Visit Orlando Blog
From patriotic packages to "spa-tacular" specials, Orlando offers dazzling deals for Independence Day celebrations.
Things to do:
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is offering free admission July 4 from 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Orlando Balloon Rides is offering discounted hot air balloon rides at $150 per person for bookings made July 1-8, and with each paying adult, one child (ages 4-10) rides free. The sunrise adventure includes a one-hour flight, champagne toast and buffet breakfast after the flight. 407-894-5040
Orlando Premium Outlets is hosting a "July 4th Summer Sale" June 30-July 4 at both the International Drive and Vineland Avenue locations. Enjoy extra savings on top of already low prices at stores like Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. 407-238-7787 (Vineland Avenue); 407-352-9600 (International Drive)
The Spa at The Peabody is offering a "Spa-tacular" special July 4 that features select 50-minute facial and massage treatments for $99 each. Spa treatments include the Deep Tissue Massage, Gentle Swedish Massage, Hydra Memory Moisture Facial and Anti-Aging Collagen Facial. 407-345-4431
Places to stay:
CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort Orlando is offering a special package for stays July 1-3 that includes a one-night stay, $10 food/beverage credit, free parking and up to four water park passes for $149. 407-351-2626
At Hapimag-Lake Berkley Resort, stay two nights and get the third consecutive night at 50 percent off for stays July 1-8. Mention promo code "4th of July 2011" when booking. 866-694-2746
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is hosting an old-fashioned cookout celebration July 2 from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. featuring an all-you-can eat barbeque, live music and carnival games with prizes. Tickets are $45 for adults and $25 for children ages 3-9. 800-227-1500
We know there are plenty of places to fly in Orlando--hot air balloons, helicopter tours, even the Peter Pan ride--but to fly over a gator breeding marsh? Now there's a first.
This summer, Gatorland welcomed a new high-flying adventure to its park--the Screamin' Gator Zip Line. At heights exceeding seven stories, riders zip over Orlando's wildlife (including more than 130 gators!) on five intense zip lines at speeds of 25 miles per hour.
Check out our zip line adventure that had us screaming, "this is
What: Screamin' Gator Zip Line at Gatorland Orlando
When: Flight times available daily; reservations required
Cost: $69.99 including all-day admission
Info: Gatorland website or 407-855-5496
Helpful hint: Download our free Magicard for special deals in Orlando, including a free train ride at Gatorland with each paid admission.
If you're visiting Orlando this summer, heat up the fun and cool down the spending with these deals for accommodations, attractions, arts and culture and more.
Celebrate and save:
In honor of Orlando drawing more than 50 million visitors in 2010, Orlando's three Marriott Resorts are offering a limited-time "Nifty Fifty" package featuring savings of up to 50 percent, a $50 resort credit and a 50-minute spa treatment of choice. The Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, Orlando World Center Marriott (pictured) and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes are offering this nifty package for a minimum of two-night reservations made by June 30 (valid for travel through December 31). Use rate code ZJL at time of booking.
Save where you stay:
Orlando Vista Hotel is offering summer rates from $49.99 per night for dates June 6 - Aug. 31 (based on availability). This offer can be booked using code LSSS1 now through Aug. 31. 407-239-4646
Sky Hotels & Resorts is offering a "Splash & Scream" package that includes a one-bedroom suite (upgrades to multi-bedroom suites available), complimentary four-pack of tickets to both Universal Orlando Resort and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, beach towels and pizza party. Nightly rates start at $255 for a family of four through Aug. 31. 866-455-4062
Star Island Resort & Club is offering 20 percent off reserved two-night stays and 30 percent off reserved three-night stays June 27 - Aug. 31. 407-513-2820
Staybridge Suites of Orlando is offering up to two nights free when you book a "Disney Theme Park Package." The package includes suite accommodations, theme park tickets, breakfast buffet and scheduled shuttle to Walt Disney World Resort. The package is available at both the International Drive and Lake Buena Vista locations. 800-866-4549
Save where you play:
Putting Edge Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf is offering a summer "Fun Pass" at a 20 percent discounted rate. For $59.99, the pass can be used for up to four people at a time (one play each). The pass, which can be redeemed for up to nine plays, is valid for one year. 407-248-0700
Marriott's Grande Pines Golf Club is offering a $39 one-week rental. Rent golf clubs on your first day and use them for the rest of the week at no additional cost. 407-239-6909
Orange County Regional History Center is offering free admission for up to four children (ages 12 and under) with one paid adult admission every Monday as part of "Mondays at the Museum" June 13 - Aug. 8. Adult admission is $9.
Richard Petty Driving Experience is offering "Buy One Ride-Along, Get a Second Ride-Along" free at the Walt Disney World Speedway through August 31. Visit Walt Disney World Speedway during business hours and mention "Visit Orlando" to take advantage of this offer. 800-237-3889
Enjoy this special post by syndicated travel writer and mom, Eileen Ogintz:
Face it. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you spend you can't do it all. Not in Orlando.
There's just too much to see and do. So whether it is your first trip or your 15th or 50th, make it your mantra to relax. You don't want to be that grim-faced parent we all see in the theme parks determined to get their money's worth, no matter if the kids are cranky and everyone is exhausted.
