Six Ways to Travel to Orlando on the Cheap

Craving some sun and sand but short on cash? Here is our guide to exploring Orlando while sticking to a budget.
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Orlando, Florida skyline
Orlando, Florida skyline  (iStockphoto)

Home to sightseeing blockbusters like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and LEGOLAND Florida, Orlando is America’s theme-park capital. Thus, it’s also one of the most popular family destinations in the country. In planning a trip to Orlando, you’ll discover that hefty theme-park admission fees will take a bite out of your budget. For example—at press time—a base ticket to Disney World cost $85 per person ages 10 and up ($83 ages three to nine). And all that dazzling branded merchandise you pass going from ride to ride is catnip to kids. Don’t fret: Despite the big ticket costs, it's easy to do Orlando on the cheap. Just follw our lead.
Orlando Travel Guide

Visit during “Deal Season”
Although the tourism industry percolates year-round in Orlando, the city has a couple of “deal seasons” when rates dip and attractions offer significant discounts. In general, these seasons run from January 2 to mid-February, and from mid-August to the end of September. Think “times when the kids have just gone back to school.” The month of September is also Orlando’s “Magical Dining Month,” when many of the city’s top eateries offer three-course prix-fixe dinners for $30. However, note that late summer and early autumn in Orlando can be hot and humid and fall smack in the middle of hurricane season—which makes visiting during that time a bit of a weather risk, but great for seeing Orlando on a budget.

Shop for package deals
You can find great deals on online travel-booking sites such as Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz. These sites sell vacation packages to Orlando that can include airfare, lodging, rental car, and even park admission at varying discount rates. If Disney World is the focus of your trip, scour the resort’s array of online packages at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com.

Save big on accommodations
With some 115,000 hotel rooms, Orlando offers competitive rates in even the busiest seasons—although booking well in advance is advised for high-season stays. Just about every major chain is represented here, so good deals can be yours for the picking. Even Walt Disney World offers a number of competitively priced on-site lodgings in the park’s three All-Star Resorts and Disney's Pop Century Resort. Staying within the confines of Disney World lets you save in other ways: Guests enjoy extended park hours, complimentary self-parking, free transportation around Disney World—whether by monorail, ferryboat, or shuttle—and complimentary transfers between the resort and the airport. But you can save even bigger by staying outside the theme park gates in one of the officially sanctioned “Good Neighbor Hotels.” These solid choices nearby offer rates up to 40 percent cheaper than Disney resort lodgings—plus complimentary shuttle services to and from the Happiest Place on Earth.

Published: 18 Oct 2012 | Last Updated: 14 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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Best Hotels in Orlando

$107-$120
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#2
The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne
$179
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#3
Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown
$119
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#5
Crowne Plaza ORLANDO-DOWNTOWN

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