Orlando holiday – keeping the cost down ;-)

We had planned to stay back in Orlando for a few days post our disembarkation from Carnival Liberty Bahamas cruise at Port Canaveral. Since we were a group of around 20+, booking a vacation home was the most budget friendly option for us. We also wanted to escape the more touristy areas and wanted this to be one of those holidays where we do not over-plan 🙂

Day 1

Drive from Port Canaveral to Champions Gate was around 1 hr 15 mins.

Our cousins found this luxurious 8 bedroom vacation home through Air BnB in The Retreat, Champions Gate Resort, Davenport at a reasonable price. This place is close to Walt Disney World theme parks.

1512 Rolling Fairway Dr – this flawless home located in the heart of the resort community in Champions Gate was just I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E! The beautiful exterior accentuated with brick and tile roofing amidst lush greenery and the entire ground was spotlessly clean.

We hired two cars from Enterprise-Rent-A-Car with insurance for commute purposes and shortlisted the absolute must-dos for the adults and kids over the next 3 days.

Since the rooms were still being cleaned we drove to Oasis Club house located within the community to grab some lunch. The clubhouse had all the amenities including a fitness room, private theatre, pool, spas and a lazy river thereby offering hours of endless entertainment and the food was really good, not heavy on the pocket at all.  

Aerial view of the community. Video source: windermereluxuryproperty.com

We were left awestruck with this airy, bright and spacious home. The entire house was tastefully decorated with beautiful pieces of furniture and artifacts along with french windows leading to a private backyard and pool area. The large living room with an open style kitchen and beautifully adorned dining table was the perfect size for our group.

The lower floor had the master bedroom and a guest bedroom and the upper floor housed the remaining 6 rooms, each tastefully done in different themes (beach, surf, sunshine etc), while the 5 baths gave everyone plenty of time to go about their daily rituals.

A flight of stairs led to the large loft area which also gave the kids plenty of space. This area had a home theatre with a 55” flat screen and comfortable couches and chairs along with a pool table. Our teens binged watched movies till the wee hours, screaming, pranking and having a time of their life. The home had all the amenities including a fully equipped kitchen and laundry room.

The patio on the ground floor overlooked a private backyard with a gorgeous pool, jacuzzi and hot tub which was extremely relaxing.

Day 2

Post breakfast some of us decided to go to Titanic Artifact Exhibition, while the remaining adults and kids decided to chill at home.

We were looking forward to embark on a historic, nautical adventure and to go back in time to April 1912 when the ship set sail on its fateful maiden voyage. At the counter we received a replica boarding pass as our ticket, the same that were issued to passengers aboard the Titanic. Each of our boarding pass had the name of a real person who was on the Titanic. Our guide also told us stories about the individual mentioned on our boarding pass and at the end of the tour we found out whether the person on our pass had survived or not. The lady on my ticket had such a miserable life and she died on that fateful night.. compete contrast to my life right now 😀

Ticket counter
My sis-in-law, Sunita, holding her boarding pass
My boarding pass and some souvenirs that I had picked up from the store placed in my “Travel Adventure” box

The exhibition area was massive, around 20,000 sq. ft., with 20-room interactive attractions and full-scale recreations of Titanic’s most famous locales. We were really glad that we opted for the guided tours as it made the entire Titanic experience impressively informative and immersive. The tour guide was an employee clad in the same period attire portraying famous Titanic notables such as “Unsinkable” Molly Brown.

Lobby area

The tour included artifacts from the doomed ship, many of which were actually discovered on the ocean floor, and there was even a spot-on replica of the iconic grand staircase as seen in the movie. The grand staircase was roped off so the only way we could walk on it was to pay for the professional photographs. We were asked to select some outfits that were worn by the passengers and pose for the pics. We were glad we did this as it was quite a pleasurable experience.

Replica of the Titanic Grand Staircase

There are over 300 artifacts and historical treasures from collectors around the world, including perfume from a perfume maker who was traveling to New York, bone china crockery etched with the logo of the elite White Star Line, and the second-largest piece of the Titanic ever recovered – a three-ton section of the ship’s hull. We also got to see the memorabilia from James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, Titanic

Original artifacts

We learnt countless stories of heroism and humanity that pay homage to the indomitable force of the human spirit in the face of tragedy. The most jaw-dropping and intriguing part of the experience was a massive wall which had names of everyone who lived or died on the Titanic. The tour concluded, somewhat chillingly, with us getting a feel of the water temperatures that Titanic passengers felt that fateful night. We touched an iceberg that was as cold as the water was that night, and even walked out onto the bridge and experienced what it was like onboard one of the most famous vessels in the world.

Unfortunately, photography was strictly prohibited inside the exhibition hall, hence we were unable to take any pics of the exhibits. So this is definitely a must-visit while in Orlando.

