba. 

“Sip mojitos and salsa dance the night away on glistening white sands beside breezy azure waters. The next day hire a 1950s Cadillac and spend your Christmas exploring Cuba’s vibrant Jardines del Rey, a cluster of beautiful tropical islands located off the North coast.

“Then head to Havana to party with the locals on the Malecón, an atmospheric ocean road lined with colourful but fading, salt-eroded art deco and colonial buildings.”

 

New York & Florida

Extraordinary Chaos

Founder of family lifestyle blog Extraordinary Chaos, Sarah Christie said she would love to spend Christmas in New York. She also dreams of Spending Christmas in the warm Florida sun…

Christmas in New York

A New York vacation is on the Christmas wish list

“The one place I would love to spend Christmas is New York.  We have visited in summer, and fell in love with the hustle and bustle. However I have a real desire to experience it at Christmas, as I know it will be magical.

“I am not sure if it is growing up in the Home Alone era. But I have visions of staying on 5th Avenue and shopping in the snow, with people singing Christmas carols on the street.

“I would love to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and all the festive shop windows. As much as I love the heat and sun and dream of spending Christmas in Florida one year, I also love the seasons and the thought of snuggling in my hat and scarf on the streets of New York is so appealing and something I have always wanted to do.”

See our Florida villas

 

Sri Lanka

Twins that travel

Self confessed travel-obsessed sisters Claire and Laura Jopson are joint authors of award-winning travel blog, Twins that Travel. They recommend Sri Lanka as an ideal winter sun destination…

Christmas abroad

Christmas in Sri Lanka – photo courtesy of The Elephant Stamp

“Sri Lanka is an ideal winter sun destination, where relaxation on idyllic beaches can be combined with some ‘soft adventure’ in the country’s famous tea regions. Stay in luxury bungalows on working tea plantations, taking a step back into the country’s colonial past, or hike up to Lipton’s Seat to enjoy breath taking views out over the glistening green tea plantations.

“If you’re looking to keep fit over the winter season, Sri Lanka also offers world-renowned yoga retreats: leaving you tanned, healthy and clear headed for the year ahead.”

 

Myanmar (Burma)

Mrs O Around the World

Avid traveller and luxury travel blogger Ana Silva O’Reilly said one of her travel highlights of 2015 was spending Christmas on a luxury cruise along the Ayeyarwady river in Myanmar…

Burma

Ana loved her Christmas cruise in Myanmar

“I am a great believer in actually not going anywhere for Christmas – I do like spending it at home surrounded by family and friends. Last year I decided to mix things up a bit and we spent Christmas away from home on a boat. In Myanmar.

“We sailed on the maiden voyage of The Strand Cruise and explored at Irrawaddy river between Bagan and Mandalay. It was exceptional, and we then celebrated New Year at home with all our loved ones.”

 

Chicago

Kids are a trip

Mother of 3 Kirsten Maxwell is the author of family blog Kids are a Trip. She recommends taking a Christmassy break to Chicago, USA.

Christmas in Chicago

“Chicago might be cold in the winter, but during the holiday season the city really shines.

“Locals and visitors bundle up to brave the chill and head out to enjoy each and every one of the holiday offerings. Some of the more popular events include the Christkindlmarket, a replica of the European Christmas markets where shoppers meander through wooden stalls while warming themselves with mugs of glühwein.

“Those looking for Chicago’s ‘holiday central’ head to Millennium Park, home to the famous ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture, the city’s Christmas tree, the Maggie Daley ice skating ribbon, and multiple holiday concerts. The favorite indoor holiday activity of many is attending Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry.

“Here visitors can marvel at trees decorated to represent over 50 countries and cultures from around the world and enjoy live holiday performances.”

If you’re booking a Christmas vacation and you need help finding the perfect place to stay, then contact the Top Villas travel team. Additionally, the Top Villas concierge service can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.

Spending Chinese New Year in Koh Samui

Planning a trip to Koh Samui during Chinese New Year? Here’s a guide to what’s on and when. Whether you want to party on the beach or join a dragon procession around Samui’s most fascinating shrine, this round-up of things to do is sure to keep you occupied.

