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Hints and Tips for your Holiday in Florida

If you were expecting this page to contain things to do in Orlando then please go to the Area Attractions page instead!

Much of the information on this page is aimed at UK first time visitors to the US, although frequent visitors may find something new!

Driving

Always drive on the right
Always wear seat belts in the front - it is the law
Do not drive if under the influence of alcohol or drugs (good advice in any country!)
Never carry open bottles / cans of alcohol in the car. They must be carried in the boot (trunk)
You can turn right at a red traffic light if there is no oncoming traffic UNLESS signs say otherwise
The street name posted above an intersection is the name of the road that you are crossing, not the one that you are on
  At a 4-way stop junction, whoever stops first gets to go first
Use headlights when the weather is poor. As a rule of thumb - if you need your windscreen wipers on then your headlights should be on also
Always carry your drivers licence
Traffic lights are suspended from wires above the road
An amber flashing signal is just a warning of a concealed turning, fire station etc.
Traffic lights go straight to green after red, there is no amber plus green as there is in the UK
Keep some small notes or quarters (25c coins) handy in case you have to pass through toll booths. Travelling from the airport you are most likely to travel on toll roads (usually 75c to $1 at each toll plaza)
In general you should keep to the right-most lane when driving unless overtaking, but passing on either side is common particularly on multi-lane roads, so caution is advised
Many petrol (gas) stations require you to pay before you can pump
If you are travelling in the same direction as a school bus that has stopped and has flashing red lights then you MUST stop and wait until the bus moves off. You must not pass it. If you are travelling in the opposite direction then you MUST also stop unless the road you are on is a dual carriageway (4 lanes or more)
You are extremely unlikely to encounter a roundabout (circle) in Orlando
When approaching emergency vehicles parked on the highway you should move over to the next lane or otherwise slow to at least 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. It's Florida law!

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Miscellaneous

If you need to contact the emergency services dial 911
Take Traveller's Cheques in US Dollars - you will have difficulty changing ones in British pounds. Most shops and businesses will accept TCs just like cash. Sometimes you may be asked to provide photo ID
All prices in shops (and restaurants) are quoted without sales tax. Expect to pay around 7% more when you get to the checkout
The weather is likely to be hot, sunny and humid. Expect 75F+ (the US uses Imperial measurements). Clouds and storms can suddenly appear, dump their contents and then the sun reappears
Be cautious - the sun is very strong here - don't forget you are in the tropics. Keep up your fluid levels
Electricity is 110v with a 2-pin flat blade socket. Adapters are readily available but wont alter the voltage
Beware of buying electrical goods (wrong voltage) or video tapes (wrong format - US uses NTSC, UK uses PAL)
Be prepared for a queue once you are off the plane in Orlando, immigration can take an hour or more. Make sure that you have completed your immigration forms before you get to the counter!
After passing through immigration at Orlando International you will collect your baggage from the carousel and pass through customs before boarding a monorail to the main terminal.
If you are collecting a hire car at Orlando International airport these are located downstairs from the arrivals hall
Look out for the free local newspapers and advertising leaflets, they contain discount vouchers for some attractions and restaurants as well as useful maps of the area
When parking at the theme parks make a good note of where your car is located - these car parks are huge. Most car parks are divided into sections with memorable names (for example 'Goofy') to help you
It is normal (and expected) to add 15 to 20% to restaurant bills as a tip (gratuity)
Several of the theme parks offer a "Fast Pass" or Express option which allows you to jump the queues. In the Universal parks these have to be purchased.

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UK/US English Glossary

UK English US English
Boot Trunk
Bonnet Hood
Tap (water) Faucet
Toilet (w.c.) Bathroom/Restroom
Junction (road) Intersection
Petrol Gas
Pushchair Stroller
Nappies Diapers
Roundabout Circle


 

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