SKIPPING down the quaint cobbled street, we’re as excited as kids at Christmas.
Up ahead, a palace twinkles into view.
There are dreamy dresses, ruby slippers and baubles that twinkle like fairy dust.
And, as if by magic, the door opens and we’re greeted by a huge beaming smile.
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But there’s no Prince Charming or turreted castle in sight.
We’re in a modern day fairytale – a 550,000 square foot discount shopping emporium, The Orlando Premium Outlets.
Orlando may be known for its sprawling theme parks but there are plenty of places to splash your cash if you want to spend more than Disney dollars.
Even shopaholic celebs with money to burn can’t resist the designer discounts.
Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Alex Reid and his fiancée Chantelle Houghton have all enjoyed shopping and the theme parks here.
With great restaurants, nightlife and a warm climate all year round, Florida’s playground isn’t just for children.
The Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek resort is a real hotspot after the shops close. Sleek and sophisticated, it still manages to capture the spirit of Florida fun.
Virgin Holidays customers have access to a private Virgin lounge within the hotel, which has a games room, wide-screen TV and a Wii to keep both big and little kids entertained.
Plus, outside in the huge swimming pool they have a “dive-in” movie night, where you can literally soak up the warm evenings watching films on a large projector screen from the pool.
The hotel is minutes away from Walt Disney World and guests get a view of the spectacular fireworks that light up the sky every night.
There are two major shopping centres in Orlando but for the real bargains, serious shoppers head to the outlet malls – especially the Orlando
There are two – one at each end of the tourist thoroughfare of International Drive.
Big name brands such as Burberry, Timberland, Ugg and Victoria’s Secret attract huge crowds and many items are reduced by as much as 70%.
With so many stores, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But, like a shopaholic theme park, maps and guidebooks are provided.
Hordes of sun-kissed shoppers dash past clutching their treasures.
We’re not talking Mickey Mouse money – the folk here know they are on to a good thing and there is some serious spending going on.
A holiday here can almost pay for itself when you’re stocking up on Christmas gifts and fashion.
If you know what you’re looking for, you might even save money – just be sure to bring an empty suitcase.
Before Walt Disney arrived with his dream to build the happiest place on Earth, Orlando was mostly orange trees and alligators.
Walt Disney World, and the millions of tourists it attracts every year, has turned Orlando into one of the world’s dream holiday destinations.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the theme park, which first opened its doors in 1971.
There’s a fantastic mix of high-thrill rides and family-themed attractions as well as shows that everyone can enjoy.
Some of the rides, like Space Mountain, have been there since day one and are still just as fun today.
But it’s not just Mickey and co providing the entertainment.
Sea World is also a fantastic place for adults and children alike. Marvel at killer whales, sea lions and dolphins.
And if the weather gets too hot you can cool off in the “splash zone” – an area set aside just so visitors can be soaked by killer whale Shamu.
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For those who want a closer experience, dolphin swims and animal feeding can be booked in advance.
Food elitists will tell you there are no fine dining restaurants in Orlando but we found plenty of places to satisfy our taste buds.
The famed Waldorf Astoria New York steakhouse, the Bull and Bear, has just opened a second restaurant in Florida.
The eatery offers high-quality food and service, overlooking a sprawling golf course. It’s a must-stop for steak lovers, being the only restaurant in Florida to serve prime certified Angus beef.
A more affordable option is the Capital Grille on International Drive, which has an outside terrace and an extensive cocktail menu.
Virgin Holidays (virginholidays.co.uk) has seven nights in Orlando, including scheduled flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick.
Accommodation at the Hilton Bonnet Creek resort (hiltonbonnetcreek.com), room only, costs from £969.
For entry to Walt Disney World, one-day park hopper tickets, which include Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom, are around £77.
Tickets to Sea World are around £53 with one child free per full-paying adult.
Pack light and make the most of your baggage allowance by stocking up on bargain fashion and beauty items.