Virgin Atlantic Recommends: Orlando
When the world is your oyster it can be hard to narrow down which wonderful place to visit next. Virgin Red members can use points to travel to some of the fabulous destinations Virgin Atlantic serves – all that’s left to decide is where you’re going to go. And if anyone knows a thing or two about the best places to visit, it’s the Virgin Atlantic cabin crew.
Orlando's nickname is The City Beautiful, and with its canals, gardens and pink sunsets it’s easy to see why. While millions visit the third-largest city in Florida for theme parks and tourist attractions, it also as major cultural destinations like Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Orlando Museum of Art, as well as the nightlife in Downtown Orlando.
Nick joined the Virgin Atlantic family 12 years ago and he still can’t get enough of the magic of Orlando. Before booking your Sunshine State holiday check out Nick’s recommendations including the best place to go for Christmas gifts and his favourite rockin’ rollercoasters.
I first visited Orlando when I was ten years old and I was instantly so inspired by the magic of the theme parks, the glorious weather, and the Floridian hospitality. It lit a fire in me and I decided right then that my future career choices would be in travel.
I love visiting the theme parks, and for roller coaster enthusiasts and film buffs, Universal Studios Orlando has some of the best coasters in the city. The Incredible Hulk Coaster in Islands of Adventure is a favourite – you can feel the G-Force at the beginning of the ride as it throws you straight into an upside-down manoeuvre. Adventure seekers should also check out the Krakatau Aqua Coaster in Universal’s new Volcano Bay water park.
Of course, you can’t talk about Orlando theme parks without mentioning Walt Disney World. The rides and character interactions are classics, but if you time your visit right you can even catch the fireworks across the lake at the Magic Kingdom. My fave hidden gem is Disney's Electrical Water Pageant – it’s a water parade with retro vibes and a musical score that just makes you feel happy.
My best Orlando memory would have to be getting married at Walt Disney World. We had an early morning wedding at Disney’s Boardwalk Hotel and our guests of honour were 36 of our closest friends and family – and Mickey and Minnie, of course!
When it comes to shopping I love visiting Forever Vintage just outside of Orlando in Polk County. They sell a tonne of retro theme park merchandise and even have some old ride vehicles if you have luggage space to spare. The store is akin to a warehouse and you can spend hours checking out the old Disney cast member costumes, theme memorabilia and retro merchandise. It's my go-to for Christmas decorations!
There’s nothing better than ending a trip with that last stroll on the beach, and Orlando has plenty of them. The sand is fine and soft and the water balmy - plus you get some great sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. Sanibel Island is one of my favourites and great for shell hunters, while St. Pete Beach has gorgeous sandy beaches contrasted by the bright pink Don CeSar Hotel which even offers a ghost tour.