While you don’t have to plan your days in Orlando down to the minute, it certainly helps to have a general idea of what you’ll be doing day by day. Identifying your priorities at the outset is the easiest way to ensure that everyone in your family has a hoppy time on vacation. This is especially true if you’re visiting during summer, holidays and the other busiest times of the year. A little planning goes a long way, which is why we created our Quick Start Guides for all the Orlando attractions. These guides are packed with the key information to help you have a great time.
Theme Park Tips
- Orlando’s major theme parks are all located within about a 15 mile radius. Walt Disney World® Resort is located in Lake Buena Vista, about 20 miles southwest of downtown Orlando. Universal Orlando® Resort and SeaWorld Orlando are located within the International Drive resort area, about 13 miles northeast of Lake Buena Vista and ten miles southwest of downtown.
- Get the best deal on theme park tickets by purchasing them ahead of time. You can buy them all in one place from Magical Getaway here https://goo.gl/HVvCed .
- Want to dine with Mickey, Minnie or one of Disney’s other famous characters? Make reservations as soon as possible. Character dining experiences at Walt Disney World® Resort and other theme parks are popular and tend to book up months in advance.
- Theme parks offer guided tours and guidebooks in a number of languages. Contact the park directly for more information.
- The closest beaches to Orlando are Cocoa Beach, Canaveral National Seashore and Daytona Beach, all about an hour and half drive away. Cocoa Beach can be reached via Toll Road 528 and Canaveral National Seashore can be accessed by taking SR 50 east to US1. Daytona Beach can be accessed via Interstate 4 (I-4) East.
- Florida’s tranquil west coast beaches, including St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach and Tarpon Springs, are only about a two hours’ drive away via Interstate 4.
- Families looking to cool off will be happy to know Orlando is home to the world’s top water parks including Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Better yet: Orlando water parks are open year around. You can contact us at 800-608-1554 to buy tickets.
Kennedy Space Center
- Visitors interested in Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex should know the center is about an hour’s drive east of Orlando, easily accessible via Toll Road 528. Several private shuttle companies provide transportation to and from the center.
Places to Stay
Vacation Homes and Suites
- Looking to stay longer than a week? Have a big family? Consider a vacation rental. Ranging from one-bedroom villas to five-bedroom (and up!) homes, rentals offer the convenience and amenities of home, often at a great value.
- Families or groups traveling to Orlando can opt for one of many spacious hotel suites. Found at all price points, suites often come with convenient amenities like kitchenettes, separate living rooms and washer and dryers.
- Visitors that want to stay in the heart of it all can opt for the International Drive Resort Area, Orlando’s main tourist strip. With a range of hotels from budget to luxury and close proximity to shopping, dining and attractions, “I-Drive” is a convenient and exciting area to stay for visitors.
- Don’t plan to rent a car? Stay on-site at your favorite theme park and take advantage of complimentary park shuttles. Universal Orlando® Resort offers three on-site hotels and Walt Disney World® Resort offers dozens of accommodations within its park perimeters. Or, look for a hotel offering complimentary shuttle service to the theme parks.
- Visitors planning to explore more than one area or theme park in Orlando may want to opt for the convenience of a rental car. With most major rental car companies located on-site at Orlando International Airport and many hotels, visitors will find the move from air to ground transportation seamless and easy.
- Visitors should check with their designated hotel ahead of time to determine if shuttle service is provided to and from theme parks and the airport.
- The I-Ride Trolley offers an easy and economical way to explore the International Drive resort area without a car. Visitors can hop on and off the I-Ride Trolley, which makes stops at a number of hotels and attractions on International Drive.
- Did you know that Orlando has three airports? In addition to Orlando International Airport (MCO), the area offers the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) just 30 miles away in Sanford and the Orlando Executive Airport in downtown Orlando.
- Families looking to eat and be entertained can choose from a bevy of dinner shows including Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows, Medieval Times and festive luau celebrations at SeaWorld Orlando, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando® Resort.
- Adults who want to let loose can opt for one of the city’s comedy clubs including the Orlando Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theater at Pointe Orlando, Sak Comedy Lab in downtown and Bonkerz Comedy Club at various locations around the city.
- Wondering where to eat? “Restaurant Row”, a one-mile stretch of dozens of dining options close to the attractions on International Drive, offers everything from family-friendly eateries to fine dining restaurants.
- Large groups will find something for everyone at one of Orlando’s many entertainment complexes. Universal CityWalk® at Universal Orlando® Resort, Disney Spring® at Walt Disney World® Resort and Pointe Orlando on International Drive all offer dining, entertainment and nightlife in one convenient and safe location.
- Love live music? Orlando has you covered. Options include House of Blues® Orlando at Downtown Disney, Hard Rock Live Orlando at Universal Orlando® Resort and BB King’s Blues Club at Pointe Orlando. Venture downtown and find big-name acts at the Amway Center or discover a new band at indie venues like Backbooth.
Malls and Outlet Stores
- A shopping must for first time visitors is bargain hunting at the Southeast’s largest outlet destination, the Premium Outlets Orlando. The outlet chain offers two locations at opposite ends of International Drive with more than 300 stores combined.
- Mall lovers won’t want to skip The Mall at Millenia with the area’s only Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. Another must-stop is The Florida Mall, the area’s largest, with more than 250 stores and an on-site hotel.
- Take advantage of Orlando’s sunny climate and shop outside. Tree-lined Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park offers several cobble-stoned blocks filled with hip boutiques, outdoor cafes and unique art galleries.
- Visitors with an eye for antiques can peruse Orlando’s antiques row on Orange Avenue near downtown or the famous Renningers Antiques Center, a weekend market with more than 180 shops in Mount Dora.