Florida for Idiots: Summer 2010
The flight - all 9 hours of it
The flight can vary from around 7 hours to around 10 hours, averaging at around 8 hours and 30 minutes. Why this variation?
Tailwinds, that's what. If the plane encounters headwinds then it effectively slow the plane down. If it has a tailwind then that acts as a turbocharger and will get you there more quickly.
However long it takes, you somehow need to fill those 8 hours without wanting to open the cabin door and jump out.
I've never left on a plane to Florida that actually took off on time. All the passengers have arrived and are seated. Everyone is excited. Then the captain comes over the PA system with a message that the control tower has given clearance to take off and he expects to be trundling down the runway in about 20 minutes or so.
TWENTY minutes? Why the delay? If the plane was supposed to take off at 11:00am then why are we still mucking about at 11:15 in the parking bay? Well, at least it gives the cabin crew time to go through the safety drill (which they are quite insistent that you pay attention to) after which you're on your way.
The onboard entertainment system doesn't get switched on right away. They first play a video about filling in those darned visa waiver forms and customs immigration forms. Then they play it again for all those people who weren't listening the first time.
Finally they let you loose on the seat-back screen and you can watch any number of movies, listen to the radio (well, recorded music) or play games, sometimes with other passengers. If you have upgraded to Premier class then you have more movies to watch and you can pause, rewind and fast forward the movies just like your Sky+ box at home. Those in cattle class just get to watch the movie as it is playing. If you miss the start of it you will either have to put up and shut up or wait until it gets played again!
After about an hour or two they start coming round with the lunch and drinks. Followed by duty free. And coffee and tea. Anything to keep your distracted to fact that only 3 hours has passed and you've got another 5 hours of that awful kid kicking your chair from behind you with his mother saying "Oh don't do that, Johny" like she really means it. Not.
If you do get to watch a couple of movies, listen to some music (tip: take your iPOD, it's much easier to listen to than the aircraft-supplied music) then the time passes amazingly quickly. I do the easy-peasy Soduku in the Daily Mail and it takes me a good hour. Read the paper, that passes another 30 minutes or so.
Then you get an announcement that you're about to be served tea! As in high-tea not just a cup of tea. Another hour by the time that's all done and then you get the captain telling you that you're on landing approach at Sanford and it's all over.
Just take a good, long hard look at the kid who's been kicking your chair for the last 8 hours in case you spot him in Wet 'n' Wild so you can sit on him. In the deep end.
I-Ride small map (main route plus stops and other information)
I-Ride full map (all route information including locations of shopping areas, eating places and hotels)
Lynx bus route no 50 (Magic Kingdom / Downtown Disney to Sea World where you can pick up the I-Ride back to your hotel)
Orlando Tourist Information Bureau.com (organised trips including to the Florida Mall)
Prime Outlets (north International Drive) website
Premium Outlets (south International Drive) website
Florida Mall information
Mall at Millenia web site
Pointe Orlando web site
Golden Corral buffet restaurant website
Ponderosa buffet restaurant website
TGI restaurant web site
Look guys, these are just links to other people's web sites. I'm not responsible for any content you may (or may not) find there. I just supply them in good faith to increase your holiday enjoyment!