Are you in love with theme parks? Then Orlando is your dream destination. Besides all kind of theme parks, there isn't much to do in or around Orlando. However, cities like Miami or Key West are only a few hours away. During summer, Orlando is characterised by a very changing climate. Until about 04:00 PM it is warm to hot, but then suddenly thunder clouds start to form. Not really a problem, unless you want to do some thrilling rides in a theme park... Most theme parks are required to shut their attractions down until the storm has passed over. Nice to have those safety precautions, but quite annoying when you're standing first in line... Orlando is loved by both Americans and tourists. The theme parks are probably the best in the world! Actually, there's something for everyone: adventurous rides, theme parks for kids, animal parks and water parks to cool off.

Orlando Universal studios

Universal studios in Orlando.

  Average costs

Stay – Accommodation in Orlando is quite expensive. That all has to do because you can’t just pick any place to stay if you want to be near the theme parks. Try to book accommodation around International Drive (I-Drive). Here you are in the center of all parks and you won’t need to pay too much to find transport to the parks. (There are plenty of busses or shuttle services around.)

There are no hostels around Orlando. This has to do with the fervent lobbying of most hotels. That way they don’t lose customers to cheaper dorms…

A motel is more than enough, because the theme parks are open from 08:00 AM until -sometimes- 02:00 AM (disney)! Motels start at about $35 (€33) a night, but to be located more in the center, you’ll probably pay $5 to $15 more.
Luxurious resorts start at $100 (€90).

A full list of accommodation throughout Orlando can be found on this page.

Eat – Eating healthy or very tasty food is hard in Orlando. You get flooded by fastfood chains in and around the parks. The advantage of this is that food is less expensive, and that of course is good when you’re travelling with a big family. Fastfood here definitely isn’t the cheapest from the country. It ranges from $8 to $15. At a restaurant you’ll pay about $20 a meal. Don’t forget to tip at restaurants! Adding 15% gratuity on average.

Transport – Public transport is quite good in Orlando. From International dirve there are lots of busses who bring you to the theme parks. Public transport, but also private owned shuttles. Public transport costs $2 a ride, just like I-ride or LYNX. If you take LYNX, you can travel the whole day for only $2,25.

Aquatica, een waterpretpark in Orlando.

Aquatica, a theme park in Orlando.

  Saving money

Book in advance – Weeks or months: the longer beforehand, the better. The cheapest accommodation is booked very fast and there aren’t too many throughout Orlando. To save tens of dollars a night, you’d better book in advance!

Buy your entrance passes elsewhere – Most tickets are (a lot!) cheaper when you buy them on-line instead of at the doors. Even cheaper than ordering them on-line are the many little huts and shops all around I-drive. The absolute cheapest way to visit theme parks is a combination pass. If you’re planning on going to multiple parks, this will save you 30%.

Take your water with you – It’s very important to drink a lot while being in the moist climate of Orlando. In theme parks they ask quite some money for a simple bottle of water or soda. So if you have a bottle with you, you can always fill it up with free tap water.

buy all-you-can-eat passes – Most theme parks offer all you can eat passes for just a little extra money. In most parks a hamburger already costs you about $15 (€14), and for only $15 more you can eat as much of everything as you want. Even drinks and desserts are free!

Don’t buy photo passes – Photo passes are available at most theme parks. There’s lots of photographers who run around the parks and who will snap your picture when you show your photo pass to them. If you have your own camera, just ask the people to take a picture of you. They don’t mind taking a picture at all!

Disney World in Orlando.

Disney World in Orlando.

  Do’s

THEME PARKS! – If you go to Orlando, you go to the theme parks. I liked both Universal Studio’s parks the most. But Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Sea World also where quite fun to do. Aquatica is nice, but during summer it’s just too busy and the thunder can be a deal breaker while mounting on these high water slides.

All disney parks are worth the money and time. The staff is just wonderful! So friendly, happy and helpful all the time! The staff of Universal are less loving their jobs, I think. Sometimes they even act a little bitchy.

Discovery cove (a second park of Sea World) is for everyone who wants to throw away a lot of money. Here you can swim with dolphins and fishes, but personally I don’t think it’s worth the money.etalen om tussen vissen en zelfs dolfijnen te zwemmen. Leuk, maar volgens mij het geld niet waard.

Gatorland is another animal park, where you can unleash the inner Crocodile Dundee with real crocodiles and other reptiles.

Single-rider lines – To save money, you’d better wait at the single-rider lines. There pretty much always are some vacant spots next to someone. Thay way, you can go on the attraction twice as fast. Single-rider lines aren’t found in every theme park.

Go early or stay up late! – To get most out of your money, you better leave early. In the morning, waiting lines are shortest and at the same time you just get more from your exciting day. Are you going to Universal Studio’s? Hurry up to the Harry Potter part. After midday this part is swamped with people.

In disney world people only leave after the fireworks have died out. Then (depending on season and/or holiday celebrations) you can have fun on all the attractions until 11:00 PM or even 01:00 AM.

Book a shuttle to disney – Most disney parks are quite far away from all the other parks. Most busses take a very long time to get there (more than two hours!) and the last returning bus already returns quite some time before closing. You better pay $45 to $50 (€42 – €45) for a retour shuttle (bigger families can rent cheaper private shuttles). At the same time you’ll get some valuable info about how you enter the park and what you have to do first to escape the crowds.

Sea World Orlando.

Sea World Orlando.

   Don’ts

Go too long – On many forums I read that you need to take at least two days for every single park. But personally, I really think that’s over stretching it. I completed SeaWorld, I did all attractions, I saw all shows (the orka one, I even saw twice) and I still had two hours left!

To see all of the different disney parks, you’ll need multiple days. On average one day a park.

For both Universal Studios theme parks I thought one day was sufficient, but you have to leave early in the morning.

The water parks (Aquatica, Adventure Island) are definitely doable on half a day.

Selfiesticks – In most parks they are forbidden, but the staff is not very avid about taking them all out. As long as you don’t take them with you on rides.
When I went to the parade in Disney’s Magic Kingdom a woman came to me and told me that selfie sticks are forbidden in the park. However, the rest of the day I didn’t get anyone else asking me to put it away.

Go-pro’s in water parks –  They’re not forbidden, but you can’t take them on rides. If staff sees you take them on a ride, they will ask you to go back down. So all that time waiting was for nothing…

The Simpsons in Universal Studios.

The Simpsons in Universal Studios.

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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