From butter beer to fright nights and dolphin dives, Orlando holidays offer experiences no other destination can match. Fresh from her recent adventure to Florida’s theme park heartland, Kenwood’s customer experience executive Mel stopped by to share her personal insights.

So read on for expert hotel recommendations, Tapu Tapu tips, foodie highlights and more in our insider’s guide to Orlando 2018. But first, get a glimpse of the fun in Mel’s personal travel diary video:

So this was your first trip to Orlando, what were your initial impressions?

Yeah, first time experiencing the wonderful world of Orlando holidays, and I did not know what to expect. I just knew it was going to be a lot of fun! My first impression when I arrived was beyond what I had imagined. The weather was glorious (30°C) and all the staff gave off a really vibrant and welcoming energy.

What kind of holidaymaker would you say Orlando suits best?

Orlando holidays are best-suited for families with young children (ideally aged six-plus so they can remember their magical trip for a lifetime) or groups of friends. Orlando holidays cater to all types of travellers, offering a variety of things to do and see.

Which hotels did you visit?

Three nights at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. I really liked this hotel because it was very family-friendly, it’s easy to get around, features international food outlets such as Starbucks and even has 24-hour pool access.

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, four nights. It’s very a big hotel so the staff do a great job of serving all the hungry guests for the breakfast rush. Wait times can increase during these periods, so my top tip if you stay here would be to make sure you get the ‘Fast Pass’. This way, any time lost can be quickly made up with fast access to the rides.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, and Universal’s Aventura Hotel; day visits. Both hotels are very modern and contemporary in design. Very spacious too, with amazing rooftop and pool bars, ideal for couples or travelling friends.

Favourite hotel and why?

My favourite hotel was Universal’s Cabana Bay because of the facilities, but more importantly, the location. It’s less than 15 minutes from all the main attractions; Volcano Bay is only a five-minute walk.

What activities did you get up to?

What didn’t we do? I got a taste of all of Orlando’s top attractions: Universal Orlando; Universal City Walk; Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Discovery Cove; Universal’s Volcano Bay; SeaWorld Parks; Busch Gardens; Aquatica; Magic Kingdom Park; Epcot; Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park…

Selfie at Disney

Saying ‘cheese’ is even more apt in Minnie ears!

What were the highlights?

Discovery Cove, because I have never swam or interacted with dolphins before, and it was an unbelievable experience. Discovery Cove also had a very relaxing atmosphere with a few free pools featuring waterfalls, all-inclusive beverages and snacks and small animals to see.

Using my Tapu Tapu band enhanced my park experience too, as it enabled me to use other parts of the park instead of waiting in a long queue. My Disney Magic band also helped to create a more personal experience; I was able to store my park photos from the magic band to my mobile device within minutes.

Good food can really make a difference on holiday, what was your favourite meal of the trip?

The Trattoria al Fornore restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk was my favourite. The concept is traditional Greek cuisine from celeb chef Cat Cora. Delicious food and delectable drinks. Even well-known dishes like pasta a la Bolognese (which I ordered) seemed infused with a new twist; really tasty, and great atmosphere too.

What are the must-see/must-do things you’d recommend to Orlando holidaymakers?

I’d definitely recommend Discovery Cove because you’re really educated on how the dolphins are nurtured and cared for, and it’s a truly awesome experience to interact with them; it may just turn you into a dolphin lover! I would also recommend Universal Orlando because it has the best rides in the region, in my opinion.

Sum up your trip in 3 words…

Magical, fun… hot!

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