If you are planning your first trip to Orlando, you may be overwhelmed by just how much there is to do. First of all, dont try and fit it all in! Spending a day at a theme park in the heat can be exhausting, so it is important to allow yourself time to relax.
There are three main questions when planning your first trip: when should I go, where should I stay and what should I do. Here is my advice:
When to go
There are two main things to think about when deciding when to go, firstly the weather. Orlando is pretty mild all year round, but it can sometimes be under threat from hurricanes.
Hurricane season tends to run from June to October and the major hurricanes usually form in the Gulf of Mexico during July, August and September. However, as Orlando is further away from the coast it tends to escape most of the hurricane effects.
The second thing to consider is when the parks will be at their busiest. The most crowded times of the year are the Christmas, New Year period and Easter period.
Spring break in America is from the first week in March till Mid-April and this time of the year also tends to be crowded as well as Summer break which starts in June till the second week in August.
January and September tend to be the quietest time of the year. End of April, May, October and November tend to have medium crowd levels.
It is worth searching the internet for the scheduled national holidays in America and try to avoid the parks where possible on those days.
Where to stay
This really is down to the individual. If you have children and you are a family going on your own, then you may want to consider staying in a hotel. On days where you decide to stay at the hotel and relax, you can be reassured that your children will have fun and make friends by the pool. An additional benefit is that most hotels offer transport to and from the parks which means you wouldnt need to necessarily hire a car.
Another option is to stay in a Disney hotel, which of course comes with many advantages – the main one being that you are absorbed in Disney magic 24hrs a day. The quality and service is always excellent and they have a huge choice of restaurants to choose from. However, you are contained in a small area, and if you want to visit the other attractions you would need to hire a car.
If you are in a large group of people or if you are a couple, you may want to opt for staying in a villa. The obvious advantage with this is the privacy that it offers and of course, most villas offer a private pool. There are some great websites out there for you to find a villa and there are literally hundreds to choose from. The only thing to bear in mind with this option is that you would definitely have to hire a car.
What to do
I think it’s important to realise, as a first timer, you are not going to fit everything in. There is so much to do, that its simply not possible to do everything without suffering from exhaustion.
I cant help you to decide what parks you want to do, as everyone is different. Although, I would recommend that you go to Disneys Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld (my favourite parks)!
There are plenty of tools online to help you plan your holiday. Some of the parks offer you the opportunity to sign up to receive a planning DVD which is free of charge. These give you a great feel for what there is to do at each park and can help you to plan how long you will need to spend there. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Aquatica, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens all offer this service. Just go to their websites to find out more.
Visit Orlando is a website that offers a free vacation planning kit. It will help you to design and plan your holiday. The kit includes an official vacation guide, with information on where to stay, what to do and a calendar of events not to miss.
That concludes my advice on when to go, where to stay and what to do. I hope you have found it all useful and if you have any questions feel free to get in touch.