You don’t always know months in advance that you’re going to be heading to Orlando on business. When a last minute trip comes up, there are 3 things you can do to make the most of your trip.
1. There are still plenty of ways to save money
Some travelers assume that last minute travel means playing top prices for everything. The reality is that, depending on the season, you can still get a great deal on everything from resort hotels, to vacation home rentals, to theme park tickets. Take a few minutes to research your options and make sure you’re not falling into the trap of paying more when you don’t have to.
2. Making dining reservations
It’s true that there are some top notch restaurants in Orlando, and it’s true that some of them can book months in advance. However, it’s also true that this is a city that caters to business travelers and tourists. There are always plenty of reservations available, even the night of. Too often travelers decide to simple show up and take their chances. This might get you a table, but a few minutes of calling around can assure you don’t get excited about a restaurant and pay to valet, only to get turned away at the door.
3. Don’t try to do it all
With proper planning, you can visit Orlando for 5 days, get plenty of work done, and still see the major parks in the area. However, when you don’t have a solid plan you’ll find this type of trip much more challenging. As a result, understand that you can’t do it all. Identify two things you really want to do while you’re here. It might be visiting the Magic Kingdom, or seeing Cirque de Soleil in Downtown Disney. Whatever they are, prioritize those two things and anything else you get done will be gravy.
There are many ways to save a significant amount on your Disney vacation during the off-peak season, but many of us don’t have the luxury of vacationing in late January. If you’re one of the many families that has to travel during the summer season, there are still ways for you to save. Let’s take a look at a few of your options.
Transportation Cost can be quite high.
Do the Math on Transportation Prices
Many families fall prey to the idea that one type of transportation is always cheaper for them then another. For example, they may think that driving is always cheaper than flying the entire family down and renting a car. However, you may find a package includes airfare and car rental that’s less than you think – especially when you consider food during your drive and the exhaustion of a long drive with the kids.
On the other side of that, some families assume that flying is always cheaper but may be surprised to learn that they could actually save by driving, even with the added expenses of gas, meals, and hotels on the way down. Use a site like Gas Buddy to estimate fuel costs and even get information on the cheapest places to stop for gas along the way.
Off site hotels near Disney World are really nice.
The easiest way to save a significant amount on your trip is to not stay on Disney property. There’s plenty of information out there that says staying on property is worth the extra expense due to the close proximity to the parks, but the truth is that for many families it can cost as much as 4 times as much to stay on site versus staying at a resort hotel. You can also rent a vacation home for as little as $99 per night and have amazing amenities like your own private pool.
Bring Your Own Food
The Disney Parks and Universal Orlando both allow you to bring your own food and non-alcoholic, non-glass bottled beverages into the parks. Take advantage of this. If you’re staying at a vacation home you’ll have access to a full kitchen, including fridge, microwave, and oven. You can prepare delicious meals and save a significant amount of money over the cost of food in the parks.
As a single parent you have unique joys and unique challenges. Disney World goes the extra mile to make navigating the parks as easy as possible, but in many cases simply getting to and from Orlando can be the most challenging aspects of your trip. Take a look at these simple tips to help make the flight as easy as possible.
Avoid Check-In Lines
There’s no question that long lines and kids often equals disaster. This is even more true when you’re trying to wrangler your children and luggage at the same time. Fortunately, there are other solutions these days. You can typically check-in 24 hours before your flight and even have mobile alerts forwarded straight to your phone. This simple step can help you bypass long lines at the computer.
Don’t Discount Strollers
Even if your kids have been out of strollers for a few years, you may find them helpful both in the airport and at Disney World. When flying, they’re not counted as bags and can be checked at the gate. Remember that airports are incredibly crowded spaces and the last thing you want is to be chasing your kids down. A stroller keeps them in control at all times.
Be Ready to Board First
Many airlines allow families with small children to board after First Class. Be at the gate, ready, and listening to the announcements so that you don’t miss the opportunity.
Ask For Help When You Need It
Flight attendants are there to help you, so if you need it – ask for it. For example, if you need to head to the restroom, it’s fine to ask the flight attendant to hang out in your section. The flight attendants can always say no, but typically they’ll be more than happy to – and your kiddo may even get an extra bag of pretzels.
