Home to the 13th-busiest airport in the United States, Orlando is renowned as a tourist mecca, and rightfully so. While no one knows how the city came to be known as the “City Beautiful,” “City Phenomenal,” and “The City of Light,” Orlando got the nicknames it deserves. The city offers various entertainment options, from fascinating cultural sites and beautiful gardens to theme parks and vibrant nightlife.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of attractions and things to do, especially if you’re a first-timer. So, to help you plan your dream vacation to Orlando, we’ve outlined a few simple tips to get you started.
You cannot come to Orlando without booking accommodation. Like all first-timers, you won’t like to wander too far from your hotel. A study by the Hong Kong-based School of Hotel and Tourism Management found that the proximity of a hotel to tourist attractions significantly impacts how tourists engage with their destinations.
So if you want to be in the middle of the action, book a place that provides easy access to all the major attractions. Other than that, you’d also want to make sure you don’t push booking your accommodation to the last minute because you might not get what you need. Always pre-book! You can check out WestgateResorts.com if you’re looking for a nice place to stay in Orlando.
Plan what you want to do in advance
You may have a freewheeling lifestyle, but you’ll have to drop it for a while when planning your first trip to Orlando. With so many beautiful places to visit, you may get exhausted sooner if you don’t have a travel itinerary prepared ahead of time.
Apart from its world-famous amusement parks, Orlando is home to museums, theaters, zoos, historic buildings, luxury shopping centers, botanical gardens, and other family-friendly activities.
Orlando is also a great starting point for exploring the natural splendor of Florida, with its many options to experience pristine nature and biodiversity in the form of canal-connected lakes, bald-cypress swamps, saltwater marshlands, and pine forest trails.
Cocoa Beach, the nearest beach to Orlando, is located an hour to the east, whereas Clearwater Beach is located on the western Gulf coast and is closer to 90 minutes away.
Make sure to book a slot for all these attractions on your travel itinerary. Don’t have time? Don’t worry. Fortunately, there are many apps and websites to take the hard work out of your travel planning. They have templates to create a day-by-day itinerary based on your preferences. These online tools also suggest attractions and activities for you to do in your chosen destination. Making an itinerary online is ideal if you’re unfamiliar with the area and don’t have to wade through all the information available on Google.
Purchase combination and multi-park tickets ahead of time
We are sure you’ll want to visit as many theme parks as possible in Orlando. Combination tickets are the cheapest way to see all the parks you wish to visit. Buy them online and ahead of time to avail of early bird discounts. This way, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll also be able to visit multiple theme parks in a single day.
Orlando has eight major theme parks, each offering different price packages. Disney and Universal offer savings for purchasing tickets in advance and bundling days together. The more days you add, the cheaper a ticket becomes. Buying tickets in advance will save you over $150 in park coupons. You can also purchase single-day tickets when you arrive at the park, but it involves waiting in line, so not a good idea!
That said, we’d advise allowing yourself plenty of time to explore the activities and attractions. Try not to schedule too much in one day.
Avoid peak vacation times.
Orlando is a year-round destination. However, if possible, plan your trip to Orlando for the early fall months or spring when there are fewer travelers, and the weather is beautiful too. With over 50 million tourists a year, long, never-ending queues at the biggest parks and attractions can potentially ruin your vacation.
If you must go in summer due to school holidays, try to visit in late August when children are back at school and the crowds thin out. Other times to avoid are spring break (two weeks before and after Easter), Thanksgiving, and Christmas-New Year. Hotel rates are high during these peak times of the year, and rooms also book faster than usual.
Pace yourself for the tropical weather
You can never be fully prepared for the scorchingly hot and humid Florida weather in the summer months unless you have been there before. It’s called the Sunshine State for a reason. It’s warm and humid, even at night! Showers and thunderstorms frequently happen, if not daily, but they aren’t enough to tip the temperatures low.
Falling sick while traveling sucks the fun out of a holiday. After lengthy sun exposure, you might feel sluggish, achy, or simply under the weather. Be sure to pack shorts, light summer tops, hats, sunglasses, gloves, sneakers, and other comfy shoes. Wear sunscreen all day long, even during sit-down breaks between park hops. Drink plenty of water. Limit your intake of alcohol, tea, and coffee. Your body will thank you for it!
Think about your mode(s) of transportation
Renting a car or taking cabs are possibly the easiest ways to see all you want in Orlando, Florida, but there are other options for getting around the metro area. Public transportation in Orlando consists of the LYNX bus lines. Many hotels and resorts also provide free shuttles to major attractions and other sites around the city. However, shuttles require reservations at least 24 hours in advance, as the seats fill up quickly.
For your first visit to Orlando, you must pay attention to extreme weather warnings and alerts for wind, rainstorms, and lightning. Once in the city, there’s undoubtedly too much to see and do to fit all in one trip. There are eight major theme parks, five water parks, and dozens of smaller attractions, not to mention fantastic shopping, lively nightlife, and breathtaking nature reserves. Try not to rush amid all the excitement. Even if you miss something, you can always come back for more!
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Also read: The Orlando Lure