Where else can you stay at beautifully themed hotels hotels, dine at unique restaurants, experience world class theme parks and attractions, and get a nice tan?
There’s only one place – Orlando!
But as amazing as this may sound, not everyone can afford a magical Orlando vacation.
Or can they?
If there’s one city where you can experience all the incredible sights and sounds on a budget, it’s Orlando.
From ridiculously cheap theme park tickets for some of the most popular theme parks in the world to VIP service at some of the finest hotels and resorts in Central Florida, anyone, and I do mean anyone can have the time of their lives in Orlando without breaking the bank.
How to Save Money in Orlando
Here’s the complete guide to everything you’ll need to plan your budget friendly Orlando vacation.
From finding the best cheap hotels in Orlando near all the parks to finding discounted attraction tickets and more, here are 10 insanely easy ways for you to add a little extra magic magic to your Orlando vacation without adding on any additional dollars signs.
So with that being said, here are some great ways to save money when you’re planning your trip to Orlando:
1. Go Offseason
This may seem like a no-brainer but going off season is quite possibly the cheapest and emptiest time to visit Orlando. Not to mention the amazing weather during those times.
Here are some of the best times to visit Disney World, Universal Studios, and Orlando:
- Mid January to Early March
- September to early December (not including Thanksgiving week)
And if missing school isn’t an option for you and your family, the best time to come during the summer is:
- Late July to Early-Mid August
2. Book Your Vacation Early
By booking your vacation early, you’ll get access to cheaper hotel rates, more Disney dining reservation options, and cheaper flights.
Not to mention it eliminates the risk of your preferred hotel/resort being completely booked.
You’d be amazed at all the early booking specials that you can find in Orlando.
3. Stay Closer to Disney World than Universal
Generally speaking, you’ll find the best hotel deals and rates closer to Disney World than Universal Studios.
Heck, you’ll even find some great deals right near Sea World too.
So whenever you’re looking for resorts, be sure to look near Disney property first.
Rates are cheaper and there are more things to do down in that part of the city.
4. Buy Discounted Disney World Tickets
Who likes paying full price anymore? Here are some of the best places to find the best discounted Disney World tickets:
However, by booking through Undercover Tourist, you’ll get 1 day free when you buy a 4 day park ticket.
Click here to claim this awesome deal!
5. Buy Discounted Universal Studios Tickets
You can save $39 on tickets when you buy your tickets here.
6. Buy Discounted Sea World Tickets
Plus, you can also save up to $43 on Sea World tickets when you use this deal!
7. Buy Discounted Legoland Tickets
If visiting Legoland Florida is on your list, be sure to take advantage of the great ticket discounts available.
You can save $20 on single day tickets when you take advantage of this deal.
8. Stay at a Park Longer and Get Cheaper Tickets
When you purchase a multi-day ticket, the prices generally get cheaper the more days you add to it which is great especially if you plan on being at the parks (Disney World and Universal Studios) longer than 4 days.
9. If Spending Multiple Days at Disney, Skip the Park Hopper Option
Sure it may be great having the ability to jump from park to park during a day, but if you know that you’ll probably be at a park from open to close, this option is a waste of money.
You can save $25 to $33 when you don’t purchase the park hopper option for single day tickets.
10. Get an Orlando Explorer Pass
If you’re looking for just a few days exploring the city of Orlando and taking in the sights and sounds, then you should definitely considering getting an Orlando Explorer Pass.
This pass allows you to visit 3 or 5 popular attractions without paying gate prices.
All in all, you can save up to 35% just by using this pass.
Here are some of the places that you get access to when you buy an Orlando Explorer Pass:
- Orlando Eye
- Madame Tussauds Celebrity Wax Museum
- Gatorland: The Alligator Capital of the World
- Fun Spot America Theme Park
- SEA Life Aquarium
- Boggy Creek Airboat Tour
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
And many more!
11. Avoid Getting a Rental Car
Depending on where you’re staying and where you’re looking to go, renting a car in Orlando can be expensive.
With the emergence of ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, getting around the city, or even getting to and from Disney World and Universal is actually quite affordable.
You can easily visit all the nearby attractions and shopping areas using Uber and Lyft without having to worry about gas, parking, directions, etc.
And if you’re staying at a resort near one of the theme parks, most will offer a free shuttle service to and from the parks.
This ultimately makes having a rental car here almost unnecessary for some.
12. Eat off Disney or Universal Property
As much as it hurts me to say this, but eating off property is a lot cheaper than eating at any of the theme parks.
But thankfully there are tons of great restaurant options.
If you can think it, they have it.
If you still want to eat at popular Disney World restaurants without breaking the bank, here are some great resources that you must check out:
- How to Save Money on Food at Disney World
- 16 Best Cheap Eats Across Disney World for Under $5
- Best Disney Restaurants for First Time Visitors
13. Buy Disney Souvenirs Outside the Park
You can actually find some great authentic Disney merchandise outside the parks at discounted prices.
Here’s some of my favorite places:
- Disney’s Character Warehouse at the Orlando Premium Outlets
14. When Booking Flights, Look at Alternate Airports
A majority of people who fly into Orlando will come in through Orlando International Airport (MCO).
But did you know that there’s an alternate airport, called Orlando Sanford International (SFB).
You can generally find cheaper flights into this airpot on budget airlines like Allegiant for domestic travel and Thomson or Jet Air if you’re coming from the United Kingdom or Belgium.
