During the current cost of living crisis in the UK, deciding on a family holiday can be difficult. And yet, with the US lifting testing restrictions for all international travellers, many of us are ditching plans for staycations and jetting off abroad to sunnier climes such as Florida.
In fact, almost one in five of us (18.1%) plan to travel to the US this year. Because with the right holiday package, a family favourite destination like Disney World Orlando
doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And as three-time winners of Best Holiday Company to the USA, we can help you have an affordable Florida escape and beat the crowds from your first quote to flight home...
As with most things, booking as far ahead as possible is the way to go. This golden rule applies to everything from car hire to villas, so here are some more forward-thinking tips:
• Only hire a car for part of your trip.
It’s often worth booking a Disney hotel for part of your stay for the perks, like free shuttles to the parks. Or you could use the I-Ride Trolley to get about (psst, when you book with us, you’ll get free Trolley tickets. Keep reading for more details)
• Do your research on car hire extras.
Using mobile sat navs can be an unexpected cost. See if your mobile phone provider offers a data package, or try downloading a free navigation app which you can use offline. You can even book your car hire with us and add a sat nav at the time of booking from just £35 a week
• Avoid paying extra for an additional driver.
Most car hire companies throw an additional driver in for free when they’re your spouse. Check your policy before paying to add another driver
• It’s not always cheaper to collect your car from the airport
. Try checking hotel or off-airport locations. You can always catch a cab from the airport instead and pick your car up off-site
• Pay more for a prime location.
At first, this advice may seem like the most expensive option, but the closer you are to attractions - like Orlando’s theme parks - the more you could potentially save on petrol or taxi costs. This is especially important when staying at a villa, as hotels can sometimes offer free transportation. See more on this debate below.
Resorts versus villas
Be sure to do the research on accommodation. You can still find budget-friendly resorts at the heart of the action. For our theme park enthusiasts, there are Disney Value Resorts, like the All-Star Resorts and Pop Century. You still get the same Disney perks, such as access to the parks 30 minutes earlier than everyone else, which comes in handy for popular rides. Think about it this way – how much time are you actually going to spend in your room anyway?
Staying off-site in a villa has its own advantages, too. For starters, the upfront costs are usually a lot cheaper. Choosing villa communities such as Solterra
can be a way to secure cost-effective accommodation still in a prime location. Additionally, most villas offer free parking, unlike some hotels. And you’ll be closer to plenty of affordable restaurants and supermarkets, where you can pick up a meal for a lot less than in the theme parks. But, you'll have to factor in parking at Disney resorts, which is relatively expensive at $25 a day. So, if you're planning an Orlando theme park holiday, whether it's best to stay on or off-site often depends on how much you will use the parks.
Just like with car hire and hotels, it pays to plan ahead with your theme park trips. Follow our advice on how to do Disney on the cheap and get ahead of the crowds.
• Book Disney dining reservations months ahead.
You can secure your dinner and lunch reservations at Walt Disney World up to 60 days in advance. If you can't get the date and time you want, use the My Disney Experience app to check for any cancellations at a later time
• Utilise park apps to skip the queues.
For theme parks such as Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort Orlando, download the My Disney Experience app, and the official Universal Orlando Resort app to get the inside scoop on wait times for rides and to personalise your schedule
• Be selective with added extras.
Disney offers plenty of extras, like Memory Maker for capturing all your photos. But some packages include these extra for a discounted price. Currently, Disney are offering The Magic is Yours package
for 2023, which you can book through us before 29th September 2022. You’ll get 14 days for the price of a 7-day ticket, an extra $100 Disney spending money, as well as Memory Maker thrown in for FREE
• Save Genie+ for special days.
This is Disney’s new FastPass system, but at $15 plus tax per person per day, it comes at a cost. It is however often worth it for the most popular rides, like those at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
• Stay charged.
Don’t forget to bring a phone battery pack, as you will be busy capturing memories throughout the day, as well as using the park apps
• Bring a packed lunch.
You're allowed to bring food into the parks, which means you can bring lunch and refillable water bottles to top up at the water fountains. There are lockers at all the parks, too, so you can store your food until you’re peckish
• Pack your pushchair
. The cost of renting one at the parks can add up. If you’ve not travelled with yours, browse the supermarkets for a cheap one – you can usually pick them up for as little as $15
• Take advantage of the free stuff.
You don’t have to be staying at a Disney hotel to have a look around. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is an experience in itself with its resident zebra, giraffe and flamingos. Fort Wilderness hosts outdoor movies and a campfire sing-along every night. Plus, The Lego Store, at Disney Springs, is packed with interactive play tables and models
By booking with Ocean Florida, you can secure early bird savings up to three years ahead of departure. Customers can also choose flexible payment options, including spreading the cost of their trip until they fly - safe in the knowledge that once the deposit is paid, the price will not change.
We also offer free attraction tickets with every Orlando holiday. Known as our Ocean Explorer package, it's worth $440 per family and provides entry to four of our favourite family friendly outings...
You’ll get vouchers to ride The Wheel at Icon Park, on International Drive. It’s the tallest wheel on the East Coast, which means, on a clear day, you can see all the way over to Cape Canaveral. You'll also get I-Ride Trolley tickets, which is a great way to get around International Drive’s restaurants, shops and attractions, with more than 100 stops along its 11-mile stretch.
Next, we throw in a top-rated dinner show at WonderWorks on International Drive. It’s called Outta Control and features a mix of magic and comedy. Plus, it includes unlimited pizza, salad, beer, wine and soft drinks.
Or, you can visit The Mall at Millenia for a bite to eat or spending spree, using your $20 voucher. It’s home to stores, like Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic and Forever 21. Plus, you can dine at American classics, like Chick-Fil-A or the Cheesecake Factory.
What's more, as well as your money being 100% ATOL protected, you will have TTA insurance. This covers customers for up to £11,000 per person should a supplier cease trading, allowing holidays to continue as planned.
Ready to find your affordable Florida holiday? Browse our best deals and secure your booking with a flexible payment plan.