You don't have to spend every day racing from roller coaster to show to character opportunity. It's about the memories, after all. It's about having fun. Head out early and come back and play in the pool. Skip the parks entirely one day. Go shopping (did you know Orlando is one of the nation's five top shopping destinations?). Let the kids go to an organized hotel camp while you go to the spa, play tennis or golf. It's your vacation too!
Remember you don't have to stay in lockstep either -- especially if you are with a big family group. Give everyone permission to head in different directions and meet for dinner -- or not.
The most important thing is to stop fretting about what you can't do (the lines that were too long, the restaurant you couldn't get a reservation at) and focus on what you can do -- with a minimum of stress.
Don't fret about money either. You are on vacation, after all. You've earned it. And you can stay on budget with a little effort. Families tell me if they are staying at Walt Disney World, the meal plan really helps. Others swear by accommodations with kitchens so they can save on breakfasts and some dinners.
One parent I know gives the kids gift cards with the amount they can spend on souvenirs. That helps from giving in to impulse buys.
Let each of the kids pick one must-see attraction for each day you are heading to the park. Alternate who gets to hit theirs first. (And yes, parents get a pick too!)
Feel better? See you at the pool.
To read more family travel tips from Eileen, visit takingthekids.com.
Show your appreciation for dad this Father's Day in Orlando without breaking the bank. Here are some of the special deals going on June 19.
Celebrate Father's Day family-style at Bok Tower Gardens, where dads get in free. June 19 is also "Bring Your Own Picnic Day," so find a peaceful spot, spread out a blanket and relax to the sounds of the carillon.
Explore Central Florida's history with dad at the Orange County Regional History Center where he gets in free.
If your dad is more of the meat-and-potatoes kind, treat him to a free steak at Charley's Steakhouse (with purchase of an adult entrée of equal or greater value) or another Talk of the Town Restaurant. Looking for a more sports pub atmosphere? Beef ‘O' Brady's is offering dad a free meal.
Catch the feature film, "Field of Dreams," at Enzian. Dad receives a complimentary beer after the movie. Admission is $8 per person.
Experience the exhilaration of aviation at Fantasy of Flight, where dad gets in free when accompanied by a paying guest.
Pamper pops at The Spa at The Peabody. Father's Day packages include the "Daddy and Me" manicure/pedicure service and the "Dad's Retreat" full-body treatment. Service and package prices range from $50-$210.
For more activity ideas for dad, check out our trip ideas generator.
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, but for Iris Renoux and her friends from California, even planning one girls night out was challenging. With city-life schedules and different personalities, these 20-something ladies needed a vacation makeover.
To create the ultimate girlfriends getaway for this Orlando Vacation Makeover winner, the Visit Orlando team and Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom, went all out with the most luxurious, indulgent and exhilarating itinerary yet.
See how we turned these girlfriends' stress into serenity in our final Vacation Makeover video. To see all the Vacation Makeover videos and to learn more about the featured activities, click here.
With the help of our Facebook fans, here's our list of the hottest summer "must-dos" in the Orlando area.
1. Our Facebook fan Tiffany N. suggests Gatorland, and starting this month, experience 1,200 feet of high-flying adventure on the new Screamin' Gator Zip Line.
2. Explore The Grand Reef, opening June 10 at Discovery Cove. For a more exhilarating adventure, try the underwater walking tour, SeaVenture, which offers up-close encounters with schools of fish and rays. Don't forget to swim with the dolphins while you're there (from Facebook fan Allison W.).
3. Cycle through the treetops on the Cypress Canopy Cycle, a new ecotourism experience at Forever Florida that's the first of its kind in the U.S.
4. Spend your summer nights swaying to the tunes of live concerts at the Amway Center, House of Blues, Hard Rock Live Orlando or check out the summer concert series at Universal Studios (Saturday nights June 11-July 16) and Epcot (June 12 - July 30).
6. The summer must-do from Facebook fan Amanda P.? "EAT!" Well, treat your taste buds at one of Orlando's newest eateries like Pine 22 and Chico's Dirty Tacos and Tequila in downtown Orlando or Cocina 214 in Winter Park.
7. Beat the summer heat at Orlando's coolest water parks, including Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark, Wet ‘n Wild - Orlando (from Facebook fan Justin E.), Disney's Typhoon Lagoon or Disney's Blizzard Beach.
8. If kicking back at cool pool is a must for your resort stay, check out the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa or Orlando World Center Marriott (editor's note: their pool was voted one of the World's Coolest Hotel Pools by Forbes!).
10. Keep the family cool at one of Orlando's indoor museums like the Orlando Science Center, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art or even Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium (from Facebook fans Joe K. and Christi S.).
For more vacation ideas, check out our YouTube channel featuring videos from our Orlando Vacation Makeovers and our Smile Ambassadors Kyle and Stacey, who spent 67 days experiencing all that Orlando has to offer.
If planning a vacation was left up to these two sisters from Arizona, they'd live at Orlando's theme parks for days on end. But mixing in husbands with different interests and two kids can be one challenging roadblock.
After eight years of trying to plan an extended family vacation with her older sister's family, Roberta Davidson knew it was time for a vacation makeover.
As one of the winners from our Orlando Vacation Makeover contest earlier this year, Davidson dreamed of a vacation that combined theme park thrills, kid-centric activities and family fun that would create a new meaning of "vacation" for the hubbies.
Here's how the Visit Orlando team and Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom, made all that happen and more. To see all the Vacation Makeover videos and to learn more about the featured activities, click here.