So this is one of the most difficult posts I have ever had to put together… No, not because I had an awful or sad time in Orlando, but because reliving all the memories makes me want to go back so badly that I quite literally could just break down and cry on the spot (bit OTT maybe? True though).
I guess that I need to give myself a good shake and realise that I am incredibly lucky to have been able to go back here without falling into a deep pit of debt (Spoiler Alert: Orlando is not the cheapest of places to have your yearly holiday!). As I know there are plenty of other people like me out there who would need to save for a number of years to go on a trip like this then I thought I’d put together a post to share my top tips for your first trip to Orlando (although technically this wasn’t my first time, but it was my first trip as an adult booking and organising the holiday myself). I will try to include as many little tips as I can to not only help you save a bit of cash, but also beat the crowds and get the most out of each day!
Top 10 Tips For Your First Trip To Orlando (Part 1)
Take Advantage Of Every Little Extra
Now, let’s get prepared, if you have to travel from the UK like me then this is going to be one big ol’ expensive trip and with that in mind let’s get started on what ‘freebies’ and extras you need to take advantage of…
First things first, do not waste $10-20 a day on water. Buy a multi pack of small bottles and several big 2 litre bottles from a supermarket when you first arrive and avoid at all costs falling for the extortionate prices of bottled water in the parks. In Disney in particular you will find water fountains on every corner and, not known to many people, you are entitled to free iced water in the parks- you only have to ask! Casey’s corner on main street is a favourite for regular visitors as it’s the perfect spot to grab a free large cup of iced water to sip on whilst saving a great spot outside for the parade in the- sometimes rather unbearable -Floridian heat! Other things to make note of and make sure you take full advantage of are things that are unique to the parks, for example; in your standard admission tickets to the Disney parks you automatically have three fastpast entries to use on all qualifying rides/shows per day (and the ability to use more each day once the first three time slots have expired), not many people realise this until it’s too late to book a time-slot on the busiest rides and be warned, they get booked up super early! Also, make sure to use things you don’t need to pay extra for; the day and nighttime shows, meet and greets with characters and the different modes of transportations to get into the park (the boat has to be my absolute favourite).
Don’t forget your snacks!
Contrary to popular belief you are allowed to take snacks into the theme parks, granted you can’t take lunch for four people in a picnic basket but you can take in bread rolls, crisps and general snacky bits- which really come in handy for all of that queuing that you’re going to be doing! This will also save you so many pennies compared to buying ‘Mickey’ shaped everything from the Disney parks (or 8 different variations of butterbeer from Harry Potter world if that’s more your thing)! Of course, treat yourself every so often but you’ll save at least $20-30 a day by being savvy with snacks and taking advantage of a kitchenette in apartments of having a big breakfast at the hotel.
Download Every Available App
If there is one thing I found during my time in Orlando, it’s that app’s can quite literally change your life. Download every single available app known to man for the parks, transportation and your holiday provider/airline. It takes your abilities to keep organised, at such a crazy place with a million and one things to do, to a whole new level! I highly recommend downloading the ‘My Disney Experience’ and the Universal Studios apps months before you are even due to go. This gives you a good chance to see the ride, parade and show wait times for different days of the week and also get a good idea of what timings you want to go with when you’re in the park (for example you may notice a pattern with some rides being quieter at certain times of day). The Disney app in particular is incredible, not only does it give you the opportunity to book your meals, fastpass entries, show times and ‘favourites’ organised within one application, it is also absolutely invaluable when you’re finally in the parks, as it gives you instant access to all wait times, closures and fastpass reminders. I absolutely loved it!
Be flexible With Your Plans
Okay so going slightly against my biggest tip (get organised, make a plan and make it early!), it’s also just as important to be flexible with your plans once you get there. A piece of advice I would give to anyone going to Orlando is to adapt your plans depending on the weather, which is known to be rather erratic at times!
For example, for our trip I had planned to spend only one day (the last full day) at the Magic Kingdom. The plan for our first day was to wander up international drive then spend a couple of hours by the pool at the hotel. However, when we arrived into Orlando from Miami on the first day the weather changed quite suddenly, it went from warm sunshine to heavy thundery showers. We were then faced with either spending the day chilling out at the apartment or finding something ‘weather friendly’ to do. It struck me that I had read in countless guides that the parks were known to be much quieter during thunder/heavy rain storms, despite the fact they rarely lasted long. Most people ventured to the famous Malls or took it as their ‘rest day’, so I persuaded Stephen that the best plan was to head to the Magic Kingdom and take advantage of the quieter crowds- and it really paid off! When we arrived at the park we popped an extra day onto our tickets at a fraction of the price for a single day and managed to get on every ride we wanted with minimal queing- which worked out well considering the park was incredibly busy when we went back again on our last day and we only managed to get on half the rides the second time around!
No Car? Uber Everywhere
Unlike most people who visit from the UK we chose to not hire a car during our trip. I knew deep down that a place like Orlando would be incredibly easy to get around and luckily when we were in Miami we were introduced to and highly recommended to use Uber everywhere we went (which we had heard of previously) and without a doubt it was one of the highlights of our trip! Now that we have used Uber in Orlando, I can’t understand why every person that visits wouldn’t take advantage of it at some point as a means of transportation. I loved everything about it; the ease of the app, the rating system, the cheap cost (far cheaper than paying to leave your car at the parks all day long!), the friendly locals, their amazing tips and most of all, the incredible people we got to meet and the stories we got to hear!
So there you have the first five tips for your first trip to Orlando- Part 2 will be live soon!
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Travel often (and if you’re going to Orlando then take me in your suitcase please!),