Destination Guide: Visit Orlando with Expedia
See and do it all in Orlando!
Did you know that 53.4 million people visited Orlando in 2011 according to Visit Orlando? Orlando is one of the most popular destinations for travelers booking on Expedia.com. With theme parks for adventure seekers to activities for the entire family, Orlando is a great destination for couples and families alike. Orlando is also a great destination for sports fans with one of the newest sports arenas, the Amway Center, which recently hosted the NBA All-Star Game. Orlando is also the Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves.
Where do travelers to Orlando originate from? Here the top 10 list of cities for those visiting Orlando:
- New York
- Ft. Lauderdale
- St. Petersburg
- Orlando locals
- Orlando is a top destination for families due to the attractions the city has to offer. For Expedia customers, more than 40% of trips included children.
- With more than eight theme parks in Orlando and four water parks, it’s no surprise Expedia travelers stay an average of four nights. By spending more time in Orlando, you can see Mickey, Shamu, scream on the roller coasters, spend a day sliding down water slidesor swim with the dolphins.
- With so much to see and do in Orlando, Expedia narrowed down the Top 10 most popular activities based on Expedia booking data:
Did you know?
- Travelers can get off the beatenhotel path with a more personal stay at an Orlando area condominium or vacation home. Kitchens allow for easy meal planning and the community pool and play areas are perfect for kids of all ages. These family-friendly vacation stays are one of the best values in Florida. In fact, 20% of the room nights booked on Expedia.com for Orlando are for staysat condo or vacation home properties. Hereyou can find great deals on properties that fit all the needs for a great vacation!
- Orlandohas the most hotel rooms in the US with more than 150,000 available rooms per day and that number is still growing. Disney even has a new hotel opening this year. In May 2012, Disney will begin a phased opening of the Art of AnimationHotel featuring themed suites after Cars, Finding Nemo and The Lion King.
- Now we wouldn’t encourage kids missing school, but travelers will find that the best time for hotel and flight deals is mid-April to June and August to mid-December.
- For last minute travelers, 40% of the rooms booked into Orlando on Expedia.com are done within 14 days of arrival and Expedia offers many great last minute deals here.
- There is also a Disney Ticket offer available right now. The Walt Disney World® Magic Your Way® Theme Parks deal allows travelers to purchase a five day park hopper ticket for the price of three. With this purchase, travelers can enjoy entrance to the Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park. Simply book by March 31, 2012 for travel between November 1, 2011–April 30, 2012 and receive two complimentary days (offer applies to select ticket types only).
Get to Know Orlando:
- For those who want to maximize their time at the parks, check out the benefits of staying “on-property.” Some of the benefits for guests who stay at Disney, Universal and SeaWorld hotels include earlier park admissions, shorter wait time for attractions and other convenient benefits.
- Wondering how to get around? Pre-book your ground transportation through Expedia. For those staying at a Disney resort, take advantage of Magic Express. It’s free and convenient. Your bags are picked up from the baggage claim and delivered directly to your hotel room.
- Many resorts have transportation to the parks and it is best to call ahead to find out. If you are planning on visiting multiple parks or heading out of Orlando to the beach, we suggest renting a car.
- For shopping, travelers should check out The Art of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace. They have a second location at Epcot as well. And if you stay at any of the Walt Disney World Resorts, you can have your purchases delivered to your room, a valuable amenity for anyone not wishing to carry their purchases around the park with them.
The Top Theme Parks (based on visitors):
- Four Disney Parks: Disney offers Epcot®, Magic Kingdom® Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and two water parks – Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
- Universal Orlando®: Make sure to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and heart racing roller coasters such as the Incredible Hulk.
- SeaWorld: Go see Shamu and friends and stay for the thrilling rides, animal encounters or swim with the dolphins.
- LEGOLAND®: This is one of Orlando’s newest theme parks and is geared towards families with kids 2-12 or kids at heart.)
What to do at 3:00 PM during a hot summer day? We’ve got our top three suggestions for you:
- Visit Aquatica at SeaWorld to beat the heat!
