An Orlando vacation usually means two things: adventure at every turn and price tags to match. If you’re seeking a theme park adventure, nearby Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld offer entertainment for the whole family. But when it comes to lodging, you don’t have to settle for a pricy park property hotel room. Instead, consider the perks of choosing a home for rent by owner in the Kissimmee, FL, area to save a little money and gain a ton of space. Orlando is always busy, but there are a few ways to maximize your time and experience. Here’s how to figure out where to stay and when to go.
When to Go to Orlando
Summer, fall, winter, spring — some say there’s never a bad time to visit Orlando, Florida. After all, it’s one of the top family vacation destinations in the entire world. It’s home to theme parks and dozens of other attractions, as well as a booming nightlife and more shopping and dining than you can possibly pack into one week. But while anytime is the best time to visit Orlando, some people may prefer certain seasons over others. In general, that decision comes down to the weather, the size of the crowds at the theme parks, how easy it is to book a place to stay and what kind of events are going on in town.
At first glance, summer may seem like the ideal time to visit Orlando, and for many people it may be. After all, the kids are out of school for a while so there’s no need to plan around weekends and holidays. However, almost everyone else with young children has the same idea, so things tend to get crowded fast. People traveling in summer need to book plane tickets, hotel rooms and other lodging, theme park tickets and dinner reservations well in advance to ensure they get what they want. You may also want to check for discounts. Because this is the city’s high season, prices are going to be a little more inflated.
Another thing to consider during the summer is the temperature. The average highs from June to August typically hover in the 80s and 90s with humidity that can make it feel much warmer. While Floridians and other people from warmer climates may be used to this, it can be a shock to the system for those who aren’t. Luckily, there are several ways to cool down in Orlando during those hot summer months. There is always the opportunity to find rental homes near Orlando with private pools. Most of the hotels and resorts have pools and splash pads, as well. There are several malls to duck into when it gets too hot, and most summer afternoons a little rain shower will pass through. If all else fails, the beach is just over an hour away.
Fall in Orlando can be warm or cool, depending on the day, but for the most part, you won’t experience days nearly as hot and humid as you would during the summer. However, hurricane season, which technically starts during the summer, usually switches into high gear during the fall. This can put a damper on any well-planned trip, literally. Be sure to book with companies that offer a refund just in case. Temperatures may range from the 50s up to 80s.
On a positive note, the crowds die down a bit since kids are usually back in school, and that means prices drop a little, too. It’s much cheaper to pay for places to stay and tickets to the theme parks in November than it is July. Just be sure to do it before Thanksgiving, as the holiday festivities — and vacations — start up around this time, and the crowds start to filter back into town.
Winter may very well be the best time to visit Orlando, if you go after the holiday season. Christmas is a big time, especially at Disney World, but once January hits, everyone returns home to work and school. Even better, some of the holiday festivities may last into January, so you can enjoy them without a million other people hanging around. The weather is also much milder in January and February. There may even be days when you need a jacket, though average temperatures typically stay in the 70s.
Some exciting events are held this time of year, like the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Downtown Food and Wine Fest, but if you plan carefully, you can still avoid the crowds. Just avoid the week of President’s Day, as it can look like spring break at times. This is also the best time of year to snag some excellent deals. Whether you’re looking for Orlando rentals with pools or hotels right at Walt Disney World, you’ll find it for a much lower rate than you would during the peak times of year, like summer, spring break and Christmas. It’s also cheaper to fly, and many of the parks offer discounts, though be aware that some of them shut a few rides down at this time for maintenance, so you may not have access to everything you do during the spring, summer and fall.
Next to summer, spring is the most popular time to visit Orlando, especially when kids are out of school for spring break. Keep in mind that this is usually a few weeks before and a few weeks after the Easter holiday, or the first few weeks of April. If you can manage to skip the spring break rush, spring may actually be a decent time crowd-wise. There aren’t nearly as many people in town as there are during the summer, and the weather is actually really beautiful with little rain and average temperatures in the 60s, 70s and low 80s with little humidity.
