Planning Tips For Orlando
*in collaboration with Visit Orlando
After a fun but fleeting family trip earlier in the year, we couldn’t wait to return and see more of one of the world’s most visited family destinations. The throes of planning a trip to Orlando are officially well under way for 2019!
Our timing fits well with the Visit Orlando latest research which depicts that the “average British family begins planning their holiday more than six months in advance.” I definitely fall into the planner category and like to know exactly what a destination offers when it comes to valuable family holiday time. I feel the anticipation and planning is all part of the build up of the excitement of the trip!
Orlando is renowned for its theme and water parks and of course warm climate. This vibrant city caters for adrenaline seekers, foodies, big kids, little kids and everything in-between.
We didn’t explore the parks at any great length in January; instead we enjoyed some other Orlando attractions including the Kennedy Space Center and cruised the Everglades by airboat to spot alligators. (My 3 and 6 year old loved it!)
After a seemingly never ending winter, we really needed some sun, downtime and quality family time – plus by booking so last minute and hardly planning, we didn’t want to tackle the parks unprepared.
However, a day at Universal and experiencing the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter led to an afternoon visit to the Islands of Adventure via the Hogwarts Express. This glimpse into one of the major parks, left us wanting more. In fact we were talking about a return visit before we had already left!
So now we are busy trip planning our next family holiday to Orlando, including planning for Disney – here are some tips which may help you plan your future trip too!
Tips for Planning a Trip To Orlando
- Know when to avoid peak crowds. With kids, unless they are very small avoiding school holidays can be tricky, but try and avoid the peak summer time when both crowds and temperatures rise. We visited in January and found the weather to be lovely. Check USA national holidays and try to avoid visiting attractions on those days too.
- Ask each family member what they really want to do which will help you narrow down the attractions you want to see. We try and pick 2 each, with 1 being a must do and 2 is a bonus. Remember if you are visiting the parks, some shows or parades may only happen on certain days.
- If you have young children like us, factor in some down time. For us, having accommodation with a pool was paramount as my girls thoroughly enjoy spending time splashing around. It also enabled us all to have an afternoon snooze under the umbrella, which meant we could all stay up a little later and explore Orlando in the evening. We loved the Orlando I-Drive, particularly around the Orlando ICON 360 for meandering past street entertainment, exploring dining options and people watching.
- Download apps to places you intend to visit. The Visit Orlando App features helpful planning tools including deals, things to do, places to stay, theme park tickets and much more.
- There is free WiFi in most places and in the parks, which will zap up your power. Be sure to pack a power pack and take it with you.
- Weigh up the benefits of on-site and off-site theme park accommodation at the resorts. When planning a theme park visit staying at a hotel on property has advantages such as early admission and extended hours; complimentary transportation; front-of-the-line access and special discounts. For a great roundup of family friendly 2 bedroom suites in Orlando see here.
- If you are heading to Walt Disney World, research character dining as slots open 180 days beforehand. To skip the queues, the free FastPass+ slots for on-site guests open 60 days ahead and 30 days ahead for off-site guests.
- Even if you have children who haven’t used a stroller for a few years like my 6 year old, consider renting one at the parks (doubles are available too) or buying a cheap umbrella one from Walmart for around $20. The parks are HUGE and little ones will get tired.
Planning A Trip to Orlando On A Budget?
- For information to help planning, travel tips and for savings, the Visit Orlando website provides a wealth of information and is a great place to start your research. From places to stay, things to do, discounts & tickets. It is a trustworthy site to begin researching accommodation for all budgets, including hotels, rental homes and camping grounds. All which can be done by location, rating and price.
- Don’t forget to include tips and spending money in your budget. Tipping is expected at around 15-20% with 18% automatically added on for parties of 6 or more. If you have younger ones and are planning a trip to Disney, bring a Disney outfit from home and avoid any gift shop meltdowns!
- Look out for special deals for eating – kids can often eat free. Around April, free Disney dining plans offers start to appear. Also consider dining outside the parks at least for lunch, which is considerably cheaper than dinner.
- Check regional airports and flights – new routes are making it easier than ever to get to Orlando, meaning there are some great flight and package deals to be found.
- Purchase theme park and attraction tickets before leaving home direct from the theme park websites or the Visit Orlando App to get the best deals. Not only do you save money but you also save time.
- Last minute purchases of essentials can add up quickly. Pack plenty of sunscreen, plasters/bandaid, water bottles, rain ponchos, and bring a comfortable backpack to take snacks and drinks to the parks.
Have you any planning tips for Orlando to add?
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Visit Orlando.