It’s the theme park capital of the world and you’re guaranteed fun at any time of year, but when is the cheapest time to go to Orlando? While it’s notoriously expensive (and hectic) to visit during school vacations, you’ll make great savings if you buck the trend and go off-peak.
Whether you’re visiting for the theme parks, golf courses, shopping malls or nightlife, a trip to Orlando can be expensive. Add in the cost of flights, car hire, food and accommodation and it can quickly become a wallet-draining experience. The good news is that with a little forward planning you can enjoy a surprisingly affordable vacation.
Read on to find out more about the cheapest time to go to Orlando with inside advice from some money-saving experts.
When is the cheapest time to go to Orlando?
Generally speaking, the cheapest time to go to Orlando is during school term time and outside of federal holidays. If you’re looking to avoid the hiked-up prices then be careful not to visit during peak season periods. These include Spring Break, Easter, the Summer Holidays, Christmas and New Year.
It’s also guaranteed to be busy (and pricier) during the UK half terms – one in February and one in October – and at Halloween, Thanksgiving and during one-off special events. Here are some of the cheapest times to visit.
January to mid February
January and parts of early February are some of the cheapest times to visit Orlando because many families have just gone home after the holiday season. You’re likely to find cheaper flights and accommodation during this quieter time of year. Additionally, as it’s low season, Orlando’s myriad attractions are easier to navigate with lower ticket prices and less tourist hubbub.
The quiet spell usually runs through early February up until the UK half term. When booking during the post-holiday time also be careful to avoid the Disney Marathon Weekend at the beginning of January, Martin Luther King Weekend in mid January and Universal’s Mardi Gras Festival in mid February – all of these fun events bring with them crowds and high prices.
September through November
Also less expensive than Orlando’s peak season is much of September, October and November, excluding Columbus Day, Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Schools tend to start back in the first week of September so you won’t be contending with the Summer Holiday crowds. And as it’s low season, it’s one of the more affordable times to go to Orlando.
Events like the Epcot Food and Wine Festival at Disney World (late August through early November) can bring in the foodie crowds, but the absence of school holidays at this time deters many families from visiting. If you’re going at this time be careful to time your trip outside of Fall Break and the UK’s half-term holiday, too.
As we’ve mentioned, Christmas and New Year are some of the busiest and most expensive times to visit Orlando. But those wishing to experience the holiday decorations and festivities without the peak price tags should consider visiting in the lull between Thanksgiving and mid December.
Emma Drew’s advice
Money-saving expert Emma Drew visits Orlando every year. It’s where she got engaged and spent her honeymoon! We asked Emma for her advice about the cheapest time to visit Orlando and here’s what she said:
“The cheapest times to visit Orlando will be outside of school holidays like Easter and Christmas. If you can visit between Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and around the 14th December then not only will you find significantly cheaper prices, but the parks will be much quieter. You can usually walk onto rides without too much of a wait at this time of year.”
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“If you are heading to Orlando for theme parks, shopping or relaxation, did you know that there are plenty of places you can sign up to in order to get special discounts? I have compiled a list of lots of Orlando discounts and ways to save money in Orlando from free food to money off at your favourite shopping attractions.”
Memories and Mayhem
Author of travel and lifestyle blog Memories and Mayhem, Disney-fan Sam also gave us some advice:
“If you are going to Orlando and you’re able to travel in term time then there are some amazing deals out there! If you are tied to school holidays then it gets a lot more expensive. Don’t forget to think about items such as parking, tips and fuel. They can quickly add up so it’s good to include them in your budget before you go and then you won’t get any nasty surprises.”
How about the cheapest time to visit Disney World?
Figuring out exactly when the cheapest time to visit Disney World is can be tricky as ticket prices can vary from one day to the next (plus they tend to go up every year). As a general rule you’ll find higher prices during peak periods and lower prices during quiet seasons. If you can be flexible and visit when the parks are less crowded your vacation will work out cheaper.
The nifty crowd calendar below will help you work this out:
How much are tickets?
If you’re visiting from the UK you can buy tickets in advance via Disney’s UK website, however it only offers 7-day, 14-day and 21-day ‘Ultimate’ tickets. At the time of writing, the 7 and 14-day tickets are both the same price at around £369 for adults (anyone aged 10+) so if you’re staying longer it always makes sense to get the 14-day one.
You can get these tickets directly through Disney’s website although this price is often beaten by specialist ticket agents including the Top Villas concierge team.
Unfortunately you can’t buy a 1-day ticket from Disney’s UK site. These can only be obtained from their US site which can’t be accessed from the UK. So if you want to visit a Disney park for one day you may have to buy your ticket at the gate (it’s the same price as booking through the US site but you’ll probably have to queue).
Ultimate tickets allow you to visit on any day and go to more than one park in a single day, plus they include access to the water parks. These tickets also include Fastpass+ which enables you to book certain attractions and skip the queues up to 30 days in advance. You also get a free Memory Maker with each ticket; this gives you access to all photos taken by Disney photographers while you’re at the park (these will be saved for you to download and print later).
Hopefully you’ll be able to purchase multi-day tickets as 1-day tickets typically offer the worst bang for your buck. These ‘no frills’ tickets are subject to price tiers so you may have to pay a different price depending on the day of the year and whether it falls in the ‘value’, ‘regular’ or ‘peak’ price tier. Value applies to off season periods, peak applies to (you guessed it) peak periods and regular applies to other times. There are quite a few block out dates in between, too, when prices revert to peak.
