by Richard Jones

FROM our glass bubble high in Florida sky, we could just make out a giant silver sphere, a raging volcano, a twisting green rollercoaster and a swarm of snaking water slides.

My wife Rachel and I, and our daughters Isla and Evelyn, were riding on ICON Park’s The Wheel, a new attraction in the theme-park capital of the world, Orlando. Cramming all the sights into one week requires military-style planning, but thanks to TUI’s new route from Doncaster Sheffield to Orlando Sanford, our Florida fairytale got off to a flier.

Booking through TUI is handy in that they can arrange your entire holiday, and after stepping off the Dreamliner at Sanford, we could choose from a line of hire cars from Alamo.

Our Sunshine State home from home was a two-bedroom suite at the Sonesta ES Suites on International Drive. Helpful staff provided us with a hot and cold buffet breakfast every morning and a pool and hot tub to splash around in.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is surely the place where all Orlando family holidays should start. Isla and Evelyn were in their element next to the world-famous Cinderella’s Castle, ticking off characters in their autograph books, as well as riding Space and Splash Mountains.

Later in the week, we squeezed as many Disney delights as we could into one day. Firs was a visit to Animal Kingdom, including the amazing new Avatar Flight of Passage ride in the jaw-dropping Pandora world. After refuelling, we hot-footed it to Epcot for its fireworks extravaganza IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.

All this theme-park fun was hungry work, and during the week we dined at three amazing, but very different, restaurants at Disney Springs. At bowling-themed diner Splitsville, we tucked into cheese and bacon-topped fries and hand-tossed pizzas, while playing a few games on the lane.

Southern-style farm-to-fork cuisine was on the menu at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, including the James Beard award-winner’s Famous Fried Chicken and a dessert that had my daughter’s name all over it, Aunt Evelyn’s Chocolate Cake.

Finally, at Paddlefish, we were treated to a seafood masterclass, with fresh lobster guacamole mixed and mashed next to our table.

While the magical Disney parks were Evelyn’s domain, Isla was all about the adrenaline rush of Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. After a dizzying morning on The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey, we had tea at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on the CityWalk. With live music playing, margaritas flowing and cheese melting on the Volcano Nachos, it was the ideal place to regroup and refuel.

Then it was onto Universal Studios for the stomach-churning Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It, before its spectacular Cinematic Celebration light show.

Walking around the theme parks in the sweltering Florida heat can be draining, so a good tip is to split the week up with a water park or two. Universal’s Polynesian-themed Volcano Bay opened in 2017 and here the kids loved tapping into rides, including the 125ft-high Ko’okiri Body Plunge, with their Tapu Tapu wristbands. SeaWorld’s Aquatica is the only water park in Florida that rivals Volcano Bay, and after chilling out at Cutback Cove, we rode Whanau Way and the exciting new KareKare Curl.

On our final day we hopped on the I-Trolley for a day in paradise at Discovery Cove. We were spoilt with a cabana for the day and swam with two dolphins, Prim and Thelma, went snorkelling among rays, fed birds and took part in the SeaVenture underwater walk.

Before jetting back to Doncaster with TUI, there was time for a couple more treats. At Sugar Factory American Brasserie at ICON Park, we sipped on giant goblets of nitrogen-infused cocktails, and munched rainbow-coloured sliders and those infamous desserts. After dinner we boarded the ferris wheel, not be the fastest ride in Florida, but it has the best views. Our trip to Orlando was pure Magic - one ‘Wheel’ never forget.

* TUI offers seven-night holidays to Orlando, Sonesta ES Suites from £907 for two adults sharing, including flights from Doncaster Sheffield airport June 15. Visit