Spending Chinese New Year in Koh Samui, Thailand

Chinese New Year offers plenty of fun

While Chinese New Year isn’t a public holiday in Thailand, it is very much in evidence in the lively parades and parties across the country. Many of Koh Samui’s residents have Chinese heritage, so celebrations are a genuine cultural event on the island, with plenty of fun guaranteed. Thanks to the great weather and the colourful celebrations, it’s one of the best times to visit Koh Samui.

When is Chinese New Year in Koh Samui?

The exact date varies from year to year because it depends on the Chinese lunar calendar and the night of the full moon.

In 2017, Chinese New Year in Koh Samui is set to start at the end of January, a time when tourist numbers are already high. Not only are there endless festivities to enjoy, there is also guaranteed good weather, with lots of sunshine and barely any rainfall.

Celebrations will kick off on January 28th 2017, with a long weekend of street processions, parades and parties around Koh Samui’s temples, beaches and main towns.

Chinese New Year in Koh Samui

A Chinese New Year parade

What exactly is Chinese New Year?

You may have heard of Chinese New Year but you may still be wondering what it’s all about.

Also known as ‘Spring Festival’, it’s the most important of all the holidays for Chinese people. Not only does it mark the start of the new year, it’s also a time to celebrate family, friends and Chinese traditions, with parties, special meals and gift giving.

It all started centuries ago with a legend about an evil dragon called Nian.

According to folklore, the creature would visit Chinese villages once a year, destroying the local harvests and terrorising the villagers and livestock. One year, the villagers hid from Nian, while a brave old man sought to scare him off by hanging up red decorations and firecrackers. The villagers waited in hiding, and when they returned to the town they found that, to their amazement, nothing had been destroyed. Nian had fled, frightened off by the colour red and the loud noise of the firecrackers exploding.

This is why the colour red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year – it’s regarded as the colour of hope, good fortune, and a deterrent for evil.

During Chinese New Year in Koh Samui, you’ll see red decorations hung in abundance across the island. Shops and markets sell red items of clothing to wear, and some houses may even be painted red!

Koh Samui Chinese New Year markets

Expect to find lots of red items for sale during Chinese New Year

Where are the best Chinese New Year events in Koh Samui?

Maenam

One of the main focal points for Chinese New Year in Koh Samui is the Chinese Temple in Maenam. This is one of the most family friendly events, packed with tourists, locals, street vendors and even people’s pets.

Close to Maenam pier, this colourful temple is the site of the most spectacular street procession on the island, with a dragon parade, a lion dance, acrobats on stilts, music, dancing and fireworks. There are evening performances from around 6pm each night of the festival.

Look out for the the lion dance which is particularly fun to watch, performed by dancers inside an elaborate lion costume, rather like a pantomime horse. The performers become the body of the lion, with one dancer at the head and one at the back, imitating the animal’s movements, to the tune of beating drums, clashing cymbals and resounding gongs.

There is a wide choice of local Thai and Chinese food available at the endless street stalls, as well as both soft and alcoholic drinks, including plenty of cocktails. You should expect to see red lanterns everywhere, as well as red items and tangerines (symbols of wealth and happiness) being sold at market stalls.

The Chinese Temple in Maenam

The Chinese Temple in Maenam

Nathon

Nathon, Samui’s capital city, tends to have less of a tourist presence than Maenam, so you can expect a smaller-scale but perhaps more authentic Chinese/Thai party taking place around the Hainan Chinese Temple.

There are the usual dragon and lion dances, but the Nathon celebrations are more adult-orientated, with some local participants performing cheek piercing and tongue slashing ceremonies that are not for the faint hearted.

Many of the homes and shops in Nathon leave special ‘altars’ loaded with food and lucky charms outside, ready for the passing procession. You’ll find everything on these from oranges and other fruits to firecrackers, meat and even pigs’ heads.

A Chinese New Year party in Koh Samui, Thailand

A Chinese New Year Dragon procession

Hua Thanon

Just like in Nathon, you can expect some serious revelry near the massive Guan Yu shrine in Hua Thanon.

