We’re in for a real treat today. Josh Elledge is a very energetic guy who absolutely loves his new hometown of Orlando. He is an expert at saving time AND money whenever you visit theme parks, so get ready for some awesome tips. Josh knows the best things to do in Orlando and is ready to share all of his secrets with my listeners.
Orlando is home to some of the most visited theme parks in the world. It is so popular that it has the 2nd highest concentration of hotel rooms in the world! But there’s so much more to see and do in Orlando than just theme parks.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Visit Orlando, the local convention and visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests. Be sure to download the Visit Orlando app to help plan your trip. When we visit Orlando, we go to the Best of Orlando website to save money on the most popular attractions.
Best things to do in Orlando
Here are some of the best things to do in Orlando, Florida, according to our local expert, Josh Elledge. And I’ve added some additional options based on my research and places I’ve visited.
- Amway Center – catch a professional basketball game with the Orlando Magic playing the NBA’s best teams.
- City Arts Factory – offers four different art galleries under one roof. Free admission to help your pocketbook.
- Cornell Fine Arts Museum – view more than 5,500 works that range from an ancient sarcophagus to the latest in 21st-century art. Admission is always free.
- Disney Springs – a lively area that has plenty of restaurants, bars, and other things to do. It is free to enter and walk around.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – my favorite ride here is the Rockin’ Roller Coaster.
- Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts – was named one of Travel + Leisure magazine’s “25 New Tourist Attractions Worth Adding to Your Bucket List” when it opened in 2014. They produce more than 300 shows every year.
- Epcot – my favorite thing to do at Epcot is to go around the world and sample food and drinks from all of the countries represented.
- Gatorland – a full day’s worth of fun with alligators and other assorted local animals. Ride a zipline, take an off-road adventure, or even be a trainer for a day. A unique experience your family won’t forget.
- Giraffe Ranch – get to know giraffes and other species from around the world, all in a setting that seems right out of Africa with huge live oaks and open grasslands.
- ICON Orlando 360 – an area filled with restaurants, rides, and attractions. The Coca-Cola Eye is 400 feet tall and offers breathtaking views of the city.
- I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing – zoom around the race track and head for the finish line. At 45 mph, these cars are fast!
- Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – I remember visiting Kennedy Space Center with my parents as a kid. It was inspiring being so close to NASA and astronauts. I highly recommend it.
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort – for kids that love building with Legos and the Lego Movie, this is the place to be. There are stations throughout the park with trays of Legos to build. You can trade Lego characters with theme park staff.
- Orlando International Airport – I’ve been able to find great deals to fly through Orlando’s airport. They have good lounges that you can access with the Priority Pass. We wrote a review of the Club at MCO to give you a taste of the airport lounge.
- Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park – is an action-packed adventure park! There are 97 challenges for climbers of every level with challenging bridges taking you higher and higher into the forest canopy until you are 50 feet atop our pine tree forest. Finish on a pair of 425-foot plunging zip lines.
- Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf – have a great time with the family playing mini golf at a pirate-themed course. They have two 18-hole courses to choose from. Who will walk the plank?
- SeaWorld Orlando – get up close and personal with fish and creatures from the sea. There are some theme park rides here as well.
- Universal Studios Florida – as an adult, I like the rides at Universal Studios better than Disney, which are often geared towards children.
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure – the Harry Potter attractions are amazing. We watched all of the movies again before our last visit which helped to enhance the fun. Get a park hopper pass to ride the Hogwart’s Express between both Universal parks.
- Visit Orlando’s Official Visitor Center – very friendly people here that will help you with coupons, itineraries, and the latest schedule of shows in Orlando.
- Walt Disney World Resort – the Happiest Place on Earth.
- Wekiwa Springs State Park – explore this state park and consider camping overnight.
- Wicked Airboat Rides – head out into the swamps on an airboat to experience the natural beauty of central Florida. You’ll even see some gators in their natural habitat.
- Wild Florida Airboats & Gator Park – offers the best of both worlds – interactive animal exhibits and airboat rides to explore nature.