When buying 1-day tickets, midweek rates are often less expensive than weekend rates so visiting on weekdays will not only save you money, but you will also encounter fewer crowds. At the time of writing a 1-day peak Magic Kingdom ticket costs around $137 (£97) including tax. The same ticket in the value version costs around $116 (£82).
Emma Drew’s advice
“Unless you are planning on visiting just one Disney park, I would strongly recommend that you purchase your tickets before you get there and not leave it until you are at the gate. For one thing, the lines at the gate can be really long just to buy your ticket – that’s before you even start queuing to get inside. It can also get very pricey if you have to purchase tickets when you get there.”
Advice from Memories and Mayhem
“To save money in the parks take snacks and drinks in with you (check for any park restrictions first). If you are taking children, buy character costumes from the supermarket and take them with you, they are a lot more expensive in the parks.
“You can save money on souvenirs buy buying them from Walmart or Target, they have a great selection at a fraction of the price which is great if you have lots of family members that you want to bring gifts back for. It’s best to set a daily budget for spending money and don’t go over it (this is great for kids as it stops them from spending too much).
What about flights?
The cheapest time to fly to Orlando is during low season. There are easy ways to find great-value flights using flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner and you’re willing to be flexible with which days of the week you can travel on you’re likely to get an even better deal.
Sometimes, buying return flights with one airline can be more expensive than purchasing two one-way tickets from different airlines so that’s worth checking out too. Also most airlines operate a ‘free flight’ policy for infants under the age of 2 – it usually covers 1 infant flight per paying adult.
If you visit a few of your favorite airlines and sign up for their newsletters you’ll get updates about new travel routes, introductory discounts and flash sales on last-minute flights before anyone else.
Emma Drew’s advice
“I usually pick up my flights in Virgin Atlantic’s Easter sale. When you are comparing the prices of flights be sure to take into account what is and isn’t included. A bargain flight isn’t such a bargain if you need to pay for drinks, luggage or even to choose your seat.
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“There are many credit cards that collect you air miles, such as Amex Gold. When you have enough air miles these will earn you free flights. Also, if you use a particular airline frequently, ask them if they have a frequent flyer programme.”
Advice from Memories and Mayhem
“You can also save a lot of money on flights if you are happy to fly indirect; it’s a little more hassle but the savings are worth it.”
Will the weather still be good?
It’s not just the expense you’ll want to plan for; it’s the weather, too. Yes, Orlando is famous for its year-round sun but there is a distinction between the hotter and cooler months, plus there’s a hurricane season to think about, too.
The summer months are generally considered the hottest and the wettest. The heat and humidity can soar during the summer months and rain storms are more likely during the day. There is also the threat of hurricanes through late summer and autumn. These are rare, though, and even during these months you can still expect plenty of sunshine. The cooler months are roughly from December to April, when temperatures are more tolerable and there is a lower chance of daytime rain.
The best time to visit Orlando both cost and weather-wise depends on what kind of vacation you’re expecting. January is not only one of the cheapest times to go to Orlando, it’s also the coolest month of the year and it’s one of the driest, so your trip won’t be spoiled by stifling heat and heavy rain.
If you like it hot and you’re planning to incorporate some swimming and sunbathing into your trip, then visit in late August or early September. Not only will it be cheaper and quieter at the parks, you’ll also have a good chance of hot, sunny weather. If you prefer it warm but not unbearably so, then visit during November, early December or during off-peak spring days when you can wander around the parks without feeling too hot and sweaty. You’ll benefit from amazing weather and a cheaper vacation!
For a more in-depth look at the weather, check out our guide to the best time to visit Florida.
Can I get cheap accommodation in Orlando?
If you’re looking for the cheapest time to go to Orlando, you’re probably looking at the best value accommodation too. Much like the weather and the number of tourists, accommodation prices in Orlando vary throughout the year. The general rule is that costs go up when the holiday season comes into effect and they down when kids are back in school.
Staying in one of the Disney World hotels definitely isn’t a money-saving idea. So if you’re looking to stay in Orlando as cheaply as possible you’ll be better off opting for a self-catering villa in the many resorts in and around Orlando. The best ones are located just a few miles from Disney World so you’ll save you cash on traveling costs, plus you’ll benefit from fantastic amenities like private pools, game rooms and themed kids’ bedrooms.
Reunion Resort is one of the best-known communities and has 3 championship golf courses, a water park, tennis courts, a spa, and plenty of on-site restaurants. Another top choice is Encore Resort at Reunion, which has a water park and lots of other family friendly amenities. If you book to stay at Encore Resort you’ll also benefit from free shuttles to Disney World and Orlando’s other great theme parks.
Accommodation in Orlando isn’t as expensive as you might think, especially if you’re staying during the low season. For example, you can rent a spacious 2-bedroom apartment through Top Villas for as little as $111/£83 per night in low season. Features include a private balcony, a large shared pool and a Disney-themed kids’ room with twin beds.
Fancy something bigger? A large 7-bedroom home starts at around £275. This is great value if you’re traveling in a group and splitting the cost a few ways. What’s more, if you sign up for exclusive offers you’ll be the first to know about special offers, discounts and even free stays!
If you’re thinking of booking an Orlando vacation and you need advice on the best places to stay then contact Top Villas today. Additionally, its dedicated concierge team can arrange any added extras you need such as great value car hire and attraction tickets.