Orlando has the best theme parks in the world – think of it as theme park city. You’ll have heard of Universal Studios, Walt Disney World Resort, and SeaWorld, but there are lots of smaller parks too. Gaining entry to these themed wonderlands does start to stack up – which is why we’ve come up with this guide to getting the most out of Orlando for the least dosh.
Decisions, decisions, decisions
First of all – unless you’re an absolute theme park fanatic – you can’t do all of them. Walt Disney World alone is twice the size of Manhattan! If you want to save some money, then have a good think about exactly where you want to go. Decide which ones you have to visit, and how long you’ll want to spend there. This will guide you to only getting the tickets you need.
Early bird catches the worm
Booking online is one way to save some money, if you’re booking tickets for Universal Studios, you can save you up to £12 per person on the entrance price for example. You also get the added incentive of not having to wait in the long queues at the ticket window – meaning more time on the Transformers 3D ride.
That’s right we said it – coupons! Don’t be afraid of the word – they’re here to help. Booking online at the U.S Universal Studios site not only gives you savings on ticket prices, they send you a book of coupons to use at the park which can save you up to £90! Now you can hit the Harry Potter ride knowing you’ve got that bit extra in your pocket (just make sure it doesn’t fall out).
Wait a minute, adding stuff on costs extra money right? Technically this is true, but each theme park has more than one area to it, and sometimes adding on entrance for stuff like the waterparks while purchasing your main ticket will save you money in the long run. Rather than paying for it separately at the park for a higher fee. Pay a bit more now, to save much more later.
Trip of a lifetime
Whilst it might very well be the trip you never forget, do you really need the t-shirt that says so? Do you need to shell out a lot of money for a picture of your horror face whilst zipping around at 80 miles per hour on a ride? Theme Parks play on emotions when it comes to selling merchandise – don’t let Mickey Mouse guilt you into spending a bit extra on the Disney World mug.
That’s some package you’ve got there
Booking a package holiday to one of Orlando’s theme park resorts can be a handy way of saving some extra money. As well as saving on flight and hotel by booking together, the resorts often offer complimentary transfers to the theme parks and other extras such as express park entry, which means early entry and some queue jumps.
Lock it up
Once you’re inside one of the amazing parks, why not hire a locker for the day? This means you can carry more money-saving supplies to the park, but don’t have to put up with actually carrying them. Sun tan lotion comes to mind, you could also plan to take ponchos for the water rides and then store them here for the rest of the day. Lockers can also be handy for keeping foods inside so you don’t have to dine at the park restaurants. Just make sure they aren’t the type that go off.
It’s all in the timing
Going during the height of summer isn’t the only time you can visit the park. If you visit during off-peak seasons, then you can save money on everything from park entry to flights. The parks will also be quieter and you probably won’t have to spend half your day queuing for rides. Going just after the school holidays is a good idea, also check out holiday dates in the US and try and avoid those too.
The more the merrier
Why not go as one big ol’ massive group? Bring the kids, friends, friends’ kids, neighbours, the milkman… Big groups can make big savings. For example Disney’s US website is offering a free additional day in the parks when you book online for six people or more throughout June 2014. There are usually many of these deals available through the net and it can be a great way to save a bit of extra money – plus everything’s much more fun in a group right?
UK or USA
Most of the major theme parks have a US website and a UK one. It’s worth looking on each to see who is offering the best deals at the best rates before you book. The US site will always be displayed in US dollars so you’ll need to accurately convert them to work out which is cheapest.
Lookout for 3rd party ticket agencies. Often they buy bulk from the parks and can sell tickets on at a discount to customers. It’s best to use the theme parks official pricing as a good benchmark to see whether you’re getting a good deal or not. Research the agency first, most of them are legit, but wherever there is demand, there will be people trying to take advantage and sell a fake ticket or two. Have a look at our handy Real Deals, where you may just find a great Orlando theme park deal.
Exchange your money before you get to the airport – this might be a general rule of saving money on all holidays, but as you’re likely to be carrying cash around with you once you’re inside the parks, it’s a good idea to make sure you get the best exchange rates.
Downgrade your room, upgrade your wallet
If you’re not staying at one of the resort hotels, then aim for budget hotels. It’s likely you’ll be spending most of your time at the parks anyway. Why fork out on a super fancy plush hotel full of spas and tennis courts when you’re only going to spend a couple of hours there each day? There are plenty of decent quality budget options in Orlando bound to save some extra money.
If you’re planning in advance it’s a good idea to sign up to your park of choice e-newsletter. They often offer incentives to visit their parks throughout the year and this is a good way of getting some good discounts.