How far away are the Florida beaches from my Disney area vacation rental home?

Good question!  The drive usually takes  an hour or so if you are going to the East coast, and an hour and a half if you are going to the West coast.

So how to decide on which coast to visit?

The East coast has the famous Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral.  And don’t forget Ron Jon surf shop!  The East coast also has waves for surfers, especially in the winter time or when a storm is coming in.  There are great beaches both above and below Cocoa  – the whole coast, in fact!

The West coast is calm but the beaches are a little spread out and so harder to find.  In fact, the coastline gets marshy just above the Tampa area.  The West coast offers some more attractions like Busch Gardens, and of course you may want to visit the lovely downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Clearwater Beach west of Tampa proper is known for its large expanses of white sand, but it can take a bit of time to get from Tampa to Clearwater, so plan for some extra traffic to deal with.  We highly recommend Fort Desoto (south of Clearwater) for its quiet beaches and history lesson all in one!  In fact this picture on our website home page was taken by me at Fort Desoto!

No matter which coast you hit from your Disney area vacation rental home, be sure and pack the sunscreen and prepare to have a great time!

Alligators freak me out – should I consider an Orlando vacation?

Well the good news, my friend, is that humans are not on the list of alligators favorite foods.  In fact, alligators don’t hunt humans at all!

That said, I wouldn’t lay quietly in the middle of a deserted marshy area on a hot summer evening.  Alligators, while not incredibly bright, are opportunistic diners.  So if your pet Labradoodle walks too close to a hungry gator, he might become a snack.  In fact, one of our Orlando vacation home rental communities just posted a sign on their nature trail to beware of gators, because someone did report a small dog gone missing, possibly to a gator’s stomach.

So while you shouldn’t be afraid of gators, you should be conscientious when you enter their habitat.  They were here first, after all!

gator

A few tips – alligators like to hide in marshy areas, waiting for a meal such as a small bird or fish to come along.  They will also actively hunt at night.  Normally only for something bite-sized, not a whole human!

Alligators that have been fed by humans begin to associate humans with food, which of course is a bad idea.  When you see a big one, you might want to keep your distance since you don’t know that particular gator’s history.  And if for some reason they mistake your arm for small prey (did I mention they are not too bright?!) you will be headed to the hospital for stitches.  Probably not worth the story to tell your grandkids!

Don’t let your small children or small pets wander off into marshy areas, of course, but you will be fine anywhere there is lots of human activity (all of our inhabited lakes, for instance).  Our water ski jumper friends say that alligators like to sun themselves on the jump ramp, so they have to chase them off before they get their training under way.  And to this day no jumper has been eaten, even after a big crash!

Oh, and don’t forget to take an air boat ride while you are here to see them in their natural habitat – after all, the more you know about this cool native beast the better!

What is the best time of year to visit Orlando?

While the kids schedule usually runs the family calendar, including vacation planning, you may want to give some thought to jumping out of the normal vacation cycle of summer, Christmas and spring school breaks.

With high temps in the 70s, and little to no crowding at the theme parks, January is a wonderful month to visit Orlando.  You will also save on Disney area vacation rental homes and enjoy a better selection of homes.  You can order pool heat so the water is still nice and toasty, or jump into the spa that heats up to 104 or so!  Oh, and winter is our dry season so leave the umbrellas at home!

sun

February has similar temperatures and is fairly quiet unless you hit a northern secondary school break week.  Even then, things are not as crazy as March when we have the Canadian secondary school break,  lots of U.S. college breaks, Easter break for many U.S. secondary schools, etc.

The “shoulder” months of April and October have lovely temperatures, low humidity and less than normal crowding at the parks.  A lot of Europeans come in October (school break) but the parks are still relatively quiet.  And did I mention the weather is fantastic?  Sunny, 80s and low humidity – perhaps my favorite Central Florida weather month of the year!

So whip out those planners (or smartphones or tablets) and get planning!  Find your spot in the warm Florida sun!

Do I need to worry about hurricanes when I book my Disney area vacation rental home?

Of all the things in life to worry about, worrying how hurricanes could affect your Disney area vacation should rate towards the bottom!  First, you can’t control the weather.  Second, Orlando is so far inland that hurricanes are rarely a problem.  In fact, in its 42 year history, Disney has only shut its doors TWICE due to hurricanes!  That is 2 days out of 15,330 days.  Most people would take those odds!  

