How to Plan a Trip to Orlando Theme Parks
A trip to Orlando, whether your first or fiftieth, is bound to be a ton of fun. However, getting everything together can feel challenging. There are many things to plan and following the right advice can make sure that your trip is as affordable and fun as possible. The following tips are designed as a step-by-step guide to plan a trip to Orlando.
Step One: Choose the dates you’ll visit
First and foremost, you’ll need to pick the dates to travel to Orlando. If you’re a family with school-aged children, then your options are likely to be limited. If you have the traditional holidays and the summer off, then visiting in the summer is the best option. It is busy, but the crowds are spread out. Christmas, New Years, MLK Jr. Day, and other holidays are actually some of the busiest days in the parks.
If you have more flexibility then there are some other things to consider. The prices are lowest in “non peak” seasons. This includes most weeks and days where schools are typically in session. The times with the lowest crowds tend to be September and some weeks in February. However, September can be extremely hot and there are often storms. In February, the weather is unpredictable.
As you can see, just picking the dates can be a challenge! You may also take additional festivals into consideration, like the Star Wars Festival over the summer, the Food & Wine Festival in the fall, or the Halloween and Holiday parties. No matter what time of year you decide to visit, there will be both pros and cons – but you can expect to have a magical time!
Step Two: Decide on what type of accommodations you want
The next step is to decide what type of accommodations are going to work best for your party. If you have more than four people then it’s likely your best bet is to rent a vacation home. They’re often more affordable than hotel rooms and they come with up to seven bedrooms per home. There are other advantages too, like private pools and chef’s kitchens.
If you’re a smaller group then you’ll likely want to stay in a resort. The Disney resortsare much more expensive than good neighbor Disney hotels. Make sure that whatever hotel you choose is within 15 minutes of the major theme parks you’re considering visiting. Some hotels also include free shuttle service to and from the parks.
Step Three: Chose the best Orlando package
Once you know when you’ll be visiting and what type of accommodation you’re looking for, you’ll be ready to take advantage of Orlando travel deals. There are many packages out there that are not only likely to save you money but will also make it easy to book your ticket. They can include things like tickets, shuttle service, accommodations, and more.
To compare one Orlando travel package to another, you’ll need to make sure you’re considering the fine print. Do they include tickets? For how many days? Do they come with park hoppers or park-to-park access? Do the tickets need to be used on consecutive days? This is not a situation in which you can simply skim the paperwork and call it good. Make sure you understand what each package includes before you choose the one for you.
A note about choosing the right theme park tickets
As you consider various Orlando packages, the best plan is to buy a theme park ticket that meets your minimum needs. For example, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World and aren’t sure if you need the park hopper option, don’t get it. Once you’re in the parks, if you decide you want to add it you can do it at that time. It will cost the same to add this option no matter when or where you do it, so it’s best to wait to see if you need it.
The only stipulation to this applies to both Disney and Universal tickets: You can’t do these upgrades after every entitlement on your ticket has been used. For example, if you have a four-day ticket, you’d need to upgrade before you used the fourth day of your ticket. Once you have your ticket scanned on that fourth day, your ticket will no longer be valid and you won’t be able to upgrade it.
Step Four: Get to know the parks you’ll be visiting
Once you’re booked it’s time to get to know the parks you’ll be visiting. For Walt Disney World, this means you’ll want to look into FastPass+, which is a system that is free to all guests and allows you to essentially make reservations for up to three rides per day. You’ll also need to investigate MagicBands and the parks’ policies on bringing in food and water.
If you’re going to Universal Orlando, then you’ll want to learn about their Express Pass option. This is not included and can cost over $100 per person per day, depending on how busy it is the day you visit. Like the ticket advice above, we recommend that you don’t include Express Pass within your Orlando package deals. If you get to the park and decide it’s worth the extra cash, you can add it then.