A family vacation to Orlando can cost a small fortune. Admission to theme parks isn’t exactly cheap. There’s also the weak Canadian dollar to consider; the decreased value has certainly left some Canadians wondering if it’s still worth making a trip south.

As far as I’m concerned, any family vacation can be affordable as long as you plan for it. Research your costs, create a realistic budget, and start saving so you can make that family getaway a reality. These budget travel tips for top things to do in Orlando should also help stretch your dollar just a little further.

Budget travel tips – Orlando

Visiting Walt Disney World is one of the top things to do in Orlando and will most likely be your biggest expense; fortunately there are a few different ways you can save money without doing much work.

Cinderella’s castle Disney world
A view of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World

Book a package – Families of 4 can save up to $500 USD when they book a 5-night/6-day room, ticket, and dining plan package directly through Disney. Upgrade options are available but the deal only applies to select hotels during specific dates.

Visit MouseSavers.com – MouseSavers is the ultimate fan guide to Disney discounts. The site contains hundreds of pages of budget travel tips to help you plan your Disney adventure. The site doesn’t just offer information about Disney discounts; you can also find tips on how to save on hotels and transportation.

garden sculpture disney’s magic kingdom
A garden sculpture greets visitors at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Travel during the off-season – March break and summer are the busiest times for Orlando so you can expect to pay a premium. Travel during the off-season and you’ll save roughly 25% on accommodations and flights. To sweeten the pot, many attractions and accommodations will offer additional upgrades at no extra charge.

Orlando under $ 20 –Orlando has more than 100 affordable attractions under $20. Some of the ones worth checking out include: CSI: The Experience, Hollywood Drive-In Golf, and the Orlando Museum of Art.

Disney Hollywood studios
Where magic is made: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Consider your transportation options – Always check nearby U.S. airports to see what the prices are. You might find that the cost savings are worth making a trip across the border to fly out. If you live in Ontario, driving will be your cheapest option to get to Florida, but it’s a 24 hour drive.

Local things to eat

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa – Touting its big style, and big flavour, Pig Floyd’s does barbecue with a twist. The grilled meats are cooked slowly all night long and inspired by Latin, Caribbean, and Asian flavours. The generous portions and rich tastes have already given this joint a cult following.

Black Bean Deli – Known more for their takeout, this deli serves traditional Cuban fare. Try some Cuban favourites such as pressed Cuban sandwiches, fried plantains, and papas rellenas; all their recipes are homemade.

Hot Dog Heaven – A local favourite serving Chicago-style hot dogs since 1987. The hot dogs, buns, and toppings are all shipped directly from Chicago, so you know you’ll be getting an authentic experience. This venue is an old-fashioned indoor/outdoor eatery that serves 36 different kinds of hot dogs.

Related: Food Faux Pas from Around the World

Accommodation options in Orlando

CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort Orlando – Located just off International Drive, this hotel is perfect for kids since they have an on-site 54,000-square-foot water park and a state-of-the-art arcade. Complimentary shuttle service to Universal Studios and SeaWorld are available.

Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando – Moderately priced, the Rosen Inn is located across the street from the Pointe Orlando; a complex with popular dining, shopping, and entertainment options. The hotel offers 3 pools, free parking, and for a nominal fee, you can bring your pets.

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites OrlandoIt might not be the cheapest option on International Drive, but there’s definitely value at the Holiday Inn Express. After spending all day at the theme parks, come back and relax in the hotel’s outdoor pool and whirlpool.

And don’t forget to add medical travel insurance to your travel checklist! Accidents and emergencies can happen, whether you’re in the US or abroad. And because your provincial health coverage won’t travel with you, you’ll want to be protected just in case.

Have your own budget travel tips for Orlando?

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Barry Choi is a budget travel and personal finance expert. You can visit his blog at moneywehave.com

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