Known as Koh Samui’s ‘scariest’ shrine, this towering temple is themed around the red-faced Guan Yu warrior, and is the main focal point for the Chinese community in Samui.

The New Year parade at Guan Yu includes lion dances, dragon parades, dancing, acrobats, firecrackers and fireworks. There’s also a procession of various Chinese mythological creatures that ‘bless’ residents and tourists with good luck for the year ahead.

You can also learn more about the story of the famous Guan Yu Chinese general while you are at the temple. Thought to have lived some 1,800 years ago, Guan Yu played a crucial role in the civil war that led to the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period. His heroics are sensationalised in some of the greatest works of ancient Chinese literature, and he now represents loyalty, bravery and honesty among Chinese people.

It’s hard to miss the soaring Guan Yu shrine, located off the inland side of the ring road in Hua Thanon village. Look for a red gate on the right if you miss the looming red head on the approach.

Chinese New Year fireworks in Koh Samui

Expect plenty of fireworks during Chinese New Year

Know before you go

  • Be prepared to party as the festivities tend to go on all through the day and night. The bigger the Chinese community in the area, the longer the party will go on.
  • Koh Samui tends to be very last minute in its planning, so keep your eyes open or ask the locals for exact timings and party announcements.
  • Most events for Chinese New Year in Koh Samui are free or low cost.
  • There are celebrations of all sizes going on across the main towns and beaches in Koh Samui.
  • Although it is not an official public holiday in Koh Samui, some Chinese-owned businesses will be closed for a day or two to mark the occasion.
  • Dress appropriately for Thai temples. The main rule is to cover your shoulders and knees (both sexes).
  • Although you won’t be disturbed by noise in the privacy of our Koh Samui villas, you may like to pack ear plugs for children to use when they are out and about around fireworks.
  • The most important thing to bring is your patience and a positive attitude – just go with the flow and have fun with locals and visitors alike.

Where to stay for Chinese New Year in Koh Samui

Top Villas offers an impressive selection of Koh Samui villas, with plenty of homes still available for Chinese New Year. So whether you’re travelling as a couple or in a larger group, take a look at these Koh Samui vacation homes.

Choeng Mon 1252

1 Bedroom ◊ Sleeps 2
Koh Samui vacation home

This Koh Samui vacation home is ideal for couples.

This delightful 1-bedroom villa is located in an exclusive adults-only community in the pretty area of Choeng Mon.

Prices during late January 2017 are around $229 per night.

Maenam 2106

2 Bedrooms ◊ Sleeps 4
Koh Samui villa with pool

A 2-bedroom private pool villa located in Maenam, Koh Samui.

With a great location near Maenam Chinese Temple, this luxury villa is an ideal place to stay for Chinese New Year in Koh Samui.

Around $286 per night.

Plai Laem 4031

4 Bedrooms ◊ Sleeps 8
Koh Samui villas

You can celebrate at home in this glorious Koh Samui villa

You can head out and about, or celebrate in the comfort of home in this luxury waterfront property, with the services of an in-villa chef included.

Around $1,270 per night.

If you are spending Chinese New Year in Koh Samui, you can check out even more Koh Samui vacation homes here. The Top Villas concierge service can arrange great value car hire, plus any extra information you need about spending Chinese New Year in Koh Samui.

 

Packing for Disney: the ultimate guide

Packing is one of the most exciting (and daunting) parts of planning a trip to Disney World. Knowing what to bring and what to leave at home can be really tricky, especially if you’re travelling with young kids or older family members.

Given Orlando’s changeable weather, the amount of things to see and do, and the sheer size of the theme parks, planning is essential if you want to stay happy in the happiest place on earth. We’re here to make sure your pre-trip preparations run smoothly. Just follow these simple packing tips for a stress-free trip – and a lighter-than-usual suitcase.

