Budgeting for Disney World – How Much Will You Spend?

October 22nd, 2014

Figuring out how much to budget for a trip to Disney World can be a challenge. With so many variables, and a desire to spend as little as possible while still taking in the full experience, it’s important to get a good idea of your options before you take off. We found a great resource for setting your budget. Take a look or see below for the best tips.

Keep an eye on when you’re visiting

One of the biggest factors in the cost of your trip will be when you visit. The busiest months will typically offer the fewest discounts and highest rack rates. These months include the summer plus holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and 3-day weekends. If you have flexibility, you’ll appreciate both the lower cost and the lower crowds during less busy months.

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Understand the importance of age

Many parents are surprised to discover that, for the purposes of ticket prices and dining plans, children 10 and older are considered adults. Those under 3 are essentially free to get into the parks and more. Those between 3 and 10 can get significant discounts on tickets. The key is to be prepared for the costs of your 10+ year-old kids to be considered adults.

Accommodations matter most

If you’re like most families, you’ll spend more on accommodations than anything else. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to. There are many ways to save big on lodging, compared to what you’d pay to stay on property at a Disney resort. Check out nearby resort hotels, or considering renting an Orlando vacation home. These homes start at just $99 a night and offer tons of amenities that make them well worth staying a few miles from the parks.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary at Universal Orlando

October 19th, 2014

When you think of romantic theme parks in the Orlando area, you likely think of Disney World. However, as you plan your exciting anniversary getaway, don’t forget about the special touches you can experience at Universal Orlando. The Orlando Informer Blog posted the top 5 ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Universal, and we feel these are great options for an anniversary too.

1.         Take a walk to the water’s edge

Universal CityWalk is well known as a place with lots of restaurants and nightlife, but you can also grab your honey and sneak away to a less populated area that surrounds the lack. Start at Jimmy Buffett’s Lone Palm Airport bar for a drink and find the least populated benches nearby.

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2.         The parks themselves are as romantic as you make them

Just being in Universal after sunset can be an incredibly romantic experience. Take your sweetie on a thrill ride like Camp Jurassic and hold them close as the ride twists and turns.

3.         Grab dinner and a movie

Right outside of the theme parks you’ll find a unique experience at Meal & Movie at the AMC Universal Cineplex 20. There you can take in a movie and eat a delicious meal together. This is actually a great bargain and is a good choice for the couple who wants to keep expenses down.

4.         Stay at a romantic resort or rent a vacation home

Of course part of your adventure is where you lay your heads at night. Consider the many beautiful resorts in the Orlando area, or rent an entire vacation home to yourselves. They can actually be very affordable and give you access to a private pool, Jacuzzi, and full kitchen.

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5.         Pick up some romantic lingerie

Stop by the Betty Boop Store at Islands of Adventure and check out some unique, flirty lingerie. This is a great way to pick up a gift for your loved one that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.

4 tips for Packing for your Disney World Trip with the Grandkids

October 18th, 2014

orlandovacation_packing-grandkidsIs there a better way to spend your vacation time than taking the grandkids to Disney World? Whether they’re toddlers or teenagers, whether it’s their first trip or their thirteenth, there’s always plenty of fun to be had at Disney World. However, planning the trip can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at 4 tips you probably haven’t thought of as you pack for your Disney World trip.

1.         Don’t put all the pressure on the parents

Don’t assume that the parents will know everything to pack. Even if they’ve taken the kids to Disney World in the past, there are events you may have planned, or you may plan to tour in a different way, which would require different items. Do a thorough inventory and share it with the parents.

2.         Don’t take all the responsibility on yourself

This may seem in direct conflict with the first point, but the goal is to find a happy balance. The key to a successful packing adventure is to have open communication. Ask the parents what they know the kids will need and make your own decision if they’re the right items.

orlandovacation_grandkids-suitcase3.         Don’t leave the basics behind

It’s easy to get so caught up in the little things you may not have considered that you skip right over the basic things that you should have considered. For example, bring a first aid kit, extra pajamas and clothes, and a list of your grandkids medications and / or health history.

