Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

*This post has been written in collaboration with

I will be 1000% honest with you when I say that Orlando in Florida really did not seem like the sort of place I'd want to go on holiday. My preconceptions were that it was very expensive and commercialised and the kind of 'forced fun' I try to avoid. But after our trip last year we well and truly caught the Florida bug and we're already planning a return trip in 2020. Orlando can be expensive and it's the kind of holiday that takes A LOT of planning so today I thought I'd share some of my top tips for getting the most out of your holiday. 

Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

How to save money (before you fly)

  • Don't fly direct - Our direct flights with Virgin last year cost over £1000 each (they were booked at the last minute). Although we enjoyed our direct flights with Virgin and would recommend, we're looking at booking as far in advance as we can next time. I've found that using sites such as Dealchecker and flying indirectly can really help you to save money. I found flights via Dublin for £1800 in total for the 5 of us using this site a few weeks ago which is a massive saving. 
  • Use a savings jar - Taking kids on holiday to Orlando is definitely expensive and we encouraged ours to save as much of their own money as possible for any treats they might like to buy over there. I'd recommend buying each child an unbreakable savings jar as soon as you've decided you're going to book up and encourage them to put any pocket or birthday money in there. It all mounts up! My three managed to save £200+ from April-August by helping out with chores and a few kind donations from grandparents.
  • Buy Orlando merch before you visit - There are some good deals to be had in Orlando (especially the malls and supermarkets) but the theme parks are generally pretty expensive. I'd recommend stocking up on Orlando treats before you travel - Primark is fantastic for Disney and Harry Potter t-shirts and accessories. I highly recommend following my friend Roisin from Disney Find over on Instagram for bargains and new products. 
  • Join the group 'It's Orlando Time' on Facebook. It's free to join and there are lots of insider and 'real-time' tips posted daily. It's also a great place to ask for any planning advice and share your excitement - no question is too big or too small. 

How to save money (once you're in Orlando)

  • Walmart is your friend! Visiting Walmart for us was just like visiting a visitor attraction if I'm honest. They are HUGE and sell everything from breakfast rolls to Harry Potter mugs, swimwear and toys. We bought breakfast and picnic items from Walmart and kept them in our in-room fridge. Breakfast at our hotel was around 50 USD for the 5 of us so shopping for our breakfast at Walmart saved us so much money. On a couple of evenings, we were pretty tired after the theme parks and didn't want to head out for dinner so just made up a picnic tea. Again, this saved us loads of cash. 

  • Visit FREE attractions - there are lots of free attractions in Orlando and it's definitely not all about the theme parks. I highly recommend spending an afternoon/evening at Disney Springs which is free to visit and a lovely place to walk around. As well as shopping and dining options, there's lots of free entertainment from LEGO building in the LEGO shop to free dance shows and rap battles. Old Town Kissimmee is also worth a visit for some free family fun. There's the famous classic and muscle car shows, free family movie nights, karaoke, singers and more. Check out their events calendar here for details.

  • Dining doesn't have to be fancy - Orlando is home to some fantastic restaurants and I think there's a lot of pressure to take in the whole Orlando dining scene but this can work out to be VERY expensive. We actually had a bad experience at what was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Orlando and some of our best meals that the kids still talk about today were in iHop, Wendys & McDonalds! Maybe book a nice restaurant for one or two nights but honestly, you don't need to do this every night, even if you're a foodie like us. 
  • Take a refillable water bottle - most parks will refill your water bottle free of charge. Buying water in the theme parks is around 2-3 USD for a small bottle so you'll save lots of money if you take your own bottle (plus it's better for the environment). Walking around theme parks is thirsty work and it's really important that the whole family stays properly hydrated - drinking lots of water is the best way to do this. 
  • Think about Uber - most of the theme parks will charge you for parking. Sometimes, it works out cheaper to order an Uber. We used a mix of driving and Uber and much preferred the option of ordering an Uber as it was hassle-free and meant that Steve could have an alcoholic drink with lunch. You can get a journey estimate using the app before you book which will help you work out whether it's worth doing or not. 

Top Tips for getting the best out of your Orlando holiday

  • Plan a theme park visit for your first day - yes you may be tired, but you'll probably be up at 4am  due to jet lag and you'll be excited to get started. Make the most of your first few days when you're likely to naturally wake earlier and book the biggest theme parks for these days - this way you can get there for opening, queue for the bigger rides first and really pack as much as you can into these days. 