Packing for a trip to Walt Disney World

What to bring with you from home

  • Passport If you’re visiting from abroad, this should be at the top of your packing list.
  • Dollars Bringing US dollars from home isn’t strictly necessary, as you can always withdraw cash from an ATM on arrival, but for added peace of mind you might want to get some dollars before you fly.
  • Accommodation details Make sure you have the directions to your villa with you. If you’ve arranged a private transfer with our concierge team, you won’t need to worry about finding your way. Still not found somewhere to stay? You can browse our full selection of Orlando villa rentals here.
  • Headphones Wherever you’re flying from, plane journeys can quickly get boring. Even though most airlines supply headphones, we’d recommend bringing a pair of your own – they’ll fit more comfortably and might even help to block out some plane noise.
  • Travel insurance documents No matter how fit and healthy you are, you should always take out comprehensive travel insurance for your trip. A good policy will not only protect your personal belongings, but also help to cover your costs in the event of illness, an accident or a delayed flight.
  • Plug adapter Electrical appliances in Florida use flat-pin plugs. If you’re visiting from overseas, you may need to bring a plug adapter with you to charge your camera, phone and other devices.

What to bring to Disney World

There’s no point in bringing your whole suitcase to Disney World, but a small backpack or handbag can be useful for carrying a few essential supplies. For an unforgettable experience you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated throughout the day.

  • Camera Pictures are the best way to capture all of the heart-warming and thrilling moments at Disney World. Taking your camera or cellphone along with you will allow you to keep snapping all day long. To keep your camera safe on rides, it’s best to store it in your bag (there’s usually a safe spot to keep it locked away). If the ride is quite tame, you can wear it on a strap or simply hold onto it.
  • Rain poncho Even though Orlando is known for its year-round sunshine, downpours do occur – especially in hurricane season. We’d recommend bringing a poncho with you, not only for the odd outbreak of bad weather, but also for some of the big splash rides. Disney sells its own ponchos for around $10, but they’re much cheaper in regular shops outside of the theme parks.
  • Sunscreen The sun in Orlando is strong and it’s easy to get burnt, even on overcast days. We’d recommend packing a high-factor sunscreen, especially for younger travelers. If you don’t want to carry big bottles of sunscreen around, most local drugstores sell travel-sized versions or sprayable bottles.
  • Phone charger or battery booster Long days full of photos and phone calls can quickly drain batteries. If you bring a charger with you, or invest in a portable battery pack, you’ll be able to give your batteries a quick boost midway through your visit to the theme parks.
  • Attraction tickets If you haven’t already purchased your attraction tickets, our concierge team is on hand to arrange them for you. We’d recommend printing a copy of your tickets and any FastPass reservations, just in case you lose the electronic version on your cellphone. For Disney dining reservations, we’d advise you to do the same.

 

Recommended places to stay in Reunion Resort, Orlando

 

Extras to consider if you’re visiting Disney with kids

As you’d expect, Disney is used to welcoming little ones, and you’ll find most of the supplies you need within the parks. Even so, there are a few things you can bring along to make the day run smoothly.

  • Snacks and water Most guests aren’t aware that you are allowed to bring food and drink into the parks. Take advantage of this by stocking up on fruit and high-energy snacks before you arrive. It can get really warm in the middle of the day, so it’s important to carry water with you, especially if you’ll be visiting many parks and doing a lot of walking. Water fountains are available throughout the parks, allowing you to fill up your own bottle for free, rather than paying theme park prices every time you get thirsty.
  • Strollers Strollers and pushchairs are available at all of the Disney parks, including Disney Springs. These can be rented day by day, or for several days in a row. There’s also the option to bring your own stroller (just make sure it’s no larger than 36′ x 52′ in size).
  • Autograph books The Disney parks are home to lots of movie favourites, from Mickey Mouse to the lovely Disney princesses. No matter how old you are, there’s nothing more remarkable than seeing those characters brought to life. Needless to say, an autograph book is a must-have for the children visiting Disney. They’ll be able to capture and cherish all their favourite characters’ signatures and look back on them in years to come.
  • Ear plugs Disney puts on incredible firework displays every night. If your child has sensitive ears or doesn’t like loud noises, consider bringing child-sized earplugs.
  • Wet wipes/hand sanitizer Kids get sticky fingers especially when touching hand rails or eating, so it’s a good idea to carry travel-sized wipes. Also, hand sanitizer is a life saver if you want to clean your hands thoroughly before eating.
  • First-aid kit First-aid stations are dotted around each Disney park, though it’s useful to pack your own supply in case of a trip or fall. Band-aids, pain relief and antiseptic wipes are always handy to carry around for children.
  • Baby food You can get around it however by visiting one of the ‘Baby Care Centers’ in every park. Here they provide microwaves, ovens and many other facilities, offering you the opportunity to heat up any food required. To dine with your own food, there are plenty of seating areas in each park, including shady benches or outdoor tables found in counter service restaurants.

