A week in Orlando

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We spent a week in Orlando in the middle of the summer on a budget. This is what we did and how we saved money.

Orlando is one of the most popular destinations on the planet. Its main attraction is Disney World. Orlando is well deserving of its many visitors, however, a trip there can get expensive rather quickly.

Disney offers many great deals for families that are interested in staying for an extended period of time and want to surround themselves in an all things Disney experience. However, Orlando is so much more than Disney, and for those that want to experience the other parks and everything else that Orlando has to offer, the Disney packages are not the best deals.

We decided to see what we can do in Orlando for a week. We split our hotel stay in two. We picked a budget hotel to start our stay and then a more notable hotel to finish off our trip comfortably.

You can read about how we spent:

3 days at Cypress Pointe Resort Orlando

4 Days at the new Margaritaville Resort in Orlando.

Day 1 - Jlo Consert

Our first day in Orlando we went to see JLo for her 50th Birthday Party concert.

We like going to concerts and events when we visit other cities. We save money this way. This concert was the inspiration for the trip.

When we looked up the prices for the concert at Madison Square Garden the tickets were close to $250 each. We started looking at other venues on the tour to see their prices. In Orlando, similar tickets in a similar area were about $90 each. We decided to purchase the tickets and use the money we saved for the plane tickets!

We used Plumbenefits for our tickets, Plumbenefits is available to members of the NJEA through their Website. However, many teachers in New Jersey have no idea that this is available to them. You can check if you have access to this Website through one of your professional organizations. We are not affiliated with this Website, but we are big fans of all their benefits.

You also have access to many of these same deals with a Sams Club membership.

If you are looking for tickets, we found similar prices at Ticketnetwork.com.

The concert was great and we took many great pictures.

We took rideshare to the concert. The trip from Cypress Pointe Resort to the Amway Center was about $19 and took about 30 minutes. However, always keep in mind that the return trip will be very expensive. When the concert ended rideshare was about $60 for the return trip. We suggest that you find a place to wait and relax after the concert so that you dont have to pay the surge pricing after the concert. After about 1 hour, prices back to the resort were down to $22.

We were disappointed that we could not see the rest of downtown Orlando, however, many locals told us that there was not much to the actual downtown area other than the businesses. However, there are many night clubs, and a vibrant and active nightlife in the downtown area, if that is what you are seeking.

Day 3 - Shopping

On our second day we went to the Vineland Outlets to do some shopping.

The Vineland Outlets were great, but not as big as we thought it would be. We found some great deals at the Crocs Outlet (Yikes) and at Colombia. Remember to pick up the outlet maps at the information center since we saved money by using the coupons on the maps!

These outlets looked like they were close to the hotel, but we must caution you that everything looks very close on the map. It was definitely not walking distance from our hotel and we had to use a ride-share service to get there. It was a much longer ride than we thought it would be. However, you can definitely take the Iride Trolley if you are staying close to International Drive. It is definitely a great deal that we will take into consideration the next time we are picking a hotel in Orlando.

We were incredibly lucky that we planned this trip to the outlets so early because we ended up using some of the items that we bought at Disney. We mainly bought rain gear since there was more rain than usual in the forecast for our visit.

I'm not a big fan of Crocs. However, they are very comfortable and they have different styles that do not have their iconic look. We bought the following products from the Croc Outlet store.

After visiting the outlets, we went down to the Main Gate Flea Market. We were not overly impressed with this location, however, if you are looking for some inexpensive gifts to take back home, this may be the place to look for them. It was just touristy for our taste.

We also recommend the Orlando Sightseeing Pass. You will be able to get deep discounts on many s attractions in the area. This card is especially useful if you are planning to visit multiple attraction .

Day 3 - Mission: Find Mickey

On our second day, we went to Disney World for a rain filled adventure. We bought a Park Hopper ticket from BestofOrlando.com for the day. We started our day at Magic Kingdom and then went to Epcot.

If you are visiting Disney for the first time, you should always start with Magic Kingdom. Since it was my wife's first time, we went to experience the main park. Our mission was to find Mickey.

It was raining hard for the first part of the day, we decided that this was the best time to go because we could avoid the crowds! This was a great choice. For the most part, Disney was not crowded in the middle of the summer.

There were still plenty of families with their kids. There is not much flexibility if you buy a one or two day ticket far in advance. Most of the families had ponchos and were well covered. However, many of the people that stay for 5 days or longer tend to use rain days to enjoy other activities. So the lines are not as long on rainy days.

