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Abit of advice for trip to America

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  • #16
    Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
    If your theme park tickets let you enter and leave the parks at will I'd suggest not eating inside the parks if you can help it. Theme park food is horrible. You would get an infinitely better meal at mcDonalds.
    Hey sb!

    I'm going to really disagree with you here... the last time I went to Disney in Orlando, there were plenty of places to eat that did freshly cooked food/from scratch stuff. Yeah, there are still lots of hot dogs and burgers and chicken nuggets and candy and stuff, but we stayed at the Polynesian Resort and we had all sorts of Asian dishes and steak and spanking fresh salads and all that. We were actually very well taken care of, and there is no way I would have traded that for Mickey D's! The food folks were more than accomodating towards my dairy-allergic celiac kid (very knowledgable about cross-contamination issues and cooked their gluten-free pancakes, for example, on a dedicated griddle). While I am not a fan of plasticky theme-parks like Disney, my Second never got sick nor hungered for anything our week there.

    Yeah, get out of the park a few times and eat real Floridian if you can find it, but you can still eat yourself silly there.
    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

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    • #17
      The traffic during rush hour is absolutely horrifying. I don't know what traffic is like in the UK, but in Orange County/LA area in California, my old commute was 2 hours each way for a 30 mile drive.
      F 28/5'4/100 lbs

      "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."

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      • #18
        I was born in Florida but have lived in Newcastle for the last 4 years. I go back once or twice a year to see my family (Thompson flies direct from Newcastle to Orlando for about 200 roundtrip! It's fab).

        This past April I went to Disney (for the first time since I was 10!). We stayed on International Drive. I would echo the earlier sentiments of not eating in the theme parks if you can help it. It is major crap food. Which, on the one hand could be okay since you're on holiday and sometimes you want that. I certainly enjoyed my Mickey-shaped chocolate covered rice krispie treat! But on the other hand, my personal feeling of eating while on holiday is that the more crap I eat, the worse I am going to feel and the less I am going to enjoy the trip.

        I am fairly certain that you can bring coolers into the park, so you could stock a small cooler full of primal foods to eat throughout the day. Also make sure you bring empty water bottles with you, because there are water fountains everywhere and you can continually fill them up over the course of the day. Otherwise a bottle of water from a vendor costs about $4. Also a good thing to stash in a bag if you can is an umbrella or some sort of lightweight, waterproof jacket with a hood. Florida is prone to sudden rain (not unlike England...) and when it happens in the parks, everyone scurries to the nearest available shelter (mainly the shops that line the walkways) and it gets very crowded and uncomfortable.

        Another non-food related tip for the parks; they have ticket machines for each ride that print out a specific time frame in which you can come back to that ride and bypass the line. DEFINITELY do that. It means you have to be at certain rides at certain times, but we never waited longer than 15 mins for a ride, whereas the regular lines were upwards of a 2 hour wait.

        On international drive, there are a lot of cheap fast food places like Dennys or IHOP that might appeal to you for their sheer American-ness. I really wanted to go to IHOP when I was there, just for the novelty. But after breakfast I felt like craaaaap. Wish I had just skipped it and got some eggs and bacon at a diner instead.
        There are also nicer restaurants that serve real food and it is easy to stay primal there. They are on the south end of Int'l Drive, starting around where Ripley's Believe It or Not is located. We spent an evening at the brick House Tavern having drinks on their outdoor patio which was lovely, as they had fire pits and a nice atmosphere. We also went to a place called Cattleman's Steakhouse and had a lovely meal of wedge salads and steak (and cocktails of course). Regarding tipping, everyone else has covered it already but 15-20% is standard at a sit-down place. One more thing I will mention on the subject of food is this; I am American and lived in America for 22 years. But after 4 years of living in the UK, holy crap was I shocked at the portion sizes I received while at 'home' again. I had forgotten how massive everything is. And how cheap the cost is in comparison. Don't get sucked into the mindset that 'you paid for it so you're going to get your money's worth'. Yes it's a shame for so much food to go to waste, but if it doesn't go to waste it will go to your waist. And make you feel like crap (my body was thrown way out of whack while I was there because of the sheer quantity of food we were eating every day).