What can’t I bring into the parks? 

Packing list for Disney World

There are a few rules on what you can and can’t bring into Disney World. Make sure you leave these items at home.

  • Big bags There’s no limit on bringing luggage into the Disney parks, but bags must not exceed 24″ x 15″ x 18″. The only other exception is the Animal Kingdom; cooler bags, plastic straws, lids and balloons are prohibited to protect the resident animals. Soft-shelled bags like backpacks can be used, however. If you’d rather not carry bags around all day (and who would?), lockers are available in each park.
  • Big strollers Many people choose to take their own strollers into the parks instead of renting at Disney, simply because it’s cheaper. However, they must not exceed 36″ x 52″ in size. Whether you’re using your own stroller or one from the parks, remember that they are banned in Disney restaurants and ride queues – use the special parking areas designated for strollers.
  • Alcohol You can buy alcoholic drinks at Disney but you’re not allowed to bring your own. Smoking is allowed, though only in designated areas of each park.
  • Food that needs heating Although you can bring your own food to the parks, it’s not recommended to bring anything that needs heating up – by law, restaurants are prohibited from doing this.
 

Seasonal packing tips

What to bring to disney world parks

The weather changes a lot throughout the year in Orlando, so you’ll need to pack accordingly (see our Florida climate guide for more details). Disney World’s crowds also ebb and flow, depending on national holidays, one-off events and things like school breaks. Use our crowd calendar to find quiet times of the year to visit, and then read the tips below for suggestions on what to pack.

Summer

Summer at Disney can be extremely hot, so make sure you pack plenty of summery clothes. You’ll also want to pack some of the following summer extras:

  • Bathing suit The summer season in Orlando is a real scorcher, so what better way to escape the heat than going to one of Disney’s water parks? Keep a towel and a bathing suit or an extra pair of shorts in your backpack – that way you can always get changed if you decide to make a detour to a water park for a swim. TIP: visit the main parks in the early morning or late afternoon, when it’s quiet, then drop by the water parks at midday to cool off.
  • Sunglasses An essential all year round in Orlando, sunglasses are even more important in the summer months, when the weather is at its warmest. These will help protect your eyes from harmful rays when walking around or on rides.

Spring, fall and winter

There’s a good chance of nice weather right throughout the year in Orlando, but it can get a little chillier at night outside of the main summer season. September is a good choice as the weather is still reliably warm and, as the kids are back at school, it’s not quite as busy.

  • Light jackets In cooler periods of the year the mornings may be a bit chilly, so bring along light jackets for you and the kids to wear before it begins to warm up.
  • Costumes During the month of September, Disney launches its Halloween-themed events including the famous “Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween party”, firework displays and astonishing parades. At this time, it’s always fun for younger guests to dress in costume, getting them in the Halloween spirit. If you want to dress up, be aware that guests over the age of 14 may not wear costumes.

For more information on the best time to visit Walt Disney World, view our guide here

If you’re booking an Orlando Disney trip, check out these outstanding vacation homes in Orlando. Our concierge team will be able to arrange car hire, attraction tickets and any additional services you require for your villa stay. 

11 luxury villas perfect for large groups

Whether you’re planning a big family reunion, a dream wedding, or a catch up with a group of old friends, you’re going to need plenty of space. These luxury villas feature extras like huge pools, home theaters and swim-up bars, and are perfect for large groups. We’ve also included a few villas that are located right next to each other, giving you even more flexibility. 

Orlando

Reunion Resort S2547

Luxury villas for groups

Right beside one another in Reunion Resort, these two Orlando villas sleep a combined total of 62 guests, providing comfort and entertainment at every turn.

