Orlando Stories and Tips

Accommodating a Big Family Group

Living Room  Photo, Orlando, Florida

I am typically partial to timeshare accommodations, but for a group that includes essentially four families that could have busted the bank . . . so my sister found this company that specialize in luxury vacation homes in the Disney area.

Their web site is http://www.funsavervacationhomes.com/ so I'm guessing the company name is Fun Savers Vacation Homes. Actually it would seem from all my sister told me, these homes are owned by a couple up in New York and they have a property management company handling the local details on the owners' behalf.

A little about the house we were in . . . 100 Acre Woods . . . a pretty strange name for a house that is on a postage stamp sized lot. That's OK, we weren't there to play in the yard. OK now I get it! There is a Winnie the Pooh theme going on. DUH. Can you tell I don't have kids?

The house had six bedrooms and four baths on two levels. With ample living and dining space, it was pretty comfortable except when everyone wanted to be in the living room to play Wii or watch DVD's of Dexter.

The bedrooms were each uniquely themed, including a couple of rooms clearly for the kids. Twin beds, Mickey/Minnie Mouse bedding, toy boxes all made for a nice escape for families bringing little ones with them. For us, we only had my nephew's son with us and as a toddler; he was in with his parents.

The kitchen was pretty well stocked although some of the items provided were not serviceable . . . a Mr. Coffee missing the carafe lid (which makes making coffee a challenge) . . . no blender, only the blender pitcher's lid . . . and a totally missing coffee grinder. Fortunately, the owner was willing to reimburse for the purchase of missing items. Unfortunately, that meant someone had to spend their holiday vacation time at Target.

The house came fully equipped with linens to include pool towels. Good thing since the house did have a fair sized pool and hot tub within the contained lanai. (Heat was at an extra fee of $30/day!) Out on the patio was a big gas grill, which was a great dinner plan during our stay. With a washer & dryer inside the house, we were able to stay a step ahead of the dirty towels.

Their garage had been converted into a "game area" although it was really more of a storage area with a pool table, foosball and air hockey game. The large TV was a nice place to escape to watch something by VHS (which they had in a small viewing library) or enjoy the DVD capabilities to include Playstation II. Because of all of the storage clutter, however, it was obvious that good cleaning was not happening out there. Mouse droppings and a dried up snake skin were found in the area.

As for other downsides of what probably sounds like a perfect find. The house itself has seen better days. Several of the rooms were showing wear and tear, and in need of a bit of TLC. While the furnishings seemed to be in good repair, there was a lot of dust throughout. Not just on the oversized couches and chairs, but also the knick-knacks and artificial plants. A couple of items up on the kitchen cabinets were noticeably "fuzzy" with dust. Under our bed there had been a dust bunny population explosion . . . probably the culprit of my allergy problems throughout our stay. The swimming pool and hot tub were also in need of some serious cleaning, which David took care of to at least clean up the surface stuff.

Ordinarily I would probably be kinder in a review such as this, but given the owner's general denial of an issue . . . or outright defense that "deep cleaning is expensive and was just done" it was a bit irritating to deal with. My sister did the best she could and then had to accept that no amount of constructive input was going to open the owner's eyes or mind to the issues.

All in all for eight adults and one toddler, the house worked out fine. We were able to prepare and serve a full Thanksgiving Dinner which included a couple from the UK who my sisters had met the week before on a cruise. It was a nice space for us all to be together, and yet with enough privacy to be able to get away for our own quiet time if desired.

For the week (7 nights) the house rented for just under $1,600 (including tax) plus the $210 for the pool/hot tub heat. In addition to the rental fees, there was a $300 deposit paid, which was promptly refunded after our departure. Had we been in a typical suite style hotel, we would have needed at least four and maybe five rooms which would have been more expensive and less roomy.

I would encourage visitors to Orlando to consider looking into private home rentals; something I didn't really even realize was a possibility. While I cannot really recommend this property ownership or management group, I'm sure there are others in the area that are of similar size and price.

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