Best of all, some of the discounts from January and February may hold over into the spring, so it’s highly likely that you can still get a good deal on lodging and tickets to attractions. By Memorial Day weekend, the crowds really start to ramp up, so be sure to get in ahead of that holiday weekend.
Tips for when to go
Orlando’s status as a tourist mecca means that “off-season” is a relative term. It’s rare that you’ll find a Disney park that’s not crowded with visitors, after all. However, there are some ways to strategize for the least crowded, most comfortable Orlando vacation experience possible.
- Beating the Florida Heat
Summer in Florida is hot and humid, which may sound nice. But when you throw in potential hours of waiting in line and walking around a theme park with your kids, that heat and humidity can be quite uncomfortable. The heat can even be dangerous, particularly for young children, though parks tend to provide multiple ways of keeping their guests safe and comfortable. However, given that weather in Orlando tends to be pretty nice year-round, there’s no need to tough it out during the peak-heat months of June through September. Conveniently, these also tend to be the rainiest months in the area. Why not wait until fall or spring instead?
- Avoiding Peak-Season Crowds
Orlando has multiple peak seasons, and they tend to coincide with any major school breaks. Spring, summer and Christmas breaks are all popular times for families to visit. If you’re planning on traveling with kids, you may want to consider taking some time off from school to make the trip less hectic and reduce time spent waiting in line for rides.
Given both weather and crowds, the months of January (after winter break concludes) through March (before spring break starts) are a good choice, as are September and October. Special theme park events may not be as common during these off-season times, but admission, lodging and airfare prices are typically lower.
- Hitting the Beach
Florida is a thin state with miles and miles of beachy coastline, and a lot of visitors assume that they’ll be able to find a beach house rental in Orlando that lets them enjoy waves in the morning and theme park activities in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it’s not quite this simple — Orlando is located inland from the coast, and the drive from nearby oceanside resorts like Cocoa Beach isn’t exactly fast enough to allow for quick trips to the parks.
The closest you’ll come to beach rentals in Orlando are hotels and other lodging options in the parks that are near manmade beaches by pools or lakes. Think about this as you’re considering where to stay in Orlando, and keep in mind that most hotels here have pools. Visitors hoping to find Orlando beach houses with actual ocean access should plan their trips to include a separate visit to Daytona or Cocoa Beach to the east.
Stay in the Middle of Everything
Many Kissimmee rental properties are located within close proximity to the popular theme parks and premier Orlando shopping destinations. If you’re vacationing in the area and don’t want to spend your entire trip at a single park, vacation rentals near Disney World put you in the middle of everything, so you can do Disney one day and SeaWorld the next. You’re also not limited to park dining options, which gives you the opportunity to try out some of the hottest restaurants in the Orlando food scene. Or, simply dine on some takeout after a long day of park hopping.
Make the Most of Non-Park Days
A trip to Orlando would hardly be complete without visiting one or more of the theme parks located there. But tickets for the whole family can really add up. Consider adding in some non-park days to your itinerary to save a little money and help yourself explore the nearby area. With a variety of malls, restaurants and local attractions to choose from, you won’t even miss the long ride lines. You’ll be refreshed and ready to head back to the parks the next morning. Best time to go tip: Midweek is usually slower, even in peak season.
Enjoy the Benefits of Home
Staying in a rental home versus a hotel room gives you many of the benefits of staying in your own home. Amenities such as a full-sized kitchen let you save time and money by letting you cook a meal or two a day instead of eating out for each one. Many Kissimmee home rentals also have perks like backyard pools that let you relax in privacy after a long day at the park.