4.         Beware of packing too much or too little

Many grandparents fall into one of two categories: those who want to pack everything they can think of, and those who pack way less than they need. Once again, the key here is to find a balance. You do want to bring the things they’ll need, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars in extra baggage fees. Remember that in a pinch you can stop by a grocery store, drug store, department store, etc., and that you can find most things you need within the parks themselves.

Please click here for other tips for Grandparents bringing their grandchildren to Disney World or Orlando.

The Top 3 Orlando Destinations for Group Travel

October 17th, 2014

Planning a group trip is not without its challenges. The good news is that there are locations throughout the country that are uniquely suited to group travel. Orlando happens to be a great place to take a large group, whether it’s for a family reunion or a corporate outing. In fact, Orlando is one of the most visited destinations in the entire world. Let’s take a look at 3 destinations in the Orlando area that would be a great choice for groups to visit.

1.         Disney World theme parks

Of course the first spot most people think of when they think of vacationing in central Florida is Disney World – and for good reason! There’s something to do here for people of all ages, interests, and abilities. Whether you’re seeking thrills or you want to relax with an adult beverage overlooking a beautiful lagoon, you’re covered at the Disney World parks. They also have tons of great accommodation options for larger groups and many group discounts available.

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2.         Universal Orlando

Located just miles from Disney World, Universal Orlando has 2 theme parks and is home to the now famous Harry Potter lands. This is a great choice for those who love the beloved movies and / or books, and it’s a great choice for thrill seekers too, as they have some of the most exciting and hair-raising rides in the country. Once again, Universal is uniquely suited for group travel and they have plenty of discounts available for larger groups.

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3.         SeaWorld Orlando

Many people may know how great Disney World and the Universal parks are for groups and families alike, but not everyone thinks of SeaWorld. The truth is that this park is generally much less crowded than the others, so it can offer a better chance for large groups to experience rides and attractions together. There are many dining options and it offers a slower pace, which is great for groups with older adults or others with mobility issues.

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Please click her for other tips for group leaders desiring to visit Orlando.

FAQ for Universal Orlando Trips with Teenagers

October 16th, 2014

There are a lot of considerations when you’re taking your teens on any vacation, but it’s even truer when it comes to taking them to the parks in Orlando. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about taking your teenagers to Universal Orlando.

orlandovacation_dragon-challenge-coaster1.         Are there things for teenagers to do?

When many parents think of Orlando theme parks, they think exclusively of Disney World. While the Disney parks are perfect for people of any age, and there’s something to do for everyone, many parents are surprised to learn that the Universal parks actually offer more thrill rides, which are perfect for teens with a sense of adventure.

2.         How many days should we visit the parks?

There are many things to consider when deciding how long to stay in the parks. If you have just a few rides you want to hit at either park then you can do it in one long day. If you want to take in everything there is to see, then two or three days are recommended. Take a look at park maps and the websites for both sites to decide how many rides and attractions you’ll want to take part in.

3.         Are there places for parents to relax?

As with any theme park, there are plenty of benches, restaurants, and other places to take a break. You can also take in one of the dozen or so shows that offer a chance to relax while still taking part in everything Universal has to offer.

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4.         Are kids safe on their own?

On a family vacation you likely want to spend as much time together as possible, but your kids may want to take off and explore on their own. It’s up to you to decide if you feel comfortable separating, just be sure if you do that you have a clear plan. For example, pick a time and place to meet up, check in with the kids every 30 minutes or so, and make sure everyone knows what to do if you get separated.

We hope you liked this article please click here for more articles for parents with teens.

Taking Your Special Needs Child to Disney World: The 3 Tips You Need to Know

October 15th, 2014

orlandovacation_guest-relationsThere are many steps you can take to make your trip to Disney World as successful as possible for your special needs kid, but your first step is to cover the main bases. These are the 3 crucial tips you absolutely need to know before you take off on your trip.

