One of the biggest misconceptions about visiting Orlando is that it can’t be done on a budget. Even those who understand that there are many ways to save on a trip to Orlando assume that doing so will mean accepting poor accommodations, bad food, and an altogether subpar experience. The good news is that this is far from the truth.
Orlando vacation packages are available for all budgets
When some people take a vacation to Orlando, they’re looking for a luxurious experience and are willing to pay for it. However, those who are on a budget may be overwhelmed when looking at Orlando vacation packages that include meal plans, long stays at the overpriced Disney resorts, and non-discounted theme park tickets. The good news is that there are budget friendly options. Keep reading to learn about the best ways to plan a trip to Orlando on a budget.
Skip Disney resorts and save money with a nearby hotel
One of the simplest ways you can cut your costs down by as much as 75% is to skip the Disney resorts. You’ll hear all kinds of advice about how convenient they are but remember that there are non-Disney resorts within a mile of the theme parks – and they can cost as little as one-quarter what you’d pay to stay in a Disney resort.
Many of these good neighbor resorts offer the same amenities you’d expect from a Disney resort, including free shuttles, free parking, and even meals with Disney characters. However, you won’t be paying the huge premium you’d have to shell out to stay at a Disney resort.
Book everything together with Orlando vacation packages
If you pay for everything separately, then you’re going to pay more for your trip: It’s that simple. Instead, find a reputable company who can handle your entire package for you. This should include discounted theme park tickets as well as the cost of accommodations. Not only will you save money but you can also enjoy the convenience of working with a single company that knows the ins and outs of planning an Orlando vacation.
Don’t be tempted by dining plans
There are various dining plans available at both Disney parks and Universal parks. They allow guests to pay for their meals ahead of time, which helps some people feel as though they’re going on an all-inclusive vacation. They like the idea of being able to order whatever they’d like because they’ve pre-paid for their meals. There are actually a few reasons this isn’t a wise idea:
- If you stay in a suite or vacation home, you can prepare some of your meals yourself and save significantly over the cost of eating every meal in the parks or at a restaurant.
- No matter how it feels, the dining plans don’t allow you to “eat whatever you want.” They often include desserts and a soda with every meal. Do you typically eat that way at each meal? If not, then you may find it’s a lot more food than you want and you’re wasting what was supposed to be a good bargain.
- If you consider what you’d normally eat, even if you eat in the parks and restaurants for every meal, you are likely to come out well below what you’d pay for the dining plan.
If you want to pre-pay for your meals ahead of time, head to your local Target or other big box store to buy Disney gift cards. Pre-loaded with money, they allow you to eat in any restaurant you want, order whatever you want, and have already paid for it ahead of time.
Consider renting a vacation home vs staying at a resort hotel
Depending on the size of your group, you may spend much less if you rent a vacation home versus staying at an Orlando resort hotel. For example, a group of five that requires two hotel rooms will likely save money by renting a single vacation home. They’ll also each get their own bedroom and plenty of privacy – not to mention the fact that they’ll be able to make some of their own meals which further lowers their costs.
This isn’t the case for everyone though. A couple visiting Walt Disney World without kids likely won’t need an entire home to themselves, just a single parent with one child likely wouldn’t either. That said, Orlando vacation homes are just minutes from the parks and cost much less than most people expect.
Travel during non-peak months
If you have the luxury of traveling at any time of the year, travel during non-peak months. This includes most of January and February, late August, most of September, and the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’ll want to consult a crowd calendar to confirm the days you want to visit because there are spikes in attendance (and costs) during some of these non-peak times. For example, the Princess Half Marathon takes place in February and leads to much higher crowds that weekend.
Even if you’re one of the many people visiting Orlando during the summer months, whether it’s because that’s when the kids are out of school or that’s when your employer allows vacation times, following the other tips on this list are a great start toward fitting a trip to Orlando on any budget.