- WonderWorks Orlando – an interactive children’s museum with more than 100 hands-on exhibits for all ages.
- Zombie Outbreak – a new twist on laser tag combined with the popularity of zombie TV shows.
Before you head to any of the Disney theme parks, download this Kindle book written by my friend Dia Adams – Disney World Hacks: Proven Tips To Save On Your Disney Vacation. Dia writes the travel blog The Deal Mommy and she always offers great travel advice for families.
If you can schedule your visit to Orlando during October, you’re in for a real treat. Many of the theme parks offer Halloween versions that are some of the best in the world. This is Josh’s favorite time to visit the theme parks.
Here’s a short list of the current events happening in Orlando that you can buy tickets for.
Looking for other things to do? Here are the top 10 sightseeing tickets and packages for Orlando, Florida.
Or, you can buy one of the Lonely Planet books, which are another excellent resource. Their current promo offers 3 books for the price of two.
Best places to eat in Orlando
Orlando may not be the first place you think of for exotic cuisine, but there is a wide variety of food options because it is such a popular tourist destination. You’ll find plenty of chain restaurants and many high-end dining experiences that cater to every budget. Because Orlando is such an entertainment destination, you can choose from many foodertainment (see what I did there?) option that combines good food and a fun show. Here are the best places to eat in Orlando.
- Broken Cauldron Taproom and Brewery – sample some of Orlando’s local craft brews. Broken Cauldron Brewery is actually two in one: Broken Strings Brewery and Black Cauldron Brewing. Each produces distinct lines of beer, with each brewery rotating on the venue’s three-barrel system.
- Capone’s Dinner and Show – a mobster-themed dinner show right out of the Roaring 20s.
- Dead Lizard Brewing Company – uses fresh hops from the family-owned Artesian Hops farm, they brew bold beers infused with a distinct bouquet of subtle flavors.
- Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi – with a reputation as Orlando’s best Japanese restaurant, Dragonfly offers Japanese gastropub cuisine with a diverse menu. Dishes are served tapas-style, so bring your friends.
- Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar – is a Prohibition Era-style speakeasy complete with a “secret” entrance.
- ICEBAR Orlando – come taste the cold at the coolest bar in town. Don’t worry, if you didn’t bring a jacket, they have extras for you.
- Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar – is based on the blockbuster Indiana Jones movies.
- Margaritaville Restaurant at Universal CityWalk – I love margaritas. Jimmy Buffet’s restaurant is the perfect place to rest your weary feet and grab a drink after being at the Universal theme parks all day.
- Sea Dog Brewing Company Orlando – Anna and I met some friends here during our visit for FinCon 2018. We had a blast and the craft brews were delicious.
- STK Orlando – offers a modern twist on the traditional American steakhouse featuring an innovative menu mixed with a high-energy atmosphere.
- The Edison – is a steampunk-influenced restaurant, bar and nightlife hotspot with nightly entertainment, including burlesque dancers on weekends!
- Uno Pizzeria & Grill – famous in Chicago, Uno Pizzeria opened a location here in Orlando to introduce travelers to Chicago’s unique style of pizza. So good, but can you eat more than one slice?
During the fall is the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The “countries” around the lake at Epcot always have ethnic food and drinks to try, but they go all out during the festival. The food is absolutely delicious and you can usually grab something in the $5 to $10 range everywhere you go.
Best places to stay in Orlando
There are really two distinct options when visiting Orlando for hotels:
- hotels that are “on property” that provide extra benefits or
- hotels that aren’t on-property, but can be less expensive.
Both Disney and Universal offer hotels with extra theme park benefits for their guests. If you’re going to be in Orlando for several nights, I would suggest staying at an on-property hotel on nights before going to the park to get the extra benefits. And when you’re done going to the theme parks, hop to a different hotel that is less expensive or is closer to the other activities you have planned, including just lounging by the pool and enjoying the hotel amenities.
When you come to visit the theme park capital of the world, here are the best places to stay in Orlando.