1.         Visit Guest Relations as soon as you enter the park

All 4 Disney theme parks, (the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) have one or more Guest Relations counters. These are generally located near the entrance. As soon as you arrive at a park on your first day, you should immediately visit Guest Relations. There you can explain your child’s special needs and find out if you qualify for the GAS, which gives you a return time at most rides so you can avoid waiting in lines for rides. Note that you will still have to wait, but you can leave the line and come back at the time assigned.

2.         Assisted listening devices are FREE!

If your child has auditory issues, it’s imperative that you get an assisted listening device, for several reasons. First, many parents make the mistake of assuming that the only time they’ll need them are in shows, which they may choose to avoid. However, many rides have elements of dialogue. Second, these devices are totally FREE so it doesn’t make sense not to take a few minutes to pick them up. Many believe they cost $25 to rent, but this is simply a deposit you’ll pay when you pick it up, and then get back when you return it.

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3.         Spending the entire day at the park will benefit no one

This is a crucial, crucial tip that many people overlook. They feel they’ve spent thousands of dollars on their Disney trip and they want to get the most bang from their buck by spending as much time in the parks as possible. Note that it’s about quality not quantity. Would you rather spend 6 hours in the parks and avoid meltdowns entirely, or spend 14 hours in the parks while everyone whined and cried for 8 of those hours?

We hope you liked this article please click here for more special needs help.

3 Groups Who Will Love Orlando Vacation Home Rentals

October 14th, 2014

There are tons of people who could benefit significantly from the affordable accommodations offered when you rent an Orlando vacation home, but there are three groups in particular who will really benefit from these spacious, inexpensive options.

vacation homes near Disney World appeal to many different groups.

vacation homes near Disney World appeal to many different groups.

1.         Large groups trying to stay within budget

Why rent out a block of hotel rooms, most of which can only sleep four, when you can rent vacation homes with up to 7 bedrooms each? They’re generally much more affordable than hotel rooms, plus everyone has tons of privacy. It’s also a great choice for youth groups, high school trips, and other situations where you need a chaperone to have easy access to the kids at all times.

2.         Families who need a kitchen and laundry facilities

One of the best aspects of staying in a vacation home is the access to in-unit laundry. Packing can be challenging, especially when you’re traveling for more than a week or if you have young children. When you have your own laundry facility you can wash items on a nightly basis if you have to, and you won’t have to take an afternoon off to visit a Laundromat.

Having access to a private, fully stocked kitchen is more than just an incredible convenience – it’s a great way to save money. Why buy all your meals at the parks and spend $100+ per day when you can fix a nice, hearty breakfast and prepare lunch to take to the parks? The money you’ll save on food by having your own kitchen can make up for the cost of your accommodations.

3.         Couples who want plenty of privacy

Visiting Disney World is a great way to spend an anniversary, and when you rent your own private home you’ll be able to come back after a fun-filled day and relax in the peace and quiet. You’ll even have access to a private pool and Jacuzzi!

As you can see, there are tons of reasons that Orlando vacation homes are a great option. They offer convenience, privacy, and affordable options for groups and couples alike.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vacation Rental Homes

October 8th, 2014

If you’ve done any research into Orlando vacation homes, you’ve likely realized that they’re a great, affordable, convenient way to save a ton of money on your vacation while enjoying many of the amenities of home. But you likely still have questions. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about the Orlando vacation rental homes available from Orlandovacation.com.

Are these properties time shares?

No, the properties you rent from Orlandovacation.com are never timeshares. These are privately owned properties that are impeccably maintained and in excellent condition at all times.

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Do I have to pay the entire balance upfront?

No. One of the great things about renting these homes is that they only require a $50 deposit to hold them. The full balance is then due at least 15 days before you arrive.