Tampa and Jacksonville are also two alternate airports but they are both at least 1-3 hours away from Orlando.
But for the overall cheapest flights into Orlando, you can never go wrong with Southwest Airlines, especially if you use these money saving hacks.
15. Take advantage of some awesome Orlando military discount.
Orlando is home to some pretty hefty military discounts including a fantastic Disney Park ticket and resort discount, free admission to Sea World, shopping deals, and so much more.
Check out our full listing here.
16. Check Out Some of the Best Free Things to Do in Orlando
There are some great things to do in Orlando that are absolutely free. And the best part about it is that they are all minutes from Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios Florida.
Check them out in the next section below!
Best Free Things to Do in Orlando (and Disney)
Here are some of the best free things to do if you’re vacationing or visiting Orlando.
And unlike most of the lists you’d find about free things to do in Orlando, most of these things include great activities and sightseeing opportunities near all the action (Disney, Sea World, Universal, etc).
So with that being said, here are all the best free things to do in Orlando and near Disney World.
1. Disney Springs
By far the most popular free attraction in all of Orlando has to be the newly reimagined Disney Springs.
With over 70 unique shopping, dining, and entertainment options, you’ll never run out of fun things to do in Disney Springs.
Favorite spots include:
- Sprinkles Cupcakes
- LEGO Imagination Center
- World of Disney (world’s largest Disney store)
- Cirque du Soleil
- House of Blues
- Morimoto Asia
- And so much more!!
Plus you get free parking in the garage!
2. Magic Kingdom Monorail Crawl
I don’t know about you but I don’t mind exploring Disney Resorts.
If you’re on the same boat then you’ll love the Magic Kingdom monorail crawl.
Just by hopping on the Magic Kingdom Monorail, you can get front door access to some of the best Disney Resorts on property.
You can hop off at the Polynesian and enjoy some delicious Pineapple Dole Whip, explore the wonderful lobby of the Grand Floridian, or get some unique cupcakes from the Contemporary.
Then to top that off, you can take an aerial view of Magic Kingdom, all in the comfort of an air conditioned monorail.
3. Epcot Monorail Loop
This may not seem like much but if you’re interested at taking a quick aerial view of Epcot, then you should definitely consider just hopping on the Epcot monorail.
The best part about this monorail is that you actually ride through the park, thus allowing you to see all the famous attractions without actually stepping foot into the park.
4. Disney’s Boardwalk
By far the second best free place to explore in Disney World is the Boardwalk.
Here you can watch street performers, enjoy devious eats from the Boardwalk Bakery and Ample Hills Creamery, people watch, or my favorite, watch the sunset over the water.
Plus, if you want to explore even more, you can walk across to the Beach Club and grab some delicious ice cream from Beaches and Cream.
And if you time it right, you can even enjoy a movie under the stars.
5. Watch Fireworks from Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Did you know that you can actually watch the Wishes! Nighttime Spectacular from Magic Kingdom without evening stepping foot in the park?
It’s true! All you need to do is visit the Polynesian Resort and head over to the beach portion of the resort.
Just pop a squat in the lawn or near the sand and you’ll have great views of the fireworks.
If you’re driving your car, just tell the security guard at the gate that you’re getting Dole Whip (which you should do by the way) and they’ll let you in.
It’s so easy yet such a great free experience!
6. Chip ‘N Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long
At Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, you can join Chip ‘N Dale for a nightly campfire celebration followed by a classic Disney movie under the stars.
Sing songs and share hugs while you roast marshmallows and make delicious s’more.
You can bring your own marshmallows or get a s’more kit from the Chuckwagon Snack Bar.
7. Town of Celebration
Visit this beautiful town built by Disney where you can admire the magic of Disney living.
It’s a great way to spend a couple hours exploring this little town, just minutes outside of Disney World.
8. Universal CityWalk
Universal CityWalk is a multi-level entertainment complex that features shopping, popular restaurants, and some great nightlife options including Margaritaville and a nightclub.
You can even walk across the river and check out the world’s largest Hard Rock Cafe that’s also home to some iconic rock n roll memorabillia.
9. Old Town
Old Town is the re-creatopn of a classic Florida town at the turn of the century which features historical architecture, carnival rides, and over 50 unique shops, restaurants, and bars.
Plus, every Saturday night, you get to enjoy America’s longest running car cruise which includes hundreds of classic cars.
It’s a great place to experience classic Florida!
10. Premium Outlets
The best part about Window Shopping is that it’s always free.
At Orlando’s Premium Outlets, you can check out some great deals and discounts from some of the most popular and hottest brands in the world.
It’s a great way to kill some time especially if you have a few hours before your flight.
11. iDrive 360
Now there aren’t too many things to do here that are free but you do get to listen to live music (from afar during the night) as well as gaze at the always beautiful Orlando Eye.
Plus, if you get hungry you can pop on over to the Yard House or Shake Shack to enjoy some great eats.
And best of all, the parking garage is free!
12. Gaylord Palms Resort Atrium
Explore this beautiful atrium featuring plants and horticulture from the Everglades, St. Augustine, and Key West.
How Do You Save Money at Disney World?
There are so many special and clever ways to save money in Walt Disney World that we decided to create a separate guide just for that!
From finding cheap park tickets and hotels to saving money on food and activities, you’ll learn how to save money in Disney World without losing out on any of the magic.
So with that being said, you can check our Disney World money-saving tips!
Thanks for reading and hopefully this guide will help you save money during your next trip to the Orlando area!