Compare that with 1.5 million U.S. car crashes a year (according to the USG) caused by snow, and sunny Orlando seems like a great place to be!  And if immortality is your thing, despite the impression you get from media coverage, (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods – oh my!), according to meteorology professor James Koermer, most weather related deaths are from car accidents (about 7,000 a year), not heat, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods (about 200 a year).

For the truly paranoid, however, you can drop the  risk of dealing with a hurricane to almost zero by avoiding hurricane season, which runs from June to November every year.  And, to be fair, although Orlando rarely gets a hurricane, we do get the bands of rain associated with hurricanes that move up either coast, so that can dampen things a bit.

Hurricane forecasting has gotten so good, that you will have a good idea if the Disney area is in for a good soaking days in advance of any arriving hurricane or tropical storm.

noaa

So, relax and book that Disney area vacation rental home!  We’ll leave the lights on!

Are taxes much of a factor when I book my Disney area vacation rental home?

As anyone who has visited a tourist town has discovered, you will find tourist taxes do take a bite out of your vacation funds.  With a bit of planning, however, you can minimize this expense.

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First off, Disney area hotels (and Disney area vacation rental homes which are regulated like hotels) are required to collect State sales tax and county tourist development tax.  The total tax depends on the county where the property is located.

First off, the State of Florida collects a 7% sales tax.

Lake County collects an additional 4% tourist tax.

Polk county collects an additional 5% tourist tax.

Osceola and Orange counties collect an additional 6% tourist tax.

Thus the total tax collected on your hotel or Disney area vacation rental home bill will range from 11% to 13%, depending on the county you stay in.  Note that any items you purchase at the time of booking (pool heat, grill rental, etc) will also be subject to this tax, but as you visit the local stores and attractions you will generally only be subject to the 7% State sales tax.

You may also want to consider renting your car from a rental facility well away from the Orlando airport, as the airport rental locations are required to collect additional taxes that you won’t find at rental car locations elsewhere.

So, while you cannot avoid tourist taxes, you can, with a little planning, minimize them!  Now plan that Disney area vacation!

What can I expect to pay in taxes on top of the rental rate on my Disney vacation rental home?

Smart Disney vacation shoppers book accommodations at a Disney vacation rental home vs. a hotel to maximize their vacation dollars.  But don’t be surprised when the total rental amount you are asked to pay is a bit higher than the advertised rental rate.  Why? Orlando vacation rental homes are taxed at between 11 and 13%, just like hotels!  This article will shed some light on this tax and how it may affect your vacation budgeting.money graphic

First off, know that every Disney vacation rental home needs to apply for a hotel license with both the State of Florida and the county where the home is located.  The state then collects 7% sales tax on every gross rental.  The counties also add a “tourist” tax just like on hotel rooms.

Disney vacation rental homes located in Osceola county (south of Disney) charge an additional 6%, bringing the total tax you will pay to 13%.  (This total tax is usually collected on all items “rented” at the time of booking -cribs, grills, etc).

Polk County (south and west of Disney) collects 5% in tourist tax, bringing your total tax outlay to 12% for vacation rental homes in Polk County.

Lake County (west of Disney) collects 4% in tourist tax, bringing the total tax bill added on to the gross rental to 11%.

So, on a typical Disney vacation rental home week, there might be a difference of $30 or so in taxes depending on the home’s location.  This county by county difference of course will increase for longer stays.

So, regardless of whether you choose a Disney vacation rental home in Osceola, Polk or Lake county, here’s to you having  the family vacation of a lifetime!

Why should I care about a South facing pool in Orlando vacation house rentals?

As you surf for suitable Orlando vacation house rentals  for your family, you may see features such as “South facing pool”, or “West facing pool”.  Should you care about this?  Maybe so, maybe not.  It really depends on what you and your family are planning on doing during your stay in Orlando.

Virtually all Orlando vacation house rentals have a private pool for your enjoyment!WW01Lanai The pool is usually located in the back of the house and is surrounded by a screened in Lanai.  Some visitors seek out South facing pools so that when Orlando is having cooler temperatures or windy winter days, the pool deck is warm enough for tanning, especially since cooler winds tend to come from the North and will largely get blocked by the house.

