Theme Parks, Everglades and Family Fun in Orlando
Orlando. This is the city of fun, a playground for young and old, a place to relive your youth, make your head spin on crazy roller coasters, experience 3-D rides like you’ve never imagined and meet Mickey Mouse. What’s not to love? Even if you don’t think you’re into theme parks, believe me, spend a week in Orlando and you’ll be converted.
It sounds like a cliche, but there really is a park for everyone; Disney, Universal, Aquatica, Busch Gardens. If you don’t find your inner child here, then there’s something seriously wrong!
When I stepped into Downtown Disney, I could feel the excitement surge through body; children were skipping along merrily, adults laughing, music and lights transporting everyone to a magical world of colour and fun. But that’s a whole other story. For now, I’m going to share some tips I picked up that might just help you cut back on costs and save time, making your holiday everything you ever wished for.
TOP TIPS FOR ORLANDO
1. Research your visit – this is not going to be a cheap holiday, especially if you have kids in tow, however, it will be a holiday of a lifetime and you want to get it right. Figure out your top five must see and do’s. If you have young kids you’re going to want to spend most of your time in Disney, so get accommodation near there, this will cut out travel time and costs. Disney has its own hotels, or you can get self-catering options in and around Kissimmee or Champion’s Gate. If you have older kids or are travelling with adults you’ll want to stay near Universal, which has a number of its own hotels.
2. Hire a car – you will need one to get around the city as the parks are spread out. (We paid around $300 for 7 days car hire)
3. Go self-catering – eating out can be pricey, especially if you’re feeding a family. Villas can be very affordable, although if travelling during peak periods you need to book in advance- there are lots of villa companies such as Contempo Vacation Rental that do villa rentals in and around the different parks. Universal’s new 1000 room complex – Cabana Bay Beach Resort has great value for families with rooms at $120(sleeps up to 6 people) and a small kitchen lets you self-cater or there’s a selection of restaurants on-site. The shuttle bus takes you to the park every 15 mins, avoiding parking queues and if you’re staying here you get to go into the park an hour before the park opens to the public.
4. Book park tickets ahead of your trip – if you plan on going to more than one park it’s worth checking online before you leave as you get great deals – multi-park packages can cost around €200 per person.
5. Consider going as a single rider – queues in the parks can be massive, but if you go into the single rider lane you zip up to the top much faster. Rides are only 3 mins and you don’t talk on them anyhow so it’s worth taking this queue if you can.
6. Take a photo of where you park and bring a GPS to find your way around the city
7. Explore the city and surrounds as well as the parks. Orlando’s suburbs are packed with great restaurants and shopping so get out of the parks and explore!
8. Talk to a travel agent – there are some excellent packages for adults and families starting from €700 per person (including flights, car hire, accommodation for 7 nights) and they can arrange park tickets at a discounted rate also.
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