Can't Do Overpriced Orlando This Year? Think Again with These Money Saving Tips
Orlando is the most popular summer travel spot for 2011, according to travel site Orbitz.com. Last year the city welcomed a record-breaking 51.455 million visitors and could top that this year. So if you're one of the millions heading south this summer to the Sunshine State, check out these great tips for saving money on your trip to Orlando.
Head to Wal-Mart
To some people, paying Wal-Mart a visit may not sound like a relaxing vacation activity. But in Orlando, it can save you big bucks. "Souvenirs at the parks were outrageous so we saved about $150 by shopping local stores like Wal-Mart who has a whole souvenir section of their store," says Amy Stewart of MoxieMommas.com. "I'd say overall we saved at least $1000 by planning ahead, researching and doing some things a bit differently. The kids had a great time and that's what really mattered!"
Sure there are plenty of deals to be found online, but Angie Barnes says talking to someone directly at the Sheraton Vistana Resort worked like a charm. When she discovered she wasn't eligible for a "Book 2 Nights Get 1 Free" promo she found online she picked up the phone. "I asked if there were any other discounts I was eligible for. They went through a whole list," she says. But Angie wasn't eligible for any of them. "Then she said, 'I do have a working advantage rate I can give you.'" Angie was able to get a 1100 square foot, two bedroom, two bath villa with a full kitchen and a washer and a dryer for $99 a night, regularly $180. "I'm a firm believer, it never hurts to ask and to speak with someone directly," she says.
Consider In-Park Meal Plans
Krista Hull became a Disney expert the hard way-- hours and hours of research. But she says it's paid off. She's become so passionate about the topic she even wrote an e-book to help others plan and save during their trips to the happiest place on earth. She's a big fan of the Disney Dining Plan at Orlando's Disney World because she pays a flat cost for food making it easier to budget. "I don't want to eat donuts in a hotel room on vacation: I want to dine with Princesses or Donald Duck!" she says, but the themed restaurants can be pricey. "So my family always buys the Disney Dining Plan and then we plan out our week ahead of time from home, being sure to make Advance Dining Reservations so we can use our allotted meal credits in the way that best serves us!" Keep in mind you have to stay at a Disney property to be eligible for this deal.
The Go Orlando Card gets you in to over 50 top Orlando attractions and saves you up to 55% off the cost of separate tickets. Sarah Weddle with Smart Destinations says most people focus on saving money on lodging and food, but this is a great way to cut costs on entertainment. "These are very popular with travelers because the cards are one of the few ways to actually save on attraction visits," says Sarah. "Surprisingly there are really no restrictive rules with the cards." From June 20-July 1, all 3, 5 and 7-day Go City Cards will be on sale at an additional 10 percent discount.
Get Help From Free Apps
UndercoverTourist.com has sold hundreds of thousands of tickets to amusement parks, saving park visitors nearly $2 million in cash and more than 350,000 hours in vacation time. The websites launched free Smartphone apps for Disney and Universal Orlando that will help you save time and money during your trip. The app promises to help you reduce the amount of time you spend waiting in line, so you have more fun without spending more money.
Look for Free Add-Ons
With millions of people heading to Orlando each year, hotels often compete for your business by offering extra perks. This summer the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando are offering free Disney tickets when you book hotel stays. For instance, when you stay two nights you receive a free one-day Disney theme park ticket, stay four nights and you'll score two free tickets. A six night stay earns three free park tickets. Since a ticket to Disney can cost about $80 this is a pretty nice freebie.