Taking a Large Group to Orlando on a Budget

My family loves to visit Orlando. During the year one or more of us visit at different times. Once a year I take on the task of planning a trip for the entire family to enjoy together. Four generations head to Orlando early each June for 8 days of family fun and togetherness. There is no doubt that Orlando can be an expensive destination. Over the years I have found ways to save on our yearly trips so that everyone can have the experience they want.

Large Group Trip Orlando Budget
Orlando-Train-Station Photo Credit: WBEEM via Flickr

Orlando is best known for Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, but there’s so much more to the area. Vacationing in Orlando with 8, 10 or 12 people on a budget can be pretty easy with the right mind-set. As soon as I realized that hotels just won’t work, especially a Walt Disney World or Universal resort, my planning became so much easier. Having space for a large group can get expensive when you think about needing 2, 3 or 4 rooms to accommodate everyone in a hotel or resort.

Vacation Home Rental

Once I realized that renting at least 3 or 4 hotel rooms could easily explode my budget, I began looking at vacation home rentals in Orlando. Fortunately I found one that my family loves and we have now used many times.

The positive side of renting a vacation home is cost. Even the cheapest hotel room times four rooms can easily cost $500 or more per night. Times 7 nights, well, that’s lots of money. We can rent an entire home that sleeps up to 16 for much less. Each member of the family also has their own space with private areas so there is never a feeling of crowding each other. The home my family really loves, and has used many times, is Characters Corner Vacation Home. I will admit I was a little concerned going into our trip this year since we have added a new baby. Bringing a 5 month old along was definitely something I haven’t done in a long time. My mom, at 85, is also having a much harder time getting around. The home is set up so well and provides everything a family needs (2 cribs, high chair, ground floor bedrooms with bathrooms) that I was worried for nothing! Six bedrooms and two convertible sofa beds, 4 bathrooms, a movie theater and a pool/kiddie pool/hot tub! What more can a family want! Everything you need is in the home to make your family feel comfortable, relaxed and ready to have a great vacation. All dishes, linens, washer/dryer, Wi-Fi, pool towels, etc., are provided and the home is wheel chair accessible.

My new grandson was also able to experience his first pool time without worry that he would get splashed or afraid in a large resort pool with many other people around.

Cleanliness and customer satisfaction are the top priorities for the owners and there is a property manager nearby, just a phone call away in case of a problem. 

Location – Location – Location!

Location is an important factor for us. Characters Corner Vacation Home is ideal. The home is a short 10 minute drive onto Walt Disney World property (2.5 miles away) and a 15 minute drive to Universal Orlando, Sea World and all the restaurants, shopping and attractions on the heart of International Drive (I-Drive).  Multiple large name grocery stores are within a few minutes drive, as well as many restaurants, shops and attractions.

The home is located in a private, gated community so is a very safe and secure spot for a family.

Dining Out vs. Eating In

No one really wants to go on vacation and cook. When a large group also means a large cost to eat out, cooking easy meals is necessary for the budget. When we first arrive at the rental home, one of the first things I do is head to the grocery store. Not only do I buy a few easy fix meals for the week, I buy breakfast for each day as well as bottled water and snacks to take with us on our trips to local attractions. You’ll be surprised how much you can save by eating breakfast at the house and taking along your own snacks and water! Some evenings we may return to the house before dinner. There is a gas grill provided for easy meals like hamburgers and hot dogs. There are also several local restaurants that will deliver to the community. Pizza and a movie in the theater are a great way to spend a relaxing evening together!

Discount Attraction Tickets

Each member of my family likes to do something different. My granddaughter only wants to go to Walt Disney World. My daughter-in-law and son love Universal. I like Sea World. My daughter likes it all! Even though we travel together I am a firm believer in everyone getting to do what they like. Sometimes it’s necessary to split up and go our separate ways. We have a family meeting each year and everyone gets to say what they want to do and where they want to go. I then use discount sites to purchase the tickets and passes based on the list of things each family member wants to do. If only 2 want to visit Universal, I purchase tickets for those 2 only for one day. If all want to go to Walt Disney World, I purchase park passes for everyone making sure to not purchase tickets for every day of our trip. I try to build in days to see other things or to relax around the pool. My favorite site for saving on park and attraction passes is Undercover Tourist.

Free is Always Good on the Budget

There is so much more to Orlando than theme parks! There are many free and super cheap things to do in the area.

Disney Springs  is a great way to get a Disney experience without the cost of the theme parks. With shopping, dining, and diverse entertainment, you’ll be able to spend an entire day here. You can even pack a lunch, find a shady spot and enjoy a family picnic!