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs Resort Area – this Best Western category 3 hotel is 16,000 points. It offers “Extra Magic hours” at the Disney parks.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Orlando, FL – when traveling with the family, free breakfast is crucial to staying on budget. This Radisson Rewards category 3 hotel is 28,000 points per night.
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside – pick ANY of the Disney-owned resorts and receive early admission to the theme parks. If you can, book one of the Disney resorts that offer both the boat and the shuttle system so you have choices to get around. Disney-owned resorts also offer rides from the airport.
- Hard Rock Hotel – staying at this Universal Studios’-owned hotel gives you early admission to Universal Studios.
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs Area – this Hilton Honors category 6 hotel is 30,000 to 50,000 points per night. It offers “Extra Magic hours” at the Disney parks.
- Holiday Inn Orlando-Disney Springs Area – this IHG Rewards category 6 hotel is 35,000 points per night. It offers “Extra Magic hours” at the Disney parks.
- Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – has a private lake or hit the links at a 45-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course. This World of Hyatt category 4 hotel is 15,000 points per night. Cardholders of the Chase World of Hyatt credit card can use the annual free night certificate to stay here for free.
- Walt Disney World Swan Resort – this Marriott Rewards category 6 hotel is 40,000 to 60,000 points per night. It offers “Extra Magic hours” at the Disney parks.
- Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs Resort Area – all Wyndham Rewards hotels are 15,000 points per night. It offers “Extra Magic hours” at the Disney parks.
AirBnB is also a great option. Use our referral link to get $40 off your first AirBnB stay.
The last couple of visits to Orlando, we used timeshare promotions to stay for a fraction of the cost of a normal hotel, but with all of the space and conveniences of a condo. For example, this Hilton Grand Vacations Club promo offers 4 days and 3 nights for only $149.
If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Josh Elledge about Orlando, Florida. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Orlando, Florida.
- Green dots = best things to do in Orlando, Florida.
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Orlando, Florida.
Who is Josh Elledge?
Josh Elledge is a U.S. Navy veteran from Michigan. He founded the consumer savings platform SavingsAngel.com in 2007 to bring in what he most needed at the time (namely, more money). Through his savvy marketing skills, this company has grossed more than $6 million in sales with less than $500 in advertising.
He launched UpMyInfluence.com on the back of the skills he perfected making SavingsAngel.com a powerhouse in the coupon industry. Josh’s mission is to help turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities increasing their authority, influence, and revenue.
Josh writes a syndicated newspaper column to 1.1 million readers and regularly appears on more than 75 TV stations across the country. All told, Josh has appeared in the media more than 2000 times.
Here are a couple of articles that he’s written:
- How to Save On Your Next Trip to Orlando
- How To Earn Easy Cash For Holiday Shopping
- How to Use Social Media to Get Traditional Media Coverage
As you can tell, Josh has an immense knowledge on how to save money across all areas of life. And, for business owners and influencers, Josh is the man with the plan for getting you more media exposure!
Big thanks to today’s podcast sponsor – Credit Land
This episode is brought to you, in part, by Credit-Land.com. Credit Land analyzes all of the credit card offers available to search for the best deals so they can bring you the cards with the biggest bonuses, lowest interest rates, and best benefits.
I use travel credit cards extensively to lower our family’s travel expenses and trust Credit Land to help me know whether I should jump on an offer or let it go. Visit WeTravelThere.com/creditland for more details.
Stay tuned for our next episode
Listen to the next episode when Nick True of Mapped Out Money shares why Chattanooga, Tennessee was chosen as one of the top 10 U.S. destinations you need to see by Lonely Planet. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.
What’s your favorite part of Orlando? Let us know in the comment section below or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!
To learn more about the best things to do in Florida, listen to these episodes:
- Pirate Festival, Dali Museum & Mermaids in Tampa Bay, Florida
- Mardi Gras, Shell Island & Annual Blessing of the Fleet in Panama City, Florida
- Sandcastle Competition, Chihuly Museum & RibFest in St Petersburg, Florida