A place of action and adventure, Orlando truly is the ultimate family holiday destination. With numerous theme parks, expansive beaches, national parks, and a mile-long lake, Orlando surely packs a punch. It’s no wonder that around 50 million people visit each year.
However, because of the high levels of tourism here, it’s essential that you thoroughly plan your venture in order to avoid disappointment. From choosing the right activities to organising your travel arrangements and flights, we take a look at some of the most important tips to ensure you have the best possible family holiday in Orlando.
Choosing when to visit
Since the trip will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s crucial that you strategically pick when to visit. This doesn’t just mean the time of year but also the ages of your children. For kids who are too young to be in school, it makes sense to travel outside of the school holidays to avoid long queues and save money.
However, do note that most attractions in Orlando have height restrictions, so it is best to wait until your children are old enough if you want to go on the rides together – and since they’ll need to cope with long queues and warm weather. If you can, try visiting during one of the other school holidays rather than in the summer. Not only will this reduce your overall cost but you’ll also find the crowds are much smaller.
Booking your flights
When looking for flights, don’t limit yourself to airports that are only close to your hometown. Even if you need to travel a hundred miles or so and stay somewhere overnight to catch your flight, it may work out cheaper.
You can currently fly direct to Orlando from various airports in the UK, but this is often seasonal. Only London Gatwick, London Heathrow, and Manchester have direct flights all year round via airlines Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and Aer Lingus.
Flights typically go on sale 11 months in advance, so try to book as early as possible in order to secure the best value. While flying direct is much easier when travelling with young children, you can save money when booking connecting flights.
Deciding where to stay
Firstly, you must decide how long you wish to stay in Orlando. Remember, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to fit everything the city has to offer in one visit. While you can probably still include lots in your itinerary for a visit of 7-10 days, allowing two weeks to visit the main parks is advisable, and this will leave you with some days to rest.
Next, you’ll need to find a place to stay. With more than 480 hotels and resorts, as well as condos, campgrounds, and holiday homes, you’re guaranteed to find a suitable place for your family to reside for the next week or so.
If you’re visiting Orlando solely for the purpose of exploring its main theme parks, staying onsite and making use of the complimentary park shuttles is your best bet. Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, and LEGOLAND Florida all have various accommodation with their perimeters.
Should this not appeal to you, Orlando’s main tourist district, International Drive, offers a range of budget and luxury hotels. These are still highly accessible to SeaWorld and Universal Orlando but enable you to have some downtime days visiting other areas of the city and partaking in different activities.
Sort your airport travel
Another big tip is to arrange your airport travel as far in advance as possible since prices will rise and availability will decrease the closer you get to your travel date. There are many benefits to booking an Orlando Airport transfer for your arrival, especially if you have a larger family. Not only does it ensure convenience after a long journey but it also can break up the cost of travel.
Organising a transfer for your return flight home is also great for young children as it means you have transport ready fromthe moment you land. Additionally, it’s worth considering how to make your way around Orlando. If you’re not staying on the grounds of one of the theme parks, you may need to hire a car in order to travel.
Prioritise your ‘must-see’ attractions
Due to the high number of theme parks at your fingertips, it’s useful to decide what are your absolute ‘must-see’ attractions. Doing so means you can plan your time much more efficiently and the kids won’t be disappointed should they miss something important to them.
If you have a Harry Potter fan among your clan, a trip to Universal Studios is needed, whereas, for a Disney Princess or Star Wars enthusiast, Disney World is a must. For Disney World, aim to choose four or five attractions or rides per day – anything else is a win! Disney also offers a free FastPass+ system that allows you to reserve attractions in advance, which can help reduce the time spent in queues.
Other popular attractions include SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cave, which are the perfect places for little ones who love animals. Spark their inquisitive nature by attending whale shows, touch pools, and the interactive Dolphin Cove pool. In addition to this, there’s a large aviary on site where the children can see exotic birds and a tropical swim area to splash in the pools.