Orlando Trip-Part 2

 

This article is about the actual planning for Orlando. Which in itself is probably the BIGGEST part of the entire vacation. If you don’t get this right, then the whole trip will suffer. Ok, now that I have scared you to death, let’s have some fun!

I will break this down into 4 parts. Accommodations, travel (flying or driving), if you fly-rental car, and attractions. More than likely (depending on where you are traveling from and how many is in your party) the accommodations will take the largest chunk out of your budget. In my planning, it was just 3 of us-2 adults and 1 child. You can also go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/ to purchase a package that can include everything.

  • ACCOMMODATIONS-The very first decision you need to make is WHERE??? Do you want to stay on the Disney Resort, off the resort nearby or in a more central location of all the attractions? Obviously if you stay at one of the Disney properties, it will cost more. We stayed half of our trip in Kissimmee (since we also included other attractions besides Disney) and then stayed the rest of our trip in our timeshare on the Disney property. But if your main focus are the Disney Parks, it is the most convenient. On the Disney property, there is 6 categories of accommodations. Ranging from low budget hotels and campgrounds to Deluxe Villas. The lowest price is the campground where you bring your own camper/RV starting at around $49 per night. The most expensive is around $2,000 per night.
  • TRAVEL- Depending on where you are coming from and how many is in your party, will determine if flying or driving is better.   If it will take more than 15 hours to drive, I would suggest flying. However, if you have a lot of people in your party, you might want to drive no matter where you are coming from. For us 3, it was easier to fly and rent a car when we arrived in Orlando. If you decide to drive, make sure you have plenty of things to do for the small (and big) kids in your party. Anytime we do a road trip, I normally put together a scavenger hunt. First, it keeps the children interested in the trip instead of stuck in an electronic of some sort. Second, the competition of the hunt gives an incentive at the end. It could be the winner gets to pick the place to eat once at the final destination. Or the winner can get a prize at one of the theme parks (which can be a souvenir you would probably have bought anyway). Third, the adults actually get into it as well. It gives the whole family some bonding time. Even if it’s a competition, make it fun. Also, you can play the license plate game. That’s always a great one. I usually put all the states on the same page as the scavenger hunt so I can keep up with the plates as well.
  • RENTAL CAR-This is a no brainer, I’m sure. But make sure you rent a vehicle that is large enough for your entire party AND still have enough space for luggage and room for comfort. No matter if you are only using the vehicle to go from the hotel to the theme parks, you don’t want everyone to be cramped in and start the days out on a sour note. If you are planning on staying on the Disney property and only doing the Disney Theme parks, I wouldn’t bother renting a vehicle. There are shuttle buses, trams, and ferries to whisk you from your hotel to the parks. There is also a shuttle from the airport to the Disney resorts. But if you are planning on visiting other attractions in the area, I would suggest a rental car.
  • ATTRACTIONS- There are just too many to list. Here are the places we visited. All 4 Disney Parks, both Universal Studio Parks, LEGOLAND in Winter Haven, FL (about 47 miles from Orlando) and SeaWorld. We didn’t have enough time to do anything but the theme parks. My favorite out of all of these was Hollywood Studios at Disney. My least favorite-SeaWorld. The reason SeaWorld was my least favorite (my husbands and 9 year old sons least favorite as well) it just seemed so much smaller than the other parks and was more of a large aquarium to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was ok but I probably wouldn’t go back in place of any of the other parks. It just wasn’t worth the expense (my opinion). So before you get to Orlando, figure out the attractions you and your family want to do for sure. Leave a day or 2 open in case you want to just relax or explore the smaller attractions. After you decide which attractions, make sure you plan the days you want to go where. I know this sounds a little overboard but if you don’t plan correctly, you won’t be able to get the most out of the parks. HINT-If you stay at one of the Disney Resorts, there are days where you can either go in early or stay late. Beware though, a lot of people are in these resorts and more than likely the majority will be using those extra hours as well. What I did was try to steer clear of the days that offered these extra hours. Not every day has extra hours and not every park are on the same day. I planned more on the days that stayed open later for everyone. Yes, I know it sounds weird but it worked for us. I would suggest taking one full day for each park you visit. No Disney Park hopping. There is so much to do in each and every park. We started slow at the beginning of the week and ended with our longest day.
  1. LEGOLAND-This was probably our most laid back day. If your kiddos like LEGO’s, make sure you try this park. It was nice, not too big and not too small. We were able to get everything in and still leave early evening. That allowed us to rest up for the next day.
  2. Universal Studios-We did decide to get the park-to-park tickets for Universal. We did everything we wanted to do (and then some) in one park and then headed to the other park. These parks are a walk apart so it doesn’t take hours to go between them like it does at Disney. We ended the day doing some of the big rides at the other Universal Park. The 2nd day, we made sure to go to all of our favorite rides again and enjoyed the Cinematic Spectacular at Universal Studios. Check the website for show times. You can print off maps from the website and highlight or circle the rides/shows you want to do the most. I highly suggest this. On the back of the map, write down the show times of each of the shows you want to do so you can plan before you get there so you are not wondering around trying to figure out what to do and lose precious time.
  3. SeaWorld- Did this on the spur of the moment and was not impressed. If you decide to go, make this a half day and definitely before you go to the exciting parks so you won’t be let down.
  4. Disney Parks-There is a cool option to customize each parks map for the rides/shows and attractions your family wants to do. Go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/ and sign up for My Disney Experience. You can make an itinerary and customize your own maps according to your itinerary.