Just 5.5 miles from Disney World, the villas offer amenities that you won’t want to miss. Take a dip in the 2 private pools, experience your own movie marathon in their home theaters, challenge each other in the game rooms, and then end the day on a high in one of the 25 plush bedrooms. Lengthy dining tables and spacious kitchens provide enough space to prepare a feast fit for kings.

Book now

 

Reunion Resort 1500

Luxury villas for large groups, including weddings or family reunions

Overlooking one of Reunion’s signature golf courses, the contemporary villa accommodates up to 30 guests in a total of 11 bedrooms.

Wake up and you’ll be just moments from the magic of Disney (the parks are just a short drive away). The fun doesn’t have to stop there; with an extensive swimming pool, a game room, a gym and a private cinema, the villa itself offers plenty to keep big groups busy.

Book now

 

Koh Samui, Thailand

Maenam S38208

Accommodating 78 guests, this private estate is ideal for large group holidays

Holiday with the entire extended family or a big circle of friends at this huge Thailand villa complex, which has 38 bedrooms and sleeps an unbelievable 78 people! Right along the beach, the 8 individual holiday villas are located next to one another, bringing everybody together in a private estate.

Steps away from the crystal-clear waters, each property has direct beach access. Spend your days lolling around, sinking your toes into the clean, soft sands or watching the sunset from the many private pools. Swim, lounge and indulge, living the true VIP lifestyle in Koh Samui, Thailand. Young or old, everybody will be able to embrace the captivating atmosphere no matter what the occasion.

Book now

 

Maenam S14207

Beach-side villa suitable for large group holidays

Side by side along the beach, these two villas accommodate up to 28 guests in 14 stunning bedrooms.

The special location in Maenam, Koh Samui, lets you watch the waves rolling in from the comfort of your bedroom. Multiple pools and direct beach access allow you the freedom to soak up the sun, take a dip, or delve into your favourite novel.

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Bangrak 8049

Luxury villas ideal for large group vacations

This huge beachfront villa in Bangrak, Koh Samui, has its own infinity pool overlooking the sea and sleeps up to 16 guests.

Although it’s usually a 9-bedroom property, it’s possible to rent the villa with just 8 bedrooms at a discounted rate. Serene outdoor areas and stunning interiors go hand in hand here, and there’s even a traditional-style sala right in the middle of the pool. The laid-back atmosphere is perfect for lazy swims in the pool, or afternoon strolls on the sugar-white sands.

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Barbados

The Garden 3

Villas around the world ideal for weddings, conferences or family vacations

Fancy renting your own enchanting beachfront estate set across 1.7 acres of land? This home consists of 8 suites – 3 in the main house, 2 in an adjoining annex and 3 more set in individual 1-bedroom cottages within the grounds. All in all, there’s space for 20 guests.

Dive into the vast private infinity pool or put on the finest spread for dinner – the sense of space and freedom is limitless. Combine the luscious Caribbean Sea views with grand decor and you’re all set for a dream Barbados vacation.

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Sandy Lane 27

Luxury villas suitable for large groups

One of the finest properties in Sandy Lane, Barbados, this villa is home to 7 bedrooms and has space for 14 guests.

Luxury isn’t short lived here, with elegant furnishings and top-notch features everywhere you go. The lengthy pool is a great place to swim or kick back with a drink, soaking up the great Caribbean weather from the sun loungers nearby. This is a chilled, totally private environment, ideal for a relaxing escape with a big group of your nearest and dearest.

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France

Montagnac 1

Luxury chateau ideal for weddings, family trips or conferences

Escape to the countryside at this historic French Château, which accommodates 14 guests across 9 incredible bedrooms.

Located to the south of Montpellier, it’s close to both the sea and leafy tracts of woodland. The recently renovated French property blends contemporary design with historic elements, showcasing a stunning interior that reflects the picturesque surroundings outside. For a European villa break with a big group, delve into history and embrace the traditional ambiance in this home.

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Jamaica

Montego Bay 45

Villas around the world for large groups

Jamaica’s sun-kissed beaches and transparent waters are perfect for a group getaway, and this spacious home gives you easy access to both.

Providing enough space for 12 guests, the villa lets guests enjoy an expansive infinity pool, a luxurious dining area and some seriously stunning scenery. Soak up the Jamaican culture and sunny weather by lounging at the poolside.