Are there any minimums?

Yes. As you can imagine, these are very popular properties. As a result, there is generally a 3-day minimum stay required, though it’s extended to a minimum 5-day stay during the very popular Easter and Christmas holiday seasons.

Are the properties close to Disney World?

Yes. All properties are within a 15 minute drive of Disney World. This is the perfect distance to ensure you have a convenient commute to the parks every day, yet plenty of privacy. Stay away from the hectic hustle and bustle – but not too far away!

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What’s the cancellation policy?

One of the many great things about renting from us is the fact that you have a ton of flexibility. After paying your $50 deposit you can cancel any time up to 30 days before your trip. If you cancel with more than 3 days before your reservation, but less than 30 days, you’ll be charged for just two nights. If you cancel within 24 hours you’ll be charged the full amount of your reservation.

3 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

October 7th, 2014

Taking your toddlers to Disney World for the first time is a once in a lifetime experience that you’ll always remember – even if they don’t! But a trip with kids this young is not without its challenges. We came across a great article written by Taryn Mohrman that features some smart tips for traveling with toddlers. Head over there to check it out or read the highlights below.

orlandovacation_flying-with-toddler1.         How to fly with your toddler

There are many reasons flying can be rough for toddlers, including all the time you spend waiting in security, to board the plane, and once you’re on the plane – plus all the strangers and strange noises. Toddlers can easily get overwhelmed and this can lead to tantrums. The best way to handle this is to build positive anticipation for the trip by showing them planes flying through the sky. As you pack for the trip, back both new and old toys for them to play with on the plane.

2.         How to drive with toddlers

If you have a long drive ahead of you, the first thing to keep in mind is that it’s unreasonable to expect them to sit quietly for the entire trip. The key to minimizing discomfort is to distract them and frequently change up their activities. Try simple games like “I Spy” or tell stories. Books, playthings, and other toys will keep them busy for hours. You should also plan to stop at a rest stop every hour or two so the kids can run around and burn off some energy.

3.         Preparing your kids to stay overnight

Your toddler is likely to get overtired at Disney World and to miss the comforts of home. Before you take off, take a look at some pictures of the hotel together. Show your child the type of room you’ll be staying in and show them pictures of cast members dressed in their uniforms. When you arrive, allow them to get used to their surroundings before you try and force them to socialize. Keep their bedtime routine as close to normal as possible.

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Other Toddler Traveling articles please click here.

Orlando 101: Don’t-Miss Items to Pack for Your Disney Vacation

October 6th, 2014

You know what to pack for a family vacation: sunscreen, snacks, plenty of changes of clothes, bathing suits, etc. But there are some items specific to a Disney vacation that you likely don’t know about. Let’s peak at a few that will make your wallet happy, and a few that will delight your kids.

Bring a single golf ball

If you want to really impress your kids, and you plan to ride Soarin’, one of the most popular rides in all 4 parks, then bring a golf ball from home. This ride features a simulated hand gliding experience over various locations throughout California, and in one famous scene a golfer hits a ball right toward the riders. Have the golf ball in your hand, and when he slices it toward you hold your hand up and exclaim, “I caught it!” Your kids will be delighted as they think you did indeed catch the golfer’s ball.

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Bring a small red jewel

A similar trick can be done in the PhilharMagic show at the Magic Kingdom. During the Little Mermaid Scene, a red jewel comes floating out to the audience, or at least it appears to thanks to 3D magic. Keep the jewel in your hand and reach over to hand it to your kids when the scene comes on.

Bring an autograph book

There are characters throughout all 4 parks, and many parents are surprised to learn how much their kids love interacting with these delightful cast members. Each has their own unique signature and filling up an autograph book is a great way to bring an essentially free souvenir home. Assuming of course that you bring your autograph book from home. If you wait until you get to the parks, you could be spending more than $20 for a not-particularly-exciting book.

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Please click here for other Orlando 101 articles.