10 Money-Saving Tips for Orlando Cruise Stays
If you're planning a pre- or post-cruise stay in Orlando, there are many ways to stretch your travel dollars. Here are 10 great budget-saving travel tips help you find deals, save money, and get the most out of your Orlando per- or post-cruise vacation.
1. When To Go: Orlando has many different seasons, some of which offer more values than others. The shoulder seasons of May, late August through October, and post Thanksgiving through mid-December are excellent times to visit Orlando. In addition, those are generally periods when good cruise deals are offered as well.
2. Where To Stay: There are plenty of great places to stay in Orlando for those on a budget, and hotel specials abound. Vacation homes, home exchanges, bed & breakfasts and campgrounds are other choices for cruise vacationers to explore. Large families and those who would like more space to spread out should take a look at All Star Vacation Homes in Orlando, as well as properties available directly from owners on HomeAway or at VRBO.com. Timeshares available through sites like RedWeek.com can also be a good source of low cost accommodations. Make sure to consider the time- and money-saving benefits of staying at one of the theme parks in your decision. Walt Disney World, in particular, has some great wallet-friendly hotels on property.
3. How To Get There: Airline tickets to Orlando can be expensive, so watch for sales, shop wisely, and try to be flexible on vacation dates and departure airports. A one-hour drive can often deliver savings of several hundred dollars on an airline ticket to Orlando. Check sites such as Kayak.com, Fly.com, FareCompare.com and others to shop for deals. In addition, make sure to check the websites of low-fare airlines such as Southwest and JetBlue Airways. Make sure to talk with your travel agent and search the Internet for money-saving Orlando vacation packages. Combining air tickets, hotel and theme park passes can often save a surprising amount of money.
4. Eating Out: Meals can account for a significant portion of the vacation budget. When selecting places to stay and eat out in Orlando, make sure to consider accommodations with kitchen facilities and look for "Kids Eat Free" deals. In addition, make sure to investigate the Dining Plan available with theme park packages at Walt Disney World. The Entertainment book for Orlando is another good source of savings on meals, as well as deals on attractions and other travel expenses. The Orlando "Kids Eat Free" card offers free meals for children at over 40 restaurants. These cards are included free with the purchase of every child's Go Orlando Card. Also, consider making lunch your big meal of the day when dining out. Lunchtime meal prices are often considerably lower than those at dinner. Many visitors also carry a backpack loaded with sandwiches, snacks and drinks when they go to the Walt Disney World parks. Lockers are available for storage.
5. Visiting Attractions: One of the best ways to save money on theme park tickets is to buy them in advance. Buying tickets online before arriving in Orlando can save not only money, but time as well. Check directly with each theme park's online site to determine their best ticket values and ask about any special promotions. Then, compare those prices with other sources and online ticket sales sites.
6. Getting Around: Transportation to major Orlando attractions is sometimes offered by Orlando hotels as a free hotel or resort amenity. If you are staying at the Walt Disney World Resort, the Disney transportation systems (monorails, buses and boats) provide free door-to-door access to all theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, and all 23 resort hotels. If you are staying at a Disney World Resort hotel, also consider using Disney's Magical Express, which provides free transportation from the Orlando Airport to Walt Disney World hotels.
7. Taking Advantage of Freebies: There are lots of free entertainment options at Walt Disney World. For example, Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground has a petting zoo and free nightly movies. Admission is free to the Harry P. Leu Gardens on every Monday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. This 50-acre botanical park features a butterfly garden and the largest camellia collection in eastern North America. Order your free Orlando Magicard, which provides up to $500 in savings at 87 Orlando area establishments including restaurants, local attractions, and other sightseeing.
8. Using Insider Secrets: If you are planning a theme park visit, staying at an on-property hotel can be a big plus. For example, guests at Universal Orlando's hotels enjoy free Universal Express front-of-the-line access. Guests at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can take advantage of Magic Hours. Each day, one of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks opens an hour early or stays open up to three hours after regular park closing as part of the free Magic Hours program for onsite guests. Most Walt Disney World Resort hotels also offer length-of-stay refillable drink mugs, good for unlimited free refills of coffee, soda, iced tea and hot chocolate.
9. Researching Your Stay: For those planning on visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, a free vacation planning DVD and free customized maps are available for each park so families can identify the shows, attractions and rides of most interest. Each of the Orlando theme parks also lists the height requirements for each ride on their web site; so checking ahead of time will help to avoid disappointments. Sites such as VisitOrlando.com, DisBoards.com, MouseSavers.com and AllEars.net can be a big help.
10. Saving Money by Packing and Shopping Wisely: Last-minute purchases of needed items can add up quickly. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, Band-Aids, water bottles, rain ponchos, a backpack to take snacks and drinks to the parks, and maybe even a waterproof disposable camera or a stroller. Also try to avoid purchasing souvenirs at the theme parks. Many stores in the Orlando area offer discounted souvenirs as well as money-saving coupons on purchases.
If you're looking for more ideas, visit www.familytravelnetwork.com for money-saving tips on Orlando vacations and additional articles on cruising from Port Canaveral.