- Have a frozen butter beer at Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
- Go to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon or Disney’s Blizzard Beach.
Not to Miss:
- Take a side trip and have a beach day. Clearwater Beach/ St. Petersburg and Daytona Beach are all within a short drive from Orlando.
- For travelers interested in uncovering what truly makes Florida unique, try a Boggy Creek Airboat Ride. This is a thrill seeking adventure in the Florida swamps and a great way to safely get up close and personal with alligators.
- Orlando has so many great dining options. For sushi seekers, Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi Lounge is the perfect Friday night date night with friends. With sensational flavors and a Zen-like atmosphere travelers are sure to leave feeling enlightened. And of course in Florida there is great seafood. Try the Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. For those looking for a seafood extravaganza Big Fin has a wide variety of seafood choices for everyone in the family. A bit on the pricier side but well worth the celebration of being on vacation.
- Do you know about the Expedia Local Expertprogram? The Local Experts made my trip to Orlando in January seamless! The Expedia Local Expert program features on-site concierge desks through Orlando just to make your trip easier and completely magical. They are dedicated individuals there to help you plan the perfect trip and make it easy when you arrive. They will help you with everything from dinner recommendations to activities.
- What could be better than dining with Mickey and friends or getting to meet all the Princesses? A fun experience for all ages is one of the character dining experiences. I recently did the Chef Mickey’s breakfast and got to meet some of my favorites. This is an activity any family will love. You can find the full list here.
- Be sure to schedule some down time with your park visits. Enjoy the sun and the hotel pools or water parks. With sun year-round, don’t miss out on why they call it the “Sunshine State.”
- If you are looking for something to do after the parks close Downtown Disneyhas everything from Cirque du Soleil® to the House of Blues to shopping and dining. This is a great destination for nightlife.
- Another great location for nightlife is the Universal City Walk. From karaoke and live music, there are plenty of options to keep you entertained on the City Walk.
- If you’re in Orlando on the last Thursday of the month, the Hard Rock Hotel hosts award winning Velvet Sessions– a rock ‘n’ roll cocktail party – which is a great event for a couples or girls night out. Some past performers include Foreigner, Brett Michaels and Joan Jett. Better yet, stay at the Hard Rock Hoteland feel like a rock star yourself! You will feel like a rock star when you get early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when you stay at this property.
Tips for families
- Remember to pack a big bottle of sunscreen and remember to pack it in your checked luggage because you won’t be able to carry it on if it is larger than the TSA allotted size.
- Always carry a small backpack with snacks and water.
- Designate a spot in the theme parks as a “to go” place in case anyone gets lost.
- Depending on the time of year, the parks may be open late. Remember to break up your day and go back to your hotel to enjoy the pool. This way you can stay later at theme parks to enjoy the fireworks.
We asked our Facebook fans if they had 24 hours in Orlando what they would do…
- Candace M said: Disney World, Typhoon lagoon, Blizzard Beach the list goes on and on and on.
- Lynn S said: If you only have 24 hours then don't waste it in the big parks, leave them for your next visit. Go to Discovery Cove in the morning, Florida Mall in the afternoon and then Downtown Disney at night - perfect relaxation in a very hectic resort!
- Diane L. said: We went on the Serengeti Safari at Busch Gardens. We fed the giraffes and saw all kinds of animals. Also, there weren't any lines to wait in for the rides or attractions. We loved it.
- Terri HM said: If you go to Disney world, break the day up! Go to a park in the morning, spend the afternoon (the hottest part of the day) at the pool then go back to the park in the evening! You'll be amazed at the energy you'll have while at the parks!
- Debby J said: The trolley system is really good on time, it goes everywhere and is cheap, clean and comfortable
- Julie JD said: If you are going to Disney, stop at City Hall in the Magical Kingdom for a schedule of anything you want to know about what is going on in any of the parks.
- Lydia W said: I would go to Epcot and pick a country exhibit to eat at. The German restaurant is great! I would also watch the evening laser light show.