Know Before You Go: Orlando , FL

Is it time for a vacation? Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the world! Growing up here, I get asked constantly what’s the best way to go about planning a trip to Orlando. With so many things to do, Let me share with you my best tips, tricks, and things you need to know before you go.

Fun history fact: Back in the late 60’s, a man saw a huge potential in the little town filled with lurking alligators, mangled flatland, and acres upon acres of orange groves. Who was that man? Well, it was Walt Disney. He had a bigger vision for this town than anyone could imagine.

The city grew rapidly during the 80’s and has continued to grow thanks to the several theme parks that now call Orlando home. While the theme parks may form the backbone of the city, there is so much to offer.

There is something for everyone. The business world can network in the 2nd largest convention center in the United States. Students come to the University of Central Florida, which has the largest enrollment population in the United States. And you can’t forget about sports, Orlando is home to the NBA’s Orlando Magic and MLS Orlando City Soccer Team.

So are you ready to come? Let me fill you in with a few things you should know before coming to Orlando.

The most important thing to know:

Plan!

I know some of you have just let out a big puff of eye-rolling air me. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan your trip out when coming here. There is so much do, it can get overwhelming: 9 Big theme parks, 4 water parks, and over 20 smaller attractions like dinner shows, museums, blah blah blah. The more you plan, the more you will take advantage of your time. Orlando is not a place for rest and relaxation.

So how do I plan?

Start reading! Each of the theme parks websites has great information about how to purchase tickets, what rides are available, park hours, and all the practical information that you need.

But if you want the juicy details about which ride is worth the wait or what foods you must eat at a certain park, then travel blogs are the best answer for you. There are so many of them online that I have recommended a few that I have personally tried out and feel that have great information for your next trip.

Disney Blogs:

Universal Blogs:

General Orlando Blogs:

These are also great to read because as I mentioned before, Orlando has so much more to offer than just the Theme parks

How to Get to Orlando:

Orlando International Airport is the 13th busiest airport in the US and 29th in the world. So you can just imagine how many people are rolling through the city.

Orlando’s Airport Code is MCO. There is another airport called Sanford International Airport but it’s farther away from downtown and the major theme parks. Its code is SFB and it’s worth considering if your hometown’s airport flies with Allegiant Airlines.

If you look with enough time, you can always find a good deal to visit Orlando. Skyscanner.com is my go-to site. I’ve purchased tickets from LAX, ORD and JFK to MCO for less than $100 with Spirit or Frontier. The lowest international flight I’ve seen was with Thomas Cook Airlines from the UK for $450 round trip.

Best time to go:

I wish I could tell you that there is a slow season for Orlando. As each year goes by, more and more people are coming to visit Orlando. But there are less popular times than others. Come on down during the 2nd week of January and you’ll see Disney wait times at about 20 minutes plus the weather will be amazing. Or try the 3rd week of August where you might melt off all the calories you eat in a day.

Should I rent a car?

Short answer: No

Long answer: No. Ride-Sharing apps have taken over the city. I’ve done the math a couple of times. It’s cheaper to take 4 ride-share rides a day (to and from Hotel/Parks, hotel/dinner, or hotel/shopping) and even give your driver a tip than it is to rent-a-car, pay for gas, and pay for parking ($20-40 USD) at each park you visit. Plus you get dropped off right at the door of the park and you don’t have to worry about getting lost. This is the best way to go.

If you decide to rent a car, plan ahead. Book it ahead of time. Most websites will let you reserve with free cancellation at any time. Roads are pretty simple to use and if you decided to drive outside the tourist bubble, I would definitely recommend getting the daily toll pass because there are a bunch of toll roads in Orlando. You can plan the cost of tolls here

Shopping:

Get it done here in Orlando. Orlando is home to some of the best outlets in the nation. You have two amazing outlets called the Premium Outlet Mall at Vinland Rd and International Drive. Plus you have a bunch of little connecting ones nearby.

Please don’t waste your time and go to Miami outlets if you decide to head down there. Enjoy the beach. Don’t get me wrong, the outlets in Miami are good, but the distances from each other plus traffic will make you want to pull out your hair. Get it all done in Orlando so you can have fun in Miami.

Other Tips?

  1. Be ready to walk. Get comfortable shoes. You will walk about 6-10 miles a day at these parks. I’m not kidding.
  2. Pack Sandwiches and snacks. Park food to can get pricey and most of the time your in a rush anyways. Spend your money on the Mickey ears IceCream, Dole Whip, or those huge turkey legs. Even better, just Drink around the world at Epoct.
  3. Bring extra meds, especially prescription stuff.
  4. Hotel Stay: I didn’t mention this much because there are so many options to choose from for all price ranges. If you don’t want to stay on property, I would just look at a map and pick somewhere central between Disney and Universal. You’re not going to be spending much time in the room anyways.

 

I hope this helps guides you in planning your trip to Orlando. What did I miss? Is there something that I should add? Also, don’t hesitate to reach out! Let me know if you need help.

Remember when you give good, you get good.

 

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14 Comments

  1. If you’re staying on property at Disney, you won’t pay parking fees for your rental car at any of the parks … but you also don’t really need one if you’re staying on property and doing Disney. We’ve found the prices for a car to be all over the place, but I good hack that often cuts the price dramatically is to fly into Tampa, rent a car there and fly out of/drop it off in Orlando. We got a car for a week for $60 that way once. Plus if you want to do any beach time, you could do that on the Gulf side before heading to Orlando if you fly into Tampa. Great tips!

  2. Im heading to Orlando next month! I love this town. I had no idea Allegiant flew to Orlando. Great tip. It seems like its always busy down there. We have gone at all points of the year!

  3. You are so right, there is absolutely so much to do in Orlando. We have been three times, each time focusing on a different attraction. It was just easier to break it down that way to me. LOL!

  4. You have given good tips and tricks to explore Orlando. It is really helpful if we know about some things before we go to a place. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Awesome guide, thanks for sharing! It seems Orlando is one of those must-visit places that need to be experienced to really grasp how incredible it is! Great tips, especially on the comfy shoe recommendation!

  6. I’ll have to check out some of your general Orlando blogs, as I’m definitely one of those people who tend to automatically think of Orlando as “Walt Disney World.” Would love to explore more of the area next time I’m down.

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