If this is important to you depends on how much time you will be sitting by the pool vs. visiting the parks and the other Orlando attractions.  It also depends on what time of near you come (during the winter months we will get some cooler days on occasion) and how much sun you want.

Most South facing pools have some shade so that you can escape from the sun in the hot summer months or when you no longer wish to tan.  And most Orlando vacation house rentals that aren’t advertised as South facing usually have some portion of the pool deck in the sun for much of the day.

So, you may or may not care about a South facing pool in your Orlando vacation house rental but rest assured you will have plenty of sun during your visit to Sunny Orlando!

What’s with the fence around the pool at Disney area vacation rentals?

If you have stayed at Disney area vacation rentals in the past you may have had a home with a fence around the pool.  This is for the safety of young children and is one of two options owners have to stay in compliance with Florida state law.

vacation rental home pool fence

The other option is an alarm that sounds if a door between the home and pool is opened.  To keep the alarm from sounding, someone tall enough 🙂 needs to press a button near the door prior to opening it.  We show this method in one of our home tour videos.  There are pluses and minuses to either method but if installed and used properly, both methods will safeguard your children!

Some of the OurFloridaConcierge Disney area vacation rentals have the fence option and some have the buzzer option.

For families with older children, the fence can be easily rolled up and placed into a corner, leaving the pool deck surface unobstructed.  So either with a fence or without, you can be sure that your small children will be safe during your stay at Disney area vacation rentals!

What are the rental options when considering an Orlando area vacation rental?

When planning your trip to the Orlando area to see Disney World, Universal, the other parks and of course the nearby beaches, you will want to do some research on the extras you will want in your Orlando area vacation rental.

At OurFloridaConcierge, we provide lots of options to accommodate almost any need.  If you have small children we can rent strollers, high chairs and cribs.  If you are bringing your favorite grill master with you, we can rent you a state-of-the art gas grill.  And if you don’t want to bother with a shopping run the minute you get into town, we can stock the fridge and pantry with a welcome pack of food items.  If you need to store passports or other sensitive documents (or cash!) we can rent you a house safe with your own security code.

Charges for these add-ons vary.  High chairs are around $30 for your stay.  Cribs are around $60 due to the time to set them up and take them down.

Many of our owners keep some sort of grill around the house, but if you want to ensure stress free grilling on a well-maintained gas grill, we suggest a rental which runs about $50 for the week.

A safe rental usually runs about $20 for the week at an Orlando area vacation rental.  And a welcome pack is $50 which will provide a six person group with coffee, tea, milk, sugar, bread, butter or substitute, preserves, bottled water, soft drinks, orange juice and cookies.

Don’t forget pool heat in the winter at around $20 a day, and spa heat in the summer at around $10.

ATS 215x215Web bannerAnd, of course, we can hook you up with Disney tickets since we are an authorized reseller!

Whatever options you choose, here is hoping that your Orlando area vacation rental exceeds your expectations in every way!

Where exactly are holiday rental villas in Orlando located?

When searching for holiday rental villas in Orlando you are probably seeing towns like Davenport, Kissimmee, and Clermont in the search results.  Perhaps you have never heard of these towns and are a bit confused.  Here is some help.
All of these places are South and West of Orlando proper, and in fact South and West of Disney as well.  These are the communities that have been approved to offer private Orlando vacation home rentals.
Part of the confusion is that these names don’t really refer to compact little towns, but really the counties that they are in.  You can spend a week in the area and never drive through Davenport, Kissimmee or Clermont proper, although your vacation rental home is listed as being located in one of these towns!
Kissimmee refers to vacation rental homes in Osceola county and closely borders the Disney property to the South and East.  It is only a sliver of land, though.  Directly south of that is Davenport, which really refers to holiday rental villas in Polk County.   West of the Disney property is Clermont, which is located in Lake county.
If you look closely at our interactive map, you will see the Polk/Ocsceola county line near route 27 and then again just above where 27 hits I-4.  If you look at the intersection of 27 and 192, you will see the Orange/Lake/Osceola/Polk border (referred to as Four Corners).  So, when you see Davenport, Kissimmee and Clermont, interpret that as Polk, Osceola and Lake county areas that are close to Disney!
Regardless of your choice of area, rest assured that all holiday rental villas in Orlando are close to Disney and the other attractions!  Happy hunting!