If you have never visited Orlando, you might be unsure about the best places to stay, where to buy tickets, or how to maximize every minute in the city.
Rather than learning from your mistakes on vacation, you can avoid them altogether with a little know-how and clever planning.
If you cannot wait to experience Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando this year, you will need to plan the perfect trip. With this in mind, check out these ten secrets to an unforgettable Orlando vacation.
1. Choose an Off-Site Resort
Boring accommodation could tarnish a fun trip to Orlando. Make your visit count by choosing a delightful, comfortable resort near the best theme parks to create many memories in a beautiful setting.
Orlando is home to hundreds of hotels that cater to many types of travelers, group sizes, and budgets. Boutique hotels and budget breaks might provide a place to rest your head, but they might force you to sacrifice comfort, quality, or fun. Instead, you can enjoy every second of your vacation at an expansive off-site resort in Orlando.
Off-site resorts are often a more affordable alternative to Disney accommodations and are just as fun. Also, you can pick from many resorts that are a short journey away from Orlando’s theme parks. Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa is a great example, as the full-service resort can cater to your every need from beginning to end of your stay.
Outdoor fun will be steps away from your chosen villa, allowing you to embrace the beautiful weather in one of seven pools, splash around at Treasure Cove Water Park, or show off your skills on basketball, volleyball, or tennis courts. Sounds like the vacation of a lifetime? You can learn more at westgateresorts.com.
2. Create an Itinerary in Advance
Don’t run out of time for a fun attraction. Create a detailed itinerary to tick every theme park and experience off your to-do list.
Orlando might be carefree in nature, but a successful vacation will require in-depth planning due to its extensive theme parks, attractions, and entertainment complexes, which can all be challenging to navigate without a proper plan.
An itinerary will help you gain a rough idea of how you will spend each day in the city, which will ensure you squeeze in every activity. Unless you have tickets for a specific day, you don’t need to stick to the itinerary rigidly, but it will make sure you don’t head home with any regrets.
3. Buy Theme Park Tickets Before You Travel
Skip the queues and save money by booking tickets in advance, and don’t rule out bundles or multi-day passes to slash your travel expenses.
The last thing you will want to do is join a long line once you arrive at a theme park’s gate, only to pay substantially more than forward-thinking guests who bought their tickets ahead of time. To prevent this problem, secure discounted tickets online before travel, which will then help you increase your travel expenses for accommodation, food, drinks, and souvenirs.
If you want to visit various theme parks at a popular resort or are planning to visit an attraction many times, you could save more money by purchasing a bundle or multi-day pass. The more days you add to a multi-day pass, the cheaper the rate will be for each day. Also, if you reserve early, you might receive a coupon book to save more than $150 at the theme park.
4. Pack for the Weather
Despite enjoying year-round sunshine, Orlando can experience daily thunderstorms during summer, chilly evenings, and some cold days during winter. Consider the season to ensure you pack the correct clothing for your vacation.
Florida enjoys year-round sunshine, which can feel hot and humid at times. Despite providing a beautiful backdrop to a fun vacation, it is likely you might feel a little sticky and tired after spending much time in the sun.
Ensure you are well-prepared to handle the heat by packing carefully for the weather. For instance, you will need to pack comfortable clothing you can layer, which will allow you to warm up or cool down.
The season you visit should determine the clothing and accessories in your suitcase. Pack lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics if you are traveling to Orlando during summer or summer, as well as comfortable shoes, swimsuits, and a light jacket. If you are visiting in fall or winter, pack a mix of clothing you can layer, such as t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, light jackets, sweaters, hats, and scarves.
5. Don’t Settle for One Week
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can squeeze more than one theme park into each day, as you might need to compromise on fun during your Orlando trip.
Orlando’s theme parks are huge, and you will want to spend many hours in each one to ensure you don’t leave disappointed. For example, Walt Disney World spans 47 square miles, and its attractions are spread out across Orlando.
Contrary to most tourist maps, you will find it difficult to walk between attractions, especially during an intense summer. You will often need to take a 30-minute car or shuttle journey to visit another theme park at the resort, which you must factor into your itinerary.
For the above reasons, a week might not be long enough to visit every cool theme park or attraction.
6. Arrive Early at the Theme Parks
It pays to be an early bird at the various Orlando theme parks; they often open half an hour earlier than advertised.
Crowds will begin to form at a theme park as the day wears on, which is why you must arrive as early as possible. Don’t make the mistake of visiting a theme park at its official time, as they may open at least half an hour earlier.
If you arrive early, start with the big rides first since huge queues will form at guests’ favorite attractions throughout the day. Plus, save the theme park shows for later; they are often less crowded, and you can enjoy much-needed air conditioning as the temperature increases.
7. Treat Yourself to Passes to Skip the Lines
Save yourself time by spending a little extra money on a line-skipping pass at a popular theme park, such as Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando.
Arriving early isn’t the only tactic you can deploy to skip the lines. Most theme parks provide guests with passes that allow them to jump ahead of those who don’t have one.
If you want to walk straight into an attraction, buy the FastPass+ for Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Express Plus pass for Universal Orlando Resort, or Quick Queue passes for SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens.
8. Dine at Restaurant Row
Make time for great food by penciling a trip to Restaurant Row into your itinerary, which offers many cuisines to suit your preference and travel expenses.
Orlando’s culinary scene is just as exciting as its theme parks; it provides exceptional restaurants and cuisines to suit every budget and taste. Still, some destinations are better than others for food and drinks, which is why you need to do your homework before a visit.
If you don’t want to compromise on freshness, quality, or flavor, make your way to Restaurant Row, which is five minutes from the famous International Drive. It is home to some of the finest cuisines in Orlando, including Mexican, Italian, Greek, and American.
9. Save Money with Free Entertainment
Preserve your travel budget by searching for free things to do during your time in the city, such as watching live entertainment or learning about the complimentary transportation options at a theme park or your resort.
Running out of money shouldn’t be an option in Orlando – an empty wallet will destroy an otherwise enjoyable trip with your loved ones. Instead, protect your finances on vacation by looking for free entertainment in the city.
Disney Springs and Universal Orlando CityWalk are great options for free entertainment. At Disney Springs, you can enjoy many live performances throughout the day, build as many Lego structures as you like at the Lego Store, or hop onto a scenic ferry to travel to the different Walt Disney World theme parks.
Universal Orlando City Walk is also a great source of free family fun. The 30-acre entertainment complex often hosts atmospheric dance parties, fun splash areas, and free-of-charge water taxis to numerous Universal Orlando attractions.
10. Book a Disney Dining Experience Before You Go
Reserve a table with a Disney princess or Mickey Mouse in advance, as spots can fill up quickly at many restaurants across the city.
Families shouldn’t wait to book a Disney character dining experience until they arrive; showing up without a reservation could lead to one or more disappointed kids.
If your children want to sit down with Minnie or Mickey Mouse or another Disney character for a delicious meal, you would be wise to book the character dining experience before visiting Orlando – they book up and sell out very fast, especially during the high seasons and holidays.