Updated April 2014: Save money and time by enjoying a family “staycation” in Orlando, FL
If you are a Florida resident and especially if you live near Orlando, you may want to enjoy driving to your next vacation and enjoying what 50-million people enjoy every year – the many attractions of Central Florida. Here are ten tips to consider when planning your next bargain family vacation – consider it a “staycation” in one of the worlds most family friendly cities.
- Hotels– The best deals are on Priceline.com, although prices are usually higher during school breaks each school district in every state has a different rotation of school breaks, so you will most likely be able to bid on a three star hotel for less than 50 bucks a night. Just remember you may need to pay for parking in some 4-star and resort level hotels, so the three stars is your best bargain.
- Disney World Parks and Resorts– Florida residents get a discount on park tickets or if you have an annual pass, stay at a nearby hotel and go to the parks via their bus system. Disney is now offering a monthly payment for Florida residents which is a new option so take advantage of their no-interest payment plan. Have dinner at the various resorts, some Disney restaurants offer discounts to annual pass holders. If you purchase annual tickets for your entire family that can be expensive. A tip is to purchase seasonal tickets for everyone except one person, so that you can get the parking included in the regular pass. There are also passes (for FL residents only) for weekdays only and Epcot after 4 pm.
- Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure– these parks also have resident passes in which you can save a lot of money, compared to non-residents. They also have the option of you paying for your annual tickets on a month to month basis with no interest fees. Compare the costs of buying a limited annual pass if you visit more than two to three times a year, often they will advertise and parking is not included.
- Universal City Walk – similar to Downtown Disney, Universal City Walk is a cross between jumping night clubs, food courts, restaurants, shops, movie theatres, and sometimes free entertainment in the midst of it all. Children will probably like it during the day; however as the day goes on, evenings are aimed more to the teens and adults. Parking is shared with Universal parks and is usually less expensive after 3 p.m. Be sure to check their website before you go.
- Sea World– if you only have a week for your “staycation” and you’re trying to save some money, you may want to purchase an annual pass and also pay monthly, with no interest. You’ll be able to return any time of the year if you purchase seasonal passes at Disney World and/or Universal Studios, you can go to Sea World as their tickets have no black out period.
- Downtown Disney and Disney’s Boardwalk– shopping, restaurants, free entertainment at center stage, activities for the kids for free – make this a great place to visit during your staycation. Downtown Disney has a Lego Imagination Store with a huge play area for kids and adults to build anything they want. Theme restaurants will allow you to walk through to look at the décor without having to dine there.
- Miniature Golf– while you could do everything Disney, there are many choices for miniature golf at affordable prices for the entire family to play off International Drive and in Lake Buena Vista, right outside of the Disney hotel resorts. A favorite is the chain of Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, always challenging with great water displays, great for all ages – children to adult. Check out Groupon online or on your phone app, they often have mini-golf game deals (non-Disney) in and around International drive.
- Orlando Science Center – open daily and located in downtown Orlando, the OSC is a great place to take the kids to learn and have fun. There are special film screenings for a small fee, interactive displays for all ages.
- Gatorland – if you live in Orlando, you know that almost any pond or lake could and probably has gators in it. See gators up close at the OSC and especially Gatorland, along with educational and fun activities for the entire family. Pick up coupon books in stores, restaurants and hotels which may offer a few dollars off admission.
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Orlando Museum– Even if you don’t plan on going into the museum, you should at least walk by and take pictures of the upside down building that looks like a tornado came by and flipped it over onto its roof, always a great conversation piece.