Our main goal was simply to see Mickey and explore the park and then head on over to Epcot. We found Mickey right away, he is in one of the first buildings to the right when you first enter. The line was about 45 minutes long without a FastPass.

By the way, set-up a FastPass if you will go to Disney, it helps with the lines. It is free, but you need to plan out your day before you go. We spent an hour and half waiting to get on one of the rides, and when you only have one day, that hurts. If you wait til the day of, you will miss out, like we did.

Food is expensive at Disney, so we bought some huge sandwiches from our hotel and ate them for a late lunch. We only bought some coffee at the park, and it was not to our liking.

We took ride-share to and from Disney from Cypress Pointe Resort. The cost was less than $15 each way.

We will be writing more on our Disney Experience... Stay tuned.

Day 4 - From One HOtel To another

On Day 4 we moved from Cypress Pointe to Margaritaville Resort. Cypress Pointe has a $250 fine if you check out late, so we made sure to leave on time. Unfortunately, that meant that we would get to Margaritaville early.

Margaritaville was so accommodating! They had a room ready for us and let us check in. We had already stored our luggage, but they brought it right up to our room.

After checking out the hotel, we took a walk to one of our favorite stores to visit in Florida, Ross, that was in the complex in front of the hotel. We then had a huge lunch at On The Border and stopped to get some supplies at Target. All within walking distance of the Resort.

However, we didn't get our timing right and we got soaked on our way out of Target.

Day 5 - The Wheel at Icon Park

We were planning to enjoy the hotel, however, we found tickets to a Peruvian Fest in Orlando. So we headed down to Icon Park to check it out.

Icon Park is a free amusement center in the middle of the International Drive. It has 2 major rides that you can pay for individually. It also has quite a few restaurants that you can enjoy.

The Peruvian fest was interesting but small. It was also HOT. So we went to seek shelter and get a quick bite to eat. This is where we ended up by The Wheel At Icon Park.

Right by the wheel there was also a person that stopped us and asked us to play a game that initially looked like it was associated with the Wheel, but was just a way of getting us to sign up for a Timeshare Presentation.

I usually stay far away from these offers. However, they offered us free tickets to SeaWorld which included breakfast at the Timeshare presentation and a free lunch at Sea World. We had an empty day the following day and this seemed reasonable for people on a budget and we wanted to have the experience so we can write about it. We went for it.

You can Read about our experience with a Wyndham Timeshare Presentation here.

We finished walking around Icon Park and decided to look up tickets for the attraction. We found discount tickets at BestofOrlando.com.

You can read about our experience on The Wheel at Icon Park Here.

After our trip to Icon Park we went back to our hotel where we met up with some relatives and enjoyed the evening.

Day 6 Timeshare Presentation and Seaworld

We went to a Timeshare presentation for Wyndham that we thought would last 2 hours. Boy, were we wrong.

We started the presentation a little after 8 AM and we finished around 1 PM. We then went back to the hotel, dropped off some materials and then headed out to SeaWorld.

After the Timeshare presentation we were hungry and not in the best of moods. Again, it was hot and we had a little trouble looking for a place to eat at SeaWorld. Once we found a place recommended by a Wyndham representative, we ate and were disappointed on our limited options. We purchased 2 small salads on the sides, and the price still came out to about $20.

We enjoyed two shows at SeaWorld and then the sky started to go crazy again. Instead of seeking temporary shelter, we called it a night and went back to Margaritaville. We had dinner at Euphoria and called it a night.

If you want to visit SeaWorld, we recommend buying the tickets. You can buy tickets to SeaWorld from BestofOrlando.com here.

Day 7 - Clearwater Beach

We took a tour to Clearwater Beach from Orlando. This was a welcome change form the day before and a better day.

At the time, we were able to get tickets on sale. We paid about $100 for both of us. The price included lunch. The pick up was close to our hotel. The ride to and from Clearwater was a little under 2 hours. The lunch was great! You can find great deals on tickets for the Clearwater Bus tour on BestofOrlando.com.

We found Clearwater Beach to be amazing! However, because of all the rain, the water was not as clear as we expected it to be. We had a great time, we rented a small cabana and chairs and just enjoyed our time at the beach. It went way too fast. However, we are planning to return and make this a more focal part of our trip.

You can read more about Our Trip to Clearwater Beach Here.

When we returned we went into a big souvenir shop that had great prices. We had dinner at a local restaurant and went home to pack up.