There are a ton of activities to take part in when you’re visiting Orlando, but if you want to get off the beaten path and discover some of the beaches the area has to offer, you have many options. Orlando is located relatively centrally, which allows you to choose between west coast and east coast beaches.
The Closest Beaches to Orlando
The closest beaches to the Orlando area are:
Canaveral National Seashore
Each is about an hour and a half drive. The best way to get to Cocoa Beach is to head out on Toll Road 528, you’ll get to Canaveral National Seashore via SR 50 east to US 1, and Daytona is best reached via Interstate 4 East. While the drive is about the same for all 3 beaches, you may decide to choose one based on the type of road you’ll be traveling during your adventure.
West Coast Beaches
Generally speaking, the beaches on the east coast are more bustling and populated, while the west coast is known for more tranquil beaches. You’ll also see much smaller waves on the west coast than the east. The most recommended beaches on this side of the state include:
St. Petersburg Beach
Each of these beaches is about 2 hours away and can be arrived at via Interstate 4. No matter which beach you choose, or which side of the state you decide on, there’s one thing you can count on: there’s always something new and exciting to do in central Florida.
We hope you found this article helpful and insightful. Please click here for more planning tips.
Our goal is to help our clients save money on their Disney World vacation, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to save the clients’ money prior to them even coming to town.
Here are 3 ways we help clients save money on their package deals:
1) Book now pay later- If you and your family are planning to come to Orlando next year for summer vacation you could save yourself a lot of money and go ahead and book your Disney World vacation package with us today. Yes, we know Summer 2015 is more than 10 months away but booking early can have cost saving benefits…here’s how:
If you order a package deal today with lodging and theme park tickets we will reserve the package for a small $50 deposit. Once the package deal is reserved you have locked your cost in at what today’s ticket prices are…not what they are going to be when you arrive in Orlando. Typically the Orlando theme parks go up on their prices twice a year, usually in September and then another price increase around the first of the year. These price increases can be anywhere from 4% to 8% for each price increase. By ordering your package deal now you can save yourself as much as 15% on your vacation.
What are the downfalls to booking early? Really there is no risk, all require is a $50 deposit and the remaining balance needs to be paid 15 days prior to your arrival. If you cancel your reservation 16 or more days prior to your arrival, we will cheerfully refund you $35 of your $50 deposit…so your risk is only $15.
2) We guarantee to always have the lowest prices- If you find a lower price on any other website for the exact same property and/or exact same theme park ticket we will cheerfully match the other companies price. I can honestly say that in 21 years of being in business this has only happened a handful of times.
3) We use our tickets as a lost leader- We sell our tickets as cheap as possible to help our clients who book their lodging with us save money. Why do we do this? Simple, we want to earn your business.
So you’re planning a trip to Orlando with a large group. There are plenty of ways to get group discounts, but did you know that one of the most affordable ways to get accommodations is to rent and Orlando vacation homes? While some resort hotels will offer a block of rooms for a discount, don’t assume that these are the most cost effective option for you.
The Huge Savings Available in Vacation Homes
Many group travel coordinators are surprised to discover that vacation homes can actually be very affordable. In fact, some start at just $99 a night. Once you get past the first surprise at the cost effectiveness, remember that there are actually many other cast saving benefits.
Full kitchens. Every vacation home you rent from OrlandoVacation.com will come with a full kitchen. Imagine the savings if your group simply had a quick breakfast in your home every morning. There are plenty of excellent restaurants in the theme parks, but they can cost up to $20 per person, per meal. Save that money by taking advantage of a full kitchen.
Washer and dryers. Every unit also has a washer and dryer. This can save significantly on the cost of luggage fees. If you’re planning a week-long trip to Disney, that can add up to a lot of clothing – especially for parents traveling with young children. Having free washers and dryers to use can save on laundering costs and baggage fees.
Proximity to the parks. Some resort hotels are inconvenient to the parks, or require you to pay parking fees every day you’re there. When you rent a vacation home you can park for free and are within 15 minutes of Disney World.
Low deposit. When you rent through us, you only pay $50 down. The balance is due 15 days before your trip, and you can cancel at any time until that 15 day mark with only a $15 cancellation fee required. Many resorts require full payment upfront.