Live Like a Local
Staying off of park property gives you the advantage of enjoying Kissimmee at a local’s pace. You can check out nearby attractions, such as walking trails, golf courses and farmers markets, that you’d otherwise miss out on. Additionally, you can find a favorite coffee shop that’s not swamped with tourists or plastered with mouse ears to enjoy your morning routine before heading off on your day’s adventure.
Bring the Whole Crew
If you have a larger family or enjoy vacationing with friends, a Kissimmee rental home gives you the option to stay with everyone in one location. Many vacation homes easily accommodate six to eight people, but there are options for staying with larger groups of 20 or more. The best part? Everyone can simply split the cost, rather than having to shell out for their own hotel rooms.
When you’re deciding where to stay in Orlando, consider these areas near central Florida theme parks.
Disney World Resorts
With theme parks, shopping and entertainment districts and hotels stretched across 40 square miles, spending your entire vacation on Disney property is easy to do. The resorts range from value properties like All-Star Resorts to deluxe retreats, including classic Disney hotels like Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Wilderness Lodge. Staying on Disney property or in rentals near Disney World offers several advantages that save you time. In most cases, you just hop on the monorail or a Disney bus to get to the parks so you don’t have to deal with traffic in the area. In fact, you can skip driving all together since the hotels have airport transportation service. Resort guests also enjoy Extra Magic Hours, MagicBands and priority access to FastPass and dining reservations.
International Drive North
Orlando offers vacationers more than the Disney experience. If your plans also include a visit to Universal Studios, check out the hotels and resorts available on International Drive. This major boulevard east of Walt Disney World is home to national chain hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. You also find amusement park-style rides, and a multi-story McDonald’s restaurant. The hotels along the northern section of International Drive are located close to the gates of Universal Studios, and I-Drive’s proximity to I-4 makes the area convenient for visiting any part of the city.
International Drive South
The south section of I-Drive runs from Sand Lake Road to World Center Drive south of I-4. Like the northern part of the road, this section has a selection of chain hotels and restaurants. There is also a miniature golf facility and minor attractions. If your vacation plans include a visit to one of Sea World’s parks or a stop at the convention center, consider staying at a property in the area. International Drive also leads to one of Orlando’s outlet malls. There’s still plenty to see and do on the south side of the road, but there tends to be less traffic here.
Kissimmee may not have the name recognition as Orlando, but this town to the south of Lake Buena Vista is just as close to the parks. U.S. 192, which runs from U.S. 27 in neighboring Polk County to the beach in Indialantic, is the main road through the town and home to a variety of local and chain hotels. If you’re willing to stay farther away from Disney’s gates, you can find budget-friendly rooms here. As a bonus, you can spend a few hours at Old Town, a local entertainment center with a brick-paved street, carnival games, amusement park-style rides and boutiques.
Maingate refers to the section of Kissimmee located closest to Disney property, and some hotels in the area are actually closer than Orlando sites. In fact, Maingate East hotels offer convenient access to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, while Maingate West hotels are closer to Animal Kingdom. The properties here range from lakeside hotels and quaint motels to contemporary condos and golf resorts. If you decide to stay here, just keep in mind that the hotels in Maingate are not actually on Disney property, and guests do not enjoy the same perks as Disney guests.
Like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios has its own resort properties located near the original Universal Park and Islands of Adventure. The themed hotels provide easy access to the parks via boats, but they also have partner hotels in the Orlando area so that guests can enjoy their time in Orlando while staying within their budgets. Universal Studios is a short drive away from the Disney resort via I-4, so it’s an option if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation at Walt Disney World or plan to divide your time between Disney and Universal.
Located 20 miles north east of Walt Disney World and Lake Buena Vista, Orlando’s urban core has its own collection of luxury and boutique hotels nestled between galleries, theaters and nightclubs. If you’re looking for luxury digs and can live without your favorite characters, consider downtown. The Ritz Carlton Orlando, the Waldorf Astoria and Four Seasons Resort Orlando are all part of the skyline here. Downtown is also home to some local parks where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks and resorts.