Can You Do Orlando On A Budget?

Orlando , Expert View Column
A pink piggy bank wearing sunglasses and sitting on a deck chair on a beach
By’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
It’s an increasingly complex question, but we have (some of) the answers!

It’s a definite fact of life these days that it’s important to budget for things and always look for ways to save on our everyday expenses, from the supermarket to the petrol station. And that is especially true of our holidays, as most costs have increased in recent years in our post-pandemic world. In nearly every aspect, from flights to hotels and car hire, prices went up after 2020 and have been VERY slow to inch back down again.

It’s therefore a question we hear over and over again from UK visitors looking to visit the Sunshine State: How can we save money on our Orlando holiday?

Now, we’re pretty sure we’ve all heard the travel experts on TV telling us the best way is to book out of season, i.e. not during the school hols. But, while it is certainly true that you can save money on trips in February and September, most people can’t take advantage of those deals (and it is pretty galling to keep hearing that idea touted as the top tip). But we’re here to tell you that there ARE other ways to budget for the average Orlando holiday; you just need to take a bit more time and attention when you’re planning the trip.


The first thing to look at is exactly what day you want to fly on. It is often cheaper to take a midweek flight (especially a Monday or Tuesday) than a weekend one.

We use the website to give us a broad range of options by the day (look for the clickable link that says ‘Show whole month’), and we can see that a flight on the outbound leg in mid-July can vary from £279 to £332 in just a few days, while the return flight up to 14 days later could also be £45 cheaper depending on the day you fly back.


Looking up at a plane flying through a blue sky


Once you have your flights sorted (and hopefully at the best price), you need to consider whether to get a hire car or not. This used to be largely a no-brainer, but car hire prices have gone up notably since the pandemic started, and that means you really have to consider your budget here.

If you are just doing the main theme parks, it can now make more sense NOT to have a car and to rely on Uber, Lyft and/or public transport if you want to save money. Considering all the theme parks now charge a whopping $30 a day just to park (and there are no real alternatives unless your hotel is within walking distance of Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld), you might not spend much more than that to get an Uber to the park and back each day, and you have then made a major car hire saving.

There are also buses to and from all of the parks, using either the Lynx system for longer journeys and the I-Ride Trolley along International Drive. These aren’t ideal during the hot summer months, but they do represent a major saving over having a car.


I-Ride Trolley & Theme Park Express


If you do decide you need the comfort and convenience of your own car, look up for the best range of prices you’ll get at the moment. And yes, it’s tempting to look at a snazzy Ford Mustang convertible, but a Honda Civic will still get a family of four where they need to go, with their luggage, for a lot less! And, as a final thought, you can also consider hiring a car for only part of the holiday, and use Uber/public transport for the other part, and you’ll still save money.


When it comes to Shopping, this is another of the big attractions for British visitors that can quickly mount up if you’re not careful. There is an absolute welter of discount centres, shopping malls and gift shops that will all vie for your attention, but be strong – you really DON’T need to fill up a suitcase with goodies from the Reebok or SuperDry shops if you’re on a budget, as tempting as it is.

It used to be the case that most goods of this nature were barely half the price of the UK, but that isn’t the case anymore. There ARE still bargains to be found, and the outlet centres are still generally good value. But check those prices carefully, and look for the genuine bargains. By the same token, it pays to do your theme park souvenir shopping outside the parks.

“Huh?” you might say, but listen up.

The Disney’s Character Warehouse store at Orlando International Premium Outlets and the similar version at the Vineland Premium Outlets both offer genuine Disney merchandise, often at up to 50 per cent off that in the parks. Yes, it’s most likely to be last year’s merch, but the kids won’t know that and your wallet will! Universal Orlando no longer has discount stores in any of the malls, but they do have two discounted sales points in the parks. Look for It’s a Wrap at the exit to Universal Studios and Port Provisions on the way out of Islands of Adventure, and you could discover some real bargains.


When it comes to Dining Out – your other major holiday expense – there are also several budget-minded options to look for.

The terrible-sounding – but money-saving – ‘Early Bird Specials’ are one thing to look out for, as they offer genuine discounts if you dine before 5pm, while many bars and restaurants also feature some really handy Happy Hour deals that also save money if dining at the appropriate time.

Finally, for those happy to tuck into buffet meals, Orlando boasts several that offer the chance to feed the whole family at a very generous price, with a one-price, all-you-can-eat style that is ideal for those watching the holiday pennies. Look up choices on the Yelp website.


A family dining at a wooden table full of food


Visit Orlando has a handy web page for Happy Hour deals on this link, while you can look up the International Drive deals on their website.

Another feature that will save you some money is the clever Eat & Play Card, which offers genuine discounts off a variety of mainstream restaurants and some local attractions, as well as a few shops and mini-golf.

Of course, one of the best money-saving tips is finding the things you can do for free. And it just so happens we did a blog about that for in 2022, and it is still perfectly relevant today.

You can find it on this link, and thank us later. Happy holidays, now…!


Do you have any Orlando-on-a-budget tips? Tell us about them on the friendly Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.

Orlando , Expert View Column