Enroute home we picked up some loaded burgers, fries and soda from Sonic drive-in. We then showered, changed and drove to Disney Springs at Buena Vista Drive for a night out.

This place was buzzing with activities, street side performances, attractions, shopping, restaurants ranging from very quick and casual to fancy with the added convenience of enjoying these attractions on a limited budget. There was no entry fee and even the Parking was free so we only paid for what we ate or purchased. We were fortunate to see an incredible performance by Nicholas Marks, a Flamenco guitarist. I was given to understand that he was a contestant from Season 1 and Season 2 of America’s Got Talent.

I always make it a point to visit a local Starbucks since I am a Starbucks loyalist 😉
Trying to replicate the pose of the Frozen characters in the background.. hahahaha

We visited the Coca‑Cola store which comprised of a few levels featuring a broad assortment of Coca‑Cola branded merchandise as well as one‑of‑a‑kind products that were unique to the store.

From one-of-a-kind apparel, collectibles and drinkware to exclusive Coca-Cola merchandise, the store had it all. Picked up some exclusive Coca-Cola merchandise

Day 3

Post breakfast the adults decided to go to Gaylords Palms Resort & Convention Centre in Kissimmee to explore the Christmas festivities while the kids spent the day at Universal and they sent us these pics 🙂

The Gaylord Palm has lush gardens containing over 500,000 plants sprinkled with holiday garlands, displays and poinsettia.

The resort had a dazzling light show featuring new musical scores accompanied with millions of dancing, choreographed lights all around the resort’s six-story Christmas tree during the shows.

Gaylord Palms Christmas Tree

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped: since seating is on a first come first served basis, free to everyone visiting Gaylord Palms Christmas events, we stood in the queue much in advance to get the front seats to watch this 25-minute, action-packed experience featuring soaring acrobatics, theatricality and imagination that kept us on the edge of our seats. Cirque Dreams Unwrapped brought to life a magical and timeless Christmas wonderland, all imagined by Broadway director and renowned Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg.

Got ourselves some coffee and snacks and set about to explore this massive property with magnificent decorations which got us into the spirit of the season.

We then walked over to the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the St. Augustine atrium. We travelled around the fort toward the wedding gazebo to find the Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth located at the heart of the atrium.

The MOOR (seafood) restaurant on a sailboat inside the Gaylord Palms
When you get the 3 gen to do some crazy stuff 🙂
This place had some nice stores, however found the prices too steep

Alpine Village is the hub of the Gaylord Christmas events. It had a beautiful Christmas Market with holiday merchandise and treats and gorgeously decorated Chrismas trees. We picked up quite a few Christmas items from the store which were available at discounted rates.

Day 4

This was our last day in Orlando. We were done with our breakfast and packing so around noon time we dumped all the bags in the cars and went back to Gaylord. Our flight to Atlanta was in the evening so we had a few hours to spare.

We ventured to Gator Springs in the St. Augustine atrium to view young alligators and turtles co-habitating in an environment similar to a freshwater Florida spring.

Gingerbread Decorating Corner: the kids of all ages (wink, wink) got to meet a real gingerbread man for a hug and photo opportunity.

hahaha… when the Mother is all out to embarrass you.. this mother-daughter duo are so cute!

My lovely boy (Aryan) and his equally lovely cousin (Megha) decided to go to Alpine Rush Snow Tubing wearing these clothes.. like seriously! After just one round of racing down an eight-lane, 18 foot tubing hill covered in 1.5 million pounds of REAL SNOW, their butts were frozen and aching and both of them holding their posteriors tell us “forget it, we are not going again”, hahaha…

We went for lunch at Wreckers Sports Bar, a 2 storey venue located in the Gaylord. The atmosphere inside was chic featuring a relaxed, neighborhood-like environment with an indoor elevator and quirky interior. Since the weather was so beautiful we decided to sit outdoors and watch varied age range of kids playing all kind of sports.

Beers on the tap

We had chicken wings tossed in Wreckers BBQ, mac and cheese bites and grilled chicken nachos with onion, tomato, scallions, melted cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream. These appetizers were HUGE (portion-wise and flavor-wise) and ended up being our meal.

Three Kings Festival: The event celebrated Christians in Spain and Latin America honoring the Three Wise Men and their visit to meet baby Jesus as told in the Gospel of Matthew. Special activities included a musical show “The Journey of Los Tres Reyes Magos”.

There were so many other wonderful places we didn’t get to see. However, we left Orlando feeling content and enthralled with what we had experienced, and relaxed after essentially only 3 days there.

D-Gangstas!

The places we have gone to
and the trips that we have taken
Photographs of love and laughs
of another family vacation

It doesn’t matter where we go
as long as we’re together
At different ages, on these pages
we’ll be on vacation forever

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