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Greece

Santorini 23

The best villas worldwide for weddings, family groups or conferences

Offering serene sea views, this Santorini villa will take your breath away. Marble floors and fresh white furnishings decorate the interiors, where you’ll find enough space for up to 24 guests.

Unwind in your infinity pool and overlook the abundance of blue. The blend of clear waters and island views are enough to create the perfect atmosphere for a tranquil trip. Enjoy quality family time, capture the most special moments for your wedding day or simply de-stress, all in this amazing villa rental.

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Saint Martin

Plum Bay 1

luxury worldwide villas for large groups vacations

For a sleepy vacation by the Caribbean Sea, check out this rental in Saint Martin, which sleeps up to 14 guests.

Experience a private beach-entry swimming pool, hillside views of the water, endless relaxation spots and the beaming Saint Martin sunshine. The Caribbean never looked better, so entertain the entire family with the whole host of amenities on offer.

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9 unusual things to do in Orlando

Orlando may be best known for Disney World, but there are heaps of unlikely attractions outside the theme park bubble. Whether you want to get sucked into a makeshift hurricane hole, try your hand at ghost hunting, or go skydiving without a plane – check out our round-up of unusual things to do in Orlando.

1. Skydive without a plane

unusual things to do in Orlando

Indoor skydiving at iFly

Be prepared to be blown away – literally – when you take a dive at this impressive indoor skydiving simulator. One of the coolest and most unusual things to do in Orlando, indoor skydiving is the perfect way to experience exactly how it feels to jump out of a plane, but without the parachute, the jumping, and the pre-jump nerves!

Whether you’re aged 3 to 103, and whether you are flying solo or in a group there are a selection of packages to choose from. Every option includes pre-flight training, plus all the necessary flight gear and friendly instruction from a certified flight guide.

iFly Orlando offers 2 flights for 1 person for around $60. No experience is required.

2. Go upside down at Wonderworks Orlando

Unusual things to do in Orlando

The inversion tunnel at Wonderworks Orlando

Legend has it that this once top-secret laboratory was located in the Bermuda Triangle, but, after an experiment went wrong, it was lifted to International Drive, where it landed upside down! Luckily the humongous Wonderworks building is still in one piece – and it tops the list of unusual things to do in Orlando.

Walk through an inversion tunnel to ‘realign’ yourself ‘upside down’, then, with the ceiling under your feet you’re all set to take a look around. Inside are 6 wonder zones where you can experience a simulated hurricane, lie down on a bed of nails or even send an alien back to Outer Space. There’s also a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, a 4D motion theatre, a laser-tag arena and a video-game arcade.

Admission to Wonderworks Orlando is around $27 per adult. If you prefer an evening adventure, check out the venue’s daily Outta Control Magic Dinner Show which costs around $30 per adult, including unlimited pizza, salad, beer, wine, soda and dessert.

 

Recommended places to stay in Reunion Resort, Orlando

 

3. Dine in the world’s largest McDonald’s

The world's largest McDonald's is in Orlando

Dine in a super-sized McDonald’s

Giving a whole new meaning to the word ‘super-size’, Orlando is home to the world’s largest ‘entertainment-style’ McDonald’s.

Located at the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Road, this gigantic fast food favorite towers at around 48 ft tall and spans an eye-popping 18,716 sq ft. You can dine on all the usual salads and burgers, or you can order unique, create-your-own versions from an expanded selection of toppings. Other options unique to this location include omelettes, waffles, pastas and even pizzas.

Best of all, a huge part of the interior space is dedicated to a 22-ft-tall kid’s play gym with slides, tunnels and climbing frames. There’s also a 2,000 sq ft gaming arcade, a 30-ft illuminated Ronald McDonald and a singing animatronic of the chain’s 1980s moon-headed Mac Tonight character.

4. See exotic flowers at the Harry P. Leu Gardens

unusual things to do in Orlando

You can see exotic flowers in Orlando

At the Harry P. Leu Gardens, you can check out a vast array of tropical plants collected by a vacationing couple at the turn of the century.

