A trip to Orlando is by no means a cheap deal anymore, gone are the days of a great exchange rate, cheap flights and cheap theme park tickets. So we have listed some of the best ways we have found to save some money when booking and planning your next trip to Orlando.
In general booking flights as far ahead before your holiday means you will get the cheapest fair, rarely now will you get a cheap last minute deal on flights on their own with the prices usually only increasing as the date gets closer.
Checking Skyscanner.net is always the first stop when I book a trip, it will pull together all the available routes for your trip, such as Glasgow to Orlando – it will find routes with all major airlines including stopovers (which can usually work out cheaper, plus if you connect in Dublin you can clear U.S. Immigration before boarding the plane, saving a lot of time when you land.
There is also the option to book package holidays, which tend to include flights, car hire, accommodation and tickets – but we usually always find them to be more expensive than booking everything separately – plus you don’t always need everything included in the package like the car hire.
This can be the biggest variance depending on your specific requirements and preference. The biggest difference will be if you want to stay at a Disney World Resort or in Orlando and the surrounding areas. There are nearly 25 Disney World Resorts which range from £99.00 per night into the £1000’s there is a budget to suit everyone. Parking is now charged per night, but is still included at the parks which is one cost to consider, starting at $15.00 per night it can add up quickly. There is also free Disney Transportation across the whole resort so with or without a car there is no need to worry about driving. One other point to mention is if you include the Disney Dining Plan, which can only be included if you stay at a Disney Resort, but more on that below. The other great benefit is free transport to and from Orlando International Airport, which saves a fortune.
If you stay outside of Walt Disney World you can pick up a decent hotel room from around £40.00 per night about 20-30 minutes drive from all the main parks in the area. Parking is usually free, but then you have the commute to the parks each day, with charged parking at each of the parks. Staying in the Orlando area, such as International Drive can open up a whole host of different attractions which you might not be aware of if staying at Disney (its very cut of from the rest of the world, you are at Disney World, not Orlando!) such as Sea World, Legoland, The Kennedy Space Centre and some of the best beaches in Florida around an hours drive away and gives access to much cheaper restaurants that don’t charge the expensive theme park prices.
One other option would be to hire a private villa, which are usually around 30 minutes drive from the main parks – this is an excellent way to keep costs down with most villas having a full kitchen so you can prepare some meals to save on dining out.
Theme Park Tickets
There are so many ticket options, and parks to choose from, but for the best deal always go direct to the official websites, and buy in advance of travelling.
For Walt Disney World the best deal is the 14 Day for the price of 7 Day ticket direct from Disney – it includes everything you will need, all parks, park hopping and waterparks which is currently £449.00 for adults. A lot of money upfront but for 14 days access to some of the best theme parks on the planet it is still a great deal – considering a single day ticket is around $130 (£105.00).
If you are including time at Universal Studios, the ticket options here depend on if you would be visiting the new waterpark, Volcano Bay or not but currently either the 2 or 3 Park Ticket is £307.00. Again there are other options available, but if you plan on visiting 3 days or more then the 14 day ticket is by far the best value.
Never buy one day, single park tickets at the front gates to the parks, it is always the most expensive option (plus you have to stand in line before you get into the park to buy them) and it then costs you extra if you want to visit more than one park in the same day.
As I mentioned above Disney will offer Free Dining Deals for travel the following year, (currently available throughout most of 2020) after crunching the numbers this has worked as the best, most cost effective option for us in the past few years. You have to stay at a Disney Resort, and have Park Tickets, but then all dining is including, 2 meals per day, 2 snacks and a refillable mug. Depending on which Resort you choose can change the dining inclusions, but generally speaking you can eat at any of the dining options throughout the whole resort. Anything from a bag of popcorn up to lobster is included. Without this offer, we wouldn’t be able to stay outside of Disney, pay to travel in each day and for meals each day, the difference between Disney Resorts and outside hotels isn’t that great overall to justify it.
Without the dining plan, in park dining can get very expensive very quickly. Dining at the parks is not cheap, with many families opting to take food with them into the park (but Disney especially has began to clamp down on this). If you stay outside of Disney there are much more affordable restaurants in the main tourist areas, with an endless list of chain restaurants and local options. This is always something worth considering when you begin planning and budgeting for a trip, as the cost of food can add up very quickly and blow a sanding budget in no time.
- Take advantage of any Free Disney Dining offers, the most cost effective way to visit the parks and helps so much with budgeting.
- Book flights as far in advance as you can to secure the best deal.
- Balance the number of days you want at each park and make sure you are getting the best deal with your tickets.
- Don’t hire a car if you don’t really need one, Uber is really cheap if you stay at Disney and want to venture to the other parks or attraction’s in Orlando.
- Get a refillable mug in the parks, they will save you a fortune with heavily discounted or free refills.
- Don’t waste money on Express Passes at Universal Studios, lines are usually manageable, only on exceptionally busy days would I recommend these.