Help! What (Penny Pinched) Suggestions Do You Have For A Week In Orlando?

I received a question from a reader, but I’m not sure how to help her out so am hoping you’ll have some great ideas! Here’s her question. .  .
We’ve been offered the use of a friend’s timeshare in Orlando, and our lodging would be practically free for a week! However, we are on a VERY tight budget and can’t really afford park tickets. My boys aren’t really into Disney, but I wondered about Universal or other “NON” disney parks down and if you knew of any tips to get discounts?
Any suggestions? Leave a comment to share . . . I can’t wait to hear what you all come up with!
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  1. We did Universal Studios last June with our three girls. We did three days at Universal and then a 5 day cruise out of Miami to the Bahamas. The entire trip for our family of 5 cost under $3800, including our drive from Kansas City.

    We also purchased our tickets from a ticket broker in Orlando and saved a bunch over the gate price. Google ticket "discount tickets to Universal Orlando" and call around for the best price, don't get reeled into a timeshare presentation, you can find discount tickets without this! We used and got a 3 day pass for the price of a 2 day pass or $622.75 for five tickets. I remember it was at least $75 less than gate prices and we picked up the tickets in Orlando at their location and paid on site.

    Our girls ,who were 12, 10 and 8 at the time, thought Universal was so much better than Disney. Quite frankly, so did we. It was a great entertainment value for our dollars.

    I also suggest going on a slower time, if you can. That will save you time in lines, if nothing else.

    Also, for those who don't have a free, or nearly free place to stay. Condos are such money savers. We rented a 3 bedroom 2 bath condo for $115 a night inclusive of fees and taxes (pictures here
    and more details on how our costs broke down). I have done Orlando three different times and every time with a condo. The sanity alone is worth it. Sometimes you can find great condos for under $90 a night. Check and

    Hope this helps!

  2. Shannon says:

    Downtown Disney is free. It’s a lot of shops and dining, but it’s really neat to look at. We went at least twice while we were there. We didn’t buy anything, but they do have a Lego shop we spent a bit of time in, a person that looks like a statue was quite entertaining, and someone that was teaching dance steps to some upbeat songs. It was fun and free!

  3. I agree with the previous comments on downtown Disney, aside from the lego stuff you can also go into the T Rex cafe without eating there and have the kids play in the dino dig for a bit(free). We also like to take the boats from downtown Disney and travel and check out the different hotel lobbies and pools. I have also heard a lot of people like Old Town not far from disney and I know they offer armbands to ride the rides for the day. They also have/had coupons in the Enjoy The City Coupon books, which you can order online. I bet there are other fun activity coupons in there as well as food deals. You should be able to see what coupons are in the books online before you order one. There are some cool museums and sights along International drive, which you can usually find great coupons for too! Universal ticket prices are right up there with Disney, within a few dollars anyways. There is plenty to do in the area without visiting the parks..I would definitely take advantage of the free lodging.

    • Thanks so much for the tips Kelly – those are great! I forgot about the coupons in the Enjoy the City Books but those definitely help 🙂

  4. Sheila W says:

    I saw a post on where she listed 25 free things to do in Orlando.

  5. usually has great discounts on sea world and sometims universal. I just logged in and it is showing Sea World tickets for $59 a piece for ages 3 and up as long as you go on a week day. That is a great savings. Their tickets are usually $95 a piece! Bush Gardens is also a lot of fun as well.

    • Jennifer B. says:

      Busch Gardens is a LOT of fun — especially if you like roller coasters, but it is more in Tampa than Orlando. It’s doable to drive to and from in a day, but I think I would be exhausted and avoid it.

  6. If you are a military family SeaWorld tickets are free.

  7. Michelle says:

    We like to go to Fun Spot. It’s an amusement park with go kart. You can buy a 30 $ bracelet for the whole day + if your child is too young to drive the go kart, you are allowed to go along for free. Usually there is not much people so the kids get to go on a lot of rides through the day.

  8. Brandi BUrns says:

    Wet N Wild water park has a great deal. If you purchase your tickets online for $45 ($10 off gate price) you get unlimited visists for 14 consecutive days. This is a smaller water park but it is a lot of fun and they allow you to bring in coolers so you can pack your lunch.

  9. If you know a military member they can buy tickets for a 3 day pass for 125.00 (up to 6 people). The tickets are purchased from the local military base or MWR.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Go to and order an Orlando MagicCard, I think you can also get these cards at the Orlando Visitor's Center or Orlando Civic Center….this card entitles you to discounts on park tickets as well as dining and other attractions. Also check in the lobby of the timeshare where you will be staying, sometimes the resorts down there offer special discounted rates to the parks down there.

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