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Taking the kids to Orlando is a dream for many families, but with estimates of around £5,000 for 14 nights in this family bucket list destination, our question is: can you experience the magic for less? We investigate where you can you save pounds while still enjoying the ultimate holiday of a lifetime!
Orlando is the theme park capital of the world, but for a break from the parks (and a rest for your wallet), there are some lovely inexpensive things to do. The Disney Wilderness Reserve in Poinciana is free to enter, find out about the wildlife and pack a picnic to enjoy at the lakes. And if you fancy an hour or two of alligator spotting, Reedy Creek on Poinciana Boulevard is the place to see young gators, water moccasins and great blue herons. Walk the boardwalk to the lake and watch the gators floating and basking in the sun!
Reedy Creek is one of the northernmost sources of water for the Everglades, and is also free to enter. In Kissimmee, visit the Heritage Centre where for a small charge a guide will show you around the pioneer village with school room and trading post. Finally, one of the best free places to visit is Celebration, built by Disney in the style of a traditional American town, which now offers lots of retail opportunities in the brick lined streets of Celebration Town Centre. Each December there are snowfalls with Santa and strolling holiday carollers!
If you’re eating out at the parks every day, food costs can soon spiral but there are many ways to cut the cost. The Red Lobster is a chain of seafood restaurants offering great food at good prices. You can get a two-course meal for lunch for around $10 per person including salad, choice of entrée and unlimited garlic rolls (yum!). The Ponderosa, an American institution, is buffet heaven with breakfast costing around $6.99 including the omelette bar.
Another budget favourite with holidaymakers is the Golden Corral for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with amazing choice. Make sure to save room for the dessert bar, full of fresh baked goods and chocolate fountain. To save even more money, pick up your coupon books that you can find outside most restaurants and try to eat your main meal before 3pm when the prices are around half that of dinner time, or go for a breakfast buffet and set the family up for a busy day at the parks!
One of the biggest expenses when travelling to Florida has to be the flights but if you’re savvy you can save a huge amount. Norwegian (www.norwegian.com) offers twice-weekly flights to Orlando from London Gatwick with fares from £135 one way direct. Of course, if you don’t live in London this can mean an overnight stay the night before you travel, the savings though often make this extra expense worthwhile. Other options include changing flights, so investigate the best deals at the time.
Many families will opt for a hotel on International Drive or around Kissimmee, often discounting a villa as too expensive but if you have a larger family the cost can be less than renting two rooms, and self-catering means you can also save money on eating out by stocking up at the many Walmarts you will find around Orlando. 5 Star Villa Holidays has a three-bedroom villa with private pool sleeping up to six from £1417 for seven nights at Indian Ridge.
Another cost-saving option is to upgrade to a fourth bedroom and share with another family. A four-bedroom, three -bathroom villa sleeping up to nine guests on a prestigious resort such as Champion’s Gate costs from £2,096 for 7 nights, so around £1,000 each family.