As the cost of living keeps climbing, we’re all trying to cut back and become more budget-conscious. While every little saving helps, it’s also important that we plan for something enjoyable, especially if we’re savvy about saving money. That's why we've gathered a few top tips from our Travel Experts, from airport arrivals to Disney merchandise and discounted dining, to help you have a wallet-friendly Orlando holiday in 2024 and beyond...
Sign up for Pre-departure Offers
Make sure to register yourself on the mailing lists for specific restaurants, cafés, and stores about two weeks before you arrive in Orlando. Their email newsletters will almost always include codes and vouchers for delicious savings that you can make the most of when in-resort.
Explore Your Arrival Airport Options
When looking for flights to Orlando, you can find more budget-friendly alternatives compared to arriving at Orlando International Airport (MCO). It's worth considering flights to Tampa
, which is just a 90-minute drive away and typically offers more affordable transatlantic flight options. This can be especially advantageous if you plan to hire a car, as you can collect your rental and then drive directly to Orlando.
Looking to Skip the Line at Universal Orlando Resort?
If you're eager to skip the lines and dive right into Universal Orlando Resort’s
most exciting rides, consider getting yourself a Universal Express Pass. However, here's an insider tip: Guests staying at Universal Premier Hotels receive this sought-after pass as part of their stay. So, instead of shelling out for both a Universal Express Pass and a hotel room, why not book a single night at Loews Royal Pacific Resort
, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
, or Hard Rock Hotel®
Loews Royal Pacific Resort - Universal Orlando Resort Premier Hotel
Not only will each person in the room get a free Universal Express Pass, but you'll also enjoy the additional perks of staying at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel
, such as Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for up to one hour and complimentary park shuttles.
Did you know you can enjoy free car parking at Universal Orlando Resort if you visit on non-Halloween nights after 6pm? Many people love to go to the Universal parks in the early evenings to make the most of cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, plus there are still loads of things going on like the bars and nightclubs at Universal CityWalk
or a jam-packed programme of spectacular shows and night-time entertainment at Universal Studios Florida
and Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Meanwhile, the Walt Disney World parks
take an altogether ‘Disney’ approach: singing for your parking. It’s not guaranteed but if you approach the car parking booths at Walt Disney World with a vehicle full of passengers singing their favourite Disney tune, you may very well be granted free parking - it’s definitely worth a try!
Character Dining Options
At various Walt Disney World hotels and park locations you can book an unforgettable character dining experience where you will be joined by your beloved Disney characters while you eat. Although a paid-for added extra, we recommend booking the breakfast option as it is usually almost 40% cheaper than lunch and dinner!
BYO Drinks to Disney
The warm Florida
weather coupled with all the queuing for rides means you’re likely to get through an inordinate number of beverages during your time in the parks. But did you know, Walt Disney World Resort allows you to bring your own (non-alcoholic) drinks and food into the parks? While it may seem like a faff to prepare, you’ll thank yourselves later when you’re thirsty and stuck in a line. Plus, you can eat when you want and avoid busy restaurants during peak hours, conveniently when the rides are a little emptier.
Shop Disney UK
If you are looking for Walt Disney World souvenirs without worrying about how you will get it all back in your suitcase, visit Shop Disney UK
. This excellent online store offers a wide range of official Disney merch directly from the parks, and at certain times of the year, you can take advantage of 40% off in their fabulous sales!
Disney Shopping in Orlando
Resist the urge to purchase the very first item you come across at Walt Disney World and instead set aside a day to explore Disney's Character Warehouse at Orlando Premium Outlets. This hidden gem presents a vast selection of merchandise, including Spirit Jerseys, seasonal products, high-end fashion, jewellery, and even items sourced from various Disney parks across the globe, all available at substantial discounts.
If you are marking a special occasion, let the staff know as both the Universal and Disney parks offer free ‘I’m Celebrating’ pins. Though there is no guarantee, wearing one of these cute pins could be a great way to receive the odd freebie to help you celebrate while you’re in-resort.
Press a Penny
Locating and using one of the several ‘Press a Penny’ machines around Walt Disney World Resort is a fantastic way to commemorate your trip, and possibly one of the cheapest but coolest collectable souvenirs in Orlando. Pick from loads of designs that feature your favourite characters and look out for special Disney100 coins in various locations throughout the park.
Make Your Own Autograph Book
Engage in a pre-departure activity that's bound to heighten the little one's excitement and is perfect for rainy days. Unleash your creativity and craft your own autograph book, a budget-friendly alternative to the official Disney version.
A top tip: when approaching characters for their signatures, be sure to bring your own pen. Opt for a slightly thicker pen with better grip, making it easier for the characters to handle.
Order from the Kid’s Menu
It's not at all surprising that portion sizes in America are often quite large. Instead of ordering a regular-sized meal and leaving half of it uneaten, a practical alternative is to order from the kid's menu. This way, you'll receive a more manageable portion at a lower cost. Plus, you can count on finding options that are not only well-suited for kids but are also sure to please your taste buds.
Ocean Florida Savings Card
Our valuable VIP Shop & Dine4Less card
helps you improve the cost-effectiveness of your holiday with up to 25% off selected dining as well as shopping discounts and a low-cost eSIM to keep you connected. What's more, this nifty card partners with some of Florida's most reputable stores and restaurants, so you win on price and quality. Here's what's on offer:
- Save up to 25% off your entire bill at over 40 restaurants
- Shopping and attraction discounts
- Valid for up to 4 people within 30 days
- Unlimited usage
- Enjoy unlimited data from $3.60/day or less – half the cost of most UK providers
For optimum use, download the app to find participating venues, get directions to them, and use the savings calculator to stay on top of your finances.
Hotels with Kitchenettes
Universal's Endless Summer Resort
If you are staying in a hotel, go for a room with its own kitchenette where you can. This way, you can have basic groceries delivered by a local store or even Amazon, then enjoy breakfast in your room before heading out for the day.
Enjoy Slower Days
Finally, this might sound radical but have a day off theme parks. Not only will you need those restful days to recharge but you’ll save money! There is a multitude of incredible things to see and do in Orlando outside of the parks and it would be a crime to miss them.
For example, plan a visit to Old Town Kissimmee
and enjoy one of its many car cruises – from classic cars to American Muscle – or you can catch an open-aired movie under the stars and enjoy local street entertainment by wandering and exploring the area at your own pace.
There is so much to do and see in the Orlando area that doesn’t involve spending extortionate amounts of money. And with our handy tips above, you should be able to save on those extra little moments of joy that add up to make your dream vacation.
For more insider knowledge and help with planning and booking your 2024 Florida holiday, check out our best Orlando deals or enquire online.