Orlando Vacation Tips: 8 Ways to Plan a Successful Trip
Orlando welcomes over 80 million visitors per year, as it’s home to some of the world’s top amusement parks and attractions. Often ranked as a must for families, the city offers exciting entertainment and thrills in a central location. However, those who have never planned an Orlando vacation may not know what to expect or how the area differs from other destinations. To help plan, here are some helpful Orlando vacation tips.
8 Orlando Vacation Tips for a Successful Family Trip
Book Accommodations Early
Orlando houses different types of accommodations. Resorts remain a major draw with themed designs and special perks. However, travelers also pay for those perks – sometimes in a big way. Some Orlando resort hotels can reach as high as $800 per night, depending on the location and amenities.
In addition to hotels, Orlando offers thousands of vacation rentals at a fraction of the price. Many of these rental homes are also located near top attractions, including Disney World and Universal Studios.
To save money, have more privacy and enjoy more space, book a rental accommodation in advance. Rental options include one- and two-bedroom condos to five-bedroom houses for large groups. Even better, some even cost as low as $150 per night during peak season. View available Orlando vacation rentals.
Pick a Few Parks, Not All
Large and small, Orlando houses over a dozen amusement parks, and there’s no way to see them all in one trip. The major ones – such as Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and SeaWorld – also measure much bigger than people realize. In addition, visitors should factor in wait times, walk times, outdoor temperatures and tolerance levels.
Before trying to do everything, pick a few parks. This allows the group to enjoy two full days at a park versus a few hours or just one day. Those with young children may want to pick just one park and spend the entire week there. Visiting just one allows families to get the full experience, removes the stress of doing too much and keep little ones from fun-burnout. In addition, visitors won’t spend as much on single-day tickets, parking, or feel exhausted once they drive or fly home.
Buy Tickets in Advance
Due to popularity, buy all tickets in advance. This includes airline flights, theme parks passes, special shows and reservations for special events. Look for early-bird discounts and special offers as well. Many sites offer package deals, reward early bookings and have additional perks for those who plan.
Budget for Extras
For those new to Orlando, it doesn’t take long to notice little things add up. Start with the things easy to forget: phone chargers, ponchos, umbrellas, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, etc. Then factor in parking fees at amusement parks – as much as $20 per day at each park. Next, remember the souvenirs, dining and extra items needed.
To avoid over-spending, select an additional amount of money for each day. For a family of four, try $100 per day to cover miscellaneous expenses, treats and shopping. Roll-over whatever is not used to the next day and decrease as needed.
Plan a Beach Day
It may seem odd to see beach day on an Orlando vacation tips list, but guests need it. Amusement parks fill the calendar, so when do families have time for relaxation? Don’t worry. Orlando has four beaches within a two-hour drive, including Cocoa Beach, Canaveral National Seashore, Daytona Beach and Tampa Bay.
Spending the day at the beach provides a much-needed break from large crowds, screams and bustling activity. Pack up the car with beach necessities and a good book and relax. A few hours of waves rolling into the shore and watching marine life will rejuvenate everyone.
If a beach day isn’t possible, consider a spa day and book a massage, tour an area park, or explore nearby Kissimmee. The town is located south of Orlando and offers family-friendly attractions, scenic tours, boat rides, fishing and hot-air balloon rides. Read a quick Kissimmee guide.
Bring Food, Water and Sunscreen
Most Orlando parks allow guests to bring snacks and water in small bags. Equip each family member with their own bag and plan to carry extra supplies. In July, visitors can expect temperatures in the 90s, so it’s important to stay hydrated and healthy. A few things to bring include: sunscreen, rain, ponchos, hats, and plastic zip bags for phones and wallets. Remember to reapply sunscreen to avoid the sun’s harsh rays.
Prepare to Wait and Walk
During summer months, wait times for rides in Orlando can range at least 1 hour and longer for attractions like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In addition, the parks measure bigger than they appear on TV or online. Disney World – with all five parks – measures 40 square miles, while Universal’s two parks combined measure 840 acres. That’s a lot of ground to cover in a short time.
Depending on the park, ride passes are available and can reduce wait times. However, plan to stand and wait for long stretches. Wear comfortable, water-resistant shoes and sit down to rest. Families with younger children should rent strollers to keep young ones from getting cranky and tired.
With so many people and attractions, things can seem a bit chaotic. Many find it easy to get distracted as well, which can lead to losing things. To avoid loss and stay organized, appoint one person to carry important items such as tickets, cash and personal identification. Leave non-essentials safely behind in a safe or secure storage compartment at the vacation home.