        The space center is quite a long drive from Orlando. I think it took us about an hour and half, leaving from International Drive, to reach the kennedy space center. As long as you plan for the travel time, it is something I highly recommend. It was *fantastic* and so interesting! It's also air-conditioned and that was nice in the late-April heat

        Sorry this is so long! Hope something in this post has helped

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
          Hey sb!

          I'm going to really disagree with you here... the last time I went to Disney in Orlando, there were plenty of places to eat that did freshly cooked food/from scratch stuff. Yeah, there are still lots of hot dogs and burgers and chicken nuggets and candy and stuff, but we stayed at the Polynesian Resort and we had all sorts of Asian dishes and steak and spanking fresh salads and all that. We were actually very well taken care of, and there is no way I would have traded that for Mickey D's! The food folks were more than accomodating towards my dairy-allergic celiac kid (very knowledgable about cross-contamination issues and cooked their gluten-free pancakes, for example, on a dedicated griddle). While I am not a fan of plasticky theme-parks like Disney, my Second never got sick nor hungered for anything our week there.

          Yeah, get out of the park a few times and eat real Floridian if you can find it, but you can still eat yourself silly there.
          That's good to hear. I have only been to Disneyland, not Disneyworld. And I worked at Sea World in San Diego once upon a time. The food was atrocious in both places.

          If you are a tourist, never actually go to Hollywood. There's not really anything good there. And if you come to Santa Barbara, don't come in summer time unless you want to freeze to death in the gloomy fog. Come in the winter and leave seething with jealousy at our fabulous fall/winter weather.
          Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by JWBooth View Post
            Hollywood is America's most significant cultural export, and Walt Disney played a huge role in shaping the industry. Visiting America without every going to Disneyland/World would be like going to Egypt and skipping the pyramids.
            which pyramids?
            Starting Date: Dec 18, 2010
            Starting Weight: 294 pounds
            Current Weight: 235 pounds
            Goal Weight: 195 pounds

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            • #21
              Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
              If you are a tourist, never actually go to Hollywood. There's not really anything good there.
              Yes, yes, yes. I live close to LA and I stay the f--- away from it at all cost. It's a miserable place, depending on where you go. There are nice museums, and the beaches are ok, but if you want fresh air, there are better places to go. As for the Hollywood you see in movies, it's not happening. Hollywood is crowded, massively crawling with traffic. The streets are small and cramped, parking is terrible and expensive, and it is absolutely filthy. You can probably close your eyes, point to a random spot in California, and it will be vastly superior to the soul-sucking mess that is present-day Hollywood and LA.
              F 28/5'4/100 lbs

              "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."

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              • #22
                Florida's sales tax at restaurants is 7.5%. When you get the tab look at the sales tax listed and double the amount. That'll get you the 15% calculation for the tip
                Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by JWBooth View Post
                  Hollywood is America's most significant cultural export, and Walt Disney played a huge role in shaping the industry. Visiting America without every going to Disneyland/World would be like going to Egypt and skipping the pyramids.
                  Um, no. Disneyland is an atrocious commercial plastic wasteland that has nothing to do with much of anything historic or cultural. It's there to leverage your nostalgia for the Disney movies of your youth, and the manic enthusiasm of children for animated storybook characters, in order to extract your money. That is all.

                  The equivalent of visiting the pyramids would be actually watching Disney movies, which you can do in any country, without paying exorbitant sums of money to a multinational corporation to wait in huge lines to get on shitty rides, eat disgustingly bad cheap food (or disgustingly expensive mediocre food), and buy plastic "mementos" that will go from your car to a box in your garage to the landfill, on varying schedules depending on how much of a packrat you are.

                  Disneyuniverse has no redeeming qualities IMO. There are so, so many more things that are worthwhile to do on a trip to the US than to go anywhere near that shining crown rhinestone of mindless consumer culture.
                  Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

                  My Primal Journal

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
                    Hey sb!