Of course, in addition to the cost savings, vacation homes can simply be more convenient. These homes have private pools and tons of privacy. They’re a great way to come home after a busy day at the parks and relax.
Is there anything better than watching your grandkid’s faces light up the first time they see Cinderella Castle? While a trip to Disney World can truly be a magical experience, it’s also true that there’s a lot to plan. Review these 5 simple tips to make the most of your trip.
1. Make sure your itinerary is multi-generational
It’s tempting to focus the entire trip on the grandkiddos, but the reality is that if you get bored, overtired, or miss out on the things you want to do, there’s a good chance you won’t have as great of a time as you could – and the grandkids are bound to notice. Plan a few things that you’d love to share with the grandkids, even if you don’t think they’re activities they’d chose on their own.
2. Plan for emergencies
If your grandkid’s have identification, make sure you bring it. Talk to their parents about the kids’ medical history before you leave. You may think you know this information, but you may be surprised by simple allergies or minor ailments that you simply don’t know, that could be relevant in the event of an emergency.
3. It may pay to play favorites
Grandparents often make the mistake of trying to do everything at once. They don’t want anyone to feel left out, so they take all their grandchildren at once. This can be overwhelming for everyone and can prevent you from having the best possible time. Consider setting up a few trips over the next 5 years and choosing who gets to go based on age.
4. Know where to save money and where to spend
Many grandparents try to run to either end of the spectrum: they want to splurge for only the best, or they want to pinch pennies at every turn. The good news is that there is a middle ground. Staying on Disney property may initially seem like a smart move, but you’ll pay considerably more than you’d pay at a nearby hotel resort. You can even rent a vacation home for as little as $99 a night.
Orlando is a great place to celebrate an anniversary, thanks to the many beautiful, unique, and romantic restaurants – plus the never-ending list of fun activities and attractions. VisitOrlando compiled a list of some of the most romantic of all the options. Read their blog yourself, or check out our top 3 picks below.
Located in the Hyatt Regency hotel, Hemingway’s is a throwback to classic Florida cuisine. The menu features delicious fish dishes, all of which are locally sourced when possible. If you want to enjoy the best local flavors in Florida, this is a great romantic and dramatic restaurant to try.
For a more lively, yet still decidedly romantic experience, try Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar. The food is a fusion of Southern Florida and classic Cuban food. You’ll find dozens of types of rum for sampling, and on selected nights you’ll be treated to live music. The mood is electric, the lights are low, and it’s a great spot to settle in with your sweetie.
Luma on Park
If an upscale spot is more your style, try out Luma on Park. There you can sample the best in modern cuisine with an incredible wine list. Everything from rabbit legs to fig salad is served with unique twists and turns. For foodie couples looking for an experience they won’t soon forget, this is a top choice.
Please click here for more romantic ideas on your Orlando vacation.
Orlando has consistently been ranked as one of the most accessible cities for special needs travelers, and after reading this blog you’ll begin to understand why. This is not an exhaustive lists of the options available for special needs visitors, but it gives you a starting point.
Mobility Scooter Rentals (ECVs)
Flying with your own ECV can be a pain, and in some cases the batteries may not even be allowed on board. The easier option is to rent one, which can be done at any of the major theme parks: Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld.
Each park offers day rentals for use within the park, based on a first come first serve basis. Keep in mind that in the busiest times of the month these scooter rentals may run out as early as 10:30 am. The other option is to find a local company that rents scooters for the duration of your trip. Many of these companies provide free delivery within 10 miles of Disney if you rent for more than 3 days.
Disney World parks have separate handicap-only parking sections that are very close to park entrances or access points. If you’re visiting Universal with a specialty lift or modified vehicle, make sure to let the parking attendant know so they can direct you to a special parking area. Just don’t forget your pass: all parks will require it and will not offer temporary passes.
All Orlando resort hotels are required to offer accommodations for mobility-impaired guests, just be sure you call ahead to let them know what you need. These rooms will have ADA-accessible rails and special bathroom facilities. If you’re renting a smaller hotel room, consider a mobility scooter that folds up or can be disassembled in order to maximize space in a smaller room.
More and more resorts are offering zero-entry pools with gradual ramps, and some even offer waterproof wheelchairs. Just transfer from your scooter into the waterproof wheelchair and you can enjoy a relaxing sunny Florida day in the glittering pool.