Spend time with Mickey and his friends,
not waiting in line.
WALT DISNEY PARKS & RESOR TS
Tips to make the most of your
Orlando theme-park experience
Spend less money,
have more fun
By T. Foster Jones
IF YOU’RE TRAVELING to Florida, there’s
a pretty good chance that visiting one or both
of the major theme parks there (Walt Disney
World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort)
is on your agenda.
Navigating your way through the thicket of
crowds and the maze of rides and attractions,
so that you make the best use of your precious
vacation time and money, can be a challenge.
We turned to Sarah Gaudet at Costco
Travel, who offers these time- and money-saving tips to consider.
Get a car. Sure, you’ll spend money on
the rental, but some hotels offer free parking.
It does give you the flexibility to see all of the
sights and dine away from your hotel (which
can also save money). There are endless meal
options in Orlando, from fast food to fine
dining. Parking at the theme parks costs
around $15 per day, but at Universal you will
need to park only once as both Universal
theme parks are within walking distance of
each other, and at Walt Disney World you
pay the fee only once per day and you can
park anywhere within the resort. Reentry
during the same day is fine.
If visiting the Disney theme parks, park at
Downtown Disney. It’s free. Then you can take
the complimentary transportation buses
throughout the resort to get to your desired
park(s). Also, check with your hotel, as many
offer transportation to the transportation center (or straight to certain parks in some cases).
Go during off-peak seasons, such as
January–February and September–October.
This will save you both money and time (less
standing in line because the parks are less
Go to Costco! Make a trip to a Costco in
the area and pick up water, snacks, deli items
and/or frozen entrées for quick, inexpensive
dinners in your condo. While you’re there, you
can likely also find discounted gift cards to
local restaurants. C
Plan your day in advance. Think about
the must-see attractions and plan accordingly based on park hours, entertainment,
dining, etc. Both parks have maps and entertainment information readily available on-site, so you can make the most of each day.
Make dining reservations well in
advance, especially for very popular locations like Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic
Kingdom Park and award-winning Mythos
restaurant at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Also, consider eating lunch a little earlier or
later than the noon rush.
When entering the park in the morning,
go left. Most people subconsciously go right,
leaving attractions to the left with shorter lines
at park opening.
Go to the back of the park or the most
popular attractions first. If you get there fast
enough you’re likely to encounter a shorter line.
A great time to ride attractions is during
the theme park’s parade. People begin lining
up for parades almost an hour prior to it start-
ing. As a result, the lines for attractions tend to
be less crowded during that time.
Stay off-property. Consider a condo or
villa rental where you have a kitchenette or
full kitchen. Even if you don’t plan to cook
full meals, it is more spacious and allows
you to save money by being able to have
something as easy as cereal for breakfast.
Freeze your beverages and pack them
along with snacks for your days in the
park. Carry them in a backpack, and
throughout the day your load only gets
lighter. If you don’t wish to carry them, you
can rent a locker at many of the parks.
Universal Orlando Resort’s 3-D Spiderman
attraction should be on your day plan.
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a variety of Orlando
theme-park vacation packages. For more
information, call 1-877-849-2730 or click
“Travel” at Costco.com. Find a Costco location by clicking “Locations” on Costco.com.