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Things to know before you go to Orlando

A comprehensive guide to making the most of your Orlando adventure.

November 17, 2023
 min read
Last updated:
Jan 11
A view of the Orlando skyline.

Orlando, Florida, is not just a destination; it's a vibrant experience brimming with magic, adventure, and, of course, plenty of sunshine. But before you pack your bags and set off for this land of endless entertainment, there are a few insider tips that could turn your great trip into an extraordinary one. So, buckle up! We're about to dive into the top things you should know to truly embrace and enjoy Orlando.

The early bird catches the...rollercoaster?

Getting to the parks at the crack of dawn is more than a zealous tourist trope; it's your golden key to a world of perks. The early hours see fewer crowds, which means shorter lines, less waiting, and more opportunities to hit your favorite rides multiple times. Plus, Florida's heat can be a real scorcher, and the mornings are your chance to enjoy the parks during the cooler temperatures. Not to mention, there's something genuinely enchanting about being one of the first to step foot in the parks each day, witnessing them come alive in a way that latecomers simply can't.

Comfort is the name of the game

You might be tempted to dress to the nines to get those picture-perfect snaps, but comfort should be your top priority. The reality is, you're in for miles of walking. Those cute shoes might look great, but after several hours of trekking from one attraction to the next, your feet will be crying out for some TLC. Opt for your most comfortable, broken-in sneakers or sandals designed for extensive walking. Additionally, light, breathable clothing is a must in the Orlando heat. Prioritize your comfort, and you'll be all set for a day of exploration without unnecessary aches and pains.

Stay hydrated, stay happy

The Orlando sun doesn't play around, and in the midst of all the excitement, staying hydrated might slip your mind. However, dehydration is a quick way to put a damper on your day. Bring a refillable water bottle with you. There are plenty of water fountains in the parks, and many quick-service restaurants will provide complimentary cups of water. Keep in mind that sodas and sugary drinks don't count; they're not great for keeping you hydrated. Stick to water, and lots of it. Plus, it's not just a health thing; staying hydrated keeps your energy levels up so you can keep the fun going all day long.

Off-season? More like smart-season!

If you have the flexibility, planning your trip during the off-peak season can be a game-changer. We're talking shorter lines, less crowded streets, and more freedom to explore the parks at a leisurely pace. The off-season typically falls around late January to early February, early May to early June, and mid-August to late September. Another perk? You'll often find that accommodation and park tickets are cheaper during these times. It's like Orlando rolls out the red carpet for those savvy enough to time their visits during these quieter periods.

FastPass+: A modern-day magic carpet

Disney's FastPass+ system is like finding a golden ticket inside your chocolate bar. It allows you to skip the standby line for a select number of attractions, parades, and meet-and-greets. You can book your FastPasses 30 days before your trip, or 60 days if you're staying at a Disney Resort hotel. This system requires a bit of prior planning, but it's worth its weight in gold during peak times. Imagine breezing past a two-hour line, feeling like theme park royalty. That's the power of the FastPass+!

Sunscreen: Your Florida BFF

Orlando's nickname, "The Sunshine State," is well-earned, and while soaking up some Vitamin D is great, getting a sunburn is not. Pack a high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen and apply it generously throughout the day. Remember, sunscreen isn't just for beach days; even when it's overcast, those UV rays are beaming down. Don't forget to cover often-missed spots like the tops of your ears, back of your neck, and your feet. A sunburn is a surefire way to add unnecessary discomfort to your trip, so slather on that sunscreen and enjoy the sun safely!

Explore beyond the theme parks

Believe it or not, there's a whole world beyond Orlando's famed theme parks. The city is a treasure trove of cultural, natural, and culinary delights waiting to be discovered. Take a day to stroll around Lake Eola and enjoy the local art at the Orlando Museum of Art or the Menello Museum of American Art. Foodies will revel in the diverse culinary scene, from cozy cafes to high-end dining, featuring dishes from all over the world. Orlando's nightlife is not to be overlooked either, with its vibrant array of bars, pubs, and clubs offering entertainment into the wee hours. And for a bit of nature, the Harry P. Leu Gardens and Wekiwa Springs State Park offer a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle. Diving into these local gems gives you a more rounded, authentic experience of the city.

Reservations: Your golden ticket

Some dining experiences in Orlando, especially those in the theme parks or popular spots around the city, require reservations, and it's not uncommon for places to be booked up weeks or even months in advance. If you're dreaming of dining with Disney characters or enjoying a meal at one of the more popular restaurants like Ohana or Be Our Guest, you'll need to plan ahead. Most reservations open up 60 days in advance, and they go quickly, so be ready to book as soon as your window opens. Having a reservation not only secures a spot at your chosen restaurant but also adds a structured, guaranteed break to your day.

Weather-wise, be wise

Orlando's weather can be a tad unpredictable. One moment you're basking in the sunshine, the next you're seeking shelter from a sudden downpour. This is particularly true in the summer months, with frequent, albeit usually brief, afternoon showers. Packing a lightweight poncho is more practical than an umbrella, as it leaves your hands free and takes up less space. It's also wise to have a flexible itinerary — some outdoor rides and attractions close during thunderstorms, so having an indoor alternative in mind is smart planning. Embrace the unpredictability, and remember, a little rain can sometimes be a refreshing respite from the Florida heat!

Embrace the magic

Orlando is a place where fairytales come to life, where every corner holds a new adventure, and where the impossible seems entirely possible. Whether you're meeting your favorite characters, gazing in awe at spectacular parades, or getting your adrenaline fix on thrill rides, let yourself be immersed in the magic. Drop the too-cool-for-school attitude and release your inner child. Get your face painted, eat that giant cotton candy, and laugh until your stomach hurts. These parks are designed to bring joy, wonder, and a touch of magic to everyone who enters their gates, regardless of age. The true magic of Orlando shines brightest when you simply let go and embrace the whimsy and wonder with open arms.And there you have it, future Orlando explorer! With these tips tucked safely in your travel kit, you're ready to dive into the Orlando experience with gusto. Remember, it's not just about the destination; it's about savoring each moment, from the thrilling highs of the roller coasters to the awe-inspiring sights around the city. Orlando is your oyster, and it's waiting for you to discover its pearls. Happy travels!

*Prices fluctuate based on season and day of the week.

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