  • Pool time in the evenings - most hotel pools will stay open late and I'd recommend booking a villa with a pool where possible. Kids love being able to relax in the pool after a busy day, even if it's just for 30 minutes or so. 
  • Pack at least 2 swimsuits - with daily swimming and waterpark visits, I think it's best to pack two sets of swimwear per person, especially if you're staying for more than one week. 
  • Check out Pinterest for printables - Pinterest is fantastic for adding a little bit of magic to your holiday at low cost. There's everything on there from themed envelopes to leave your housekeeping tips in, to masks, games for the plane and journal/scrapbook templates. I'd definitely recommend starting a Florida Pinterest Board asap. 

  • You can visit theme parks every day - I often read advice that it's impossible and too tiring to visit a theme park every day of your holiday but I think with the right planning, you most definitely can, especially if you're only staying for one week. We visited theme parks 5 days in a row and survived. We definitely could have made it 7 days in a row if necessary. I'd recommend adding a couple of waterparks into the mix which are a lot more relaxing than a traditional theme park and offer more of a chance to relax. 
  • Plan your day around show times - you're going to be on your feet a lot in Florida and breaks are super important. I recommend planning your day around and shows and rides that are indoors as the air conditioning and shade will be much appreciated! The shows in the parks are of a very high standard and not to be missed. 

  • All day dining can work well - a couple of the parks offer all-inclusive wristbands. We did this at Aquatica and it was great being able to help ourselves to as many drinks, snacks and food as we wanted. We squeezed in breakfast, lunch and an early dinner on this day so really made the most of it and for us, it offered very good value. I probably wouldn't do this at every park but it's good to throw a couple of all-inclusive days into your week as it feels very indulgent and is a treat not having to worry about the cost of food and drinks. 

Things to do in Florida for kids and grown ups

Planning a trip to Florida can be really overwhelming and it's super tough trying to decide where to visit. It would be impossible to do it all in one trip and I'd say don't worry if you can't do it all as it's very likely you'll want to plan a return trip. The folk over at Dealchecker have put together their top suggestions for places to visit which is a fab place to start with your planning:

Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

I'd love to hear if you have any top tips for visiting Orlando or if you have plans to visit in the next few years. 

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Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids



  1. Great tips Sam. The water bottle one is so useful and yes the parking charges can really add up!

    1. They sure do, especially if you're visiting the parks daily x

  2. Awesome tips! Especially liking the 'free' entertainment ideas and making the most of all inclusive food plans ��

  3. Great tips - it always seems a bit overwhelming trying to book a holiday in Orlando as there's just so much to do and see, and if you get it wrong it could be VERY expensive (or you don't get the most of your time)

  4. These are brill tips! I will use when we get to Orlando!

  5. Some great tips here! Love the McDonald's pic! Also love your lead photo!

  6. Sam, this is quite possibly the most helpful post I've ever read on visiting Orlando with kids! I've never been, and there are so many hacks in here that I wouldn't have thought of - like heading to a theme park on your first morning, which makes perfect sense, but I probably wouldn't have done that. If we ever get to go (which hopefully we will), I'll definitely be heading back and printing it off :-)

  7. Great tips - that's such a good idea to encourage the kids to save money too. I am so excited to take the boys there one day and this will come in handy

  8. Such fab tips Sam. Great tip to take a water bottle to refill, and I love the savings jar too- we do that and save pennies and put little notes in for kids achievements that we want to reward- makes a big holiday all the more special, it’s definitely on our bucket list

  9. This is great Sam! We went to Florida in October and are already planning a return trip - it's a bit addictive isn't it? We loved it there but there was SO much more we wanted to do. I'd not heard of Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens before or the West Orange Trail - they sound fab and I've added them to our list for next time we go. We took packed lunches into the parks too- it saved us so much money (and was probably a bit healthier too)

  10. Those first couple of lines is EXACTLY what I've always thought. But you've really made me reconsider - these tips are fantastic!

  11. Lots of great tips! We are planning on a big US trip next year - first stop - Granny's house in Florida! It's hard to drag them away from the pool, but there's a lot they want to see again too! :D

  12. I would not have thought about using Uber, so thanks so much for that tip. The Facebook groups are really fab for advice too


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