Some people bring back souvenirs when they return from a vacation, but Mr and Mrs Harry P. Leu were in the habit of bringing back exotic plants, which led to the establishment of the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando. The couple bought their Orlando home, now the Leu House Museum, at the turn of the century. It is in the surrounding gardens that they planted their flowers from around the world.

You can visit for around $10.

5. Visit a Christian theme park

Meet Jesus at this unusual theme park in Orlando

The Holy Land Experience

For something a little different from Orlando’s mainstream theme parks, why not take a trip to a Christian amusement park?

The Holy Land Experience is “a living biblical museum that takes you 7000 miles away and 2000 years back in time to the land of the Bible.”

Once you enter through the ‘city’ gate, you will see ‘exact replicas’ of scenes from ancient Jerusalem, with models of major sites from the Old and New Testaments. There are a profusion of temples, as well as models of Jerusalem, the Qumran Dead Sea Caves, the Wilderness Tabernacle and other biblical scenes. Believe it or not, you can even see a daily live show with actors depicting Jesus’ crucifixion.

Admission to the Holy Land Experience is around $50.

6. Go ghost hunting

Ghost hunting is an unusual way to spend your time in Orlando

Go ghost hunting in Orlando

If you’re interested in paranormal pursuits why not try a spot of ghost hunting through some of Orlando’s most ‘haunted’ buildings?

Voted one of the best ghost tours in the world, and one of the spookiest unusual things to do in Orlando, this hands-on tour is sure to get your pulse racing.

Managed by a team of ‘ghost ambassadors’, American Ghost Adventures run interactive tours through Downtown Orlando, where guests are regaled with tales of unsolved mysteries and ghost sightings. Expect to feel chills down your spine when you explore a real haunted hotel, equipped with EMF devices that make you feel like a real ghostbuster.

By the end of the tour, you’ll probably walk away with your own ghost story…

Tours start at around $20.

7. See a calf with 2 heads

At Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium you will see some of the most bizarre things you could ever imagine.

Located on International Drive, the building itself looks like it’s sinking into a massive Florida sinkhole – and if that’s not weird enough, just wait ’til you get inside…

Ripley's Odditorium is full of odd things

A calf with 2 heads at Ripley’s Odditorium in Orlando

Spanning across 10,000 sq ft, the venue features hundreds of unusual exhibits that pay tribute to the odd and the strange. You can see an actual shrunken human head, authentic dinosaur eggs, a wax figure of the world’s tallest man and a portrait of the Mona Lisa made of burnt toast – to name just a few exhibits.

A tour of this bizarre venue costs around $20 and is without doubt one of the most unusual things to do in Orlando.

8. Take a cocktail tour

Take a cocktail-themed tour of Orlando, Florida

Sample hand-crafted cocktails made by top mixologists

The uber-cool Crafty Cocktail Tour will take you to some of Downtown’s finest cocktail bars, allowing you to sample a variety of tasty hand-crafted drinks while learning about the history and culture of Downtown Orlando.

The tour is run by Downtown Orlando Tours and takes place every Saturday from 6.30–8.30pm. It features stops at an array of top-notch cocktail bars in the Central Business District including Bauhaus Bar, Courtesy Bar, Dapper Duck, Hen House and The Woods.

Tickets are $40 per person for four stops.

9. Find the ‘singing runway’ at the abandoned Disney World Airport

This abandoned runway in Orlando is a quirky place to visit

An abandoned runway

Once upon a time there was a Disney World airport that flew passengers directly into the Magic Kingdom. The airport featured a set of grooves, like those on the side of a highway, that played ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ when driven over at a certain speed.

Despite the airport being abandoned in the 1980s, the runway is still fully intact and is accessible by turning right under the Disney World monorail before entering the Magic Kingdom parking area.

The site is used as a backstage parking and storage lot, but you can get in for free, and if you can get close enough past the parked cars, you might just be able to see, or even drive on the musical runway, waiting to wish upon a star with you.

If you’re booking an Orlando vacation check out these impressive vacation homes in Orlando. The Top Villas concierge service can arrange great value car hire and attraction tickets, plus any extra information you need about things to do in Orlando.