So you and your family have decided to finally take that trip to Orlando. What could be better? Theme parks, fun resorts and hotels, water parks and a vast array of restaurants for all ages await. But then there’s the dreaded part: actually paying for the trip. Luckily, Orlando doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might fear.
Outside of paying ticket prices for theme parks, finding family-friendly and comfortable accommodations within your budget is feasible. We asked James Manning, co-founder and CEO, Top Villas, some of his top tips for families looking to not break the bank on an Orlando trip.
Consider Choosing Accommodations Outside the Theme Park
“If you’re looking to save money on your next trip to Disney, you should consider choosing accommodation outside of the theme park itself. Quite frankly, you’ll find much better value for money outside of the park at villa resorts close by, some of which are only minutes away from Disney World and have exceptional on-site facilities. Water parks are not uncommon at these villa resorts, with many also having on-site restaurants, a choice of community pools and activities or sports facilities for no additional cost, meaning you can continue the excitement whilst you’re not in the Disney theme park.
For example, Encore Resort at Reunion Villas offers free shuttle services to Disney World, which takes no time at all to reach the park as the resort lies only 5 miles away from it. Fitness and sports facilities can be found on-site too, as well as free access to the resort’s incredible water park, arcade, and kids’ club. In-villa movie theaters, themed bedrooms, and private pools are also available in the more luxurious villas.”
Opt for a Vacation Rental with a Fully Equipped Kitchen
“One of the largest costs associated with any family vacation can be eating out and during your trip to Orlando you’ll want to limit this as much as possible if you’re hoping to save money. One of the best ways to eliminate the need to dine out at eateries is by opting for a vacation rental with a fully equipped kitchen. You can prepare and cook your meals having stocked up at your local supermarket for a fraction of the cost, and you can be in full control of the type of food that you want to eat without having to spend time searching for a restaurant that will suit all of your group’s food preferences and dietary requirement.
Not to mention that Disney allows you to bring your own food and drink into the park, so it makes more sense that if you’re looking to save some money you should bring your snacks and meals with you! Especially as the food outlets and restaurants in the Disney parks are more expensive, so I’d generally advise avoiding these if you’re keeping to a budget.”
Buy Disney Tickets in Advance
“Planning pays off so, if possible, buy your Disney tickets in advance rather than at the gate when you arrive. Whilst you might be lucky and manage to secure tickets if you rock up to Disney World on the day, you’ll likely save more by booking your tickets before your arrival. Bundle tickets can also help you save a significant amount compared to buying individual day passes, especially if you’re planning on visiting the parks many times during your trip. For reference, a seven-day Magic ticket, which offers the opportunity to visit multiple parks per day and has a memory maker included, costs from roughly $635.50 per person. In comparison, a one-day ticket to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom resort costs from $140.14, so getting a bundle ticket offers considerable savings!”
Take Advantage of Free/Discounted Activities
“Finally, take advantage of free or discounted activities, like exploring Disney Springs or immersing yourself in nature at local parks.”
Limit Your Souvenir Shopping at Theme Parks
“It’s easy to take on the mentality of ‘you may only be here once,’ and so you end up buying much more than you need and wrack up a big bill at the end of it. Be sure to set a strict budget beforehand so that you know where your financial limits lie, and you avoid spending money on things that, later down the line, you realize you don’t need or haven’t used again.”
Don’t Always Fall for the Upgrade Trap or Extravagant V.I.P. Experiences
“Falling into the “upgrade” trap is very easy, which can mean you’re spending a lot more than you would have initially expected on your family trip. These can include unnecessary rental car upgrades, so it’s important to stick to only what you know you truly need and book these things well in advance of your trip so that you don’t have to pay for these upgrades if they’re necessary later.
If you are looking to blow money in Orlando, there are many very extravagant activities available. A handful of these activities include a private VIP Disney tour that is priced between $550 to $950/hour for a minimum of seven hours, flying in a fighter jet for $5,600 per hour, watching a game at Orlando Magic for $1,054 per person or fine dining at Chatham’s Place. If there’s one place in the world where you can spend a lot on lavish and high-priced recreations, Orlando is your destination.”
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