 Clearwater Beach Morse Museum of American Art offers free admission for children under 12, as well as free admission for everyone on Fridays from 4PM til 8PM (November through April). Morse Museum is technically in Winter Park but is less than 20 minutes from downtown Orlando.

Also located in Winter Park, the Albin Polask Museum and Sculpture Garden is home to exquisite art and serene sculpture gardens. Admission for children under 12 is free, admission for adults is $5.

A one-of-a-kind Holocaust Memorial has both permanent and traveling exhibits to communicate the history of the Holocaust. Admission is free.

For the adults in the group, Orlando Brewing Company offers free tours. Call ahead to find out hours and other information.

Several companies offer air boat rides, alligator tours, and more. While the prices aren’t too high, it could get expensive with a large family so be sure everyone wants to go before purchasing tickets.

What are your best tips when visiting Orlando with a group?




Pete’s Dragon Opens Today! Check Out These Activity Sheets and Dragon Cupcakes

Pete's Dragon Activity Sheets Dragon Cupcakes

The most magical movie of the year, PETE’S DRAGON is finally opening in theaters everywhere TODAY! August 12th! This is one of the best family movies of the year and equally perfect for kids and adults alike!

 

Check out these Pete’s Dragon Activity Sheets and Dragon Cupcakes!

“Bryce Dallas How-To” with Bryce Dallas Howard – Dragon Cupcakes!

Pete's Dragon Activity Sheets Dragon Cupcakes

 

 

“Bryce Dallas How-To” with Bryce Dallas Howard – Dragon Cat Costume!

 

Like PETE’S DRAGON on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPetesDragon

Follow PETE’S DRAGON on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneypetes

Follow PETE’S DRAGON on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneypetesdragon/  

Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr: http://disneyanimation.tumblr.com/

Visit the official PETE’S DRAGON website here: http://movies.disney.com/petes-dragon-2016

And don’t forget your Disneybound outfit when you hit the theaters this weekend!

Petes Dragon Activity Sheets Dragon Cupcakes




Exclusive Offer! SeaWorld San Diego 7 Day Pass for Less Than $9 a Day

 

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Here’s an exclusive deal to purchase SeaWorld San Diego 7 day pass for less than $9 a day!

Play big and save big at SeaWorld San Diego this summer! SeaWorld Summer Nights are heating up with exclusive nighttime shows, extended hours, fireworks over Mission Bay and so much more. You’ll love the new Explorer’s Reef interactive exhibit, Manta roller coaster and extra summer shows. Don’t miss any of it with our 7-day tickets for just $59.* That’s a $30 savings off the 1-day price AND means you can visit SeaWorld for less than $9 a day! Or, buy a combo ticket for both SeaWorld San Diego and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s nearby water park for just $89 per adult and $83 per child good for 7 days admission to both parks! You’ll have so much fun in San Diego this summer.exclusive ticket deal for SeaWorld San Diego for travel this summer only. It’s a 7-day ticket for just $59 – that’s less than $9 per day! 

*Ticket offer good for travel now through September 30, 2015 (All offers are subject to availability).

You can purchase this exclusive ticket deal HERE!

 




SeaWorld Orlando Introduces Express Dine Feature – #SeaWorld

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New addition to SeaWorld app allows guests to experience meal time on their own time

SeaWorld Orlando recently introduced Express Dine at its Seaport Pizza eatery to help cut wait times, especially during the busiest time of the year. An industry-pioneering feature, Express Dine is solely accessible from the SeaWorld Discovery Guide park app, furthering the app’s interactivity and maximizing its technology to allow guests to order lunch or dinner in advance.

By accessing the SeaWorld app from their smartphone, guests have the option to select from any of Seaport Pizza’s family-style pizzas, salads and soft drinks from anywhere in the park. Following the order, guests choose their preferred pick-up time and can then stop by to enjoy their meal at their convenience.

Express Dine is designed to maximize convenience for families by allowing them to plan their meals ahead of time in a fun, interactive and user-friendly way. With this new feature, families can expect shorter wait times so they can make the most of their day in the park.

Seaport Pizza

Seaport Pizza serves delicious pizza baked to perfection for rich taste and texture featuring only the freshest ingredients, including sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh herbs, pepperoni and sausage. This is a great one-stop-shop to satisfy every member of the family.

SeaWorld Discovery Guide Park App

The SeaWorld Discovery Guide mobile app saves guests time and increases their enjoyment through GPS-enabled interactive maps, real-time updates of show schedules and events, up-to-the-minute attraction wait times (with information on required heights), insider park tips, fun photo frames, and park notifications.

