For some people, a trip to Orlando is a once in a lifetime trip (I have been once with all my family and once on a press trip with Maxi). Travelling to the USA can be expensive and if you are like me then you will want to make sure you have all bases covered like getting your ESTA ! My brother and his family travel to Orlando on a regular basis (it is their happy place) and so he is sharing some of his top tips for travelling to Orlando.
I sometimes find that travel can give me anxiety so being organised in advance really helps me. My brother is an expert planner especially as he travels to Orlando pretty much every year and does all the planning, which is why I always defer to him when it comes to Orlando planning. I think that there is so much information and advice about it which can, in turn, make it overwhelming.
Our first tip would be to remember that this is your holiday. So do it your way. Try not to give in to the pressure to make it all things for everyone and schedule activities for every second.
Before you travel to Orlando:
Get your ESTA
As you are travelling to America you need to make sure you have an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) for each member of your party. An ESTA is not an actual piece of paper, but an electronic travel document that allows you to travel to America and is valid for two years and gives you unlimited trips to the US for that two years.
It can sound scary, but an ESTA is not a VISA so it can be done entirely online, so there is no need to visit the U.S. embassy in London and also no need for everyone to apply for their own as it is possible to submit a group application, by filling in multiple travellers in one form so you don’t have to worry about anyone else in your party not doing it (this means I can be in control and know that everyone travelling will be allowed access).
It takes about three days for an ESTA application to be processed but the US recommend that you submit the ESTA application as soon as your holiday has been planned. You don’t have to have actually booked your hotel. I say better safe than sorry and do it early that way you don’t forget to apply for your ESTA!
Plan what you must see in advance. If you have some places that you are desperate to see and visit then make sure you plan these in advance. The amount and complexity of attractions make it essential to know what you want to do before you set out, including having, at the least, a rough day-by-day plan while you are there.
Buy your attraction tickets in advance. This will save you both time and money. You avoid the queues at any ticket booths and be eligible for British tickets such as the 14 and 21-Day Disney Ultimate tickets, and will be able to schedule FastPass+ times (up to 60 days in advance if you’re staying onsite at a Disney resort, or 30 days in advance if you’re staying offsite).
Top Tips for Travelling to Orlando
Make the most of your jet lag. Get up early and utilise the fact that you have the travel advantage. Use magic hours if you have them (and same at universal) or go for regular opening if you don’t. Even if you don’t have early access but go for opening the queues are definitely smaller on a morning.
Plan in rest time. All those early mornings and miles of walking and activities will take their toll. So plan in rest times, especially if you have young children. You don’t want to take exhaust yourself during the first few days. Don’t feel guilty about doing parks in the morning and pool and resting in the afternoon. You can always go back out in the evenings.
It will be HOT! So do not wear new shoes and don’t worry about what you are wearing Make sure you take suncream and use it. Take blister plasters and chub rub shorts. You are going to have lots of fun.
Find ways to reduce the queues. So use those magic hours and fast passes, at Disney, Universal Express Plus pass and Quick Queue Passes for Busch Garden and Seaworld. Or you could consider a VIP tour, which might not be as expensive as you think.