                    I'm going to really disagree with you here... the last time I went to Disney in Orlando, there were plenty of places to eat that did freshly cooked food/from scratch stuff. Yeah, there are still lots of hot dogs and burgers and chicken nuggets and candy and stuff, but we stayed at the Polynesian Resort and we had all sorts of Asian dishes and steak and spanking fresh salads and all that. We were actually very well taken care of, and there is no way I would have traded that for Mickey D's! The food folks were more than accomodating towards my dairy-allergic celiac kid (very knowledgable about cross-contamination issues and cooked their gluten-free pancakes, for example, on a dedicated griddle). While I am not a fan of plasticky theme-parks like Disney, my Second never got sick nor hungered for anything our week there.
                    Agree with crabcakes. The food at Disney is nothing to write home about, and like all things in theme parks, generally overpriced, but it is nowhere near the level of something like McDonalds. Disneyworld is fun, especially for kids. A lot of you folks are sounding like too-cool-for-school hipsters
                    My Recipes are at: www.southbeachprimal.com

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                    • #25
                      It's crowded, overpriced, and a tourist trap, but I have to respectfully disagree. Disneyland is hella fun.
                      F 28/5'4/100 lbs

                      "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."

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                      • #26
                        On a related note, do a little research on restaurants you plan on visiting before you go there and don't be afraid to ask questions when you're already there. A lot of menu items may contain ingredients you didn't expect, for instance, at IHOP, they use pancake batter in their omelette mix to "fluff up" the eggs.

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                        • #27
                          Make sure your immune system is in good shape; every germ in the world lands in Orlando.

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                          • #28
                            As a displaced Floridian, I'm jealous of your trip. Enjoy what a great state has to offer (just don't try to vote in Palm Beach County ). Contrary to what others have said, the Panhandle is the best part of the state, but hell, Orlando can be fun too. Also, despite what others have said, I can have fun at Disney and while it may not be real America it is entertaining. Sea World rocks and, I don't care how many times you have done it, feeding stingrays is freaking awesome. I'd go to Sea World every day just to do that. That said, Dennys? Holy hells man.

                            For food I suggest checking out: Orlando Restaurants | Urbanspoon

                            It breaks restaurants down by price zones, shows newspaper reviews, blog reviews, and customer comments/pictures. Orlando has restaurants out of the wazoo from chains to holes in the wall from Dennys to fine dining. Please do not limit yourself to Dennys. That said, eat breakfast there one day if you like (or better yet, when you drag in at 2am stop by and eat then).


                            If you have small kids with you there is a farm in Orlando (about 15-30 minute drive from Disney if I recall) that lets you hold the chicks and baby ducks, milk a cow, ride in a hay wagon etc. It was cheap ($7 a person, though this was a few years back) and my nephew, who was 5 at the time, loved it. I can't recall the name but there were brochures about it in our hotel.

                            All that said, please do not judge America on its tourist attractions. They are just that - mindless diversions. Then again, sometimes I like being diverted mindlessly so enjoy it.

                            Tipping:

                            Waitress/Waiters (often called 'Servers' as this is more gender neutral) generally make between $2.25 and $3.75 an hour (minimum wage is something like $7.35 and allegedly tips will make up the difference). As such, if you don't tip people will think you are an asshole.

                            I generally tip 20%. 10% if service is bad. 0% if it is horrendous. 30% if it is very good. Then again, as Magnolia pointed out, it takes just as much work to bring you a $7 breakfast as it does a $30 dinner steak so please take that into account when tipping servers at cheaper places. I've seen many waitresses in diners bust their asses refilling coffee, running plates, etc to get a 50 cent tip. Screw that noise.

                            One thing people are overlooking is tipping the kitchen. As one person said, if the food is badly cooked it is not the server's fault. On the flip side if the service sucks but the food is good then the kitchen did its part. Sure cooks might get paid $9 an hour instead of $3 but at some places (Outback for example) a server will make 3-4 times a night in tips what a cook makes. There have been several occasions where I have asked for a manager, told them how good the food was and given them some money to tip the cook, as you can't just walk back into the kitchen. *this is not normal per se nor expected. Do not feel obligated to do it. I just think good work should be rewarded.

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                            • #29
                              Thanks for all the advice. I understand what you are saying about the food but honestly while I'm on holiday I'm not worrying too much about finding paleo options for food. Again with regards to the culture, I understand they're are thousands of more cultural things to do in America and I shall be doing various trips in the future to the likes of Vegas, California etc but this time round we are purely going on a fun holiday as we have both been through a hell of alot through the past few months.

                              Our latest idea after talking to various people is to take Mears taxis to Universal, Island of Adventure, Sea world & Gatorland and probably Lynx bus from Downtown disney/transport station to international drive for Ripleys/Wonderworks. Possibly doing gunna try and do an Airboat ride aswell probably as part of gatorland.

                              Thanks for all the advice

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