We are currently planning a big family trip to Orlando and thought I should share some of the tips when Planning an Orlando Holiday I’ve learnt over the years.
Keeping the Cost Down – when Planning an Orlando Holiday
It will never be a cheap holiday. But, by watching out for deals you can make if affordable. It’s one of the biggest tips when Planning an Orlando Holiday I’ve used time and time again.
Compare flights, not just between the different airlines but have a look at flying into Sanford or Tampa too. Get quotes for packages and also direct. If you can be flexible on your dates and avoid peak times, you may be able to get a bargain.
The same applies to accommodation. Depending on the size of your party, a villa may work out to be the most budget friendly. If you’re a smaller group, then there are lots of hotel options around International Drive, or have a look at staying on-site. If you can get a deal that includes the Dining Plan, it can be worth paying the extra to reduce your costs once you’re there.
Once you’re in Florida, a lot of people hire a car to be able to get around where they want, when they want. It’s our preferred option as we love hitting the beach and malls a bit further out of town. Other options that work well are to use Disney transportation if you’re on site, hotel shuttle services to the parks or Uber. Remember that as well as car hire cost, you also need to factor in insurance, car seat hire if needed, tolls and car parking at $20 per day at the Disney and Universal parks (excluding water parks, they’re free parking).
When you’re there, a lot of the shopping malls and outlets have coupon booklets at Customer Services to get extra discounts. Kids eat free at certain restaurants on certain days and it’s worth signing up to the email lists of some of the chains before you go as they will send you discount codes, especially if it’s your birthday the month of your holiday. Some of the most popular are Olive Garden, Denny’s, Cicis and Millers but there are so many, it’d take a while post to include them all.
Take a look at Karen’s post from last year – 6 Ways to Save Money at Disney too.
Pick Your Priorities – When Planning an Orlando Holiday
There are so many things to do in Orlando and the surrounding areas that I’m pretty sure it’d be impossible to fit in to a fortnight. The first thing you need to decide, before booking passes to the parks, is what your priorities are when you’re there.
For us, Disney’s Magic Kingdom is unmissable for the younger kids. Hollywood Studios for the Pixar and Star Wars, plus the Rock n Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror for the bigger kids (yes, I mean me). You hear mixed reviews of Epcot, but we love Soarin’, Test Track and a wander around the world showcase, checking out the entertainment and most importantly, the food! The IllumiNations show is always spectacular too. Animal Kingdom is a mix of rides, shows and chances to see a fantastic mix of animals. The safari is brilliant. I’m looking forward to checking out the new Avatar area too.
Nearby at Universal, we wouldn’t miss Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure. The rides are a much bigger attraction here than at Disney, in my opinion. And for Harry Potter fans, you could probably spend a full day enjoying riding through Gringotts, buying a wand in Ollivanders, riding the Hogwarts Express… This is what my 9 year old is most looking forward to this trip (and some of the adults too). It was only partly open last time we were there and I’ve heard fantastic reviews of the rest.
Aside from the 6 parks above, what else is there to do? Loads! Both Disney and Universal have water parks included in their two week passes, so we do one of them. Disney have Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Universal’s new Volcano Bay opens in June. All of them have splash zones and slides for younger kids, right up to big drops for the adrenaline seekers.
There are also Seaworld and Legoland nearby, as reviewed by Karen last year.
We have not visited Discovery Cove yet, as to swim with the dolphins the kids have to be at least 6 and we’ve always had younger ones there too. But from friends and reviews I’ve read online, a lot of people say that it’s one of the best days they’ve had.
Away from Orlando, we always visit the Kennedy Space Center. It’s a fascinating place. Walking into the room and seeing Atlantis is awe-inspiring, unforgettable and just plain amazing. Well worth doing one of the bus tours to see the launch sites etc.
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