One activity we did in each park is look for the hidden mickeys throughout each park. Mickey’s heads are hidden all through the park. It could be in a shrub shaped as his head to lights glowing in the shape of Mikey. Check out this website to get some clues on where to find them. http://www.hiddenmickeys.org/HiddenMickey.html. There is so much to do in each park, I’m going to give you a few things that we did that some might not know about.

  • Animal Kingdom-One of the cool things we found was the Wilderness Explorers. It is based off the movie UP. A very fun adventure that includes ALL of the areas in the park. You pick up a field guide near the front of the park and it leads you to each location with fun self-guided activities. You collect badges for each group of activities. Go here to learn more about the Wilderness Explorers https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/animal-kingdom/wilderness-explorers/.
  • EPCOT-For the young ones who like the show Phineas and Ferb, there is an Agent P World Showcase Adventure to complete. You have to choose a country to play in but it takes you all over that country. It was actually pretty interesting, even for the bigger kids (aka, my husband). They give you a communication device that looks like a cell phone that you get clues from. You use those clues to find the next clues. Very interactive and it gets the kiddos excited about the country they choose for their mission. For more information, check out this link https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/agent-p-world-showcase-adventure/
  • Hollywood Studios-My son loves Star Wars and this extremely interactive activity put him right in the middle of the action. They train with a Jedi master and then get to fight Darth Vader. Jedi Academy chooses 12 guests between the ages of 4 and 12 for each show throughout the day. So if you want to participate, you must be at the ABC Sound Studio at the beginning of the park opening. This was my son’s favorite activity the whole trip so it was most definitely worth it. For more information, check out this link. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/hollywood-studios/star-wars-jedi-training-academy/
  • Magic Kingdom-This is probably the busiest park out of all the Disney Parks. Of course, it is probably the largest as well (my opinion). The castle alone is one of the most photographic locations out of the whole park (again, my opinion). So much to do at this park but one activity that I found out about is for both small and big kids (adults) alike. The Pirate’s League. Basically you sign up all the people in your party who wants to become a part of the Pirate’s League. At the appointed time, you go in and the resident pirates there (they really get into their characters) paint up your faces and you have the option of purchasing costumes (extra $). There are a range of pirate or fairy faces you can choose from. My husband and son got inducted into the Pirate’s League. The Pirate Characters make it very fun for all!!! We even were able to meet Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean (not the real Johnny Depp L ) but it was fun nonetheless.  To do this, I would highly recommend making reservations https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/pirates-league/

Jacob Pirate

As you can see, there is so much to plan and do in Orlando. I am a planner at heart but even if you are not, this trip is a MUST to plan. From experience, if you don’t plan your trip in Orlando, there will be a lot you overlook and it might be a little overwhelming when you get there if you don’t have a tentative itinerary. So I hope this article helps. Plus check these other sites out for more planning ideas:

http://www.visitorlando.com/plan-your-trip/

http://www.couponingtodisney.com/my-101-best-disney-world-tips/

http://www.thehandmadehome.net/2011/11/keys-to-the-kingdom-how-where-when/

 Most Importantly-HAVE A MAGICALLY FUN TRIP!!!!!!