The SeaWorld Discovery Guide app can be downloaded for free from the Apple or Google Play app stores.

For more information, please visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

If you will be planning a SeaWorld Orlando vacation in 2015 – I can help with all things Orlando – I am a certified SeaWorld Vacation planner – contact me at: janice@destinationstoexplore.com for a free-no-obligation quote! I am a graduate of: Disney’s College of Knowledge, The Orlando Travel Academy, Hyatt Hotels Travel Academy, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Specialist Program, SELL Family Travel Program.




SeaWorld Orlando Announces 2015 Event & Festival Schedule – #SeaWorld

SeaWorldOrlando_Logo_2014_250w

SeaWorld Orlando announces its 2015 schedule of events and festivals, including the all-new Praise Wave®, a two-Saturday series that makes the park come alive with the hottest names in Christian music.

Events and concerts are included with park admission. The best way to experience all the fun, year ‘round, is with an Annual Pass or Fun Card. Get more details at SeaWorldOrlando.com.

Wild Days — Saturdays & Sundays, Jan. 24-25, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Feb. 7-8

An immersive event in every sense of the word, Wild Days connects guests to the wild and wonderful world we all share. Wild Days features exciting and interactive shows, giving guests the opportunity to meet the leaders in the world of animal rescue, rehabilitation, preservation and conservation.

Praise Wave® — Saturdays, Feb. 14 & 21

Experience a day of fellowship and fun at SeaWorld’s all-new Praise Wave. Enjoy SeaWorld’s thrill rides and amazing shows and attractions, and mingle and meet in an atmosphere filled with Christian friendship. Catch live performances by the hottest names in Christian music. The evenings close with an extraordinary, uplifting Shamu show, created just for Praise Wave.

Bands, Brew & BBQ®, Honoring America’s Heroes — Saturdays & Sundays in March

With special discounts and offers for America’s heroes, including all enlisted men and women and retirees from the military, Central Florida’s favorite BBQ festival is now even better! Bands, Brew & BBQ features live concerts from top classic rock and country bands and artists, the tastiest BBQ from the area’s best local smokehouses, plus SeaWorld’s own Sweet & Smokin’ Barbecue. Proceeds from this event benefit the USO, an organization that has been lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families for more than 70 years. “We’re thrilled to partner with SeaWorld and we appreciate their longstanding dedication to honoring the troops and retirees. Working together during Bands, Brew & BBQ, we can make a difference in the spirits of many service members and their families,” said Roland Emerton, executive director of USO Central Florida.

Viva la Musica ® — Saturdays, April 25, May 2, 9 & 16

SeaWorld Orlando’s Viva la Música is a fiery Latin festival for the entire family. Enjoy four weekends of hot concerts by the most popular Hispanic performers, and savor authentic cuisine by SeaWorld’s own executive chef, Hector Colon.

50th Celebration — Summer

There’s a wave of summertime excitement sweeping across SeaWorld Orlando as we celebrate 50 years of family fun. Laugh to a new sea lion show, get thrills on roller coasters – like Manta® and Kraken® – and chills at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin®. Top off the evening with rides under the stars, a special nighttime Shamu show and a fireworks finale that fills the sky.

Halloween Spooktacular® — Weekends in October

SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular is silly and spooky fun. During this daytime event, families are immersed in an underwater “fantasea” including trick-or-treating, whimsical pumpkin fish, sea-themed arts and crafts and up-close animal encounters in a family-friendly event that could only come from SeaWorld.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration™ — Select dates, Nov. 21 through Dec. 31

Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration™. Guests of all ages enjoy stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, journey to the North Pole on THE POLAR EXPRESS Experience, and share a smile with the playful penguins at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin®!

The best way to take in all of SeaWorld’s events is with an Annual Pass starting at only $13 per month with EZpay. An Annual Pass offers unlimited admission with no blackout dates, free parking and discounts on food and merchandise. SeaWorld’s Fun Card also is available. Pay for a day and play all year with unlimited admission and no blackout dates.

Get more details and purchase tickets, Annual Passes or Fun Cards at SeaWorldOrlando.com.

Event dates and times are subject to change and/or cancellation without notice. Additional charges apply to all food items. Seating capacity for each concert is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Other restrictions may apply. For more information, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

If you will be planning a SeaWorld Orlando vacation in 2015 – I can help with all things Orlando – I am a certified SeaWorld Vacation planner – contact me at: janice@destinationstoexplore.com for a free-no-obligation quote! I am a graduate of: Disney’s College of Knowledge, The Orlando Travel Academy, Hyatt Hotels Travel Academy, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Specialist Program, SELL Family Travel Program.